The story takes place in what was, at the time of release, the near future of 1998-2002. Robots called "Labors" are employed in heavy construction work. The Tokyo Metropolitan Police has its own fleet of Patlabor robotic police officers to combat crimes and deal with accidents involving Labors. The story arcs usually revolve around Tokyo Metropolitan Police Special Vehicle Section 2, Division 2. Noa Izumi is the main protagonist of the series, but all of Division 2 play roles. The feature films follow separate continuities, referred to as the "movie timeline" and the "TV timeline." The different OVA series follow either the movie or TV timelines.
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