Patlabor: Early Days Ep. 1: Second Unit, Move Out!


Through the use of hyper technology, robotic labors revolutionized society in the late 1990s, but they’ve also been used in crime. In response, the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department sets up Special Vehicles Section 2 and a patrol labor unit to combat labor crime. At the SV2 station house, mechanic Shigeo “Shige” Shiba informs head mechanic Seitaroh Sakaki that the new AV-98 Ingrams have been shipped from the Hachioji factory. Shige proclaims his excitement over the new Ingrams because everyone looks down on SV2. Sakaki tells him that he’s also looking forward to seeing the Ingrams and taking them apart. A bus pulls up to the out-of-the-way SV2 station house and drops off four officers: Asuma Shinohara, Isao Ota, Hiromi Yamazaki and Mikiyasu Shinshi. Shinshi comments that the station house doesn’t look like part of Tokyo, and Shinohara wants to run away. Captain Kiichi Goto uses a bullhorn to tell them to come to his office. Captain Shinobu Nagumo hopes that Goto got good officers since her unit was passed up to get the new Ingrams. Goto notices that he’s missing one person, and a girl named Noa Izumi pulls up on a scooter. With the entire team assembled, Goto assigns Noa and Asuma to Unit 1, Ota and Shinshi to Unit 2 and Hiromi to the power crew. Sakaki then gets a call from the delivery driver that he’s stuck in heavy traffic that isn’t moving. Later, Sakaki sits outside by a table to wait for the Ingrams while Shige tells Noa about Sakaki’s reputation as a mechanic. Asuma isn’t impressed with his lunch and decides to go out for food. Ota asks Sakaki for permission to use the 20mm revolver cannon, but Sakaki tells him to ask Goto. Ota then asks Goto because he wants to have experience with live ammo, but Goto points out that he doesn’t have a labor, and even if he did, the Self Defense Force has booked the shooting range, plus there’s a long approval process to get bullets. Shinshi drags Ota out of the office as Ota screams out that he wants to fire a gun. In the labor hangar, Noa looks at the Taisyo Patlabor and comments that it looks like a bad guy. Asuma then comments that the Ingram is the first specially designed Patlabor unit and is supposed to have a psychological impact on criminals. Noa thinks about Asuma’s last name and asks if he’s related to anyone from Shinohara Heavy Industries, and he answers that it’s his father’s company. She then asks why the president’s son would be a civil servant, and he says his parents suckered him into it. Later, Asuma complains about his job while cutting grass with Noa. He asks her why she joined up, and she tells him it’s so she can pilot her Patlabor, Alphonse. Ota also complains about cutting grass and screams that he wants to shoot a gun.

As the sun begins to set, a truck arrives to take away the old Taisyo. Sakaki continues to wait outside for the Ingrams, and Shinshi calls his wife Tamiko to tell her he’s on night duty. Noa complains about having to wait so long to pilot Alphonse, and when Asuma complains about night duty, Ota calls him a slacker. An emergency call then comes in about an armed labor appearing at the Sumida River. In the hangar, Goto tells the team that Division 2 has received orders to mobilize, even though the Ingrams are stuck in Edobashi. The mysterious labor took out a Maritime Agency patrol boat in one shot, and Goto decides to send Hiromi, Noa and Ota to get the Ingrams while Asuma and Shinshi head to the crime scene in their command cars. On the expressway, Noa and Ota activate their Ingrams and stand up from the transport trailers. Ota carefully maneuvers on the road and jumps down to where Hiromi is with the transport trailer. Goto gets a call that the criminal labor is a Pickle mountain construction type that they believe is being used for terrorist activities. Goto then tells Shinshi to head to Uguisuidani and Asuma to Joumyou Temple to set up a dragnet. He then calls Hiromi for a status report, and Noa doesn’t want to jump off the bridge and damage Alphonse. Elsewhere, several police cruisers chase the Pickle, but it uses a grappling hook to attack them. Goto waits outside Ueno Park and sees the Pickle is being chased toward him. Asuma tells Noa that she has the advantage on specs, and she comments that Pickle is a stupid name. Ota is ready to shoot the Pickle, but Shinshi reminds him that they’re supposed to let the Pickle pass them. Ota starts wildly firing at the Pickle, and it uses one of its legs to behead Unit 2 as it speeds by. Noa tells Asuma she doesn’t want to fight the Pickle, but he tells her to stop babbling. Noa shoots at the Pickle and damages one of its leg wheels. As she fights the Pickle, it uses its grappling hook to sever Alphonse’s right arm. The Pickle then heads to Ueno Park, and Noa freaks out at Alphonse missing an arm. Asuma encourages her to fight, and she chases after the Pickle. The Pickle finally runs out of gas outside the temple, and the two pilots find themselves surrounded by the police. One of them threatens to fire a missile into the temple unless they get a getaway car. Shinobu says she didn’t want to lead the criminals there, but Goto says he’s bluffing. Noa then arrives and attacks the Pickle. Back at the station house, Sakaki expresses dismay at receiving damaged labors. Goto apologizes for calling in Shinobu, and she comments that it would’ve been more effective to give the Ingrams to her unit. Goto asks her if she wants the Ingrams and then says she can’t have them.


The first episode of the Patlabor OVA pretty much hits all the bases by setting up the world and introducing a cast of wacky characters. SV2 Division 2 is certainly made up of a bunch of weirdos, including robot fangirl Noa, gun maniac Ota and slacker Asuma. The story could basically work as a tale of misfit cops, but it’s an added bonus that robots are involved. Aside from the team members, you’ve got captains like Goto, who always looks uninterested, and Shinobu, who is basically the designated character that plays it straight. Aside from introducing the characters, the episode features the team’s first deployment, and it ends with amusing and disastrous results: Ota’s Ingram gets beheaded, and Noa’s Alphonse loses an arm. One thing is made evident in this episode: wherever SV2 goes, it’s going to leave behind a trail of destruction.

Overall Rating

Patlabor: Early Days Info

Mamoru Oshii
Naoyuki Yoshinaga

Kazunori Ito

Mechanical Designer:
Yutaka Izubuchi

Character Designer:
Akemi Takada

Musical Composer:
Kenji Kawai

7 episodes

Video Release:
Japan 04.25.1988 – 06.25.1989
U.S. 10.14.2003


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