Robot Fighting, a Retrospective: From Brawling to Mass Destruction and Back

Tetsujin 28-gou (2004) - 05 - Tetsujin Vs. Black Ox[MW][10E27EB7].mkv_snapshot_16.25_[2012.01.06_18.38.34]

I’ve recently started watching Tetsujin 28 Go (2004), an incredible TV anime done with the same spirit and gravitas as was the OVA Giant Robo: The Day The Earth Stood Still (1991), both by Yasuhiro Imagawa based on Yokohama Mitsuteru’s works. Based on the intro, and the first five episodes I’ve seen which featured its showdowns with the rival robot Black Ox, I find it fascinating how Tetsujin 28 fights.

It is simplistic to the extreme. It almost feels like a saloon brawl in some John Wayne western. Big punches that knock opponents down, stomping on the ground, and the occasional palm-t0-palm grappling. I’m fascinated by it, despite my deep love for advanced martial arts performed by giant robots, because how it really fits. Shotaro is a 10-year old. He controls Tetsujin with this big electronic box, and frankly, he doesn’t strike me as an advanced martial artist.

Punching, kicking, and stomping seems just about right for Tetsujin 28, and he looks damn good fighting that way.

What I’m trying to say is, there’s a way to make fights good without being complex, and Tetsujin 28 Go so far has a good grasp of this. I’d rank this stuff higher than say, Mobile Suit Gundam AGE with its set pieces, firefights, and duels.

You won’t see a whole lot in the clip, but the elements are there. Tetsujin blasts into the field with his jetpack, punches the crap out of the enemy robot. BOOM. The drama isn’t focused on the fight itself, though you may be pleased to find out that Tetsujin himself takes a pretty good beating in the first 5 episodes. Good stuff.

Then robots start focusing on weapons and special attacks. Each special attack then was decisive. Take Mazinger Z:

Wow. That was awesome. The special attacks sure showed those mechanical beasts! This was how this show escalated the excitement, as the highlight of each episode became the fight.

As super robot shows progressed, the fights became more like “pro wrestling” matches wherein the fights were prolonged. This meant that many special attacks were no longer decisive, but instead were used to soften up the opponent.

WARNING: TOO MUCH AWESOME IN THIS VIDEO

Well, that showed way too much but I’m too lazy to make my own videos. The pro-wrestling aesthetic was refined when Tossho Daimos brought in my favorite kind of robot fighting: motherfuckin’ karate!

HOOOOLY CRAP THAT WAS AWESOME!

Goddamnit, that was just breathtaking. The badass levels just doesn’t show up in modern robot anime in the same heavy-handedly dramatic, and yet incredibly fulfilling action-packed way. However, by 1978, it had become increasingly harder to deliver the same quality of fights while remaining fresh.

This was the kind of environment that led to the innovation of militarized giant robot fighting: Mobile Suit Gundam. However, Gundam never really left its roots as a duelist kind of robot, taking the light saber battles from Star Wars and making it a standard weapon for many mobile suits in the shows to come.

Bet you didn’t expect me to use the fucking Gyan and M’Quve as an example! But since we’re now in the militarized mecha sphere, the fights now involve 1 vs. many scenarios using standard robot units. The best example of this is the super-soldier piloted Scopedogs from Armored Trooper VOTOMS:

Unfortunately, you get fights like this (albeit in different environments) ad nauseam. Chirico just picking off enemy ATs all day every day. It would take Macross’ approach – which is to involve a large number of combatants and create massive chaos in the battlefield to keep the action exciting and dynamic.

But it isn’t only in 1 vs. many scenarios that Macross excelled at. It took the dogfight style duel and turned into a grand animated spectacle:

FABULOUS MAX!

I picked this example precisely because it wasn’t a pure plane vs. plane battle. The Qaedluun-rau is not a transforming robot, and yet Macross was able to give the duel a very dogfight feel, but of course taking it into insane levels of close quarters battle, without resorting to Gundam-style melee engagement.

Interestingly, it would be Gundam who would make the next “innovation” when it comes to 1 vs. many battles. It would take giant beam weapons mounted on Gundams and just hose the battlefield and take out multiple enemies. This came to a head when Mobile Suit Gundam Wing’s  Wing Zero Custom did this:

Uhhh… yeah.

Well, the 90s weren’t entirely made of fail when it comes to robot battle innovation. If Gundam Wing really started doing cheap shit like this, Neon Genesis Evangelion brought things back to basics, in ways never really seen before in robot anime.

I just love the lack of sync and the tracking lines from the VHS rip LOL.

This pretty much owns, and shows how Evangelion brought something awesome as a contribution to the tradition of robot anime. The bones of it is still very Tetsujin 28 Go, but the lengths it reaches was far beyond anyone’s imagination.

This pretty much presents the general fighting traditions in robot anime. Different shows will give us variations of these methods: Gundam gives us funnels, Eureka SeveN gives us air jousting by virtue of the vehicular nature of ref flight. The King of Braves Gao Gai Gar gives us HUGE WEAPONS… But all these are in the context of duels, 1 vs. many, or many vs. many kinds of battles.

What I showed here are, more or less, my favorite examples (controlling for age of the shows) for these categories or traditions. How differently would you set up the taxonomy? If the structure is works for you, what examples would be your favorites then? Feel free to post videos!

About ghostlightning

I entered the anime blogging sphere as a lurker around Spring 2008. We Remember Love is my first anime blog. Click here if this is your first time to visit WRL.
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87 Responses to Robot Fighting, a Retrospective: From Brawling to Mass Destruction and Back

  1. animekritik says:

    One thing that impresses me about that clip from Evangelion is the music. I don’t know how it figures into your scheme or if it does at all, but there’s something really in your face about battle music in Eva that makes it stand out for me.

    • If in your face… this has been done since olden times. The theme song powerup during the episode battle is designed for this, and has been around since the 70s.

