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Director  Kenji Kamiyama
Genre  Police procedural, Comedy-drama, Mecha, Post-cyberpunk
Patlabor movie poster

Release date  March 30, 2002

Patlabor (a portmanteau of "patrol" and "labor"), also known as Mobile Police Patlabor (Japanese: 機動警察パトレイバー, Hepburn: Kidō Keisatsu Patoreibā), is an anime and manga franchise created by Headgear, a group consisting of manga artist Masami Yūki, director Mamoru Oshii, screenwriter Kazunori Itō, mecha designer Yutaka Izubuchi, and character designer Akemi Takada.


The popular franchise includes a manga, a TV series, two OVA series, three feature-length movies, two light novel series, and a short film compilation, named Minipato (ミニパト) because of its super deformed drawing style. The series has been adapted into video games and licensed products from OST to toys. Patlabor is known for using mecha – designed by Yutaka Izubuchi – not just for police or military purposes, but also for industrial and municipal jobs.

Animations from Patlabor were used extensively in the music video "Juke Joint Jezebel" by KMFDM. The manga received the 36th Shogakukan Manga Award for shōnen in 1991.

Patlabor the movie trailer


The story takes place in what was, at the time of release, the near future of 1998–2002. Robots called "Labors" are employed in heavy construction work. The Tokyo Metropolitan Police has its own fleet of Patrol Labors or Patlabors to combat crimes/terrorism and deal with accidents involving Labors. The story arcs usually revolve around Tokyo Metropolitan Police Special Vehicle Section 2, Division 2. Noa Izumi is the main protagonist of the series, but all of Division 2 play roles. Hata and Kusumi are main protagonists of the third Patlabor film.

The feature films follow separate continuities, referred to as the "movie timeline" and the "TV timeline." With the Early Days OVA following the "movie timeline", and the New Files OVA following the "TV timeline." The manga also follows its own continuity.


The following releases have been arranged according to their story timelines.


Released by Shogakukan over Shonen Sunday magazine from 1988 to 1994, the 22-volume series takes place in a separate timeline.

Movie timeline

  • Mobile Police Patlabor (1988–1989, OVA, 7 episodes)
  • Also referred to as The Early Days. Details the origins of the Tokyo MPD's 2nd Special Vehicles Section, otherwise known as SV2.

  • Patlabor: The Movie (1989)
  • A series of random labor incidents across the Greater Tokyo Area puts the SV2 on the case. The incidents turn out to be part of a dead programmer's diabolical plot to create a much bigger rampage.

  • WXIII: Patlabor the Movie 3 (Wasted 13) (2002)
  • Taking place a year after Patlabor the Movie, the film features two MPD detectives who investigate the case of missing scientists working on a genetic engineering project that runs amuck in Tokyo Bay. SV2's Section 2 is later called in to help rein in the danger.

  • Patlabor 2: The Movie (1993)
  • A secret group of terrorists engineer a crisis in Tokyo in the winter of 2001–2002. The members of SV2's Section 2, who have been reassigned to other duties since the events of WXIII, reunite one more time to stop the threat.

    TV Timeline

  • Patlabor: The TV Series (1989–1990, TV, 47 episodes)
  • Taking place in a different continuity, the series features more adventures of SV2 Section 2, which includes an arc involving their efforts to combat an advanced Schaft Enterprises Labor called the Type J9 Griffon.

  • Patlabor: The New Files (1990–1992, OVA, 16 episodes)
  • Also referred to as Patlabor 2, the series contains episodes that took place at several points between certain episodes in the TV series and after the latter's final episode. The OVA episodes also features the conclusion of the Griffon storyarc.

    A three-part series of short films known as "Mobile Police Patlabor Minimum: Minipato" were shown before screenings of WXIII in 2002, Minipato uses paper puppets, CGI, and claymation to explain the rationale behind the whole concept of the series, especially how the Labors functioned in a realistic hard science fiction setting.

