Note: This review concerns the first Patlabor OVA
, alternately titled The Early Days
This is where it began. This seven-episode OVA introduced the world to the Patlabor
franchise, later to be continued with a manga, a TV series, three theatrical movies, and another OVA. The movies follow the continuity of this first OVA, while the TV series and second OVA form a separate continuity.
These first seven episodes are a good microcosm of the Patlabor
universe. They contain all the elements that made Patlabor
great: A strong ensemble, a unique blend of genres, and grounded hard sci-fi*
. Unfortunately, it suffers from its format. Without the TV series's length to develop the premise or the movies' budget, the OVA feels overly condensed. Most episodes are self-contained, leaving the impression of some great ideas that weren't explored to their fullest.
This problem is exemplified in the OVA's only two-part episode, "The SVU's Longest Day", in which the protagonists go up against a group of terrorists who lay siege to Tokyo. The episode has excellent direction and characterization, but the plot feels condensed and sketchy. The villain has a nebulous connection to Captain Goto that is never explored; the terrorists' motives and goals are never given; and the fallout from the heroes' maverick actions is never shown. There's a lot of wasted potential.
On the plus side, the animation is top-notch from start to finish, the voice acting*
is perfect, and though self-contained, the individual episodes are highly entertaining and creative. It's not a bad anime! Recommended if you can find it, but ultimately, the movies and TV series are better introductions to the Patlabor
Final grade: B.