Labor: A term used to describe highly advanced industrial robots. Its rapid development also led to the creation of labor crimes. To counter this, the National Police Agency created a new command... the Metro Police Special Vehicle 2nd Command, or SV2 for short. This is the birth of a patrol labor, 'Patlabor'.
Mobile Police Patlabor (or just Patlabor) is a manga/anime series that follows the trials and tribulations of the people who make up the Metro Police Special Vehicle 2nd Command, primarily the Second Unit. Patlabor is quite unlike other mecha shows since it introduces mecha into a relatively more mundane and everyday aspect. Meaning these mecha do not transform, nor were they created to combat aliens from another galaxy, nor pack beam weapons powerful enough to wipe out cities. But they look cool nevertheless. The mecha in this show are called 'labors.' The first labors were created for use in construction but not surprisingly slowly made their way into other aspects of society, mainly in the military. As labors became more widespread and widely used, the number of crimes being committed by people using labors increased as well. Thus SV2, with its patrol labors (Patlabors) was born.
SV2 is comprised of two units, simply named First and Second Unit. The series focuses mainly on the ragtag Second Unit. The First Unit is basically the elite unit of the section and it is assumed that they run into far less problems than Second Unit does. However, Second Unit is the unit that received the only three AV-98 Ingram patlabors in existence. The most impressive labor created to date, the presence of these Ingrams within Second Unit often marks them as a nice big target for rival companies who want to test out their products against the gem of Shinohara Heavy Industries. The Second Unit suffers from a poor reputation among the other sections of the police force and even the public thinks that the unit is a big waste of taxpayer's money. So people are often very surprised when Second Unit manages to do something right and with minimal damage to the surrounding area.
The entire SV2 section is headquartered just outside of Tokyo; basically in the boondocks. Besides the personnel of both units, the rather large crew of mechanics who maintain the labors also work and live here. Since the headquarters is located so far away from the rest of civilization, only one restaurant will ever deliver to them. Thus everyone in SV2 also has to worry about the food supply when they are on duty. For this purpose, they fish in the nearby bay whenever possible and Hiromi has his own vegetable garden and also raises chickens.
Patlabor is one of the best series ever created. Its characters, stories, mecha, action, humor, character interactions, plot, storytelling techniques, and references pulled from other film sources are all merged skillfully into an incredibly realistic and modern setting. It is a very well-rounded series, with something for almost any anime fan: beautifully designed mecha for the mecha fans, a nice chunk of humor (subtle and otherwise) for the comedy fans, a decent dose of mecha pounding for any action fans, political maneuvering and intrigue along with plot twists and revelations for the cerebral fans, and even a very tiny hint of romantic relationships for the romantic in all of us.
The anime consists of an original 7-episode OAV series, 47 tv episodes, 16 later OAV episodes (which were wrapped together with the tv episodes to form the P-series), two movies, and a 40-minute collection of music videos. Apparently the correct order should be: original OAV series, movie #1, tv episodes, P-OAVs, movie #2. The time difference between movie #1 and movie #2 is 3 years. The two movies have been released commercially in dubbed and subbed formats by Manga Entertainment. The title has been picked up by Central Park Media and the original 7-episode OAV series is now available on 3 tapes in subtitled format. Central Park Media also has released the 16 P-OAVs on 5 tapes in subtitled format and are currently releasing the P-series tv episodes as well. As for manga, there are 22 normal volumes by Yuuki Masami which are currently being re-released in wideban form. The manga is supposed to be almost completely different from the anime stories and are currently being released monthly by Viz.
*Some of you have asked where you can purchase Patlabor tapes either because there are no anime stores in your area or they're out of stock, so I've included the handy link below to REEL. Just click Go! and you're set.
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times since September 20, 1997.
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