Patlabor 2 (Oshii, 1993) Scene Analysis

This is an analysis I did a few years ago for a film studies course, where the class was asked to choose a movie, and choose to analyze a scene, which would be written up into an essay, and I choose the classic anime film, Patlabor 2, released on August 7th, 1993 (exactly a year before I was born) and directed by Mamoru Oshii (Ghost in the Shell, Angel’s Egg). This analysis was alot of fun to write, since the film is layered with symbolism and thought provoking themes that become even more apparent the more you revisit it, which is often the case with Oshii’s films and many great film makers, such as Ingmar Bergman, Andrei Tarkovsky, Jean Pierre Melville and David Lynch.

(video uploaded by isidorx, film owned by Shochiku, Bandai Visual, HEADGEAR, TFC and Production IG.)

Camera angles: The camera angles are technically drawn, as it’s animated, it’s very difficult to separate it from Mise-en-scene considering the medium the movie was created in. The extreme long shots on the abandoned parts of the city as well as the misty clouds give the sequence a very lost feel which fits the situation the characters are in, who happen to be two regular police officers on a boat in the middle of a vast huge desolate part of Tokyo, and are lost in thought. This gives the scene a heavy feeling of isolation. The first shot is an establishment shot of the protagonist, showing us he’s the main character, and is about to look up at the bridge. The next shot is of an abandoned bridge, showing part of Mise en scene, and the third shot is him continuing to be awed by the stature of the bridge, and makes him look vulnerable. The fifth shot is a mid-angle shot of Goto looking at the bridge, and his face is covered in shadow, suggesting a shadowy side of his personality, evident throughout the film. The sixth shot is a small depth of field angle, showing Goto looking at the viewer, with the bridge behind him making him look heroic and strong. This is followed a shot that shows off cloudy pollution and parts of the harbor that are shaded as if they are fading, adding to the dreamlike atmosphere of the shot. The eighth shot is a slow, observant tracking shot showing parts of the harbor, with the ruins contrasting with the skyscrapers, which tells us that it takes place in an urban city, and this correlates with state of Tokyo in the movie. The fourteenth shot is a low angle shot of two towers, that emphasize power, intending to make the viewer feel small, and strangely, the two towers look like guillotines, when coupled with the line “Remaining in denial about a fraud like this will bring a great punishment on our heads.”, seems deliberate.

Mise-en-scene: The scene takes place in an urban part of a city that is no longer being utilized, which has only two people in the scene, which gives of a feeling isolation. In two shots near an abandoned warehouse, crows and seagulls are utilized to give of a feeling that creatures that can fly are like watchers of god. The following shot is a long shot which shows a destroyed bridge, showing that the environment is desolate and that creates a sombre mood, which accompanied with the clouds in the background give off a dream like vibe to set the scene.

Use of sound: As this is an animated film, all the sound is done in post-production and is non diegetic, so instead of having people acting on set, they voices of the characters are done in a recording booth as the film is being made. The voices sound rather solemn, calm and focused on the topic they are talking about, giving of the impression that are characters are very philosophical as well as sophisticated. The rudder of the boat, coupled with the sound of the birds and water is utilized to make the scene feel more grounded in realism. In the second shot, the ambient music is used to create a sombre, yet calm atmosphere, and the dialogue starts in the fourth shot, which sound serious, yet tranquil and meditative, which relates to both Goto (protagonist) and Arakawa’s character, as they are very focused serious people.

Editing: The pace of the editing is very straight and to the point, and is rather slow, allowing the viewer to take in the visuals and be immersed in the atmosphere of the dialogue heavy sequence. There’s two parts where fading to another scene’s angle is used, for example, in shot 15, we are focusing on a warehouse, and the fading is done to go closer to that very warehouse, but for the most part, it’s very straight. The scenery here feels shaky, due to the protagonist being on a boat, which feels more grounded.

Links to where you can buy Patlabor 2 on DVD or Blu-ray: The out of print Honneamise release sublicensed in the UK by Beez Entertainment, which was avaliable in both a standard edition and a Limited Collector’s Edition, which had 1000 copies printed and had some fantastic extras, including 2 books, the first of which being an Archives book filled with interviews, concept art and essays, and the second book including the entire film’s storyboards with English translations for the liner notes, and an extra bonus DVD with a making of the film, which I’d highly reccomending tracking down for any serious fan of the film and the director, Mamoru Oshii. In Japan, a high defintion Blu-ray version of the film was released, which includes the English dub, and original Japanese audio with English subtitles, making it import friendly, it also includes theatrical trailers and is Region free. The only downside is how expensive it is, due to market differences in Japan. For those who live in the United States and Canada, Maiden Japan, a division of Sentai Filmworks, have licensed the movie for a Blu-ray & DVD release on July 21st, 2015, though will likely be region locked, if the other Patlabor releases from Maiden Japan are to go by, so you will need a multi regional blu ray player or a PS3/PS4 games console from the US to play it.


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