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Patlabor The Mobile Police: Collection 1(TV) (1989-1990)
Giant Robots, sociopaths, madmen waving guns: these arenĺt just the problems the Mobile Police have to deal with every day, these ARE the Mobile Police. But in a world where giant robots called Labors are frequently used for criminal purposes, the boys and girls in blue have to face things that are even bigger and scarier.
For more about Patlabor The Mobile Police: Collection 1 and the Patlabor The Mobile Police: Collection 1 Blu-ray release, see Patlabor The Mobile Police: Collection 1 Blu-ray Review published by Jeffrey Kauffman on July 22, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Miina Tominaga, Toshio Furukawa
» See full cast & crew
Patlabor The Mobile Police: Collection 1 Blu-ray Review
24 for the price of 12.
Reviewed by Jeffrey Kauffman, July 22, 2013
Much like the sometimes dunderheaded characters it depicts, Patlabor The Mobile Police didn't do things in the typical fashion for most anime. A lot of anime properties are based on preexisting manga, and they frequently then port over to anime as television series, ultimately also offering "special" episodes or extended fare in the form of OVAs. Patlabor The Mobile Police actually got its start as OVAs (with a more or less simultaneously released manga tie- in), and only after the success of those properties (which were recently released on Blu-ray by Maiden Japan as Patlabor The Mobile Police Original OVA Series: Early Days) became an "official" television series. Complicating events is the fact that all three of these entries have differences between them, something that's only further obfuscated by the fact that the feature film outings in the Patlabor universe also have significant variations in character and timeline. That may seem like a daunting hurdle to overcome, but in fact if viewers simply accept each individual property on its own merits, there's not much that will need explaining. The television series is rather self-contained and does a good job delineating characters, back stories and basic plot. As with the OVA franchise, a narrator gives us a very quick introduction to the general Patlabor universe, where huge mecha called Labors have been invented to help with physical projects in the near future (which frankly now has become the near past). Unfortunately, the criminal element soon figured out they could use these gigantic Labors to aid them in their illegal activities, and a mecha based crime wave began. Our trusty heroes are members of a special police squad known as the Patrol Labor, or Patlabor for short, cops who have their own huge mecha to combat those commandeered by various bad guys. For better or worse, that's the gist of Patlabor The Mobile Police, but the show ends up being as much about the interrelationships between the various characters as it does about the admittedly never ending battles between the heroes and the villains.
As with many live action sitcoms which feature cops, Patlabor The Mobile Police features a lovable crew of misfits, few of whom seem especially well equipped to be keeping the peace. One of the chief characters actually is relatively competent, a young woman named Noa Izumi, an exuberant cadet whose enthusiasm sometimes does get her in trouble, though at least she's able to pilot her mecha better than many of the men in her division. Those guys include Asuma Shinohara and Isao Ohta, two well meaning mobile policemen who nonetheless have a knack for getting into scrapes. Asuma is the more skilled mecha pilot of the two, but even he makes some mistakes in various episodes.
There's a rather large supporting cast weaving in and out of various episodes here, including SV2's Captain Goto, who's usually two or three steps ahead of his charges but who at times doesn't play well with others. Other SV2 characters include a sweet driver named Haromi, a huge kid at heart whose childlike nature only slightly masks his unbelievable strength. Other divisions have similarly colorful casts which come into contact with the main characters of SV2, but it's to this series' credit that interrelationships are almost always crystal clear and the main characters all are very distinct and accessible.
Patlabor The Mobile Police's first several episodes actually spend more time introducing the various characters and getting them set up in SV2 (their mobile division) than dealing with a bunch of marauding criminal who need to be put down. The series is often quite amusing and occasionally laugh out loud funny. Once the basic crew has been introduced and we have a good grasp on their basic characteristics, the series starts to branch out with more traditional cops and robber stuff, albeit clad in gigantic mecha. There's still a surprising amount of heart here, though, with some unexpectedly touching developments wending their way into various episodes, including some nice little touches with relatives of the main characters not always being that excited about the duties of the Patrol Labor.
While the television series isn't ostensibly linked to either the OVAs or the feature films in the Patlabor franchise, there are nonetheless links which fans who have at least seen the OVAs will recognize. Many of the same characters are of course on hand, but there are even some similar plots and story arcs, albeit handled in different ways some of the time. The series has a wry, sometimes self-deprecating, sense of humor that makes it effortlessly ebullient, with a good balance between character development and basic action elements.
Patlabor The Mobile Police: Collection 1 Blu-ray, Video Quality
Patlabor The Mobile Police is presented on Blu-ray courtesy of Maiden Japan with an AVC encoded 1080p transfer in 1.33:1. Maiden Japan is trumpeting the fact that this is sourced from remastered elements (see the blurb in the audio section below), and the results are really nice looking, with a painterly, old school style that lovers of vintage anime should love. Colors are bold and nicely saturated and line detail is generally quite sharp and well detailed. There's a tendency for some lackluster animation at times, especially in establishing shots, but the action elements are uniformly well done.
Patlabor The Mobile Police: Collection 1 Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Patlabor The Mobile Police contains the following text in an insert included inside the keepcase:
In order to provide the most satisfactory viewing experience for both old and new fans of Mobile Police Patlabor TV, Maiden Japan's production team has secured both the very latest Japanese high-definition video remaster of this iconic series, as well [as] the original audio masters produced for the classic English language dubbed edition. However, when the time came to marry the two versions of the TV series together, it became clear that attempting to sync all of the language options to the same video stream would have required making significant compromises in the quality of at least one of the two versions. Therefore, to preserve the best possible quality and presentation for each version, Maiden Japan's DVD and Blu-ray releases of Mobile Police Patlabor TV include the Japanese and English language editions as separate entities. Although you will only see each episode listed once on the menu of your disc, your player will be directed to the correct version of each episode based on your current language settings. Please be sure to the disc menu to select the language of your choice as you will be unable to do so via your remote.This might seem on its face to be a really odd disclaimer. What possible problem could there be "marrying" audio to video, whether or not that video is remastered? All becomes clear with the realization that the English dub of Patlabor the Mobile Police featured edited versions of the original Japanese language versions. For example, the first episode in this set runs 25:12 in its original Japanese language version but clocks in at only 24:28 in the English dub. (Some of the edits are really kind of strange, but that's a separate issue entirely.) This also explains why it appears that only four episodes are included on each BD-50, for in reality there are eight.
In terms of actual audio quality, both languages are delivered via lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 tracks which sport excellent fidelity and wide dynamic range. There are quite notable differences in the voice actors between the languages which fans will want to check out. In fact, it's a rather interesting exercise to watch the different versions of each episode just to note what was edited out and to speculate why.
Patlabor The Mobile Police: Collection 1 Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Patlabor The Mobile Police: Collection 1 Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Patlabor The Mobile Police is a very sweet natured show that has a bunch of really memorable characters, some smart comedic writing and, once we get past the introductions, some nicely done action elements. There are some mini- arcs in these first twelve episodes that set up some nice back stories and point toward future conflicts. The series has a bit more of a rote aspect than the OVAs, but it's still hugely enjoyable. This Blu-ray set features excellent video and audio and comes Recommended.
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