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Honneamise presents
Patlabor 2 The Movie: Limited Collector's Edition (1993)

It's been fifty years since the last war. You and I have both lived our lives without being touched by war. Peace...This peace we're supposed to be protecting. But the peace in this country...this city. What is it exactly? The total war we fought and the defeat we suffered. The U.S. military's occupation, and their policies. And until just recently, the Cold War based on nuclear deterrence and all its proxy wars. And even today, half the world is locked in a cycle of civil war, ethnic strife, and armed conflicts. Our economic prosperity is based on demand created by countless wars. Its hands are covered in blood. That's the stuff our peace is made of.
- Arakawa (Jinpachi Nezu)

Review By: Jeff Wilson  
Published: August 10, 2006

Stars: RyŻnosuke ‘bayashi, Yoshiko Sakakibara, Tomomichi Nishimura, Jinpachi Nezu
Other Stars: MÓna Tominaga, Toshio Furukawa, Michihiro Ikemizu, Issei Futamata, Daisuke GŰri, Shigeru Chiba, Osamu Saka,
Director: Mamoru Oshii

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for military action
Run Time: 01h:53m:23s
Release Date: July 11, 2006
UPC: 858604001028
Genre: anime


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A- B+B+B+ A-

DVD Review

Patlabor 2: The Movie is the sort of film that you'd want to use if you wanted to convince someone that anime was more than just mindless kiddie fodder. It has a sophisticated story, adult dialogue, political convictions, and sleek animation. It also, however, even more so than its predecessor , relies on knowledge of the material that was released before it, dealing as it does with characters who have moved on from where we saw them last. See my review of that film for more background on the Patlabor franchise. A complete newcomer won't be totally lost, but background knowledge helps a lot in terms of the side characters. As with the first movie, Bandai Visual, through their Honneamise label, have produced a stellar package for fans of the film (and a vanilla single disc variant is also available to the lesser committed).

Set in 2002, three years after the events of the first film. In a prologue set in 1999, we see a Japanese United Nations peacekeeping force get destroyed when they are refused permission to defend themselves. That group is led by Yukihito Tsuge (Jinpachi Nezu), who vanishes in the aftermath of the incident. When curious events involving the Japan Self-Defense Force (Japan does not have a normal standing army since World War II) lead to mistrust and gamesmanship between the police forces and the JSDF, Arakawa, a Japanese intelligence agent (Naoto Takenaka), picks the Special Vehicles Unit 2's Gotoh (RyŻnosuke ‘bayashi) and Nagumo (Yoshiko Sakakibara) to clue in as to the culprit: Tsuge, who also happens to have had an affair with Nagumo. Matters escalate until Japan's democracy itself is threatened, and it's up to the old hands of the SV2 to return and save the day.

The story for the film was loosely adapted from a previous Patlabor story, "The SV2's Longest Day." Director Mamoru Oshii, reacting to debate within Japanese society about the role Japan was to take in the world, framed his take on the issue in a story revolving around Japan's military and its role both within Japan and the outside world. While this may seem to be a story with interest only for the Japanese and those with a specific interest in recent Japanese history, the overall themes of the cost of peace, national responsibility for actions abroad, and urban terrorism are certainly not restricted to Japan.

All that said, the film tries to do a little too much within its 113 minute running time. The film focuses on Nagumo and Gotoh, to the extent that the rest of the SV2, the members beloved by fans of the series, get short shrift, and their inclusion during the final battle is almost an afterthought. Nagumo, as written and acted here, indeed, much as she was in the rest of Patlabor, is a cold fish, keeping a tight rein on her emotions. Given the emphasis on her in the film, some peeling away of her layers would have been welcome. Gotoh shines as always, the cunning brains of the series. Young labor pilot Noa Izumi, the heart of the series, hardly has any screen time, to the film's detriment, although the story doesn't suit her character at all.

Those expecting a slam bang action flick will be disappointed; like the first film, Patlabor 2 is very talky, and often very still, with Oshii's more meditative qualities coming to the fore. The characters take a good deal of time to chew over the issues at hand, and the coup pulled off by the self-defense force is sophisticated and virtually bloodless, at least from what we see. The titular labors are only seen at the very end, and don't have much to do then. In Patlabor however, the characters have always been foremost, and that's no different here.

Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: B+

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: It wouldn't be difficult to better the previous Region 1 release, a dingy 4:3 letterboxed version released by Manga Video. This new edition benefits from a cleaned up anamorphic transfer, which, while not something that's going to blow you away, serves the film well.

Image Transfer Grade: B+

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital
5.1
Japanese, Englishno


Audio Transfer Review: The Japanese soundtrack presented here is the "Sound Renewal" version released in Japan in 1999, which features a 5.1 remix. Manga's previous DVD only had the original 2.0 track, which is not included here, so completists take note. That said, the 5.1 track is quite good, with battle sequences benefitting most. Otherwise, the film is fairly hevaily dialogue-based, and the surrounds don't get an extensive workout. An English 5.1 track is also on hand.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu
Scene Access with 0 cues
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
0 Original Trailer(s)
0 TV Spots/Teasers
1 Documentaries
Packaging: Box Set
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Storyboards Book
  2. Patlabor 2 The Movie Archives book
Extras Review: The really interesting material here comes in the non-disc extras, much the same as with the first film. Honneamise has included two books sure to be of interest to the Patlabor fan, and again, both follow the style of the first set. The first book collects the film's storyboards, with the added bonus of including the translated script alongside each relevant panel, along with a glossary at the end. I'm not usually a fan of storyboard books, but this is the way to do it. The other book is Patlabor 2 The Movie Archives, which gathers a wide range of material in its 144 pages. A compact, densely illustrated book, this includes everything from background material on the story and Patlabor series to mecha designs and photo reference for the backgrounds to interviews with the staff. A must if you're a fan, as little if any of this stuff has been available in English until now, as far as I know.

The other extra of interest is the making of documentary (00h:42m:17s) that resides on the second disc, which only comes in the limited edition set. This is again best suited for the more hardcore fans, as it gets into fairly extensive detail about the making of the film, including interviews with director Oshii and staff. Each of the nine sections of the documentary are selectable individually, and English subtitles are optional. This, as with the books, is material previously unavailable in English. The whole shebang comes in a chunky, numbered gold box (complementing the first film's silver) that looks great. The edition is limited to 10,000 copies.

Extras Grade: A-

 

Final Comments

Though it tries to do too much in the end, Patlabor 2: The Movie remains a thoughtful film, raising issues typically beyond the concern of most films. The film is best seen by one already steeped in the Patlabor series, but newcomers should find enough to enjoy as well. Honneamise's limited edition package is super, but recommended for the diehard. A single disc version is also available.

 


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