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: 19.95
- Running time: 125
- Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
- Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
- Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
- Series: Patlabor
Patlabor TV Vol. #11
By Chris Beveridge
September 19, 2005
Release Date: August 09, 2005
Patlabor TV Vol. #11
What They Say
© Central Park Media
When a mysterious company offers Noa a job piloting their new "Helldiver" robots, she must choose between the latest technology and Alphonse, the robot she has grown to love. Is this the end of the road for the Patlabor team? Gunfire and emotions burst out of control as our heroes take down a dangerous criminal…perhaps for the last time! Episodes 43-47.The Review!
The lengthy TV series finally comes to a close with the last five episodes that has Noa dealing with her place in the grand scheme of things.Special Note:
This release was originally solicited by itself but was canceled and resolicited as part of the final box set of the series. It now is only available in that set that also contains volume nine and ten but for the same price as volume eleven was originally solicited for. Our review however is just of volume eleven itself and not the box set or the previous volumes as they have been reviewed separately already.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:
Going with a nice shade of red for the final volume, the layout is similar to past volumes with the big logo along the top and the easy to find volume number along the bottom. Through the full color center strip there's a nice action pose of Alphonse with the gun that while a uniformed Noa is in the lower right corner. 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, it's a split screen where the background image is of one of the Patlabor's while in the strip that goes through the center it has the selections and the clips playing all set to a brief loop of music. Access times are decent considering the transitional animations that are played and the layout is pretty straightforward. Unfortunately due to the layout/labeling of the subtitle tracks, the disc read our players language presets but went with Japanese language and song subtitles only.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)
With the last five episodes, Patlabor brings itself to a close and continues to keep its focus mostly on Noa and what she has to deal with and grow through. While there have been numerous stories throughout the series that have some sort of ongoing plot or material to deal with, it's pretty much kept off the plate here as we get a few more standalone stories and then dealing with just Noa.
The standalone stories are a fairly decent mix but not much really stood out for me with them, though it was amusing having the reporter that I believe we've seen in previous episodes finally get something of a comeuppance by having one of the labors "go wild" and kidnap her for a bit. When I saw the preview for the Long Live CLAT episode I had to seriously roll my eyes as they finally tackled the New York side of things for Clancy and what do we get? Something that would pretty much be classified as a parody since the team is essentially the same as the Japanese team but more racially diverse and just weirdly done such as the Indian with the feather in his hair or the Gato characters a blonde. Shinohara as a pretty boy blonde does make a certain sense though… But either way, it was so hard to watch this episode because of how it handled things by seemingly like an homage but coming across more as a parody when you'd really rather see something serious.
Where the real meat of this volume comes in is after Noa gets interested in attending a Self Defense Force show where there'll be an opportunity to try out different kinds of Labors that she'd never get her hands on anyway. The temptation to follow into a different vocation is strong once she's there and with the way the "recruiters" can be as well as just having all this fresh new cutting edge technology. What this ends up leading into is Noa trying to figure out about moving on from things and how that has to be dealt with. This becomes really key as the last few episodes play out and the new AV-0 model is introduced and handed over to Section 1 as their newest piece of equipment.
I think it's at this point that Noa realizes that as much as she loves her Alphonse, there will come a day when it's going to be out of date and unable to keep up anymore and phased out. This starts bringing back all sorts of memories of her original Alphonse, a little dog she had a child. Like all pets this one passed on and she goes through some harsh memories over it and the way her father works her through it is interesting as he tells her to not cry because you have to be brave for the pet so that he can move on and not feel tied to this world. The parallels to the present day Alphonse who may find itself in the same position of sorts sits strongly with her, so much so that she just disappears from the Section for a few days to go home and try to work through the issues.
While there is a fair bit of action as the last episodes play out in addition to all the soul searching, it's really just there to cement what Noa works through and deals with. The strengths of the series are what we've been talking about all along in the reviews. While the show is often hailed as a landmark mecha series and the promotion of it as a mecha show is obvious, it is indeed all about the characters and the way they all live and work together as a police force. The labors are key to the series in terms of setting and motivations as well as other important elements but the focus and the strength in the writing always comes back to these very well developed and interesting characters that you can get easily attached to. In Summary:
The close of the series is both welcome and saddening. They certainly have more material that they could do but there was a certain freshness at this point that started to seem like it was missing and they weren't following up well on the various plots that they did introduce along the way. The core material is still good however with the characters but there just seems like there comes a time when it needs to be stepped back from. Though the series ended, I think the follow-up material which went in very different directions highlighted just how versatile the show really is and how many ways it could go. The movies weren't everyone's cup of tea but with the roots in the TV and OVA series, those feel far more fleshed out and enjoyable when you have all of this behind it. The TV series is definitely worthwhile and with it being so unbelievably cheap to get, even easier to recommend taking a look at. This is considered a classic for good reason.
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Sketch Gallery,Conceptual Artwork Gallery
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.