Sunday, 13 November 2011

Mechander Robo

             Combining Squadron Mechander Robo (合身戦隊メカンダーロボ) is a super robot show that aired in Japan in 1977 for a total of 35 episodes.

            The Kongista Army of the Doron Empire from the planet Ganymede arrive and attack the Earth, against their superior might the Earth forces stand little chance. Their chances are even less as the Kongista Army has put into orbit satellites that fire powerful Omega Missile which target nuclear reactions. These Omega Missiles have destroyed nuclear research sites, nuclear power plants, nuclear ships, submarines and nuclear weapons. In a short amount of time 95% of the Earth has fallen to the Kongista Army with the only place not taken is Japan and all hopes rely on the mysterious Mister X and the robot he has created Mechander Robo.

An Omega Missile being launched, why it looks like it fell in mud I'm not sure.
            Mister X is actually Shikishima Shousou and he has created the powerful Super Robo known as Mechander Robo as well as King Diamond, a camouflaged baseball stadium for use as their base. The three pilots he selected to pilot Mechander Robo are Jimmy Orion, Yashma Kojirou and his son Ryusuke. Jimmy Orion is from the Orion System from the planet Ganymede which was previously taken over by the Doron Empire. Jimmy was sent in a capsule when he was just a baby by his mother. It takes him 15 years to arrive at the Earth at which point the professor finds him and makes the random guy he found the pilot. Jimmy’s back-story was clearly taken from Superman as he is seemingly the only survivor of his planet. Mechander Robo isn’t a show without problems and this one presents itself rather early the characters really don’t have any personalities at all. They never develop them either from episode 1 to episode 35 they are the same. It’s hard to really care about characters like this. King Diamond does have other characters but they serve as nothing more than filler but they are the token kid who wants to pilot the super robot, the token mechanic, and the rare anime black guy. By the end these characters virtually vanish from the show as well. None of these characters have any personality or really any use in existing at all thus I see no need to actually use their names. There is also the professor’s daughter Mika who is worthless until near the end of the show when she becomes Mechander Robo’s fourth pilot, but more on that later. There is also the Earth Force’s commander Yamato he takes the role of sometimes giving missions and commanding the worthless Earth forces to their constant defeat while waiting for Mechander Robo to save them.

From left to right: Kojiro, Jimmy, and Ryusuke.
             The Doron Empire is ruled by Hedron, he’s never on the Earth and just hands down orders and punishes Ozmel from time to time. You don’t really find out too much about Hedron or the origins of the Doron Empire until the last episode so I’ll leave that till later. The Kongista Army is lead by Ozmel he’s an arrogant character and a robot. Subordinate to Ozmel is Medusa she’s more of the front line commander and as quickly revealed Medusa is really Jimmy’s mother the Queen of the former of Ganymede before they fell. They quickly reveal the fact she is Jimmy’s mother and for some reason can turn back into her more human form, however they then ignore this for 20 episodes.

Ozmel and Medusa
            Aside from the falling of 95% of the Earth Mechander Robo is a bit different from other super robot shows at the time. A lot of the time the battles take place around the Earth in different locations. King Diamond is not constantly the target of attacks time and time again, it remains hidden for a good part of the show until it transforms into its ship form and goes around the Earth. Another difference is Mechander Robo fights side by side with the Earth forces a lot of the time. Well it’s more like Mechander Robo fights while the Earth forces blow up. Mechander Robo will also fight the same enemy multiple times but there is a bad part to this as you’ll see.

            The pilot each launch in their own planes known as Mechander 1, Mechander 2 and Mechander 3 these combine into a larger plane known as known as Mechander Max. Mechander Max plugs into the back of Mechander Robo which is launched from King Diamond this activates its nuclear power source. The planes each have standard plane weapons (missiles). Mechander Robo’s main weapons are its spiked arm shields known as Mechander UFO; they smash, they can be thrown, they can be combined into various forms. Mechander Robo also has a flame thrower (Mechander Flame), sword (Mechander Fencer), shark missiles (Large Air Torpedo Jaws) and so on. Episode 15 introduced the three Triker vehicles, they are basically identical to the Mechander planes except they drive, however they basically vanish as quickly as they appear.
Mechander Robo getting ready to throw the Mechander UFOs on its arms.
             There really isn’t a whole lot story going around here aside from the introduction but that’s more or less to be expected from an early super robot show. Mechander Robo fights against the Doron Empire with the earth forces. Yamato will hand down missions from time to time which are generally absurd which involve Mechander Robo doing something crazy while the Earth forces sit back and wait. The Omega Missiles serve as a plot device allowing for Mechander Robo only to fight for a short amount of time around three minutes before the battle has to end or Mechander Robo will be struck down as it is nuclear powered. Eventually the Mechander Robo pilots get tired of this and head into space and destroy the satellites; however the last ones combine into a robot to fight Mechander Robo. Unfortunately this robot is really weak and can’t fire Omega Missiles on its own and dies quickly in a horribly anti-climactic battle. Regardless this ends the plot device of timed battles.
Large Air Torpedo Jaws
        As time goes on Medusa starts to act more suspicious. A new weapon is created called Dragon Driller which is powerful enough to destroy Mechander Robo but Ozmel warns Hedron that Medusa isn’t a complete cyborg and may return to being her former self. Being the blind villain Ozmel gets punished for his insolence. Mechander Robo gets into combat with this new mecha piloted by Medusa and gets straight up defeated, however before Medusa can finish off Mechander Robo and kill the pilots she turns back into her former self. She learns from her bird of exactly what she’s been doing this entire time and kills herself after saving Jimmy and the rest of the Mechander pilots.

