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One of the most neglected aspects of the Patlabor universe is the "Light Novel" series of books that were published between 1989 and 1994. First up the concept of the "Light Novel". Essentially these are short books aimed at young adults or teenagers, as Patlabor itself was. Some of the more famous books in this genre would be "Irresponsible Captain Tylor" and "The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya", both of which were later adapted into successful anime TV series.

Most of the Patlabor novels were initially serialised in Monthly Dragon Magazine then later compiled into novels, usually with two separate stories each. Michiko Yokote, who wrote the scripts to many of the TV episodes, wrote the bulk of the novels. Some of her ideas at times seem to clash with events which happened in the TV series and movies. It's quite hard to figure out if they belong to either timeline or another timeline altogether. Kazunori Ito and Mamoru Oshii wrote the novelisations to the first and second movie respectively. Akemi Takada also provided the majority of artwork for the novels, both the covers and sketches inside.

 

In January 2011, a new Patlabor light novel was released; "Shocking Upset: Metropolitan Police Special Vehicles Section 2 (Bankuruwase: Keishi-cho Keibi-bu Tokushu Sharyo Ni-ka)". Written by Mamoru Oshii, it follows a new set of SV2 members. It can be seen as a prelude to the "The Next Generation - Patlabor -" live action series. I haven't written up a synopsis yet, but I understand the basic plot involving the SV2 protecting players in a friendly soccer match with the teams Wangan FC and Japan against a terrorist plot. Captain Keiji Gotoda asks Akira Izumino to act as a player on the team to foil the terrorists. In March 2014, a new set of novels based upon "The Next Generation - Patlabor -" live action series were announced. The first novel will be written by screenplay writer Kei Yamamura and will be released on 25 March 2014. 

At the moment there aren't any English translations, commercial or fan translations, of any of the novels. I managed to find a synopsis of one novel and bits and pieces of others to coble together this page. Also some rather dodgy translation was involved too, so please be aware. If you have any comments or corrections, please email me. Also note that there are some spoilers for the anime and naturally the books in this section.

 

 

Synopses for the Patlabor Novels

Novel One: "Wind Speed 40 Metres Per Second"
File 1: "Access" and File 2: "Wind Speed 40 Metres Per Second"

Wind Speed 40 Metres Per SecondThe first story in this novel, "Access", is about Kanuka Clancy and her times at the Special Vehicles Unit 2. Her six month transfer has come to an end and she is preparing to go back to New York.

The second story, "Wind Speed 40 Metres Per Second" is the novelisation of "Patlabor the movie". A string of cases were Labors have gone berserk has taken it's toll on the SV2. Asuma investigates the cause and discovers that something must be wrong with Shinohara's new HOS Labor Operating System. Gotoh tells him it is actually a virus planted there by Eiichi Hoba who committed suicide several months ago. Asuma and Shige discover that the trigger that causes the Labors to go berserk is high-pitched sounds caused by high winds. A typhoon is headed for Tokyo which will cause mass destruction unless they act. Novel written by Kazunori Ito. Illustrations by Akemi Takada. First serialised in Monthly Dragon Magazine November 1989 to June 1990. First published in novel format 20 October 1990 (229 pages).

Novel Two: "Syntax Error"
File 3: "Syntax Error"

Syntax ErrorCaptain Gotoh's niece, Mahoko Gotoh (previously seen in the Original OVA Series episode "Tragedy of L"), invites Noa to lunch. She reveals to Noa that Gotoh has a secret girlfriend, and she is planning to dump him. Unbeknownst to Noa, Gotoh and his girlfriend are also having lunch in the same restaurant as they are. Mahoko ropes Noa into helping her follow Gotoh's girlfriend. They soon end up at the woman's place of work, a Hostess Bar. There Mahoko, much to Noa's shock, tells the manager that they're looking for work.

As a hostess, Noa gets to know Gotoh's "girlfriend", Li Hua, who often helps her when customers get difficult. Things become difficult for Noa though, as she is now working two jobs and not getting enough sleep. She's having difficulty keeping her second job secret from the colleagues. But the SV2 members do find out, and go to confront her in the bar, in the process resolving a dispute over the ownership of a seal and thwarting a group of smugglers. Gotoh arrives to reveal that Li Hua is actually a special agent named Takeo Kumagami who was working undercover. Later Kumagami joins the SV2 full time.

I'm guessing that this story is meant to take place sometime before episode 26 of the TV series, but it doesn't really fit into the timeline all that well... Novel written by Michiko Yokote. Illustrations by Akemi Takada. First serialised in Monthly Dragon Magazine. First published in novel format 25 March 1992 (308 pages).