      For use straight orchestral score… I can’t vouch for ’80s works because there’s almost always some pop music element infused in the BGM for battles. In the 90s though… Giant Robo has Eva beat, and preceded Evangelion by a few years.

      You’ve seen this, but I’ll paste it anyway:

      Of course the intent of the scene is different. The Eva battle was ominous and shocking. This battle in Giant Robo was done to present Giant Robo as a super hero entering the stage. Both are quite brilliant musically, but Giant Robo’s OST and its precise use of it is to me, a masterpiece.

      • kevin says:

        wow i can see why people say that dubs sucks now.

        that eva dub and that giant robo dub. REALLY SUCKED GUNBALLS

        but yea, most people forget that Eva was made by a bunch of anime nerds called GAINAX. anything and everything they do is … well… already done before. They loved their anime. they loved their sci-fi, they knew how to make people happy. and despite being ‘ripoffs’ they stuck to this little thing called FUCK MOTHERING QUALITY! and looking forward, the key players still haven’t forgot, even in the 21st century that asshole still knows his shit, and eva rebuild clearly had way better quality than any gundam will ever have. Despite Eva being made to live up to these giants, eva suceeded them, despite being a super robot at heart, eva was more realistic than anything anyone could’ve imagined. their designs were monsterous and simple at best, but each motion that was performed was an art in itself. each frame that passes could be taken straight out of the movie and stuck onto you desktop as a new wall paper.

        mainstream directors these days. lacks the passion – the brilliant fire that burns.

        you don’t need a name like -gundam- or what the crap, your robot doesn’t need a pretty face like -gundam- or what the crap. All you need is to put your spirit into that robot and animate it with your passion.

        • While the examples you mention are indeed good — I love the production on the Rebuild films after all — I can’t agree with the histrionic conclusions you make. I won’t stop you, but I’m hardly inspired to discuss them. Good day.

  2. Matt Wells says:

    FUCK YES FUCK YES TETSUJIN 28. REALLY glad you’ve gotten round to checking this show out, it’s definitely the underated Imagawa masterpiece. You haven’t finished the arc with Tetsujin and the mafia yet, right? Things only get better from here. Next up is Superhuman Kelly, biological warfare, ALIENS, and the show’s major second half story arc. Hope you blog more about it, or at the very least don’t mind me contributing a few posts to the site on the subject.

    Combat in Tetsujin is indeed fascinating, if only for it’s sheer primitivity. The robots in the show have a hard enough time standing up, and the thickness of their armour rules out arming them with contemporary weaponry. Robots in Tetsujin are former military prototypes converted for civillian useage, so fisticuffs and grappling is the only form of combat available. Things get interesting in how enemy units mix things up.

    Bacchus has anti-personel fire breath, a later bot has remote control Crow Funnels (I swear I did not make that up), and another robot curbstomps Tetsujin through the advantage of quicker reflexes. Tetsujin may be strong, but the weak link is the delay between his movements and that that of his human operator. I truly adore Black Ox’s fog gimmick; when used at night it maximises it’s stealth abilities, and the way it intereferes with radio waves in an era when all robots are remote controlled is fucking brilliant. That mech is going on my Sai-Mecha shortlist this year.

    Two things I love about Tetsujin’s physicality: the way he uses his goofy rooster head crest to tear opponents in half over his head, and the way that even his electrical field stock footage thing is used to beat one monster of the week! Get used to him having his left arm torn off, it happens like every five episodes.

    Your breakdown of fighting in mecha seems pretty comprehensive, every show since uses pretty much a variation of the above. It’s interesting how Tetsujin the franchise mirrors the styles of the time. The 1980 remake is more in the Mazinger mould of instant kill special attacks. The 1990′s series Tetsujin 28 FX is very much of it’s time: stock footage finishers, Tetsujin himself is a combiner unit with a jet scrander power-up, virtual reality rather than remote controls.

    My favourite examples of the above styles in mecha? I really like the fights in Giant Robo and The Big O, brief though they are. In both those shows the robots move with this strange, ponderous gait. Its more like watching a tokusatsu fight than a mecha one. The mechs have real momentum and weight behind them, and there’s no bullshit stock footage or dramatic poses. They pull out there trump cards straight away, no playing around with these monolithic monsters. Giant Robo punches you across five city blocks, and Big O spams you with lasers before he piston pump punches you to shreds. It’s like watching battleships beat the living shit out of each other, and on some visceral level I find that enormously satisfying.

    Just the way Robo MOVES, the way you feel the titanic force behind every single blow. Low on pyrotechnics, but I love the choreography. In the case of Giant Robo, it’s often (understandably) ignored in favour of the superpowered heroics, but I adore it still. I’d post the fight with Uranus in episode 3 too if Youtube had it.

    Big O has this superb fight in the first episode, but the individual clip isn’t out there. Enjoy instead the equally awesome fight between Big O and it’s very own rival mech, in the style of GR 2 and Black Ox: Big Duo. Also enjoy the spectacle of Beck Za Great RX THREE, which neatly lampoons the kind of later mecha combat you describe here.

    SO COOOOOL…

    Don’t bring a knife to a gunfight. So as it is in real life, so it is in mecha. The fight with a rogue Megadeus in episode 3 also remembers a whole lot of love for Berserk Eva-1.

    Not that the calling out your attacks, pro wrestling tyle of mecha doesn’t have it’s merits. Enjoy this glorious composite of traditional super robot combat logic with a very modern awareness of the battlefield and tactical advantage: Shin Getter vs. Metal Beast Dragon in Shin Getter Robo Armageddon.

    LOVE this fight. Everything about it; the animation, the music, the pacing, the performances, the way it references that really obscure chapter of the manga but does it ten times better, those attacks, BELIEVE IN THE GETTER, STOOOOOOOOOONEEEERRR… SUUUUUUUUUUNNN-SHIIIIIIIIIIIIIINNNEEEEE!!!!!! The close gap in the fighting prowess between the heroes and villains really sells this fight, and, dare I say it, shows a trace of influence on the Macross style of dogfight combat, appropriated for Super Robots. This fight is so good it’s almost enough to overlook how they pull the Stoner Sunshine attack out of their asses at the last minute. Almost.

