Released by: Madman Entertainment.
Aspect Ratio: 16:9 (anamorphic)
PatLabor, ah let me count the ways I love thee as a series.... PatLabor movies have always been pretty special things with the first movie being an excellent blend of semi-realistic action combined with social commentary and the second being more deeply mired on the commentary side of matters. Indeed the first film was one of the major reasons I became interested in anime with it being the second title I saw on video after watching 'Akira'. So it was with some pleasure I saw that the R4 release of the third PatLabor movie was imminent.
Wasted XIII is set in the PatLabor universe but really is a side story to the antics of the Special Vehicles Unit #2. Characters from the unit do appear in the film but for the first three quarters they really are just brief cameos in the background as the film concentrates on it's main leads of Detective Kusumi and Detective Hata of the Jonan Precinct. As the film opens both have been starting to notice a growing number of labors attacked, with the pilots being killed, around the Tokyo Bay area. Both are struck by the similarities of the attack but are at a loss to explain it and both begin investigating the matter in their own way and co-operating to discover the truth.
Kusumi is a traditionalist a little lost in the modern world. He finds computers a bit difficult, likes his vinyl records over CDs but has better social networking skills and an appreciation for how things work that Hata lacks. Hata is a little more straightforward seeing policing as just a job but is more comfortable using computers to dig up what he wants to find out. Both nicely complement each other as they work on the case. All of this builds to a conclusion where Special Vehicles Unit #2 has to be involved to deal with matters and prevent further attacks with the last third of the film being the elabourate set piece which sees all the various cards played out to their conclusion.
It is a nice story but also a remarkably straightforward one that really just tells a good yarn without leaving you much more to chew on. It is also a little odd because Kusumi could easily be Detective Matsui who has made appearances elsewhere in the films, which does beg the question why that character wasn't used. Especially when it is revealed that Kusumi and Goto have known each other for some time - just how many Detective admirers does Captain Goto have anyways? Still it is a very enjoyable piece so long as you weren't expecting that level of social musing that Mamoru Oshii is prone to.
Transfer wise we are given a widescreen 1.85:1 anamorphic transfer that I really can't fault. No major outbreaks of aliasing or other encoding issues just nice clear reproduction of the visuals of the film. And what visuals they are, backdrops and detail work is abundant everywhere with many sections recognisably chunks of Tokyo - even down to being districts depicted in previous PatLabor films. Character animation is realistic without any hyper deformed styles and in fact it even lost the trademark 'fisheye' lense trick that Oshii used to good effect in both the first and second PatLabor films. It does show it's heritage as being primarily cell drawn animation with a little clumsiness with running motions and car movement when turning but otherwise it is a beautiful piece of work.
Audio is presented in 5.1 Dolby Digital English & Japanese tracks that are lushly encoded allowing Kenji Kawai's beautiful musical score the room to breathe. The score alone, especially the end titles theme is worth the price of admission alone let alone getting the rest of the film. This will give your speaker set a nice work out with the score being directionally placed on the speakers quite carefully to provide a very inclusive feel to the track. Certainly what with the normal bangs and thuds of the movie combined with the deep booming resonance of the temple bells used as part of the soundtrack the subwoofer has plenty to do. The score is sufficiently remarkable that the second disc provides a 'Sound Art Gallery' showing various backdrops used in the film set to a five minute reworking of the main musical cues used in the film. The sound quality here is just remarkable.
Now this comes in two versions, a regular single disc release which gives you the film and a solitary extras of a twenty minute 'History of Patlabor' documentary along with a glossary of PatLabor universe terms. The more interesting version is the special edition release which comes with two discs. Here we are given all the features of the three disc special edition R1 version just adjusted to fit onto two discs. So you get two more behind the scenes documentaries on Wasted XIII one about the making of it another being interviews with the Seiiyus who provided the Japanese dub of the film. The 5.1 Sound Art Gallery which seems especially designed to allow you to use your subwoofer to annoy neighbours. A one hour radio show "Say Young 21", sadly not subtitled, done in the PatLabor universe and broadcast as a special treat for PatLabor fans using the same seiiyu as the films. Three episodes of the 'Mini-Pato' satire of the series as a whole done by Mamoru Oshii. Each episode focuses on a particular character and the oddities of the Patlabor universe like Goto explaining how inaptly named the Revolver Cannons are, to Shegai explaining the careful choice of robot design the series used & how it is going to advance robot anime and finally to Nogumi telling us where SVU2's funding really came from. It is all a delightful parody of the series and done in a paper puppet super deformed style to reinforce it shouldn't be taken wildly seriously. This also has a thirty minute 'making of' documentary as well as a textless opening sequence along with a karaoke version of the title sequence. Finally a nice little booklet is provided giving you some more details on both Wasted XII and Mini-Pato.
All in all a bumper crop of extras that are all pretty worthwhile. Nicest of all is that this is just as featured as the R1 release, nice work Madman!
If you are at all a fan of the PatLabor series then this is a no-brainer. This gives you another well crafted tale set in that universe, the worst you can have to grumble about it that it isn't centred around SVU2. For everyone else this isn't an anime classic that simply should be in everyone's collection but it is a very good anime film that deserves to be in a lot of collections. Personally I am wrapt with the special edition release and expect many other anime fans will be too.
A request was made to see the cover art for the special edition box,
as the cover images above are for the DVD covers within the set. So
here is the front and back covers of the box on the R4 release :-