It’s coming, and you can send your nominations to executiveotaku AT gmail DOT COM for up to fifteen (15) individual robot units. The rules are all posted on the site, but here in this post I intend to demonstrate the thought that goes in (or I want to go into) the nominations.
While I don’t expect everyone to match my BURNING PASSION in these considerations, I don’t want fans to LIMIT THEIR LOVE by doing only what I do. By all means put all your HARD WORK AND GUTS not only into your nominations, but also when it’s time to campaign.
Alright, lets get into my nominations then:
It’s the most powerful form of the Mazinger-type super robot, the first piloted mecha in anime. Originally introduced in Super Robot Wars F as fans of the game thirsted for a “mid-season upgrade” (not yet a trope during Mazinger Z’s original TV run) for the relatively weak Mazinger Z unit in the game, series creator Go Nagai loved it and welcomed it into the Mazinger canon (as it were, LOL).
The latest, post-apocalyptic version “Skull” innovates by having alternating pilots in a single cockpit, incorporating a second fighting style involving pistol daggers and gun-fu. Mazinkaiser, is big, strong, and very very badass.
What a lovely piece of work.
1. The quad-wings.
Go ahead, watch some vids. The Kshatriya swooping in from beyond visual range and then to some blind spot of the RX-0 is magnificent. The silhouette is that of a demon, at times swirling but always menacing.
The wings, to date present the most detailed and good-looking funnels housing and deployment system. No more hovering from shoulders (a la Jagd-dogas), no more spitting from behind (like the Qubeley). The whole deployment and retrieval system is gorgeous.
Then the wings also serve as armor, allowing the Kshatriya to turtle up when it can’t outmaneuver its usually multiple opponents.
It looks every bit like a gigantic mobile armor, but is actually pretty much within the size of a mobile suit. The big Alpha Aziel while impressive looking is kind of hard to take when it’s dodging beams (it’s funnels alone is the size of the Nv-Gundam, a pretty fucking big Gundam). This also means that its funnels are of an impressively small size. It’s really lulz thinking about mobile armors such as the Elmeth and the Alpha Aziel packing funnels as big as mobile suits.
Despite being able to snipe from ridiculous distances via funnels, then spray an area with beams via funnels and its chest cannons, the Kshatriya is somewhat disadvantaged without a traditional forward-facing weapon like a beam gun. Without funnel cover fire, it has to reorient its entire torso to fire at targets as opposed to a rifle tip.
Thus when it does its aforementioned swooping, it HAS to deploy and attack with funnels because its torso is facing “downwards” or away from its targets. This can also be a big disadvantage when moving in reverse.
Under normal battle conditions these are not issues as the unit will severely outperform mass-produced suits, but against the RX-0 these limitations are severely exploited even without the benefit of the NT-D.
I imagine the Kshatriya will also have fits against the Sinanju if it comes down to a fight with it.
All these things (along with the finer details like the sleeves, the beam saber that pops out from them, the extra limbs, and the green color) make for a very different robot than the ones presented here.
Another monster from Gundam, the GP03 Dendrobium Orchis is a mobile armor set-up that is “carried” by the GP03 Dendrobium Stamen. The whole set up is a flower of death that spreads ruin among Zeon. In my mind it has a delightfully diverse weapons payload that isn’t magically streamlined into the mobile suit’s silhouette. Lots of weapons = bulk, and the GP03 is a great example of how it’d look like.
Relative to other similar configurations in Gundam, the asymmetry of the GP03 is far superior to the gimmicky color beamspamming ginormous backpacks of the METEOR series in Mobile Suit Gundam SEED and Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny.
The sleekest and sexiest Variable Fighter to date is the 25th anniversary edition of the VF. Code-named “Messiah” there’s nothing derisively Jesus-like about its abilities (nor its pilot Alto Saotome, who got shot down several times while piloting this). Overtechnology allowed the design to keep the silhouette as slim and minimalist as possible without sacrificing material strength.
While it’s always comical how such a retro jet plane design would be so necessary for a space fighter, it is a striking and beautiful shape on the Valkyrie and Gerwalk modes. I’ve always loved VFs, but I think I love this bird the most.
Ugly color, ungainly Battloid mode, unlikely swept-forward wing design, this bird indeed felt like the flipped middle finger at VF fans. It isn’t as technologically far-out as its rival YF-21, but the YF-21 went too far. Firstly, it had the Robotech-style “thinking cap” for controls, then its transformation feels like “morphing” instead of just “changing.” Thus, despite its departure from the original VF designs, it retained enough of the character of the Navy fighter jet… and perhaps the most important thing:
It let the pilot be the ace, because it demanded the pilot master it; as opposed to the YF-21 who wanted to become one with a worthy pilot. Less magic, more nuts-and-bolts-plain-old-flyin’ badassery.
To my 8-year old self, this was what a fighter jet looked like: white, broad, with extendable wings. No one let me watch Top-Gun as a kid, but even before I saw the movie posters and theatrical trailers; I already fell in-love with the F-14 Tomcat seeing it on the news on TV and reading about it on encyclopedias. Then I saw the F-14 Tomcat fucking transform into a robot. My world exploded.
