- A complex, memorable politico-military thriller 9/20/1999 12:00:00 AM by Dan42
This is a fine example of what Japanese animation can produce at its best. The style of this movie strongly reminds me of a Tom Clancy novel, which is unusual for anime. At the beginning I was a little put off by the slow pace of the movie, but as the story unfolded, I was sucked in by its complexity and realism. Indeed, the conflict and the political games between the government, the army and the police are so well constructed that I thought "this could *really* happen!"
If you liked this movie you should try to see "Jin-roh". There's the same kind of political and military intrigue but the story is more personal and close to the action than the high-circle strategy atmosphere which permeates Patlabor 2.
- An impressive achievement, but not for everyone. 8/11/2002 12:00:00 AM by vkn
As with Patlabor 1, there's a facade of misleading marketing around this film. There's a picture of a big robot on the packaging, and any teaser will probably promise you a non-stop mecha blasting fest. This is, simply put, a shameless lie. Patlabor 2 is a political thriller (often likened to a Tom Clancy novel with good reasons), and a very slow, brooding, talky, philosophical one at that. Big robots just happen to exist in it's setting, but their presence in the film is so slight you'll hardly notice them.
What you will notice, however, are some wonderful visuals and music, and a story that asks the viewer many daring, insightful questions about the world of today.
The plot centers around a few terrorist attacks on Tokyo taking place in the winter of 2002 (note that the film was made in 1993). Most of these attacks are really fake, or harmless makebelieve-attacks, but they're enough to create panic and to cause the established sense of security to crumble to bits. Captains Gotoh and Nagumo of the Special Vehicle Units try to unmask the man, and especially the ideas behind these staged attacks. Everything points to a certain Yukihito Tsuge, who's an old familiar of Nagumo.
What makes this film special is the way we're given insights into Tsuge's beliefs through the dialogues. The viewer is directly confronted with some very powerful questions. The state of being that we call "peace" in the western world - just how peaceful is it really? How fragile is it, and how much do we deserve this relative 'peace' compared to the prices mostly others pay for it? The film is rife with such questions, and they leave a considerable impact on the viewer. I daresay Patlabor 2 is worth it's price alone for being confronted with such thought-provoking issues set to some of the most beautifully haunting images and music ever put on screen.
The animation is definitely finely-crafted (there's a scene where helicopters swoop over the city who's smoothness has to be seen to be believed), but it's biggest strong point is the way it's all been directed. Slow, sweeping shots of the intricate semi-futuristic cityscape are the order of the day, with many other impressively beautiful shots.
But it's the music that really stole the show for me, with a wonderful use of mostly gentle and haunting melodies. The soundtrack is a true masterpiece, whose tunes will remain with you for a long time after viewing the film. It adds a dimension to the atmosphere that really can't be described very well on paper, so I'll just say it's powerful and beautifully-crafted stuff. The image of snowflakes drifting down onto tanks stationed all over Tokyo while a soft, ghostly melody plays in the background is a good example of the sort of moment where Patlabor 2 shines.
It doesn't shine all the way, though. There are a few flaws to this film, which make it hard to recommend to everybody. The talkiness, for one thing, sometimes really goes over-the-top. Instead of showing you what happened, a pretty important development is sometimes only mentioned in a conversation. This makes it difficult to keep up all the time, especially as the viewer is sometimes assumed to be an expert on political powergames; -"Some minister has just done something or other, and then this and that happened" -"I see... that means so-and-so plans to do yakkity-something..." Dialogues like that pop up a few times in the film and manage to be pretty unpleasant. Likewise, there's no gentle introduction to Patlabor newcomers, so it's recommended that you've seen at least the first Patlabor movie before tackling this. While the few scenes of how the regular Patlabor cast have gotten on with their lives are fairly unimportant, being at least somewhat familiar with them is a welcome help in following a sometimes overwhelmingly complex film (I mean that in a good way, though ^^).
Patlabor 2 will never be suited to general public tastes, as it's simply too complex, talky and basically 'different' for anyone just seeking some escapist fun. The DragonBall and Akira crowd need not look into this until they've learned to stop referring to the anime medium as 'ménga movies' while mistaking it for a slew of violent cyberpunk slop which they consider 'kewl' or 'kickass' or whatever. Same to the general Hollywood crowd who'd freak out at the idea of a film demanding efforts from the viewer - Patlabor 2 demands lots of efforts, but has something special to reward you with.
