Patlabor TV Vol. #03 - Mania.com



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Info:

  • 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: 120
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Patlabor

Patlabor TV Vol. #03

By Chris Beveridge     September 19, 2005
Release Date: December 03, 2002


Patlabor TV Vol. #03
© Central Park Media


What They Say
When you’ve got a giant robot, life isn’t always easy. All the high-tech gadgetry in the world can’t stop the pain of losing a loved one, or being rejected on a date. Or can it? Join the Patlabor police as they prove there’s no problem that can’t be fixed with a giant robot and a few good friends!

The Review!
The third installment of Patlabor manages to get more involved in the characters and lets the actual Labor pieces slide a bit, once you get past the first episode.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this disc in it's 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 first two volumes, but the print just doesn’t seem to have held up well over the years, especially with the bitrate hitting the 9’s as often as this 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 non existent, which is a huge plus.

Packaging:
The front cover here, already overwhelmed by the large logo and the numerous text pieces along the bottom, provides a nice couple of mixed shots of the Labors as well as Noa. The back cover provides a couple of animation shots and a decent summary of what the show is about. The discs features are clearly listed as well as the episode numbers and the volume numbering. Being in a clear keepcase, the reverse side of the cover is in black and white and shows off a few more bits of animation artwork. Chapter selection, bilingual actor credits and general production credits take up the remaining space here.

Menu:
Using some of the images from the front cover as well as some general Patlabor styled graphics as a grid, there’s a segment of the menu that plays scenes from the show underneath the selections for the disc. Access times are nice and fast and the layout is pretty straightforward.

Extras:
There are some interesting extras included in this volume. Apparently during a convention in 2002, CPM held a fan voice contest and from that picked a winner who would voice a supporting role in this volume of Patlabor. The winner, Robin Custeau, took the prize and ended up going into the recording session and pulled off a great performance for the character she has, which we see part of here in this extras. I’m hoping to see more of these in the future. Meet the characters gets another round here as well as the second interview with screenwriter Michiko Yokote, which takes up several pages. The art and sketch gallery provides about two minutes worth of images to the opening song.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
While I’ve enjoyed the first two volumes of Patlabor, I found this one, after the initial action episode, to be much more enjoyable as the time spent with the characters felt more real. Their personalities were definitely apparent from the start, but now is the time when we get to know more of them and see more of their interactions as they work more closely as a team and as friends.

One of the best episodes in the series so far is Ota’s Afternoon, in which Ota’s mother brings him home to deal with an arranged marriage that she and a friend of hers have set up. Ota’s all for it, having seen the picture and the woman in mind is a stunner in her traditional clothes. While there’s enough comical stuff to do with an arranged marriage meeting, the fun with this is that it’s also Ota’s first time actually dating, so when he takes Ayano out, he gets a sizeable number of suggestions from everyone in the group. They do luck out in some respect though since Noa’s there and can provide a female opinion. Watching Ota on his couple of dates with Ayano is great, seeing all the things he does and the mistakes he makes. Ayano is also noteworthy as on the English track, the aforementioned contest winner portrays her.

Another good episode that gets to highlight Asuma’s jealousy a little as well as provide a good amount of group fun is Be Generous. The episode opens with everyone in their proper uniforms to greet the arrival of a prince whose country supplies Japan with a lot of its oil needs. The prince is a young man to the surprise of most of them, and he heads off with other officials to spend time in various discussions.

All of this is of course a ruse. The real prince shows up after most folks have gone and just the Special Vehicles Unit 2 folks are left. The real prince, a slight bit younger than the ruse, has come to Japan for the sole purpose of checking out the Patlabors, as he wants to introduce them to his country. Even though there’s no labors in his country. But, much like Noa, he’s a machine geek and the two of them hit it off. The prince moves into the barracks and essentially goes native for some things, but still does things in a big way when it comes to areas such as bedding and food. And everyone gets to share the wealth when it comes to the food, which has a lot of amusing moments.

The final episode continues to the group love moments of a sort, as after getting their butts handed to them in a police division wrestling match, Noa and Clancy end up having to team up with each other without any backup. Both have such strong ways of doing things that they conflict and conflict hard. Shinobu gives Goto the right look and a little bit of dialogue about the need for a team to work together and to work out their problems. Goto’s solution is positively perfect, which is to take everyone out to get drunk.

Goto manages to come off beautifully in this episode, from his opening moment in his gi on the mat, with his usual bored expression to how he deals with everyone getting more wasted than he thought they would be. Goto’s probably my favorite character of the series with the way he so perfectly deadpans everything in life.

This volume managed to win me over more to the cast members themselves, though I still find a lot of the actual Patlabor action moments to be fairly uninteresting. It’s definitely the characters that are the draw here and these episodes let a number of them shine well.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Fan Voiceover Contest,Meet the Characters,Art Gallery,Screenwriter Interview

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.

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