November 19, 2009

“Goldion Hammer, operation approved!”

Gutsy Geoid/Galaxy Guard Chairman, Koutaro Taiga

1997 vintage, people. So seriously, there’s nothing I can talk about. I mean, it’s the King Of Braves GaoGaiGar. It makes a good watch amongst all the angst and Youth Emotional Hurdles Syndrome in today’s anime. It makes a good watch even if you’ve been watching happy stuff all this while.

The main plot is such; Earth is under attack (check) by alien forces called Zonders (check). They’re bastardly assholes (check) who use captured, unsuspecting  or emo-ing humans to fuse with their evil creations and set them loose on us as gigantic building-smashing Zonder Robo(check).

Our defender is GUY SHISHIO, A TRUE HERO! who also happens to be a cyborg, piloting an alien machine to fight the Zonders(check). He is part of an organization no one knows about (check) and the organization uses a puppet company as a front (check). However, even fused with the alien machine he is not a match for a Zonder Robo, and so must perform mid-battle combination with other machines to form a large robot (check). However, he knows nuts about saving the people turned into Zonder Cores, and this is when a side-line character which the story has been focusing on is suddenly revealed to possess super powers allowing him to purify the human Zonders(check). Yay!

As (mainly) a kid’s show, death is taboo in it. If you’re watching this to see if there’re freshly dead people in it, you won’t get it until the very end (Tokyo turned into an alien hive, and no human deaths…).  And the ultimate attack of GaoGaiGar, which carries enough force to shatter the poor Zonder Robo on impact, conveniently allows for retrieval of the human-hosted Zonder Core intact; especially when the point of impact IS the Zonder Core? Dude, I wanna live in a world like that too.

While is might appear the norm to people nowadays, GaoGaiGar must have been quite a bomb back in its day. Not because it was supposed to contrast with the super emo Evangelion, but because of how the show took Super Robot elements, refined them or examined them, and gave them back to the viewers sparkling clean, just like how the animators took to great pains to stress the mechanical aspects of GaoGaiGar’s Final Fusion, as though the viewers couldn’t remember that GaoGaiGar was 50% Guy, 40% Galeon and 10% bullet train, armored road digger and B-2 bomber thingy.

Mid-battle Combination? Throw up a super barrier that keeps the foe’s itchy fingers out!

Auto-systems for the combination machines erased? Just call in some pilots for ’em!

Collateral damage? Invent a device that makes a clean, disposable fighting field!

Huge explosions? How ’bout a shockwave sponge; look, we’ll throw in upsizes on the things too.

GaoGaiGar is also one of the few shows that makes the trademark Rocket Punch of Super Robot shows look like a massive, reuseable railgun round (layman terms: devasatingly awesome). GaoGaiGar’s Broken Magnum regularly smashes Zonder Robos and is usually stopped only by a Zonder barrier, and usually those of higher-end enemies.

GaoGaiGar is also not an invincible one-robo-army-‘o-doom. It frequently gets beat by mid-bosses and elaborate physics-defying traps laid by said bosses. This usually marks the occasion of another new tool or technique coming up, but more often than not it’s just an upgrade in power to old stuff.

Now, we all know that GaoGaiGar is a super robot show from the pre-2000s. It’s inevitable that it has to follow some sort of monster-busting routine. However, unlike what you’d expect, most of the monsters are felled by creative thinking and some hard work using the same tools rather than a new screwdriver rolled out every episode. And while the monster-busting is the majority of the fighting, you’ll be relieved to know that the last few monsters were the top dogs and not easy peas. GaoGaiGar was almost toast on several occasions.

And don’t say that it’s all fight and no tales. GaoGaiGar has a pretty rich storyline despite having a concept as a beat-’em-all robot show. Maybe not 49 episodes of developing love, but definitely 49 episodes of maturing personalities.

So, if you can get past the not-up-to-modern-standard animation (actually I think it’s better than some, t.b.h.), GaoGaiGar is something you should watch through to the end. Not for the fighting, but for its other aspects.


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