In the future, rapidly advancing technology gives birth to giant robots known as “Labors,” so named for their usefulness in heavy industry. However, this also gives rise to “Labor crimes,” resulting the the need for a new branch of law enforcement equipped with and dedicated to the policing of Labors. When Izumi Noa, a female police officer, becomes the newest recruit of Special Vehicle Division 2, she and her top of the line “Patrol Labor” (or “Patlabor”) Alphonse are swept into a series of adventures featuring crazed construction workers, eco-terrorists, and sea monsters.
- Title: Patlabor: The Mobile Police (Kidō Keisatsu Patlabor)
- Series: OVA Series
- Episodes: 7
- Status: Finished Airing
- Release Date: Apr 25, 1988 – June 25, 1989
- Producers: Studio DEEN, HEADGEAR
- Genre: Action, Mecha, Sci-Fi, Drama, Comedy
- Rating: PG-13
A new month and a new theme is upon us. This month, I will do my best to go over the Patlabor series, which first debuted in 1988 and had productions in the 90s as well, with the final one coming out in 2002. The tentative schedule is that I will cover the “movie” timeline of this series, which include the initial 7 episode OVA series and then the 3 films. I will try to cover the timeline that covers the TV series and second OVA series later on, though that is much harder to come by.
Upon seeing who produced the original Patlabor OVA series, I was a bit surprised to see Studio DEEN involved in it. These days, Studio DEEN takes a lot of flak for their adaptations and limited animation, but they do a pretty good job here, though they share duties with HEADGEAR, who, as far as I know, only worked on the various entries in the Patlabor franchise. That said, the animation isn’t bad to see and the mecha action, when there is some, is pretty cool to look at. The music fits the scenes pretty well and none of it comes off as especially annoying.
Despite being classified as a mecha series and having mechs, there is actually not that much mech action in the series, though that isn’t a bad thing. Some OVA episodes alternate between deadly serious, to comedic, to almost slice of life, with some combining all three elements. That makes the show rather unique, though I can see some people coming into this wanting nothing but mecha action. For those people, episode 7 would more than likely satiate them, but I liked the direction they went with this series. The comedy mainly centers on how eccentric the characters can be and/or pertains to the situations that they are in, and, I feel that is works for the most part.
Our main characters are the officers of Special Vehicle Division 2, who are all misfits in one way or another. You have gun crazed Ota, rich boy Asuma, the bored looking Chief Goto, bubbly Izumi, and others. Some of these characters are more complex than they appear, such as Asuma and Goto, but others seem to stay one note, such as Ota. That said, no one is really unlikable in this series, and it is interesting in of itself to see how they go about their duties as police officers in this new world…or when they are just goofing off. There isn’t much in the way of a support cast, mainly being the repair crew and some outside officers or detectives, so I don’t really have much to say about them.
Due to the nature of the show, there isn’t any real main villain in this series, as they range from thieves, bombers, to even bad elements of the Japanese Self Defense Force. The very last one does cause the only two parter of the OVA series, episodes 5 and 6, and it is a rather tense situation that they start, with them in possession of a nuclear warhead. I think there is a similar story for the second Patlabor film, but I go in more depth of that in its own review.
As a first entry in the series, I highly recommend Patlabor to mecha fans and those that like anime in general. It just has a nice mix of so many elements that I feel that I feel that it has to be watched at least once to see if it wins you over. However, with Central Park Media now defunct, finding official DVDs in the states of this series going to be difficult, to say the least.