The Wonderfully Nuanced ‘Patlabor 2: The Movie’ Is 25 Years Old Today

‘Patlabor 2: The Movie’ celebrates its 25th anniversary.Credit: Shochiku

Before Mamoru Oshii went on to direct the Ghost in the Shell movie in 1995, a few years earlier he worked on a film that now celebrates its 25th anniversary and is arguably one of the best anime ever made.

Patlabor 2: The Movie was released on August 7, 1993, in Japanese theaters and was an altogether different kind of anime.

Part of the previously upbeat Mobile Police Patlabor series, Patlabor 2 was a markedly darker departure from previous entries in the series and with a very nuanced narrative.

Set in an alternative future, humanoid mecha called labors are part of everyday life and with that comes labor crime. This, in turn, necessitates the creation of a police force to tackle the misuse of labors.

However, labors also have military uses and its this history of combat labors that manifests in a complex tale of revenge and political intrigue.

While the first Patlabor movie was a very solid and straight up detective type caper, the second movie is far more ambiguous and carefully constructed by comparison.

With shadowy figures in the Japanese government working to create a state of chaos, it’s down to the SV2 team to figure out what is really going on and to stop a war in the process.

It’s very difficult for me to emphasize how important the second Patlabor movie is and how it ultimately shaped the future of anime, not least in how it helped to create the 1995 Ghost in the Shell movie.

If I am honest, while I like Oshii’s take on Ghost in the Shell a great deal, I think the second Patlabor movie far exceeds it. Not to mention Kenji Kawai’s beautiful score for the movie.

So if you enjoy an involved and delicately wrought story with excellent characters, then you will very likely enjoy the second Patlabor movie.

Patlabor 2: The Movie celebrates its 25th anniversary today and is available on Blu-ray via retailers such as Amazon.

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