PATLABOR OVA SERIES 2 COLLECTION

PrintE-mail Written by Ed Fortune

Giant robots piloted by plucky teenagers are a staple of Japanese animation, and Patlabor is one of the classics of this distinct subgenre. This is due to its strong premise. At some point in the future, human piloted-industrial robots (called ‘labors’) become a commonplace thing. Big, powerful robot suits are used for construction and other difficult, labour-intensive work. Inevitably, organised crime starts to use these suits to commit exciting new types of crime and so the police also have to get themselves some giant robots to keep up. These are called patrol labours, which is shortened (and Amercanised) to Patlabor.

Or to put it another way, Patlabor is cop show where they ride around in mechanical fighting machines rather than cars. The show started out as a manga (comic strip) in 1988 and Patlabor OVA Series Two was made in 1990. Alas, it really, really shows its age. 25 years ago we simply didn’t have the production techniques and technology required to produce lots of quality animation quickly and cheaply. The show looks crude and cheap, which is a pity because the characters and plot are rather good, once you get past the rather clunky dialogue.

The episodes are a strange mix of procedural crime drama, surreal whimsy and robot-on-robot action (with a little bit of comedy thrown in when you’re not looking). Plots include hiding a kitten from senior management, tracking down a treasure-excreting alligator, fighting off an alien invasion (in what is a very jokey episode), and awkward sit-com-style romantic get-aways.

The result is an enjoyable yet mixed collection of stories. There is no hidden message here, no clever metaphor or examination of life; it’s all about the fun. Those who don’t like subtitles may struggle (only some of the episodes are dubbed into English), but the rest of us will have a chuckle at this old but still interesting show.

Special Features: None

INFO: PATLABOR OVA SERIES 2 COLLECTION / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: NAOYUKI YOSHINAGA / SCREENPLAY: KAZUNORI ITO / STARRING: ARIHIRO HASE, DAN GREEN, FLAVIO ROMEO, AMI SHUKLA / RELEASE DATE: JULY 13TH

 


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