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Halex

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Patlabor - Watching Guide

This is a classic anime from author Masami Yuki, also known for Birdy the Mighty: Decode and director Mamoru Oshii, best known for also directing the acclaimed Ghost in the Shell Movie. You'll find some mecha designs & technology that seem to be precursors for Ghost in the Shell.
1 Patlabor: The Mobile Police

Patlabor: The Mobile Police

This is a classic anime from author Masami Yuki, also known for Birdy the Mighty: Decode and director Mamoru Oshii, best known for also directing the acclaimed Ghost in the Shell Movie. You'll find some mecha designs & technology that seem to be precursors for Ghost in the Shell.

I should mention that there are 2 different timelines: 

  1. The Movie Timeline, which includes this Prequel OVA. This one has a more serious tone and is the timeline that has made this series famous. Obviously, this is the one I recommend watching.
  2. The TV Timeline is more comical and average, so I don't recommend watching it.

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MOVIE TIMELINE

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Optional OVA

Note that this Prequel OVA is where all the characters are introduced, but despite having excellent animation for its time, the plot and antics are just average and leaning more towards comedy and slice-of-life than to action, so it's up to you to decide to watch it. It's episodic, focusing on the training of the characters. The plot is not essential for watching for the movies, although getting to know the world, character's personalities, and their backstories do help to identify them and expand their world. It could also be watched at a later time.

The mecha on this series is treated as 'real-life mecha', no more than machines meant to serve a purpose and they are not the focus of the show.

The dub is ok.

2 Patlabor: The Movie

Patlabor: The Movie

Watch.

This is a classic anime and one that is still worth watching!

Each movie story is self-contained and their story is completely independent of the rest of the series, except that it is still the same universe with the same characters. The movies are like an extended episode of the series and one of the best, as they have plenty of action, detective work, politics, and an even more impressive animation that still outclass most current animes today.

"Upon first glance, one might assume this is a mecha anime. I would prefer to classify the anime as mystery or conspiracy. While mecha are central to the plot, they are not characters, nor are they involved in many flashy fight scenes. This is a thinking man’s anime–uncover the villain, his motives and why the Labors are malfunctioning to save Tokyo." -bedheadred

The movie has plenty of intrigues, detective work, tactics & strategies, then it all ends with great action scenes in amazing animation, especially when you consider this is from the '80s."

The dub is good.

3 Patlabor 2: The Movie

Patlabor 2: The Movie

Watch.

As I mentioned above, this is a continuation but also a self-contained story and you don't need to watch anything prior in order to understand it.

This movie has very little action and an even more serious tone than the rest of this series. The enjoyment is more about the intricate plot and the philosophy and ideas that are trying to convey, full of social critique. So if this is not your thing you may want to pass on this movie.

"Most of the prevailing theme in the movie has been cast on the Japanese Self-Defense Forces and on their legality as Japan's military force..." -Wikipedia

"Several real-life incidents were also mentioned or used for the movie. For instance, references to Viktor Belenko's defection to Japan in 1976 were mentioned by Arakawa himself when he spoke to Goto and Nagumo. Another incident with the nearly fatal dogfight over Tokyo was supposedly based on an accident in a computer simulation that forced the US military to go onto DEFCON 3 and almost went to nuclear war with the Soviet Union." -Wikipedia

The dub is good.

4 Patlabor WXIII

Patlabor WXIII

Watch.

Although this movie is part of the Patlabor Series, it is only in name, as it barely has any relation to either the Patlabors or their characters, which only appear as a cameo and could have been replaced by any other robot or character, as their roles are non-essential for this story.

This is more of a detective story in a sci-fi setting, but its executed very well, especially considering its time of release. It feels slow at times and if you watch a lot of sci-fi and detective stories, then the plot may be a little predictable, but it's still a good watch.

The quality of the animation is good, but not as impressive as the other Patlabor Movies. This story, by the way, happens chronologically between those movies, but since it's a side-story, it is probably best to watch afterward.

The music is similar to the other Patlabor movies and is used sparingly leaving lots of quiet moments that convey a feeling of isolation and dread.

Overall, is a good movie if you like serious stories & detective dramas. Although the setting is sci-fi, I wouldn't watch it just for that as it's more about the detective story than the technology and action.

The dub is ok.

5 Patlabor: The Mobile Police TV

Patlabor: The Mobile Police TV

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TV TIMELINE

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Skip.

As I mention this is more comical and average, so I don't recommend watching it. It has a lot of slice-of-life as well, but the execution is not very good.

6 Patlabor: The Mobile Police - New Files

Patlabor: The Mobile Police - New Files

Skip.

Continuation of the TV Timeline.

7 Mobile Police Patlabor Minimum: Minipato

Mobile Police Patlabor Minimum: Minipato

Skip.

It's just chibi comedic relief and not very good.

8 Mobile Police Patlabor: Reboot

Mobile Police Patlabor: Reboot

Optional, but recommend skipping.

This is an animated short movie that was originally released as part of Japan Animator Expo. It's just like an intro into a new series that was never developed.

9 Patlabor EZY

Patlabor EZY

"A new project announced at Annecy International Animated Film Festival in 2017. No further details are known yet." -Wikipedia

"GENCO representative director Taro Maki (Patlabor the Mobile PoliceNodame CantabileMillennium Actress) previously confirmed that he is producing the Patlabor EZY anime series." -Anime News Network

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