    • Matt Wells says:

      Fucking YouTube embedding… well at least the links work.

      • Reid says:

        You’re the man, again. I also really dig the weight of the combatants in Giant Robo. The animators did a really terrific job of conveying the ponderous size and power of the machines – not their complete invincibility like, say, the Strike Freedom Gundam – but rather just the horsepower it takes to push around so much metal. When Daisaku pulls out his tampon and acts like a man and commands Robo to beat the heck out of someone, they are gonna get owned. Another thing I really liked about Giant Robo is that, say, when he pulls out the huge beam cannon to fight the Vogler Sphere, it really means something. Big O was also good about doing this.

        • Matt Wells says:

          Thanks buddy. Exactly right on the whole thing with the beam cannon. It’s not like GaoGaiGar’s “I’ll fire my crappy ineffectual rocket punch at the monster of the week! (Stock footage Broken Magnum bounces off monster’s energy barrier) It didn’t have any effect!” Fights aren’t a matter of roll calling all your robot’s attacks until one of them works, they’re all about getting in the first blow and raeping your enemy. The fight in episode 5 of GR was great for that, Robo pulls out the rocket bazooka, gambling on beating GR 2 in a single shot rather than fighting a protracted battle. You know that if he scews up he’s finished, it isn’t some faultless finishing move that easily wins the day.

    • If there’s any example that I may reconsider, is 1 vs. a shitfuckton… but basically this only applies to Gunbuster and Diebuster, though more modestly we can go back to Space Runaway Ideon for this.

      If you don’t find that awesome you are not a mecha anime fan. Holy mother of Cosmo. Wasn’t that fuckstanding?

      I agree with your points about GR, and The Big O. The Big O I will try to watch again in some distant future. As for Getter… this franchise has nothing in it that makes me love it. God I tried. Highlights, the manga, all these shows… nothing. The only way I enjoyed Getter was when the cast interacts with other characters I like in SRW a Gaiden, and of course how reliably powerful Shin Getter’s attacks were. Otherwise, I have no love for it, not for lack of trying.

      So I guess… suck it, Getterfags. I think your show sucks.

      • Reid says:

        That music from Ideon is stirring. However, the sheer amount of killing in Ideon always turned me off. I’m as much a fan of stylized violence in my fictional media as anyone on here, but that’s just sooo much death that it’s not even cool any more. The Ideon just waves its hand and everything dies. Or planets get cut in half. Or whatever needs to happen. The Buff Clan should have left them MFers alone!

      • Matt Wells says:

        Every time I hear the Ideon soundtrack I feel like I’m playing Dragon Quest… really need to watch that show. And Dunbine. And Turn A Gundam, and every other classic Tomino series…

        I’m gonna keep beating the drum for Dai-Guard, Getter and Big O regardless of whether you like them or not. If you can appreciate them for their merits great; if not, fine. No universal rule that says you have to enjoy every single above average mecha show.

        As for Getter Robo… I’m not sure how to explain why I like it. On paper it should be everything you love, and let it leaves you cold? Intriguing… if I had to point out what set Getter apart from other clasic Go Nagai robot shows, I’d focus on three areas:

        1. It’s Grimdark. For all the silliness of three jets crashing together to form a giant robot, Getter does not pull it’s punches. Mazinger will always cut to a comic releief character or titty shots, but Getter Robo is downright mean. Even back in the neutered 70′s version, Hayato beats a guy to death with a a soccer ball, and kills a snake with his harmonica. Getter Robo is all shady government suits, mad scientists and wicked unltraviolence.

        Gurren Lagann, which is Gainax’s 26 episode love letter to the Getter franchise (along with every other Super Robot show of the past 30 years), is all about the optimism for humanity’s infinite potential. Getter Robo is a blackly cynical rampage of human ego, of the endless karmic cycle of death, rebirth and growth. Simon learns restraint with Spiral Power, Ryoma wigs out on Getter Rays, absorbs Mars and punches God in the face.

        2. It goes beyond the impossible, and it did so first. Well, the only other mech show that treaded the same universe decimating ground was Ideon, but Ideon wasn’t a quintessential example of the genre. Getter was the first mecha series to go in for the darker, more adult remake thing, and it did so with aplomb. Stakes were higher, the violence cooler, and the robots elevated from Super to World Destroyers. For that innovation alone so many later mechs have ridden on Shin Getter’s coatails.

        3. It’s deceptively deep. For all the stuff like “SO MUCH FOR THE LAWS OF PHYSICS!” the Getter franchise has this grand, overarching theme to it. Very much influenced by Ishikawa’s Buddhist beliefs, and explored in greater depth in his other works… none of which have been translated to English. You pick up the pieces here and there, with the apparent end goal being a narrative where Getter Emperor destroys the universe. Unfortunately Ishikawa died before he could ever complete the saga, s we can merely speculate.

        If you really want to take one last crack at Getter Robo, try the following. Either the first three episodes of Getter Robo Armageddon, or 2004′s New Getter Robo. The first three episodes of Armageddon are all directed by Yasuhiro Imagawa, and it’s like watching the first episode of Shin Mazinger cranked up to 11. NOTHING makes sense, plot points happen and go nowhere, awesome things happen with no explaination or justification; it’s a truly glorious mess.

        New Getter Robo is a great synthesis of the entire Getter franchise into a scant thirteen episode series. It’s the Macross Frontier of all things Getter,constantly remebering love for the works that came before it. Plus it has the best incarnation of the Getter Team, Steampunk Airships, Time Travel and Oni monsters. Not to mention a Getter Emperor cameo! If those don’t make you like the franchise, then nothing will. You didn’t believe in the Getter… :(

        Shin Getter is still the absolute tits though. Amazing robot.

