Patlabor TV Vol. #04 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: B

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  • 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

Patlabor TV Vol. #04

By Chris Beveridge     September 19, 2005
Release Date: February 11, 2003

Patlabor TV Vol. #04
© Central Park Media

What They Say
Policewoman Noa Izumi loves piloting giant robots with a passion. Trouble is, she’s got a knack for demolishing the city she tries to protect. But chaos breaks loose when Noa is kidnapped by a gang of thugs, and the police rally to rescue their strongest fighter.

The Review!
While some talk of the Babylon Project permeates these episodes, they all focus on single stories that continue to provide some great characterization and building up of the individual components of the series.

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.

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.

The banded style works this cover over again in a purple shade, where 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 portrayed between two Labors, giving the action fans a glimpse of some of the goodness within. 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 fuller talent credits here as well as the chapter stops for all four episodes.

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. Just a bit too much English dialogue in the menus for my taste.

The extras this time around are minimal but good, as the third installment of meet the screenwriter talks to the author of three of the novels and her experiences in dealing with the men of the production team, such as Oshii. There’s also a brief video image gallery showcasing pieces from these episodes.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
As we get closer to the halfway mark of the TV series, we get into some good character episodes as well as some general filler-style episodes that help expand on the world of Patlabor. These episodes fit that mix pretty well, which means there’s some enjoyable episodes here with little overall impact.

Probably the weakest of them is the first one, which goes in the environmental direction as a humpback whale has come into Tokyo Bay and has decided to hang out for awhile. This gets all the people in a tizzy and they’re all pro-whale and trying to come up with ways to save it. Most of the efforts fail, especially when they realize it had come to the bay to give birth. Most of the episode is used to focus on the whales and Hiromi’s past with them, but also works to point out how poorly regarded Division 2 is among the rest of the divisions across the government as they’re kept from doing much with this at all. Of course, you know they’ll save the day in the end.

The group ends up getting sent up to Hokkaido later to do some good PR with the people and provide support and show off some at an ice sculpture festival. This is one of those truly elaborate festivals where they build huge mansions and other buildings out of ice, most of them being done with a variety of labors all over. There’s a good amount of distaste over this kind of job among the officers, and there’s some basic discussion of just what they’re jobs are turning into. But there’s also the mention of the Babylon Project again, as it turns out that an extremist group is making a statement by blowing up the festival’s sculptures.

Another episode that ends up in the same vein, where PR is the main goal, has an idol singer named Kana join the team for a weeks worth of training. The goal is to have her lead a parade of sorts of Patlabors during a festival, thereby generating some much needed goodwill towards the Division and the Labors themselves. Kana and Noa end up working together, and things go wrong when a group of criminals end up kidnapping the wrong person. It’s a fairly straightforward episode, but it did provide some good laughs with everyone fawning over Kana.

The best episode of the disc brings the focus squarely on Captain Goto. Things start off with him getting a death threat, something he almost seems to expect, which causes him to become somewhat tense and not quite himself as he starts watching every little thing that comes his way. He doesn’t pass the information on to anyone else and just goes to deal with it himself, but the group ends up trying to discover what’s changed about him through various means of subterfuge, most of the time with it backfiring onto them.

Goto’s one of the best characters in this series with the way he carries himself and his usual bored look and deadpan deliveries. Having an entire episode dealing with him and everyone trying to understand him plays out beautifully, especially with someone trying to off him at the same time. This episode really helped raise up this volumes content overall.

While not one of the best discs of the series so far, there’s a lot of great subtle moments and one really great episode here. The show continues to be fun, though if you’re just hoping for continual Labor action may be disappointed since there’s not a lot, but a few really good moments. As I get deeper into the series, I’m more and more happy that CPM continues to take the chance on this show with its dub and DVD release.

Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Text Interview with the Screenwriter,Art & Sketch Gallery

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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