Originally, I was just going to watch Patlabor 2, since it’s a Mamoru Oshii movie. But then I was told that if I like giant robots as I claim to, I’d better watch all of Patlabor, starting with the TV series, then the OVAs, and then finally the movies. So since this was a 4 cours series, it took a bit longer than usual to finish.
Patlabor is a real robot series. What makes it real is not because it is grimdark, or because one cannot substitute guts for probability, or because in the future, there is only war. What makes it real is rather that it’s fairly mundane. There are budgets to be balanced, lunch for large crews of mechanics to be ordered, traffic to be directed (being a police unit after all), and so on. Piloting a robot is just a normal job here, like driving a truck or operating a crane, and being a (mobile) police officer is just another government job, rather than something you’re forced into doing but do anyway because THERE’S SOMEONE I WANT TO PROTECT!
The other big thing that stuck out to me with Patlabor was how frequently comedic the show was. It’s not an outright Keystone Kops comedy by any means, but the characters do have a propensity for joking around and goofing off. It’s not exactly like they have a ton of stuff to do or any dangerous criminals to bust, so there isn’t much else to do while sitting around their cavernous station other than goof off. It then becomes perfectly understandable that a bunch of bored cops and mechanics, having nothing else to do, would launch an enormous manhunt to figure out why their Chinese food delivery never showed up.