Giant Robo: One Anime for Old Men

Some Kannazuki no Miko Oldfags...

It is the fate of every man to grow old as the years go by and yet while I get older the average anime protagonist is still a snot nosed whiney little puke that is still under 18 years of age. But while new anime series have failed me as consistently as the Miami Heat choking in close games against winning teams, Giant Robo is my Boston Celtics. Old middle aged people don’t get much respect these days, rarely will you see a 20-35 year old doing much ass kicking unless they are destined to die as some mentor figure to some young arrogant up and coming kid who can’t even drink beer. So it is with Giant Robo where the older vets are still a dominant force to be reckoned with, while Daisaku can claim to be the master of Giant Robo; we all know he is riding the coattails of Giant Robo and is marginally more useful than the Miami Heat bench. As for people who can claim their awesomeness to be all their own it would be everyone Giant Robo, except Daisaku.

A rather unique name for a fan organization.

If you like mecha and you are sick and tired of Jesus kiddie characters then Giant Robo is for you, it is about as pure WIN and AWESOME as you can get in a mecha OVA. If you watch it and hate, well it is time to turn in your mecha license and be honest about liking Marty Stus and BL over tones. In Giant Robo we have one of the few moments that top a Bright Slap in the annals of setting kids straight. Not only does a master of Ryozanpaku, Koshin slap the shit out of Daisaku when the latter started whining about trying to save the damsel in distress, but Koshin goes further in calling out Daisaku for being dumb and ungrateful for not knowing that said damsel was ready DIE FOR THE CAUSE and was AS GOOD AS DEAD. Koshin then blew up on Daisaku for treating Giant Robo like some sort of toy and got so mad he sliced through a highway and told Daisaku flat out that he can sit on the sideline he just drew with his sword to cry like baby. In true bad ass fashion Koshin promised Daisaku that if he left that line to runaway he would kill him even if Daisaku was a kid, because Daisaku made and oath and HE WOULD HOLD HIM TO IT. This today would not be acceptable in the age of butt-hurt and no accountability as ADULTS LIE.

No bigger FUCK YOU could you give to Kamille than Gaint Robo, and to be honest it gets better with age. Maybe I am hitting the first patches of anime burn out but I like to see old folks do well and kick ass. Thank goodness life is not imitating anime, because in that event we would all peak at age 16 and be in a slump there after. I shudder to think of a world where child soldiers are the norm, or where a High School football team is besting NFL veterans, or where old teams like the Celtics, Spurs, and Mavericks (maybe even the Lakers) get rolled over by a useless Miami Heat bench and an ex-Wizards point guard. These days there is much hubbub about being righteous and just, but Giant Robo reminds us that embracing the suck and being tenacious and intense have meaning; that sitting on the sidelines asking stupid questions is not a solution, that you should not pull punches if you want to kick ass, that you honor the sacrifices of others instead of trying to question them and insisting that you are right. Certainly in Giant Robo the ass kickings are handed out democratically and I love it because it makes the IPO feel like a team and that Big Fire has their own team of comparable foes.

It’s curious how anime is rather reluctant to have older middle aged protagonists it is as if they fear growing old or simply look back on High School as the best days of their lives. There are a couple of reasons for this since times aren’t so good now and high school seems to be the care free part of their lives. Still my gaijin sensibilities scoff at this attitude as the best days have yet to come that while my circumstances are similarly grim I remain content and look forward to the next challenge. Growing old means having more experiences to enrich your life, if you think back to your high school days and then think of all that has happened since then hopefully if you have been diligent and hardworking you can safely say you are better off now than you were then. It has been almost 8 years since I said good bye to high school and I could not be happier about it. I much prefer my military life to my days as an angry student, I like being able to go around the US watching NBA games. I have had my ups in my current gig and I had something of a down when I went to the Middle East, but I would not trade those moments for any part of my high school days. We get older we can get wiser, and we can get better, but only if we choose to put in the hard work and log in the hours. I have a particular distaste for those who are simply talented, I like to see people who work hard to get where they are it is refreshing and reassuring to see that if you can master something if you put in the consistent effort.

Anime these days is in love with young talented protagonists, particularly in the mecha genre, and while anime goes on and on with under-seventeen kids that are ridiculously talented at least I have real sports. I feel left out in my old age and look forward to the day that the median age for anime protagonists will go up, because after all the people who make anime are growing older too right and it’s not like Japan has a glut of kids anymore.  Maybe real life sports drama is just particularly good this year but watching the Spurs demolish the Heat in their first meeting made me miss mecha a little less. I see the Heat as the Celestial Being of the NBA, that they think that they are the future and that they think they are so damn good. Every time LeBron does his chalk toss it reminds me increasingly of GN pixie dust. Last night we all saw who was really a top tier team in the NBA as the gutted the Heat and played a textbook first quarter before showing the Heat how much depth and a good bench matter; that youth and talent can only go so far until they hit a seasoned line of veterans who know how to work as a real team.

