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volume 3 issue 6

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17 home / june 2002 / reviews Turn Page BackwardBack to HomeTurn Page Forward

Patlabor: The Mobile Police TV series Vol.2
Central Park
Patlabor had a huge impact on all the mecha anime that came after it, and it's a wonderful (if dated) show. If you're still using VHS and only go for dubs, pick this title up. Otherwise, get the subtitled version or the DVD as soon as possible.
Overall Rating:

Animefringe Reviews:
Patlabor: The Mobile Police TV series Vol.2
By Patrick King

"Labor. A robot specifically designed for heavy industrial work. The rise of labors propagated a revolution in industry, but also in criminal activity. The police therefore created a special unit - the Patrol Labor - and thus, the birth of Patlabor." This is the dramatic introduction given before each episode on the second collection of the classic anime television series. It will be available on VHS this year in June, dubbed in English. Now, we know that many people have already broken down and nabbed a DVD player (or a video game system or DVD-ROM drive capable of DVD playback), but there are still plenty of you out there that prefer the lower cost of VHS. So, is this tape worth it? Well, it all boils down to how much you like dubs.

This show inspired a decade of mecha anime, giving a good example of the way a story should be told. Despite being named for the gigantic Labors, Patlabor focuses more on its characters and less on the technical details of the massive machines. This is essentially a lighthearted police drama where police cars have been replaced by giant robots. It's an older series, and on VHS especially, it shows its age. The animation conveys the action as well as it needs to, but the visual appeal of Patlabor resides primarily in Akemi Takada's character designs. Since this is more of an action/comedy show, many of the characters are drawn as caricatures of their personalities. Yet, this merely draws more attention to the importance of the characters, rather than the events that happen to them. The style of the series is instantly appealing, endearing itself to its viewers from a glance at the cover.

The sound effects are dated as well, but they perform an adequate job of getting viewers immersed into this near futuristic world. The music - by Kenji Kawai - is cute and appropriate for the overall theme of the series.

As far as Patlabor's actual plot structure goes, it tends to stay constrained by each individual episode. Every episode introduces a new problem, which usually gets solved in a whimsical way by the episode's conclusion. This tape includes five episodes - "The Tower: SOS," "The New Model 97," "The Green Phantom," "Red Labor Landing," and "Eve's Trap" - a good value compared to the average VHS release.

Essentially, if you're a hardcore fan of Patlabor, you love dubs, and you don't have a DVD player, you've most likely already pre-ordered this cassette. Otherwise, it's certainly a series worth getting into; it remains an entertaining show even with outdated sound and visuals. Given the option, I'd choose the DVD (with the original Japanese language dialogue track) over this, however.

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