Chodenji Machine Voltes V
Speaking of first love, how about first love anime? Voltes V for a generation became synonymous with Japanese animation, and was the representative for a number of shows both robot and otherwise in the 1970s here in the Philippines. Voltes V was so popular and influential that it received four separate dub treatments:
- an English dub which recorded over the still audible Japanese voice tracks during fights, so I could still hear the shouting and called-out attacks (BEST),
- the same cast doing the same dub but completely removing the Japanese voice track (TERRIBLE, since the actors can’t shout for shit)
- a Tagalog dub which took hilarious liberties in translation, plus some inspired bad voice acting (GREAT); and
- a Tagalog dub made by teen idols and established actors; massively hyped (MEH)
What’s even more interesting, is that the first Tagalog dub was done in the 1990s, and the second was in the 2000s. Voltes V first aired in the Philippines in the late 70s (aired in Japan in 1977). If that’s not multi-generational staying power, I DON’T KNOW WHAT IS.
The first combination using Lagann’s spiral powers, it is also the version we got to see in the most action. It’s a loving reference to both founders of the super robot tradition: Nagai’s Mazinger Z and Getter Robo. The former had a docking sequence of a ship smacking into the crown of the robot’s head, and the latter was the first to combine, ever.
Thus, Gurren-Lagann’s combination had Mazinger Z’s PILDER ON-esque docking maneuver, plus Getter Robo’s ridiculous combination animation, which has to be seen to be believed:
That first combination scene in TTGL was played for laughs, but it gets better, though never loses it’s ridiculousness:
Master Gundam & Fuunsaiki
If I have to explain anything after showing that image, then you’ll never get this awesomeness, nor deserve to do so. LOOK! THE EAST BURNS RED ANYWAY!
A God among robots (well, Zakus; but is definitely better than the God of GMs), Gunbuster was the second robot to push the scale of power into ridiculous galactic levels; and like the aforementioned God of GMs, had a strong sense of being in the real robot tradition. GAINAX will take this Tomino influence further in their subsequent work: Neon Genesis Evangelion.
Let’s just say that when confronting the aliens in “the conversations to come,” I feel better (and safer) having Noriko and Gunbuster going out to meet them, than say, the Gundam Qan t.
GN-001 Gundam Exia
I’m no big fan of supposedly real robots slugging it out in close range melee, while there is an overwhelming array of guns available. It doesn’t make sense why a pilot would risk getting shot at so many times just to close in and engage at melee. As a last resort, perhaps, but all too often (and especially in AU) Gundam, the pilots intentionally eschew firing guns at their opponents and charge at them using melee weapons (or worse, HUGGING IN SPACE).
Thus, a primarily melee-based anti-mobile suit Gundam is the height of stupidity for me. And yet, I find the SExia such a gorgeous design, with its tapered waist, broad shoulders, and 7 swords. I own several figures and at least 2 kits of this unit. It must have done something right to get past my fundamental dislike for its very concept.
MA-08 Big Zam
While Mobile Suit Gundam is the genesis of the “real robot” sub-genre, and remains in some ways the apotheosis of the same, it is a transitional work. This means it still works from within the robot genre as a whole at that time – the meta that it was attempting to transcend: super robot shows. As such, it made a number of concessions, the most obvious being the Gundam itself being a brightly colored machine (red, white, blue, yellow trim; as opposed to being purely white), and another being the inclusion of giant monster enemies.
The most gigantic, and monstrous enemy was the Big Zam, the last stand of the Solomon Asteroid stronghold of Zeon. I love it partly because of how Gundam turned the super robot enemy tradition on its head. Dozle Zabi made his heroic last stand in the Big Zam – remaining both dangerous enemy, but also a sympathetic doomed and tragic one. The first, and only time the Big Zam takes the field of battle is one of the most memorable moments for me in the Gundam franchise.
Knight of Gold
Another unit playing hopscotch over the super|real robot divide is the KOG, along with practically all of the Mortar Headds of The Five Star Stories. Most of these magnificent machines with their chivalrous Headdliners (pilots) and fetching Fatimas (co-pilots). Most of the goodness can be found in the manga, but there is a 1990 feature film that presents the universe of the story (and the opening arc of the manga).
I actually favor at least two other designs over the KOG, but this is the headlining (LOL PUN) robot in the anime, and the rules of Sai Mecha limit the choices to anime units. What makes the KOG stand out is the incredible detail in its design, with an aesthetic that evokes both Escaflowne, and Broken Blade, and yet FSS is years and years ahead of both. Also, the KOG packs enough heat to bust planets.
Genesic Gao Gai Gar
The King of Braves Gao Gai Gar FINAL takes the combining beast robot schtick to its beyond the impossible extreme and creates a combining sequence so amazing that it eventually enables an attack that well uh, smashes THE SUN.
This is the strongest God of Destruction. It’s the ultimate shape of Courage.
Another selection that I surprised myself with. Why? Look at it! The Gundam has a freaking mustache! And yet, it’s another unit that I have a kit of, and is one of my favorite finishers in Super Robot Wars α Gaiden. Even so, ∀Gundam remains one of the best, if not the best example of how giant robots can have a special magic whimsy that I can only previously associate with Ghibli films and things made in the same spirit.
It’s also good for transporting livestock.
These are my nominations! They are all awesome! Be sure to send an email to executiveotaku AT gmail DOT COM to give your nominations! Now, I understand that it can take a LOT of effort to come up with a list of 15. It’s tough both ways: for some it’s hard to build up to 15, for others it’s exceedingly difficult to cut their list down to 15.
I’ll help you through it! Just post your list in whatever form in the comments and we’ll have a grand time talking ROBOTS!