Patlabor Anime Watch Order

Patlabor Anime Watch Order

The Patlabor (Labor Patrol) science fiction franchise was released in 1988, created by a group called Headgear, consisting of manga artist Masami Yuki, anime director Mamoru Oshii, screenwriter Kazunori Ito, mecha designer Yutaka Izubuchi, and character designer Akemi Takada.


Despite being a sci-fi series, Patlabor is set from 1998-2002, portraying a police force combating crime using their giant robots. What sets Patlabor apart in the mecha genre is its grounded approach to reality.

However, the anime faced challenges in reaching a broader audience due to the dominance of the Gundam franchise during that era. So, what exactly is Patlabor, and in what order should we watch the anime series and movies?

What is the Patlabor Anime About?

Patlabor follows the Tokyo Metropolitan Police’s Special Vehicles Unit, a team that uses giant robots called Labor to combat crime. The series focuses on Noa Izumi, the newest member of the squad, along with other key members.


Beyond being a comedic mecha slice-of-life, Patlabor delves into political and technological themes. It addresses mecha-related challenges in society, including eco-terrorism, everyday crimes, and incorporates religious symbolism.

Patlabor also reflects on Japan’s transformations during its economic boom, all while maintaining its humorous charm. The series is highly popular in Japan, marked by a 30th-anniversary pop-up shop in Shibuya in 2019. Its 2020 resurgence introduced it to a global audience, making it a must-watch for new fans.


Patlabor Anime Release Order

Navigating the Patlabor franchise might seem a bit overwhelming at first, considering it includes a manga, TV series, two OVA series, three feature films, two light novel series, and a short film compilation called Minipatom.

Over the last 30 years, the series underwent various reboots, released movies and anime. One distinctive aspect is that it is divided into three different timelines: manga, film, and TV. This division helps viewers understand the different storylines and perspectives within the Patlabor universe.


1. Mobile Police Patlabor (1988)

  • Other titles: Kidou Keisatsu Patlabor: Early Days
  • Episodes: 7
  • Released: Spring 1988

The beginning of the film timeline is marked by a 7-episode OVA series that premiered in 1988.

This series acts as an introduction to the Tokyo Metropolitan Police (TMP) Special Vehicle (SV) team, giving viewers a glimpse into their world and setting the stage for upcoming adaptations in the anime.

2. Patlabor the Mobile Police (1989)

Patlabor the Mobile Police (1989)

  • Other titles: Kidou Keisatsu Patlabor ON TELEVISION
  • Episodes: 47
  • Released: Spring 1988

After the positive response to the initial 7-episode OVA, a 47-episode anime series was created in 1988, adapting the manga.


The storyline revolves around Noa and the SV2 team as they delve into Tokyo’s suspicious activities. This journey unfolds into intense confrontations involving Labor, kidnappers, and terrorists.

3. Patlabor: Film (1989)

  • other titles: Kidou Keisatsu Patlabor Gekijouban
  • Episodes: 1 Movie (1 hour 39 minutes)
  • Released: Spring 1988

The story unfolds in 1999, amid Tokyo’s significant redevelopment leading to suburban destruction and the emergence of artificial islands.


Trouble arises when Labors start malfunctioning, prompting the deployment of TMP SV2 to address the issue. The team discovers that a new operating system (OS) has been installed in the Labors, causing them to activate at low frequencies.

This OS is infected with a virus programmed to wreak havoc on Tokyo. To make matters worse, a typhoon is approaching, intensifying the impending disaster.


The TMP SV2 faces a race against time to prevent the virus from seizing control of the Labors and causing destruction in Tokyo.

4. Mobile Police Pattern Labor: The New Files (1990)

  • Other titles: Patlabor 2, Kidou Keisatsu Patlabor: New OVA
  • Episodes: 16
  • Released: Fall 1990

A sequel to the original series debuted in 1990, and it doesn’t adhere to a specific plot.

Instead, it consists of episodes that unfold between the events of the prior anime. Nevertheless, one episode in the series provides the resolution to an unresolved storyline from the original anime.


5. Mobile Police Patlabor 2: The Movie (1993)

  • Other titles: Kidou Keisatsu Patlabor 2 The Movie
  • Episodes: 1 Movie (1 hour 54 minutes)
  • Released: Spring 1993

Set in 2002, three years after the events of the initial film, a missile obliterates the Yokohama Bay Bridge, prompting the military to seize control of Tokyo. The military places blame on the air force, sparking a civil war that transforms Tokyo into a warzone.

While the main characters have retired or assumed different roles within the MPD, they reunite to apprehend the individual behind the terrorist attack and bring an end to the conflict.


5. WXIII: Patlabor the Movie 3 (2002)

  • Other titles: Wasted Thirteen Kidou Keisatsu Patlabor
  • Episodes: 1 Movie (1 hour 39 minutes)
  • Released: 2002

Taking place between the events of the first and second films, this movie serves as a side story and doesn’t involve the main character.

In the year 2000, a string of assaults on Labor prompts two detectives to launch an investigation, with assistance from various members of SV2.

As they delve into the case, the team uncovers the existence of a biological weapons program named Wasted XIII and its connections to both the American military and the Japanese Army.


6. EZY Patlabor

A project announced at the Annecy International Animated Film Festival in 2017. No further details are known yet.

Where to Watch Patlabor?

You can Watch Patlabor anime on HiDive and VRV.

Author - Rohit
I am Rohit, an author at Otakukan. I was born and raised in Banglore, India. I have always loved watching anime and reading manga. In college, I started writing my own stories and creating my own characters.