Before I say too much, I’ll let this speak for itself:
I’m not dead, but I would be if I wound up in a mecha setting and didn’t follow these rules.
1. Don’t mentor a younger pilot.
2. If you must break rule one, don’t be cooler than your protege.
3. Don’t fight anything powered by a black hole.
So the duel between the US and Japanese robots that I previous mentioned here is still on, a little behind schedule. But there’s already a new challenger waiting, the Chinese robot Monkey King.
Well, at this point I think the only thing I have to add is this:
So I’ve decided to do a mini-series of posts this month about Japanese takes on familiar non-Japanese characters. I’ll start with what’s probably the one I have the most to say about: Spider-Man.
Basically, what happened was that there was a deal between Marvel and Toei that let each use the other’s characters in any way they wanted. Neither company actually did as much with this as you’d think; Marvel used two Toei anime robots (Combattler V and Danguard Ace) in their Shogun Warriors comic, Toei made an animated movie based on The Tomb of Dracula (one of Marvel’s horror comics), and then there was this tokusatsu version of Spider-Man, and one other thing.
They definitely went for the “in any way they wanted” part; this Spider-Man is a different character with a different origin involving aliens, who only wears the same costume and has similar powers. (And first idea they had would have been even more different; Spider-Man was almost the sidekick of a time-traveling Yamato Takeru!)
Some people always like to ask why anime characters tend to announce what they’re doing, usually at high volume. Some suggest it has its origns in martial arts such as kendo, while other focus on justified examples like incantations and voice-activated weapons.
But at least as far as mecha pilots are concerned, this short scene from Super Robot Wars OG: The Inspector gives one other possible explanation.
(uploaded by Beta Food)
In the process of writing my Mecha that Changed Anime posts, I unavoidably also thought about what I’d say here.
These are my top ten (plus one) favorite mecha anime. (Note there are series with some mecha elements that I’d consider better than some of these, but aren’t quite “mecha” enough to belong on this list: Magic Knight Rayearth, Tekkaman Blade, and FLCL come to mind.)
Considering how the 80’s went, it’s pretty easy to imagine that mecha could have remained a genre that continued to evolve gradually, but would never be completely revolutionized again. Then again, it’s also possible the genre would have declined into a small isolated niche. But I’m getting ahead of myself, and in fact 1994 was a good enough year for mecha that I think it was clearly already rebounding. G Gundam is one of my personal favorites, but didn’t really “change anime” as much as most of what I’ve been mentioning.
Depending on how you look at it, I think it took until Magic Knight Rayearth in 1994 (the manga started in 93, but the Mashin/Rune-Gods didn’t appear early) before there was a great example of a series that had mecha where mecha were nowhere near the core concept.
Gundam may be considered the start of the real robot genre, but it wasn’t really intended to start a subgenre from the start; it wasn’t until Super Dimension Fortress Macross in 1982 that the real robot genre was fully established; this was the first one with no trace of “super prototype” or anything like that; at least when it comes to the main mecha. (If you count the ship as super-ish, then the first mecha anime to avert it entirely was Armored Trooper VOTOMS in 1983.)
Macross transformed the whole idea of transformation, with planes that actually looked like planes transforming in ways that were actually physically possible. And the Ground Effective Reinforcement of Winged Armament with Locomotive Knee-joint, or GERWALK mode, is where a trend of weird acronyms in anime started.
I ended my previous post with Mazinger Z, but that series was far more the beginning of an era than the end of one.
Traffic jams are apparently good for Go Nagai’s creativity; he had the idea for Mazinger Z wishing his car could just step over the other cars, and the one for Getter Robo started with imagining all the cars merging together. Nagai and Ken Ishikawa worked on the concept of Getter Robo together, but the manga was drawn and written by Ishikawa. The anime adaptation started three days before the first chapter of the manga was published.
Last April, I mentioned that I had “mecha that changed anime” as one of my search terms, and said that might be a good idea for its own post. Well, better late than never, and it’s going to be a series of posts rather than just one.
Note that it’s “mecha that changed anime”, not “landmarks of mecha anime”; the categories obviously have overlap, but anything that had impact outside its own genre is of particular significance, and non-anime mecha that had influence on anime are also eligible.