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B-07 Hall Of Fame: Top Thirty Best Real Robots[1]

March 4, 2010

“I guess we’re guilty of that too in a sense. After all, we’re Alliance soldiers.” 

This being the holiday season (for me), I thought I’ll do something weird and random. I’m starting on the VF-25S + Super Pack, but it’s going to take quite some time.

I’m having a 3-part intro-post of the top 30 most cool/awesome/epic/crazy/etc. REAL ROBOTS I have ever seen in Japanese mechadom so far. If you have other suggestions, don’t hesitate to put them in your comments so I can create a “List of Other Epic Real Robots from the Community” by the next post.

For the uninformed or confused, Real Robots mean strictly robots that run on gears, mechanical ultra-flexible fibres and/or other physically possible methods of bipedal/quadruple/etc. methods of movement powered by plausible sources of energy, with at least moderately explainable protection, if any. Of course, there are many real robots that border on the Super category, but the rule of thumb here is, if they try to explain the tech, it can be taken as a Real.

Here’s an example: The ZGMF-X10A Freedom Gundam is a real robot. It has technology that can be explained (at least in the series). The LFOs of Eureka 7 and Linebarrels of Iron’s Machina are also considered real robots (even with the organic frame and nanomachines), though that is a bit stretching the limit. GaoGaiGar, on the other hand, is a super robot, though it has a distinctly mechanical nature capable of being powered up not only through skill or technological upgrades but also the pilot’s willpower; the last one is important as a staple of the traditional super robot. Its tech, the G-Stone, is explained as a power-converting crystal that converts willpower into mecha strength.

So you can see that the line in mecha blurs constantly enough that true real robots are as rare as true super robots. Some concession should be allowed in this post and subsequent endeavours; if a mech is leaning towards the side of reals sufficiently enough, then I will include it.

I will also use this post to try to bring to light some unique units that are often sidelined or un-introduced because of language/import/plot issues, in the hopes of introducing other fans to it. After all, if a unit sucks, most of the damn time it is the pilot that needs to improve. >_>

ENTRY #1: [Tactical Surface Fighter] Type-00R Takemikaduchi (Meiya Mitsurugi Custom)

Picture: 1, 2

Video: 0:36-0:40, 1:58-3:02

Point to Prove: Hailing from the Muv-Luv Alternative and  Unlimited series, we have the 00R. Personal unit of  heroine Meiya Mitsurugi, the 00R is an amazingly fast and close-combat-oriented unit, what with being made for the warriors of the Japanese Imperial household. Its performance is equal to most of the newest combat units produced by other nations, and while its weapons array is as impressive and varied as most of not all of its brethren used by the forces of humanity, Meiya’s proficiency with the art of the blade allows her to use the 00R to easily dispatch some of the most heinous BETA encountered throughout the game with a time-tested weapon that doesn’t run out of ammo, jam or blow up; a sword. Just wait till you see the sleek limb designs, and have you got a good look at the detailing? Woo-hoo.

On a sidenote, several other units it as well as certain weapon designs bear slight resemblance to the Evangelion Units from Neon Genesis Evangelion. Whether intentional or a coincidence, it does its job in making the 00R not only the most feared unit combat-wise, but also apperance-wise. If I ever meet the person(s) who designed it and the other Muv-Luv A. mechs, I’ll kowtow to him/her/them.

ENTRY #2: [Variable Fighter] YF-19

Picture: 1

Video

Point to Prove: And on the one other side, we have the YF-19 from Macross Plus, where fans will remember it later becoming the model from which the VF-19 Excalibur from Macross 7 is derived. It visor design, head-mounted anti-missile gun, variable frame and even its gun-pod and shield are quite distinct from other Macross Valkyries, and as are the Valkyries designed by the famed Shōji Kawamori, it just looks that damn good. Colors, shape, placement of weapons, everything. You’ll also note that the YF-19 has a slight “heroic” look to it; the faceplate, its shoulder armor, and mostly how its body folds during Battroid mode has a body profile that reminds me plenty of many other mechs, all of them main character units. I guess it adds to the charm!

And as for the fighter mode design, well, I’m not really stocked on aircraft design know-how so I won’t say anything about it, but you’ve got to admit having an airframe modelled after a design touted to be superior to other airframe designs has got to count for something in visual points.

