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Patlabor manga

Page history last edited by PBworks 15 years, 9 months ago


The Patlabor manga is one of those lost classics from the early days of manga in English. Viz translated the first storyline in singles and then collected them in two volumes, but nobody bought them and they gave up.

Just before the manga got rolling.

I read the first wideban, covering the same ground as the English version, thought Yuuki Masami's later work was infinitely superior, and let the rest of it sit on my shelf for two full years before randomly picking up the second...and finishing the series before the week was out. That was a few years ago now, and the details of the book have grown extremely hazy, but what I remember most clearly was how completely fun the villain was. Face locked permanently in a gleeful grin, his increasingly out of control schemes spiral madly away, gradually losing him the support of his own backers, yet somehow he always seems to be in control of everything...except Noa.

The plot is one big sprawl, as the popularity of the series forces Yuuki Masami to constantly expand and elaborate things. There really isn't any filler; the scale of the villain's deranged plan just gets larger and larger, and each time the police uncover a piece of it we learn the it was only a minor setback or indeed a deliberate sacrifice, and all part of his grand master scheme.

He makes the perfect foil for Gotoh, who comes off a lot less inscrutable in the manga. In fact, Yuuki's knack for making one trait characters seem complex and three dimensional is a large part of what makes Patlabor work so well. There's a deep sort of joy to be had in the details of the book, as carefully orchestrated as the arc plot is scattered. Gotoh's adamant refusal to wear shoes, because they give him athlete's foot, is a heck of a lot more satisfying than any of the glum meanderings the god awful movies tried to inject into the franchise.

The Patlabor anime was always great when it was funny and sort of boring when it wasn't, but the manga has a villain and a story that matches the strength of the central characters, and really deserves a second chance.

Andrew Cunningham

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