        • ces06 says:

          This, man. Getter Is super nihilistic to the bone. Nothing makes sense and nothing matters at all, even with the battles and ultra violence. Mazinger still has grounded in it’s roots a sense of morality and heroism. You just feel all cold and empty inside after watching Getter.

        • I may have one last run in me this year, maybe.

  3. Reid says:

    I have a few questions/comments:
    1. You wrote about how Imagawa was the man behind both “Giant Robo” and “Tetsujin 28 Go” but, and I can’t help but sound like a total nub when I write this, so forgive me, but do the two series take place in the same universe? Those hooded goons look an awful lot like Big Fire to me; that’s why I’m asking.
    2. “Voltes V” is some amazingly awesome bada$$ crap. Thank you for sharing! I had no idea the fighting was so brutal. It really wasn’t just “Gatchaman” that was dominating the tough-as-nails martial arts fights in the ’70s! I love it. I absolutely eat that stuff up. The mecha battles have that same really decent, kinetic feel of the Gundam movies, despite the limited animation of the time.
    3. Mentioning the presence of beam sabres and other hand-held martial arts-style weapons for hand-to-hand encounters in Gundam and their lack in Macross (until “Frontier”, that is) really played into the main idea I’d been tooling around for my prospective first foray into blogging on WRL. Is it ok if I kind of run with it? I think I’ll actually (finally) be able to write it up this week. Sorry for the delay but work has been extremely demanding since Christmas time. There were some shootings (nobody was serioulsy injured, thank God), a bank robbery in my little home town plus all the usual basketball tournaments I have to cover for the sports page and government meetings and so on, so I’ve been quite busy!

    • Matt Wells says:

      For question 1, the short answer is same characters, different universe. Here’s the long, convoluted answer (puts on Zangetsu’s badass teacher’s cap with the cool little tassles). Tetsujin 28 was the first ever mecha series, it takes place sometime in post-war Japan, say around 1956 or so. The highly successful TV anime was brought to America as “Gigantor”. Giant Robo was mangaka Mitsuteru Yokoyama’s second attempt at the still naescent genre, published ten years later in 1967, and it was later adapted for live action TV. This version was brought to the USA as “Johnny Sokko and his Giant Robot”.

      Come 1992, work begins on an anniversary project to celebrate Yokoyama’s long and glorious career. The project settles onto a remake of Giant Robo, but they run into a small snag. Due to legal issues, the only chracters they have the rights to use from GR are Daisaku and Robo himself. They can use only the name of the evil organisation Daisaku fights (Big Fire), they can’t use any members of the original supporting cast or villains. See the unicorn emblem on Robo’s head? That’s a reference to the Interpol style organisaton Daisaku worked for in the TV series, known only as Unicorn.

      How can they remake Giant Robo with only the main character? Enter mad genius and fan of Wuxia Kung Fu epics (not to mention the Rocky Horror Show), Yasuhiro Imagawa. Imagawa has long been a massive Yokoyama fanboy, particularly of his adaptations of “Romance of the Three Kingdoms” and “The Water Margin”. Imagawa realises that while they can’t use the supporting cast of Giant Robo itself, there is nothing stopping them from using cast members from Yokoyama’s OTHER series.

      The story goes that Imagawa approached Yokoyama in person and described in great detail his plans for remaking Giant Robo as a Stemapunk crossover of all of Yokoyama’s past series and characters, smooshed together to create an epic tragedy of Wagnerian proportions. Bowled over by his enthusiasm, Yokoyama allowed the production team to use characters from dozens of his own works, reducing the licensing fees to next to nothing. This is why the cast of Giant Robo: The Animation includes characters from Tetsujin 28, Magical Girl Sally, Mars, Babel II, Masked Ninja Akakage, Sangokushi and Sukioden, among many others. See wikipedia for more details.

      (It’s also why GR hasn’t made an appearance in SRW for years; after Yokoyama died, his estate jacked up the licensing fees to his works. When licensing Giant Robo, you aren’t just paying for one series, you’re paying for characters from a dozen other, equally expensive series. We recently got Godmars in SRW Z2, so who knows? Someday we may once again see Giant Robo in a SRW game. Preferably along with a debuting Tetsujin 28.)

      Giant Robo: The Animation takes place in a seperate universe which is like a massive crossover of all of Yokoyama’s works. The role of these characters in Giant Robo reflects their own original appearances in their own series. The immortal Murusame Kenji, Dr. Franken, Dr. Shizuma (actually Dr. Dragnet), Big Fire’s vaguely racist hooded goons, their leader Q Boss (the guy on the Train mech in episode 1), and 50% of the mechs that appear in the OVA and the opening credits of GR: all come from Tetsujin 28. And all of them make major appearances in the 2004 series. Kenji’s even a main character, and he’s still a douchebag to robot commanding Boy Detectives!

      Unlike Giant Robo, Tetsujin is more a straight adaptation of the original manga. It’s a lot like Shin Mazinger, this show combines a lot of different stories and versions of the titular mecha into a single narrative that remains true to the spirit of the original, even while it takes some massive liberties with the source material. Tetsujin is well worth a watch to anyone in search of decent anime, but be warned. It isn’t an epic blockbuster like GR; Tetsujin is more of a psychological post-war film noir detective story, where the mysteries are occasionaly interrupted by giant robots wrestling each other.

      Sorry for the mountains of text up there, but I really fucking love this series, and anything Imagawa has a hand in. And write that blog post man! You got opinions, I wanna inteligently discuss them with you! The sooner you write for this blog, the sooner I get off my own lazy ass and write stuff too.

      • Reid says:

        Your explanation of all this stuff is the stuff of a proper blog post anyway, dude! I say go for it! Thanks again. It’s amazing how all that stuff worked out to come together as one of the greatest anime series of all time (and one of the best mecha shows too).

