I’ve just finished the 47 episodes of the Patlabor TV Series. Patlabor ran from October 1989 to September 1990. Patlabor is a truly great TV show and I highly recommend it to all mecha and science-fiction fans. I wrote about Patlabor’s basic premise not long ago so there’s no need to go over it again. After watching the entire run of Special Vehicles Division 2’s adventures protecting Tokyo my enthusiasm for the show hasn’t diminished at all.
Most mecha shows have an overall plot and divert from it occasionally for side stories. The Patlabor TV series, like the OVA series that came before it, doesn’t have an overall story. The series is made up of different stories. Some are short while others take several episodes. Some, like the black ops research department of Shaft Japan, come back from time to time but no particular story can be seen as the focus of the show. I think this fits Patlabor quite well. Patlabor gives us a look at the lives of the officers of Special Vehicles Division 2 and most people’s lives don’t have an overall plot. Like real life, some stories are funny, some sad and some leave you scratching your head.
There are comedy episodes in Patlabor and they’re quite funny. I appreciated the fact that the writers didn’t overdo the number of comedy episodes. They got it just right. The plausibility of the show was always high. Not only was there exciting episodes where the characters battled with the black ops research team of Shaft Japan but the episodes dealing with insurance agents and marriage brokers kept the series very believable.
I was surprised at the number of episodes devoted to dealing with the J9 Griffin. From promotional images for the series I had the impression for years that Griffin was in a large portion of the show and fought the character’s Ingrams many times. As it turns out, it was only in a handful of episodes. Still, those episodes certainly didn’t disappoint this mecha fan.
Mecha fans should note that the majority of Patlabor mecha designs created appear in the TV series. Although the animation quality may be higher in the OAVs and movies, the bulk of the mecha is in the series.
The Patlabor TV Series has everything I’d want in a TV show. Great characters, interesting stories, good humor, action and intelligence. You shouldn’t miss this one! Unfortunately, Patlabor is difficult to get a hold of these days. I rented some DVDs from Netflix but I had to supplement that with BitTorrent downloads to see every episode. Purchasing the series is tough too. It’s been out of print from some time. Although a little tougher to get than other series, Patlabor is worth it.