Patlabor TV Vol. #08 (of 11) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Monday, September 19, 2005
Release Date: Tuesday, April 06, 2004



What They Say
Noa and the crew of Section 2 meet their match when they're attacked by a mysterious black robot. The battle leaves Noa's partner wounded, and a dangerous rogue mecha on the loose. Now the sole pilot of the Patlabor team, Noa must find the courage to face her deadliest enemy alone!

The Review!
While we've had lots of standalone stories in the past, this volume kicks off with one single storyline that doesn't even conclude in this volume, setting the stage for a great action/intrigue piece.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. Much like the first volume, this is a pretty standard sounding early 90?s TV series stereo soundtrack, so you get some stereo effects with the music, but most of this feels like a center channel production. Some of the effects and action make decent use of the front soundstage, giving the hint of some directionality, but in general it's a simple mix. The English track was spot-checked, and no noticeable issues were detected there.

Video:
The look of the show in the transfer here manages to look a little improved over the early releases, but the print just doesn?t seem to have held up well over the years, especially with the bit rate hitting as high as it does as often as it one does. The show in general isn?t visually arresting, but looks decent. The blues in the backgrounds tended to be the main area showing macroblocking while the only other noticeable problem throughout is aliasing during many panning sequences. Cross coloration looks very minimal, which is a huge plus.

Packaging:
A dark green is used this time around in a similar style to the earlier volumes. We get the logo on the top and the volume numbering on the bottom. Through the full color center strip there?s a nice action sequence with the primary view being of the police labors in action. The back cover has a few shots from the show and plugs the talent behind the show. There?s a small summary of what to expect with these episodes (as well as episode numbers) and a rundown of the discs features. The reverse side of the cover has a number of black and white shots from the show and a brief bilingual cast listing. There?s a fuller talent credits list here as well as the chapter stops for all four episodes.

Menu:
Using animation from the show with various long shots of labors, there's also some cute animation to it when the selections are made and the backgrounds shift out, such as having one of the characters look like they're pushing the old screen off. Access times are decent considering the transitional animations that are played and the layout is pretty straightforward.

Extras:
The only extra included in this volume is a brief production art and sketch gallery.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
While we've had a number of standalone tales and a few that crossed into two episodes, this volume of Patlabor goes across all four episodes with one storyline and still doesn't finish out, leaving you hanging rather nicely at the end to see how things all wrap up in the big final climactic battle. At least the wait for the next volume is just about three months.

The storyline for this kicks off with Special Vehicles Unit 2 guarding a Labor exposition in the heart of the city where all the new models are being shown off over the course of three days. Most of the members of the team are interested in the models themselves and take some time to browse around them while on patrol in and outside of the building. Of particular interest is the 'economy' model of the popular Ingram that the police use for their enforcement purposes. Shinohara Industries is trying to find that next market level so that they can sell more of them but still maintain their higher cost models as well. And as noted by one of the representatives there, humaniform labor's continue to grow in popularity and dominate the show, pushing the more custom-designed and job-based labors out the window. Humanity wants something familiar, not strange.

The economy model draws particular interest from Asuma since it's his family's company that made it. He even skirts his duty by taking the movement disc out of Noa's labor and uses it in the economy model so that he can get a feel for it. There's things he doesn't like about it, but overall it just feels like a slightly cheaper model. That's until it gets into combat at least since a mysterious black custom humaniform labor arrives and starts going after Asuma. Using the name Griffin, it's piloted by the young Bud who does his deeds for the corrupt manager Richard Wong from Hong Kong. He's using the opportunity to scope out the competition and see how it performs against other models and gain all sorts of data. Asuma's fight against it is difficult since the economy model can't keep up with Noa's special programmed moves so it creates a fun and engaging combat scenario, particularly as other elements start getting into it.

From this opening engagement there's a series of battles as the SVU2 goes after the Griffin labor as it uses tricks to seem like its destroyed only to resurface later while carrying out Wong's plans. There's a lot of intrigue placed into this storyline since you have Wong trying to go unnoticed while in Japan and then the Three-S group that's come to ensure that nobody really realizes what's going on. Add in general corporate competition, confused cops and Noa with a shotgun for her labor and you've got a story that goes on for quite awhile. It's hard to describe since it's played out fairly slowly as there's people on both sides trying to discern what's going on but not revealing a lot until it gets closer to the climax of this volume. Though the show has been based on short stories to date, it segues right into this much longer storyline very easily and most of the main cast get to play out their roles quite well. Of course, there's still the actual ending to go on the next volume.

In Summary:
While in the past stories it was easy to forget a detail or two and still pick up the gist of the show as it went along, this one requires you to pay attention throughout all of the episodes as there are tiny pieces that bring about the bigger picture as it goes along. With numerous groups operating within the story and even more information given about the land reclamantion project and its objectives, the larger story about how Tokyo is changing in these times takes the center stage in both terms of labors and the people who live within it. In a sense, these are the payoff episodes to all the small stories that have come before as the team really starts working just as that. Very good material and one of the bright spots of the series.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Art Gallery,Sketch Gallery

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.



Mania Grade: B+
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: B
Packaging Rating: B
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: B-
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Central Park Media
MSRP: 29.98
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Patlabor