DVD Review: Patlabor – The Complete OVA Series

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It’s time to step back in time as we take a look at MVM’s DVD release of Patlabor’s early days, but what exactly did we think of this DVD Release, and even more so was a Blu-ray release valid? Find out in our DVD Review of Patlabor – The OVA Series.

Synopsis:

Drunk drivers are bad, but put a drunk driver in a giant robot called a Labor and you’ve got a disaster waiting to happen. And when REAL criminals get their hands on those same giant robots, the cops need giant robots of their own just to maintain the status quo, right? That’s the logic behind the development of the Patlabor program and special Labor Crime units like Japan’s Section 2, in any case. But what logic fails to take into account is where to find police officers who’re equally conversant with both robots and the regulations? That’s where the motley crew of Section 2, Division 2 comes in!

With ridiculously perky tomboy Noa Izumi and gun-happy madman Isao Ohta as primary Labor pilots and the impossibly laidback Captain Goto in what passes for command, SV2 is ready to hit the streets with their twenty-ton feet! But will they be taking a byte out of crime or have they bitten off more than they can chew? The law of the land and the laws of robotics are about to collide!

Our View:

Patlabor the Complete OVA Series, which is also known as Patlabor – The Early Days, tells the story of the Special Vehicles Unit Section 2 (SV2) formation and their daily routines as Police Offers for the unit. Basically the OVA Series acts as an introduction to the franchise, with Noa and Asuma acting as the main protagonists of the show, whether they intended to or not.

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It’s probably worth explaining that Labor’s are the giant robots (mech’s) that the SV2 use, and that this group is a specialised task force created by the government for the sole purpose of stopping Labor crimes within the city. Despite the SV2 being ‘expected’ to be a specialised unit it is more of a rag-tag bunch of people that all come from comical backgrounds. For instance Noa is addicted to Labors and ends up giving her labor a nickname, while her partner Asuma doesn’t want anything to do with the task force until a new female recruit joins the team, meanwhile the other members (Ota, Shinshi and Hiromi) all have their own unique, but comical, characteristics – with each one being explored through the course of the series.

In charge of this ‘comical’ group is Captain Goto, a police captain that despite his “laid back appearance” offers a tactical approach to the job when needed. The fun thing with Patlabor is that it doesn’t take itself seriously, it has all of the realistic subjects, such as bomb threats and terrorist attacks, but the characters (especially Ota who is a gun nut) only manage to pull off the job by luck or when a higher ‘more informative’ officer steps in. The point of “not being taken seriously” is proven at the half-way point whereby not only is a monster thought to be rampaging around the city, but the team potentially discover a ghost within a deserted building.

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The OVA Series seems to have a “no hold bar” approach to story topics, so each episode is something new and entertaining and the series unfolds through seven episodes, with each episode acting as an individual story, story there is an underlining story that ties them all together, namely terrorist attacks – even if the SV2 Unit don’t see it that way. Patlabor maybe an old series, but compared to anime nowadays it’s a fresh new look at mecha entertainment and its one that provides the right amount of laughs while keeping viewers entertained.

Extras:

It’s not surprising that this release would only contain a minimal amount of extra features, as this is due to the series being over 20 years old. That being said even the basic ‘opening & closing’ songs would have added some benefit to this release, even if they were not available in text less format, but unfortunately they are not included.

The only extra features included with this ‘DVD’ release of the Patlabor OVA Series are three trailers for other MVM Released products, in this case Majikoi Oh! Samurai Girls, Mayo Chiki and Waiting in the Summer. Interestingly each of the trailers are only the ‘text less opening’ songs for each anime, so not much of the series itself its shown.

Specs:

Media:  DVD 9 x2
Region: 2
Running Time:  1:51:59 (Disc 1) 1:20:12
Video: MPEG-2
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 224kbps (English & Japanese)
Subtitles: English (Yellow)
Resolution: 720 x 576 (576i)
Aspect Ratio: 4:3
Frame Rate: 25 fps

Overall:

What do you get when you combine 80’s animation, mecha units and a specialised police division? No it’s not Ghost in the Shell, its Patlabor and that’s exactly what we get in this latest DVD release by MVM Entertainment.  The Complete Patlabor: OVA Series (also known as The Early Days) contains 7 episodes, each around spanning 30 minutes long, that fortell the start-up days of the SV2 Division, a specialised Police unit tasked with protecting the city from military styled threats.

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The series itself spans across two DVD discs and despite the series being over 20 years old, it has never looked better and presumably the Blu-ray version (which is available in the UK) will look even better. While the picture quality is ‘insanely’ superb (even by DVD standards) the audio is only presented in classic 2.0 Stereo (for both English & Japanese Audio tracks), but seeing as this release features the original English dub it’s not surprising that it is only available in Stereo.  Subtitles on the other hand are presented visible clear throughout the series and are presented in Yellow.

The only real downfall with this release, which could not be avoided due to the series age, is the lack of any extra features. That being said there are three trailers for other MVM Released Anime Series, but it would have been nice to included opening and closing song (even if it’s not in text less form) as the songs (considering how old they are) are pretty catchy.

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Overall Patlabor – The Complete OVA Series is a worthwhile addition to anyone’s collection, the re-mastered picture and audio quality is far superior than anything released thus far and the whole series is entertaining from start to finish, especially when compared to other old-school titles such as Nightwalker and Vampire Princess Miyu. If you enjoy comedy, giant robots and police task forces than Patlabor the OVA Series is worth picking up and while the series looks good on DVD (which is the version we watched) I recommend getting the Blu-ray as it could only look better.

Score: review-stars-4

Patlabor – The Complete OVA Series will be available on DVD and Blu-ray from the 18th November 2013.

About Scott Emsen
Scott is the Founder and Executive Editor of AnimeBlurayUK but in the past he has worked at ZOMGPlay, Rice Digital and Funstock and was once a Community Moderator for the Nokia N-Gage forums. Based in the UK, he loves anything related to Games & Anime and in In his spare time you'll mostly find him playing on one of his many gaming consoles; namely the PS Vita, PS4 or Xbox One.

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