    Live-action film

    At the 2013 Tokyo Anime Fair, Tohokushinsha Film Corporation announced a live-action Patlabor film project to be launched in 2014. On July 4, 2013, Mamoru Oshii announced that he is involved in the project, in an unspecified capacity.

    Called The Next Generation -Patlabor-, the project is a 12-episode series to be shown in theatrical screenings and capped off with a feature film in 2015. The series is a sequel to the original Patlabor movie timeline, wherein the Babylon Project is finally finished and Labors are no longer in widespread use. On September 25, 2013, it was announced that Japanese actors Erina Mano will star as pilot Akira Izumino, Seiji Fukushi as Yūma Shiobara, Rina Oota as Ekaterina Krachevna Kankaeva ("Kasha"), Shigeru Chiba reprising his anime role as chief Shigeo Shiba and Toshio Kakei as Captain Keiji Gotōda.

    Video games

    All Patlabor video games were released exclusively in Japan.

  • Kidō Keisatsu Patlabor (Family Computer Disk System – January 24, 1989)
  • Kidō Keisatsu Patlabor (Game Boy – August 25, 1990)
  • Kidō Keisatsu Patlabor: 98-Shiki Kidou Seyo! (Mega Drive – October 23, 1992)
  • Kidō Keisatstsu Patlabor: Griffon-hen (PC Engine Super CD-ROM² – September 30, 1993)
  • Kidō Keisatsu Patlabor (Super Famicom – April 22, 1994)
  • Kidō Keisatsu Patlabor: Game Edition (PlayStation – November 30, 2000)
  • Patlabor: Come Back Mini-Pato (PlayStation Portable – November 2, 2005)
  • Licensing

    All of the Patlabor productions have been released in Japan and overseas in some form, except for most of the manga in North America in English. All the movies have been translated into English and are available in Region 1, 2 & 4 DVD format.

    The TV series and OVAs were released in the U.S. by Central Park Media. The first two movies were released by Manga Entertainment, but later remastered and re-released in 2006 by Bandai Visual. The third movie (along with "Mini-Pato") was released by Geneon Entertainment (formerly Pioneer). Twelve sections of the manga have been translated and published by Viz Communications as single issues and in two trade paperbacks, but later dropped the manga before completing it.

    Mini-Pato is available on DVD in regions 1, 2, and 4 in the Limited Edition Patlabor WXIII DVD packages.

    In 2006, Bandai Visual's Honneamise label re-released the first two movies on DVD in North America with extensive bonus features and an alternate English track, and Beez Entertainment handled distribution in the UK.

    Madman has the distribution rights for the movies in Australia and New Zealand in association with Manga Entertainment UK & TFC, Madman have been refused the rights to the Bandai Visual dubs of the Movies. In 2011 Madman Entertainment announced that they had secured the rights to the Early Days OVA series & the TV series from TFC, but announced on the 13th of April 2012 that due to unforeseen circumstances, Madman had indefinitely delayed their release into Australia and did not elaborate on the reasons. However, Madman has since rescheduled the first OVA for DVD and Blu-ray release on June 19, 2013. In July 2013, MVM Films has licensed the first OVA & TV series for distribution in the UK and will release them on Blu-ray and DVD.

    Maiden Japan (in conjunction with Section23 Films) has licensed the original Patlabor OAV series and was released on Blu-ray and DVD April 30, 2013. They have also licensed the TV series and was released on Blu-ray and DVD on July 16, 2013. They will also release the second OVA series on Blu-ray and DVD on February 17, 2015. All of the Patlabor films have also been licensed by Maiden Japan, with the first film to be released on DVD and Blu-ray on May 5, 2015.

    Reception and legacy

    The manga received the 36th Shogakukan Manga Award for shōnen in 1991. Guillermo Del Toro has cited the series as an influence for Pacific Rim.


    Patlabor Wikipedia