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Mobile Police Patlabor

a.k.a. Kido Keisatsu Patoreba

patlaborova1-1
Genre: Action
Company: Studio DEEN
Format: 7 OVA
Dates: 4/25/1988 to 6/25/1989

Because of a colossal construction around Tokyo Bay called Project Babylon, the number of Labors (giant, piloted mecha) in the megalopolis has increased drastically along with crimes committed with labors. This might explain why Special Vehicles Division 2, second unit, often considered the bad apple of the labor-crime-fighting force, is getting some new, state-of-the-art labors. Managed by the laid-back chief Goto, this crew of misfits will not have to wait very long before getting to test their new toys. Keeping them from getting destroyed is the hard part.

summary by Kjeldoran

 

Reviewed: 04/26/2004 by
Grade: 75% av-Kjeldoran

Highs: Lively characters; entertaining

Lows: Episodes are never completely fulfilling

Originally planned as a six-OVA series, this first animated incarnation of the famous manga added an extra chapter a while after it aired to rekindle fans’ interest just before the release of Patlabor: The Movie. Since it spawned three movies, a television series and a second OVA, this anime must have done it right.

Like everything Patlabor, characters come first and action second. Waiting for mecha battles might be frustrating since they are but few and short. While this is similar to subsequent Patlabor episodes in that sense, these OVAs are somewhat lacking in the philosophical dialogue department. Even the more serious episodes, like “The SV2’s Longest Day” parts 1 and 2 (which turned out to be prototypes for Patlabor II: The Movie), are not as introspective as the sequels. Even more contrasting are the other episodes, which are very light and mainly consist of the SV2 crew having fun before quickly stopping a rampaging robot or pulling a Scooby Doo in a haunted house. Even if these episodes do sometimes conclude hastily, they are still entertaining to watch because of the introduction of such a great cast. These characters are what made all the Patlabor anime famous, after all.

This late ’80s anime seems to have passed the test of time. It does not look, sound or feel as old as it is. Animation is all-around smooth, and the art is detailed enough to give a lot of realism to complex cityscapes. Detailed are also the Labors designed by the renowned Izubuchi Yutaka (Gundam Wing, Gasaraki, RahXephon).

Basically, this original OVA series has a lot to offer in terms of entertainment but is not comparable to its successors, given its lack of significant depth. Even action fans will probably be disappointed. Longer episodes or a linear storyline with less filler might have made this more interesting, but it is still a fine little introduction to the Patlabor world and characters.

 

Mobile Police Patlabor can be downloaded legally in the United States HERE.


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