Mechander Robo falls under the power of Dragon Driller.
             Of course if Mechander Robo stayed defeated the show would be over, honestly this would be for the best but that’s not what happens. Mechander Robo is rebuilt and and is supposedly stronger then ever. Mechander Robo gets rebuilt as a four part combining robo with Mechander 1, Mechander 2, Triker 3 and a new Triker 1. Each vehicle carries a part of Mechander Robo, however since they are smaller then Mechander Robo they have the power to grow once launched. Since Mechander Robo is now a for part combiner they needed a new pilot and Mika was chosen. The way this worked out was silly as you have the professor explaining the new Mechander Robo and then he turns to Mika and says something to the effect of "You are now the new pilot go launch as well", but to be fair Ryusuke got the same treatment in episode 1. This whole thing is really poorly done and you can tell they were just trying to sell toys. The new Mechander Robo is more powerful than the old one; however it doesn’t gain any new attacks or anything just a new combination sequence and a new pilot who does nothing.

Mechander 1, Mechander 2, Triker 3 and the new Triker 1 carrying the parts of Mechander Robo

            On the Kongista side normally what would happen is that with Medusa’s death is that she would be replaced with a new general. However with 11 episodes left we don’t get that, Ozmel is left by himself with an army of guys that look the same. So the remainder of show either has Ozmel talking to himself in monologue or random soldiers which make their side not interesting to watch anymore.

            The show continues on with more or less the same as before however at episode 28 of 35 we are told the final battle is close at hand as the Earth forces are moving in on the Kongista flying fortress in North America. This is where we run into severe problems, and more specifically the show itself but I’ll get into this later. Episodes 29 to 33 are clipshows with little to no animation. So at episode 34 we reach the final conformation between Mechander Robo and the Earth’s forces and the Kongista Army. The Kongista Army faces a great attack by the combined Earth forces until they take their flying fortress on the offensive decimating the Earth forces. With the help of Mechander Robo the flying fortress falls and only that’s left is the final conformation between Jimmy and Ozmel which happens on the land. This basically boils down to Ozmel pointing his gun at Jimmy however Jimmy draws his gun and fires killing Ozmel before he can pull a shot off. I should be surprised at this point but really what’s happen in the show I’m not. Regardless to say by the end of 34 the Earth is saved as the Kongista army has been defeated.

Shikshima Shousou and his daughter Mika
            Of course there is still one episode left and the mysterious Hedron is still out there. Episode 35 is once again mostly a clipshow but we learn that Hedron is just garbage sludge from Orion that mutated and turned into a monster. This garbage sludge grew ambitions turned the people of Orion into cyborgs and created his army with ambition to be the emperor of space. However since Orion started to revive once again he died. It’s really as silly as it sounds.

Hedron made of broken computers, microfilm and other garbage
 Now I said there are gems and dangers of robot show well Mechander Robo is the danger as this show is really just garbage and should be avoided at all costs. I won’t say this often and really the only other show that I’ve seen that I can say is Groizer X. As I mentioned all the characters are blank slates that never advance past that and even the mecha action is quite poor. Mechander Robo itself was essentially a failure in Japan as well. The show aired from the start of March till the end of December but in October the main sponsor of the show Blue Mark went bankrupt and they were unable to find a new sponsor. Prior to this the toy sales were also failing which is why they introduced seemingly random vehicles for the Mechander Robo pilots to use once and then get reintroduced later. The sponsors were apparently hoping these to sell good, they didn’t.

As a result of the bankruptcy Mechander Robo suffers greatly as episodes 29 to 33 are clipshows as well as the majority of episode 35 about 3 minutes of this episode was animated to show the origin and death of Hedron. Only episode 34 is animated, admittedly very poorly animated they just barely managed to scrape this together. This episode involved lots of enemy mecha returning and fighting again however this was just to reuse clips. It’s a good thing they managed to scrape together a conclusion but really at that point I didn’t care anymore. The trend of reusing old clips started early on in Mechander Robo as so many times we get to see the same fights with the same enemy mecha. It’s nice to see the enemies of a robot show reusing the same mecha but if it’s just to see the same fights countless times, regardless of how silly they are, it’s not worth it. The problem of reused scenes extends a lot deeper than this sadly. My favorite one is in an early episode the Mechander Robo pilots go to Crete to try to save the people there. They end up in a stadium full of clapping people that turn out to be Kongista soldiers with guns shooting them. We see this scene reused at least three other times in multiple locations across the world.

Aside from the reuse of scenes multiple times throughout the show, the battles of Mechander Robo aren’t really that interesting to watch the show is obviously low quality from episode one. You get your standard mix of whacky enemy robot designs and Mechander Robo.

            Mechander Robo is a show that is best forgotten. The characters are blank slates and the mecha action is filled with reused scenes. With no draw between characters and mecha action and with an almost non-existent super robot story there really isn’t anything left to be drawn to this show.

