Wishes For the Robot Anime of the FUTURE


Despite much complaining and loud whining, robot anime actually persists. Sure, there aren’t any 80’s style 4-cour shows like Armored Trooper VOTOMS or Fang of the Sun Dougram, but then again there aren’t any 4-cour shows left anyway. Yes, FullMetal Alchemist: Brotherhood finished last year, but even that show was some version of a previously aired work. 2-cour has been the 4-cour pretty much for the past decade. While some shows like Code Geass and the Gundam TV shows enjoyed double 2-cour seasons (and if we count the SEED sub-franchise we have the last stretch of 4-cour mecha shows), the only 50-episode show that aired after the midpoint of the previous decade was Eureka SeveN.

But like I said, robot anime persists. Currently we have Super Robot Wars Original Generation: The Inspector in its second half (2 cours). The problem isn’t that the show isn’t very good (it probably isn’t), but it’s that it’s inaccessible to casual viewers. I have only recently started playing the Super Robot Wars games and begin to understand why SRWOG:TI is the way it is (I had dropped it after 7 eps); and gather that it really isn’t something that will work for viewers who aren’t fans of the games to begin with. This leaves us with Star Driver, also in its 2nd half of its 2 cours – a show that I personally find outstandingly entertaining, but different from how robot anime entertains viewers. From RahXephon, to Eureka SeveN, to Xam’d: Lost Memories to Star Driver, Studio BONES puts out shows that don’t easily fit in the mecha anime mold. RahXephon can be stretched to come across as a super robot show (as RahXephon itself is a super robot), but very much like Evangelion there’s a whole lot more going on in the show for it to be a straightforward robot anime.

In this post I organize my hopes and dreams for my favorite kind of anime.


I would suppose Eureka SeveN is the closest, but upon close scrutiny it’s quite awkward to lump it together with say, Gundam. It’s successfully fruity and colorful in ways 21st century Gundam TV shows fail at being fruity and colorful. Xam’d… I don’t even think you can call that thing a robot. Still for all its fuzziness it’s quite an interesting show that I remember fondly. So Star Driver, a show that delights me as a fan of Revolutionary Girl Utena. What if Utena’s duels didn’t always end the same way? (They mostly did). And… instead of barely animated swordfights, you can have glowing beam swords wielded by giant robots whose pilots shout out attacks? Yeah, but that’s about the only thing that resembles robotic appeal for me from that show (apart from the Nagano Mamoru mechanical designs). All its other awesomeness I get from its other elements.

Still, we’re enjoying 2 ongoing robot TV anime, the Broken Blade series of films are coming out once a month, as well as episodes of the Mazinkaiser SKL OVA. If all goes well, Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn 03 will drop soon. Point? We’re not exactly lacking robot anime (like say, for most of 2009).

The question then, is accessibility. It’s one thing to please long-time fans like myself (who ask for the moon when it comes to certain robot shows), but I think it’s very important to engage new fans into the subgenre. I don’t find many affordable, entry-level Japanese robot toy merchandise. This wasn’t the case 2 and 3 decades ago wherein robot toys fueled the production of robot anime. Even the original Mobile Suit Gundam was planned as a half-hour toy commercial (this is true, but not the whole truth so no need to be defensive). But as fans and their tastes matured, the robot toys got more and more complex and expensive, and I think this created a void by which more efficient merchandise advertised and popularized via anime could fill.

I can’t prove this at all, but I think very clever merchandise systems like Pokemon and Yugi-Oh! filled that void. They did more than that, they created new fans and brought in so many people into anime and its related hobbies. The games were very fun, and I think it’s cheaper to produce cards for games and yet one can exact a pretty big markup on them, while making the hobbyists addicted and consuming regularly. I know this from my time playing TCGs like Magic: The Gathering, Battletech, Middle Earth: The Wizards, and DC Vs.

eureka 7 01 renton nirvash type 0 eureka first meeting

A show like Eureka SeveN or even Mobile Suit Gundam SEED are ill-suited to drive merchandise like this. It’s not like there aren’t any Gundam and robot card games, but in part due to the maturity of the content (ironically, I hazard), they don’t make for wild collecting/consumption binges. There’s nothing in Code Geass or Xam’d that quite says it so elegantly: “Gotta Catch ‘em All!”

Now, I probably won’t survive watching an entry-level kids’ shows that have robots in them. As young as I am in spirit, those things have little hope of fulfilling me. I do think they are necessary (or, a version of that kind of show) that’ll bring new fans into the hobby. What’s happening I think is a cannibalizing of fandoms, under the aegis of expanding others’ tastes (the way I discovered I like other kinds of anime like “cute girls being cute” and “Iyashi-kei|Kyuu-kei” kinds of shows). I don’t think people have enough money to actively pursue multiple fandoms, which is what all the merchandise is made for: active and recurring consumption.

As versatile and multi-faceted a show like Star Driver is, it won’t make fans of FABULOUS (shojo, BL) into mecha fans (and likewise). Moé fans who somehow ended up liking Macross or Gundam won’t change their “allegiance” or the hierarchy of their tastes, just the same way I didn’t really change mine despite how K-On!! rocked my world.


So the first kind of robot anime I wish for in the future is an amazingly popular kids’ show that sells a lot of toys, video games, and the like. I want this to be the kind of show that will create the taste in kids for giant robots smashing each other. Not everyone will grow up into a robot fan, and probably most won’t even become anime and manga fans; but some of them will and that’s the important role of a show like this. This kind of show is overdue. Fund it Japan.

