Shooting Star Gakusaver is One of The Funniest Things in Robot Anime

shooting star gakusaver hashiba monkey

Humor and comedy in robot anime is almost always an element within a larger set in the recipes that tend to favor drama. Even when the shows back in the 70s are decidedly children’s fare, I remember that the laughs came due to jokes and humor that come along with the objective of beating the bad guys. Even the more serious shows will have the odd comic-relief episode among the 40 or so their respective runs.

It is rare to find a robot show that is wholly dedicated to laughs. Martian Successor Nadesico comes to mind, with its cerebral (parody, trope-referencing, and allegory) and slapstick approaches, but the thing about Nadesico is I end up taking it quite seriously. This is not a knock on its quality, only that I have some difficulty relating to it as comedy and instead I often lump it together with the other serious space operas.

None of us will have this problem with Shooting Star Gakusaver, a 6-ep OVA from Production I. G. way back in 1993 – which makes it later than Gunbuster (1988) but earlier than Nadesico (1996), Gao Gai Gar (1997), Dai-Guard (1999), etc.

But ghostlightning, Mobile Suit ZZ Gundam was a robot comedy that preceded all of these (1986).


Sorry about that. I hate ZZ Gundam. I do love Gakusaver though, I’ll try to tell you why without spoiling.

shooting star gakusaver characters

There’s a big robot (Gakusaver) that is effectively commandeered by some loser school teacher wearing shades reminiscent of Coach Ohta from Gunbuster! (Hashiba) from the laboratory that discovered/built it. He then manipulates the members of the student council (his charges) to pilot the robot by bribing them with extra credit. The members of the student council are all grade-grubbing freaks conveniently playing school anime tropes and archetypes of both elite students and stock characters (genki loli, baka-gaijin, grouchy ojou-san, yamato nadeshiko, childhood friend, etc.) and thus they end up being the permanent pilots of the Gakusaver.

Hashiba is like Gai Daigoji from Nadesico if you had Gai usurp authority. He’s like Kamina from Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann who will send you to the jaws of death – but will not fight with you… this guy is funny as hell. The plot conveniences that keep pushing him forward as the self-styled chief of the Earth Savers is a laugh-out-loud joke in itself.


The first episode left us in tears with all the laughing we had to do (I watched this with two other ginormous robot faggertroopers) and while the laughs aren’t as sustained in the rest of the 6 episodes, the show is consistently funny even as it gets very weird in places. The jokes come fast and in bunches; and to its credit it never dwells on its punch lines. The ending is a forehead-slapping hoot.

If you enjoyed the parody aspects of Gunbuster! and Martian Successor Nadesico, and that you’re in the mood for something that has even more slap-your-knee, punch the guy watching next to you kind of laughter. I wholeheartedly recommend Shooting Star Gakusaver.

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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26 Responses to Shooting Star Gakusaver is One of The Funniest Things in Robot Anime

  1. That monkey flipping the bird reminded me of another monkey in a vid (where he poked and then smelled his butt). xD

    • It’s a random, minor thing that reminds me of movies of the late Leslie Nielsen that pack so many jokes per minute and never bothers to dwell on any of them (Airplane, The Naked Gun, etc.).

  2. foshizzel says:

    Whoaa looks like a fun show! I will have to look this one up 😀

  3. sadakups says:

    This show is one of them reasons why I love the old times. You don’t get stuff like this nowadays.

  4. Matt Wells says:

    The one mecha comedy I can think of that you left out is Xabungle, though that does get a bit more dramatic and plot oriented as it goes on. Comedy is still very much at the forefront of every episode in that one though; you have characters yell “Xabungle PUNCH (always wanted to say that!)” or do things like kick missiles away because they know they’re in an anime.

    Great looking show though, the premise sounds good, and that shot of the monkey giving me the finger is enough to make make me want to watch it anyway.

    • Unfortunately I haven’t watched Xabungle due to its unfinished subs, though I am quite familiar with it thanks to playing Super Robot Wars Alpha Gaiden. The ICBM toss is great lulz. I suppose if we’re looking that far back we can mention two other Tomino works: Heavy Metal L-Gaim and Daitarn 3; especially the latter, is massive lulz.

      • Matt Wells says:

        Never seen L-Gaim, but from what I gathered, I thought it was one of his more serious shows.

        And yeah, Daitarn 3 kicks ass. I don’t know why Tomino decided to make the mecha equivalent of a 70’s James Bond flick, but I thank the Gods every day that he did.

        Da da…1 2 3! DA DAH! DAITARN SUREEEE!!!

        • Perhaps L-Gaim started getting serious in its second half, because the first 5 eps I’ve seen are pretty dumb.

