Patlabor: Manual vs Auto

In the TV timeline of Patlabor, the Peacemaker is the next-gen police labor developed by Shinohara Heavy Industries, assigned to the SV1–a long overdue upgrade considering the old Pythons they used throughout the majority of the series.

Besides having better specs than the Ingram, the Peacemaker is equipped with a system that automatically adjusts its movements to prevent collateral damage. A boon, yes?

Sadly, this system proves to be problematic.

As the Peacemakers get into a fight with the Gryphon, the latter fights with its back to a building, which nullifies any and all attempted attacks on it (since the system perceives a threat to public property).

Then the Gryphon trashes them badly.

I am amused by this because of two things:

First, this is not the first time the Peacemaker gets shafted in the franchise. I understand that Noa is The Best Pilot For Ingram and the Gryphon’s rival, and that this whole shiny-new-tech-causing-unforeseen-problems thing is used to set up the Peacemaker’s defeat. However, this strikes me as less-than-stellar writing for the series, which is saying a lot: Patlabor is a very well-written robot show, and the last leg of the Gryphon storyline doesn’t sit very well with me.


The Peacemaker is an automatic, while the Ingram is a manual. Despite the former allowing for ease of use and all that cute fancy tech, a greater degree of control is much more important in fighting a beast like the Gryphon. This is a recurring trope in real robot anime: the greater the human element in controlling a mech, the better it performs.

Wouldn’t it be boring if people just sat behind the controls, doing nothing? While mecha control systems are usually handwaved around and we mostly see random pushing and pulling of levers, it still looks cool.

Which is all mecha anime is about, yes.

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6 Responses to Patlabor: Manual vs Auto

  1. I’ve started downloading the second movie as well as the OVA, so I’ll have more Patlabor to enjoy. I did like the first movie quite a bit.

    The trope is subverted in Macross Plus where the Ghost fighter is better than any Variable Fighter. Also with Frontier with the Lucifer is better than the Messaiah, and the Lucifer comes also in full AI piloted as well as heavily AI-assisted piloted models.

  2. IKnight says:

    I suppose another contrary example is probably Gasaraki which did, as you pointed out, show the pilots delegating most of the basic movement decisions to their computers.

    I must watch more of the Patlabor TV series.

    • schneider says:

      Gasaraki is better-realized in its verisimilitude, and the all-but-automated TAs drive home how the show’s protagonist is just so good (or hax) in pulling off all those stops. Even if the pilot is only 10% of the equation, he makes the difference!

      And yes, please watch more of this gem. 🙂

  3. Pingback: Preparing for the Worst: Patlabor and the Rationale of Training | We Remember Love

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