Having taken care of growing the future fandom, I now want to indulge my own tastes. I will proceed to list down things I want to see in the show (whoever does it, whichever franchise it ends up being an installment of; whether it’s an outright new thing or not). I will also list down things I want to see less of, but are otherwise tolerable elements of robot anime; things that are already going on but I want more of; and finally, things that I don’t think belong in the next big robot anime show.

Definitely Want to See:

  • Piloted mecha (similar to Macross in that the experience of piloting is a big payoff for the characters; this is important)
  • Gut-level intensity in the fighting (see: Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn, Broken Blade; also a great reference is Banner of the Stars I)
  • Intelligent strategy, tactics, and ideological scope (more like Legend of the Galactic Heroes and less like Gundam 00)
  • Superb battle-choreography (again, Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn, Broken Blade, FLAG, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex)

imgDump Banner of the Stars Oct08 02

More of:

  • Detached, even if humorous “radio chatter” prior to, or in-between spells of intense fighting
  • Realistic accounting for combat casualties and material losses (important!)
  • Physical and emotional fatigue due to extended battle conditions (Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory, Banner of the Stars I)
  • Tactical commanders enjoying “stardom” as much as, if not more than “ace” pilots

Less of:

  • Terrain-based tactical gimmicks (Great in The Battle of Narita, overdone in Code Geass R2)
  • Super beam weapons (can’t entirely remove LASERS and PARTICLE weapons in violent SF, but please no more Gundam 00)

[AG] Turn A Gundam - 50 DVD [163FB1F9] [FINAL].avi_snapshot_06.33_[2010.04.05_11.48.18]
None of:

  • Singular “ace” pilot hero determining the course of the conflict (no more Setsuna F. Jesuseiei please, no more; he wasn’t even annoying to me, they just made him do way too much)
  • Technological arms race determining conflict (especially if arms race only results in robot upgrades which only mean god-mode powers plus giant lasers e.g. Code Geass R2, Gundam 00)
  • Combatants debating ideology and morals DURING combat (JUST STOP, PLEASE, STOP)
  • Non-combatants influencing the results of a firefight while in the firefight (children stealing mobile suits, improbably hostages of opportunity, etc)

It’s probably not a complete list, but a show that works with the above will most probably turn me into a raving fanboy (the way I am for Gundam Unicorn but probably not the way I am for anything Macross). Note that I didn’t rule out moé or make it into some kind of polar opposite of robot anime. I don’t mind such elements in robot shows, as long as it doesn’t get in the way of the core “services” of the show. There will be some militant oldfags out there who treat the presence of these moé elements with hostility, but I’m not one of them. These elements don’t make the robot shows automatic failures as much as any of the things I listed as definite must-sees make the shows automatic winners.

I wish for two kinds of shows to exist and become successful in the robot anime subgenre, even though I’ll probably really enjoy watching one of them. To both fans of robot anime and casual viewers out there, what would you want to see? What would you add or remove from my lists? Are there other kinds of robot anime shows you clearly want to see?

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  1. Posted February 15, 2011 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

    Off the top of my head…

    Want to see:

    – Direct sequels of old super robot shows. So far, only Koutetsushin Jeeg has done this, and it did a very good job. Why not more?
    – A soldier main character who isn’t a pilot or a commander. I would like to see how the life of a mechanic/operator/cook (Akito Tenkawa doesn’t count) plays out in the backdrop of a dangerous war.
    – A co-pilot AI in every mecha, from the grunt to the advanced prototype. I would like to see how this will change robot combat.

    More of:

    – Competent female soldiers. They don’t need to be TUFF ACTION GIRLS, but they shouldn’t piss their pants when there’s a battle approaching, or utterly fail at piloting. Non-piloting roles are okay.
    – Underwater combat. I would like to see more of Mars Daybreak-style fighting where having your power cable cut is a serious (if not fatal) danger.
    – More realistic space physics. If a mech requires full usage of its verniers for fine movement in space then I would be very happy.
    – Solid weapons. I’m getting tired of beams. I want a show where even the main mechs use machine guns (like Dragonar) and solid blades.
    – “Real” real-robot shows in the vein of FLAG, Gasaraki, without the latter’s obtuseness.

    None of:

    – Blatant moralizing against war. Show how war is horrible, plz.
    – Kids beating up adults twice their size. COMPLETELY UNJUSTIFIABLE.
    – Bringing super robot logic in a real robot show. (fucking Lambda Drivers, how do they work?)

    • Posted February 15, 2011 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

      I agree on the female soldiers part. We need more like that funnel spammer in Gundam Unicorn. And Anya Alstreim (my namesake!).

      • Kherubim
        Posted February 15, 2011 at 7:09 pm | Permalink

        Maybe you should read Ecole du Ciel, the only Gundam work where the main is a female pilot (no, 0080 doesn’t count)

    • Posted February 16, 2011 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

      Want to See:

      — Co-pilot AI? Like Fatimas in Five Star Stories? or like Rei in SPT Layzner?

      More of:

      Canaria Bernstein…
      Misa Hayase/Katie Mannequin?

      None of:

      LOL I’m with you. The thing is, in robot anime SF, the “Applied Phlebotinum” trope is common enough, and is basically a stand in for BIG MAGIC or, more appropriately, SUPER SAIYAN powers.

      • Posted February 16, 2011 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

        Either AI is fine, lol. Though I guess Rei would be a purer embodiment of my concept.

