This final set moves away from the storyline that captured my interest previously, but manages to keep the pace and stay interesting anyway.
What They Say:
The war on crime and the battle for superior technology collide as Shinohara industries unleashes a rash of new Labor designs and SV2 finds itself stuck in the middle of product evaluation trials. That would be trying enough at any time, but when the department’s already being overwhelmed with handling security for the upcoming Babylon Project Conference, fighting terrorists, insurance investigators, and even tracking down monsters in the sewers, it may be the final straw that breaks the Ingram’s back.
If all that wasn’t enough pressure, SV2’s rivalry with Division One escalates to all out warfare when SV1 gets the first of the latest production models. The gloves are off and there’s a heavy metal smackdown on the horizon as Noa must strap herself into the cockpit once again to prove that her Alphonse is still the undisputed king of robotic law enforcement!
For this viewing, I took in the English dub, which is offered in 2.0. The Japanese track is also 2.0. Maiden Japan opted to use the original US Manga Corps/Central Park Media dub, instead of recording a new one, which I assume is the reason we only have it in 2.0. With the action in it, a 5.1 mix might have been nice, but it’s not a killer. Being an older dub, it’s not as clean as newer dubs are, but it just added to the enjoyment for me. People who are picky about their dubs might grumble at it, though.
For its age (1989), this is a good looking anime. The transfer is clean, with no noticeable technical issues. The coloring is a little dull in places, but I think that’s more a reflection of the time it was made rather than a technical flaw. Like the sound, the artwork isn’t quite as clean as a modern show might be, but it looks really nice for an 80s anime.
Interestingly, the first set separated the English and Japanese dubs into completely separate tracks, making it necessary to start over if you wanted to switch between the two. You couldn’t switch on the fly. That’s not the case here, as the tracks are mixed in together like pretty much any other release. I’m guessing it’s because there’s no differences between the Japanese and English releases in these episodes.
The three discs on this release come in a single wide amaray case, with two center inserts to hold the discs. The front cover has a piece of original art with Kanuka and Kurosaki (which is interesting since his involvement in the series ended in the last set). The back has the series summary and some screens. The tagline parodies continue with “It takes more than just S.W.A.T.…To Catch Japan’s Most Wanted” (with Japan’s Most Wanted in the same logo as the America’s Most Wanted TV series). I’m enjoying these puns, so I’m looking forward to seeing what they have for later releases.
Pretty basic menu for this release. The episodes are lined up against the left hand side of the screen, with the submenus underneath. The series title is set off to the right. The colors are a fairly drab green scheme, but the selection is easy to see.
There are no extras on this set other than some previews of other Maiden Japan titles.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
This final set contains episodes 37-47 of the TV series. After the recent incident with the Gryphon Labor, SV2 finds themselves under a new attack: this one is not a physical one, though. This time, SV2 finds themselves under increasing pressure for the reckless abandon they employ while doing their duty. After what should have been a routine arrest destroys a neighborhood, the division first has to appeal to their insurance company to keep funding them, which only puts their activities more into the light. After satisfying the insurance, though, they come under increasing scrutiny when SV1 finally gets their long awaited upgrades and their Phantom units are replaced by Zeroes, which allow them to be far more efficient than SV2 in their Ingrams. With all of this, the members of SV2 begin to feel obsolete, but their pride will not allow them to let go.
When I finished the last set, I was really interested to see where they went with the SHAFT storyline, and to see what happens with Utsumi and Bud. So I’m pretty upset that they considered the destruction of the Gryphon to basically be the end of the storyline and moved on from there. It was the basic storyline they were building to from the start, and it ended with 11 episodes to go. From what I gather, this storyline only ever existed in this TV series, and Utsumi never appears at any other point in the Patlabor continuum, so I would have liked to see it fully play out.
Now, that said, while I would have loved to have seen them continue that, what we got instead was good in its own right. Rather than facing an physical foe, SV2 are instead forced to face their own issues and come to grips with their potential obsolescence. We saw the beginnings of this at the end of the last set as Noa started to feel more useless, despite the fact that she saw nothing but success in her duty. She was starting to feel as if she was not good enough. As this set progresses, that feeling starts to permeate the entire team (all but Gotoh, that is, since nothing can shake that man). Watching them have to deal with the fact that they are no longer the best of the best is fascinating in its own right. I might have missed the SHAFT story, but this was a good replacement.
Through the OVA series and now 47 episodes of the TV series, I have really struggled to come up with a succinct description of Patlabor, but I think I figured it out during this last set: it is the structure and dynamics of Dominion Tank Police crossed with inanity and hijinks of You’re Under Arrest. And it mixes the two quite brilliantly. While I really wish they had continued with the SHAFT storyline after the destruction of the Gryphon, I cannot really complain with what we got. Though the series changes gears pretty dramatically in this set, it is still Patlabor at its best. I thoroughly enjoyed this series from start to finish, and as long as its age isn’t a deterrent, I would recommend it to anybody.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
Content Grade: A-
Audio Grade: B
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: A
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: N/A
Released By: Maiden Japan
Release Date: November 5th, 2013
Running Time: 300 minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Magnavox 37MF337B 37” LCD HDTV, Sony PS3 w/HDMI Connection, Durabrand HT3916 5.1 Surround Sound System