Monday, 10 October 2011

Mission Outer Space Srungle


             Mission Outer Space (Aku Daikuseen) Srungle (亜空大作戦スラングル) is a super robot show that aired from 1983 until 1984 and ran for a total of 53 episodes. The show was created by MIC (Movie International Company) who also created Baldios, the J9 Trilogy and Acrobunch to name a few.

Srungle was very loosely based on the American spy television series Mission Impossible which also aired in Japan. While I have not seen the entire Mission Impossible TV series I did watch the first two episodes in preparation for this write up. There isn’t exactly a whole lot that carries over between the two series. The main concepts brought to Srungle seem to be the idea that everyone on the team had a specialized role such mechanic expert, explosive expert, espionage expert and so on. The show also focused a lot more on information coming and planning just how to execute the operation.

            If you’ve read a story summary of Srungle online you’ll most likely find something to the effect of “In the year 2545, an experiment gone wrong puts test pilot David Jance through the center of the galaxy and into another universe, which ends up in the middle of life and death struggle against the armies of GRIP, led by Dark Star.” This summary is completely wrong and is actually the summary of the Srungle portion of Macron 1 which was a combination of Srungle and GoShogun.

           A more accurate summary of Srungle is that in the 26th century humanity has moved into the stars and has inhabited the Galac Space in a special area known as the Outer Space Zone. This special area is in between two stars that has basically created oxygen and gravity in that area of space. Humanity has built a large city known as Galac Town and inhabits many asteroids in the area as well and is protected by the United Galac Space (UGS) and the Galac Police. However the large evil organization known as Crime disturbs the peace; however Doc Mandy of the Galac Police has gathered six pros and created Gorilla to oppose Crime.

Hyper Srungle
           The first thing that is said about Srungle is how the names are super lame and that Crime is such a bad name for a criminal organization and I want to change the opinion of that. First this show is created in Japan for a non-English speaking audience so the word crime wouldn’t be well known to the general populace. If there was a show created here and the organization was named crime in a different language like Latin or French it would be more accepted and seen as a better name. It’s the same deal over there; it’s just looked at in a different perspective. Second point to make is that calling Crime a criminal organization is quite faulty. Crime is essentially an army a very massive one at that they have many bases and organizations and are able to stand up to the United Galac Space in a straight up fight.

UGS's Mass Production Srungle appearing in the latter part of the show
                     Srungle is divided into two main factions the United Galac Space who Gorilla is a part of and Crime. Gorilla was created by Doc Mandy of the Galac Police who is their supervisor and hands down their missions. Captain Chance is the leader of Gorilla, he was previously a member of the Galac Police graduating from the Galac Space police academy and leading a special team in the past. Chance works a lot on collecting the data and is cool and composed.  Jet is the marksman of the team and previously graduated from the military academy he forms a friendship with Super Star. Super Star is the expert pilot of the team, Sexy is the explosive expert and ends up naked a lot in the show and she’s not shy about it at all, Babyface despite his large intimidating appearance is a very gentle person and a mechanics expert, Magician is the espionage expert on the team and the oldest member he can pull of magic which is the only way to describe his ability to turn into anyone despite body shape and fit right in.

From left to right: Super Star, Jet, Baby Face and Sexy

Crime starts off as an organization without many lasting characters, Crime is lead by the Crime Boss and an organization helps out known as the Boss Brain and a company known as Head Company. Volkraser is the most important Crime figure in the show his initial role is as a general and leader of the Crime Army Secret police known as Hell Messenger.

From left to right: Doc Mandy, Chance and Magician

The mecha in Srungle are different from your every day mecha seen in most robot shows. In other words generally they do not take on a human like form. They are known as Trekkers and like the pictures show they are closer to the Gerwalk form of the Valkyrie in Macross then anything. The main exception to this is the title robot known as Srungle which is classified as a SR Type Trekker. I can’t find out what SR is supposed to stand for if anything but my bets are on Super Robot. Srungle was created during the early parts of the real robot boom but since a lot of shows were adjusting during this period of time Srungle is like the J9 robots among others that are a lot more powerful then the grunt mecha. Of course Crime has their own mecha similar to Srungle to go against as well. Srungle has the ability to transform into a Tank Mode which is rarely used, a Vehicle Mode which is mainly used for transportation, and the main mode known as Attack Mode.

The Brit Jetter and the Centro Super with Pac Man chasing a ghost
Srungle starts off with showing off just how skilled Gorilla is to be a team. The opening of the show is a test for Gorilla to prove themselves to be a team by getting sent to a maximum security prison separately and breaking out. Through planning and pure skill they are able to keep to their schedule and break out of the prison verifying their existence. Failure was not an option since as far as the guards knew it was a prison break and failure would mean death. Not a bad way to show off your skills.

The show doesn’t continue at this pace and instead goes into more of a pattern of Doc giving Chance information on a Crime plot and the Gorilla team going after them to stop the plot these largely included going against Volkraser and Hell Messenger. The best of these episodes was the episode where the Gorilla team was taken into some Crime computer world which had cameos of Pac Man and Tron. Srungle actually fights against Tron and the Light Cycles from Tron as well! An interesting thing about the first half of the show was the large amount of cameos present. Some are obscure like Daitarn 3 sitting in the shadows but there are many others including ET, Lum from Urusei Yatsura, Milia from Macross, and a female from Dunbine. There were many obscure ones to me as well, but they were clearly out of place. Srungle even managed to pull off the famous Gundam final shooting pose!

