Patlabor (a portmanteau of "patrol" and "labor") refers to Mobile Police Patlabor (機動警察パトレイバー Kidō Keisatsu patoreibā?), an anime and manga franchise created by Headgear, a group consisting of director Mamoru Oshii, writer Kazunori Itō, mecha designer Yutaka Izubuchi, character designer Akemi Takada, and manga artist Masami Yūki.
The popular franchise included a manga, a TV series, two OVA series, three feature length movies, and a short film compilation, named Minipato (ミニパト?) because of its super-deformed drawing style. The series has been adapted into video games and licensed products from OST to toys. Patlabor is known for using mecha - designed by Yutaka Izubuchi - not just for police or military purposes, but also for industrial and municipal jobs.
The story takes place in what was, at the time of release, the near future of 1998-2002. Robots called "Labors" are employed in heavy construction work. The Tokyo Metropolitan Police has its own fleet of Patlabors to combat crimes and deal with accidents involving Labors. The story arcs usually revolve around Tokyo Metropolitan Police Special Vehicle Section 2, Division 2. Noa Izumi is the main protagonist of the series, but all of Division 2 play roles.
The feature films follow separate continuities, referred to as the "movie timeline" and the "TV timeline." The different OVA series follow either the movie or TV timelines.
Mobile Police Patlabor began in 1988 as a 6 episode OVA series, along with a serial written and drawn by Masami Yuki in Shogakukan's Shōnen Sunday Comics to help promote the OVA. The OVA was later translated into English by VIZ Media.
1989 - 1992:
A 7th OVA episode was added afterwards to help promote the first Patlabor movie in 1989. Soon after the first movie was released, a 47 episode TV series directed by Naoyuki Yoshinaga was released. The storyline from the TV series was completed in a 16 episode OVA which began after the TV series finished. This OVA ended in April 1992.
A second movie was released in August 1993.
1994 - 2002:
Work on another OVA was started in 1994, and this OVA evolved into the third movie, which was released in 2002. During the same time, "Mini-Pato" was released in theaters, playing before the third movie.
The first two Patlabor movies are directed by Mamoru Oshii (Ghost in the Shell) and produced by the venerable development house Production I.G (Ghost in the Shell, Blood: The Last Vampire) with music from Kenji Kawai (Ghost in the Shell).
List of Productions
Mobile Police Patlabor (1988-1989, OVA, 7 episodes)
This starts the movie timeline.
Patlabor the Movie (1989)
The plot follows a string of incidents involving labors going berserk. The reason is unknown and it's up to the SV.2 team to figure it out. This film continues the movie timeline.
Patlabor: The TV Series/Mobile Police Patlabor (1989-1990, TV, 47 episodes)
The TV series features an alternate telling of how Section 2 was formed. The main story arc involves the Griffon Labor. This begins the TV timeline.
Mobile Police Patlabor P-Series (1990-1992, OVA, 16 episodes)
This series is also referred to as OVA 2. Most of the episodes are placed in various points throughout the TV timeline. There are several episodes in the OVA series that takes place after the end of the TV series, including the conclusion to the Griffon storyline.
Patlabor 2 the Movie (1993)
Terrorists attack Tokyo and it's up to the Patlabor Special Vehicles 2nd Division to stop them. This movie has similar premise to episodes 5 and 6 of the original OVA. This movie continues the movie timeline.
WXIII: Patlabor the Movie 3 (Wasted 13) (2001)
A monster has been feeding on Tokyo Bay. Two detectives are on the case. This is a side story to Patlabor, and takes place in the movie timeline, between the other two movies. It is based on a part of the manga and has a similar premise to a story in the original OVA series. WXIII's actual release date is 2001, as it premiered in a film festival that year. However, public release was made the following year to coincide with the release of Minipato.
Mobile Police Patlabor Minimum: Minipato (2002, 3 short films)
Minipato consists of three parts, each part 13 minutes in length. It is an adjunct to the Patlabor anime series. Along with WXIII, it is the last story told within the universe. Minipato was screened in Japanese cinemas before the start of WXIII in such a way that, to see the complete series, viewers were made to see WXIII three times.
The animation style uses a combination of paper puppets and CGI, with a claymation sequence in the first episode.
The whole thing explains how the mechas were conceived: they had to break down, they ran on batteries, there was operating costs, a need for a hefty support crew... Also, a general explanation on ballistics and a review of the armament (and a voluntarily poorly done attempt at explaining the discrepancy between the stated and obvious caliber difference in the robots' sidearms) were added. It also contains a frank explanation on how the anime was calibrated to market. The whole thing is treated humorously, in a way reminiscent of Gunbuster's scientific additions.
