An example of Japanese mecha animation (a genre devoted to robots and armored fighting suits), PATLABOR follows a squad of police who use mobile armored suits to combat out-of-control construction machines which are rapidly laying waste to Tokyo. Exceptional animation cannot overcome a
confusing plotline overstuffed with exposition and technical jargon.
In 1999 Tokyo, the Mobile Police Force is confronted by an increasing number of rogue Labors, manned construction machines which ignore their operators' control and rampage through the streets. The machines are being used on sites of new development and are stored on a massive man-made floating
island called the Ark.
Asuma Shinohara (David Jarvis) and Noa Azumi (Briony Glassco) are two Labor specialists who are called in by Police Captain Gota (Peter Marinker) to locate the cause of the malfunctions. They pinpoint a virus in the computer program used to run the Hyper Operating System placed in all new Labors.
The designer of the program is identified as E. Hoba, who reportedly committed suicide by leaping off the Ark into the sea.
Gota and fellow detective Matsui (Mac McDougall) trace Hoba's movements prior to his death and conclude that Hoba had designed the virus to put a stop to the Labors in order to halt the rampant overdevelopment altering the Tokyo landscape and destroying the older neighborhoods.
Asuma, Noa, and their computer expert Shige (Edward Glen) discover that the Labors run amuck when vibrations occur at the rate of 40 meters per second. When a newscast reports an approaching typhoon which threatens to set off every Labor in Tokyo, Captain Gota defies orders and directs his small
command to sink the Ark where the Labors are stored. In a grueling battle with both nature and technology, Asuma, Noa, and their team members manage to fight off the Labors as the typhoon rages around them and set off the purge which collapses the Ark and destroys the Labors.
This highly regarded feature version of a popular Japanese series done for both television and home video is distinguished by fluid animation of the mobile Labors, detailed renditions of varying sections of Tokyo, from the high-tech Shinjuku district to the back alleys and traditional houses, and
realistic character design.
However, aside from two brief action scenes at the beginning and one spectacular battle at the end, the film is a relentlessly talky account of the investigation into the Labors malfunctioning and involves endless computer talk and technical descriptions designed more for technophiles than
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- Released: 1989
- Rating: NR
- Review: An example of Japanese mecha animation (a genre devoted to robots and armored fighting suits), PATLABOR follows a squad of police who use mobile armored suits to combat out-of-control construction machines which are rapidly laying waste to Tokyo. Exception… (more)