“There’s only two people in your life you should lie to… the police and your girlfriend.” – Jack Nicholson.
Patlabor is one of the most successful anime franchises, having run between the 1980s and 2000s. This sci-fi mecha displays many of the traits of a 1980s anime. The look of the anime is typical of the period. Also, it references several things which no longer existed in the futuristic time period it is set in – that period being between 1998 and 2002.
The series is set in a “future” in which mecha called “Labor” are used in things like heavy construction. However, some are used for criminal purposes. Thus the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Special Vehicle Section 2, Division 2, better known as SV2, use their own Patrol Labors – Patlabors for short – to take the criminals on.
Most of the action focuses on Noa Izumi, a tomboyish woman with a deep love of Labor. She seems to be the only one of the five new recruits in the unit to like them. She even nicknames her Patlabor “Alphonse”. The other recruits include Asuma, the son of the head of the firm that makes most of the world’s Labors; the gentle giant Hiromi; the somewhat trigger-happy Isao; and the married and meek Mikiyasu. They are later joined by Kanuka Clancy who is over in Japan on an assignment from the NYPD. This series of seven OVA sees SV2 having to take to the streets to tackle environmental terrorists, sea monsters and political revolutionaries.
The major plus point is the quality of the production released by MVM. The animation, especially in the Blu-ray version, looks very crisp and clean. It is as if it has just been broadcast. On the downside concerning the release, there are no extras other than trailers for other MVM products.
Regarding the episodes themselves, there is a mixture of just about everything. There are comedic moments and perhaps the best occurs in one knowing use of an otaku standard, a scene where the members of the group are taking a bath and the guys try to listen in on the ladies next door. As the guys try to do this perfect act, rather than one of them have a nosebleed, it is the pool that starts to bleed instead. This leads to the major plot of the fourth episode.
There are also dramatic moments. The fifth and sixth episodes see SV2 having to deal with a major threat to the country. The tension builds up throughout the story, leading to conspiracy and action which makes for an interesting plot all round.
This first Patlabor release is to be commended and hopefully MVM will bring out more soon.