DVD Review: Patlabor - The Mobile Police: TV Series Colection One (1989 - 1990)

Posted by Retrokaiser On Saturday, June 7, 2014 0 comments

"Patlabor - The Mobile Police: TV Series Collection One" is an animated science fiction comedy drama series about a police group named "Special Vehicles Division Two" (SV2 for short).  The SV2 are no ordinary police force as they use special mechs named "Labors" that are specifically designed to help make life easier.  Labors aren't just exclusive to the police force as they are also used to build stuff at construction sites, move heavy loads and stock for supermarkets, Firemen use them to help put out fires, you can say that they are just simply cranes or trucks but with legs and arms.  Sadly there are also a lot of idiots that like to break the law with them and that's where the SV2 come in to help put a stop to the law breakers.  Sadly there is a downside to all of this and what is this downside you ask yourself?  The SV2 team are full of clumsy knuckleheads that always seem to do more damage than the people that they are chasing down.  Some of the situations you will find our heroes in includes: Stopping black market Labor sellers, pulling over drunk Labor drivers, helping out in a village that is under constant Labor attacks, and there is even one episode where a mysterious creature is loose in a forest and the good old SV2 have to capture it before it causes some harm.  All this and more in this Gundam meets Police Academy sci-fi comedy drama series (damn I just made this show sound cheesy).  (Click "Read More" to read the full review").

This show doesn't have an ongoing storyline throughout most of it with only a few episodes having a story-arc.  The episodic method works well with this show minus the first few episodes as they are very rough with the storytelling and can be quite hit or miss.  The reason why those particular episodes were rough was due to balancing issues to where one half of the show is very drawn out and boring while the other half of the show is very decent.  Once that rough patch is out and over with the storytelling improves greatly and you'll get some really great stuff that will draw you in with compelling drama and chaotic action scenes.  The characters in this show are quite charming with unique personalities and you are sure to fall in love with them to where that some of them will become a personal favorite anime character (I know that was the case for me).

While this is a science fiction show at heart the team that worked on this show did their best to try to make it seem as realistic as possible to the point to that these kind of robotic suits could be possible in the future...  Wait a minute and let me change "could be" to "most likely" as we already have primitive versions of these kind of robots already (I call dibs on the blue one).  With that in mind this show falls into a sub-genre known as "Hard Sci-Fi" and it does it quite brilliantly.

For a show that has an "M15+" rating you won't see anything all that violent or themes that are all that different from watching a show that is rated "PG" and heck there isn't even a body count (AKA death by action scenes) to be found.  They got away with a bit more sex and violence in the old OVA (Original Video Animation) series and that release got a "PG" rating (to which that I have reviewed and that review can be found here).  Then again there is some drunken violence in this show...  Never mind as so did the original OVA series.

The artwork in this show is a bit of a mixed bag as sometimes it can look quite good but there are some shots that have a lot of lines that makes the show look rough and a bit stiff.  When the show looks good it really does look good with nicely detailed backgrounds that really look good for a late-1980's show (as there were a lot of badly drawn anime during that time).  The robots in this show also look great with a simple look that suits the Labors all too well.  The human characters in this show are decent but there is something a little odd about some of them like they didn't have the budget to make them look as good as the rest of them.  The animation in this show is a bit rough during some talking scenes and quite average during the rest of the talking scenes but the action scenes in this show was animated really well and that is where it counts in a show like this.

The English dub in this show is very awful during the first three to four episodes with voices that didn't work that well with half of the characters and the acting was very wooden as if they were taught by "William Shatner ("Star Trek (1966 - 1969)", "National Lampoon's Loaded Weapon One (1993)")".  The English dub on the third episode mixed with the sub-par story that took place in that episode nearly made me want to watch the rest of the series in the Japanese dub with English subtitles but after giving the English dub another chance I found that it got better over the next few episodes upgrading from "bad" to "above average".  When the English dub is at the "above average" it doesn't stay like that for long as it improves yet again to "decent" although you still get a few "Shatner" moments here and there.  The soundtrack in this show has a very nostalgic ambient techno sound that makes me fell like that I am sneaking up early in the morning to watch "Sailor Moon (1992 - 1996). 

Overall if you can get past the first three episodes you'll find this to be a very decent show that is full of fun although it is nowhere near as good as what the original OVA series was.  I also recommend this show to fans of science fiction that don't tend to watch much animation due to it being too over the top as this is a very own to Earth anime.  A good watch. 

Title: Patlabor - The Mobile Police - TV Series Collection One
Animation/Production Studio: Sunrise.
Genre: Animation/Anime, Action, Hard Sci-Fi, Comedy, Drama
Running Time: 600 minutes (24 Episodes)
Distributor: Madman Entertainment
Rating: M15+ (Mild themes, animated violence)
Price: $69.95
Recommended: Yes


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