I’m not confident in my genre-theory so I present this post with a galaxy’s worth of disclaimers and caveats. I just thought it’d be a fun exercise to do a Cartesian quadrant kind of chart to “locate” or analyze the anime space operas I’ve completed (or at least have seen more than a few episodes of — only Armored Trooper VOTOMS, Tytania and Toward the Terra are unfinished viewings).
I figured out I’d do this while watching Banner of the Stars for the umpteenth time, and making favorable comparisons with Legend of the Galactic Heroes. I thought I could try to explain some of the differences among the awesome things it did relative to the outer space setting.
So, onto the chart!
There are no numeral indicators in this informal set of axes so there isn’t much nuance I am able to communicate clearly in the chart. I tried anyway.
The four points are:
- Galactic Conflict and Space Journey (along the x axis)
- Fleet Combat and Mecha Combat (along the y axis)
If I were any smarter, or more thorough. I would be able to explain well why LotGH is farther to the left compared to Banner of the Stars. I felt that the combat in BotS is closer to how Space Battleship Yamato‘s tradition of ship-to-ship combat, but BotS depicts far larger fleet battles than Yamato did (at least in the first season).
The shows near the center of the axes are set closer to Earth. SDF Macross and Martian Successor Nadesico mostly fought within the solar system. Mobile Suit Gundam (the whole franchise is represented here by Z Gundam) is set almost entirely in the inner solar system and mostly around Earth.
While large fleet engagements do occur in the aforementioned, they are secondary to the mecha vs. mecha combat relative to LotGH and BotS, who do not use any piloted or autonomous humanoid robot weapons.
Macross Frontier is interesting in this chart in that it a space journey — an expeditionary fleet/space colony and a mecha-centric show. Macross 7 is the earlier example, but Frontier I believe represents the idea better.
Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann barely qualifies here. It’s qualification is founded on its homage to the rest, and particularly Gunbuster! (and Diebuster!). Most of TTGL occurs Earth-side. In any case, I thought it should be there.
What do I want to do with this going forward? Tell me how to refine it. What’s missing or problematic with the axes as I’ve set them up. Obviously there are shows I haven’t seen yet, so make a case for those and I’ll add them to some future version of this chart. Finally, if you think you can build a better chart, by all means do so! I’ve made this myself because I can’t find one to read. I’d love to see a better and more thorough chart.