          Banjou Haran is… I’ve no words really. The Daitarn 3 itself is a ridiculously huge pillar of ugly, but not Ideon ugly.

  5. Baka-Raptor says:

    Great, my hypothetical contrarian has been cheating on me.

  6. Lokey says:

    You should look up Dai Guard. It does have some serious scenes, but some really funny ones too.

  7. WhatSht says:

    that pic of the monkey pointing the middle finger was so lulz

  8. JoeQ says:

    I have the same problems with Nadesico, to the point that I felt that the show was too schizophrenic. All that wacky parody and referencing pretty much killed any attempts at serious drama and action for me, though I admit that my general dislike for the characters probably didn’t help either. Gainax’s efforts and Dai-Guard managed balance them much better IMHO.

    Gakusaver sounds great though, definetily have to check it out.

    • I dunno, while I’d never take the story of Nadesico as seriously as say, Macross (which is rather tough to take seriously for some people), I don’t think of it as a discredit to either shows (or even dour and serious and unintentionally hilarious Gundam). What separates Nadesico from the others is that its purposefully humorous and is rather successful with its humor. I think very highly of it. I’m rather fond of the cast and characters so that certainly helps.

      Gakusaver is consistent and all-out with its comedy which may be closer to your liking indeed.

  9. JoeQ says:

    Now that I think about it, a large part of my dislike was the shows tendency to make fun of such staples of robot anime as obvious traps, annoying destined romantic pairings and crappy endings, and then playing that same stuff completely straight (instead of subverting it like I hoped), which I admit might have been too meta for me. The true nature of the Jovians also made it pretty much impossible for me to take anything afterwards seriously.

    Also, fuck Gai!

    • LOL If there’s anything I know, is that one can’t convert a hater against his will, so I won’t.

      Obviously, the Jovians (the Gekinganger-obsessed ones) AND Gai are some of the best parts of the show, along with retard Yurika.

      • JoeQ says:

        Yeah, sorry if I came across as confrontational, that wasn’t my intent. Just felt the need to do some random venting ;). I really wanted to like Nadesico, but it just couldn’t deliver for me.

        I usually love awesomely hot blooded and badass Super Robot pilots (Ryoma is a personal favorite), but something about Gai just rubbed me the wrong way. Maybe it just the way a lot folks used to refer to him as the ultimate when it came to hot blooded pilots (obviously Kamina has nowadays usurped that position), which I could never understand when the dude is basically just a homage to all the previous Super Robot pilots and doesn’t even last three episodes.

        • Huh? Venerating both Kamina and Gai to such levels is wrongheaded.

          Kamina doesn’t last very long, and Kittan is at least just as GAR, though Kamina’s manly speeches are what made TTGL awesome too.

          Gai is awesome not because he’s hot-blooded and GAR.

          Let me repeat:

          Gai is awesome not because he’s hot-blooded and GAR.

          He is awesome because he’s an endearing, and pathetic wannabe hot-blooded pilot of awesome and GAR. He made it okay for us fans to be like that. It gave fanboys like me a face in anime, not in the faux-realist Genshiken sense, but within precisely the kind of SF robot anime setting fans fantasize of inhabiting.

          THAT is why Gai Daigoji is fricking awesome. It’s delicious meta, not face-value awesomeness. If people claim otherwise, they don’t know robot anime.

          • JoeQ says:

            I agree that it’s wrongheaded, when that position clearly belongs to Armageddon Ryoma! I’m just saying the fact is that both he and Kamina get mentioned a lot when it comes to discussing manly pilots (and I agree neither are really that deserving).

            You do make an interesting point about Gai though, I hadn’t considered his character from that point of view. You’re seriously making me consider re-watching Nadesico, so at least take heart in that. It has been years since I saw it, so I just might be able to appreciate it more these days. Being more knowledgeable about mecha and anime in general certainly helped me enjoy Dai-Guard a lot more the second time around. Hmm, I should still have that boxset lying around here somewhere…

            I stand by the fact that the movie is still crap though :mrgreen:

          • JoeQ says:

            Not that anyone cares, but I did finally get around to rewatching Nadesico. I was able to identify with Gai (perhaps a bit too much, lol) and appreciate the meta a lot more this time around, so I rated the show slightly better… but only slightly. As a whole I still can’t bring myself to like it. The characters are still too unlikeable to me and the shows tendency to constantly point out how meta it is being still kills any attempts at seriousness for me. There is a far better way to do this and it’s called TTGL.

            And the movie was still crap too!


  10. r042 says:

    Wow, someone else who’s heard of this! I found it recently and agree entirely with this summary. Ace OVA with some great moments.

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