Srungle pulling off Gundam's famous last shooting pose
Light Cycles from Tron make a cameo appearance
The show picks up significantly at episode 23 when Volkraser stages a coup d’etat against the Crime Boss for the sake of a new reborn Crime, a Crime revolution so to say. The unimportant Crime Boss is killed by Volkraser who than takes over with his first act as killing the president of the United Galac Space which the Gorilla team fails to protect. Volkraser continues his wrath taking out the Boss Brain and takes over the Head Company who accepts his new leadership. At this time Crime gets a new character known as Gelhart who is the second in command and good with information but also as a front line commander. The interesting thing about Gelhart is the fact he constantly seems to die in first few appearances. Gelhart’s first order is to kill the most dangerous man left in the Galac Police - Doc Mandy. Doc Mandy just happens to be attending a parade that he refuses to not attend, however Gorilla’s streak of not being able to protect people continues and Doc Mandy dies. Volkraser ends up ordering the surrender of the United Galac Space upon threat of an all out attack. This prompts Gorilla to get to asked to stop Crime and they launch an all out attack on their base and quite successfully blow up their brand new ship and their base saving the UGS for now. This pace continues with Crime learning about the camouflaged Gorillan Base and attacking it. This ends up being a devastating attack for Gorilla as they lose their base and more to the point Sexy gets gravely injured and is unable to be a part for Gorilla anymore as she is now hospitalized, however worse yet Superstar dies saving Srungle while trying to take out Gelhart.

From left to right: Rongelf, Volkraser and Gelhart
At this point both sides have lost their base the Gorilla team meets up with the all women Cat’s Eye team and joins with Sexy’s replacement known as Dolly. The Cat’s Eye team has also brought Doc Mandy more specifically a computer brain transfer, he saw his death coming and prepared for that. Doc Mandy tells the Gorilla team that a UGS base should be near completion of the Srungle upgrade parts and Gorilla’s new base. At the UGS base they meet up with Sugar who becomes Superstar’s replacement, he is quite the silent guy and doesn’t say a whole lot and unlike Superstar, Jet and Sugar don’t get along as nicely. Gorilla proceeds to get their new base known as Gorilla Ooki which is a ship that has the power to camouflage itself. They also get the Srungle upgrade parts which is known as Shoulder Mighty a plane that combines with Srungle to form Hyper Srungle. This upgrade gives Srungle quite the considerable fire power upgrade, at this point Sugar becomes the main pilot of Shoulder Mighty and Jet the main pilot of Srungle.

The replacements from left to right: Sugar and Dolly

The show takes on a more normal pace at this point with Gorilla back to fighting this new reborn Crime, the episodes take a less episodic pace than the earlier half, this helps with the introduction of Gelhart and the shift in Crime leadership. The battles are also shifted to a much larger scale with Volkraser’s desire for the destruction of the United Galac Space. Also introduced Rongelf who used to be a highly respected tactician of the Galac Police until a corruption case brought the end of that and his wife which causes him to join up with Crime.

Gelhart's trekker with a random Crime trekker

Near the end the show starts to pick up once again as Volkraser gets contacted by a mysterious voice in his head that identifies himself as the true Crime emperor known as Overlord. Overlord is the ancient leader of Crime who has his programming inside Volkraser which inplanted the idea to stage the coup d’etat and create the ultimate army. Crime as it turns out is a really ancient organization ruled by Overlord in the past, this Crime has mostly robotic and Overlord himself is basically a giant brain. As time goes on Overlord starts to be referred to as the Emperor of Darkness. However Crime ended up getting attacked by the Earthlings who more or less destroyed Crime at the time and created the United Galac Space. The first objective for Crime is to retrieve the Emperor’s Ship which is referred to as a time capsule, the ship ends up splitting in two with half to the UGS and half to Crime. Crime gets many power ups at this that have been sealed away in the past including the ancient robot Majin Mura who is a giant cyborg that is near immortal, the giant beast known as Gikiru which is like a cloud with a giant eye that is immune to attacks and eats mecha and can separate once again near immortal. In order to form the ultimate army more specifically a steel army Crime starts turning it’s people in cyborgs including Rongelf, however Gelhart and his squad is against this plan and says he won’t do it until he defeats Gorilla. With these new changes Volkraser and the Emperor of Darkness now plan to eliminate the Earthlings as revenge.

Volkraser looks on at Gikiru
Majin Mura attacks the UGS
With all the pieces finally in place Srungle advances into it’s conclusion with the final confrontation between the United Galac Space and Crime. The battles get fiercer and Crime has the advantage with Majin Mura, Gikiru, their cyborg army and their new resolve to kill civilians as well which works quite horribly for the residents of Galac Town. Volkraser learns from the Emperor of Darkness that they need to free the Emperor of Darkness himself who has been sealed and holds all the secrets. The Emperor is sealed in Block 44 in Galac Town. Thanks to strength of Majin Mura Crime obtains the second half of the Emperor’s Ship however at the same time Gorilla breaks into the Crime Base with Gorilla Ooki and steals their half. What follows is Hyper Srungle versus Majin Mura the great invincible Majin Mura has it’s sword break and Hyper Srungle punches it and it blows up. The two ships carrying half of the Emperor’s Ship collide and the ship combines once again the combination creates all sorts of weirdness in the sky.