ENTRY #3: [Mobile Suit] MBF-P02 Astray Red Frame

Pictures: 1, 2

Video

Point to Prove: I remember the Red Frame quite well, it being the first design in the Gundam SEED Astray series that I saw and instantly said “F*** I got to have me one of these!” I was never really a fan of stacking guns, guns and more guns on a giant robot; one can never go wrong with firepower, but only if it seems realistic. The Red Frame has the added distinction of being a close-combat-oriented unit in a story setting where the larger and farther-ranged your gun, the more powerful you are; it adds quite some appeal to the unit in itself. The Red Frame is designed to be fast and light; as such, if you notice carefully, some parts of its body frame are actually unarmored, giving it a somewhat mechanical look to its body in general; a far contrast to most other SEED units.

The visual design of the Red Frame by itself is unique compared to most MSes of the series. Add in the fact that its pilot is a badass wunderkind of a technician, and that its main weapon is (yet another) BIG F***ING SWORD and you have a winning formula.

ENTRY #4: [Mobile Suit] GN-006/SA Gundam Cherudim SAGA

Pictures: 1, 2, 3

Video

Point To Prove: I remember browsing through a forum when I came across a user’s signature or something of like content: “I like the SAGA. It’s what Rambo would pilot if he was in 00.

Well, I can’t replicate someone else’s past epic quotes, but I would like to add to that list; Halo’s SPARTAN-IIs and ODSTs, Hellsing’s Alucard, and lots of other people who use guns would all be using the SAGA. See, the SAGA derives its concept from Gundam 00’s Avalanche Exia, and while the A.Exia has seven swords, the SAGA gets seven guns. To add to that, it even has the whole special-operations feel to it, a far cry from usual Gundam 00 styles where the units are ultra-flashy and even the mass-production units look like exotic one-and-only hero-use robots. In addition, the SAGA gains surface details that would make the original Cherudim look like a blank piece of paper; admit it, Katoki designs thrive on details and anything that resembles that style is good. I’m keeping my eyes out for the Robot Spirits release of the SAGA; if they ever get a model kit variant, I’ll be having it too.

ENTRY #5: [Assault Dragoon] ASK-AD02 Ashsaber

Pictures: 1, 2, 3

Video: Until 1:33; the second is a variant.

Point To Prove: For those of you familiar with the Nu Gundam from Char’s Counterattack, or for the young, the DRAGOON/GN Fang-equipped units from the Gundam SEED/00-verse, the Ashsaber is their Super Robot Taisen counterpart; there are a lot of others with the same function with wildly different ways of presenting it visually and aesthetically, but by and large the Ashsaber is the most appealing of them all. First appearing in SRT Advance, it received a second role in the Original Generations game, where players get to see the full glory of its remote weapons: the Sword Breakers. They’re like the GN Fangs in function, but you have to admit they look more robust compared to the Fangs.

The Ashsaber itself is nothing to sneeze at either. As a playable unit, it features a design that one look at, and you’ll know that it’s made to dominate at both ranged and close-combat, with a menacing face and a chunky/exposed-joints but solid look. It might be a classic mech-frame motif since the days of the first Gundam, but a long-time favourite.

ENTRY #6: [Aestevalis Variant] Black Selena

Pictures: 1, 2, 3, 4

Video: 1 (1:55-2:18, 3:05-4:05, 2 (2:50-3:00), 3 (3:41-3:55, 8:20-9:00)

Point To Prove: You remember when I said that I tend to favor units that didn’t get their reputation of mass-destruction through triple-and-more-wielding? The Black Selena from the Martian Successor Nadesico: Prince Of Darkness movie is one of the ultimate examples of this. The Selena is made for one simple role; to break through enemy ranks, and for that it is one of the fastest, most well-armored and hardest hitters; despite being one of the most lightly-armed Real Robots ever to be animated, it gets my respect as a powerful unit.

Not only is its overall design sleek, but the choice of colors as a unit is close to perfect. The way Akito uses it to rush headfirst into a crossfire of unimaginable proportions or outmaneuver just about everyone else only cements the fact that the Black Selena is as every bit as powerful as it looks. Even people admit that they watch the movie just to see the Selena in action.