So it was with Ryozanpaku who had their base wrecked but still stayed in the fight and kept their cool to get the job done. They could not have done it without Giant Robo, but they held the line magnificently as Daisaku pissed in his britches. While asking if sacrifice is necessary, may be a bit thought provoking for Giant Robo the general trend is that it is, if nothing else, inevitable. I think that Giant Robo is letting us know that sacrifices are necessary even if they are rarely pleasant. If you want to progress you will have to give up something to reach your goal, be it time, effort, or money that could have been used to do other things. Life rarely gives any handouts of worth, most of the time unless you were born rich you will have to give something to get something.

If nothing else watching Giant Robo reminds a person that old age is not something to be feared that your peak should not come and go in High School. So you get old, you can also get better as you grow old, though not everyone chooses to get better with age. So here is to being over 17 and being bad ass, here’s to showing up those children how to get shit done, here’s being more like Koshin in our dotage. So who here has been working hard while growing old, have you managed to better your life since high school, or are did you peak come and go in high school? If you are the former how are you doing now as your own person largely independent now and working towards something bigger? If you are in the latter do you have any plans to have another peak or are you content with a long slide?

They might only be armed with sticks but they have more GUTS than most.

I salute your courage.

Zeus be with you..

No beams, no swords, just his FIST OF FURY.

Like most kids with mecha he was being a little bitch.

He knows that usually means "won't" for the under 18..

The problem these days is that no one disciplines their uppity teenagers anymore.

Making the kid into a MAN.

Exactly most under 18 mecha pilots these days need a good ass kicking to keep them in line.

Translation: Life's bitch DEAL WITH IT.

If only teenagers got it the first time.

Indeed for a real man does not waste time whining about justice or pleading with his foe.

COWARD!

Because he's young and stupid.

Now that is a question worth asking.

These days they might as well be...

No but kids with mecha don't want to do great things they just want to be Jesuses.

Yes the PROPER WAY, THE MANLY WAY, THE RIGHT WAY.

Oh god Kid's these days always wanting handouts and easy victories all because losing hurts their feelings...

He wants to live defeated...

...

Tell it like it is Koshin, the truth hurts.

Kid's these days consider not getting a new toy as a low point in life...

Real men never die, for their legend lives forever.

Back in the good old days kids were admonished for dicking around.

Back then enlisting meant something, oaths meant something, selfishness wasn't tolerated.

...

Koshin has no mecha but that will not stop him from wrecking things like a mecha.

If only Shinji got his ass kicked by this guy, so much lameness could have been avoided.

...

In these days of lose Koshin would have been accused of being a bully and a tyrant, instead of being a HERO.

Yeah be useless kid.

Never send a loser to do a Hero's job.

When the opposing mooks are showing more courage than the protagonist you know that protagonist is a loser.

Even the bad guys are showing a greater understanding of what this is all about.

They fight without fear and without doubt, not too many teenagers have such resolve.

About the only warning adults ever give.

Because in the old days bad guys weren't about to roll over for bishie looking kids with giant robots.

Some side characters dare.

See they don't even bother telling their foes that they have a right live, it's fucking privilege damn it.

Ah a band of brothers...

Nice side burns.

All he has is a gong with a lot of guts behind it.

Who needs ghosts of dead friends when you have these guys?

PWNED

I like how he's rocking a pirate look.

Declaring intentions instead of pleading with the enemy, how I miss those days.

All the warning you really need to give.

Back in ye olde days winning still meant something.

OH SHI-

Even the wounded and dying are pitching in.

Even the old man on the bench got back in.

Say hello to big bad with a cool title.

No Gundm Seed friendship bullshit here.

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26 Comments

  1. Posted March 5, 2011 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

    Eh so angry!

    I dunno man it’s not too becoming to be a whiny old man lashing out at kids. It’s not inspiring and it’s not awesome. In any case I thought Giant Robo didn’t need to be contrasted this much to shows that fail in so many other ways to establish how great it is. This OVA is one of the very best.

