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It's such a clear day you can see Mount Fujinote .

In the Criminal Justice System, Humongous Mecha-based offenses are considered especially heinous. In Tokyo, the dedicated officers who deal with these vicious felonies are an elite squad known as the Special Vehicles Unit. These are their stories.

Set in the not-so-far-off future of 1998, this late-80s/early-90s anime, Mobile Police Patlabornote , is the story of police officers fighting crime with giant robots. The Special Vehicles Unit's Division 1 are a corps of competent, hard-working police who always get their man — but Patlabor isn't about them. No, it's Division 2 that gets the spotlight, that scruffy, rag-tag band of half-competent cops with a propensity towards massive property damage.

Quite possibly the quintessential 20 Minutes into the Future giant robot anime, Patlabor is notable for treating its mecha not as insanely powerful miracle machines, but actual vehicles with clear limitations that require constant maintenance. In fact, although there's action aplenty, most of the series focuses on the daily life of the police officers who pilot the mecha, and big robot smash-ups often take up only a minute or two, if that. It is, truth be told, a Slice of Life Cop Show disguised as a Humongous Mecha show.

Patlabor was created in 1988 by "Headgear" — a group of creators including Mamoru Oshii (who pretty much kickstarted the OVA boom of the 80s and would later earn international recogition with Ghost in the Shell), Masami Yuuki (of Birdy the Mighty fame), Akemi Takada (character designer of Urusei Yatsura, Maison Ikkoku, Kimagure Orange Road) and others. Patlabor was planned from the start as both a manga (1988 to 1994) and OVA (The Early Days started from 1988 to 1989), and a theatrical movie and TV series followed not long after.

By turns a Cop Show, Police Procedural, slice of life comedy, political thriller, and of course, a Mecha Show, Patlabor had no trouble switching between genres from one episode to the next. (For the most part, though, the TV series and OVAs tended more towards comedy and light drama, whereas the movies were much more adult and sophisticated.)

Patlabor was unique for its time in that it examined the impact that giant robots might have on society. Not war machines but glorified forklifts, hijacked labors (hence the name) provided a new avenue for crime and terror, thus the need for a police organization trained to deal with them. Otherwise, the Japan seen in the series was virtually identical to the Japan of today, just with slightly more advanced tech. On the Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism, it fell somewhere in the middle — it wasn't some wonderful new age of technological miracles, yet the tone was still generally hopeful and optimistic. (However, the tone of the movies, most notable in the third and final film, is decidedly more cynical and pessimistic, almost a denouncement of the original premise.)

Most of the narrative focuses on Officer Noa Izumi, an eager, fresh-faced, tomboyish young woman who's just graduated from cadet training. Noa's a mecha otaku — the only reason she applied for the job was so she could ride around all day in her own personal robot (nicknamed "Alphonse"). One of the main themes of the series is Noa learning to take her job as an enforcer of the law more seriously.

Other main characters include:

  • Asuma Shinohara, the dispossessed heir to a mecha construction company and Noa's "backup" (this is the English term used in the series—with Noa being the "forward" — although his role would be better described as "spotter", or possibly "field commander", as there is an implication of the backup being a superior officer).
  • Captain Kiichi Gotoh, Division 2's easy-going (but supremely observant) commander. A Benevolent Boss (and occasional prankster).
  • Captain Shinobu Nagumo, Division 1's reserved, by-the-book, commander and the target of Gotoh's affections.
  • Hiromi Yamizaki, a Gentle Giant who drives the Division's patlabor-carrier truck.
  • Isao Ohta, another pilot and red-blooded alpha male gun nut. An honorable, impulsive Jerk with a Heart of Gold.
  • Lt. Kanuka Clancy, a hot-shot Japanese American NYPD officer sent to observe Tokyo's mecha operation.
  • Lt. Takeo Kumagami, an ultra-competent Bifauxnen policewoman brought in to replace Kanuka after she returns to the States.
  • Mikiyasu Shinshi, a mild-mannered computer expert and family man. Woe to whoever insults his wife.
  • Seitaro Sakaki, the gruff old chief engineer who oversees the nigh-constant patlabor repairs.
  • Shigeo "Shige" Shiba, Sakaki's assistant and protege, an ineffectual gearhead.

Although very popular over in Japan, Patlabor never really took off in North America, although it has a cult following among anime fans. The first two movies were dubbed by Manga Entertainment in the mid-90s, and released to VHS and DVD in English-speaking countries around the world, but the OVA and TV series weren't imported and dubbed by Central Park Media until more than a decade after they ended their Japanese run. In addition, Pioneer released the third movie, Bandai Visual re-released the first two movies with new dubs, and recently, Maiden Japan (sister company of Sentai Filmworks) has licensed the franchise and is currently re-releasing it to remastered DVD and Blu-ray. Surprisingly, the only part of the anime franchise that hasn't been dubbed in English is the last 12 episodes of the "New Files" sequel series. As for the manga, only the first two volumes were released in the U.S. and Canada. For French-speaking areas, only 18 out of 22 volumes were released. As of 2018, the TV Series, OVA series and first three movies are available on HIDive

In 2013, the Patlabor franchise appeared in their first Super Robot Wars game in Super Robot Wars: Operation Extend.