        Albert the Shockwave and Chief Chujo are the best things in the series though, robots included :)

        • Matt Wells says:

          What I love about Chief Chujo is how little we know about him until the Big Bang Punch. He’s this stoic commander type, but we don’t know anything of his character and strength beyond the cool sunshades and that he’s (probably) fucking Prof. Go.

          And then he goes out to face Vogler’s Eye alone. Unarmed. AND THEN HE STARTS SHADOW BOXING. Is he… he can’t possibl-HOLY SHIT HE IS. HE IS GOING TO FUCK THE PUNCH OUT OF THAT DOOMSDAY DEVICE. Celestial Nine? So he’s the Experts of Justice equivalent of Alberto. Whoa sheeett…

          He lets the facade slip. He ISN’T the cold, unfeeling pawnmaster. No, he cares deeply about all the subordinates who died just because Genya had Daddy issues. And it’s made him ANGRY. He’s mad as hell, and he’s not going to take it anymore! AND THEN HE CAN FLY. WHY? FUCK YOU THAT’S WHY. BIG BANG PUNCHHHH!!!! Love that sequence… to think they originally planned for his powers to be a death glare, he was going to take his shades off and Fitzcarrald would just crumble to dust. I prefer his superpower being a living Nuclear Bomb.

          Alberto the Shockwave is one of the greatest characters of all time, with a theme tune to match. Anyone arguing otherwise is being facetious, they just don’t know it.

          • Reid says:

            As a student of the Sweet Science, I have to love anything that makes boxing the most powerful thing in a given storyline. “Let’s fight…like gentlemen.”

    • schneider says:

      Voltes V is great. It’s brutal. It takes itself seriously in a very good way. Voltes V’s combination sequence is also one of the best ever. Watch it if you can.

      /fag

    • 1. Getterfag took care of the Giant Robo parts.

      2. Voltes V >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Gatchaman. No fucking contest. There’s really lots of mad violence and varied too. However, Daimos I think is even better. But that’s because I have this insane bias for motherfucking Karate. I will have to do that epic piece of faggotry for Karate in anime and manga at some point.

      3. Go do it. Run with it.

      Also, Lakers win 3 straight… that Kobe Bryant… too old, just can’t do it anymore, amirite? LOLOLOL

      • Reid says:

        They’re on the road to making him old before his time by not giving him any help from the bench. I didn’t watch the most recent games though. I’m not the BIGGEST b-ball fan, even though I cover a lot of it (at the high school and junior college level) for my newspaper. However, one of the teams in our coverage area has the no. 5-ranked senior in the U.S.! And it’s not some huge school either. They have mayyyyyybe 1,000 students (not even a private school). So that’s pretty cool.

        Thanks for the vote of confidence, however preliminary at this point. I’ll get in touch with you about it tomorrow.

      • Matt Wells says:

        I thought JoeQ was THE Getterfag on this site?

  4. Maverick05 says:

    Ahhh Mecha History!! A long discussed theme!!

    But from all the post, I think a very important anime has been forgotten, the one wish was “dedicated to all pioneers”: Macross Plus! It was used to bridge old tecnologies with new ones in the anime industry openning a new world.

    Now, you have been discussing about the 70s, 80s, and 90s. For me, the 00`s is more like a decade of remembrance of the past decades in a good way. Gurren Lagann, Gundam Seed/00, and Macross Zero/Frontier are example of these. Yet what do you think it will come in the 10`s???

  5. megaroad1 says:

    Mazinger Z still has some of the most memorable fights for me, specially in the way that when a new rival proved almost too powerful for Mazinger, they’d design a new custom weapon for him. Of course a fight never felt truly over unless Mazinger photoned-rayed their *ss and then blew the resulting robot debris away. Genius!

    Loved Giant Robo so I’ll try to get my hands on Tetsujin 28-Go.

    What was great about the fighting in Evangelion, was how the EVA’s had a organic, biological feel to them. The sheer rawness of it was almost scary and felt different to some of the stuff one had seen before.

    • ces06 says:

      “What was great about the fighting in Evangelion, was how the EVA’s had a organic, biological feel to them. The sheer rawness of it was almost scary and felt different to some of the stuff one had seen before.”

      This. Well, granted, they were organic bodies with metal armor, but it’d be awesome if they applied the way the EVAs were animated to more shows, with their fluid movements and whatnot. Especially G Gundam.

      • JoeQ says:

        Yeah, it’s kinda odd that despite how influential NGE is the mecha designs or battles are the one aspect of the show that haven’t been widely imitated. Sure, there are plenty of other (semi)sentient mecha out there, but mostly they’re more heroic or divine rather than demonic. I at least can’t think of any examples that compare to the brutal and fucking scary nature of the EVAs.

        • Fan-rumour (possibly more than that, but I can’t remember an even faintly-authoritative source for this) has it that the Ultraman franchise is a neglected influence on NGE. So (this theory has it) even before the show really starts pushing the organic nature of the Evas, there’s already an element of a big living guy in a rubber/metal suit running around a cityscape in the way they’re animated. I can’t comment: I’ve only seen NGE once, a long time ago, and didn’t really think too highly of it.

          • ces06 says:

            Seems legit. Hideaki Anno’s watched his share of tokusatsu, (there was an interview in a shimamoto kazuhiko manga with the two in which he said this iirc- apparently they were buds in college) and Gainax’s done some live-action tokusatsu-ish productions waaaaaaay back sometime during the Daicon III/IV era, IIRC.

          • JoeQ says:

            I now want to see NGE re-imagined as a 60s tokusatsu show. Fund it!