Novel Two: "Syntax Error"
File 4: "The Father's Son"

The Father's SonJitsuyama comes to visit Asuama to attempt to get him to see his father. Asuma has always had difficulty dealing with his father and is quite angry at Jitsuyama and tells him to leave. However, this drudges up bad memories for Asuma and he becomes quite depressed and barely functions at work. On a case, Asuma's actions cause Noa's Labor to fall. The Labor is damaged and Noa is sent hospital as a precaution. With Shige, Asuma takes Alphonse back to the Hachioji Factory, where Asuma decides to apologise to Jitsuyama. But instead he finds his son Takashi Jitsuyama. The two of them talk about business, but soon they talk about family, and the subject of Asuma's brother, Kazuki comes up. Kazuki was meant to his father's successor, but was killed in a car accident. Since then Asuma and his father have hardly talked.

Later, Asuma is reprimanded by Gotoh for his conduct. A letter soon arrives at the SV2. The addressee's name is smudged, so Noa opens it to see who it's for. It's for Asuma. Asuma is quite mad at Noa, and refuses to make up with her, even though Shinshi and others try to help mend things between the two of them. The letter is from Kazuki's girlfriend, Saori. Asuma had a falling out with her after he asked her if anything strange had happened to Kazuki before he died. But now Saori wants to meet up with him to visit his brother's gravesite. Asuma then decides to go to the old vacant house where he and his brother grew up. He recalls the comments made at his brothers wake. Somehow in his mind and due to the greif he got it in his head that his father had his brother killed because he didn't follow really want to follow in his footsteps. The phone rings and Asuma answers. It's his father. Apparently Asuma set off a silent alarm and his father rang to see who it was. However the two of them almost immediately begin to argue.

Soon Asuma comes down with a bad flu and forced to take some time off work. He becomes more and more depressed because he keeps going over his relationship with his father and his brother. Noa plucks up the courage to see him and try to cheer him up. Asuma can't take anymore and blurts out what has been bothering him all this time and apologises for treating her badly. Noa feels quite sorry for him and consoles him. Asuma feels better and decides to try and mend ties with his father and Saori. Noa, Saori and Asuma all visit Kazuki's grave together, and Asuma finally makes peace with Saori.

Part of this story seems at odds with the events in the New OVA Series episode, "All Quite at the SV2", where Asuma says that his brother committed suicide. Novel written by Michiko Yokote. Illustrations by Akemi Takada. First serialised in Monthly Dragon Magazine. First published in novel format 25 March 1992 (308 pages).

Novel Three: "Third Mission"
File 5: "Eine Kleine Hong Kong" and File 6: "Third Mission"

Eine Kleine Hong KongThe first story in this novel, "Eine Kleine Hong Kong", examines Takeo Kumagami's past in Hong Kong. Specifically it focuses on her blossoming relationship with Richard Wong (AKA Utsumi). Their relationship is a rather hot and steamy one, but crime is also featured with Kumagami in the midst of in a Triad crime case involving counterfeit bank notes. But ultimately their love is doomed.

The second story in the novel, "Third Mission", mostly centres around Hiromi Yamazaki. From what I understand Hiromi ends up in some sort of riot, which has some surprising and happy outcomes.

Novel written by Michiko Yokote. Illustrations by Akemi Takada. First serialised in Monthly Dragon Magazine beginning July 1992. First published in novel format 25 September 1992 (284 pages).

Novels Four and Five: "Blackjack" (Parts 1 and 2)
File 7: "Backjack (Parts 1 and 2)"

BlackjackThese two novels delve into the character of Captain Gotoh. A Patrol Labor section is being set up in Osaka and the rumour going around the SV2 is that Captain Gotoh will head it up. Not helping the rumours is a business trip that Gotoh takes.

Also the SV2 are disturbed by by an incident at a construction site when it seems that someone is deliberately targeting the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department and it seems that Gotoh is somehow linked to the perpetrator. The members of the SV2 look into Gotoh's past for clues.

Novel written by Michiko Yokote. Illustrations by Akemi Takada. First serialised in Monthly Dragon Magazine beginning July 1993. First published in novel format 25 September and 25 October 1993 (257 and 239 pages).

Novels Six and Seven:
"Tokyo War" (Parts 1 and 2)

Tokyo WarThe Yokohama bay bridge explodes, apparently by car bomb. The residents of Tokyo are shocked. However more shocking is video of the event, which seems to show that a Japanese Self-Defence Force F-16-J fighter jet actually fired a missile at the bridge. But a man named Arakawa Shigeki comes to the SV2 to visit Gotoh and Shinobu. He explains to them he works for an organization named Ground Defence Force. He shows them a video taken of the bridge, but from a different camera, showing a different plane than what was shown on TV. He claims the TV footage was doctored. It wasn't a Japanese plane, it was an American plane that left a Japanese base. This is the handiwork of the National Defence Family, a group of military contractors. They essentially wanted to stir up some business in Japan. The only problem was the missile wasn't meant to be armed, and the plane did not return to base and they are already planning another attack. The main suspect who organised this attack is Yukihito Tsuge, a founding member of the National Defence Family. In 1999, he led a UN Peacekeeping mission in South East Asia using military Labors. It was a failure and every Labor was destroyed. No one heard from him after that.