A live-action project, set in 2013, is a sequel, not a reboot, of the series. Known as The Next Generation -Patlabor-, thirteen episodes were shown in theaters in seven parts, and a feature-length film aired in spring 2015.

A 10 minute animated short called Patlabor Reboot aired on October 15, 2016 as an extra short for the Japan Animator Expo. It's released on DVD and Blu-Ray in Japan, although it has been officially streamed on its website in Japanese with official English subs.

Several mecha from the franchise, such as the AV-98 Ingram, Type-5G/1C Grau-Bear and the CRL-98 Pyro-Buster, showed up in the 2017 Survival Horror game City Shrouded in Shadow.

Watch Mobile Suit Gundam, Armored Trooper VOTOMS, or Super Dimension Fortress Macross if you are interested in more Real Robot Genre shows. Compare with the Mazinger trilogy, Getter Robo, Voltes V and Daimos to have an idea of what the Super Robot Genre is about, or J-Decker for a Super Robot police-themed mecha anime. Contrast with GunBuster or Space Runaway Ideon to see what the opposite end of the scale is.

Patlabor was planned from the ground up as a "media mix" of multiple continuities, with the Mobile Police Patlabor manga by Masami Yuki beginning its run in spring 1988, a month prior to the Mobile Police Patlabor: The Early Days OVA from Studio DEEN. The OVA in turn led to the better-known film series. Headgear later collaborated with Sunrise to produce a full-length televised anime series, Patlabor: The TV Series, which debuted in the fall of 1989.

