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Patlabor: The Mobile Police: The TV Series, Vol. 5 (1989) – DVD Review

Patlabor: The Mobile Police: The TV Series, Vol. 5


Written by Yutaka Izubuchi, Kazunori Ito, and Michiko Yokote, based upon the manga by Headgear
Directed by Naoyuki Yoshinaga
Character Design by Akemi Takada
Music by Kenji Kawai


  • Art gallery
  • Original TV trailer
  • Interview with the scriptwriter

Dindrane’s Anime Warnings:

  • Maidens in distress
  • Tokyo takes a beating…again
  • Mean bosses
  • Industrial espionage

Released by: Central Park Media
Region: 1
Rating: NR
Anamorphic: N/A; appears in its original 1.33:1 format.

My Advice: Get it.

[ad#longpost]The Patlabor: The Mobile Police TV series follows the adventures of a police unit who uses mecha, known as “Patrol Labors.” This series has a series of impressive creative forces behind it, second only perhaps to Studio Ghibli, and the quality shows. Unlike some other mecha police anime titles, Patlabor spends a great deal of time developing the personalities of the main characters, especially given that their boss, Captain Goto, thinks they’re all losers. The show isn’t just about stomping and catching criminals, but is actually about the people involved.

A little backstory: at the end of the twentieth century, global warming caused enormous flooding issues in Japan, and the government responding by creating “labor” construction forces to rebuild and protect. Eventually, these Labors were also used for police and other forces, yielding the quasi-post-apocalyptic, futuristic series we have here. In this volume, Noa and Kanuka discover a subterranean city and are stuck there, alone and without the ability to summon backup. What’s more, they are not, of course, alone down there, and the prehistoric dragon creature down there with them is hungry, very hungry.

The personalities here tend to represent many of the usual anime “types,” such as the hothead Asume and the contrastingly sweet and quiet Noa, but they transcend their pigeon-hole and become people. The scripts exist not to provide merely frenetic action, but to allow the characters to do something and become something. This is a nice counterpoint to other titles of the era, such as Gundam, which focuses more on the battles and the overarching plot, at the occasional expense of the characters.

The special features have some delightful surprises. We get a continuation of the interview with one of the scriptwriters, Michiko Yokote, which is a rare and splendid addition. He gives a lot of interesting information and tidbits, and an all-too-rare insight into the creative process and the creation of the anime we love. We also get a couple of video art galleries that include some production art and cel art, and the original trailer. I also continue to be a fan of CPM’s translucent DVD cases that have the full crew credits written on the inside of the DVD liner. It’s a simple thing, but simple things mean a lot.

If you’ve been disappointed before in the other versions of the franchise, then give this TV version a try. If, on the other hand, you’re a huge fan of Patlabor or of police or mecha anime in general, then this series will please you enormously. Fans of the “group of misfits makes good” theme should also be pleased here; it’s like the anime, futuristic version of The Dirty Dozen. Combining the occasionally goofy story with ongoing hints about country-wide conspiracies, this is one show that’s an excellent mixture of comedy, drama, and always action. It’s a fine example of its genre and is still a classic of anime that all fans should at least see, if not own.

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