Posted by psgels on 23 December 2009 with categories: Anime Reviews



Now this is really why I love anime: it is really one of the very few animation styles that can get away with stuff that’s entirely meant for adults. I’ve seen quite a few comments that the Third Patlabor Movie (which was produced ten years after the second movie) didn’t live up to the standards that were set by the TV-series and the first two movies. Now let me say that I can understand why, but there’s enough that makes this movie worth watching.

Before I list the good points of this movie however, I do want to say a few things about something that probably turned off a lot of fans of the Patlabor franchise: the decision to swap main characters with two completely new characters. Let me say that I do like this idea a lot. It shows that Captain Goto and his team are mere cogs inside the Patlabor setting: they just do the job they’re supposed to do, while others do theirs. It’s a great way to flesh out the setting a bit more. However, when you make such a decision, you do need to take care to give these new characters a good personality and background, and that’s where this movie never really delivers. At the end of this movie, I still don’t have any clue who these people are. How did they become detectives, what drives them, what are their quirks? They’re huge mysteries. For a franchise that stood out with its rock-solid characters, it will be a bit difficult to get used to the two of them.

The good thing of course is that this is really the most accessible of the Patlabor movies: you can really watch this even if you haven’t watched anything of the Patlabor franchise before. The thing that I loved about it was how composed it was: it knew exactly what story it wanted to tell, and it does so with conviction. The pacing is really slow to really allow everything to fall in place, and the exposition is very well balanced so that it’s neither dull nor techno-babble.

The movie really excels in its smart and realistic build-up that really pays off in its climaxes, and while there are a few coincidences here and there, it doesn’t attempt to introduce cheap plot twists at the crucial plot points. While the two lead characters lack in strength, the two main villains do receive a lot of depth, which really culminates in a great ending.

Quiet movies like this one of course have their share of setbacks: if you’re not caught in by the build-up, you will be bored. But I really find that these movies have a unique charm in their maturity, where they show that you can also create a good and exciting stories without the over-the-topness that you usually see in anime aimed at teenagers. In fact, realized that the hit to miss ratio of adult movies for me is much higher than the stuff for teenagers. Out of the three Patlabor Movies, I still like the second one best, but WXIII comes in as a close second.

Storytelling: 9/10
Characters: 7/10
Production-Values: 9/10
Setting: 9/10

8 Responses

  1. Jack says:

    So, this doesn’t have to do with this series in particular, it’s just a general comment which I don’t know where to submit.

    In general, I think your reviews (the written part) are very useful and informative, but I have a suggestion about the number rating system. I know this is less important than the actual written review itself, but the way I see it, there’s no harm done in suggesting.

    So, the way I see it, you have four categories which you rate, and then take the average of them to get the final score.

    The issue, I guess, is that not all categories necessarily have the same value. While rating them in these categories is useful (so readers who know what they value can glean more information), it shouldn’t rigidly determine your overall rating of a series. Also, excellence in one category can easily make up for deficiencies in another (like setting). As an example (sorry if this is a bad example – it’s baseball), Albert Pujols was recently characterized by Beyond The Box Score as perfect in power and on-base tools, but mediocre in fielding and baserunning. Meanwhile, Kevin Youkilis is shown as slightly worse in power and on-base, but much better in the other two. So if you take the average of these numbers, they say Youkilis is better. However, every baseball fan knows Pujols is better than Youkilis; he’s probably one of the best hitters in the history of baseball. I guess what I’m trying to say is that the final score should have more flexibility.

    Another suggestion is a system with a lower level of precision. The rating system you give is out of 100; however, this isn’t all that meaningful if you can’t discern between a 78 and a 79. This is actually why most film reviewers go by a star system (0-4 stars or whatever). The underlying principle of this is that of uncertainty; every real measurement has uncertainty, and a number is only meaningful up to that uncertainty. For example, if you have a ruler in with only centimeter ticks, and you’re measuring a length, it’s meaningless to say something is 5.323 centimeters because you can only definitely tell the difference between maybe 5.5 and 6.0 (maybe more, but certainly not up to 3 decimal digits). I keep a little document that rates shows I’ve watched (for my own sake), and I only have a few categories: “best, good, decent, mediocre, bad.” I like this for a few reasons: it de-emphasizes the bad series because in the end, people mostly care about what you recommend rather than what you wouldn’t. Also, it’s really easy to characterize each category. Best is self-evident – there’s something special about them, good series probably don’t do anything wrong or have strong parts that make up for flaws, decent series have flaws but otherwise enjoyable, mediocre series are “replacement level” (i.e. nothing special about it), and bad series are just bad. Of course, this might not suit you. Other systems I’ve seen have been on a 0-10 scale (or 5-star scale with half-stars). I think any more precision than that goes beyond the human capability to measure. I know I’m talking about rating shows like it’s a science and not some subjective thing, but I feel the underlying reasoning still applies. Also, I’m not necessarily saying you should change how you do your ratings now, but to at least think about alternatives so that you can find the one that suits you the best. I’m just raising questions is all.

    I think the two aforementioned issues may also be related. Because it’s sort of difficult to come up with a score out of 100, it may become necessary to rely on averaging subcategories.

    Anyway, feel free to delete this post after reading it. I would’ve sent e-mail as it’s more private, but couldn’t really find an address. I’m just a bored student on vacation, not trying to grandstand or anything like that. Finally, I apologize if anything I say comes off as standoff-ish or critical, as it’s not my intention and I understand that sometimes my writing comes off that way.