    Manga Timeline 

    Movie Timeline 

    TV Timeline 


The Patlabor franchise as a whole provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Ace Custom: Even though the Ingrams are considered prototypes, the Labor operating systems work by "learning" the most effective movements of its pilots, customizing their functions. Visibly, all continuities give the three units different head designs after the first OVA.
  • Affectionate Parody: of both videogames and itself with an in-universe Patlabor arcade game, complete with missspelled Score Screen.
  • Alternate Continuity: Three of them - the comic; the first OVA and the three movies; and the TV series and second OVA.
  • Alternate History:
    • Global warming got a bit more serious that sea levels started to rise up during the Cold War. This led to R&D of labors in the construction industry before various police forces and militaries found some benefit in using them. Otherwise, everything else is the same.
    • The opening credits to the TV series feature Bundeswehr labors ("Brocken" models shown later in the Phantom arc) standing guard at the Berlin Wall.
  • Arm Cannon: While most armed humanoid Labors use handheld weapons, the Helldiver paratrooper Labor is equipped with an enormous chain gun that attaches to a hardpoint on its right forearm, possibly to leave its hands free to use the massive combat knife it carries on its back.
  • Badass Crew: Division 2. Everyone has a little bit of Badass in one form or another.
  • Bell-Bottom-Limbed Bots: Labors tend to have disproportionately large lower legs and feet as a concession to "realism", as keeping their centre of gravity low would be the main design concern on something so huge that's meant to walk upright.
  • Berserk Button:
    • Word to the wise - do not insult Shinshi's wife.
    • Every time Alphonse gets damaged, Noa is not going to be happy about it.
    • Even though Ohta is a living, breathing Berserk Button himself, it's worth mentioning that he really, really hates when someone disrespects the police. This applies to his patrol partners as well, and it's the reason why him and Shinohara are constantly at each other's throats.
  • Boring, but Practical: A lot of the Labors are fairly unimpressive, but functional.
  • Broke Episode: On a number of fronts, as SV2 is on reclaimed land in the middle of nowhere, and simply getting food to feed the on-duty officers and maintenance crew justifies some spotlight time. Among other things, they grow their own vegetables and use the local patrol boat to fish the bay.
  • Chance Meeting Between Antagonists: Happens once in both the OVA and The Mobile Police/New Files continuities.
    • About midway through "The SVU's Longest Day part 1", Asuma happens to meet Kai, while he's eating at a ramen noodle stall. He'd later learn, from Gotoh, that Kai was the leader of the rebel army that was laying siege to Tokyo.
    • In the Mobile Police manga continuity, Asuma and Noa go to an arcade center on their day off and end up running into Richard Wong and Bado, who would later become the SVU's main antagonists during the Griffon arc.
  • Close-Range Combatant: While nearly all Labors, with the possible exception of the Hal and Radha military Labors, are this to some degree, the Griffon really takes the cake. Despite being described as a military-grade Labor, it has no weapons other than its sharp, clawed fingers. Designed for sheer brutality, the Griffon's only viable method of attack is to descend upon enemies with its powerful jet thrusters and rip them to shreds with its bare hands.
  • Contrived Coincidence: "Black Trinary" is set in motion by one. First, the SVU base bathing facilities suffer a breakdown, forcing everyone to head into town to use a public bathhouse. While traveling there, they encounter a wounded police officer who had been chasing a wanted serial bomber, with the only place said bomber could have run to is said bathhouse. Most of the hijinks in the episode center around the fact that the only identifying mark the wounded man could pass to the heroes to identify the suspect was a description of the bomber's armpit.
  • Cool Plane: The fictional AH-88 Hellhound actually out-cools most of the Humongous Mecha.
  • Cop Show: On paper. But Special Vehicles 2 gets called out maybe a few times during a busy week, so the show leans more towards a Slice of Life.
  • Cross Counter: Alphonse vs. Griffon in the TV series and manga.
  • Darker and Edgier:
    • Every one of the movies gets progressively darker than the last but surprisingly enough the first two are really low on violence and serve more as psychological thrillers. However, the third movie got away with some rather gruesome deaths and a gloomier mood.
    • The Griffon Arc in both the television series and second OVAs is slightly edgier than the rest of the other episodes, but still has some comedic charm scattered about it.
  • Deconstructor Fleet: Of Humongous Mecha in general.
    • The mechas are rarely over a dozen meters tall, so as not to crush their own feet. And one tripping will still take out a house. They don't even walk long distances, since they're stored at construction sites like any other piece of heavy equipment, and the Patlabors are transported to combat scenes in their own specialized trucks.
    • Falling into the Cockpit is impossible as they're complicated as hell. Noa does literally fall into the cockpit in the first episode of the anime series, but she was already a trained if not yet licensed pilot, and only needed help figuring out the model-specific features of the Ingram. Noa teaching her mech to tie a shoelace knot is considered proof of her being a genius pilot. Most people can't do much with even a Super Prototype robot even if they find themselves piloting one.
    • Weapons are scaled-up versions of conventional firearms. A laser shows up in a single two-part episode, but never seen again — it destroyed all its foes, but it was too delicate and expensive.
