Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Forming a List (Anime, Part V)

Continuing on with my ongoing list of anime.

Patlabor 2

It's unfair of me to isolate this from the overall Patlabor series, which includes two OVAs, a TV series, three movies and a number of mini-episodes. However, of all of the parts of Patlabor, this second movie stands by itself as one of the strongest political thrillers in live action or animation that I've watched.

In the near future (1990s) human-operated robots are used widely for varying work purposes. These robots are called "labors" and with the rise of the use of these labors, crime with them also increases. So in the introduction of Patrol Labor (Patlabor) divisions in police forces. In a future post I will talk more about the overall series and its large cast of characters. Only a handful of those characters star here, the rest being relegated to background characters.

To quote the description on the back of the special edition boxset, "Patlabor 2 draws police commanders Ki'ichi Gotoh and Shinobou Nagumo into the hunt for Tsuge, a rogue office of the Japan Self-Defense Froces connected with an escalating wave of terrorist attacks. But the investigation into the plot is guarded by secrets both personal and political, as the awkening fear of terror in Tokyo is slowly answered by the dream-like fade of democracy into martial law."

Many of the same staff who worked on Ghost in the Shell also worked on Patlabor 2. Headgear primaries Mamoru Oshii (director) and Kazunori Ito (scriptwriter) are present. The film watched in retrospect seems to foresee the state Tokyo would be in after the sarin gas attacks, as well as New York directly after the September 11 attacks. Indeed, in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, this was the film that I turned to for an artistic explanation of what was happening. The shots of military vehicles rolling through Tokyo as it begins to snow are some of the most beautiful scenes in the film, heigtened by Kenji Kawai's haunting score.

This is the one to show anybody who doubts how diverse anime can be.

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