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> Super/real Robot Franchise Of The Week, A labor of love, for my beloved genre
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MorriganAensland
post Nov 26 2008, 4:55 PM
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I discussed this with Asher, and considering how simple it really is, I thought I'd give it a shot. Each week I'll post information about a Super Robot or Real Robot show/movie... including Western ones like Robot Jox and Megas XLR and what made it unique.

Of course, if I am going to make this list, I need to start with the series that laid the groundwork for the genre: Astro Boy.

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Astro Boy was conceived by a Japanese man named Osamu Tezuka and is considered one of the greatest cultural achievements of the Japanese nation. Tezuka originally was in medical school, but found his true passion from imports of Disney cartoons. Tezuka, until his death in 1989, cited Walt Disney as the man who helped make him who he was, and it shows in his art style. The large noses and general design and art style always carried more than a hint of a Western flavor to them.

Astro Boy actually had his beginnings as a supporting in a short series by Tezuka known as Captain Atom in 1951, taking place in the future and examining relations and interactions between humans and aliens. Astro himself got is own series, one that ran for 16 years, a year later, which took place in the same continuity and focused on Astro. In the future, artificial intelligence for machines made amazing leaps, to the point that a robot was capable of emotions and thinking for itself. There were, however, two rules programmed into each robot:

1. A robot must never harm a human (Astro Boy took place before Isaac Asimov made the Laws of Robotics, incidentally)
2. It is the duty of robots to help people and make them happy.

The titular robot himself was made by Dr. Tenma, the head of Japan's prestigious Ministry of Science. Tenma devoted himself to his work a great deal and did not spend much time with his son Tobio, and one day Tenma's son died in a car accident. Suffering from a severe depression, Tenma decided he would create a replacement for Tobio in the form of a new robot far more advanced than any other made before it. The result was Astro; a robot with "a heart and a soul", in Tenma's own words. Although initially loving towards Astro, Tenma began to realize how foolish his action was since he could never replace his own son and Astro would never grow.

Furious and in a drunken state, Tenma sold Astro to a circus owner and went into hiding. Astro was later saved by the new head of the Ministry of Science, Dr. Ochanimizu. From then on, Astro's tales were fairly episodic and in varying length, where he had various adventures throughout the world.

Prejudice against robots was a recurring theme of the stories, along with the pointless nature of war. The stories were surprisingly mature and a few of the larger-scale and serious serials racked up a large-sized body count by the end. Astro often found himself fighting alien invaders or very militant humans or robots, and it was as much a tragedy as an adventure. Astro was a child, and he made childish mistakes many times. But he also had a strong sense of what was right and wrong and always tried to save people. I've read a little less than a third of the manga, which was donated to my mom's library. The stories are truly amazing, even looking back after 50 years. The truly epic and thrilling "World's Greatest Robot" arc, in my opinion, is one of the greatest stories ever told in any medium.

Japan owes a lot to Osamu Tezuka and Astro Boy. Astro Boy's library had tales of love, sacrifice, teamwork, tragedy, social commentary, humor, and above all else; heart. If you take anything from this list, I implore you to look into the legacy of Astro Boy. You will not be disappointed in it.


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Zhanneel
post Nov 26 2008, 9:44 PM
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Oh my god. It's like SRW 101 class. lol *sits down in lecture hall*

*mildly wonders if I should do a thread for my beloved genre--80s cartoons ^^*
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Asher Omega
post Nov 26 2008, 11:08 PM
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yea, Astroboy is definitely the basis of the entire Robot genre of anime.

Side note, PATRICK HAS RETURNED! and he's got a nickname too! sorry just had to share it. (Gundam 00 S2.)


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MorriganAensland
post Nov 26 2008, 11:39 PM
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QUOTE (Zhanneel @ Nov 26 2008, 04:44 PM) *
Oh my god. It's like SRW 101 class. lol *sits down in lecture hall*

*mildly wonders if I should do a thread for my beloved genre--80s cartoons ^^*


If you do that, I would certainly love reading it. I was born in '88, the only 80s cartoons I remember were Ducktales and Voltron, and I know about Voltron because of reruns about ten years ago.

And I'll keep it simple. I gave a lot of background here because I've read a good sized chunk of Astro, and he set the groundwork for *so much*. Most of my later installments will be much smaller-scale. I'll probably just give a brief description of the series while keeping things simple for the non-initiated and also bring up the various things each series brought to the genre.

QUOTE (Asher Omega @ Nov 26 2008, 06:08 PM) *
yea, Astroboy is definitely the basis of the entire Robot genre of anime.