    • War for Fun and Profit is neither fun nor profitable. Schaft Enterprises makes an attempt to pit one of their military prototypes against the police's Ingram in pursuit of combat data. What followed was ridiculously stupid, as the only people they could find willing to do such a ridiculously stupid thing were some deadbeat stoner Bomb-Throwing Anarchists — who fled the scene once they realized how ridiculously stupid the whole thing was.note 
  • Depending on the Artist: While not too jarring in the long run, the designs differ between each incarnation as a result of them being produced by different studios- Studio DEEN for the original OVA, Production I.G and Madhouse for the films and Sunrise for the series and The New Files OVA. The most noticeable difference, apart from the proportions and Unit 3's head being the design of the Ingrams' backpacks. The original Headgear design used in the manga version depicts them with a pair of cooling fans at the bottom, positioned in such a way as to invoke the iconic Mobile Suit Gundam's jump thrusters, whereas most subsequent versions replace them with a set of modest vent slits.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: In the 12 episode ("Two in Karuizawa"), Gotoh gets distracted twice by checking on Shinobu's sprained ankle, while also sneaking peeks at her legs. She catches him both times and firmly reminds him to keep his eyes on the road instead. At one point, he even adjusts the rearview mirror so he can look at her while he's driving, but her woman's intuition kicks in again; making him put it back the way it was.
  • Divergent Character Evolution: All three Ingram units in SV 2 initially look identical, but Ota's Unit 2 eventually gets a different head (explained in the manga as part of a cancelled prototype donated to the police by Shinohara Heavy Industries after the Special Vehicles Unit ran out of spare heads due to Ota's insanely aggressive fighting style) and slightly different shoulder armor. The seldom-seen Unit 3 also gets a new head in the second movie with retractable sensor antennae (and a different, more stripped-down one with a beefed-up upper camera eye and no visor in the TV series and 2nd OVA continuity).
  • Dream Sequence: Twice. Once with our heroes fighting supervillains in New York, later with them fighting alien invaders in space. The latter was subverted at the end when we find that the main character of the Dream Sequence wasn't the one dreaming it - he had actually nodded off listening to the star of the first sequence describe that episode!.
  • Drum Bathing: SV2 uses a bath cobbled together from a propane burner and an oil drum until the propane tank has an accident, forcing the officers to use a distant public bath.
  • Drunk Driver: The first Labor criminal shown in the anime is some random idiot piloting his Labor while drunk. And he isn't the last one to turn up.
  • Eagleland:
    • In the Aforementioned New York dream sequence. Type 2 for the most part, but the shout outs rampant throughout make it even more humorous.
    • It's mentioned that the U.S. has threatened to take military action if the Japanese can't get their house in order in the second film.
  • Easy Logistics: Subverted. The logistics woes affecting SV2 are so bad, Ingram Unit 3 is rarely deployed, because most of the time it's being cannibalised for spare parts (in fact, it only gets used once in the TV continuity, and that required the maintenance staff to cannibalise SV1's backup unit for parts before it was in working condition). And due to where Special Vehicles 2 is located, there are severe difficulties with feeding the maintenance staff: they farm and fish for a lot of their own food while not working. Gotoh apparently came up with a solution, that frankly worries Nagumo about what he'd do if he didn't happen to be one of the good guys.
  • Escalating War: The Seven Days of Fire that result when the mechanic team's Porn Stash is confiscated.
  • Every Car Is a Pinto:
    • Played straight with cars, but averted with Labors, which require a self-destruct to explode.
    • Played straight with at least two labors in the 2nd movie, when helicopters from the JSDF attacked the 2nd division.
  • Expy:
    • The members of Division 2 are very similar to the characters from Police Academy in various ways. Most obviously, Ota is Tackleberry born into a society with strict gun control laws and Hiromi is Hightower.
    • A redheaded new recruit of an armored police division? Are we talking about Leona Ozaki, or her future equivalent, Noa Izumi? In addition, Noa fusses over her labor, Alphonse, just as Leona fawn over her tank, Bonaparte. Both shows came out nearly simultaneously, and had the same woman voicing the fangirl.
  • Failed Future Forecast: The last episode of the original OVA premiered less than five months before the Berlin Wall fell, so in 1998, there is still a Soviet Union and the Berlin Wall still exists (with West German "Brocken" labors standing guard). Judging by the 2nd movie, it has ended, so it either ended later than in Real Life or it was a Retcon.
  • Far East Asian Terrorists: Some of the antagonists the units face off in the course of the series. Ranging from radical environmentalists, Japanese-based mercenaries to rogue JSDF officers and soldiers.
  • Fish-Eye Lens: Seen often in the first & second films, particularly from the perspective of some poor bastard getting a royal ass-chewing.
  • Flat Character: The mechanics are never really given much development, aside from Sakaki and Shige. A few of them get names in the second movie, but that's about it.
  • Flooded Future World: The Humongous Mecha were originally developed to construct barrier dams to protect coastal cities from being flooded due to Global Warming. Downplayed, as the flooding is not catastrophic and is merely part of the background.
  • Frothy Mugs of Water: Averted, there's no censorship regarding the episode where everyone but Gotou gets drunk. (And it wouldn't make any damn sense to do so, for one.)
  • Furo Scene: Notably OVA episode "Black Trinary", but SV2 has a small bath the characters occasionally use.
  • Gatling Good:
    • The AH88 Hellhound helicopters, Extor battle robots, & AL-97B Hannibal labors in the movies are all armed with 20mm rotary cannons. A JSDF helicopter flying over Tokyo in the second movie can also be seen fitted with a three-barreled door-mounted machine gun.