            This talk of Gasaraki reminded me that the kugai in that show were kinda (aesthetically) similiar:

          • Matt Wells says:

            I’ve always wanted to see a version of Eva played as a classic 70′s super robot show, sort of like Gekiganger 3. Shijni driving around Pen Pen in a sidecar motorcycle, episode titles like “Deadline of Doom! Countdown on the lives of Brave NERV Agents!”, and Asuka as a racist American pilot, like Texas Mack. And also she’s a man. Oh, and everyone has sideburns. Lot of potential for comedy there.

          • DiGiKerot says:

            Daicon Film made an Ultraman fan film back in the 80s. In which Hideaki Anno played Ultraman. I think it’s safe to assume that he’s a fan.

            Honestly, I’d always assumed some of the Ultraman influence on the show was obvious – if nothing else, the timelimit imposed on unplugged Eva units echoes the limits placed on the Ultraman transformation in that show strongly.

    • Eva remembers love for Kaiju shows like Ultraman. Ultraman was well, biological and organic.

      • WhatSht says:

        Never watched Eva, but I heard about the mindfucking it does, and I’m not gonna watch it till the end of my exams.

      • Matt Wells says:

        They actually consulted the special effects department of Toho Studioes just to make the action sequences in Rebuild of EVA feel like old Kaiju shows. Anno said he told the visual effects team who worked on the film to make all the battle sequences feel as much like an old Tokusatsu show as possible, like you were watching scale models rather than CGI constructs of buildings and military weapons.

  6. ces06 says:

    Mazinkaiser SKL and Gurren Lagann comes to mind, with the former showing all, if not most of the above forms of fighting, and the latter going up the ladder and back. i really loved how those two shows took fist fighting, finishers, and WMD’s to an epic scale, and all in the same show.

    No G Gundam? The way they presented the fights in G was lacking (except for some fights) but the concept was awesome. Granted, it’d look better if it had aired a decade later and had more budget.

    Personally, I’d like for there to be more of the 1 v.s. something huuuuuuuuge type battles. There’s been a lot of giant enemies that dwarf the protagonist mechas, but I’ve never seen any of the battles play out as really fresh and satisfying. Closest I’ve seen these is in Gundam, but these kinds of battles get resolved most of the time through some kind of lame dialogue or stuff, not with an actual fistfight. Probably something like the game Shadow of the Colossus, if you know it.

    • Matt Wells says:

      G Gundam fights remember love for classic Shonen series like Ring No Kakero and Saint Seiya than they do for Mecha combat. G Gundam fights go like this: Dragonball style motion blurs and flurries of punches, enemy pulls out special technique, Domon counters with his own, better special technique. End fight.

      The problem with David and Goliath style mecha fights is the matter of size and scale. It’s already difficult enough conveying the size and scale of mecha with teir human operators, adding another layer of mass and size on top of that is probably more than the average Japanese studio can mangae with anything short of a feature film level budget. It would still be cool to see more fights like that, I can’t think of a single show that has done it well to date.

      • Reid says:

        The final battle against the dumb walking defense tower things in the 2004 CGI remake of “Appleseed” was pretty cool in that regard, although the landmates are not really *giant* robots.

    • Matt pretty much explained why I didn’t include G Gundam.

      The only satisfying way I can see a David vs. Goliath fight in robot form is for the little guy to use a decisive weapon at range. I’m not sure how satisfying this really is though, since this makes the big guy’s size a liability.

  7. JoeQ says:

    Some great examples here in the comments, I mostly agree, especially in regards to Giant Robo, Getter and Mazinkaiser SKL.

    Surprised that you didn’t mention this as an example of 1 vs many:

    Musashis last stand in SGRvsNGR was pretty epic too:

    And when it comes to duels, this is definetily one of my favorites (too bad its missing the LOL fight with Viral beforehand):

    GaoGaiGar had some great battles too despite usually doing the attack checklist thing. I love how it’s finishing moves basically involved ripping the enemy’s guts out. This is propably my favorite:

    • Matt Wells says:

      That battle in Gunbuster has the highest bodycount for a single mecha fight. Something like 300 million dead Space Monsters, all at the hands of two Japanese schoolgirls. God I love that show…

      GaoGiaGar fights are usually simple monster of the week affairs, but I love the epic high stakes battles they throw out now and then, like the GGG Team versus that Composite Primeval Zonder on the Moon. That was a great fight. I also love how that fight with Palparepa references GaoGaiGar’s first Zonder battle, right down to Gai punching the smug bastard before he can fully regenrate.

      My personal best fight though would be GGG vs. Zonuda Mikoto in episode 49. The culmination of the story enhanced by the brutality of the fight. Gai is literally ripping apart the woman he loves, and all the while she’s killing his comrades. If he can’t kill her, the world dies. It’s incredible. Still brings a tear to my eye every time I see it.

      • JoeQ says:

        Damn, that fight was better than I remembered. But then again, by that point I was pretty exhausted with the series and didn’t really care for the final twist.

        Can’t remember if any of King J-Der’s other fights in the series were any good, but its debut was fucking badass:

        • Matt Wells says:

          The only fight where he came close to matching his debut was when the Primevals fused with the moons of Jupiter. Specifically how he took down the Arm Primeval: “15 LINKED-MENSON LASER CANNON… J QUATH!!! SIMULTAENEOUS BARRAGE!!!!!” Primeval blows the fuck up.

      • Reid says:

        He could have solved all that a lot earlier by Hyperdrive Canceling the knee into a an EX Double Screw Upper…or wait I mean shooting it with a light arrow and then stabbing the enemy in the tail…wait I mean latching onto the side of the building and firing all his machine guns at once before ripping off his own arm to smash the enemy robot in the face, then cutting it in half with his beam sabre…wait…

    • 1. As I mentioned to Matt, Ideon would be the primary example of 1 vs. fuckton. See that video I posted above. Insane.

      2. Yeah, but I can’t get into Getter. I watched this anime and it was okay…

      3. Hehe, that was some pro-wrestling match.

      4. When those with courage hold a G Stone THEY WILL ALWAYS HAVE THE POWER TO CLAIM VICTORY!

      • Reid says:

        This is why Guy Shishio is able to win so many fights.

        as you can see, he even has the same power of the Ideon Gun.

