Monday, February 19, 2007

Patlabor Mobile Police.

Patlabor remains the greatest japanimation television series I've ever seen. Its difficult to put into words given the breadth of the series (an original straight-to-video miniseries, two regular TV seasons1, followed by a 3rd direct-to-video season, & including 3 feature length films) & the largely capsule-nature of the vast majority of the series.2 But considering this, it prob isn't much of a surprise that the strongest suit of Patlabor is the members of Tokyo Police Special Vehicles Unit 2 (SV-2).

SV-2 - Noah Izumi, Asuma Shinohara, Ota, Kanuka Clancy, Cpts. Goto & Nagano, drivers , & mechanics Shige & Sakaki - is especially likeable given its "regular people in a sciffy setting" nature. They are just as prone to the foibles & habits of you or me, despite having to pit two mecha (the gorgeous Ingram AV98s) against all matter of "labor crime."3 Obviously this runs counter to the uber-competence of the usual combat mech-pilot (Gundam stuff, VOTOMS' Chirico Cuvie), as well as the high-concept dramatic psychology of Evangelion.

Plus, its funny.

'Tho I should stop be surprised at such discoveries, I, well, was surprised to discover there have been multiple Patlabor video games. I'm glad the 1st one I stumbled upon was the following, for which console it was made I'm not sure, but its reeks of Sega Genesis-era programming...

More alarmingly, there's apparently been a PS1 game...4

Ugh. Japanese language but the commands are clearly in english. Might have to dust off the ol' PS1.


1 These 2 reg. tv seasons being the best.
2 There are some smaller multi-episode story arcs nestled inside the 3 "seasons," & obviously the films contain more elaborate, linear stories, but for the most part individual episodes are stand-alones. This makes the series infinitely better suited for the occasional re-watchig - you can essentially pick an episode at random.
3 The franchise is surprisingly adept at framing the real-implications of a world w/ mecha in it. Mamoru Oshii, the director of the 1st 2 movies, was so good at it that his work on Patlabor secured him the directing reins for Ghost in the Shell in 1995.
4 Alarming because its means I could prob own it. & I really really really don't need to start messing around w/ the PS1 again. I've done that tour of duty.

3 Comments + Unabashed Criticism:

Blogger Fat Contradiction said...

Right, so Patlabor is Bird/Magic.


4:07 AM  
Blogger Fat Contradiction said...

Two (more/minor) points.

This would leave Astro Boy as, depending upon your preferred level of (metaphorical-historical) granularity:
Mikan, OR
Russell, OR
Wilt, OR
Wherever you source that fount of dominance and iconicity. Unfortunately, this doesn't work for me: I really prefer Astro Boy to be Oscar. Have to develop this another time, however.
Please look forward to it!!

Now and forever, I reject as pointless and malformed your segregation of "tv shows which originally aired on Japanese networks and were drawn" from "all other tv shows". Instead, I claim that all the tv is comparable to all the other tv--I love both Scrubs and Futurama, (and Cowboy Bebop and the X-Files) and see no defensible reason to discriminate between them based on nationality or visual modality.

Indeed, I claim further that the best of the tv merits comparison with (the) movies, rather than other arts forms.

I won't go into this at length here.

I will point out only that:
The first shows I saw which told one large story over a season--say 13 hours of entertainment--were indeed "tv shows which originally aired on Japanese networks and were drawn". However, the most important characteristic of these programs is that they told one large story over their season. This proved to me that this is precisely the length of a good novel--NOT a couple-hour movie!

This awesome suitability of a season of tv to tell a novel-sized story explains why so much of this tv stuff is absolutely terrific for a season, then tails off sharply: the first season WAS the story that the creators wanted to tell. For business reasons, more stories were needed, and these new stories didn't quite measure up. (FullMetal Alchemist is the best example here--the first season is as good a show as I have ever seen. Everything else I've seen has been nearly impossible to parse...or to care about. And just go ahead and script another season of Evangelion! Go ahead! I dare you! At BEST, you'll end up with those horseshit movies.)

-Fat, who would change his name to "Beat", if he had the stones.

4:39 AM  
Blogger d.d. tinzeroes said...

1) Yeah, I thought about extending the japanimation/NBA player parallel further, but ran into the problem you've essentially laid out: there's too many personalities in given eras to really make a 1-to-1 match-up.

That said, yeah, Astro-Boy occurred to me, as did Tezuka's other early animation foray, Kimba. You'd have to toss Lupin in there, &, by extension, really, all of Miyazaki's movies. Miyazaki really opens a can of worms, tho, since you have to decide if all his films count as "one NBA player" or do you want to divide them out & assign them (Spirited Away, for example, was the highest grossing Japanese-made film in Japanese history) individually. And really, you also have to throw the Doraemon & Pokemon franchises in there, since regardless of the fact they're geared overtly towards children (tho this makes them no less adorable to adults w/ the right mindset [ahem]), you can't deny thier cultural everpresence & straight-up $$$$-cow status.

Its complicated.

(2) I will accept that I mispoke. Patlabor is the best tv show I've ever seen - hence its the greated tv show ever of all time.

But I think I would still have to point out that Patlabor is a Japanese Animated program, characteristics other folks may consider demerits, specifically in contrast to American Live-Action programs, which, as a whole, I DESPISE.

That said, its funny you mention Scrubs, because Scrubs, along w/ the Office, share the main strength that Patlabor possesses (esp. the Office): an ensemble cast of characters wherein faults & neurosis & humor are used to outline the boundaries of a given character's moral & emotional universe. 'Tho the things they do make you laugh basically they NEVER do anything you wouldn't expect of them. This is a strength of Futurama &, of course, The Venture Brothers, as well.


9:54 AM  

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