Patlabor: Early Days Ep. 4: The Tragedy of L


Two criminals hold a man hostage in a video store and are surrounded by the regular police and SV2. As the criminals demand money and food, Ota loses his cool and smashes his gun through the store and shoots. Later, Goto criticizes the team and reminds them they’re public servants, not giant robot pilots from an anime series. He says they’re lucky Sakaki loaded a blank as the first round, but the higher ups are furious, and some are calling for SV2 to be disbanded. Because the story is a big deal in the news, they’re all being taken off duty to be re-trained at a labor training camp near Mt. Fuji. Later, on the way to the camp, the Labor Carrier gets caught in the mud on the side of the road, and Shinshi blames Ota for insisting on bringing the Ingram. The dirty team finally arrives at the camp, and Goto orders them to take baths. Shinshi thinks it’s strange that there’s no cadets around, and Ota says they probably were scared off by their instructor. Asuma and Shinshi get perverted thoughts when they hear Kanuka, Shinobu and Noa in the neighboring baths. An old man named Gen takes their clothes away to wash, and Kanuka runs out of the bath naked when she hears a scream. Everyone else runs after her, and they find Ota floating in the bath filled with red water. Goto tastes the red water and says it’s from paint bullets, which frightens instructor Sakuma. Noa asks him if paint bullets are familiar, but he says they aren’t and runs away. Goto says the only other people at the camp are Gen and Sakuma, so he and Shinobu will investigate. Late at night, Ota goes to the bathroom and hears a voice asking him not to shoot. He thinks it’s just his imagination, and when he sticks his hands inside the sink, he finds it full of hair. He then looks out the window and sees a ghostly female figure. Ota then runs back to the room, and Asuma and the others look outside the window when they hear the sounds of a labor moving. They’re frightened to see a swampy labor with a skeletal pilot approach them.

The next morning, everyone runs while Goto rides ahead of them in his car. Asuma talks to Noa about what happened, and she says she didn’t hear anything because she was tired. Kanuka calls them pathetic and asks if they were just dreaming. Ota insists it wasn’t a dream, and Shinshi wonders if Goto is trying to hide something they’re not supposed to know. Goto tells them their break is over, and Asuma hides with Noa under a picnic table so they can ditch the exercise. They go to a convenience store to get drinks and are greeted by a young woman. As they leave, an old man named Gozo Buchiyama recognizes Asuma and freaks out when he hears Asuma is at the training camp. Asuma asks what’s going on and why everyone is trying to hide something. He holds Buchiyama in a headlock until he finally agrees to tell Asuma everything. Back at the training camp, Ota uses his Ingram for mock combat against Kanuka in a training labor. Asuma thinks about the story Buchiyama told him of a mock combat session gone bad where a labor fell down and accidentally fired its gun, causing the bullet to kill a young woman watching from the crowd. Asuma and Noa panic when the exact same thing almost happens with Ota, but he doesn’t fire. Sakuma laughs like a madman and says it’s the same as before. Later, Asuma tells everyone the rest of the story, that the person who shot the young woman was her own brother. Afterwards. the cadet vanished with the labor and his sister’s body into the lake. Asuma wonders why a story like that didn’t become public, and Shinshi says the police don’t want to air their dirty laundry. Asuma runs down the events that have happened to them so far, and Ota insists he isn’t cursed. Kanuka wants to find out the truth, and Noa returns with Shige. Asuma asks what happened, and Shige says someone tampered with the Ingram’s arm control system after it left SV2. Shige says he wants to eat, and Ota wonders where Gen went off to. The next morning, Asuma addresses everyone at a meeting about the ghost incidents. Asuma says ghosts don’t exist, and Noa pulls up a photo of the graduating class ceremony, as well as a picture of Maho Gondo, the young clerk at the convenience store, showing them to be identical. Asuma explains that Maho’s older sister was the victim of the accident. Asuma thinks Maho is putting on an act to show people the importance of labor and gun safety. Shige asks who could reprogram the Ingram, and Asuma suggests that it’s the mysterious Gen that no one has seen yet. He then shows off a box of evidence pointing to Gen as the suspect. Kanuka points out that Gen isn’t around, the older brother doesn’t exist and the mock battle was fictitious. She says they need to question information handed to them, including the the conveniently discovered evidence. She suggests that Gen doesn’t exist, and Shinobu played along in the bath while Goto did the voice. She also adds that the victim and Maho are one and the same, and that Shige was the one who reprogrammed the labor. She says everyone they’d never suspect of lying was indeed lying to them. Asuma asks what the point of all that was, and Kanuka says it was to make them rethink why they use their guns. Goto tells Kanuka she has no evidence, so Kanuka calls in the girl, Mahoko Goto, who is actually Goto’s niece. She apologizes to Goto and says she told Kanuka the whole story. Goto apologizes, and everyone throws trash at him.


A rather unexpected ghost story results from Ota’s impulsiveness and his gun fetish getting the best of him. As a result, the entire team is sent to a training camp and encounters all sorts of weird occurrences. They (and us) are made to believe the camp is haunted over a labor gun accident, but it’s all a lie. Asuma goes through some deductive steps to figure things out, but since he was acting based on false information, he obviously came to an incorrect conclusion. Everyone was in on this little prank, and it was only Kanuka who could figure everything out. It was amusing to see Goto reference several different mecha series and main character stereotypes in his criticisms of the team. Of course, a trip to the countryside wouldn’t be complete without a bath scene, but unfortunately Asuma and the others don’t get to see anything nice.

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


Comments are closed.