* Fans of the PATLABOR anime series know the basic scenario:
in the near future, big robotic machines known as "Labors"
are common in industrial and military roles, and to combat
crimes performed by Labors a police "Patrol Labor" group is
set up. The heroes of the series are the personnel of
"Patlabor Division 2", a self-described "gang of losers" that
manage to get things done in spite of a maverick reputation.
The PATLABOR 1 movie involves Division 2 dealing with a rash
of Labors running amok, with suspicion falling on the operating
system for the Labors. Suspiciously, the chief designer of the
OS, an E. Hoba, committed suicide under bizarre circumstances.
The devious Captain Goto of Division 2 enlists (using a
little trickery) officer Asuma Shinohara to get to the bottom
of things, and soon a frightening plot emerges ...
The PATLABOR 1 movie is a reasonably well put together piece
of work, with good (if not extraordinary) production values,
and an intelligent (if not extraordinary) script. It is certainly
better than much of the indifferent anime that gets churned
out on a regular basis by Japan's animation studios.
However, PATLABOR 1 is basically just a scaled-up PATLABOR
TV episode, and the only thing it really brings to the party
is better production values over the TV show.
If you like the PATLABOR TV series, you'll probably like this
movie. If you were lukewarm on the TV series, you might not
find the movie very stimulating. In comparison to the
follow-on and outstanding PATLABOR 2 movie, it looks more like
a creditable practice exercise for producer Mamoru Oshii,
preparing him for better work to come.