      • JoeQ says:

        1. Watched it and it was awesome. Too bad that I’ve heard that the rest of the show kinda sucks. Will still watch it at some point.

        What is interesting to is that both Ideon and Gunbuster do the traditional super robot attack checklist, but instead of slowly softening a single enemy each attack kills them by the thousands. I want to see more of this kinda thing, especially in such ludicrously massive scale (IMHO both Diebuster and Gurren Lagann failed to deliver this).

        • Yes. I think Diebuster does fine, only that Gunbuster is unmatched at showing stupendous populations of enemies. Diebuster was more of a 1 vs. 1 kind of showdown in the end.

          Gunbuster’s maind drama in the final battle was to set off the bomb, as opposed to kill a specific enemy. It all works out for these shows.

          • JoeQ says:

            IMO, the thing that also helps with this is that despite all the overt displays of power and other super robot stuff, Gunbuster still more or less adheres to the real robot -like foundation of (pseudo)science laid in the first half of the show. It strains believability, but doesn’t outright break it, so the battles also feel that much more serious and ‘real’.

            Diebuster and Gurren Lagann by comparison went straight for the exaggerated, cartoony physics breaking stuff and while that works great for those shows, it does take some of the edge off.

  8. schneider says:

    I’m a fan of the awkward, kitchen sink approach that’s born out of the Tetsujin tradition. I know you got bored by Dai-Guard, but I still can’t forget that time when it ripped its arm off and threw it at the monster. It does get better weapons in the future! Patlabor also makes robot brawling hilarious and dire. I enjoy this school because I laugh when despite having a neat giant robot, all you do with it is kick the other robot in its metal nads, then it works.

    I really like the action in Gasaraki, even if the rest of the show sucked balls. The engagements gave off a very military feel: surgical missions with tight planning and precise execution, sometimes livened up with desperation. The command crew bring a real sense of logistics in the mecha operations. The mock battle in episode 1 (the authenticity of which is disproved around halfway into the episode, but you don’t care because it’s awesome), and the mecha-on-a-winch against two fighter planes in episode 5, damn those were great. Very tacticool.

    • Yes, Gasaraki. And I don’t think anyone’s mentioned Flag yet, either. I wouldn’t necessarily want to see loads of imitators for them, but they take things in an interesting direction.

      My favourite tacticool mecha thing is Zambot 3′s modular pistol with attachable scope.

    • JoeQ says:

      Oh yes, Gasaraki. Great mecha designs, great battles, if only there had been more of them instead of all that boring mystical stuff (I still don’t know WTF happened during the finale). Also, fuck episode 24: awesome tactical mecha action, it doesn’t get better than this and then BAM, fucking tentacles FUCK!

      Re: Flag. Loved the show, the gimmick and the HAVWCs, but I prefer my mecha battles to less confusing and obscured. Still waiting for Takahashi to give us the definitive real robot show.

    • I enjoyed Patlabor for the reasons you mentioned. It’s the same feeling as watching SDFM for the first few episodes where just nothing works and things go horribly wrong in one technological nightmare after another.

      If you can find me clips of these Gasaraki fights I’ll be much obliged.

      • Reid says:

        Not to be a jerk and get these in before JoeQ, but I was JUST watching these videos earlier today to add them to the discussion.

        which, to me anyway, remembers love for…

        these two shows (along with FLAG) go a long way toward the whole “reason for mecha” problem inherent in real robot anime.

  9. Shinmaru says:

    You know, I find it apt that you bring up pro wrestling. I was a big pro wrestling fan growing up (WWF and WCW), and I watched a ton of Japanese pro wrestling in college. I haven’t seen any Japanese wrestling from before the ’80s, but it wouldn’t be surprising to me if the dudes who worked on these super robot shows were fans of pro wrestling because it was HUGE in Japan for a long time starting in the 1950s with Rikidozan (who has a pretty interesting history if you want to look him up). But, yeah, Japanese pro wrestling — especially the really big matches — is basically super robot craziness, down to the “I WILL USE ALL OF MY FIGHTING SPIRIT TO DEFEAT YOU” shtick.

    • Hehe I grew up on Hulk vs. Andre, got away from it for awhile, then really got into it again during Rocky Maivia’s rise. I’ll look up Rikidozan, whose name alone is awesome. Given how Pro-wrestling had this kind of shctick first, I can imagine how super robot shows adapted it from them.

  10. Tetsujin-28 is pretty much my favourite thing in life.

  11. JoeQ says:

    Also, obligatory Gouf Custom VS 08th MS Team:

    NORRIIISSS!

    • Reid says:

      I love this fight, but I never understood why 1. the 08th Team couldn’t seem to hit anything at all; 2. why Shiro didn’t load out the EZ8 with a beam rifle – if he had, that’s one dead Gouf, Norris or no; 3. why Norris didn’t turn on the heat on his, ya know, HEAT SABRE – if he had, that’s one dead EZ8, luna titanium armor or no.

      • JoeQ says:

        1. Because he’s an ACE!
        3.Because Norris had absolutely no intention of killing Shiro (the lover of his dear Aina). His goals were simply to a) destroy the Guntanks, so his comrades could escape and b) die, so they wouldn’t wait for him to return.

        • Reid says:

          Maybe…I dunno, though. He didn’t even “turn on the heat” when he was killing those poor Jet Core Boosters. Oh well, he’s still one of the best pilots in Gundam history (though my favorite is Visch Donahue from “Rise from the Ashes” – he also was a Gouf Custom man!)