Side note, PATRICK HAS RETURNED! and he's got a nickname too! sorry just had to share it. (Gundam 00 S2.)


Lolz. Now I'm imagining the starfish from Spongebob in a Gundam. And that's as awesome as that Bassard thing we thought up earlier. And I even think they use the term "Super Robot" at one point where Astro and a bunch of robots combined together to beat an energy, sucking alien.


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Zhanneel
post Nov 27 2008, 5:04 PM
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I was finally able to read through the Astro Boy discussion, since surprisingly my Thanksgiving Day morning is rather slow. I really didn't know much about the history or storyline of Astro Boy himself, but I did notice the Western animation style was a dead give away to borrowed traits from old Disney. I also didn't know the show was mature, in the subjects of death and social issues. That's pretty breakthrough for a 50's cartoon. Astro's boyish nature reminds me of the (much more recent) so-so cartoon "My Life as a Teenage Robot," trying to give robots a human complex. Astro Boy's beginning were really touching, if not sad. But that's okay, I put feelings aside in the event that it makes for a great story.

(I'm also not brave enough to start a 80s cartoon thread either =P. Not that I wouldn't love telling people about all the great Western animation that occurred before so many people were born ^^.
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Asher Omega
post Nov 29 2008, 7:47 AM
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well it looks like I've been enlisted (not that I mind, note you) to help with some series that do come along that Morrigan hasn't seen or doesn't understand (which will probably be very little). so far I've been recruited for Patlabor (just tell me when to make the post) and it would help me to see what other series I can do.


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MorriganAensland
post Nov 29 2008, 5:22 PM
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You've seen Gundam 00 too, and considering it's still going on I think I wouldn't really be able to do it justice. That being said, it's going to be a LONG ways down the road.

Planned schedule:

YEAR ONE:
1. Astro Boy (done as of November 24th)
2. Tetsujin-28/Giant Robo (EDIT: done as of December 1st)
3. Mazinger franchise (Mazinger Z, Great Mazinger, Grendizer, Mazinsaga, and Mazinkaiser) (EDIT: done as of December 8th)
4. Getter franchise (Getter Robo, Getter Robo G, Getter Robo Go, Getter Robo Armageddon, Shin Getter vs. Neo Getter, New Getter, and the various mangas) (EDIT: done as of December 15th)
5. Eartly Universal Century Gundam works (Gundam, Zeta Gundam, Gundam ZZ, and Char's Counterattack.) (EDIT: done as of December 22nd)
6. Tomino's pre-Gundam Super Robot works (Raideen, Zambot 3, and Daitarn 3) (EDIT: done as of December 29th)
7. The Nagahama Romance trilogy (Combattler V, Voltes V, and Daimos) (EDIT: done as of January 5th)
8. Beast King Golion/Voltron (EDIT: done as of January 12th)
9. Space Runaway Ideon/Space Warrior Baldios (EDIT: done as of January 19)
10. Aura Battler Dunbine/Heavy Metal L-Gaim (EDIT: Done as of January 26)
11. Neon Genesis Evangelion (EDIT: Done as of February 2nd)
12. Transformers (hey, I promised to cover Western Super robots too) (EDIT: Done as of February 9th)
13. The Braves metaseries (mainly GaoGaiGar) (EDIT: Done as of February 16th)
14. Robot Jox (A western movie made in 1990) (EDIT: Done as of February 23rd)
15. Megas XLR (EDIT: Done as of March 2nd)
16. Go Nagai's lesser-known Super Robot works (Gloizer X, Kotetsu Jeeg, Kotetsushin Jeeg, Space Dragon Gaiking, and the Gaiking remake) (EDIT: Done as of March 9th)
17. Super Metal Beast God Dancougar (EDIT: Done as of March 16th)
18. UC Gundam side-stories (Gundam 0083 Stardust Memory, Gundam 0080 War in the Pocket, 08th MS Team, MS IGLOO) (EDIT: Done as of March 23rd)
19. Latter-UC Gundam (Unicorn Gundam, Gundam F91, Crossbone Vanguard, and Mobile Suit Victory Gundam) (EDIT: Done as of March 30th)
20. Machine Robo (Mainly series 1) (EDIT: Done as of April 6th)
21. Metal Armor Dragonar (EDIT: Done as of April 13th)
22. Combat Mecha Xabungle (EDIT: Done as of April 20th)
23. Martian Successor Nadesico (EDIT: Done as of April 27th)
24. Future Robo Daltanius (EDIT: Done as of May 4th)
25. The Big O (EDIT: Done as of May 11th)
26. Gekiganger III (Yes, I KNOW IT'S PART OF NADESICO! BUT IT DESERVES TO BE COVERE-*gets shot for being a blatant fanboy*) (EDIT: Done as of May 18th)
27. Aim for the Top: Gunbuster/Aim for the Top 2: Diebuster (EDIT: done as of May 25th)
28. Super Dimension Fortress Macross (EDIT: Done as of June 1st)
29. Alternate Continuity Gundam series excluding SEED and 00 (Mobile Fighter G Gundam, New Mobile Report Gundam Wing, After War Gundam X, and Turn A Gundam) (EDIT: Done as of June 7th)
30. Super Dimension Century Orguss (EDIT: Done as of June 15th)
31. The J9 Trilogy (EDIT: Done as of June 23rd)
32. Six God Combination Machine Godmars/Mighty Orbots (EDIT: Done as of June 30th)
33. Megazone 23 (EDIT: Done as of July 6th)
34. Dangaioh - Hyper Combat Unit (EDIT: Done as of July 13th)
35. Overweight God Gravion (EDIT: Done as of July 21st)
36. Hades Project Zeorymer (EDIT: Done as of July 28th)
37. Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann (EDIT: Done as of August 3rd)
38. Armored Troopers VOTOMS (EDIT: Done as of August 10th)
39. B't X (EDIT: done as of August 18th)
40. Super Dimension Calvary Southern Cross (EDIT: Done as of August 31st)
41. Gold Lightan (EDIT: Done as of August 31st)
42. Planet Robo Danguard Ace (EDIT: Done as of September 6th)
43. Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny (My SRW RP's version of it) (EDIT: first part done as of September 14th)
44. Gun X Sword (EDIT: Done September 21st)
45. Detonator Orgun (EDIT: Done as of September 28th)
46. Betterman (EDIT: Done as of October 12th)
47. Lord of Lords Ryu Knight (EDIT: Done as of October 12th)
48. Zoids (EDIT: Done as of October 22nd)
49. Space Emperor Godsigma (EDIT: Done as of October 26th)
50. Shin Mazinger Impact! Z-Chapter (EDIT: Done as of November 16th)
51. Tetsujin 28, 2007 version (EDIT: Done as of November 16th)
52. The 2009 Astro Boy Movie Pluto (EDIT: Done as of November 16th)

