The Original Series Collection
Anime DVD Review
Mamoru Oshii's quirky series is a collection of weirdness, but, as the movies did as well, quickly mutates into an intelligent social-political drama worthy of Tom Clancy as the police clash with the military, undercover operations are questioned, and the robot fights become secondary to the complex dialogue, intrigue, and interactions between the characters.
In all, a classic series that deserves and honored spot on your shelf, if for no other reason than Oshii's pop-star rise to directorial genius during his tenure. If you enjoy anime with a brain behind it, this is the series to own.
Reviewed by Brian Cirulnick, September 2005
Patlabor Movie 1
Anime DVD Review
Mamoru Oshii's (Ghost in the Shell, Beautiful Dreamer) landmark series spawned 2 movies - darker and more politically complex than you'd expect. Keep your brain turned on for these films, you need to hear every word of dialog to understand what's happening, but that's what makes the Patlabor films so damn enjoyable - they are true social-economic dramas with giant robots as the backdrop of a story about how good technology can be perverted by evil men.
These films carry a powerful message and you should listen. And no expense was spared to make the film(s) gorgeous, carrying the Oshii trademark style of kick-ass anime that is avante-garde film-making on every level, while also being a good detective storyas well. Patlabor, in every incarnation, carries the essential elements that make anime the great genre it is - scifi plot, intelligent script, wonderful characters, and action worthy of a Hollywood blockbuster at a fraction of the price.
Reviewed by Brian Cirulnick, April 2003
Patlabor WXIII - The Movie
Anime DVD Review
The Patlabor films are a standout in their breadth of scope. Although you'd swear this was just another mecha series, the films astonish the viewer by actually being social-political thrillers that often have little or nothing to do with giant robots. The latest, WXIII, challenges the viewer even further by keeping the usual cast in the periphery.
Director Fumihiko Takayama allows us a look in a different direction within the same universe, and gives the film a distinct look that is different from the previous films (directed by Mamoru Oshii). Those looking for heavy-metal action should look elsewhere. This is a detective story and you need to keep your brain turned on. The deliberate pacing builds the suspense, and you may need to watch it several times to really appreciate all that's happening, particularly in the first 1/2 hour, where the seemingly unconnected events don't mesh yet. The animation is, of course, stunning, and the DVD itself is well crafted, we particularly enjoyed the bio-hazard motif throughout.
Reviewed by Brian Cirulnick, June 2003
WXII Patlabor The Movie 3 O.S.T.
Anime Soundtrack Review
This music, by Kenji Kawai, is experimental and atmospheric. In combination with the movie however, it's downright creepy, but nevertheless, this soundtrack album (or BGM, as we used to refer to them) is as far removed from your normal j-pop soundtrack as Goth is from Britney Spears! In other words, if you're looking for something other than the standard fare, we suggest you give this a try. It's not bouncy, it's not humm-able, and it's not infused with idol-singers.
And that's why it's good. If you're tired of usual Casio-Keyboard compositions and want something a little less generic and roller-rink sounding, then this might be what you're looking for. And yes, track #15 was written by Beethoven (which adds to the atmosphere)...
Reviewed by Brian Cirulnick, February 2004