  2. karry says:

    You can always depend on psgels giving an anime 85/100, whether he likes it or hates it, the score is always the same. Such consistency !

  3. psgels psgels says:

    Oh, don’t worry. I don’t mind criticism. As long as it’s not of the Karry-troll level, of course.

    There was indeed a time in which I experimented with a star rating, like the one you said, but it just didn’t work out for me. I found myself rating shows on the same level where one was clearly inferior.

    You’re right that the current system is flawed, because I also have had trouble balancing these scores for a long time now. To be honest, I already start inputting these scores with a full rating in mind, and too often I find myself adjusting the scores for these categories, just to get to that score, and it might be a good idea to remove it alltogether.

    I lake the rating scale I have now, though. When it ranges from 80, 82,5, 85, 87,5 etc, it’s just precise enough for me, and not vague enough for me to not be able to see any difference between them. For example, series with a rating of 85 were an excellent watch for me, while 82,5 still remains really good but not as spectacular or memorable. 80 is the same, but with some significant flaws holding it back, while 77,5 is also still good for me, but here the flaws really get in the way. It’s still a bit vague, I know, but at least it works for me.

  4. really says:

    You really need to watch how much you use the word ‘really’, because really to use it so much gets really annoying.

    lol, but really… hilight it and see for yourself…

    The movie was great, though. Not as good as the second one (the greatest anime movie I’ve ever seen), but better than the first in my opinion.

  5. psgels psgels says:

    Crap. Really, you’re really right. It really sounds really weird when I really use it that many times. I’m really going to try and use the word “really” less from now on. Really.

  6. fathomlessblue says:

    im not sure i really believe you XD

  7. really says:

    Should’ve done this in the first place, but anyway, I made a wordle image for you to encourage you to keep that promise, lol. If you have Java, the actual wordle is here.

  8. Mooniecat says:

    Sometimes I come around and read your reviews and of course to get your ideas on the new stuff.
    While some of the stuff you said about this being kind of a nice story all to itself, the problem was that it was Patlabor. And thinking Patlabor, we expect more Patlabor. So to me, this movie stank to high heaven. As for the characters, they are the detectives of Patlabor-Goto’s friends. I certainly appreciated the focus but thought it was too focused on just the detectives and the addition of Patlabors to fix it was too rushed.
    For a movie that expected you to already have the detective’s character in mind from the tv series and the second movie, it failed also as a stand alone. It was a movie based in the Patlabor universe that had nothing to do with anything except to let the detective have his own episode. I certainly think that was done better in the second movie. He didn’t really even use his “Goto contact” except as an after thought, it felt like. I had expected more as Goto certainly used the connection seemly often. It failed on the cute oddball Patlabor unit ideal and it didn’t really pass on the indepth character meshing in the storyline either. Definitely sub par and very disappointing after the second movie’s success in moving to what had been a side character for the tv show. I kept waiting to see the detectives be something incredible but it could have been any hardworking detective getting old. He was much more developed in the second movie and this was suppose to be his time. This movie… I would not recommend especially to those who really enjoyed Patlabor.

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  • Bam
    (Monday, May 25. 2015 05:54 AM)
    The episode was alright and felt dense as I watched it, but in hindsight only really moved the plot forward incrementally. Lancer not untying Tohsaka as soon as he killed Kirei and then not killing Shinji when he clearly had the chance left a bad taste in my mouth. That and Shirou’s heavy plot armor at this point is becoming reminiscent of another famous anime dual-wielder. Not a compliment.
  • Bam
    (Monday, May 25. 2015 05:46 AM)
    UBW 20 felt like another rendition of Eva 26 (Take care of yourself), complete with character analysis, battle with one’s Jungian Shadow, and loosely Buddhist ideas of self-actualization. It even featured the repetitive monologue shots that fade to black (with “I saw Hell” instead of Rei’s “Sky. Red, red sky”). It never went as far as Eva with “which way is up?” type of Soliloquy, but that’s probably a good thing.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:48 AM)
    Ashura was an excellent example of how to through anime illicit and emotional response in an honest, non-melodramatic way.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:46 AM)
    @Bam: I’d be more than happy to take a look at some of those shorts anytime.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:44 AM)
    @Emma: there’s a lot of European animators that got active in the last 10 years or so that are really reinvigorating their animation scene, and every now and then I get introduced to some fabulous shorts.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:40 AM)
    @Emma: no I don’t really mind gory ‘for the fuck of it’ violence, I even like it in some grindhouse type of works, but I just don’t think it’s always effective as a shock factor. Live-action is the most sympathetic for obvious reasons, but there are animated works that do elicit a deep response. Probably because of circumstances but also the details of the in-between animation, which can induce certain feelings of disgust.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:39 AM)
    *here and there
  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:35 AM)
    @Bam: I really wish there was more arthouse anime now to give some kind of a balance to everything thats out these days.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:33 AM)
    Now I like my exploitation every so often, but yes Bam I really do wish that adult and mature storytelling could be better associated with truly, more pure mature themes.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:25 AM)
    I get choked up over Bergmans cries and whisper and Autumn sonata, I look back on a work by Key and Jun Maeda and wonder, think of how silly it looks to me now.

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