YEAR TWO:
53. Psalm of the Planets: Eureka seveN (EDIT: Done as of December 22nd)
54. Whirlwind! Iron Leaguer (EDIT: Done as of January 6th)
55. The Wings of Rean (EDIT: Done as of January 16th)
56. Warring Demon God Goshogun (EDIT: Done as of January 16th)
57. Acrobunch
58. Combining Squad Mechander Robo
59. RahXephon
60. The Vision of Escaflowne
61. Burst Angel
62. Tekkaman
63. The Macross sidestories (Macross Plus and Macross Zero)
64. The Big Guy and Rusty the Boy Robot
65. Soukou no STRAIN
66. Macross 7
67. The Wings of Rean
68. Fafner in the Azure: Dead Aggressor
69. Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Stargazer
70. The Eldran metaseries

... And I think that's a good list for right now. Can't plan too far ahead, after all.

This post has been edited by MorriganAensland: Jan 17 2010, 12:49 AM


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Zhanneel
post Nov 29 2008, 5:42 PM
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O_O

This is more like a 300 level class now. xD

Oo! Transformers is on the list. *breaks out G1 Soundwave action figure from the closet*
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Asher Omega
post Nov 29 2008, 7:32 PM
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so far, (you can tell me which ones you don't want me doing Morrigan) it looks like I'll be covering:

Patlabor
Gundam 00
Code Geass
Full Metal Panic
the Works of Masamune Shirow (Ghost in the Shell, Dominion, Black Magic M-88)
Overman King Gainer (funny thing is I'm currently watching the series.)
Infinite Ryvius (uh I'll have to discuss this with Morrigan)
Sousei no Aquarion

I'm leaving some series alone (G Gundam and Big O for sure) because while I do like them I'll probably won't be the best choice for them.


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MorriganAensland
post Nov 29 2008, 8:08 PM
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That list looks fine, and you can write up reports on them whenever you want. A lot of the series are ones are ones I probably won't get to for a *very* long time, if I ever watch them at all.

And yes, I *will* do G Gundam. It was the first Gundam series I ever saw all the way through. And I'll probably cover Big O sometime. Escaflowne'll spring up sooner or later, since it was the very first mecha anime series I ever watched.

