Patlabor (novel/manga/anime/video games)

Mobile Police Patlabor (Japanese機動警察パトレイバーHepburnKidō Keisatsu Patoreibā), also known as Patlabor (a portmanteau of “patrol” and “labor”), is a Japanese science fiction media 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 (chibi) 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. The series is one of the earlier examples of what is called a “media mix” in Japan, where there is no one source material: Multiple forms of media (in Patlabor’s case the anime and manga) are worked on at the same time independently of each other.


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 (“Patlabors”; as opposed to patrol cars) 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 Next Generation takes place in 2013, with an entirely new cast with the exception of Shige and Buchiyama in maintenance, but the new members of SV2 have similar names and personalities to the old ones.

The feature films follow a separate continuity, referred to as the “movie timeline”, as opposed to the “TV timeline”, with the Early Days OVA following the “movie timeline”, and the New Files OVA following the “TV timeline”.[citation needed] In addition, the manga follows its own continuity.

The Next Generation features episodes that directly reference the TV series, while its final episode and movie are a direct sequel to the second movie.



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

Japanese volumes

Original release:

  1. ISBN 4091221211, July 1988
  2. ISBN 409122122X, September 1988
  3. ISBN 4091221238, December 1988
  4. ISBN 4091221246, July 1989
  5. ISBN 4091221254, December 1989
  6. ISBN 4091221262, March 1990
  7. ISBN 4091221270, June 1990
  8. ISBN 4091221289, September 1990
  9. ISBN 4091221297, January 1991
  10. ISBN 4091221300, April 1991
  11. ISBN 4091226019, July 1991
  12. ISBN 4091226027, October 1991
  13. ISBN 4091226035, December 1991
  14. ISBN 4091226043, March 1992
  15. ISBN 4091226051, May 1992
  16. ISBN 409122606X, October 1992
  17. ISBN 4091226078, April 1993
  18. ISBN 4091226086, June 1993
  19. ISBN 4091226094, September 1993
  20. ISBN 4091226108, December 1993
  21. ISBN 4091233112, March 1994
  22. ISBN 4091233120, August 1994

Bunkoban release:

  1. ISBN 4091932711, January 2000
  2. ISBN 409193272X, January 2000
  3. ISBN 4091932738, March 2000
  4. ISBN 4091932746, March 2000
  5. ISBN 4091932754, May 2000
  6. ISBN 4091932762, May 2000
  7. ISBN 4091932770, July 2000
  8. ISBN 4091932789, July 2000
  9. ISBN 4091932797, September 2000
  10. ISBN 4091932800, September 2000
  11. ISBN 4091932819, November 2000

North America volumes

Viz released first two volumes of the manga as individual comics in 1997 and 1998, then released them as volumes:

  1. ISBN 1569312877, 1998
  2. ISBN 1569313377, 1998


The Early Days OVA

  • 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.


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.

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.

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 amok in Tokyo Bay. SV2’s Section 2 is later called in to help rein in the danger.

TV series and OVA sequel

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.

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 also features the conclusion of the Griffon story arc.

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.

Patlabor REBOOT

Kidō Keisatsu Patlabor REBOOT is a short animated film released as part of Japan Animator Expo 2016 featuring a modernised version of Patlabor with new characters and utilising CG for the Labors, animated by Studio Khara and Studio Rikka.

Patlabor EZY

On November 24, 2016, it was announced that a new Patlabor project had started. Patlabor EZY was announced at Annecy International Animated Film Festival in 2017. A pilot was reported to debut in August 2022. During the “Mobile Police Patlabor Bucchake Talk!” event at Wonder Festival 2022, Yutaka Izubuchi said that EZY is set to debut in 2024.

In October 2023, MOVeLOT revealed that they’re working on an Ingram-type mech in relation to EZY. They invited anyone to follow their social media accounts for updates on the progress.

Live-action series

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

On September 25, 2013, it was announced that Japanese actors Erina Mano would 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.

Called The Next Generation: Patlabor, the project consisted of a drama series and movie. The drama series is divided into 14 “short story” episodes released to blu-ray and DVD and exclusively aired on BS Digital and Star Channel airing from 2014 and 2015, with limited advanced theatrical screenings dividing the series into 7 “chapters”, each comprising two episodes. The movie THE NEXT GENERATION Patlabor: Shuto Kessen (“Showdown in the Capital City”) (THE NEXT GENERATION パトレイバー 首都決戦) released in theaters on May 1, 2015, and a director’s cut version of the movie was released on October 10, 2015.

The Next Generation takes place in the Patlabor world’s version of 2013 Tokyo, and is a sequel to the TV series, the OVA series and the second movie. The completion of the Babylon Project led to disuse of Labors, and Japan is in the midst of a recession. Labors falling into disuse also means there is also no place for the patrol labor squads, which have been shrunk to only one division.

The drama series follows the new members of SV2 as they solve cases and get into trouble like their predecessors did.

In the movie, followers of Yukihito Tsuge carry out terrorist attacks on Tokyo, re-enacting Tsuge’s coup, and SV2 has to stop them.


Patlabor 1-5

Novels taking place in the same universe as the Early Days OVA and first movie.

