Labors are giant construction robots piloted by humans, and the Patlabor team is a mobile police force whose job is to protect the population from people who might hijack or sabotage these powerful tools. Though events of... more » the first movie called Labor technology into question, the needs of big business outweighed the concerns of citizens, and eventually they came back into common use. The military had also begun to adopt and adapt the technology, amidst some controversy. The story picks up with a terrorist attack on a Tokyo city bridge. The suspects include Americans who want to destabilize the Japanese government, corrupt forces within the Japanese government who want to increase military spending, and Tsuge, the genius of labor technology who was misused by the government three years prior. The animation is gorgeous, particularly the cityscapes and long shots, but that's not surprising coming from director Mamoru Oshii (Ghost in the Shell). Sparkling animation would mean very little without a good story or good characters, which Patlabor 2 has in spades. At the core of the story is a quiet dialogue about the nature of peace in post-WWII Japan--how the peace has been unjust because they've ignored poverty-stricken countries in times of prosperity. Then it's back to unraveling the conspiracy and the requisite action-packed ending. These Patlabor movies are excellent, and not just for fans of anime. --Andy Spletzer« less
"The infant Bandai Visual USA, in its quest to outshine the existing Bandai Entertainment USA, has once again shown that it is willing to put far more effort into releasing quality titles in a quality package, just as with their release of "Patlabor 1: The Movie" last spring.
A word of warning to those reading the other reviews: any review dated before July of 2006 is refering to the old Manga Entertainment release of "Patlabor 2", which is a far inferior disc to this recent Bandai Visual rerelease.
The new release of this film treats it the way that Manga _should_ have treated this gem of the anime industry, with a much better translation of the dialogue, extras that consist of more than trailers for other products by the same company, and a complete storyboard (translated into English, even) for the film.
The new English translation for the dialogue alone makes this version worth buying, as it is obvious that the translators spent a lot more time massaging the languages to provide the characters with more passion and subtlety in their speech. This is critical in a thinking-man's film, which is the only type of film that Mamoru Oshii directs. The old Manga version of the film treated the language too lightly, and managed to leave out minor, yet important, parts of the language. The quality of the film still showed through the Manga bungling, but with this version the film truly shines.
The extras for this Limited Collector's Edition are, simply, wonderful. Just as with the LCE of "Patlabor 1" there is seperate Special Features disc including a making-of documentary, and two books. One of the books provides essays about the film and its meaning at the time it was released as well as essays and interviews dating from later times. These provide the reader with some perspective of what the film meant to Japanese audiences in 1993 when it was released, and how its meaning and significance is changing as time passes.
The other booklet is a complete translated storyboard for the film, which is intriguing because it shows how the film's shots were originally constructed, and the small notes in it can provide insight into specific details and elements required by the director (Mamoru Oshii) which on the surface seem insignificant, but which actually set much of the atmosphere and tone for the film.
Are these extras necessary to enjoy the film? No, they aren't. In fact, if you're just interested in watching the movie in which Mamoru Oshii crystalized his signature style (later to be repeated in "Ghost in the Shell" and "Innocence"), then I'd say get the standard release of this film by Bandai Visual (released in early July of '06). The extras would mostly be of interest to the hardcore "Patlabor" fans, or those curious about the process of creating animted films.
A final word of warning to long-time "Patlabor" watchers; with these Bandai Visual USA film releases, some long-running characters in the saga receive their fourth or fifth English-language voices; the Japanese voices remain constant, but the English ones switch (at least partially) with every new series, movie, or production company."
Oshii's Under-rated Masterpiece
Robert Azula | Marietta, GA | 10/22/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Though "Ghost in the Shell" got all the hype, I believe future critics will judge "Patlabor 2" as REAL masterpiece from Masamoru Oshii. Though there is a definite "Tom Clancy" feel to this political techno-thriller, the subtle symbolism that permeates the film (the falling snow, the often enigmatic presence of birds, and the opening scene at the jungle temple) point to much deeper, philosophical themes. Also, listen to the brilliant cadence of the dialouge...dramatic pauses, passionate tirades, and those moments of silence that speak volumes. Keiji Kawai's haunting and meditative soundtrack complements the often surreal and disturbingly plausible nature of the film. A must-see for any SERIOUS film buff. (If your idea of quality is lots of explosions and scantically clad women, you may want to skip "Patlabor 2.") Favorite scene: Irakawa's brutal deconstruction of the term "peace." Highly recommended."
A Political Thriller equal to anything from Tom Clancy!
Anime Master | Tyler, TX | 06/14/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"When I saw the first Patlabor film I was captivated by it's story and loved the comical characters. Patlabor 2 is everyting the fisrt film was and more. Never befor have I seen such an elaborate story of lies, revenge and politcal espianoge pulled of so well. Directed by the same director of the first Patlabor film and the classic Ghost in the Shell. The animation is outstanding! The voice cast is excellent at making there characters come alive. The musical score is soothing yet haunting at the same time. The story occures three years after the events in Patlabor. A string a terrorist like events are occuring around Tokyo. Yet with each incident no causualties only fear and a growing conflict between the government and the military, with the Mobile police force caught in the middle. The only way to stop a civil war is for the Mobile Police Force to find the man responsible for these acts, ye the perpitrator is revield to be a former teacher and lover of the second in command of the Mobile Police Force. The best way to descibe this film would to combine the talents of Tom Clancy and Masamune Shirow into one film."
Fantastic--an animation masterpiece
Marc McKenzie | New Jersey, United States | 01/24/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"A suspenseful, thought-provoking, techno-thriller that just happens to be animated. Is that possible? Of course--Patlabor 2 is the proof. It is a giant-robot movie in appearance only--it scraps the machines and confronts bigger issues--Japan's security, the end of the Cold War, and the true nature of war and peace. Not much action, but that factor is no turn-off. The animation is nothing short of incredible, and the music and writing are brilliant. The whole package is way above average. Not for the short attention span crowd or the T&A crowd--this is a "thinking man's" animated film. Excellent job from Oshii-san and the Production IG crew. See it."
And the fake bombing was only the begining...
Robert Azula | 08/04/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Smart, intruiging, and somewhat slow-paced (for a mecha anime), something you don't usually find in the genre. Patlabor 2 is a diamond in the rough. You forget it's an anime, and get caught up in the political thriller. Recommended for people 15 or older. The content is strictly PG, but since this movie is so intelligent and sometimes philosophical, it would put anyone younger than that to sleep. Highly recommended."