      • Matt Wells says:

        2. This is mostly conjecture, but seeing as 08th MS Team is meant to be the realest of all Gundam shows… beam weapons in the ending stages of the One Year War are still a very tricky weapon. Unless we’re talking the RX-78′s cutting edge prototype model, mass production beam rifles are very buggy and prone to malfunction. They break down easily, they’re a pain to repair, and when you’ve fired your e-cap, that’s it. You’re left carrying a two ton hunk of dead weight until you can recharge. Remember, spare beam catridges only come around by the time of Zeta Gundam.

        As far as I can remember, Shiro always uses bullet based weaponry, leaving the beam rifles to Sanders and Karen, and they mostly use them for long range support or sniping jobs. It makes sense for a solid (if unremarkable) pilot like Shiro to stick with a dependable machine gun. Far more safe and reliable, and what it lacks in power it makes up with plentiful ammo and practicality. Less likely to break down on you, and you get more than eight shots before you’re toast.

        • Reid says:

          Right you are about the e-pac replacing the e-cap, Matt. However, in the prior episode, where Shiro debuts the EZ8, he uses a beam rifle to great effect against some Megella tanks. It just seems kinda iffy to me, but your logic is too sound for me to defeat.

  12. Anchen says:

    I’ll have to check out some of these videos later as I do love mecha action of all sorts. If you are going to mention gundam funnels and beam spam and eureka air surfing I think a shout to macross’ itano circus is in order though =)

  13. Vendredi says:

    I see Gasaraki and FLAG already got mentioned, which are a category you missed – the mecha skirmish between groups or squads of similarly equipped mecha; although I suppose they tend to break down into the other types you list here. Naturally Gundam has a lot of these examples: Stardust Memory and IGLOO come to mind.

    • Yeah, Gundam really put that into play… although the level wherein FLAG, Gasaraki, and even Patlabor takes this is pretty cool. You don’t even have to go to 0083.

      MS teams are pretty much squads, and you can relate to the White Base’s complement as such a squad, vs. similarly arrayed squads (Black Tri-Stars).

  14. kevin says:

    some times, something awesome happens, and a legend is created.
    some times, something that some people think is awesome happens, and it dies soon after because those people were bandwagoneers.
    some times, something happens and nobody notices it, but it come back to haunt those who abandoned it and eventually causes people to gain awareness of it.
    some times, something tries to copy the legends and fails really hard, but since it shared the name of the legend it was liked by all the bandwagoneers.

    somethings in anime are just straight up bad in large quantities, but a well DRAWN or well MADE MMM or MMM style funnel dance (fyi there hasn’t been a good one since CCA imotbh), isn’t one of such thing which are bad. obeying the laws of eye appeal and abstract art all of your robot punches are also not one of such straight up terrible terrible things.

    i mean seriously, the badassary of a single well place punch. the badassary of TWO funnels duking it out in the midst of space. i remember love for giant robots Q___Q. they really need to go right back to the basics.

    Itano would be proud, wait, hold that thought, who animed the key frames =__=… wait … what? why is gainax in that list! WHAT DOES THIS ALL MEAN! THESE DATA ON THE SCREEN! THEY TELL ME—

    they tell me nothing . how sad.
    regardless, gundams has fallen a long long long long way since then.

    • kevin says:

      aw man, forgot to link this.

      as you can see, many many MANY old school gundam GAMES redid parts of the original series. and made those scenes completely badass.

      one: we got a rick Dom hovering above land and a Z’gok surfacing. The way the trusters on the z’gok lights up mirrors badassary done by Tetsujin 28 and causes a large amount of water to evaporate, and is in fact the focal point of the entire scene.
      two: all the dingo GM did was launch a rocket. that was everything it did. all the blue destiny did was launch two rockets, again, that was all it did. all alex did was take out its saber for no reason and start spaming npc shells. and all the ground type did was charge into combat. but why did those scenes carry so much better feel than anything from say: age and 00 and seed (cuz i really really hate 00)? cuz they recoiled and exaggerated their sluggish movements and the camera was focused at the right places at the right time.
      three: char punches a GM series to his death (wait, blue destiny??). camera takes a complete 180. the focus of that scene was before char punched and the result, the motion was swift and deadly and lasted for about 1 seconds. simply a fricking awesome punch.
      four: alex chopps up a gouf… what? did alex just pull a ninja? wait alex just pulled a ninja. what the hell? alex pulled a ninja? ALEX!? pulled a FRICKING exia on a gouf. ladies and gentlemen, badass animation quality strikes again! the focus point of this is probably that spilt second where the gouf’s hand went flying and alex looking very very dark and alternate universe like.
      five: ground type and dingo back to back gattling goodness. camera spun, that was all. focus point of the scene: the super awesome amount of well time recoil that went with the shots and explosions. my guess is that they spent a thousand dollars on that two seconds alone.
      six: simple five man band. no bullshit armor, no bullshit cannons, just simple, a rifle, a few rounds of ammunition, and a utility mecha. strange how this makes such a good wall paper that even my none anime loving buddy up here in canada would comment on badassary (he saw the 00 one and faceplanted into a copy of the hitch hiker’s guide to the galaxy)

      i think one of the reasons for old school things being completely badass is simply because instead of being wtf messy CG like seed, 00, age? yea age felt hectic and messy so i’ma include that too. i think this was simply because the directors back then bothered to stop production and make everyone clean up after their shit. timed all the keyframes correctly (do they even use keyframes anymore or do they just CG it straight up?) and emphasized on the action that is being performed rather than… flashy particles and reused explosions. and because they arent afraid of breaking things up. breaking things up is essentially the same as not being afraid of killing off your characters when you need or want to.

      in other words, people got fricking lazy.

    • Looks good, I’ve seen CCA many times. However I can’t agree with the conclusions you draw.

      • kevin says:

        macross level quality don’t come around very often anymoar.

        • kevin says:

          instead, much easier, simple, cost effective approaches such as re using the same rag doll ninja moves and letting CG animate the tedious thruster fire. and tbh, its just not the god dam same badass level with out a decent amount of time spent making the thing look good.

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