    • On the good guys' side, Ohta is unsurprisingly a big believer in this, and Clancy hooks him up with what looks like a GAU-8 Avenger towards the end of the first OVA series. Somehow.
  • Genetic Engineering Is the New Nuke: Section 2 goes toe-to-toe with a few biotechnologically-enhanced Kaijus in addition to other labors, most notably W-XIII, a genetically-engineered horror created from a combination of alien microbes and human cancer cells.
  • Global Warming: While Humongous Mecha are Awesome, but Impractical in Real Life, the crisis of global sea waters rising is what made their development a priority in this universe, where they were primarily valued as powerful and versatile construction machinery for efficiently building things like seawalls and levees. The police models frequently shown (and military models infrequently shown) are outgrowths of the technology used to deal with the crisis.
  • Gratuitous English: Averted most of the time with American Kanuka Clancy, who still pronounces "Roger" with an L. Everyone else plays the trope straight.
  • Gratuitous Russian:
    • According to the translation and the Japanese subtitles, the Soviet labor pilot said "You Japs betrayed me", but in reality he said something like "Japanese No Hooray" or a tremendously mispronounced "Japanese nowhere" and continued to savagely violate the Russian language during the rest of the episode. note 
    • The name of the KGB general, who wanted to defect even was "Ivan Ivanovitch Ivanovsky", a common Russian placeholder name.
  • Grievous Harm with a Body: A recurring "tactic" in the series is for the Patlabor pilots to rip a limb off of an opposing Labor and use it as a bludgeon. Ohta does it in the Ark battle in Patlabor: The Movie, while Noa does it in the Mobile Police Patlabor manga.
  • Group Picture Ending: The finale of The Mobile Police/New Files continuity ends with a group photo of the members SVU's 2nd Unit, along with Shinobu, the 1st Division's captain.
  • Guys Smash, Girls Shoot: Inverted by Noah and Ota, the latter being a notorious Gun Nut while the former prefers to engage enemies in hand-to-hand combat and/or break out the shock baton.
  • Hard-Drinking Party Girl:
    • Noa and Lt. Clancy, though not "Party Girls" by any stretch of the imagination, can hold their liquor. The first time they start to bond is when they're both screaming drunk and drinking competitively. Noa wins, by not having any hangover whatsoever the next day.
    • Lt. Kumagami. Kumagami and Clancy getting drunk together at the hot springs and poor Ohta paying for it is classic.
  • Hero of Another Story: Division 1, which is constantly depicted as The Ace when it appears in full force (but rarely does). The final episode of the TV series even has Division 2 getting Overshadowed by Awesome within a couple of minutes when the other Division arrives with brand-new upgraded Patlabors.
  • Hero with Bad Publicity: Division 2 is regarded as a pack of reckless, trigger-happy idiots who cause massive collateral damage whenever they deploy. This is mostly Ohta's fault, as he represents 50% of the pilots in the Division, and is a reckless, trigger-happy idiot. Occasionally, this reputation works in their favor: some villains of the week surrender rather than face Division 2 and end up with whatever their objective was getting destroyed in the process.
  • Hot Springs Episode: In the second OVA series.
  • Humongous Mecha: Labors come in on the smaller side, being at most about 8 meters tall. One of the Mini-Pato shorts explains that, if they were any taller or shorter, the Ingrams (and the Labors in general) wouldn't be able to do their job. Too tall, and Labors are mass-produced house-sized bulldozers (and in the way). Too short, and they're as useful for construction as ATs.
  • I Don't Know Mortal Kombat: Izumi did badly on a Patlabor arcade game largely because she was too used to piloting a real Humongous Mecha. The trope is very apt, amusingly, as the difference between the game (depicted only in the anime, as a 'hunt-and-kill' simulator) and Noa's job is about as big as the Mortal Kombat series and a UFC event.
  • Idol Singer: Kana from the TV series (most of SV2 is a fan of hers). Also a Bokukko, though no one comments on it.
  • Inconsistent Spelling: Patlabor has so many installments and has been through so many localization studios over the years that practically no two English-language releases spell the characters' names the same way.
  • Kaiju:
    • Used in episode 3 of the first OVA series, where the monster walks off into the sea immediately after it appears. It has an appearance similar to Gaira from War of the Gargantuas ...and Hiromi Yamizaki.
    • The fourth and 19th episodes of the TV series feature different monsters. The first is a mammal of some sort, a genetic experiment that escaped, and the audience only catches a brief sight of it — it's an animation cameo of Dirty Pair's Mughi. In episode 19, the monster is an underground-adapted Dragon, which Noa insists on calling it a real Kaiju, while Kanuka insists on calling it a surviving Dragon descended from the ones in the middle ages.
    • The manga contains a different Kaiju story that involves an airline crash that accidentally releases a genetic experiment that rapidly grows into an amphibious monster that Division 2 (among others) get called out to deal with. WXIII: Patlabor The Movie 3 was loosely based on this story.
  • Killer Robot: In addition to the various HOS virus infected Labors in the movie, a few other unmanned weapons occasionally turn up, such as the Shinohara Heavy Industries' Caldia security robots, resembling upsized red velvet mites armed with Frickin' Laser Beams, the American military's Extoll battle robots in the second movie, and the TV series' Phantom, which is described as a military Labor, but appears to be unmanned, having an electronic warfare suite inside its torso instead of a cockpit.
  • Lawman Baton: The Ingrams are equipped with an electromagnetic baton that can disable a hostile Labor if thrust into a vulnerable spot.
  • Magic Floppy Disk: Especially prevalent in the movies where the 5" type is standard and the 3" indicates something advanced.