    Fact of the matter is, anime is for younger folk. Chances are, teenagers are far less wise and discerning as someone from their mid-20s. Yesterday I was lucky enough to hang out with a couple of late-20s man-children with expensive toys and an entertainment system: Marvel vs. Capcom, Super Robot Wars Alpha Gaiden, Broken Blade, VOTOMS: Case; Irvine, Magic Robot Ginguiser (LOL), and Shooting Star Gakusaver — we did all of that.

    Even the most mature of shows we enjoyed, skew towards appealing to our most puerile natures.

    But enough of that, like you I want to see more adult characters in robot anime. I just don’t feel that there’s any value in getting so worked up about the rest. For now I offer congratulations and solidarity to you comrade, for watching Giant Robo: the Day the Earth Stood Still, a show filled with rare glory and power.

    • Crusader
      Posted March 5, 2011 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

      If I had made a favorable reference to the Lakers I am sure you’d be with me, but alas the old men of the Spurs will be on of the teams your beloved Lakers will have to overcome. Now if your Lakers had trounced the Heat back in Christmas your tune would be different but one more chance to redeem yourselves as the Lakers only top tier victim.

      I am a believer that like video games anime should be growing along with us to an extent after all adults are the ones with disposable income and since video games have figured that out they have redirected their attention towards the average now early 30s gamer. Anime is doing the same to an extent targeting middle age otaku with moe shit, but it seems that the older protagonist is not always there. One gripe about JRPGs is that the protagonists are all little boys who look like girls and their games have innovated little over the years. We may be man children but do we all want to still imagine that we are 17? Is it not better to be forever the minimum drinking age?

      I don’t know about you but like I said before I like to see my protagonist undergo adversity I want to see them suffer for what they believe in instead of telling me about their typical tragic past, or their latest heartache. There probably is little inclination for kids to see a losing team but for me I want to be there for the good times and the bad it just makes the taste of victory all the more sweeter.

      For me I wish there were more Koshin-class characters in anime, a hard headed adult who has been there and done that who will discipline children who get out of line and don’t have to die to add to the “tragedy”. Again I wish Shinji had some one like Koshin to kick crap out him the first time for shrinking from what he swore he would do, that’s what I like to see oaths being upheld. You know kind of like how Alto-hime had to uphold his most important oaths at the expense of others.

      I just have a sinking feeling that the majority of the under 17 protagonists stem not from trying to target the teenage demographic but to pander to a lost generation that counts high school as their peak. If true in cases then it is sad, but let’s not kid ourselves your average harem animu is not based on a game children are playing. Rather it would be adults who are shelling out money for figures and model kits. Given the circumstances of Japan maybe they just don’t think being an adult is all that great, or maybe they just can’t appreciate what they have.

      I just feel like I am getting painted as a LIAR in every new Gundam that comes out, hence why the Pro sports is quickly getting my dollars though Macross still claims a big chunk of my money. I have plenty of unbuilt kits as it is but being an adult on the road spending money for NBA tickets gains increasing appeal.

      • Posted March 5, 2011 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

        Believe it or not, I want a lot of the same things for the robot anime of the future — I posted about such recently here on THAT. All I counsel is to not get too worked up about not getting what we want, and lashing out at the world for not giving it to us. That’s so… mecha anime teenage protagonist.

        As a robot anime fan, I pretty much take things as they come in the spirit of Koshin. I may not get to choose where I get to fight or die (metaphorically speaking, as one can say about watching and blogging robot shows) — but I’ll always give it my all.

        Sometimes it’s a big win: Broken Blade, sometimes it’s fail: VOTOMS: Case; Irvine.

        And my enjoyment of this post has nothing to do with a lack of LAL sympathy. I’ve been a hardcore LAL fan since ’96. I sure know by now that asking for sympathy for the truly great Lakers from non-fans (unless they are bandwagon vomit) is as stupid as thinking of Gundam emo pilots as paragons of manliness.

        • Crusader
          Posted March 14, 2011 at 11:03 pm | Permalink

          It’s hard not to complain when nothing seems to be going your way at all. It’s hard to not complain when it’s the same thing season after season. Nice try at the burn but your damn Lakers are 0-2 against Miami, also I am not getting the girl and getting what I wanted handed to me. The Heat are up and your lousy Lakers finally get their A game on and yet still lost to the Heat and gave those stinky smelly Heat fans a reason to hope. So yeah I am fucking bitter right now.

          Truly great Lakers? Bah the only time I wanted you to win and you still fucking FAILED, blow out the Heattles and then maybe we can start talking about applying the “Great” moniker to your team or do you wish to talk about rings you have yet to earn?

          Ugh my enthusiasm for Case Irvine dwindles daily… Just wish we had the long awaited Shin Mazinger Z sequel looking at the next season well hard to be all that happy.

