Giant Robo Review

14 03 2008


Genre: Sci-Fi, Robots, Retro, Show in which Paris is destroyed
Main Studio: Mu Animation Studio
Episodes: 7

Warning: I am going to spoil some of the plot of this show, so don’t complain, jerks.

The title ‘Giant Robo’ is sort of misleading. Yes, there is a Giant Robo(t) in this show named ‘Giant Robo’, but giving it that name triggers peoples ‘Meh, Giant Robots’ reaction. Giant Robots are virtually synonymous with anime, and comes with an ever so slightly negative vibe. I guess what I am trying to say here is that I think a significant percentage of people will be put off this show by it’s very name. To those of you are in this camp, fear not, this is not some Gundam Wing emo fest, in fact the titular Robo is barely even in the show.

In the very topical future, solving the world’s energy crisis, the perfect clean non-polluting power source has been invented, the Shizuma Drive. It is sufficiently scalable that it can be used to power anything from watches to cities. It’s sort of like Steorn’s Orbo and equally as fictional. Switching the world to run on a single power source turns out not to be a particuarly smart move when a giant sphere which can emit a wave that makes any Shizuma Drive in a 1000 mile radius explode all over the carpet starts wrecking everyone’s Earth.

Experts of Posing more like

Enter the Experts of Justice, a very humbly named subdivision of the International Police Organisation, who’s job it is to show up when this sort of global emergency happens. They are a crack force of weirdos who all have crazy super powers based on the Chinese fictional martial art concept of Wǔxiá. The Expert’s ace up the sleve is a Giant Robo named Giant Robot, and his handler Daisaku Kusama who was left Robo by his father who apparently had a great sense of humour.

Daisaku is the only person who can control Robo, and does so by bellowing phrases like “Go, Giant Robo!” and “Punch, Giant Robo!” at him. Daisaku tends to hang around on his shoulder like a little demon whispering destructive commands into his brain. Robo is also heavily armed with rockets, and really big rockets. He’s definitely on the ‘Super Robot’ end of robot spectrum. Of course using a Giant Robot to stop crime inevitably leads to large scale property destruction and presumably the associated law-suits. They tend to only bring Robo along to the sort of emergencies where other robots are already present. Because, the only thing that can stop a giant robot is an even equally big robot.

“Why are you always yelling? You are practically standing in my ear…”

The Expert’s opponents are the BF Group, a group of similarly super powered evil dudes who do everything for their absentee leader Big Fire. They are a group of wonderfully evil characters most notable of which is Alberto, a man so badass that he can light a cigar with his mind. They are trying to execute a crazy plan to rule the world seemingly be destroying the majority of it. They start their destrucive crusade with levelling Paris. I am always amused when Paris is first in the queue of places to get destroyed in anything. If I ever become a super villain I must make sure to start my evil plan by destroying Paris, it just wouldn’t feel right otherwise.

This show has a very retro look, and it actually initially fooled me into thinking it was made sometime in the 80s, when in fact the 7 OAV episodes were released between 1992 and 1998. The character design looks like something Tezuka Osamu (The Astro Boy guy) would come up with, in fact I kept expect Daisaku to transform his legs into rockets and blast off into the sky. Professor Volger also looks remarkably like Astor Boynton’s father (In the year 2000 there was no Astro Boy,  there was a real boy named Astor Boyton.).

Professors Boyton and Volger, looking like cockrels.

For a show with such a prominent robot, there is surprisingly little hot robot on robot action. Whenever fighting needs to be done, the characters pull up their sleeves and do it their own damn selves. This isn’t to say that the Robo is absent entirely; he does show up whenever ever anything big needs to happen, but never steals the focus to any extent.  This is mostly helped by the fact that Robo doesn’t have a personality beyond obeying what commands Daisaku screams into his watch. The only thing that Robo ever says is a big “Ohhh” noise that later became the title of a show which some of the staff made.

Another interesting thing about the show is its use of classical music. This lends to it a somehow more epic and more serious feel. The overall story is quite dark, lots of characters die, as do a significant portion of the population of the planet. In fact that is one criticism I would level against the show. If the baddies got their way, then it would result in the total destruction of all life on Earth, and I’m really not sure what the motivation for that would be.

Horse Car Surfing
This has nothing to do with the text, I just couldn’t not include it.

While I’m complaining, I say that Daisaku occasionally falls victim of Shinji Ikari style emo-bouts, fortunately these are short lived and he always gets his act together and stops whining in time to save the day. I would also like to mention that the pacing of the show is initially quite slow. Once you get past the first two slower episodes though, it picks things up, and ends with an excellent conclusion. Due to it being released over period 6 years you can actually see the animation getting more sophisticated from episode to episode, which nicely matches what they are being required to animate in each episode.

Unfortunately, the show doesn’t neatly wrap up it’s plot by any means, and leaves us with lots of plots that will probably never be resolved. It was intended to be part of a greater work, with sequels and prequels and all that sort of thing, but unfortunately it never really got made. We’ll have to make do with what exists of the show

Abritrary Rating: 9 – OOOHHH!



One response

27 03 2008

Nice page.., brother

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