|97, 98, 99
the first OAV series and first movie. While the series is mostly focused on the developments of main heroine Noa Izumi throughout the series, Patlabor still takes its time to focus on the other prominent characters of Section 2 from the manipulative superior of the group Kiichi Goto to impulsive gun-nut Isao Ota. The action element of the series involves Section 2's use of their Ingrim units in handling Labor threats that can be as mundane as construction labors to military prototypes wrecking havoc on the SDF's forces for illegal field testing. In particular, the latter makes for an ongoing plot where Section 2 and other police agencies try to find details on who is responsible for the testing of Labors against military units. However, it did feel like this particular storyline was left unresolved towards the middle of the series where the show went back to relying on its comedy and focus on Izumi's developments.
This TV series take on Patlabor expands upon the developments of Section 2 implementing the mix of action, comedy and everyday developments facing the cast of the series compared to
The comedy for Patlabor had me drawing some comparisons to it with Police Academy as the personality quirks of Section 2 quite often got in the way of them performing their duties and they were considered the incompetent members of Tokyo's police force. Otherwise, much of the show's comedy comes from the usually unpredictable antics of Section 2 while both on duty and going about everyday routines in their headquarters, which I admit had me laughing on many occasions throughout the show when the show focused on them and the occasional bizarre comedy filler episode.
The series can be an acquired taste for some viewers. In terms of its approach to the "real robot" genre of mecha anime, Patlabor gets as real as it can get exploring the great lengths one has to go through to maintain Labors, minimize damage to any crime scene that police and military forces are employed to in order to handle Labor crimes and the financial difficulties of securing new Labors and parts needed to repair them. Action isn't so much the prominent element of the series compared to most mecha anime as it is more focused on the challenges faced by Noa and Section 2 while on duty and living normally. Depending on what you look forward to with mecha anime, you might find the series lacking in terms of grand plot and fighting scenes or find it to be a unique and original premise that makes a more down-to-earth approach to the mecha genre.
In terms of visual presentation, Patlabor is standard quality for the time it was developed as a TV anime. Mecha and character designs are reasonably detailed with subdued color shading with animation that gets the job done in depicting crime scenes that Section 2 are called in to handle, though much of this is certainly outdated compared to modern anime titles. The soundtrack to the series does well to complement the comical and serious elements to it yet, with exception to the title's first OP song, there was nothing memorable that stuck out for me.
Overall, Patlabor offered up a fun, solid mix of comedy, action and everyday developments facing the members of Section 2 while also offering up quite the realistic take on the mecha genre. Anyone looking for a unique and original take to the mecha genre should give this a look, especially if you have interest in looking into older anime titles.
Last updated Saturday, April 28 2012. Created Saturday, April 28 2012.
Macross. My impression is that it starts out similar to Patlabor: The Original Series but as time goes by it relies more on it's comedy than on the mecha action. Perhaps this change was responsible for the series lasting for an impressive 35 (one source says 47) episodes. Actually, it does end amid plenty of mecha-action. Interspersed with the episodes about routine duties is a plotline about a mysterious criminal Labor known as the "Griffon". Tension builds nicely towards the end, when a showdown with the Griffon takes place. Lots of fun, all around. Perhaps the reason why this series should be listed as an "acquired taste" is because comedy, plot, and charachter development are seldom high priorities in mecha anime. Whether you develop the taste for this series or not will in all likelihood depend on whether you like the cast. Noa is a spunky female recruit who immediately falls in love with her labor, "Alphonse"; Asuma could have had a high paying job with the company that builds Labors, but chose the Police; Ota is a shoot-first-and-ask-questions-later kind of Labor pilot; and their commander, Captain Goto, is a brilliant man who never gets excited about anything. SVD2 is sometimes called upon to investigate bizarre cases, including a giant monster that was spotted by hikers in the mountains. They also generate their own bizarre cases, like Goto's idea that friction between unit personnel might be eliminated if they all get drunk together! People seldom get killed or even injured, and nudity is nonexistant. It's the series' dry humor which I especially like (and the theme song, too).
Patlabor TV is definitely an acquired taste, and those who have indeed acquired it are extremely enthusiastic in their praise. "Anime Meta Review" rated it as "Exemplary"; the "Anime News Network" describes it as "one of the crowning achievements of the giant robot genre"; and "when considered as a whole, the Patlabor canon is truly one of the most versatile and rewarding works of anime ever concieved". This TV series was originally released in 1990, and theorized that "Labors" would be in commonplace use before the turn of the century ("This story is fiction... but in 10 years, who knows?"). Patlabor is unusual in that it is a "mecha" series in which not only is greater emphasis is placed on the charachters than on the robots, but a genuine attempt is made to depict Mecha in a realistic, nuts-and-bolts manner, addressing the headaches which would surely be involved in operating and maintaining them. One episode, for example, is devoted entirely to a desperate attempt to repair a Patlabor which has been damaged in illicit activity before the head of maintenace learns about it. Another involves the problems which the staff of "Special Vehicles, Division 2" have in getting their meals delivered to their station! More than one critic has suggested that this show bears a greater resemblance to You're Under Arrest than Gundam or
I've just seen the DVD version for the first time, and something about the dubbed voices really rubs me the wrong way. I think the voices of the original Japanese seiyuu are an integral part of the characters' personalities. The director of the entire show (not just the English dubbing director) must have been satisfied with them, after all, so please don't ignore the tones and inflections and whatnot that were used just because they are in a different language. I frequently understand the way a character is feeling better when I'm reading his or her lines and listening to the voice in Japanese than I do when an American VA is reading them in English. I think anybody who was watching this show for the first time, and unfortunately chose to watch it in dubbed mode, would find the voices so inexplicably bad that they would have a hard time suspending disbelief and getting into an otherwise excellent show. The ideal solution would be if the original cast learned to speak fluent English and redid their parts, but I've got a feeling that's not going to happen anytime soon. Anyway, there were some interesting extras on the DVD, like an interview with the series' original director. There are no subtitles for the lyrics of the OP or ED songs in dubbed mode, but you do get to hear the cool ED song "Midnight Blue" after each episode, not just the last one on each VHS tape. Another handy feature is the ability to switch from dubbed mode to subbed mode without having to start an episode over from the start; given the quality of the English VAs, this feature should get a lot of use...
I really want to assign this show a Buy rating (and I originally did), but as hard as it tries, it doesn't quite cross the line which makes the purchase of expensive DVDs justifiable. Not unless you're a Patlabor fan, like me, and even I bought mine used on VHS tapes. The problem is partly that the animation shows it's age, and partly that a westerner won't "get" a lot of the subtle humor. Also, the plot and action aren't quite good enough for today's standards of an exciting and gripping series. But if ever a show fully deserved it's Rent status, it's Patlabor!
Last updated Saturday, February 23 2008. Created Sunday, June 08 2003.