  • Mecha-Mooks: West German Brocken military labors, particularly in the first Phantom arc.
  • Mecha Show: Patlabor is the first of a rare sub-genre, that of civilian-owned and operated mecha not largely used for combat.
  • Mood Whiplash: From the mostly serious and adult movies, to the comical, sometimes juvenile television and OVA series.
  • Motion-Capture Mecha: The Ingrams have a pair of retractable arm harnesses inside the cockpit to allow the pilot to control the mech's arms directly for precise movements like opening doors, though these are optional and most of the finer details of its actions are handled by the on-board computer. One notable scene in The TV Series features Noah practicing with the mo-cap harnesses by tying a piece of steel cable into a butterfly knot.
  • The Movie: Three of them, though the third is actually a Gaiden Story in which our heroes appear only briefly.
  • Mundane Fantastic: It's a cop show with giant robots.
  • Musical Spoiler: In the TV series, at one point Nagumo and Fuwa are at a restaurant, discussing who's responsible for the mystery labor that's been running around. The song playing over the radio is Schaft's theme song, with the only lings being "We are Schaft, Schaft! We are Schaft!
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero:
    • In the anime series, Nagumo's decision to reject the SRX-70 Saturn because she knew the manufacturer would use its data for military purposes leads indirectly to the disastrous events of the Gryphon Arc.
    • Patlabor: The Movie: With the team outnumbered by rampaging Labors during the assault on the Ark, Kanuka installs a clean Labor Operating System on the Type Zero and takes it out to try to improve their odds. Unfortunately, the HOS virus hung on in hidden memory and quickly reinfects the Type Zero, which then ambushes Ohta and then has a Last Villain Stand against Noa.
  • Otaku: Several Mecha Otaku, most notably...
  • Otaku Surrogate: Noa is a borderline example as she's obsessed with giant robots, but in a very girly way. She seems to be working her way out of it by the time of the second movie.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: It's six legged (two hands, four legs), eyeless from being underground for a thousand+ years and has sensory tentacles that it can use offensively growing from the back of its head.
  • Phenotype Stereotype: In the New York city dream, most of the characters who appear are blond haired, blue eyed versions of the core cast—with a few exceptions — as is everyone else in New York City. They're also all gun crazy. All of them.
  • Police Procedural: To a point.
  • Porn Stash: The maintenance staff has a truly impressive one, hidden in numerous sub-caches all over the base. The Seven Days of Fire started when Sakaki found and destroyed all of them.
  • Post-Cyberpunk: You get the feeling that the Cyberpunk period happened a few years ago in-universe, and now everyone has to go back to work.
  • Public Bathhouse Scene: Episode 7 of The New Files has the officers of SV2 searching for a bombing suspect at a bathhouse after their improvised bath explodes. All they know is that the suspect has three moles in the right armpit, so the search turns into a naked brawl. The bomber turns out to be a woman, meaning the men never had a chance of finding her.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: AND HOW. They're frequently referred to as such in-universe (with "cash drain" usually added for good measure), to the point that it's a Running Gag.
  • Real Robot: About as close to realistic as you can get, aside from some slightly whimsical giant police weaponry. Even military Labors are pretty delicate and lightly armed.
    • The close-range Griffon (and the Phantom in a lesser extent) is an obvious exception, since it wasn't going to be mass produced and it was built without cost in mind and lots of overtime from the engineers in Schaft's Project Division Seven. Its flight, for example, was extremely limited and was brute thrust all the way, ending in crashes both times. Everybody got utterly shocked when the Griffon flew, since neither of them thought possible a Labor was able to fly (since it was earlier mentioned that making flying a Labor would be very complicated, due to its weight).
  • Revolvers Are Just Better: The Ingrams carry scaled-up Colt Pythons that fire 37mm shells. This is at least partly due to the fact that they're easier for the ground crew to load by hand than a magazine-fed weapon would be: in Patlabor: The Movie, Noa takes a free minute while she and Alphonse are in a cargo elevator to reload its revolver cannon with an armload of fresh shells.
  • Romanticism Versus Enlightenment: The franchise in general remains on the Enlightened end of the spectrum and relatively idealistic - even in the worst of times. Generally, humanity growing to live with mechs coexisting with them and how they are used in society is the end result, and all other things are just consequences of it.
  • Running Gag:
    • Noa frantically running from something, almost fainting, quickly recovering. Happens at least three times in the course of the series. Usually from something monstrous—like albino sewer gators.
    • Gotoh using Shinohara's hot-headedness and curiosity in missions to confirm suspicions that he has already glossed over waaaaaaay before. Which is lampshaded by Shinobu during the first film, when she comments on Gotoh's habit of manipulating Asuma. He also usually does this to avoid the higher-ups noticing that he is the one that is actually ruffling the feathers.
    • The unit sometimes tries to hide stuff and sneaks out from Captain Gotoh. They never succeed in getting anything past him. It shows that they are somewhat unaware of just how curious he can be.
    • The unit's apparent informality towards everything in the opinion of most outsiders.
    • Ohta's trigger-happy approach to every mission. It's good thing that he is actually an excellent shooter.
    • Shinshi's tendency to get absolutely livid when he and/or his wife is ridiculed.