List of Labors
- AV-95 Gorilla (Shinohara Heavy Industries)
- MPL-96 Asuka (Shinohara Heavy Industries)
- MPL-97S Python (Shinohara Heavy Industries)
- MPL-97T (Shinohara Heavy Industries, Training Labor for MPL-97S Python operators)
- AV-98 Ingram (Shinohara Heavy Industries)
- AVS-98-I Ingram (Shinohara Heavy Industries) Ingram economy model
- AVS-98-II Ingram (Shinohara Heavy Industries) Ingram Mark II mass production prototype
- AV-98T Dolphin/Doafun (Shinohara Heavy Industries, Training Labor for AV-98 Ingram operators)
- Type-99 Road Runner (Quick response traffic control Labor)
- AV-X0 Zero (Shinohara Heavy Industries, Prototype, designated AVR-0 in the Manga)
- AV-0 Zero Peacemaker (Shinohara Heavy Industries, Descendent of AV-X0)
- AV-02 Clash Buster (Shinohara Heavy Industries)
- AV-02T Lehrer (Shinohara Heavy Industries, Training Labor for AV-02 Clash Buster operators)
- AL-97 Atlas (Hishii Industries)
- AL-97B Samson (Hishii Industries)
- AL-97S Improved "Hannibal" (Hishii Industries)
- RADHA (United Nations Military Labor, six legged)
- ALX-99 Helldiver Prototype (Shinohara Heavy Industries)
- ARL-99 Helldiver (Shinohara Heavy Industries) Japan Ground Self Defense Force Paradrop Labor (parachute-deployed)
- HAL X-10 (JGSDF prototype, four legged tank Labor, Manufactured by Shinohara Heavy Industries and Hishii Industries)
- Type-5G/1C Grau-Bear (Schaft Enterprises Europe)
- Type-6Q/2C Chimaera (Schaft Enterprises Europe)
- Type-7 "Brocken" (Schaft Enterprises Europe, West Germany Military Labor)
- M-5 Abraham (Schaft Enterprises USA)
- Type-R13EX "Phantom" (Schaft Enterprises Japan, Test Type Military Labor)
- Type-J9 'Griffon' (Schaft Enterprises Japan, Experimental Military Labor)
- Attack Labor L00 Doshka (Kronstadt Tank Works / Leningrad Science Academy, Russian four legged military Labor [Also called X-99 Ivan])
Fire and Rescue Labors
- CRL-98 Pyro-Buster (Hishii Industries)
- ARV-99 Rescue Labor (Shinohara Heavy Industries)
Civilian (Industrial) Labors
- ASUKA-SSL96 Taisyo (Shinohara Heavy Industries)
- HL-96 Tyrant 2000 (Hishii Industries)
- HL-97 Bulldog (Hishii Industries)
- TFV-97 Crabman (Shinohara Heavy Industries, four legged)
- TFV-97 EX "Crabman Hi-Leg" (Shinohara Heavy Industries, four legged)
- HL-98 Hercules H-21 (Hishii Industries)
- ML-98 Celkee/Selkie H-10 (Hishii Industries)
- ASV-99 Boxer (Shinohara Heavy Industries)
- HL-99 Rex 2500 (Hishii Industries)
- SOV-9900S SeaView
- Ghamborgini (Civilian recreation Labor, Italian speed model, parody of Lamborghini, made by Plevidensa)
- SRX-70 Saturn (Schaft Enterprises)
All of the Patlabor productions have been released in the United States in some form, except for most of the manga. All the movies have been translated into English and are available in stores in Region 1, 2 & 4 DVD format. Both the entire TV series, and the 2 OVAs are available on DVD in Region 1.
The TV series and OVAs were released in the U.S. by Central Park Media. The first two movies were released by Manga Entertainment, but later remastered and re-released in 2006 by Bandai Visual. The third movie (along with "Mini-Pato") was released by Geneon Entertainment (formerly Pioneer). Twelve sections of the manga have been translated and published by Viz Communications as single issues and in two trade paperbacks, but later dropped the manga before completing it.
Mini-Pato is available on DVD in regions 1, 2, and 4 in the Limited Edition Patlabor WXIII DVD packages.
In 2006, Bandai Visual's Honneamise label re-released the first two movies on DVD in North America with extensive bonus features, and Beez Entertainment handled distribution in the UK. Madman has the distribution rights for the movies in Australia and New Zealand in association with Manga Entertainment UK, Madman have been refused the rights to the Bandai dubs of the Movies.
- "小学館漫画賞：歴代受賞者" (in Japanese). Shogakukan. Retrieved August 19, 2007.
- Patlabor (anime) at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia
- "Untranslated Pick of the Month" -(J-pop.com review of manga)
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