Former Idol Erina Mano Stars in Multi-Part Live-Action Patlabor
posted on by Lynzee Loveridge
A press conference for the live-action Patlabor project announced the cast and release plans on Wednesday. The stars appeared on the project's actual Chiba-area set in costume alongside a full-scale, 8-meter-tall (about 26-foot-tall) Ingram robot.
The Next Generation -Patlabor- project is not a remake of the earlier Patlabor anime stories, but a completely new work. The story is set in Tokyo in 2013, and it represents the "third generation" of Patlabor. The Tokyo Metropolitan Police has disbanded its Section 2 Division 1 of police robots, and Section 2 Division 2 barely survived the budget cuts due to the long recession.
Former Hello! Project singer and actress Erina Mano will star as pilot Akira Izumino (as opposed to the anime's heroine Noa Izumi). The cast also includes Seiji Fukushi as Yūma Shiobara, Rina Oota as Ekaterina Krachevna Kankaeva ("Kasha") from Russia, Shigeru Chiba reprising his anime role as maintenance squad chief Shigeo Shiba, and Toshio Kakei as Captain Keiji Gotōda (the successor to the anime's Captain Kiichi Gotō).
The project will begin with a seven-part series that distributor Shochiku will run in special theatrical engagements in Japan, starting next April. The seven parts are composed of an episode 0 (about 10 minutes long) and 12 full episodes (about 48 minutes long) helmed by the project's chief director Mamoru Oshii and other directors. Then, Oshii is directing and writing a feature-length film (about 100 minutes long) that will open in 2015. The title of the feature will be announced later.
The production is budgeted at 2 billion yen (US$20 million), and principal photography is running from June to the end of December. The two life-size Ingram robots were built at the cost of several tens of millions of yen (several hundred thousand US dollars).
Oshii commented that the seven-part series will have a "slapstick" ambience, while the feature film will be serious. Oshii and Kei Yamamura are writing the scripts for the series, and Kenji Kawai is returning to the franchise to compose the music for both the series and the feature film.
The series' original concept of police officers piloting robotic mecha (patrol labors or "Patlabors") was developed by HEADGEAR, a group consisting of director Oshii (Ghost in the Shell, Sky Crawlers), script writer Kazunori Ito (.hack, Dirty Pair), mecha designer Yutaka Izubuchi (Eureka Seven, Mobile Suit Gundam franchise), character designer Akemi Takada (Kimagure Orange Road, Urusei Yatsura, Fancy Lala), and manga creator Masami Yuuki (Birdy the Mighty). The franchise spawned two original video anime, a television anime series, and three anime films. The last film, Patlabor WXIII, was released in theaters in Japan in 2002.
Omnibus Japan, an audio and computer graphics studio tied to Tohokushinsha, is co-producing the new project. It worked on the graphics in Ghost in the Shell and the Evangelion films.
Central Park Media released the OAVs and television series in English before filing for bankruptcy in 2009. The three films were released stateside by Manga Entertainment, Bandai Visual USA, and Geneon but are since out of print. The North American licensing company Maiden Japan announced in March that it acquired the Mobile Police Patlabor television anime series. The same company announced the rights for the video anime series in January.