Based on a popular animated Japanese made-for-video series, PATLABOR 2 tells of a plot to foment civil war in Japan in the year 2002. Stunning animation helps viewers negotiate a frequently confusing and talky story line.
When an unidentified military jet fires a missile that blows a hole in the massive Yokohama Bay Bridge, the incident sparks fears of rogue elements within the Japan Self-Defense Forces. A military intelligence investigator, Arikawa, approaches Captain Shinobu Nagumo and Captain Gotoh, commanders
of the Police Labor Force, a division employing one-man construction vehicles modified for law enforcement purposes (called Patrol Labors).
Arikawa identifies the man behind the attack as Yukihito Tsuge, a leading proponent of military applications of Labors, who had disappeared after a disastrous test of Labors on a United Nations peacekeeping mission in Southeast Asia in 1999.
Increased tension results when three F16-J fighter jets make an unauthorized flight over Tokyo. Soon the local police begin surrounding military bases. The military responds by sending tanks, troops, and helicopters to occupy the streets of Tokyo. Fears of a military takeover and the collapse of
civilian rule abound. Military helicopters attack key communications centers, including the phone company headquarters, as well as the hangars storing the police Labors.
Arikawa reveals to Gotoh that a landfill known as Lot 18 is the site from which Tsuge is manipulating the entire operation. Gotoh and Nagumo round up their Labor crew and refurbish some of the damaged Labors in time to launch a raid on Lot 18 by way of an abandoned construction tunnel. After a
fight with robot guards, Nagumo and the men emerge on the surface of Lot 18 only to find Tsuge sitting alone amidst thousands of sea gulls. Before he is handcuffed by Nagumo, Tsuge tells her his goal was simply to "make people aware that all their certainties, their illusions, can disappear
suddenly, completely, leaving no trace."
Alternately mesmerizing and infuriating, PATLABOR 2 has scenes of great beauty and power that represent Japanese animation at its most artistic and technically adept. Yet it suffers from long bouts of talkiness, a confusing plot line, an anticlimactic ending, a paucity of action, and several
strains of thought that are never fully explored. Gotoh and Arikawa engage in several lengthy philosophical discussions that would register better in subtitled form. The English dubbers try to imitate the monotones of Japanese voice artists, without capturing any of the subtle inflections that
make those monotones so multi-layered and effective in the Japanese originals.
Directed by Mamoru Oshii, whose GHOST IN THE SHELL was a 1996 breakout hit for Japanese animation in the US, this 1993 film has the director's characteristic flair for urban flavor, mixing sleek modern surfaces and technology with the textures of older, rundown industrial spaces, a contrast
emphasized in both GHOST and his previous PATLABOR film as well. The film includes an evocative score by Oshii's regular composer, Kenji Kawai. Also, the film adopts a design strategy truly radical for anime, making all the characters look recognizably Japanese. (Profanity.)
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- Released: 1993
- Rating: NR
- Review: Based on a popular animated Japanese made-for-video series, PATLABOR 2 tells of a plot to foment civil war in Japan in the year 2002. Stunning animation helps viewers negotiate a frequently confusing and talky story line. When an unidentified military jet… (more)