  • Kidō Keisatsu Patlabor: Fuusoku 40 Meter (Kazunori Ito) – October 1990
  • Kidō Keisatsu Patlabor 2: Syntax Error (Michiko Yokote) – March 1992
  • Kidō Keisatsu Patlabor 3: Third Mission (Michiko Yokote) – September 1992
  • Kidō Keisatsu Patlabor 4: Blackjack (Zenpen) (Michiko Yokote) – July 1993
  • Kidō Keisatsu Patlabor 5: Blackjack (Kouhen) (Michiko Yokote) – October 1993


  • TOKYO WAR: Kidō Keisatsu Patlabor (Zenpen) (Mamoru Oshii) – April 1994
  • TOKYO WAR: Kidō Keisatsu Patlabor (Kouhen) (Mamoru Oshii) – May 1994

Novelization of the second movie.

  • TOKYO WAR MOBILE POLICE PATLABOR (Mamoru Oshii) – June 2005

A hardcover edition combining the two older volumes.

The Next Generation

Novels taking place in the world of The Next Generation.

  • THE NEXT GENERATION Patlabor 1: Yuuma no Yuuutsu (Kei Yamamura) – March 2014
  • THE NEXT GENERATION Patlabor 2: Akira no Ashita (Kei Yamamura) – April 2014
  • THE NEXT GENERATION Patlabor 3: Shiroi Kasha (Kei Yamamura) – June 2014
  • THE NEXT GENERATION Patlabor: Akai Kasha (Kei Yamamura) – February 2015

The fourth novel by Yamamura is not numbered.

  • THE NEXT GENERATION Patlabor: TOKYO WAR 2 Haiiro no Yuurei (Mamoru Oshii and Kei Yamamura) – May 2015

Novelization of the live action movie Shuto Kessen, which is also a sequel to the TOKYO WAR novels.


  • Bankuruwase: Keishi-chou Keibi-bu Tokushu Sharyou Ni-ka (Mamoru Oshii) – January 2011

A sequel to Patlabor taking place in the present day with a new generation of SV2 members, later used as inspiration for The Next Generation.

  • Kouseki no Otoko (Mamoru Oshii) – 2015

Not a novel but short story included in the anthology Tag: Watashi no Aibou (2015) taking place in the Patlabor world.

Video games

All Patlabor video games were released exclusively in Japan.

Patlabor games



All of the main Patlabor anime productions have been released overseas in some form. All the movies have been translated into English and are available in Region 1, 2 & 4 DVD format. Most of the manga is not available in North America in English, and the video games, novels and live action series have also not been released outside of Japan.

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 films. In 2011, Madman Entertainment announced that they had secured the rights to the Early Days OVA series and the TV series from TFC, but announced on April 13, 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.

In 2013, Maiden Japan (in conjunction with Section23 Films) acquired the licence to the Patlabor OAV series, and released it on Blu-ray and DVD on April 30, 2013. They subsequently licensed and released the TV series on July 16, 2013; the second OVA series on February 17, 2015; and all of the films, with the first film released on May 5, 2015.


Headgear (ヘッドギアHeddogia) is a group consisting of five main writers and artists who work in the Japanese anime/manga field. The group was set up so that all the creators could retain full copyright to their work, achieve greater publicity for their work and sell their manga to anime sponsors for film production. The members are Masami YukiYutaka IzubuchiKazunori ItōAkemi Takada, and Mamoru Oshii. Together they worked on the anime series Patlabor and the two episode OVA Twilight Q.

Other staff involved with Headgear include Kenji KawaiNaoyuki YoshinagaTakayama FumihikoKenji Kamiyama, and Miki Tori.


Mobile Police Patlabor

Manga volume 1 cover, featuring Noa Izumi
(Kidō Keisatsu Patoreibā)
Genre Actionpolice comedy, science fiction
Created by Headgear
Written by Masami Yuki
Published by Shogakukan
English publisher
Imprint Shōnen Sunday Comics
Magazine Weekly Shōnen Sunday
Demographic Shōnen
Original run March 23, 1988 – May 11, 1994
Volumes 22
Original video animation
The Early Days
Directed by Mamoru Oshii
Written by Kazunori Ito
Music by Kenji Kawai
Studio Studio Deen
Licensed by
Released April 25, 1988 – June 25, 1989
Episodes (List of episodes)
Light novel
Written by Michiko Yokote
Published by Fujimi Shobō
Imprint Fujimi Fantasia Bunko
Demographic Male
Original run October 1990 – October 1993
Volumes 5
Light novel
Tokyo War
Written by Mamoru Oshii
Published by Fujimi Shobō
Imprint Fujimi Fantasia Bunko
Demographic Male
Original run April 1994 – May 1994
Volumes 2
Original video animation
Patlabor Minimum
Directed by Kenji Kamiyama
Written by Mamoru Oshii
Music by Kenji Kawai
Studio Production I.G
Licensed by
Released March 30, 2002
  • 14 minutes (#1)
  • 12 minutes (#2)
  • 12 minutes (#3)
Original net animation
Patlabor Reboot
Directed by Yasuhiro Yoshiura
Written by Yasuhiro Yoshiura, Kazunori Ito
Music by Kenji Kawai
Released October 15, 2016
Runtime 7 minutes
Movie timeline
TV timeline

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