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