Patlabor 2 serves it's doses of food for thought raw, and it takes some effort to swallow them. But I'd say that effort is well worth it. For the unique, powerful atmosphere alone, this is more than worth a look. I guess "haunting" is really the most suitable word to describe Patlabor 2's superb feel. It literally does haunt you, with questions about the state of the society we live in that you can't possibly turn a blind eye on (in fact, after the attacks on America in September 2001, Patlabor 2's messages have become ironically up-to-date in their relevance). And a film that achieves such effects so very well deserves to be seen and to be praised. And then there's -that- music. Absolutely brilliant, it makes this film a must-hear as well as a must-see.
- Smart anime 9/6/2001 12:00:00 AM by lije
Patlabor 2 is a very good anime, both by the technical quality of Oshii's team's work, and by a very good and smart screenplay, using politic and terrorism as background.
This movie show us that anime is not only for kids (see Disney) and that japanese anime can have beautiful picture and good screenplay.
- Hollywood-worthy screenplay! 10/8/2002 12:00:00 AM by Katana_dk
"Japanese cartoons are for kids"...
This is yet another movie to show to people who wrongfully believe that!
A movie like "Ghost in The Shell" and the series "Neon Genesis Evangelion" have proven to contain more plot in the screenplay, and even afterthought in the mind of the audience, than most Hollywood-movies I know of. "Patlabor 2" is definitely another addition to my list of movies I would say disproves the first sentence in this comment.
As other commenters have noted, "Patlabor 2" resembles a Tom Clancy political thriller. The storytelling was so good that it got my heart racing in some scenes, and that is saying a lot from my point of view (Trust me on that one - I've seen "The Others" and similar movies, without moving a muscle when the rest of the theatre screamed).
If the story was tightened here, and the plot was elaborated there, "Patlabor 2" could be made into a Hollywood-movie as a frame-by-frame copy! I really mean that - There is always room for improvement, but in my opinion there are only very minor blemishes to the flow of the movie. I enjoyed every second, although some other commenters found the "slow parts" boring or irrelevant.
The music (or lack thereof) is also definitely worth a mention. It's hard to describe - I just couldn't imagine it being any different for this movie. The reason I write lack of music is because there are scenes where any Hollywood-producer would have slapped on some generic classical music, but in this case there is none. For example there is a scene after a climax where you just see different parts of the cityscape, with snow falling, and there is no sound at all. THAT's movie-magic. It's part of what draws me to this strange, exotic type of movies - it's so different than what most of us are used to.
Recreate the visuals using a film-camera, actors and a special-effects crew, copy+paste the music, label it "made in Hollywood" and you've got yourself a blockbuster-hit!
Japanese cartoons are for kids - not. If you have a brain, and an attention-span bigger than your average action-monkey, this movie is for you.
- Strong, quiet characterisation... Excellent! 8/30/1999 12:00:00 AM by emaan
Director Mamoru Oshii gets it right the second time round. His penchant for deep philosophical stories is executed with the right touch of pathos and aided greatly by the superior quality of animation and more "mature" character designs.
Followers of the TV and OAV series would know that the chief of Section 2, Goto harbours a crush for chief Nagano of Section 1. However, being the stoic man that Goto is, he could never openly admit his affection for her.
The plot focuses on Nagano's past as a brilliant student of labor tatics - and her relationship with her much older mentor.Their affair was doomed as he was a married man. The political fallout caused her high-flying career to to come to a halt and ended up with her posted to the "lowly" Special Vehicle Section 1.Her mentor took charge of a UN labor peacekeeping force which got slaughtered in the jungles due to inept commands from his superiors. He returned to Japan a changed man.
The story is a vastly superior adaptation of "SV2's Longest Day", one of the outstanding episodes in the first OAV series. The film is filled with poignant scenes and quiet, surreal sequences in the heart of the city that are a prequel of sorts to Oshii's masterpeice Ghost in the Shell. Like I said, fans of the series will especially appreciate Goto's dilemma in the closing scene.