Out of all of the pre-Evangelion mecha franchises, two stand out as my favourites: Votoms takes second place, but Patlabor even surpasses Ryousuke Takahashi’s epic for me. This OVA only reaffirms this.
Like the TV-series, the OVA that predated it by about a year has a bit of everything. Some episodes play out as a cop drama, there is the fun action-comedy, monster-science fiction, slice of life. Mamoru Oshii (yes, he directed this thing) shows a lot of different sides of him here. We of course have his trademark talking thriller arc (which of course was the best part of this OVA), but he also shows here that he’s terrific at all of those other areas.
The thing I liked best was how every episode was built up. One similarity between all of the episodes is that they always build up to some kind of punchline; everything is well calculated to make the optimal use of its time, preparing for these punchlines that, despite their wit, are all widely varied.
Standalone this is an excellent OVA. However, at the same time most of the stuff that it did here, it would do even better in the later instalments. The talking arc would be surpassed by the incredible second movie (which had this strange effect of becoming more and more memorable as time goes on), while the lighter episodes would be surpassed by some of the filler episodes of the television-series (as witty as they were, they just don’t match up to some of the classic episodes). Only the first episode really shows the franchise as its best, while the final episode is a bit of a disappointing conclusion.
As a compilation to introduce people to the world of Patlabor however, it’s excellent. The large format of 50 episodes will probably be a lot to swallow for people who don’t know a lot about the series, while the movies don’t bother to introduce the cast, which will also be confusing. This OVA is a perfect opportunity for people to get a taste of what the rest of the franchise is about. The brilliant characterization is definitely worth it.
|Storytelling:||9/10 – Great balance. Excellent build-up and nice ideas. That would later be surpassed, though.|
|Characters:||9/10 – Absolutely lovable cast, excellent voice acting. Especially Goto is one of a kind.|
|Production-Values:||8/10 – Combination between still frames and really smooth animation.|
|Setting:||8/10 – You will need to watch the rest of the franchise in order to get the best out of this, as it only offers a quick overview of everything that’s going on.|
– Mobile Police Patlabor (TV). (My advice is, that if you have the time, to watch this series in chronological order, instead of the disjointed one that I’ve been doing)
– Jin Roh
– Gosenzosama Banbanzai