Shogakukan, Inc. (1997) reprinted by Viz Comics“Prologue” WRITER/ARTIST/CREATOR: Masami Yuki ENGLISH ADAPTATION: Yuji Oniki & Annette Roman TOUCH-UP ART/LETTERER: Wayne Truman COVER DESIGN: Viz Graphics EDITOR: Julie Davis
In the late 20th Century (so we in the 21st can be disappointed), giant robots called Labors are used for construction and other duties that a giant robot might be needed for. However, terrorists and other criminals use them to cause trouble, which upsets police cadet and moonlighting security guard Noa Izumi, a fan of giant robots thanks to anime. It’s why she applied to join the Mobile Police, the branch of the Police Force that handles labor crimes. She’s also gotten the attention of one of the two chiefs of the Mobile Police who happen to be at the scene of a terrorist bombing Noa is working at, the bombs planted while she was off duty. Later she is working at the plant and introduced to the new Patrol Labor, or “Patlabor”, designed exclusively to deal with Labors used for crimes and the next day is assigned to test with the Mobile Police.
What they got right: I saw a few episodes of this series years ago but this comic was in my possession first. And my goodness this thing is fun and two quarters. Noa is a fan of robots and is disappointed that the Patlabor can’t fly. She also meets the chief without knowing it, warning him not to smoke because they’re near a gas pipe just before the bomb goes off, and the scene is hilarious. Also, this comic handles itself well translating from the oversized digest style manga usually uses to the typical “floppies” of US comics.
What they got right: The other chief, Assistant Inspector Nagumo, is named, but not the chief that heads the team Noa will soon be a part of, Special Vehicle Section 2, Division 2 of the Metropolitan Police, is not. And manga fans may be annoyed that it’s flipped to read left to right but it does allow for non-Japanese readers to get into the comic and find a wider audience without being confused.
Recommendation: A really good start and I only hope this gets better. I have the first volume (which I think is the only one Viz translated or at least translated in this format) and I’m hoping for good things from this one.