Later somebody hacks into the Japanese Defence Force radar system, and fakes an attack on Tokyo. Arakawa later tells Gotoh that Tsuge formed one of the earliest labor schools called the Tsuge School. Shinobu studied there and was a top student and also had an affair with him. The following day the SV2 are been ordered to surround the Nerima Army Base, where the Bay Bridge plane is said to have come from. The police have ordered all planes to be grounded. The Base commander was driving to Tokyo to to protest, but was arrested. The base has cut communications and is preparing for a siege. Arakawa phones Gotoh and tells him that the head of each division of the military resigned. They're going to tell the public what happened in the Yokohama bay bridge incident, but no one is going to believe them. The US will deny it, and the police will be blamed for arresting the military. Arakawa tells him that Tsuge wants Japan under the same conditions his troops were in during their East Asia deployment. Later that night, the military occupy Tokyo.

A day later, mysterious helicopter gunships takes out communication networks, bridges, the SV2 hanger and police headquarters. Tokyo is in utter chaos. Three mysterious blimps are also hovering above Tokyo. They are emitting jamming waves which are interrupting all communications. Detective Matsui discovers they were bought by company that's actually a front for Tsuge. One of the blimps is shot at by the military, and even though they miss it crashes down into the streets below, and a mysterious yellow gas seeps from it. It causes some panic, but is actually harmless. It is a warning. If they shoot down the other two, one of them might actually contain real mustard gas or even worse, a nuclear device. The reunited SV2 attempt to stop Tsuge. But can they rely on Shinobu or will her feelings for Tsuge get in the way of the mission?

Naturally this is the novelisation of "Patlabor 2 the movie". Novel written by Mamoru Oshii. Illustrations by Yutaka Izubuchi. First published 25 April 1994 and 25 May 1994 (176 and 195 pages).

 

Availability
In English

Despite a rush of anime related novels being licensed and translated to into English around 2004 to 2006, unfortunately none of the Patlabor novels have been picked up by any English language publisher. There's also not much in the way of fan translations, except for one brief synopsis I found for one of the novels. Hopefully one day someone will licence a couples of the novels, but it looks highly unlikely at the moment.

 

In Japanese

The Japanese light novels were published by Fujimi Shobou under their Fantasia Bunko line of novels. All of the novels are currently out of print, however "Tokyo War" was reprinted by Enter Brain as single volume in 2005 and should still be available. You can find these novels in second hand Japanese book stores online, or if you're ever in Japan, local manga and second hand bookstores. Please see the Japanese Language Novel Releases List for a complete listing of all releases, formats and product specifications for these novels.

Title Format ISBN
Wind Speed 40 Metres Per Second [Out of Print] Light Novel, 229 pages 4-8291-2374-5
Syntax Error [Out of Print] Light Novel, 308 pages 4-8291-2437-7
Third Mission [Out of Print] Light Novel, 284 pages 4-8291-2462-8
Backjack Part 1 [Out of Print] Light Novel, 257 pages 4-8291-2512-8
Backjack Part 2 [Out of Print] Light Novel, 239 pages 4-8291-2526-8
Tokyo War Part 1 [Out of Print] Light Novel, 176 pages 4-8291-2552-7
Tokyo War Part 2 [Out of Print] Light Novel, 195 pages 4-8291-2568-3
Tokyo War Light Novel, 365 pages 4-7577-2366-0
Shocking Upset: Metropolitan Police Special Vehicles Section 2 (Bankuruwase: Keishi-cho Keibi-bu Tokushu Sharyo Ni-ka) Light Novel, 272 pages 4-7584-1170-0
The Next Generation - Patlabor - 1: Tasukuba no Yuutsu Light Novel, 208 pages 4-0410-1325-9
The Next Generation - Patlabor - 2: Mei no Ashita Light Novel, 190 pages 4-04-101326-7
The Next Generation - Patlabor - 3: Shiroi Kasha Light Novel, 190 pages 4-04-101453-0
The Next Generation - Patlabor - Akai Kasha Light Novel, 286 pages 4-04-102839-6
The Next Generation - Patlabor - Tokyo War 2 Haiiro no Yurei Light Novel, 252 pages 4-04-103218-0

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A GWEI Product. 2003 - 2016 GWEI. Patlabor novels 1989 - 1994, 2011, 2014 - 2015 Headgear/Fujimi Shobou/Kadokawa/Michiko Yokote/Mamoru Oshii/Kazunori Ito/Akemi Takada/Kei Yamamura/The Next Generation - Patlabor - Production Committee. All other logos/trademarks are copyright of their respective owners/companies. Used for review and illustration purposes only.