  2. godlet
    Posted February 15, 2011 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

    Very nice post, I enjoyed reading it. As a self-described “genre-omnivore” (the closest fandom I have would be to FABULOUS, just because I am a devotee to being entertained) mecha is a genre that I’ve always felt disappointed by. Btw, thanks for reminding me Xam’d exists, one of the least satisfying shows I’ve ever watched.

    I would love to see shows that subscribe to your set of guidelines here. Especially in regards to avoiding weapons inflation (super weapons get ridiculous when there’s no apparent drawbacks in their use and EVERYONE has them: ie the origins of battlefields full of god-mode robots) and chatting about justice during combat.

    I would also love to see shows that manage to not ruin their setting. My first Gundam show was Gundam SEED. At the time I thought it was pretty good, but now thinking back on it, nevermind, I was just a stupid 13 yr old. So when 00 came out, I was pretty excited. The wasting of setting was my biggest disappointment with Gundam 00. What could’ve been a very interesting geopolitical plotline (say what you will about the reality of building those space-elevators, but if you take them as existing, the political effects of existence shown was well thought out) was abandoned for godmode and DRAMATIC combat chatter. They also took what could’ve been a very interesting side-story (Saji, Louise and other (originally) non combatants) and just HAD to shoehorn them all into the mecha part of the “plot”. I’d love to see a show that realistically sets, and sticks to geopolitical effects of the war going on between forces, that also involves a side-story that realistically shows the effects that wartime could have on a populace. Not just the easy “people running and screaming while giant robots fly around overhead, oh isn’t war horrible” device.

    Anyway, WAY too long comment.

    • Posted February 15, 2011 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

      Actually space elevators are one of the most realistic scientific possibilities that will happen within this century, and one of the most downplayed idea in science fiction. An entire ring like in 00 might not be plausible yet, but we’ll probably have individual towers. They’re currently the best planned way to transport items into space.

      • godlet
        Posted February 16, 2011 at 6:40 am | Permalink

        I actually fully agree with you on that. I’ve just seen people post stuff regarding 00 saying “space elevators are so stupid, we’ll never actually build them, having this set in 2300 (or whenever, not going to look up the exact date) is unrealistic, etc.) so I just put a disclaimer on it because I like to pander to overly opinionated idiots on “teh internets”.

    • Posted February 16, 2011 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

      I wrote a whole eulogy for Gundam 00 (my own Gateway Gundam) after watching that terrible fucking movie of utter buttwipe.

      The ideological debate happening in the battlefield is an unfortunate consequence of the utter lack of opportunity of the characters on the opposing sides to converse with each other — which can be a waste of dramatic potential and talent of the actors. I think this is a legitimate concern (but not a justification!).

      Look at Legend of the Galactic Heroes. There are just about a dozen instances wherein the cast of the Alliance forces got to converse with those of the Empire. EVERY SINGLE CONVERSATION WAS GOOD.

      There was only ONE time wherein an Alliance general lectured the imperials in a battlefield situation, but trust me, not only does it work but it also is one of the biggest moments in the show (Mar-Ardetta).

      It’s important to note that none of these things happen while the sides are shooting each other. So how does LotGH manage this? They inflate the cast, and I mean make it REAL BIG. The result of which is how you can generate characterization for more important characters at the expense of the background ones who will remain mostly as narrative devices. What it avoids is having the cast play off each other by having them argue their motivations and ideals while they shoot at each other.

      BUT, in the rare cases where infantry battles happen (which involve melee), chatter is unavoidable — particularly during sword fights (battle axes). I think this is a crutch used by ALL film narratives since forever.

      • godlet
        Posted February 16, 2011 at 8:14 pm | Permalink

        Yeah, I actually read your eulogy a couple of days after watching that movie myself. I enjoyed reading your analysis of the show’s successes and eventual huge failures. With how season 2 had progressed, I should’ve seen that godawful movie coming, but alas, I went in with hopes of seeing something decent. Oh well. Live and Learn.

        Sounds like I should give LotGH a whirl. I’ve seen it referenced positively so many times. It’s just such a huge time commitment. Is it all worth it?

        Conversation in melee ground combat doesn’t bother me so much. But when it happens between pilots, I can only wonder why everyone seems to constantly go onto the battlefield listening to open channels, and why it seems like they don’t have (or use) encrypted tactical communications in the future. I guess since you can just use your side’s hax tactical organisation isn’t needed…

        • Posted February 17, 2011 at 3:28 am | Permalink

          I guess since you can just use your side’s hax tactical organisation isn’t needed…

          I think it’s somewhere between this, and lack of effort to set up dialogue elsewhere. Sure it will be very contrived to have rivals end up chatting each other in some non-battlefield setting (I mean Pacino vs. De Niro in Heat kind of contrived; but as this example showed me, it can be AWESOME).

          I wholeheartedly recommend LotGH. It is worth it. Let me put it this way:

          Is it flawless? Does it never make a single wrong turn? a set of implausible contrivances?

          No, I think it isn’t flawless. There will be annoyances depending on your temperament and tastes. HOWEVER,

          What good stuff it has (and by golly it has so much) personally makes me feel that this show is better than flawless. I have no problems relating to it as a masterpiece.

          • godlet
            Posted February 17, 2011 at 6:05 am | Permalink

            Heat IS an awesome movie. I remember watching it as a kid at home when I knew I wasn’t meant to, and then again more recently now that I can actually understand all of what’s going on. Fantastic memories.

            I will start watching LotGH as soon as I can. I never go into shows expecting anything really, and even when things really annoy me (a la Gundam 00 from around ep. 15 onwards) I can still really enjoy it (except that damn movie…). So from what you and others have said, I should enjoy LotGH quite a bit.

