In the latest issue of Men’s Men…

April 12, 2013

“Is that all you have to say? Mechanical organisms or whatever you are… we won’t accept being killed just because of your visions and meddling!”

Aoi Hidaka, Dancouga Nova

Yes, I ain’t dead yet, I just had nothing to say. Well I did buy Muv-Luv Alternative Integral Works, Lost Arcadia and all six Cross Operations, but that’s not my point. It was nice taking a nice break from mecha, but then again, can’t keep away from the love of my life for long. Anyways…

In the year of 2014, small-scale wars take place all over the globe. Four people…

Ah, whatever, man. Dancouga Nova is a short series based off the original Dancouga TV series, directed by Masami Obari, the man generally accepted as the Michael Bay of Japanese mecha anime. Four people, Aoi Hidaka, Kurara Tachibana, Sakuya Kamon and Johnny Burnette are plucked from their daily lives to serve as pilots for Dancouga Nova, a gigantic combining robot that goes around intervening in small-scale conflicts around the world. They don’t end the conflicts entirely; their mission is all about maintaining a status quo, so that not one side will become pressured enough to make stupid, strategic-nuclear-warhead level decisions or go around terror-bombing civilian areas.

While the versus-human premise of Dancouga Nova is a new direction for most shows of its type, which are more likely to use a non-human enemy as the opposing face, that backdrop quickly becomes nothing more than background noise for the Dancouga Team. The show focuses more on the fights itself, as well as the issue of how four people pulled from comfortable, everyday lives to become soldiers integrate with the team. To their credit, the four pilots take it with remarkable calmness, and their reactions aren’t “OHWOWSUPERROBOT” as it is closer to “Hmm, looks nice, I’ll give it a grace period”.

Of course, never forget that this is a Obari show, and if you remember Gravion, you should know how Dancouga ends. There has to be an overwhelming power, and if you thought Dancouga Nova was all about fighting misguided fools, you’ll be in for a slight surprise. As is normal for a show based off an 80’s classic and directed by the world’s greatest ascended fanboy turned dynamic posing director, references are everywhere, jokes at the expense of the characters are present, and Obari even manages to rub fanboys in all manners of ways by placing cameos in the show to link what seems to be two different shows of two different eras together. There’s a reason why the phrase “Final Obari Special” has been in existence since Super Robot Wars Z2-1 and Z2-2 came out, and it’s not just because Dancouga Nova and Gravion happen to have the same director.

The plot pacing, however, has a bit of a problem with its speed. It isn’t as apparent until the final episode, where the fight is just two sides slinging powers at each other followed by incomprehensible mumbo-jumbo and polished off with one side slinging a greater power than the other. Given how little background material Dancouga Nova needed to get off the ground and into the character interaction, however, there isn’t a need to extend the episode counts at all; 12’s a good number for the show.

All in all, it’s not a bad watch, although compared to others of its time and others today Dancouga Nova might fall flat for a while. Then again, it is one of the few mecha shows in existence with a team without angst (only buttmad and rage, depending on which episode), and having competent female leads probably is a fresh breath of air setting it apart from series of the same genre.


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