          • Posted March 15, 2011 at 1:26 am | Permalink

            LOL keep whining and hating comrade, it’s becoming your trademark.

          • Crusader
            Posted March 15, 2011 at 8:36 am | Permalink

            It was always my trademark just lacking a series to love at the moment. Still waiting in your boys to beat the Heat, and I want a blow out.

      • Ryan Moore
        Posted April 1, 2011 at 5:33 am | Permalink

        I always felt the child protaganist is only bad when done shittily. if one right it can be a tale of growth and maturity for the character.

  2. august
    Posted March 5, 2011 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

    Sounds like you want an anime adaptation of “The Bridges of Toko-Ri.”

    Also, a middle-aged hero is as much wish-fulfillment as a teen-aged hero. Think of all those terminal-grade O-5/6 cynics sweating it out in Joint Staff Hell.

    • Crusader
      Posted March 5, 2011 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

      Perhaps but one would expect an adult to have been there and done that and not be a whiny little brat who is meeting reality for the first time. At the very least an adult protagonist would have more obligations than a teenage one and certainly if done well you’d have less justification for random ecchi moments. That said not every adult is mature but worrying about the mortgage seems to be a better reason to angst than vacuous “injustice”.

      Bad fiction resorts to wish fulfillment good fiction tells a narrative without resorting to a Marty Stu that is perfect and saves everyone. I just want a character to be a bit more palatable, who doesn’t whine about lame shit like poverty at every opportunity like some half witted wannabe saint.

      • august
        Posted March 5, 2011 at 7:06 pm | Permalink

        I think that in this day and age, a good hero, as opposed to anti-hero or un-hero, is very difficult for audiences to accept. Too many people subscribe to Pappy Boyington’s adage, “show me a hero, and I’ll show you a bum.”

        One of my favorite examples to illustrate this is the novelist George MacDonald Fraser. In his op-eds, he was always forthright in his nostalgia for the British Empire and his Tory politics, but his Flashman novels set in the Victorian era featured a lying, leching, shirking protagonist who (almost) always gets the girl and a Mention in Dispatches. Most read it as a potshot at Victorian manners and mores, but a more perceptive reviewer noted that having such a moral miasma at the center of the story only made the actual historical heroes on the periphery of the story shine even brighter. No one would take a paean to Victorian virtue seriously today, so he had to conceal his message by providing a mute contrast to a modern sensibility. Similarly, most stories I encounter have the true heroes as supporting characters.

        As for random ecchi moments, well that happens with mature warriors too. If anything, I would be more wary of someone who has first-hand knowledge of 70′s and 80′s liberty in Olongapo and Pattaya Beach, than a kid straight out of boot.

        • Crusader
          Posted March 14, 2011 at 11:08 pm | Permalink

          I hear the old timers talk of the 80s/90s as some magical time that we are softer now than they were then. I still have a hard time believing all the tales of how much action they saw, sea stories are still sea stories take with generous amounts of salt.

          Perhaps these days hardly anyone can identify a hero even if they saw one. It’s not like the real life heroes get that much long term mention since we seem to have shorter memories in this age.

  3. Magnus
    Posted March 7, 2011 at 2:02 am | Permalink

    Well, at least Alto-hime manned up exceedingly well to his responsibilities, so not all teenage anime mecha protagonists suffer from the “needlessly whiny” flaw. But then he had his home and Sheryl-sama to fight for, so it could be expected from such an outstanding person.

    • SquareSphere
      Posted March 7, 2011 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

      So true, leave it to the the “deculture” club to show those “real robot” shows how pilots should act :3

      What i don’t get is that there’s an obvious want for some hotblooded anime when you show the success of shows like Sengoku Basara, by which all accounts, is a really really shallow anime. And yet we still get higher budget shows pumping how really pathetic hero characters especially in the mecha genre.

      • Crusader
        Posted March 14, 2011 at 11:12 pm | Permalink

        Yeah makes one wonder if we should redefine what shallow should encompass. Quite why these pathetic mecha heroes are getting so much budget is beyond me.

    • Crusader
      Posted March 14, 2011 at 11:13 pm | Permalink

      If only other pilots cared as much for their homes and their loves as much… if only.

  4. Ectholion
    Posted March 7, 2011 at 6:52 am | Permalink

    ah uppity teenagers getting beat down. I too tire or seeing snot nosed punks beating up on adults…

    • Crusader
      Posted March 14, 2011 at 11:10 pm | Permalink

      Good thing things work differently in the real world.