          • Posted February 17, 2011 at 6:32 am | Permalink

            You saw it as a kid? Jesus F. Seiei I suddenly feel ridiculously old. I swear I was at uni when I saw that film in the theater.

            Have fun watching LotGH. Whenever you feel like going over an episode you’ve just seen and checking with opinion on it, Lower Mid-Table blogged almost every single episode (except for the very first ones IIRC). An incredible feat, and the blogging (as well as the appreciation) consistently got better close to the end (he really watched an episode a week for 110 weeks).

  3. Strel
    Posted February 15, 2011 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

    Battlestar Galactica+ Mecha anime = AwesomexOver9000

    • Posted February 16, 2011 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

      The only BG I got to watch was from the 70s(?) when I was a snotty pre-schooler. I feel like I should watch some of the newer stuff, but where to find the time?

  4. Posted February 15, 2011 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

    You hit all the right points, especially the AIMOCRAP. I didn’t really get into anime until a few years ago, so I missed many of the old ones (trying to find some decent mecha shows).

    Oh and I hate two-seaters where putting two pilots in one suit powers it up for no apparent reason (a la Harute Gundam from the thing with the Space Lily of Understanding). If it’s like bomber planes where you have a pilot and a navigator/weapons specialist, then that’s more understandable (but with the tech required to make robots the OS should be efficient enough for one pilot to do everything). Or something like MazinkaiserSKL where a different pilot takes over for different situations, though that would be VERY impractical for real robot shows. Anyways, stay away from Harute-ish stuff.

    Also, PHYSICS, people!!! You don’t have to be overly realistic, but don’t go way over the top. If there’s something that has to defy physics (Geass, GN Pixie Dust), keep the “laws” of the universe constant and don’t just pull a Trans-AM Burst out of your ass. Code Geass does a good job of specifying and sticking to the laws of its established universe. Gundam 00 doesn’t.

    • Posted February 16, 2011 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

      Yes, the technological/magic silver bullet stuff is rather annoying. UC Gundam had this too, with NewType powers revealing themselves in the last moments of the show (when it’s a 4-cour show like Z Gundam, it can be VERY disconcerting — but don’t get me wrong, I love Z Gundam; I just acknowledge the shit it pulled).

      Code Geass has crap in the same neighborhood as the TRANS-AM BURST when Lelouch Geassed God or something like it at the Sword of Akasha or whatever that was called.

      Otherwise, I agree that shows don’t really need to be very realistic concerning science, but I want verisimilitude. I talk about things like that in this post about Patlabor and robot anime in general.

      • Posted February 20, 2011 at 7:36 am | Permalink

        Yeah I admit Code Geass was messed up in the Sword of Akasha part. Lelouch said it was merely a request and not an order, whatever the hell that means. Other than that the mechanics of the Geass and the Code were pretty well explained. Heck the first thing he did after getting the Geass was analyzing the crap out of it (EXACTLY what I always theoretically thought I would do if I were put in such a thing, which made me go ZOMG I LOVE THIS SHOW).

      • Camario
        Posted February 20, 2011 at 9:42 am | Permalink

        The thing is, however, that Code Geass did establish that Lelouch & co. were in a metaphysical realm or plane of some sort when those events took place. In other words, that wasn’t happening in the real world at all.

        The Sword of Akasha itself seems to be on the border between both. We don’t even know where is it geographically located.

        So you could argue that science or physics shouldn’t matter -let alone apply- when characters are essentially in another plane or dimension, regardless of whatever craziness is involved.

  5. Posted February 15, 2011 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

    *slow, loud hand clapping*

    So basically you want an accessible, profitable robot show for adolescents and younger; I will enjoy watching and hating on that like the militant oldfag I am. Just kidding. It would be nice for that stuff to catch on even if I don’t seeing anything challenging the Pokemon model of collecting and toys.

    And as for the other show you simply want a mecha fans wet dream; I’m sure if anything like that actually ever airs I will worship it on the level of Haruhi-ist. Though combining the best elements of shows like Gundam, Macross and Legend of the Galactic Heroes seems like a pretty tall order. We can only hope and pray, or wait for someone like us to get super wealthy and ambitious.

    • Posted February 16, 2011 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

      Yeah, but if I actually figured out a robot show that could match Pokemon as an industry phenomenon YOU WON’T CATCH ME TALKING ABOUT IT HERE OR ELSEWHERE (gonna make sure I make lots of paper first lols).

      The wet dream show shouldn’t be that difficult to do, but the thing is without an established franchise guaranteeing it’ll be watched, it’s up to properties like Super Robot Wars to make things like this possible. Even so, they are handcuffed by the game tie-ins (thematically, storytelling, style, etc.).

      Yeah, you’ll just have to wait until the founders of WRL become stupidly rich so we can fund this shit.

  6. Anonymous
    Posted February 15, 2011 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

    I just want to see an updated War in the Pocket

    • Posted February 16, 2011 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

      How updated? Is it just animation? The video games Al plays (LOL)? Mobile phones in the colonies?

