Patlabor: The Movie

April 1, 2016 at 1:28 am (8 Heads, Patlabor: The Movie) (, , , , , )

Patlabor: The Movie – 1989 – Japan

In the very near future, Tokyo is undergoing urban redevelopment. Giant bipedal vehicles called Labors demolish and erect buildings, as well as construct manmade islands in Tokyo Bay. Since their recent development, Labors have replaced all other construction and military vehicles.  Soon, Labors start behaving erratically, eventually running around without operators and going berserk. A special police task force is formed to investigate the malfunctioning Labors. They discover a mystery involving the suicide of a genius software engineer and a conspiracy that could destroy Tokyo.

Patlabor: The Movie is an anime movie revolving around mecha (giant robotic vehicles), without being about them. Instead, the film focuses on mystery, conspiracy, and technological speculation. As increasing amounts of Labors go haywire, the Labor police race to find the responsible software virus. The plot is mostly about detective work and there are very few action scenes. The mystery is compelling and the characters are likable.

Although not very futuristic, Patlabor’s vision of the future is believable. There is a lot of detail about the Labor manufacturing industry and the transformative role of Labors in society. The Labors have a realistically utilitarian look, enhanced by the film’s high quality animation. Patlabor objectively examines the benefits and dangers of rapid technological advancement but never becomes too intellectual. In the action packed climax, Labors wrestle atop a collapsing skyscraper.

Rating: 8/10 Shrunken Heads. Patlabor: The Movie might be the most realistic mecha anime. The competition is not fierce.

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