I'm also thinking of posting SRW clips for various shows that have been included in the franchise, along with noting about their performance in games I've played. Going through SRW3 again has helped jog my memory and my love of Daitarn 3, among other things.

This post has been edited by MorriganAensland: Sep 17 2009, 12:21 AM


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MorriganAensland
post Dec 1 2008, 2:36 PM
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The first of the Super Robots I cover this time is Tetsujin 28, technically the first Super Robot.

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Tetsujin-28 was created by Mitsuteru Yokoyama in 1956, and ran for 10 years in manga form and 2 years in anime. I've never watched it/read it, unlike Astro Boy, so I can't go too in depth, but it does feature a great deal of political commentary. But more on that later.

The hero this time is the young boy Shotaro Kaneda, boy genius and detective, who commands Tetsujin 28 via a remote control box. Each installment was fairly episodic, with Shotaro and his friends and associates (nearly all of them older/dumber than him... which wasn't that hard) traveling around the world to solve mysteries. These usually involved people going missing, things getting stolen, or something similarly mundane. Oftentimes, however, the guilty culprits were from another, fictitious country oppressing another one, which was meant to be very critical of Cold War policies of both America and the Soviet Union.

Usually Tetsujin would be summoned to fight various military forces or occasionally other giant robots as well, but the battles were fairly basic. At this point in time, nobody had really thought of equipping a giant robot with weapons, so Tetsujin had to rely completely on punching and kicking. At the very least, he could fly.

The story was very popular in Japan, and was exported to America under the name Gigantor. It proved fairly popular and its legacy remains today, with several remakes having been made, along with a live-action film.

This may not seem like much, but remember I read a bit of Astro Boy so I could give more info about it. Tetsujin 28 was very important to the genre of Super Robots because it was the first time there was a robot someone would pilot, if only indirectly. These two ideas set the groundwork for many a Super Robot series afterwards, where in each case either the robot had a mind of its own or was ordered around indirectly.

The other series I'm covering today is a similar one to Tetsujin 28, and with good reason, since it was made by the same man. And that one is...

Johnny Sokko and his Flying Robot, better known in Japan as... GIANT ROBO!!!

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Giant Robo started out as a 1960s manga before being remade into a live-action Tokusatsu anime. Robo in the live-action adaptation was played by an actual man. And the story in that case was... weird.

Johnny, known as Daisaku Kusama in Japan, was the son of a brilliant scientist. Be forewarned, *many* times in this genre, the hero is the son or some other relative of a brilliant scientist. It just comes with the territory.

Anyways, Daisaku's father was kidnapped by the villainous Big Fire organization, which wanted to take over the world under the command of their alien leader. Daisaku and friend attempted to save him, only to discover a massive hangar filled with robots Big Fire was going to use to conquer the planet, but Daisaku's father -who had been mortally injured- gave him a communicator that would let him communicate and order around the greatest of them, Giant Robo. It also turned out that his friend was also an agent of the International Police Organization, which was trying to defeat Big Fire. Daisaku joins them, helping out with various missions and working to bring down Big Fire.

Robo, unlike Tetsujin, was capable of some independent thought, but usually it just involved protecting Daisaku. Robo couldn't fight at his full potential unless Daisaku was giving him commands about what to do. He could also be given the command "Od ton yebo redro", literally "Do not obey order" backwards, to come to Daisaku's rescue if he were kidnapped. Lastly, Robo was powered by a nuclear reactor, giving him a little bit of commentary about the dangers and benefits nuclear power gave.

In 1992, a plan to make a series of direct-to-video releases, known as OVAs, was planned to commemorate the series. The director was Yasuhiro Imagawa, who would go on to make amazing series such as Mobile Fighter G Gundam. Anyways, due to *absurdly* complicated licensing issues, Imagawa was allowed to include Daisaku and Robo in the OVAs, but nobody else from the series. Rather than give up or do a bad job, Imagawa got the green light from Robo's creator Yokoyama to include in the series characters from other Yokoyama works.

The end result?

Giant Robo: The Day the Earth Stood Still

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Asher provided me with the episodes via Megaupload, and the series is amazing. It is meant to be the penultimate battle between the IPO and Big Fire, but it is just so epic. The story involves the Shizuma Drive, a power source that is clean, dirt-cheap, can be recycled indefinitely, and was considered to be the ultimate end of the energy crisis.

Of course, things are never that easy.

