Patlabor TV Vol. #05 -

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: All Region DVD
  • Released By: Central Park Media
  • MSRP: 29.99
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Patlabor

Patlabor TV Vol. #05

By Chris Beveridge     September 19, 2005
Release Date: May 13, 2003

Patlabor TV Vol. #05
© Central Park Media

What They Say
Noa discovers an underground cavern and is trapped in a monster’s lair. She’ll need the help of her giant robot, Alphonse, to escape with her life! Contains episodes 19-22

The Review!

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 few 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 very minimal, which is a huge plus.

A reddish brown color is used this time around in a similar style to the earlier volumes 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 animation of the interior of a Patlabor, there’s a segment of the menu that plays scenes from the show with the discs selections ring around it. Access times are nice and fast and the layout is pretty straightforward. There is just far too much English dialogue in the menus for my taste.

The extras are fairly good here, with the main attraction continuing to be the “meet the screenwriter” portion where they provide some really interesting bits into what went into the scripts and the shows overall design. There’s a simple TV trailer, a 90 second video gallery of conceptual artwork and a 60 second video gallery of cel artwork.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The Patlabor series continues on, though this turns out to be the first volume that for the most part left me fairly uninterested in. The last episode thankfully kept it from being a complete wash however.

The bulk of the episodes here are fairly straightforward action pieces and by the ropes in their presentation. While the cast is good throughout it, these are not episodes that really focus on the cast itself but rather the situations they get involved in.

The opening episode provides an interesting terrorist plot that explores the geo-front that’s being built underneath Tokyo. While it’s still mostly just the massive chasms right now with various chambers and the huge central one, there’s some interesting discoveries along the way, including a massive limestone cavern that goes down most of the way. There’s even an area where they come across some “ancestors” from the Tokugawa period. The story has someone who is against the Babylon project, which is where the excavated dirt from here goes to, cause a disruption and then gets deep into the core to plant some bombs.

This leaves Izumi and New York City terrorist trained Kanuka to take on the bad guy. While they manage to get down and into things well enough, shades of Patlabor WXIII show up in that there’s something evil and living down there that starts causing trouble. The setup until this point is decent, but after that I couldn’t get images of CHUD and the latest Patlabor movie out of my head, causing me to lose interest.

Another episode has team relations at an all-time low which is played up against the main story of a private security firm that’s now hiring pilots for their own labors. Their exercise, in which some of the labors they have and some of the Special Vehicles labors operate together for training purposes, goes rather wrong when an unknown labor gets involved in it. The show moves back and forth between the actions of the labors and the strife within the team, particularly in the direct relationship between Izumi and Shinohara. Their problems just didn’t click for me though and the way it set off the rest of the team just didn’t feel like it worked right.

The best episode on the disc is the last one though, where Izumi and Kanuka are giving a public safety class on labors. While there’s a fair amount of people there, tensions rise when an assumed yakuza boss shows up, complete with his classic gangster look and vernacular. When he befriends the “girlies” and ends up getting friendly with Division 2 in general, they learn that he’s stopped collecting normal “classic” things like swords and cars and instead has one of the top five private labor collections in the world.

But they’ve never even been able to properly start one up.

The show produces a great comical rivalry between two yakuza bosses over their collections and involve the Patlabor team in amusing ways. Between the main bosses buying of gifts and then inviting everyone over to critique his skills as he tumbles about, it plays perfectly with its comical style and the stunned expressions of half the cast. Goto has few lines in general, but they’re such perfect lines. There’s one sequence where, after having performed some good “vigilante justice”, the boss is awarded an official commendation from the chief. Watching his eyebrow twitch while reading the commendation for the boss is just beautiful.

While Patlabor certainly hasn’t lost its allure, these episodes were just too action heavy and unfocused on the character comedy I was looking for at the time, leading to some disappointment. The single episode at the end helped “save the day” as it was by reminding me just why I do enjoy this show more than a typical giant robot action series and hopefully I’ll see more of that in the next release.

Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles, 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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