  7. Tama
    Posted February 15, 2011 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

    Nice Post…. And Agreed with your taste, I was Satisfied with Previous Broken Blade episodes and Gundam Unicorn (Since i’m newbie with Universal Century) Both this OVA/Movie Rocks and definitely on my list. Anyway does anyone in THAT want to blog Broken blade next episode?? Since you and Crusader Familiar with Mecha categories ^^

  8. Kherubim
    Posted February 15, 2011 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

    Since I come from a wargaming/videogaming POV for mecha, I want to see more of:
    – Mecha which actually get damaged in combat, even in the hands of elite pilots and down time when the pilots have to either use lower tier machines or go into battle with damaged or suboptimal mecha
    – Characters which aren’t elite pilots or bridge bunnies getting the spotlight, yes, the techs, medics or tactical controllers should share the spotlight too.
    – Protagonists not being in the best machines, maybe even their modified customs are 2nd tier at best against their opponents
    – A team (squadron/company sized) rather than a single or at most a trio of veteran/eltie pilots (Rogue Squadron with mecha?)
    – Actual spacefighters holding their own or even superior in performance to mecha
    – More use of the 3rd dimension in air and space combat

    What I want to see less of:
    – Super robots in a real robot show (that means you, Gundam Seed and Density, yes you too, 00, and you FMP)
    – Harem (no, it doesn’t work and it never will)
    – Cod philosophy of the kind enjoyed by Hideo Kojima or any Gundam scriptwriter
    – Masked men
    – WW2 in space, with Space Nazis and Space Imperialist Japan.

    • Posted February 16, 2011 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

      To confirm my understanding of the stuff you see more of, here’s what came to mind:

      1. Macross Frontier

      Alto gets shot down a fair bit, featuring the “hero unit” VF-25 Messiah. Also, instead of getting the usual mid-season upgrade, Alto actually pilots a mass-production downgrade — and all the way to the final battle where he, well (something you asked for happens).

      2. SDF Macross

      Misa Hayase gets a good share of the focus, and is responsible for some pretty awesome things (Daedalus Attack).

      3. Never gonna happen in a Gundam show. In Macross Frontier however, the VF-25 series is inferior to the VF-27 (Lucifer) series used by the rival Macross Galaxy fleet. The unmanned Ghost VFs they used are also superior to most if not ALL units fielded by the Macross Frontier fleet (and the SMS).

      4. The teams are 3-4, as discussed in the post and comments here (you were there); how exactly do you want this?

      5. Spacefighters over mecha? No. (Loong breath):

      Robot anime is a conceit. There’s no real reason why fighters should be robots. There’s really no compelling reason why a humanoid robot is better than a fighter or a tank.

      So, in a robot anime, the conceit must be maintained: robots are superior, any new means of fighting must be a new kind humanoid robot. Otherwise, let’s not do a robot anime in the first place.

      But we are into robot anime, therefore, we must suffer the implausible stuff to maintain whatever verisimilitude we can get concerning the robots themselves. Why do we want to see humanoid robots fighting anyway? I won’t repeat what I endorsed here ( love for Gundam).

      6. Examples please :3

      Less of:

      1. Can’t disagree lolololol. At the heart of real robot shows is a love and desire for super robot ones.

      2. What are your examples of this?

      3. Cod? I don’t understand.

      4. LOL

      5. LOL. I don’t mind this in UC Gundam, but I’m not looking forward to seeing more of it elsewhere.

      • Kherubim
        Posted February 16, 2011 at 8:09 pm | Permalink

        Giving this some thought (SOME, NOT MUCH) so you’ll probably disagree

        More of:

        1. Frontier is more of the exception than the rule I believe

        2. Macross still has a lot of focus on the pilots and the bridge crew, not so much on the other folks who are needed to support operations

        3. Yeah, ‘cos no one really wants to buy GMs and GM Cannon kits…

        4. Smallest maneuver unit as mentioned is a 3-4 mecha team, I was thinking more in terms of the company/squadron or battalion/wing POV. I mentioned in my post in that above article that there really isn’t much shown of ACM tactics like the “chainsaw” or having each team have a specific role.

        Example would be maybe an anti-shipping strike (I’ll use Falcon 4.0 Allied Force as an example, great game btw) You need a flight to run OCA/TARCAP, a flight to provide SEAD, a flight to run escort and one last flight to actually fire the Harpoons, drop the bombs, etc. That’s about 12 – 16 sorties just to get four aircraft to put ordnance on maybe one or two ships. Granted the mecha in anime aren’t constricted by the laws of physics or the fact that ordnance has not penalty on performance. Someone needs to be on the scouting team, or draw fire or specifically assault an objective.

        I’d like to see an ace pilot who gets promoted to a squadron commander (because of attrition) suddenly become very ineffective because he or she tries to do everything themselves, or is unable to keep in mind of the larger picture or screws up logistics (outrunning supply lines or leaving them undefended, forgetting to assign downtime for repairs and rearming, etc.). One of the reasons why WW2 Japan lost, their logistics were terrible (also a reason for pillaging), even if they had some brilliant tactical leaders…

        5. Poor spacefighters, no one loves them because somehow a bipedal suit can somehow fly in the air, outmaneuver them in space just because of a pair of legs… What are mobile armors if not extremely beefed up spacefighters or light gunships? :(

        6. How often have you seen pitch manuvers being used in mecha anime?

        Less of:

        2. I’m glad that the crap premise of a harem in SEED Destiny was somehow not followed in other shows, thankfully.

        3. Cod philosophy, or pseudo philosophy… If you’ve ever gritted your teeth at the speeches mecha pilots make in combat, or played any of the MGS series, or survived any of the Nasuverse (yeah I know, not mecha), you’ll know what I mean. Apparently the ability to pilot mecha also gives the ability to understand and pontificate on the universe…

        • Posted February 17, 2011 at 3:36 am | Permalink

          1. Agree.
          2. Okay.
          3. LOLYES
          4. Lovely, fund it.
          5. Space fighters should get their own subgenre, and I’d be into that.
          6. I am n00b what is a pitch maneuver?