What follows is a climactic struggle between those wishing to plunge the world into a new dark age, which they are easily capable of, and those wishing to save the world from this new threat. It didn't do very well in Japan, tragically, and it took six years to finish... but found a tremendous fanbase in America and nowadays enjoys a cult following.

Again, Daisaku is the hero, grappling with the gritty and painful struggle he's caught in the middle of. He and he alone can control Giant Robo, the only hope in the world and the last remaining nuclear powered machine in existence (apparently nuclear power, as dangerous as it is, can't be turned "off" even by the will of god). Surrounded by him are many a good man and woman, those willing to stand up against Big Fire for his sake and the sake of the world, although some are a bit more cynical than others. Eiji Murasame comes to mind... he's the guy in the pink trenchcoat.

The series was planned to be followed up by more OVAs, including a crossover where Daisaku and Giant Robo would meet Shotaro and Tetsujin 28, but in the 12 years since the Day the Earth Stood Still finally reached its conclusion, no other stories have been animated. There has been, however, an alternate continuity manga story Giant Robo: The Day the Earth Burned that's been running for about two years, however. It features many of the same characters, and examines similar issues.

Giant Robo: The Day the Earth Stood still has managed to appear in two Super Robot Wars games, 64 and Alpha, and some character do appear as well. Supposedly, Shocking Alberto from the OVA series is capable of ripping apart one of the monsters from Neon Genesis Evangelion with his bare hands. Then again, he's pretty tough.

Robo in SRW Alpha: (animation is choppy... sorry. The guy that did it has an old computer)
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Robo in SRW 64: (couldn't find an exhibition video... this'll have to do)
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Zhanneel
post Dec 1 2008, 10:59 PM
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Comments from the front row:

Gigantor (or Tetsujin-28): I was just thinking how odd is was for the US to be airing that series when we were currently dealing with the Cold War (and I'm assumming some of our actions and participation were being criticized in the show). Unless it wasn't until the early 90's or later that it aired here? Just sounded weird.

Giant Robo: Hmm, pretty much the basis for the later Super Sentai Series (or Power Rangers) it seems. (*laughs* I can't believe I used to play in the backyard with the neighbor kids wanting to be Kimberly xP).

OVA of Giant Robo: Pointy-headed villains = creepy, like that oh-so-wonderful group who currently wears pointy white hats in the US. *hides*. However, the animation did a lot to raise the "cool factor" of Giant Robo himself. Wow, somehow his animated self pulls off that weird Egyptian/Sphinx-like motif he's got going on. And I can believe it did better in overseas than in Japan. Recently it seems that Japanese kids don't care so much for anime, but overseas we're drinking it up like water. I think it's Japan's biggest export now and they're spitting out new ones as fast as they can. Could be wrong.

And Chibi Robo from the SRW game is cute *ahem* and cool of course.
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Asher Omega
post Dec 2 2008, 1:04 AM
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Side commentary: The "relative to 'scientist'" also appears in some Real Robot universes (Morrigan will explain that when he gets to it), but its not as predominant as it is in the Super Robot universes.

Giant Hobo (haha) also had a three episode side series that was mostly comedy/non-canon stuff. I still have the links to the OVA if you're interested just send a PM my way and I'll send them asap. which reminds me I need to upload the Gaiden eps. for Morrigan.

and I'm adding two series to the list I'm going to do.

Soukyuu no Fafner
Gundam Seed (yes I'll be enduring the pain for you Z)


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MorriganAensland
post Dec 2 2008, 1:08 AM
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Well, Tetsujin-28 didn't get too in-depth into the matters. It worked with fictional countries, if I recall correctly.

And the Tokusatsu genre's been around long before Power Rangers. It wasn't until the 70s when Marvel made a deal with the Japanese animation company TOEI (long story) that the Super Sentai franchise took off.

And with Giant Robo's OVA, those hoods were for the ten most powerful members of Big Fire, the Magnificent Ten, to hide their faces. They don't actually wear them in the series. But yes, there was just something about Giant Robo that was more appealing to Americans than the Japanese. The same went for Big O, which was meant to have a 24 episode season cut in half due to low ratings, and then canceled after that. American sales saved it too.

*reads Asher's message and breathes a sigh of relief* Good. SEED is something I dare not approach, lest the evil powers of Jesus Yamato strike me down.

And those Gin-rei specials would be great to watch. I've heard they get more and more ridiculous with each one.


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Zhanneel
post Dec 2 2008, 1:22 AM
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Don't do it Asher! Dooooon't--oh, too late. Actually, I have yet to know why it's not a good series, or not a fun one to cover. Remember, I am naive to most anime ^_^.
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MorriganAensland
post Dec 8 2008, 7:00 PM
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The time has come. The time to tackle on of the genre's greatest creations... a Super Robot that would, for years to come, be the standard that all others would be compared to... one that remains, to this day, one of Japan's greatest stories.