    • Sakaki's line to get everyone going when there's a call goes something like "Hurry up, or I'll throw the lot of you into the sea!" Even Shinohara makes fun of this at one point in the series.
    • The public's perception of Division 2 is constantly mentioned to be on the lines of "violent", "freeloaders" and "a huge waste of taxpayer money". The high command's efforts regarding Division 2 is to put them into a positive publicity stunt as frequently as they can so that the public opinion aims for the better. It's apparently not enough that the Division 2 has saved Tokyo multiple times and has even backed up Division 1 when they fall short; it's worth mentioning that the high command likes captain Nagumo of Division 1 way more than Gotoh of Division 2, so they don't quite help to the cause.
    • Shinohara and Noa have a habit of bickering that translates into the field. Labor 1's operation during missions usually has Noa going on a multitude of unlikely tangents while on the Labor while Shinohara pulls her down to Earth from the commanding car. He is never above making her mad or making her do stuff she doesn't want to do, she doesn't mind, except when he stops bickering... because THAT's when something's wrong.
  • Schematized Prop: The opening narration of the last half of the TV series included a detailed description of the AV-98 Ingram, the show's titular patrol labor, using what was for the time highly detailed Computer Animation.
  • Secret Diary: Kanuka was writing an ongoing report on her coworkers during her time with SV2. It's somewhat less than flattering.
  • Sewer Gator: SV2 encounters large albino alligators underground on two occasions —
    • In the TV series episode "Underground Mystery Tour", the team learns of sewer-like tunnels beneath the reclaimed land while investigating a series of thefts at the station. Inhabitants include a horde of rats, numerous feral cats, the homeless culprit, and a giant alligator that chases everyone for the last third of the episode.
    • In the New Files OVA series episode "The Dungeon Again", after a giant albino alligator is captured in the tunnels beneath SV2, some of the mechanics hear a rumour that it secreted a giant pearl somewhere down there. They go missing, a rescue team is sent in, they run into booby traps left by a crazy sewer-dweller, and the "pearls" turn out to be eggs.
  • Shoo Out the Clowns: Cutesy mecha-fetishist Noah & wacky gun-nut Ohta get progressively less & less screentime with each progressively darker & more cynical film. Somewhat rectified in the manga & TV continuity with the Griffon Saga, which, while still mostly serious & featuring an escalating level of danger still has a major focus on Noah.
  • Shotguns Are Just Better: SV2's most powerful weapon is a riot shotgun scaled up for use by an Ingram. Thanks to the fact that shotguns are not precision weapons, and the collateral damage from a shotgun pellet that big would be huge, it gets used precisely five times - once in the TV series against the Griffon, once in the first OVA series against a Kaiju, once in the second OVA series against the upgraded Griffon, and in the climactic battles of the first and second movies.
  • Shown Their Work:
    • The franchise as a whole went out of its way to depict a real and modern Tokyo, deviating only when copyright or trademarks got in the way.
    • The Ingram's design is an astonishingly well-thought out representation of how a (relatively small) humanoid mecha might work. While the proportions vary Depending on the Artist, they're generally depicted with a stocky, compactly-built (not to mention mostly hollow) torso atop comparatively long legs with short, thin thighs and large, flared lower legs and feet. This keeps the machine's center of gravity low, a crucial consideration in something that tall. Additionally, using extensible armatures to draw the revolver cannon from the retractable ankle holster inside the aforementioned flared legs rather than simply bending down to grab it reduces wear and tear on the joints of the Ingram's limbs and body, which are noted in the anime to need constant maintenance due to the massive loads they carry.
  • Sitting on the Roof: Particularly egregious, as the Special Vehicles 2 building (formerly a manufacturing facility) has a couple of decks on the roof, and yet they still go onto the actual roof on occasion.
  • Sliding Scale of Realistic vs. Fantastic: It differs depending on the media you are watching or reading.
    • The two movies helmed by Mamoru Oshii are highly realistic with situations that could happen in the real world, as the antagonists in both are terrorists that utilize methods that can be and have been used in real life.
    • The TV show is mostly realistic in its portrayal of labor crime until the main story arc kicks in, and the SV2 battles Schaft and their super-robot prototypes... and monsters, dragons and ghosts too.
    • The The Next Generation -Patlabor- live-action series plays with this, considering that Oshii is in the helm of the project and it's a sequel to the animated movies.
  • Snow Means Love: An episode of the second OVA revolved around this trope.
  • Spider Tank: Many military Labors use this design rather than the bipedal form of most civilian models. (An episode of the TV series notes that, in a city, Labors have to worry about their width and turning radius.)
  • Strictly Professional Relationship:
    • Captains Gotoh and Shinobu, Played Straight in the TV series, with Gotoh nursing unrequited feelings for Shinobu, who strictly enforces a professional relationship between them. In the Movie Continuity it's played with near the climax of the first film, where Shinobu almost confesses her feelings to Gotoh just before Division two heads into a massive Typhoon. Ironically Gotoh remains oblivious or deliberately ignores it. Their UST is a central plot part of the second movie.
    • Played straight by Noa and Asuma in the OVA continuity. However, near the end of the Mobile Police/New Files continuity, their relationship shows signs of becoming "more than friends". In the Movie Continuity, by the second film they are living together, with the implication that they are a full couple.