          2. oh wow Athrun’s harem lolyes (ironically I enjoyed that the most — but do not take this as an endorsement IN ANY WAY, I was well past broken by the time I watched GSD)

          3. Gotcha.

          • Kherubim
            Posted February 17, 2011 at 6:32 am | Permalink

            Pitch maneuvers are like when you raise or lower the nose of the aircraft you are in to either climb or dive. Granted this seems to happen more in Macross than in Gundam (thinking of that awful fight in SEED between the Archangel and the Dominion, LOL evasive maneuvers?)

            For examples of shows/fiction which ignore the fact there is a vertical aspect in air/space combat, read this: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/Two-DSpace

          • Posted February 20, 2011 at 8:05 am | Permalink

            2D-Space bugs me a lot too. I KNEW there must be a tvtropes article about it, but didn’t find it till you linked it.

  9. Tenryu
    Posted February 15, 2011 at 7:44 pm | Permalink

    i’m thinking what would be interesting and a challenge would be a magical girl mecha show
    we have magical girl anime shorts made by an anime studio and a car company
    we have a show that has a male zombie turn into a masou shojo
    and we have a very dark magical girl show
    so why not a magical girl that pilots a mecha? and not just wear mechanical armour or a cyborg but an actual mecha pilot? i’d like for people to tell me if there is a show like that out there(i’m thinking Project A-ko for some reason)
    i’m mean lets face it ghostlighting(can i shorten that to GL?) most of what you said is probably every serious mecha anime fan boy dream but thats just a comfort zone(of sorts) and when it finally happens all of us will rave about it but don’t you just want to be surprised?
    ideas may look stupid on paper but you won’t know how it will turn out until its done.

    OG:Inspector is probably made for the fans who’d just want to see there favourite mech’s being animated(RYUKOOH!).

    Oh and talking about sequels i want the continuation of Shin-Mazinger Z-hen! any news on that?

    • Klutz1133
      Posted February 16, 2011 at 6:00 am | Permalink

      Actually, magical girl mecha show does exist: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magic_Knight_Rayearth. The mecha were even named after cars.

      • Tenryu
        Posted February 17, 2011 at 7:02 pm | Permalink

        i tend to forget that Rayearth had an anime

    • Posted February 16, 2011 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

      LOL Madoka Magica ep 06 should at least satisfy some of your desires.

      While I think there’s a place for this show you like, this is not what I want to see. GL is fine :3

      No new Shin-Mazinger is planned. Who knows maybe new interest will be generated by SRW Z.

    Posted February 15, 2011 at 8:33 pm | Permalink

    Please expain your 2-cour/4-cour terms. Google just gives me addresses when I try to look them up.

    I think shounen fighting shows killed giant robots long before card game shows. The only way I think one can re-popularize the genre with kids, is to re-emphasize the wish fullfillment aspect of its early days. Good toys would definitely help though.

    Your comment about “FOLD-WAVES OF PEACE, MUSIC, & AIMOCRAP” is boggling my mind. Well duh. It’s Macross, so of course music is going to be the solution to the problem. You should have known this going into the series.

    • Posted February 15, 2011 at 10:28 pm | Permalink

      I think cour is the length of time for an anime season, 12-13 episodes. 2-cour are 24-26 length seasons, 4-cour 50 episodes.

    • Posted February 16, 2011 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

      Sorry, I assumed incorrectly that the terms were commonplace. I did not intend to use jargon.

      Hmm, no I don’t think so. The rise of the shonen battle manga and anime (late 80s onwards IIRC) doesn’t really correlate with the supposed death of robot anime. Robot anime had been on a slow decline from this time, but it also had to do with the growing sophistication of the shows at the expense of appealing to younger, newer fans.

      In the 90s there were still lots of robot shows, and goodness gracious they made Gundam shows EVERY YEAR back then.

      So no, Dragonball Z, YuYu Hakusho, Ruroni Kenshin, Flame of Recca, etc etc didn’t kill robots.

      • JELEINEN
        Posted February 16, 2011 at 8:06 pm | Permalink

        Thanks for the exlanations of ‘cour.’ Not sure if it’s jargon; I’d just never encountered it before.

        You’re right, shounen fighting didn’t kill the giant robot, but I don’t think trading card shows did either (which is the point I failed to make). I think it was a cultural change that led to the genre’s current status.

        • Posted February 17, 2011 at 3:46 am | Permalink

          My theory is that the trading card games make for faaaaaaaaaaar superior business propositions for investors (I fancy myself as one). It’s just paper, manufacturing will have far less complexity. The markups are incredible, and the engine for consumption is beastly: releasing expansion sets every quarter(!) vs. comparable release dates for singular models of toys (or a set of 5-12) that not everyone who likes the show will be into. TCGs really FORCE unpopular parts of the license into the hands of the consumers (crap rares, crap commons), and it can also change opinions on unpopular characters, etc. (e.g. make a shitty character or unit A VERY POWERFUL card).

          They did make Gundam and Macross TCGs (IIRC), but the fans of the shows have either gotten older, or that the games suck, or both. Maybe there are other reasons, but neither franchise has an innate elegance that lends them to TCG success (as I said, “Gotta catch ‘em all”).

          Also, if you make a shitty robot kids’ show, not only will it tank, it will be HATED by older fans.

          The odds are just ridiculous I feel, hence why very little was made especially after the “Braves” sub-franchise by Sunrise in the 90s culminating in Gao Gai Gar.

