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"This is a work of fiction, but in ten years, maybe not."
Originally serialized in Shounen Sunday Comics weekly, Mobile Police Patlabor was a successful 22 volume manga created by Masami Yuuki. A project conceptualized by him along with the other members of Headgear including such industry giants such as Mamoru Oshii, Kazunori Ito, Akemi Takada and Yutaka Izubuchi. Soon enough after the success of the manga and original 7 part OVA series it became the first anime ever to make the transition from video to television series which lasted for 47 great episodes. To top it off an extra 16 OVAs were created and 2 spectacular feature films came out the Patlabor craze. On the surface Patlabor is simply a cop show with giant robots. Yet there's so much more to it's appeal that such a description doesn't even begin to do it justice.
It is a sci-fi and mecha show like no other. Unlike with most examples of the mecha genre, this series places a particular emphasis on the human equivalent rather than focusing on the machines. More than anything else Patlabor is mainly a comedic series that follows the life experiences among the odd cast of characters that make up the Tokyo Metro Police's Special Vehicle Division, Section 2 commonly known as the SV2. With the ways in which the cast interacts with each other the show is most often silly and comical. Yet at times Patlabor can become quite serious and thought provoking. Full of dramatic tension, political intruigue and mystery. There's a hint of romantic involvement and human relationships added to keep things grounded and as you would expect, there also is plenty of action for those of you who crave the physical element.
Through all this Patlabor remains surpisingly believable. It is a work of fiction that presents a vision of civilization in the near future that feels very tangeable and true to life. This is because instead of trying to create a fantastical sci-fi reality, Patlabor attempts to realistically mimic contemporary society in a way that the viewers can relate to. Behind all of the hilarious hijinks and the awesome action scenes, there is an underlying message in Patlabor. It shows very effectively that there is always a price to pay for progress and most of all that technology shapes our world in ways we can never quite anticipate, for better and equally for worse.
I feel that Mobile Police Patlabor is one of the most high calibur anime series to have ever come along. It has beautiful animation (especially the movies), consistently witty and comical dialogue and situations, true to life characters, fascinating high-technology, suberb voice acting performances, thrilling action scenes, tremendously insightful writing, intelligent, well paced plotlines and a great soundtrack to top it all off. I usually find most mecha shows to be superficial and monotonous. However, since Patlabor has so much more to offer than the rest it really won me over.
Still I have yet to say what Patlabor is actually all about. To find that out you'll have to explore the rest of this site which I have named the Babylon Project for reasons you may soon discover. In the page named Story it tells all about the background story and premise of Mobile Police Patlabor. Cast is my favorite section and it offers a complete bio for all of the characters of the show. This is SV2 is a "what's what" of Patlabor. It gives insight on the inner-workings of the SV2 as well as offering various information on the many other orginizations and locations that are important to know about. If you want to know more about the machines, take a look at the Labor Specs, an in-depth look at the most prominent labors featured throughout the show. Episode List not only lists all of the OVA and TV episodes, but synopses for each episode as well. The Patlabor movies are true masterpieces of Japanese cinema and I will show you why in my Movie Reviews (coming soon). Lastly once you've explored all of this, be sure to check out the Links for other Patlabor fan pages.
Babylon Project: The Patlabor Web Site