The Emperor of Darkness
The battle continues on as everyone heads to the location where the Emperor of Darkness is sealed, Dolly creates a bomb that destroys Gikiru and Majin Mura somehow returns. However Majin Mura’s second death is no less stupid then his first as Hyper Srungle manages to trick Majin Mura into slicing Gelhart’s trekker which causes a massive explosion that destroys Majin Mura and kills Gelhart. Doc Mandy devises a plan that includes attaching boosters to the Emperor’s Ship and sending it where the Emperor is sealed while Srungle goes in and finishes off Volkraser at the same time. Hyper Srungle infiltrates Volkraser’s giant ship and starts wrecking the ship; Volkraser unable to move decides to launch in his trekker to get to the Emperor of Darkness. However before this can happen Srungle literally kicks down the door and Jet says “There’s time no time for greetings just die” and proceeds to shoot Volkraser dead with Hyper Srungle at the same time the Emperor’s Ship hits the Emperor of Darkness killing him as well. Rongelf doesn’t get a great death and just dies in the subsequent explosions. After this all is well and the show comes to an end. Magician tells Jet he isn’t really sure what happened and it would take the scientists and professors a long time to find out as the space now looks like the sky of the Earth.

This screenshot cannot caption the awesomeness of Srungle kicking down the door and killing Volkraser

And that ends one of the longest write ups that I’ll probably ever do for this blog. This is the difference between real and super robot shows a lot more story happens, even though most of that story was compressed between four episodes in the middle and the last ten or so episodes. The last ten episodes of the show were really action packed which included all the revelations of what Crime really was and their ancient super weapons. However Majin Mura really bothered me a lot, it got killed twice in a span of two episodes and both deaths were horribly pathetic. For a giant ancient robot that Hyper Srungle can barely stand up against you’d think it’s deaths would be better. I actually had hope it’s second would be better that it returned so they could redeem it’s first death but no. But on the plus side Volkraser has one of the most awesome deaths ever in the history of robot shows. Character wise I really like Magician a lot of the magic he pulled out was quite nice. Most of the cast was nice as a whole, however I was sad to see Super Star die and Sugar just never lived up to him. Also this is one of the few robot shows out there that while the Earthlings are mentioned and we can assume they came from Earth the planet itself never shows up or is mentioned. 

The death of Volkraser and the Emperor of Darkness brought out Scream

Monday, 11 July 2011

Saikyo Robo Daiohja

           Ultimate Robo (Saikyo Robo) Daiohja (最強ロボ ダイオージャ) was a Sunrise robot series from 1981. The Japanese Wikipedia says that this show was created as a kind of transition show easing fans into more real robot oriented shows. Because of this Daiohja has elements from both shows in place. Basically the robot designs of the enemies are more realistic and they’re fighting human controlled robots so you got the more human aspect, however Daiohja itself is a super robot.

                                          The title robot Daiohja in all it's glory                           

            The story of Daiohja is based on a very popular old long running Japanese drama known as Mito Komon which has been running since 1969. In Mito Komon the main character is much older and there are no robots and the show takes place in Feudal Japan but the concept is the same even the names of Suke-san and Kaku-san are taken from Mito Komon.

            In the interstellar kingdom known as Edon the 16 year old prince Edward Mito heads on a trip with his two retainers as a coming of age journey of sort to view the kingdom that he will one day rule. The kingdom is a dangerous place filled with criminal and unjust rulers so Mito has brought his combining robot Daiohja.

                                              All bow before Mito and Daiohja

          Daiohja starts off with Mito and his retainers Suke-san and Kaku-san leaving for their trip to visit the various planets in the kingdom. Since this trip is done incognito generally no one is supposed to know who they are. We are quickly introduced to most of the small cast in the first episode. Edward Mito is the prince of Edon he has a very playful attitude and doesn’t like being stuck in the castle being all proper, but when the time comes he will be serious, when he needs to give a name on the planet he is called Miito. Duke Sukedo is one of Mito’s retainers and is usually referred to as Suke-san he usually takes a more strict approach and wants Mito to study on his journey like he’s supposed to do. Baron Kaksu is Mito’s second retainer he loves food and is more light headed then Suke-san, he is usually referred to as just Kaku-san. Flora Shinobu is a ninja who has joined up with Mito, Suke-san and Kaku-san her role is generally sneaking around and finding out what is up with the planet she secretly deeply cares for Mito. Barujan is the chief retainer of the Edon Empire he usually runs around yelling loudly for the prince, he’s basically a stick in the mud and provides comic relief at times too he appears in the first episode but then disappears for the next 15. Jinai is Barujan’s assistant and is just comic relief, he’s less serious then Barujan and gets on his nerves a lot.

                                       Suke-san, Mito, Kaku-san, and Shinobu dressed incognito
                                       Kaku-san, Mito and Suke-san dressed in more royal attire

            Daiohja doesn’t really have a lot in terms of plot. The show is very episodic in nature and there is no all encompassing villain who everyone is working under. In the end every planet just has a jerk in some sort of position in power that needs to be shown their place, which is generally their own grave.

            Daiohja the robot is a three-part combining robot which is made up of Ace-Reder piloted by Mito and is armed with Ace Saber, Aoider which is piloted by Suke-san and mainly uses a Beam Gun and Cobalter which is piloted by Kaku-san and uses the Hammer Chain. The Hammer Chain is really an awesome original weapon which can be used as a mace on one end and the other end shoots out spikes attached chains.