  11. Posted February 15, 2011 at 8:52 pm | Permalink

    Soul Eater (2008) was 51 episodes.
    Zettai Karen Children (2008) was 52 episodes.
    Fairy Tail is up to 66 eps and going strong.

  12. Posted February 15, 2011 at 8:57 pm | Permalink

    A “cour” means 3 months. A one-cour show is usually (these days) 12 eps. A 2-cour show is usually 24-26 eps.

    It’s true that 4-cour shows are quite rate, and the main reason is that committing to a 4-cour show is a huge gamble for the studio. Even 2-cour shows are a gamble, so these days it’s more common for a longer story to be cut into smaller pieces, and the latter part(s) are treated as sequels — if the audience is there and sales of BDs and DVDs justify making more.

  13. yf19ex
    Posted February 15, 2011 at 9:20 pm | Permalink

    In away, you kind of described Macross as the overall ideal robot show.

    1. The main characters each had their roll to play. The interactions and attention to each characters personality and growth were well written to work with each other. Who did not cry at the death of Roy Focker or find themselves either rooting for Minmay or Misa. Hikaru was an unwilling hero who grew into his roll as the series progress. No big philosophical talk, no huge revelations in the middle of battle. Just a pilot working his way trying to survive a war around him while dealing with the difficulties of losing friends, politics of his mission and dealing with a love triangle (not a square or octagon etc).

    2. The mecha skills of the respective characters started from ground up. Hikaru is a kid growing up through the war and moving up the ranks to become a Valkyrie pilot. He was not an expert from day one as was show in the first ep. He was not even that great a Valkyrie pilot when compared against Roy or Max. God knows how many times he was shot down, even from friendly fire.

    3. The technology aspect of the series although scifi was still plausible and based on current technology of the time when it was written. The VF-1 was based off the F14. The base weapon systems such as gun pods and missile systems were conventional.

    In allot of ways, I felt most of this was lost within Frontier. The hero was an emo trying to force his way though the story while trying to figure his life out. He spent too much time yelling, getting angry, and not thinking out decisions or figuring out how the people around him really felt or suffered like Hikaru did. The bridge crew were not memorable, in fact they tend to be over dramatic to the extreme. Frontier’s two heroines did not endear themselves in anyway.

    In SDF Macross, Misa lost a lover and dedicated herself to the military until Hikaru came along. Minmay had to grow up on a ship, losing friends, family, going though fame fortune, hitting rock bottom and then trying to find her way back to the person she cared about most only to find she had lost that chance in the past.

    SDF Macross in an away was also the perfect space opera. It had battles, drama, politics, tragedy, heroism and evil, black and white. All without the over dramatics or overpowered heroes with invincible mecha. Its what happens when you devote 36 eps to telling a story instead of selling CD’s

    Being a Macross fan of course I will have a skewed perspective when compared against todays robot shows. Starblazers was my first show and then Robotech which propelled my anime fandom since the 80s and 90s and has not stopped since. But I believe the story telling during the golden age of anime was the best. Today, Gundam Unicorn is the only thing that is somewhat relevant to my old nostalgia of the the best Gundam was, the UC series.

    Today, I take anime for what it is. It is a guilty pleasure sometimes watching things like harem anime or comedies, but I can switch off my over analysis of things to try to enjoy the best of it. That does not mean I like everything at face value, but I am not overly critical, because to do so would ruin the whole hobby to me. But I believe that old space dramas like Macross, Legend of Galactic Heroes and many of the writings of the 80s and 90s are again just lost to time.

    • Posted February 16, 2011 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

      While I agree with your appreciation of SDF Macross, I don’t agree with your assessment of Frontier and the dismissal of contemporary work as guilty pleasures. I mean, sure feel all the guilt you want, but I think very little of the term (in the context of high-low culture, quality, etc.).

      I also don’t share the certain exclusivity that comes with your nostalgia. I run a blog called We Remember Love so I know my nostalgia lols. Still, what’s important is how I’m facing the future and learning how to appreciate the work that’s being done today. All works are victims of the constraints they face and I easily own up to the problems of shows like Macross and Z Gundam (early-mid 80s favorites). If I can apologize for these, why not contemporary shows? I can easily bring to bear my own faculties for the purposes of appreciation, so I do so.

      Try it too :3

      • yf19ex
        Posted February 16, 2011 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

        I don’t think I would still be an anime fan if I did not continue to watch new anime and still appreciate them. I should probably say, guilty pleasure as in the context of how current anime fans consider them a waste of time because they are over analytical of the anime they watch today.

        But I will still hold to Frontier. Its hard not too. SDF Macross was done at a earlier time and with a different outlook when it was first created. I do understand the current need to make an anime in the way it was done for business and popularity sake. I even enjoyed the music (watched them live in concert last AX) and still appreciate it as a piece of Macross history. But SDF was still built as a more serious story than Frontier will ever be. And for every 100 harem or comedy anime, an anime like Macross, Crest of the Stars etc are very rare (and as much as I don’t like to sound like an elitist) “I” tend expect a higher standard of story telling. I compare it to my like of the original Star Wars trilogy and when Lucas finally went wild with the new technological special effects and what he wanted to with the new trilogy, the story was mediocre at best. Sometimes constraints can bring out the best story telling.

        I will still watch it, and enjoy it in the context as it is presented today. Again, I can turn off my overly analytical part of watching anime. Don’t mistake this as thinking my perspective of thinking that all anime is so cheap to shut my brain off to to enjoy. I’m not a take it or leave it and can watch it. Just don’t expect me to like every aspect of it. Good anime will always be discussed and debated. Anime that takes after a predecessor will always be compared against the original.

