Patlabor 1: The Movie

Japanese Title: Kidou Keisatsu Patlabor Gekijouban
Also Known As: Patlabor: The Mobile Police
Genre: Drama/Action
Format: 1 Movie
Allegiance: HEDGEAR/Production I.G.
Director: Oshii Mamoru
Vintage: 1990
Intelligence Agency Report by: The Macaque
Labors are giant mecha, designed to assist humans in construction work in the new millenuim. To prevent the robots from causing extensive damage in case of a malfunction or an accident, a police force with equivalent mecha equipment is assigned to keep an eye on the Labors. This police force will surely come in handy when a newly installed operating system is causing some of the mecha to run amok. The creator behind this operating system is suspected to have something to do with the incidents, and a group of police officers from the Special Vehicle Unit-2, together with the help of two detectives are to discover how, what and why is causing all the problems.

Field Agent Report by: The Macaque
Overall 7.25
(not an average)

So, the old gang from the TV series is back to solve yet another crime, while cruising around in their giant mecha. Possibly featuring one of the most diverse casts of characters, the Patlabor force runs strong in this movie. From the cutely immediate Noa to the ultra-rational Goto, they all carry their own straw to the stack, all contributing to the plot in some way. The use of such a wide range of different characters is what brought Oshii Mamoru his fame, and under his helm, the brilliant group of staff made one of the most well known anime movies to date. Oshii’s favourite composer, Kawai Kenji, brought a nicely sentimental soundtrack, which still kicks in at the right time when needed.

The movie is all about exploring the possible risks when us humans start relying too heavily on modern technology, and what might happen in case of a widespread computer virus. Through the clever dialogue and the slow pacing in the beginning, philosophical thoughts and well constructed arguments are given room, thus adding depth to the story and the characters.

If only Oshii would have played the detective game all to the end, this movie would possibly have been worth a far greater rating then it deserves now. After a very nice and mindboggling first hour or so, the pace picks up, only to come crashlanding in the end. First I though of cutting it some slack. After all, this was the first movie Oshii-san had ever directed. Still, the completely redundant last part of the movie was enough to make me stand firmly behind the lowered grade.

Luckily for Patlabor 1, the pointless “mechas running around shooting other mechas” concept in the end, doesn’t spoil what was a very enjoyable experience all in all. If you like suspence and clever dialogue with the occational action sequence, pick up Patlabor 1: The Movie. Despite it’s faults, it still is entertaining as hell.