                                        Hammer Chain in medium range combat                                                                    

                                             Hammer chain in melee combat         

              The robots are summoned by yelling “Cross Sword” and doing so and shouting out “Cross Triangle” causes the combination into Daiohja. Daiohja’s main weapon is the Raimei Ken (Thunder Sword) and it’s attack the Denkou Raimei Kuzushi (Thunder and Lightning Destruction or something), the only other attack worth mentioning is the Beam Bowgun, it’s a bow that shoots out a beam arrow. Daiohja actually has quite a few other attacks as well but it’s worth noting that the eyecatch of the show shows the Grapper (see the top picture) which never appeared once in the show another a commonly listed attack is also the never seen Rocket Punch. Partway through the show Ace-Reder, Cobalter and Aoider do get an upgrade from a crazy professor which basically allows them to fly and has extras guns but while they always launch with these parts they are rarely used. These parts disengage when it’s time to combine into Daiohja and can form Shinobu’s rarely used Crossaider.

                                   Daiohja finishing off an enemy robot with the Denkou Raimei Kuzushi

            Daiohja follows a very simplistic formula for almost the entire show this involves Mito arriving on some planet running into someone which leads to finding out about some problem on the planet, Shinobu uses her ninja powers to investigate, Suke-san and Kaku-san reveal to the villain of the episode that the kid is Prince Mito, no one believes it, Daiohja comes out, everyone bows cause it’s Daiohja the villain realizes he has no choice and fights to the death. With the appearance of Barujan and Jinai added is run away from them and avoid them. There are a few variations in this formula which includes the random person who knows who Mito is and wants him dead, or Mito sparing the life of the villain generally through another begging for their life.

                               Barujan and Jinrai randomly dress up and dance for no explained reason at all
                                             but they are comic relief so it's all right.

                                                The space blimp of Jinrai and Barujan known as 
                                                 Hindenberg Zeppelin Enterprise Dirigible Baron
                                      Also known as  Hindenberg Airship Zeppelin Dirigible Baron

The planets vary quite significantly throughout the kingdom, one planet will be highly technologically advanced while the next planet will have people living in huts without electricity. Planets are usually filled with weird animals of sort which are generally some combination of normal animals and some weird one like the random cactus creature.

                      Almost looks like a person in a cactus costume but it's a cactus creature from the planet Daikin

            While the show is quite episodic in nature the show does have a conclusion in the end, while the villain isn’t anything great and to write home about the journey completes itself back on planet Edon where the show started. Mito is actually given the opportunity to become king from all he’s learned from his adventure. Mito rejects this offer at the moment and takes off on another journey.

                              The final villain Derth Vander appears very Darth Vader-ish

            Without knowing a lot about Daiohja I found myself liking this show a lot. At the first episode I was worried we’d see another Daltanious with a prince who doesn’t want to be a prince (they’re voiced by the same guy even!) but that wasn’t the case as I enjoyed a lot seeing Mito become serious on the enemies, it was almost like he had a split personality! Since this show has a very episodic nature a lot of the liking of the show will hinge on if you like the characters or not. A lot of the plots in the episodes were weird some highlights include the movie director who wanted realism so was killing people in the movies, the jungle safari where the poor people became entertainment for the rich, the factory that separated the building section of slackers into the air and blew them up, the planet where the ruler turned people into dominos for entertainment, the planet where only the ruler was allowed to have ceramics, and the planet where people became part of the art for the ruler. A weird thing to note about this show is the unusually high number of two part episodes which makes up for a total of 8 out of 50 episodes.

                                On the planet Dorimu people were strapped to boards and used as dominoes 
                                                   for the ruler's enjoyment until Mito put an end to that

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Danguard Ace Movies

It will take a while till I get to doing a writeup on the Danguard Ace series and since I recently watched these movies I figured might as well throw them out now instead of later. Back when Danguard Ace was airing Toei Animation produced two Danguard Ace movies that aired at the Toie Animation Festival in 1977 and 1978. Both of these were produced and shown while the TV series was still airing so the story isn't continued or anything. While these are movies it's worth noting they are only the length of  a regular episode.

Planetary Robo Danguard Ace versus the Insect Robo Army

            This is the first of the two movies and it takes part in the early part of the series specifically before and after episode 13. There really isn’t a whole lot going for this movie as there is no sign of Doppler and in his place introduces a new villain specifically the alien Insect Robo Army. Their objective is blood, not just from humans but all living things that they use as an energy source; they capture Lisa and reveal this after capturing Takuma who promptly escapes. The aliens for some reason think they’ve already won and that Earth is already in their hands when their UFO reinforcements from the Moon arrive. Instead Jasdam launches and the UFO forces combine into a giant robot before being crushed in a combined attack with the Jasdam and Danguard Ace.

            With throw away villains with not really much else to show for it this is easily skipped without a great loss. Why these aliens thought they had already won and Earth was already in their hands is beyond me. Danguard Ace gets damaged in the first few minutes in the initial assault and stays sidelined till the end as well. And in the end Captain Dan gets new screen time as well!

