Saturday I woke up to the news that director Mamoru Oshii is bringing his beloved Mobile Police Patlabor to the live action screens. The Next Generation: Patlabor is planned for 2014, which is truly remarkable. I was thrilled with the news. Most interesting is Mamoru Oshii is at the director's helm. Anyone who knows the work and worlds of Mamoru Oshii will find that news either exciting or troubling or maybe a little bit of both. He has something of a reputation for being uneven, but his style is entirely his own. In some respects I would submit you wither generally like or love him or you just don't.
If the release date for The Next Generation: Patlabor proves to be true, it would pit Patlabor squarely in the scorching summer path of the much anticipated cinema excitement of director Gareth Edwards hotly anticipated Godzilla release through Legendary Pictures, the company behind mammoth favorite Pacific Rim. I am like a kid in a candy store with this kind of information.
Like Space Battleship Yamato, directed by Takashi Yamazaki, I would expect the non-Hollywood, Japan-centric based production of The Next Generation: Patlabor to have a modest budget, but perhaps slightly larger than the one greenlit even for Space Battleship Yamato.
Consider this, Pacific Rim was budgeted at 190 million. The film is close to achieving a 400 million gross which would be gravy for a sequel.
Now Space Battleship Yamato was budgeted at roughly 30 million. That's peanuts by Hollywood standards and yet the Japanese production is as slick as they come. The Japanese can work wonders on a shoestring.
I hardly expect The Next Generation: Patlabor to receive a staggeringly large budget particularly with the esoteric and even spare style of Oshii at the director's helm. I'm not expecting crazy unreasonable. Oshii's Ghost In The Shell 2: Innocence (2004) was budgeted at a meager 20 million. So, my expectations are tempered, but money is hardly an object of concern here. What the Japanese industry achieves on monetary restrictions time and again is nothing short of a miracle mile. From Toho to Oshii and everyone in between Japanese films out of the science fiction, fantasy and anime realms continue to dazzle and entertain and are often superior to many of our own here in the states on the fronts of imagination. I have little doubt budget would be a hindrance.
It's funny, but when I stop to think of the potential of a Mobile Police Patlabor Ingram unit complete, with humorous characters like the beloved Noa Izumi who simply adored her robot Alphonse, one can't help but imagine a variety of options. One wonders what a Michael Bay or Hollywood might actually do with that idea. Still, I wouldn't trust those wonderful characters in the wrong hands even if this film won't have the international draw given Japanese casting and production.
But with names like Patlabor, Oshii and The Next Generation involved, in relative terms, it's going to be big. Patlabor is replete with wonderfully drawn law-enforcement characters, complex personalities and mightily detailed and beautifully designed mechs. Mobile Police Patlabor is to the anime genre and the pop culture in Japan what Godzilla or Star Trek is on a global scale. It is a densely woven mythology on par with Gundam or Ghost In The Shell from the fertile playground of anime and the minds of its many talented creators. Of all of Japan's own live action adaptations, The Next Generation: Patlabor by Oshii would be my most eagerly anticipated.
Sadly, American fans will likely wait years to see this thing.