WXIII: Patlabor the Movie 3 (2002)

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Released 5-Dec-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Anime Main Menu Audio & Animation
Featurette-All About Patlabor WXIII
Notes-Patlabor Terminology
Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-Last Exile, Grave Of The Fireflies, Heat Guy J,Patlabor 1 &2
TV Spots
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2002
Running Time 105:12
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (105:13) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Takuji Endo
Fumihiko Takayama
Bandai Visual
Madman Entertainment
Starring Katsuhiko Watabiki
Hiroaki Hirata
Atsuko Tanaka
RyŻnosuke ‘bayashi
MÓna Tominaga
Toshio Furukawa
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $34.95 Music Kenji Kawai
Patrick Giraudi
Thanos Kazakos

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Japanese Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Titling
Smoking Yes, does animated smoking count? I guess so.
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

††† The Patlabor series of manga, TV shows and films holds an esteemed place in the hearts of many Japanese and international anime fans. It has taken nine years for the third film to see the light of day, however after such a long wait many fans expected more from the filmmakers IG, now famous for their work in Tarantino's Hong Kong rip-off Kill Bill.

††† The producers have tried to walk new ground by focusing their story on the two policemen, Kusumi and Hata, who are in charge of investigating the goings-on around the harbour, but by marginalising Special Unit 2 and their labours, the film instead becomes a farce. WXIII in fact retreads territory that the Japanese have been famous for since the 1950's - big monsters in Tokyo Bay! Sound familiar? Replace the WXIII creature with Godzilla and the Labors with a Mothra or Gamira, throw in a bit of government intrigue and you've pretty much got most of the story down already. I was expecting a lot more from this creative team and they have really let down Patlabor fans with the thin and worn out plot created for this cinema release.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality


††† As you would expect from a contemporary big budget anime release, the image quality is very good. The only flaw in the image translation to DVD is some interlacing, noticeable when you watch the film in frame by frame mode. Obviously you aren't going to watch the film that way, however it is disappointing that this release wasn't given a better quality transfer as the final result would have been a sharper picture throughout.

††† WXIII is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and is 16x9 enhanced. Unlike most anime, WXIII was made for the big screen so the original material was already in a wide format.

††† Patlabor 3's creators IG are known for their high production values and this is one of their best yet. The film combines traditional hand drawn animation with computer assisted work, both done exceptionally well, and avoids being too glossy whilst retaining a sharp and vibrant look. The second film in the series looks quite grey and drab in comparison, which admittedly suited its tone, but has also made it look a bit dated now. There is a lot of background detail work, particularly in the street scenes, and even in the few 'dark' sequences the image is as clear as the director intended it to be. Well, I guess it's impossible to really know that, but every scene looks great so...

††† An animator has much more control over colour in his work than a traditional filmmaker and you expect great colour work in a big budget anime such as this. WXIII is indeed a very pretty thing, and one of the nicest looking animated features I've seen, the kind of film you'd find running on every TV in an upmarket department store to show off the screens. Being the tasteful bods that they are, IG have made sure to keep things looking natural, unless they happen to be mutated underwater robot monsters, and most importantly by using shades and layers to give objects depth as well as just colour.

††† Well, this would normally be the 'artefacts' section where I tell you about all the spots and hairs and scratches in the transfer, but you would have to go over every frame of WXIII with a magnifying glass to find any here. This was made for the big screen and so the attention to detail on the original print would have been at a higher level than it would be for small screen television productions. I would also assume that the original material was digital to begin with and that the transfer or re-encoding to the DVD format should, theoretically anyway, be lossless and flawless.

††† The subtitle options mean that you can enjoy the film with the original Japanese audio and English titles, or if you prefer the English audio you can have just the signs that appear in the feature translated into subtitles.

††† This is a dual layered release using the DVD-9 or RSDL method. It is only the extras that are on the second layer, however, so there is no pause during the feature.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


††† Patlabor 3 is presented with a Dolby 5.1 soundtrack in both English and Japanese versions. The Japanese track has a slightly higher output level and the background atmospheric sound effects are a tiny bit clearer, hinting that the English track was processed more or with different equipment.

††† Both audio tracks are clear and precise with no noticeable sync problems and are well balanced with the other channels. Music mainly comes through from the front stereo pair and sounds ok, if a bit cheesy.

I have to be kicked in the pants for my previous entry in this section however as I criticised WXIII for poor use of surround and sub-woofer speakers. What was actually poor was the state of my decoder! A watchful reader pointed out that the 5.1 audio in Pat3 is actually quite good, which reminded me that I'd sent my Marantz off to the service centre the day after I'd written the review. I have re-watched the film using an alternative, quality, setup and yes I messed up good. The surround audio is actually quite good, with a lot of atmospherics such as rain and city bussle as well as some good directional sweeping sounds such as vehicles driving into view. Some directional dialogue is also present when characters are off screen. Your sub. woofer also gets a bit of a workout whenever the big machines are on screen, either the labors or the 'monster' as well as in some traffic sequences and effects sounds such as weapons fire and explosions.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use



††† The 'All About Patlabor WXIII' featurette is the main extra on this release and considering that this is an anime production it is quite a good little extra. It includes interviews with all the main voice actors and production people such as actor Miki Tori and director Fumihiko Takayama, selected scenes from the film and most interestingly sequences and interviews about a short series of stories made to be shown with WXIII in cinemas. This three part series called Mini-Pato (short for mini patlabor) is a quirky look at Special Unit 2, the main Patlabor unit from the first two films and the manga books. The 2-disc special edition version of this release includes the Mini-Pato series making it a tempting choice over this single disc version. The audio here is all Japanese only with subtitles.

Patlabor Terms

††† This is a very brief Glossary of terms to explain what a Patlabor actually is to neophytes and newcomers.


††† There are four trailers, three with Japanese dialogue only. Two of these were made for Japanese Television and one for the cinema while the other was made for a US cinema release. All are very similar.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

††The† R1 version has a 2.0 Japanese soundtrack on it as well as the 5.1 However there is no 'All About Patlabor' extra on it and so one has to say that the R4 is a better release. There is also a three disc R1 Ultimate Edition available in the US. But it wouldn't be fair to compare it to this R4 single disc version.


††† A weak, predictable plot really lets this film and all Patlabor fans down considerably. Without much input from the gang in Special Unit 2, the story plods along like a sci-fi police drama and the story builds to an unsatisfying climax that will leave fans wondering how the script got through development without being changed or scrapped. As a DVD release, however, it is quite good with an interesting documentary on the history and making of the film and good image quality. Apparently there is also a two disc version with the Mini Pato series included as well as a few more extras.

Ratings (out of 5)


© George Soropos (read my bio or the puppy dies)
Saturday, February 07, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDDenon DVD-1600, using S-Video output
DisplayLOEWE Planus 4670 70cm 16:9. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderMarantz SR7200. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationLuxman LV600 valve hybrid stereo amp for front stereo pair and Marantz SR 7200 for centre and surround channels
SpeakersAltec Lansing Model 15's front stereo, matched Krix Centrix front and rear, Krix matched rear surrounds, Sony rear subwoofer (Altec's provide sub for front)

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Comments (Add)
Mini Pato - cztery REPLY POSTED
Did we see the same disc? - cztery REPLY POSTED
Some other niggles I noticed... - cztery REPLY POSTED
Bits and bobs... - cztery