This movie was recommended to me by Cos, also more than a year ago. Finally we see another anime that shows that mecha have more uses than warfare. Engineers and construction-workers also love to use them in the setting for this movie, as it follows local policemen on mechas. The key part of the story is the operating system they run on. Their creator left a nice-farewell-present with it, before killing himself.
There are three major plusses in this movie. First of all: the mystery. It’s fun to gradually learn what the creator of these operating systems was up to, and some of the revelations make quite a nice impact. Even though the guy is dead, he turned into one of the most interesting characters of the movie because of this.
The second good point: it’s refreshing. While the movie has the basic ingredients of a regular thriller, it manages to add enough extra to improve the realism of it all. Especially the female lead profits from this, as she manages to avoid the pitfall that strikes almost all other similar characters. While she starts out as an ordinary support character, just there as a plot-device to develop the main lead, she changes drastically as the climax approaches, and in the end, she really has her time to shine. It’s also not like our main characters are the only ones in the world who realize the complot. Other parties also take actions to solve it once in a while. This realism sets Patlabor apart from all those other mecha and police-shows out there.
The third good point is the interaction between the characters. They’re not 100% serious all the time, and need a break once in a while, their conversations are quite realistic, they know exactly when to use comedy and some of their banter is quite fun to watch. Especially the chief of the police-unit was interesting, with his stoic yet involved attitude.
So, the bad points? Some side-characters aren’t fleshed out well enough, and only a few of the characters are lucky enough to have a bit of background. It’s a pity, because the characters could have worked out even better if we knew something about them, but this movie doesn’t even attempt to bother with it. One of the reasons why the creator of the operating system turned into one of the best characters was because he is the only one with a well-fleshed out background.
The climax also raises one plot-hole that it never answers. I won’t mention it, for the sake of spoilers (I already feel I used a bit too many of them for this review), but you should be able to recognize it for yourself. The ending also is good, due to an added twist, but the aftermath is a bit lazy and too short. Still, if you’re looking for a more realistic and down-to-earth movie that’s more than just flashy-action scenes and still involves mechas and conflict, this is a pretty good choice.