MAZINGER Z!!!!!!!

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Mazinger Z was created by one of the foremost manga writers in Japan, Go Nagai. At the start of his career, Nagai mainly stuck with writing gag comics, but quickly gained the ire of Japanese PTA groups due to the inclusion of fanservice in his works. Compared to nowadays, it was very tame with people drawn naked more meant to look cute than blatantly sexual. But that's not really important.

Anyways, Nagai's first attempt at a semi-serious work was Cutie Honey, the first Magic Girl story where the heroine would actually fight rather than just have goofy hi-jinx. It was well received, but people still wanted him to just do gag comics. Eventually he got fed up and decided to take on a darker-themed story, which became Devilman. Devilman was a very important anime and manga series in Japan because it literally was the *first* horror story ever told... especially the manga.

But writing the Devilman manga was exhausting, and Nagai wanted to make something more basic and action-packed to blow off steam. He had for the longest time wanted to make his own robot story since he loved watching Astro Boy and Tetsujin-28 when he was younger, but he couldn't think of an idea that didn't seem like ripping one of the two off. Eventually, however, he got an idea when looking at a traffic jam and mused it might be nice if someone in the back of the jam had their car sprout legs and walk past the others.

And then it hit him. Make a story where the robot was piloted like a car or another type of vehicle.

He began work almost immediately, and drafted up a machine called Energer Z, but decided to rename it Mazinger Z since it was meant to evoke the idea of a Devil (Ma) or a God (Jin/Zin). The anime company TOEI thought it was very good and so the work on the manga and the anime began at about the same time, with Nagai tackling the manga and helping out with the anime.

The premise is very basic. A group of scientists traveled to the fictional Greek island of Bardos where, after much drilling, discover the remains of tremendous mechanical animals left behind by the long-thought-extinct Mycean Empire. One scientist, with the oh-so-innocent name of Dr. Hell decides to use these machine designs to fuel his ambitions of world domination. Making a few rudimentary monsters of his own known as Mechanical Beasts, Dr. Hell uses them to kill all of the scientists except one that escapes named Dr. Kabuto. Kabuto flees to Japan with a few designs of his own and quickly begins work on a machine to combat Dr. Hell, using the amazing new metal alloy he's discovered in Mt. Fuji known as Fujium.

When specially treated, Fujium can be made into the nearly indestructible Super Metal Alloy Z, which he uses to make his machine, called Mazinger Z. However, just as he is putting the finishing touches on the test model, one of Dr. Hell's subordinates, Baron Ashura, locates his base and bombs it. Mazinger Z is barely damaged, but Dr. Kabuto dies.

The hero of the story is Kabuto's grandson, Kouji, who manages to find Mazinger Z and use it to battle Dr. Hell's robots. However, because Mazinger Z was not completed, it lacks many of its various weapons, and so Dr. Kabuto's good friend Professor Yumi offers to help Kouji out by protecting the machine at the Photonic Power labs, and at the same time going over Dr. Kabuto's notes to further perfect Mazinger Z. As a result, over the course of the series, Mazinger Z receives upgrades such as stronger armor, the Jet Scrander which lets it fly, different weapons like spraying corrosive wind at its enemies, and so forth. At the same time, however, Dr. Hell also learns from his mistakes and makes progressively better Mechanical Beasts, to the point the final ones could battle Mazinger Z evenly.

Rounding out the cast was Kouji's love interest Sayaka, Dr. Yumi's daughter and the pilot for the feminine-looking Aphrodite A, which is later replaced by Diana A, Kouji's little brother Shiro, a few other goofy scientists at the labs, and friendly gang-leader Boss. Boss eventually manages to convince the lab workers to make a robot for him out of scrap metal known as Boss Borot, which never really was much more than comic relief, but he was still very iconic and surprisingly cunning when he wanted to be.

Over the course of 92 episodes, yes 92, Kouji mainly fought against Dr. Hell's machines, but occasionally Dr. Hell was provided much stronger machines known as Battle Beasts from a benefactor named Archduke Gorgon. Gorgon himself was a member of the still-existing Mycean Empire, the civilization that Dr. Hell got his idea about the robot monsters from in the first place. The Battle Beasts were superior due to the inclusion of organic parts, for some reason.

