We now come to the final installment (thus far) of the Patlabor Franchise – WXIII, set between the first two movies, in OVA continuity, but featuring little-to-no-members of the original cast, and with a new director for the franchise, and a new writer for the franchise, and a focus on the detective side of the equasion, rather then the giant-robot side. Does it still work, or not so much?
Cast, Crew, and Other Info
Hiroaki Hirata as Shinichiro Hata
Katsuhiko Watabiki as Takeshi Kusumi
Atsuko Tanaka as Saeko
Ryunosuke Ohbayashi as Kiichi Goto
Directed by Fumihiko Takayama
Written by Miki Tori
Animation by Madhouse, Bandai Visual
After a series of grisly attacks on labors working along the waterfront in Tokyo, CID detectives Shin’ichiro Hata and Takeshi Kusumi are assigned to investigate. What they will unearth will call for the assistance of SV2…
This is a very well put together horror-mystery, with a little bit of Kaiju thrown in there as well. The investigative elements are very well done, and you really get everything you need to know to figure it out.
Alright, look at that cast list. Let’s run down the characters from the series and the OVAs who aren’t on there because they either don’t have lines or are nothing more than a glorified cameo: Ota, Noa, Asuma, Shinshi, Shige, Sakaki, Hiromi, Matsui, Shinobu. That’s right – none of the major characters from the OVAs or the other two movies get any sort of appearance other than, at best, a speaking Cameo. The art department even forgot to put “Alphonse” on Noa’s labor! You could take all the Patlabor trappings out of this movie, and it would still work, which is all well and good, but when I go see Star Trek movie, I want to see the crew of the Enterprise (or the Defiant, or whatever) and I want them to be the stars because it’s their franchise. When I went to see Final Fantasy Advent Children. I expected to see the cast of the games, and I was not disappointed. Consequently, when I go to see a Patlabor movie, I expect it to focus on Division 2 of Special Vehicles, Second Section, and for Goto, Shinobu, Matsui, Noa, Asuma, and all the others to get some gorram screen time. And really, they could have had Hata’s partner be Matsui instead of two new guys, and that would have been great. I would love to get some more character development for Matsui, and as I mentioned in my review for Patlabor: The Movie 2, I’d be perfectly willing to watch a spin-off series focusing on Matsui.
Also, I was really disappointed by the graphic violence in this movie. The film got an R-rating for a reason. It’s not as violent as Akira, but it’s fairly violent – and I’d describe it as a more legitimate “R”. Nonetheless, this movie has about 13 deaths in it (including the monster), twice as much as the rest of the franchise combined. The rest of the franchise, more or less, is family fare. The second movie would probably go over the heads of most kids, even smart ones, but if you’re looking for My Kids’ First Oshii movie, Patlabor I is perfect, and Patlabor II wouldn’t be too bad. This movie is definitely not family fare. Again, if this wasn’t a “Patlabor” movie, that wouldn’t be a complaint. However, it is a Patlabor movie. I would have the same expectations for the violence level of a Star Trek movie as well.
Nudity and Violence
As I mentioned under the low points, there is some fairly graphic violence, as well as 12 on camera or otherwise implied deaths, with the on-camera ones having a fair amount of blood splatter.
Originality: This is actually an adaptation of the Giant Monster episode of the OVA, but with some very substantial changes in terms of the origin and the focus, the removal of the anti-climactic ending from the OVA episode, and absolutely none of the humor whatsoever. All of the serious beats are there though. 3 out of 6
Animation: The animation is very nicely done, though I’d say it’s not as good as the animation from movies 1 & 2. For a certain extent, the use of computers for the 2-d animated sections of the film leads to a certain loss of texture, which counts in an urban environment. Otherwise, it’s alright. 4 out of 6
Story: The story is fairly good, and, again, with all the Patlabor trappings removed it would still hold up fairly well. 4 out of 6
Voice Acting: The voice acting is fairly nicely done, including the brief English voice acting from the sole English speaking character in the film. 4 out of 6
Emotional Response: Honestly, the lack of the Patlabor characters in this film hurt my emotional investment in this movie. If this wasn’t a Patlabor movie, I probably would have gotten more invested in the new characters, rather than viewing them as interlopers. For that matter, if the Patlabor characters had been included more in this film (I already mentioned one character that could have been replaced with Matsui in particular) I probably would have cared a little more. 2 out of 6
Production: The sound quality here is very good, and the score is pretty good as well. There are a few segments in particular which remind me of the soundtrack to Heat. 4 out of 6
Overall: To be honest, while this movie does a lot of things right, I just didn’t like it. I came in expecting a Patlabor movie, and I didn’t get one. Which, when you bill your movie as a Patlabor movie on the box and in the ads, is a mistake – on the studio’s part. The one sign that I got that suggested that they realized their goof is in the opening credits, where the word “Patlabor” does not appear. 2 out of 6
In total, Patlabor: The Movie 3 – WXIII receives a 20 out of 42.