ENTRY #7: [Mobile Suit] GAT-X1022 Blu Duel

Pictures: 1, 2

Videos: 0:28-0:39

Point To Prove: Did you root for the original design of the Duel Assault Shroud from SEED? Well, I didn’t, primarily because of its rather subdued design, but after seeing the Blu Duel in SEED Stargazer, it’s almost like a revival of interest. Since the unit belongs to the Phantom Pain special operatives group, it has to look menacing, and it does look its part. The Blu Duel itself is like seeing an updated, refined and cleaned version of the Assault Shroud, and while I did say I had a preference for clunky, believable designs, there’s a difference between that and “blocky”. Not to mention that for its brief appearance in the Stargazer series it was animated quite nicely (which later became the proof of payment for the unit’s premature destruction, dammit!) Though, it was probably hinted at so many times, with a obviously space-use unit up against specialized ground units…

Alas, for I can no longer find existing model kits for it. Now my only hope lies in Bandai’s seemingly random MG/Robot Spirits releases…

ENTRY #8: [Fafner Nothung Model] Fafner Mark Elf (Mk. XI)

Pictures: 1, 2, 3, 4

Videos: 1 (action is mostly on the first half) , 2 (a little of all the Fafners in action, because I think they all deserve it)

Point To Prove: The Fafner Mk. XI is the titular machine in the Fafner of the Azure series, one of several mecha series that have been noted (or accused, if you want to be mean) to have their storyline and concept based off Neon Genesis Evangelion. One of the traits that make Fafner… well, Fafner, is that its robots are reals. At least, most of them are. The Fafner Mk. XI is the first one in the show to get to me, largely because of its… unique body design; adding to that is that Fafner lineart for the other models are extremely rare and most of the other Fafner types look as though the manufacturers ran out of material, so they all end up looking thin and paper-filmsy. The Nothung models are the  best-looking out of all the Fafner models in the show, and of all the Nothung models the Mk. XI is the best-looking out of all the three; a tried-and-tested color scheme, and a really unique design for mechs of its time. I have to say that the first time I saw it I had trouble wrapping my mind around such an outlandish concept.

While some might argue that the Fafners are Hybrid Robots or even Supers, the one thing that keeps them anchored in the Real territory is their portrayal. By and large of all the mech animes I’ve watched so far that draw even the slightest references to Evangelion, only Rahxephon had a proper Super Robot; the Fafners frequently get damaged and units are sometimes unable to sortie became the technicians can’t complete the repairs on time (the medium-sized, Nothung-based Mk. XI is 35 meters tall), their pilots die (and how goddamned easily they do) and the weapons they use are no more advanced than a Gundam beam rifle (and at other times they’re downright ineffective).

ENTRY #9: [Knightmare Frame] Type-1R Burai Kai

Pictures: 1, 2, 3

Video: 4:44-5:12

Point To Prove: The Burai Kai is a rather low-profile unit from the first season of Code Geass; it appears only for a single episode before vanishing forever. Nevertheless (or perhaps because of that) the Burai Kai has become one of my favourite units in Season 1, outstripping even the spanking-red Guren Mk. II or the sparkly Lancelot.

The actual reason as to why I like it is a bit hard to explain with words alone, but aside from that, there’s the added plot bonuses of “skilled pilots in custom machines” and “desperate wartime mix-mash machine” undertones going for it. Frankly speaking it doesn’t look half-bad even if you don’t like its looks.

ENTRY #10: [Virtuaroid] MBV-707-G Temjin

Pictures: 1, 2, 3

Video

Point To Prove: Older mech fans might recognize this one, especially if you used to frequent the arcades; the iconic Temjin from the Virtual-On series of games. Most will remember the Temjin, especially the second-generation version as the best machine to use if you can’t decide on a speciality; the Temjin series, throughout the franchise, are well-known for being balanced fighters that can outrun, outshoot, outmaneuver and even outfight specialized opponents if a player knows how to use them right. The fact that Hajime Katoki, legendary designer of detailed mecha, was the one who birthed the Temjin and all of its variants helps.

And if you refer back to what I said about chunky designs, the Temjin has it too… but it manages to look and move in a sleek manner while being chunky. It’s not a fan favourite just because it’s available for a hundred-and-one uses, ha!

And that’s it for this post. Get ready for the next ten Hall Of Fame units, ’cause they’re going to be nothing like those introduced here!

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2 comments

  1. I have to agree with on the Red Frame. It such a simple design that, yet, went such a long way. And while other units need cool stuff to look good, the Red Frame is a very logical and awesome MS on its own.
    But Cherudim SAGA?… Hmm I might rethink on that GN Drive. lolz
    But if theres one mech that really looks like it can be done and created with our modern day technology, I’d say it’ll be the Tieren Ground type. =3


  2. I’m in love with how the SAGA looks. As long as I keep my eyes on its face, it should be ok. XD

    I hope you didn’t think I missed out on the Tieren, did you? :3 I’m saving it for the finale.



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