Live-Action Patlabor to Feature Real-Life Mecha
posted on by Sarah Nelkin
Website Eiga.com unveiled two new screenshots from Mamoru Oshii's live-action The Next Generation -Patlabor- series and film project on Monday. The screenshots revealed that Suidobashi Heavy Industry's real-life rideable robot Kuratas will serve as a Labor robot that will appear alongside Patlabor's iconic (but fictional) Ingram. The story is set in a Japan in which humanoid construction robots known as "Labors" are commonplace.
After seeing that the Kuratas was on sale for about 100 million yen (about US$1 million), the production staff decided that it looked almost exactly like a Labor and asked to have one in the film. According to the project's chief director Mamoru Oshii, now that they have the robot, there is no reason to use CG or props for it. However, Eiga.com reports that the project as a whole will use the latest CG and VFX techniques.
This is the live-action Patlabor project's Ingram in action:
This is the Kuratas in action:
The live-action Patlabor project begins with a seven-part series, which is composed of an "episode 0" and 12 full episodes helmed by Oshii and other directors. Then, Oshii is directing and writing a feature-length film that will open in 2015.
The first part is set to premiere on April 5, 2014 in the Shinjuku Piccadilly and other theaters, followed by the rest of the seven parts:
Part 1: April 5, 2014
Part 2: May 31, 2014
Part 3: July 12, 2014
Part 4: August 30, 2014
Part 5: October 18, 2014
Part 6: November 29, 2014
Part 7: January 1, 2015
Each episode is projected to be about 48 minutes long, with the prequel episode 0 scheduled for about 10 minutes. Finally, the feature-length film will open during Japan's Golden Week holidays in spring 2015, and it is expected to run about 100 minutes long.
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 crew chief Shigeo Shiba, and Toshio Kakei as Captain Keiji Gotōda (the successor to the anime's Captain Kiichi Gotō).
The production is budgeted at 2 billion yen (US$20 million), and principal photography ran 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" ambiance, 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 production company Tohokushinsha Film Corporation announced at France's Japan Expo in July that Oshii is involved in this year's live-action project of HEADGEAR's Mobile Police Patlabor anime. Omnibus Japan, an audio and computer graphics studio tied to Tohokushinsha, is co-producing the new project. The company worked on the graphics in Ghost in the Shell and the Evangelion films.
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.
Central Park Media released the OVAs and television series in English before filing for bankruptcy in 2009. Manga Entertainment, Bandai Visual USA, and Geneon released the three films stateside 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 last January.
Images © 2014 THE NEXT GENERATION -PATLABOR- Production Committee