  • Stupid Crooks: A lot of the criminals SV2 go up against are really dumb, but the cake goes to the villains in "Save the Terrorists" who are a pair of bombers so inept that the reason that they are independent is because no serious eco-terrorist organization would take them. They end up setting off their own bomb prematurely and in the wrong place by accident and have to be rescued by the police.
  • Super Prototype:
    • SV2 has three prototype AV-98 Ingram mechs. One episode of the series focused on the introduction of a mass-produced line of Ingrams, subverting the trope in that the prototypes weren't exceptionally good so much as the mass-produced ones were exceptionally shoddy. Also, other kinds of mass-produced military mechs are shown to be close in quality to the Ingrams, if not flat out better in certain regards, but the Ingram has a distinct lead in agility and the experience of its pilots, aided by the fact that since the SV2 Ingrams have been used by the same pilots for months at a stretch, they have been gradually custom tuned and optimized for the operation styles of those pilots by the maintenance staff, while any machine fresh from the factory floor would be at a more generic default setting.
      • Shinohara Heavy Industries is actually savvy about this trope. After the poor showing their first mass production Ingram makes, they get SV2 to help them develop a new one. The resulting "Economy Model Ingram mk. II" is actually superior in some respects to the original AV-98.
    • The first film has the AV-X0 "Type Zero" which was supposed to be an advanced replacement for the AV-98. It proved to be a fearsome opponent in melee combat against other labors, and when it was overtaken by the Babel virus it completely mopped the floor with Ohta's Ingram and Noa only barely managed to subdue it with a shotgun to the brain. Seeing as the Type Zero wasn't seen in the subsequent films (the AV-02 Valiant shows up instead), it can be assumed that the design was abandoned.
    • The Type Zero also shows up near the end of the manga, piloted by Noa. It actually does quite well, until the bad guys deactivate the computers that did the calculations for the Type Zero — since it was a prototype it relied on an outside unit rather than having all the hardware inside the chassis. In the TV anime and OVAs, the Type Zero is fully functional on its own, but the software is designed to avoid collateral damage, which gets them all trashed.
    • The Helldiver Prototype that appears in the OAV SV-2's Longest Day is equipped with a Gau-8 Avenger, but the massive recoil it generates, along with the fact that the mech wasn't completely finished yet, results in it being shaken to pieces by its own weapon after a mere few seconds of combat. The production model's primary weapon is scaled down considerably to what appears to be a Bushmaster chaingun mounted to a its right forearm.
  • Suspect Is Hatless: A good part of the plot of "Black Trinary" is SV-2 trying to identify a suspect based on a description of their armpit. They'd have had a lot more success if they had at least been told that it was a woman's armpit.
  • Team Shot: Both ending themes of the TV series, as well as the final shot of the second OVA, which brought the franchise to a close.
  • Team Spirit: Notable in a couple of ways. The maintenance crew has greater importance in the series than is usual for a Mecha Show, and Division 2 (despite being labeled a Ragtag Bunch of Misfits in-universe) shows strong teamwork when the chips are down.
  • Techno Babble: The opening narration for the second half of the TV series has a bit of this. What the heck is an SCB or SCLM system?
  • Theme Naming: Most of the career cops are named for WWII admirals (Gotohnote  and Nagumo), Ohta is probably named for the inventor of the Ohka (Baka) glider bomb - he looks frighteningly like his namesake.
  • 20 Minutes into the Future: The franchise started in 1988, but was set in 1998. Aside from underestimating the leap in technology, they got just about everything else right.
  • Used Future: To a point, as nothing is really much worse for the wear in 1998 than it was in 1988, aside from what a decade might do to something.
  • Vertical Mecha Fins: The Griffon first bears a pair that houses a flight system, before being upgraded with another that houses an aqua unit.
  • Welcome Episode:
    • As far as Noa is concerned, she was the only one who got an introduction in the TV anime. The first OVA has the entire Division 2 transfer to Special Vehicles 2 the same timenote , and the manga starts with Noa still in training before getting any sort of Labor instruction.
    • Played straight with Kanukanote , and with Kumagami to a less jarring extent.
  • Whole-Plot Reference:
    • An entire (dream) episode devoted to an Ultraman homage, specifically harking back to the series Ultraseven with the squad acting secretly as a monster/alien defense team. They even go for some of the classic sound effects and the big bad of the episode is an Expy of Ultraman's classic enemy: Zetton. Noa gets to transform using a Beta Capsule version of the Ultra Eye into Ingraman. In fact, all the monsters and Ultramen who appear have the faces of military or police labors. The Zetton has the face of the Griffon, Ingraman is Noa's Ingram "Alphonse", "Zero" is the AV-0 Peacemaker.
    • The third episode of the first OVA is a hilarious Gojira send-up, down to the one-eyed Mad Scientist and the "Oxygen Destroyer" (actually a bit of dry ice in a plastic tube).
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Takeo Kumagami is extremely afraid of ghosts. She hides it initially with skepticism, but the mask soon falls away. One the Ghosts spirits are put at rest, she presents the spirits with an offering of flowers, sake and an incense stick.


Video Example(s):


Paint Bath

The SV2 members are enjoying bathing in some hot springs, even Kanuka, though she brings a gun with her to the bath. Suddenly the girls hear a scream, and they rush to the men's side to find that the water had suddenly turned red, with the men terrified assuming that it's blood, but when they investigate it, they find out it's just paint.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / ABloodyMess

Media sources: