Piloting a giant robot isn’t just a job, it’s an obsession. At least it is if you’re Noa Izumi, the dedicated young pilot of the SV2 Team 1’s Ingram, which she prefers to refer to as “Alphonse.” Unfortunately, Noa’s not the only driven female in SV2’s lineup, and when fate puts Kanuka Clancy in charge of Noa, not only do fireworks ensue, but Captain Goto decides to throw a little alcohol on the fire. But that’s far from the most dangerous situation facing the thin steel line, and between escorting visiting royalty and pop singers at one extreme, and facing off with mysterious phantom robots on the other, there’s no rest for the weary, overworked squad. And when someone starts sending threatening messages to Goto and potentially deadly “accidents” start occurring, it’s up to the whole force to band together and find the culprit before someone on the Ingram team has their plug pulled permanently. Many of the episodes focus on humorous personal stories, such as an arraigned marriage or a team trip to go drink sake, that are sometimes more entertaining than the mech battles themselves.
The other characters include an overzealous, gun-happy yet somewhat incompetent career policeman; a placid but overly tall policeman who grows tomatoes; a mild, hen-pecked husband who occasionally reveals an explosive temper; an incredibly serious, hard-driven policewoman; and a laid-back yet cunning and mysterious captain. I was surprised to find that I really enjoyed this anime. I’ve been trying to open myself up to watching anime that haven’t been created recently and Patlabor was one of the older series I decided to watch. I did not expect the animation to be as solid and appealing as it turned out to be. I think it was the opening sequence that really sold me on the character designs. None of the designs are over the top, so you get a sense of a down to earth type of storyline. The opening and closing songs are catchy enough and actually quite enjoyable once you get used to them. If you are expecting flashy looking mecha designs and some kind of deep meaningful storyline you’re going to be disappointed. Patlabor’s main focus is on the character development and how the different personalities bounce off each other. Patlabor is what Dai-Guard tried to be but failed miserably. If you don’t need philosophical ramblings, elaborate mecha battles and colorful character designs to feel entertained you will enjoy this show.
The last collection garnered a high score from us and this set is no different. Their assignments range from rescuing a government minister and saving an ancient tree to thwarting terrorists and guarding a winter carnival. Captain Goto observes dryly that the robots “have been called everything from jokes to money pits to piles of useless waste.” But when a military experiment runs amok or a mutant monster gets loose in a forest, Division 2 is there to save the day–even if others get the credit for their work. The 18 episodes in this collection offer the combination of mecha adventure and ensemble comedy that have made Patlabor such a popular franchise. The show itself is quite surprising, I thought it may have a a serious tone, coming from Mamoru Oshii of Ghost in the Shell fame, but the OVA is quite lighthearted. Not to mention, there is a considerable lack of mecha action from what looks to be primarily a mecha anime. It is focused on the the formation of the police unit that utilize the Patlabors to curb Labor (robot) crime. Quite a different spin on the genre. This show strays away from that and puts you right into the cockpit.
This method of story development makes the characters less relatable since the violence creates a seemingly overly dramatic, typical action cartoon. But keep watching, the series builds a lot of intensity in this collection 2 of episodes. So if your hoping for an unoriginal robots-fighting-and-blowing-things-up show (not that there is anything wrong with those), this is not Patlabor. Collection 2 pushes the envelope even deeper. If you want something feel-good with a good story and funny characters but ends with a bang, Patlabor is the show for you. If you enjoy the OVA, watch the movies and thanks to Maidan Japan, you can now collect the series on beautiful blu-ray. The best Patlabor has to offer is here.