  5. Posted March 8, 2011 at 8:44 am | Permalink

    Well there’s always Patlabor!

    At least some anime have non throw away adult main characters like Full Metal Panic which I appreciate. I’m a bit confused though. I don’t see any robots in your screen caps!

    • Crusader
      Posted March 14, 2011 at 11:14 pm | Permalink

      I just hope any new iterations of older Sunrise franchises fare better.

      Giant Robo is there, and besides it was as much about the bench stepping up.

  6. Matt Wells
    Posted March 29, 2011 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

    I think you are somewhat hard on Daisaku here. Granted, he does throw the odd tantrum and does some outright idiotic things on occasion…taking robot to Shanghai even when the other experts told him he had no chance of beating Vogler’s eye comes to mind. But bear in mind that unlike the average wangsting gundam protagonist, Daisaku’s merely a 12 year old kid thrust into this world of superhuman life or death struggles. Taisou himself says in the first episode that the experts began training for this life at the age Daisaku’s been submerged in it.

    That he accounts for himself so well is commendable in itself. And as evidenced in episode 6, he undrstands the demands and bonds of duty. When facing Fitzcarraldo, a man who can cut him in half just by snaping his fingers, he is still willing to shield Ginrei with his very body. It’ll only buy her another second, but still he commits to it. I did cheer when Koshin slapped him, but he did so to remind Daisaku of the sacrifices and struggles before to reach this point. Daisaku was stubbornly holding out on the chance that Ginrei could be saved, she wasn’t another vain sacrifice; Koshin told him to man the fuck up and save the world, personal idealism be damned.

    Daisaku is far more likable than the average whiny teen lead in any given Gundam; his actions are more authentic, he struggles to overcome his own worthlessness without cheap newtype powers, and he takes to heart the lessons of sacrifice and honour taught to him by his many role mentors and models in the experts of justice. Your article seems to play up your own dislike of him while ignoring his growth as a character. You make excellent points about the prevalent trends in anime protagonists, and as a cynical 19 year old, I subscribe far more to your view than the pathetic leads I’m supposed to demographically identify with.

    As shown by Imagawa’s own G Gundam and Shin Mazinger, old people kicking ridiculous amounts of ass is a joy to behold. I think you would enjoy contrasting Daisaku with the lead of Tetsujin 28, also directed by Imagawa. Shotaro Kaneda is really the predecessor of Daisaku: he’s a 12 year old boy detective who drives a car, can use a gun and lives by himself in a mansion! Weird self insert chracter for kids…Shotaro is confronted with the sins of his father’s past in the form of a giant robot built to conquer the USA, and he decides on his own to take this weapon of war and turn it into a tool for peace. He’s an awful pilot at first, but he never wavers fom trying to redeem his father’s legacy for a new era, and he rarely talks back to his elders. :)

    He’s resillient and firm, and unlike Daisaku, it takes the death of only one of his mentor’s to restore his resolve. Daisaku, by contrst, had to see half the people he loved like family die before he decided to shut up and just do something with the fucking robot.

  7. Posted April 30, 2011 at 11:30 pm | Permalink

    >Giant Robo is my Boston Celtics

    BUT LAKERS WON THE CHAMPIONSHIP. ARE YOU CALLING GIANT ROBO A LOSER? BECAUSE I THINK YOU’RE CALLING GIANT ROBO A LOSER.

    • Crusader
      Posted May 1, 2011 at 9:54 pm | Permalink

      So they won the last one its 2011 and the Lakers nearly lost to a team with a depleted roster in the first round. Besides the Celtics still have more championships in total and are the better franchise. Unless of course you are one of those fair weather Fakers who only care about Kobe, mistake Kobe for being the greatest Laker of all, dunking, and are unable to name the rest of the team.

      • Posted May 1, 2011 at 10:05 pm | Permalink

        Lakers gon’ lake. Haters gon’ hate.

        • Crusader
          Posted May 1, 2011 at 11:25 pm | Permalink

          You don’t have a lake in LA, you bums just stole the team from Minnesota and unless you can name the Greatest Laker of them all you are just a Faker who’s gonna fake.

          • Nightbringer
            Posted May 2, 2011 at 11:21 am | Permalink

            Working on 17. Celtics are going to be shit next year, and the Lakers will keep going. Your hate fills my pride.

          • Crusader
            Posted May 2, 2011 at 11:58 am | Permalink

            Hey Faker fan I got one word for you LOCKOUT unless Khloe and Lamar is a winning season for you there might not be basketball and Phil probably won’t be there. Know your sport or Shut the Fuck Up. No one knows who is going to be what until the next CBA.

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