Sunday, May 18, 2014

Anime Review: Patlabor: The TV Series

Well the date is set for our move in. This Saturday my brothers and I are going to be living an apartment, well at least on paper, we don't know how soon we can get all our stuff (and by stuff we mainly mean Anime) into the new place, but we are hopefully going to get everything in the the new location soon. Hopefully, this will cut down on the amount of time I need to commute via bus to get to work and school. But for now I have an anime to review and this time I have an old classic to talk about: Patlabor.

In 10 years we'd have giant robots, but no one has a cellphone.
In the not so distant future (next Sunday AD), large bipedal robots called Labors have been in use for quite some time. With their uses in construction and industry, Labors have become a tool seen in daily life, but with the prevalence of Labors caused an increase in Labor related crimes. To combat this new threat to public safety, the police force has formed the Special Vehicles 2 unit and deploys their own "Patrol Labor" to combat Labor crimes: thus they are called "Patlabor." Under the supervision of their commander, the unflappable Captain Goto, Special Vehicles 2 Unit 2 has been assigned the newest model of Labor the Ingram, a Labor designed for Police use. However, Unit 2 is also host to a variety of "colorful" characters including the Labor fanatic Noa Izumi, the son of massive Labor manufacturing company Asuma Shinohara, shoot first ask questions never Isao Ohta, and the most amazing woman who ever lived Kanuka Clancy. Can these police officers keep the peace when their actions usually cause more destruction than the criminals they capture? Find out in Patlabor.

Where do you hide a giant robot? Behind a large building, of course.
Patlabor is surprisingly good. I mean, let's face it anime from this time period isn't always that great. In fact it tends to be very VERY bad, and considering this comes from the same writer as Birdy the Mighty (from before Birdy the Mighty was actually GOOD) I personally didn't have high hopes for this series; however, it was actually very enjoyable. The series is heavily episodic with most episodes being stand alone stories with no connection to the overarching plot, and the one overarching plot they have kind of disappearing toward the end of the series. What really helped the series is it's cast of characters and how they played off of each other. True, most of them where standard archtypes seen in most team based series and most of them are fairly two dimensional. Noa is the idealistic "I don't want to hurt Alphonse" (the name of her Labor) protagonist, Asuma is main-characterish and you KNOW that these two will hook up at some point, Ohta is pretty much just Tacklebarry from Police Academy, and Kanuka is just awesome. But the way that the characters all interact with each other is wonderfully done and leads to some genuinely funny moments. And the core story arch isn't too bad as well, with a labor company employing some shady tactics to sell their latest model of military grade Labors. Overall, the series is just a blast to watch.

Shinohara what is wrong with your face!
Of course the series isn't without it's problems. Given it's age both the animation quality and the English voice acting isn't up to par. There is a lot of corners that had to be cut to make the series possible, and thus the animation at times is really stiff, though it is understandable given the time it was made. The English voice acting on the other hand ranges widely. Some characters sound great with competent delivery and emoting throughout the series (namely Shinohara, Clancy, and Goto). OTHER characters, namely Noa, sounded amateurish, with very little emotion or inflection in any of her deliveries. Even when she is suppose to be pissed and getting angry Noa's "Why you" is always delivered in the same almost monotone voice regardless of the situation. And finally, as I said earlier in this review, the main story arch that carries the series through just kind of disappears towards the end. After the last episode where this arch is at the focal point there is like 8 or so more episodes left in the series and then it ends without a proper conclusion to the story. Also, Kanuka leaves the series at around the halfway point. The series was never the same after that.

Patlabor isn't a perfect series, there is a lot of things that really needed work, but it is still a very VERY enjoyable ride from start to finish. The series is 47 episodes long but there isn't a sense that they are dragging things out or adding filler episodes to pad the series. If you can forgive the shortcoming in animation and English voice acting, I'm sure you will enjoy this series. If not, then it probably will be a very dry experience. Patlabor comes Recommended.

Until next time.

-Crescent, meet Kanuka Clancy, here to raise some hell.


  1. I have heard about Patlabor before, and it looks like a fun series. I will have to add it to my watchlist.


    1. I've also seen the original OVA series and all three movies. My brief review of each is that the OVA series is very much like the TV series except it's 40 episodes shorter. The first movie was good, but it kept hitting it's head against something and thought it was Ghost in the Shell. The second movie had less of an identity crisis and had a really good story, but barely featured any of the Patlabor cast outside of Goto and the Unit 1 commander Shinobu. And the third movie had nothing to do with Patlabor and was instead a good monster movie where the cast of Patlabor just wandered in at some points in the movie.

    2. Thank you for the info about the other Patlabor works. I will have to look into them as well.


  2. It appears as thought the ova and the second movie are the essential parts of this series. And all you gotta' do is say Mamoru Oshii and I'm willing to give it a shot.