Anyways, after many a long battle, Kouji and company succeeded in defeating Dr. Hell's forces and killing the madman himself, but things took a turn for the worst when the Mycean Empire decided to swing into action themselves. During the last episode of the series, as well as a Mazinger Z movie which retold the events of the final episodes, just with a lot more meat and quality, Mazinger Z is eventually overwhelmed by a group of Mycean Battle Beasts and defeated. Just when things seem bleakest, another machine looking shockingly similar to Mazinger Z appears and saves the day before flying off.

It's name is Great Mazinger.

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Great Mazinger was the direct sequel to Mazinger Z, picking up right where it left off. It turns out Kouji Kabuto's long-lost father Kenzo has been living in America, raising two adoptive children, Tetsuya Tsurugi and Jun Honoo, along with using his father's Mazinger Z designs to make a machine that corrects its faults. The original Mazinger lacked any kind of melee weapon, hence, Great Mazinger corrects that problem by including a pair of swords.

But returning to Japan, Kenzo makes a new science lab as Tetsuya and Great take over for the wounded Kouji and the horribly-trashed Z. Kouji entrusts the safety of the world to Tetsuya before heading off to America with Sayaka to continue his studies and also help repair Mazinger Z in relative safety. The Mycean Empire responds by dispatching their seven Beast Generals, who are in charge of the Empire's seven armies, although Great Mazinger and Jun's Venus A stand in their way.

Kouji's little brother Shiro and Boss and his gang came over from Mazinger Z, comic relief as usual. After defeating the Great General of Darkness, the Empire's military leader, in episode 36, he is replaced by the Grand Marshal of Hell, actually a revived Dr. Hell. Not long after that, Kouji and the repaired and improved Mazinger Z return, along with Sayaka and the rest of the Mazinger Z cast.

Great Mazinger did not run as long as Mazinger Z, only 52 episodes, but it was still very popular and built on Mazinger Z's foundations. A great deal of drama came from Tetsuya's jealousy of Kouji since Kouji was Kenzo Kabuto's real son (in Japan, there is a strong bond between father and biological son), but Kouji also was jealous of Tetsuya because Kouji had barely known his father. Overall, it was a nice conclusion to the entire struggle, and had a fulfilling ending.

After that Go Nagai began working on various Super Robot shows as well. One of the next ones he began working on was the short manga story the UFO War, which was a spiritual sequel to Mazinger. It was well-received, but it ended up being brought into the Mazinger canon as well and was retooled into Grendizer.

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The story this time is radically different, with the alien Vega Empire planning to dominate Earth. Our only hope this time is the sole survivor of the last planet attacked by Vegans, Duke Fleid, who stole their advanced machine Grendizer, which was meant to spearhead their invasions.

To bring the story into the Mazinger franchise, Kouji Kabuto returns... tragically demoted to being Fleid's sidekick and piloting his support craft... not even being allowed to pilot a Super Robot of his own. There are three main support craft for Grendizer, the Spazers which let it operate better in the air/space, water, and underground. Kouji typically piloted the air/space Double Spazer, whilst Fleid's love interest Hikaru piloted the Marine Spazer and Fleid's miraculously-alive sister Maria piloted the Drill Spazer.

Grendizer had some nice character development in it too, such as Hikaru wanting to help out Fleid and training to be a Spazer pilot, and Fleid himself had to confront his own mortality during a long arc dealing with him suffering from Vegatron radiation poisoning. It also raises the issues of fate, considering Grendizer was meant to let the Vegans dominate planets and yet it is the only thing protecting the Earth.

Grendizer was also one of the first anime brought over to Europe and the Middle East, where it proved very popular... enough that when Mazinger Z came over a few years later, people derided it was a cheap rip-off of the far-superior Grendizer. People can be idiots sometimes.

Anyways, since then, Go Nagai's done a few shorter Mazinger-based stories, such as the connected-only-in-name God Mazinger manga/anime that was short lived and canceled before it accomplished much of anything, the on-hiatus Mazinsaga which helped be an inspiration to Neon Genesis Evangelion and then... Mazinkaiser.

Mazinger Z has been in every single non-Original Generation Super Robot Wars game ever, but the people over at Banpresto that made the games wanted to give Kouji Kabuto the justice he deserved. Lots of other mainstays to the genre got better robots as you got further in the game, but Mazinger Z was just... there. No upgraded form. So they asked Nagai to draft up a machine that Kouji could pilot in the final stages of the game. The result was Mazinkaiser.