Planetary Robo Danguard Ace Great Space Naval Battle

            This is the second of the two movies and it originally aired at the Toei Animation Festival a week prior to the end of the series,  this episode goes back a bit and takes place between episode 44 and 45 using the same staff who produced episode 44. This time around Jasdam is traveling near Saturn with Doppler’s forces slightly ahead of them. Doppler launches a plot to destroy Jasdam with remote controlled meteors, Lisa ended up going out in the Space Arrow to destroy one of them while Danguard Ace is busy fighting the Harken Special Team and ends up going missing. Doppler sets up a plot to destroy Jasdam at the end of a nebula, but Jasdam takes a course through the nebula looking for Lisa and rams the Planestar causing severe damage. Danguard Ace fights an AI controlled Mecha Satan which involves Takuma spitting out lines how since it’s an AI controlled mecha they as humans control the mecha, regardless to say Danguard Ace wins and Lisa is saved.

                This movie is clearly the superior of the two and I think that can be attributed to the regular villains in the TV series. This one felt more like an episode of the series then anything and not just a throwaway episode to inflate the episode count. While these movies are no means bad, especially the second I was hoping that instead we'd see some sort of continuation of the series to wrap up the ending better.       

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

God Sigma

                                                                                      God Sigma

With many famous veterans of the robot genre at the helm a new super robot show aired in 1980 which was Uchuu Taitei (Space Emperor) God Sigma that aired for 50 episodes.

            In the year 2050 AD humans have advanced in their exploration of space and now have colonies as far away as Jupiter with unmanned probes going out as far as 20 light years. Unknown aliens known as Elder arrive in the solar system and take over Jupiter’s moon of Io which was used as a colony by the Earth and use it as their base. Elder’s objective is Trinity Energy which has been developed on the Earth by Professor Kazumi and is located in Trinity City. To the defense of Trinity City is God Sigma a super robot powered by Trinity Energy.
The heroes from left to right: Kiraken, Juri, Minako
Toshiya, Rie, Shouta, Kazumi.

            The first episode introduces the majority of the characters which include Dan Toshiya who had just arrived on Earth to see Trinity Energy and pilots Kuariou, Juri Noguchi who was working as Professor Kazumi’s assistant and helped to build God Sigma who pilots Kaimeiou, and Kira Kiraken who escaped from Io shortly after Elder’s attack and pilots Rikushinou. Others include Professor Kazumi who created Trinity Energy and is in charge of Trinity City, Kasuga Rie who is Kazumi’s secretary, her brother Shouta who is a technical genius of sorts. There are also a few other minor characters including Marino who is the sponsor of Trinity City, his daughter Minako who is in love with Toshiya and Sachi who also escaped from Io and is Shouta’s girlfriend.

            God Sigma is formed by the combination of the robots Kuraiou, Kaimeiou and Rikushinou in combination with the Big Wing. As with a lot of super robot shows the amount of screen time with the three robots are disproportional to that of God Sigma. As expected they are good at fighting fighters but anything else just gets them beaten over and over. God Sigma’s main weapon which kills pretty much everything is the Musou Ken, a sword. God Sigma fights against the Elder’s Cosmosaurs, just your generic enemy mecha/monster. One of the highlights of God Sigma’s is when the new more powerful Cosmosaurs arrive and God Sigma’s Musou Ken is defeated. God Sigma wins by shoving the broken Musou Ken down the throat of the Cosmosaurs which then gets struck by lighting; it was just a pure awesome scene. At the halfway point God Sigma is upgraded with the Sigma Breast which allows the Musou Ken to defeat the new more powerful Cosmosauruses.
                                        All that remains of one of the most epic battles
          The enemies of the show are rather an interesting bunch as we find out they aren’t from the year 2050 AD but came from the future of 2300 AD. It turns out that in the future the Earth has formed a Space Federation and decides to attack the Planet Elder which was a planet of love. While Trinity Energy is an effective power source it’s has great destructive powers as a weapon and is even able to punch through barriers. This is giving the Space Federation a one-sided victory over the Elder. The initial Elder group is lead by Teral who has the biggest role out of any Elder it turns out that Teral is actually a combination of two people the great Elder hero Teral and his girlfriend Lelah. The great hero was killed while trying to save Lelah and thus the Elder had some weird tech that combined Lelah and Teral into one person. With this combination I’m actually not sure if Teral is supposed to be a man or woman at this point in time, but it seems like Teral just now looks more like a girl and has Lelah’s memories. Teral has two subordinates which are Ritsu who generally commands the Cosmosaurs, and Jira who makes the Cosmosaurs and also commands them as expected Jira and Ritsu do not get along. Eventually a second group arrives and takes command which includes Gagan the new commander, Dalton the battle leader, and Mesa the scientific and technology lead. This new group while definitely far cruller and views the Earthlings as bugs initially seems smarter like laughing at Teral’s stupid idea of taking hostages. However their smarts fade quickly as it doesn’t take long for them to start falling into the same pattern of Teral’s group. As expected Gagan was a total jerk of Teral insulting him/her for his/her failures at getting Trinity Energy of course it lead to his own failures and I was just waiting for Teral to laugh at his face for it, sadly no luck there.
                                                Elder what was once a planet of love and peace is a
                                                     planet of death thanks to the Earth in 2300 AD.
            The first half of the series is to be expected we get to learn more about the characters and the show and it starts the rivalry between Teral and Toshiya. Trinity City is constantly attacked and rebuilt. Shouta shows his genius and devises a few ways to trick Elder and well the Elder just fail time and time again. A small hint is dropped to the Trinity City crew however with a picture of a star 300 years in the future.

