2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
A lovable series well worth seeing,
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This review is from: Patlabor Mobile Police Ova Series 1 [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
I first discovered Patlabor through the first two wonderful films, having been lead there from a clip of the opening of the first. Though I missed out of a lot of the characterisation, as the cast had been established prior, it was no less a pair of fantastic films that I have re-watched several times over. Haven't seen them? Don't worry, this precedes them so you won't be missing anything on that front.
So without further ado (skip down for the tl:dr version if you want):
Patlabor The early days, as the name implies begins when the 2nd unit of Tokyo Police's patlabor division is set up. Unlike with the films (which until now were the sole media of this series available in the UK) you actually get to meet the characters, learn their names, see what makes them tick. Just you may end up skipping through the admittedly cheesy anime intro song. Now without spoiling anything I'll admit the use of their Labors is pretty sparse given the focus of the series, but this is not to the detriment of the story. If anything I would say it is actually better for it.
One of the reasons I adore the setting is that they actually take the time to give the world depth. Over the series you get a detailed glimpse into the politics and logistics of how a world with these mechanical behemoths would run. From activists opposing their use, to reasons why most would think twice before stealing one for their own purposes. This does not mean the series is dry of course: the nature of these details is explained or hinted at without diverging from the plot and without the use of the much hated 'infodump' (where you are given a lot of information in a short space of time).
I've probably still managed to make it sound boring (sorry!), but believe me they make the world breathe without boring the viewer.
The animation itself is also quite wonderful. Having seen a lot of modern anime which is a lot more digital in production. I can honestly say that the older hand-drawn style is much nicer (if at times a little strange looking). Another note is that even with how it was animated, there is quite substantial detail on the mecha such as in the cockpit, or when parts are removed/ripped off. Honestly I'd say I kinda miss this style of animation; the painted backgrounds for example are very nice to look at. I will admit it's possibly not quite up to par with what you'd see in one of Studio Ghibli's works, but it is no less well done.
Won't say much on the audio as it's a little time since I finished watching it. I will say that it's entirely in stereo, but this does not impact it badly, as unlike with a modern film for example, this was designed with stereo in mind. (Sorry, your extra speakers will just sit pretty for this one).
Now for some technical info related to the disk.
Unsurprisingly all 7 episodes are contained within a single disk, devoid of any kind of special features. Given the series' age I wasn't really expecting much in the way of extras, even the mini artwork on the reverse of the cover is a nice bonus. The menu itself is pretty simplistic and standard, showing all seven episodes so you can quickly resume where you left off. My sole compliant about all this is that you only have the option in sound settings to choose the English dub (why would you?) and the Japanese with English subtitles; for someone learning Japanese, being able to disable the subtitles but keep the audio can be very useful, but is an unfortunate rarity nowadays.
As for the episodes themselves, remember that the series is old and from a time where widescreen was for the cinema, and HD was non-existent. Whilst the menu stretches across the full screen, the anime itself is 'pillarboxed' into an induced 4:3 ratio in the centre of the screen. Whilst it does take a little getting used to (especially as the subtitles can stray outside of the anime 'window' slightly), this I believe is a smart move by the publishers, as it does not mean the anime has been cropped or stretched to fit the screen; something I'm sure you would agree would be rather irritating.
Now I do not own the DVD version so I cannot do a direct comparison, but despite it's age the series looks fantastic in HD, showing detail that would likely be lost on it's DVD counterpart. So yes, even though I cannot compare it is rare that it is not worth forking over the extra cash for the bluray version if you can play it.
So, a too long, didn't read version, for those who found the above more than a little wordy:
For any fan's of anime, mecha (or both!) I would wholeheartedly recommend this series. Even if you are new to anime, I would say try it, it's quite 'newbie' friendly and devoid of many of the in-jokes and 'fan service' that crop up in more recent series.
Equally if you loved the films get it, you will not regret it. If you haven't seen them, then I'm afraid that for now they are unavailable (without paying a lot of money or importing). I can only hope that the films (and the currently US-only released TV series) will see new light in the wake of this mini-series. Especially with a live-action series in the works in Japan. But until then, enjoy what you can.
And that's pretty much all I can type without writing an essay or ruining the plot. Really, I absolutely would say if you are reading this, go buy it. Right now!