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Depending on which SRW continuity you go by, Mazinkaiser's backstory differs. In the Classic Timeline, it was Mazinger Z, exposed to the evolution-inducing Getter Rays from another Nagai franchise, Getter Robo. In the Alpha continuity, it was the prototype to Mazinger Z that was deemed far too powerful and dangerous to ever see the light of day. Anyways, Mazinkaiser proved insanely popular, and so Nagai got the go-ahead to make a seven-part Mazinkaiser OVA series. It came out in 2001.

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The Mazinkaiser OVA series was really a re-imagining of the original Mazinger Z, which threw in Tetsuya and Jun from Great Mazinger for good measure. The story is that during the battles against Dr. Hell, Great Mazinger is damaged and Mazinger Z is captured as Kouji goes missing. Things seem hopeless as Baron Ashura takes the upgraded Ashura Mazinger and nearly destroys the Photonic Power Lab until Kouji returns piloting Mazinkaiser and demolishes his enemies.

What follows is a story that celebrates the original manga incarnation of Mazinger Z, complete with Mechanical Beasts that never made it to the original anime. I've watched it, and I loved it.

Nagai also penned a Mazinkaiser manga about this time, which covered roughly the same story, although it did change a few things. In the anime, when Kouji finally confronts Dr. Hell, Hell manages to escape before the explosion from his base kills him. In the manga, Kouji just shoots him.

Anyways, a year afterwards Mazinkaiser got a full-length movie which retooled the events of the Mycean Empire's invasion. Naturally, Mazinkaiser didn't get trashed and got to duel and kill the Great General of Darkness in the end.

I love the Mazinger franchise, as does Japan. The dynamic and action-packed struggles which went for what looked cool over what was realistic, the interactions between the cast, the fact Kouji was the first "Idiot Hero"... it just adds up to a wonderful experience. It was also the first time a Super Robot came equipped with actual weapons instead of relying solely on punching and kicking, and it *created* the idea of a Rocket Punch... which robots have been doing to this very day.

Pretty much the only thing Mazinger fans are divided on is whether Grendizer or Mazinkaiser is stronger. But I won't get into that there. All I'll do here, at the end, is showcase the Mazingers in the Super Robot Wars games.

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Tragically, Mazinkaiser hasn't been brought to Super Robot Wars Z yet and his last console SRW game was Alpha 3, which was a few years ago. Its most recent appearance though, was Super Robot Wars W for the DS.

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This post has been edited by MorriganAensland: Dec 10 2008, 9:43 PM


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Asher Omega
post Dec 8 2008, 10:57 PM
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*snicker* Cutey Honey. oh lord there are so many Go Nagai franchises that just don't die. not that there's anything bad with them, they just keep going. I can't add much here since I believe Morrigan got most of it down. but yes, people thought Cutey Honey was too "Risque" at the time. but considering some of the things that came later, its really tame (with a few excepts of its re-incarnations).

and yes, Mazinger did "invent" the Rocket Punch.

@Morrigan I just learned that the voice that does Ribbons (Double 0 character) and the Narrator for Double 0, is Toru Furuya. the Original Voice Actor who did Amuro.


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MorriganAensland
post Dec 8 2008, 11:44 PM
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They've got Toru still doing new roles? Cool! And that narrating thing is like how they had Akira Kamiya, the original voice actor for Ryoma in Getter Robo be the narrator at the beginning of Getter Robo Armageddon!

And I'm glad I covered what needed to be covered with Mazinger. It was... taxing. And hopefully the next SRW Z game will have Mazinkaiser in it, since they were hinting that Shin Getter would be in it too.

And right now I'm caught in an arguement with someone on Youtube who doesn't seem to realize that Judau wasn't a powerful Newtype.


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Asher Omega
post Dec 10 2008, 8:57 PM
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I've just watched the first two episodes of Seed. NO WAY IN HELL AM I GOING TO LIKE THIS SERIES. I've found several things bad about it. only one thing actually interested me and it wasn't even a mecha. it as a jet fighter! with fly-by-wire Bits! the Char isn't even a good one, he should just hand in his mask and give it up to the jet pilot because he had more Char-ness than the Char! the mechs look like someone just decided to animate some kit bashes of previous (read Successful) Gundam models. and my back up plan has changed a little, I'll play Persona 4 to recover from the horrendousness that is Seed. (more on P4 in the games section). I'll have a full synopsis when I either finish the series or just give up on it.


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MorriganAensland
post Dec 10 2008, 9:12 PM
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That's alright Asher. We can just tell Zhanneel to avoid it. Not every story in a successful franchise has to be golden. I really didn't like New Getter Robo (the last of the OVAs). It's plot jumped around *way* too much.


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