            With the arrival of the new villains and the halfway point the series starts to pick up. We learn that there are survivors on Io, Trinity City gets upgraded into Trinity Base which launches into space and heads for Io. The arrival or Gagan’s team brought lots of friction between Teral’s team this leads to the death of Jira and Ritsu and Teral turns on Gagan and works with Toshiya and the survivors of Io and eventually kills Dalton and Mesa. Teral also lets the Trinity Base crew know that they are from the future, which has Toshiya vow to save Elder from the future with Trinity Energy after all problems are solved.

 Going into space also causes a drastic character shift between the fun loving professor: Kazumi. Kazumi was your standard super robot professor prior to this, however he turns into a jerk and it’s revealed he’s been capturing soldiers from Elder and trying to find out to get into the future. Once Trinity Base is in space he’s totally against it and wants them to return back to the Earth and even goes far enough to say God Sigma can’t hope to win. This all comes to an end when God Sigma is supposedly defeated and falls into Jupiter, he forcefully attempts to surrender Trinity Base but instead escapes to Gagan. Now at this point in all rights the series should be over and the Elder should have won. They have been aiming for Trinity Energy since episode 1 and they have the creator of Trinity Energy who is more then happy to give all the secrets of Trinity Energy and go into the future. But no this is the very height of villain idiocy, Gagan instead sends Kazumi back to capture the base by himself and one of his own soldiers end up shooting Kazumi in the end too. Now Gagan had already been stupid by this point taking hostages and even having a lot of plans to straight up destroy Trinity Base.

            God Sigma reaches it’s climax as Trinity Base finally reaches Io, it turned out the enemy actually run out of Cosmosaurses as well by this point. With Teral and Toshiya’s dad leading the charge on the surface and Trinity Base’s arrival all that’s left is the final confortation and to the shock of everyone Gagan’s base is actually a giant robot named Gargos! Now God Sigma isn’t a tiny robot and it’s actually 66 meters tall, Gargos just dwarfs God Sigma and has to be at least 300 meters tall. This ends in a two episode fight where God Sigma finds that all it’s weapons are worthless even the Musou Ken just breaks in Gargos which forces God Sigma to use a new attack called Trinity Wing, while this does defeat Gargos God Sigma itself is destroyed in the process. The remainder of the series is Teral’s death at the hands of Gagan and Toshiya killing Gagan. Unlike a lot of robot series God Sigma does get a decent ending. Following the defeat of Gagan we see that the colony on Io has been rebuilt and the Trinity Base crew are helping the rebuilding; Toshiya takes a rebuilt God Sigma and using the time machine heads to the future to save Io.

            God Sigma was a pretty good series overall and an improvement over a lot of the earlier 1970s series. The battle between Gargos at the end of the series, and the battle prior to God Sigma’s gaining of the Sigma Breast attack, where the Musou Ken was defeated, were a thing of beauty. We see a lot of your standard super robot clichés in here such as the combining robot, and the new energy source. Kazumi turning on the Trinity Base crew was something new to the genre as far as I know at this point and still remains pretty rare, the only other instance that comes to mind is Professor Saotome in Shin Getter Robo: The World’s Final Day but that was quite different. Kazumi turned into a mad man obsessed with his own science and thought he was the world’s great scientist however this was too sudden and just lead to his death in the exact same episode. His shift even made him designed to look slightly more evil. But with this only lasting with joining Elder for a single episode it makes the whole endeavor kind of pointless. The revelation that various people on Io were still alive made me groan because I was expecting a flawless victory with everyone’s family alive even Kiraken’s who we saw blow up. Luckily this was not the case, Kiraken’s family really was dead, Juri’s sister lived and escaped to the Earth only to die since she got shot, Toshiya’s dad lived till the final episode but got the oh so fatal shoulder shot and died from his injuries.

                                God Sigma's Musou Ken in action against a Cosmosaurs
          Trinity City kind of reminded me of Macross City from Super Dimensional Fortress Macross that would air in two years. The city just existed to be attacked over and over again so it was nice to see the damage build up to a point where they had to take the entire Trinity City and move it to a dock to be repaired. The reborn Trinity Base was nice as it removed worthless city and in it’s new location on the Earth surrounded by rocks even got the standard super robot barrier! Of course this was short lived as shortly after Trinity Base was revealed to be a ship and left for space. Going to space kind of bothered me honestly only because it took 11 episodes for Trinity Base to go from the Earth to Jupiter and now normally this was seen happening in the span of 10 seconds. It was just added filler for no good reason. It’s to be expected and all but still it’s not nice to see. Seeing the Elder as enemies from the future where it turns out the Earth were the bad guys was definitely something different and something we haven’t seen before and I liked to see the change. However I felt like we were straight up told this too quickly with Teral’s back story in episode 16, while it took Trinity Base crew until 37 to learn of this. The various shots of the future did however continue to show just how cruel the Earth had became with the massacring of civilians.

God Sigma was an enjoyable experience, one of the main reasons I wanted to see the series was because I liked the opening song. The series met my expectations and proved to be an enjoyable experience.

                                                   Normal Professor Kazumi

                                                                      Crazy Professor Kazumi