        • Posted February 17, 2011 at 4:07 am | Permalink

          I agree with you re: holding the newer show to the standard of the original. But see, it so rarely ever happens that a sequel exceeds the original that it’s absurd to me that people actually and consistently have such expectations.

          I do think that our opinions on Frontier may not really be so far apart, if you consider my final evaluation of the installment here.

  14. Posted February 15, 2011 at 11:25 pm | Permalink

    I just don’t want anymore mecha with constant laser beam spam, maybe more shows like Star Driver with out the transformation scene every damn episode. Maybe more shows like Eureka and Xam’d? loved those settings really good stuff.

    Hi ghosty! -wave-

    • Posted February 16, 2011 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

      Hehe, the transformation scene is a tradition in robot anime. Go Nagai came up with the proto version when Pilder joined with Mazinger Z, then he made Getter Robo combine. But then he made Cutey Honey, and the entire magic girl genre was born.

      Remember, robots did it first (and that magic girl shows were invented by a perv being a perv LOL).

      • Posted February 24, 2011 at 10:23 am | Permalink

        Cutey Honey was the first transforming magical girl. The detail might seem minor, but the implications are not.

  15. Darkfireblade25
    Posted February 16, 2011 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

    The sad thing is that the only mecha anime i have watched in my life is code geass. and that’s not even a mecha anime…. (after 60 or so series, u’d think i’d watch more….) ;A; but i greatly enjoyed your post nonetheless :)

    btw, what does FABULOUS even stand for? >.> and what is aimocrap? xD

    • Posted February 16, 2011 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

      Just watch more. And Code Geass IS robot anime. It had giant robots smashing each other A LOT.

      Aimocrap is just my off-hand rant at magic solutions to complex problems (as presented by the plot); it’s kind of like Deux ex Machina. It’s kind of like Lelouch Geassing God at the Sword of Akasha.

  16. David
    Posted February 16, 2011 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

    I don’t watch much mecha, but I can certainly agree on the points you made. In a lot of ways, those sorts of changes would make me more likely to actually watch. Like so many other genres, it’s a hope for a cleanup of all the tired, unrealistic cliches that are still in use and an introduction of actual good storytelling.

    My favorite mecha anime of (vaguely) recent times was Dai-Guard (granted, not a giant robot vs. giant robot type), which in its own way actually does touch on a lot of the points you made — all the behind-the-scenes stuff that goes on that gets ignored in more traditional big robot stuff. Material losses; no beam weapons; impact on civilians and property; petty power struggles within the organization; the value of the support team; etc. Heck, it leads off with the question of what you do with the giant robots when there isn’t anyone to fight!

    Also loved Gasaraki, despite its obtuseness and pseudo-supernatural mumbo-jumbo. Everything felt very serious and real, rather than a soapbox of wish-fulfillment and DBZ powerups.

    I guess it could be summed up by just a request of: take it seriously (even comedy should be well-done), and get a good writer/director.

    • Posted February 16, 2011 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

      You’ll find some of the older stuff quite good (SDF Macross), and the Original Movie Trilogy of Mobile Suit Gundam is a keeper. The thing about older shows is that they can be forgiven for the cliches because they weren’t cliche when they used them.

      Dai-Guard is a great take I think on the whole idea, but it is a reading of the tradition as much as it is a narrative on its own.

      What’s important for me here is the polishing up of the “mainstream” even if it will most likely appeal to more sophisticated viewers.

  17. Posted February 17, 2011 at 12:00 am | Permalink

    Good list Ghostlighting. As a fellow mecha lover, I too am quite saddened by the disappearance of the 4-cour shows, especially that of mecha for a long time now.

    As a fan of more ‘realistic’ shows myself, I completely agree with your LoGH references (about commanders, plot development) and of course with your BoTS I reference, one of the very, very few animes where the main character in a war cannot win by pure TRYING HARDER and in the end remains extremely insignificant to the overall effort.

    I actually wouldn’t mind a mecha show which instead of focusing on a super hero type character, focused on the front lines of the ‘grunts’. It is always refreshing to see just good old fashioned hardheaded soldiers battling it out and winning due to good tactics, luck and grit rather than DBZ type shounen powerups.

    As well, I wholeheartedly agree with your assessment on having pilots actually ENJOY the thrill of being in the cockpit, instead of using the cockpit as a place to cry and cry (Kira & Shinn I’m looking at you).

    To this end, I’d say the only mecha show that I’ve watched that comes close to all of this would be Full Metal Panic… that is if they disposed of the silliness of the Lambda Driver which was just unnecessary.

    Heck unlike everyone else I even enjoyed Gundam SEED Stargazer, if only because there was a much more ‘science-based’ bent to it, it featured grunts, and no one had super abilities.

    So here’s my list:
    1) Low-level front line guys, many who die, some who rise up in the ranks by sheer ability, luck and smarts
    2) Saving all the political talk/philosophical stuff for inbetween battles where it belongs
    3) No more crying during a battle please. Cry after a battle if you lose some friends, but that’s it
    4) No more inconsistent super powers, like Fullmetal Alchemist, LoGH & BoTS the world needs consistent rules with no deus ex machina and well thought out battles
    5) A main character who struggles because he’s slowly losing his humanity by seeing so many people die, and he himself is being a calculating killing machine
    6) More excellent elder mentor characters who don’t need to be super flashy nor need to be super GAR. Just keep it simple! I’d take a Han Solo, but I’d really take a Merkatz or a Gandalf any day.
    7) Winning can only be achieved by struggle, not because of some tech upgrade you never asked for
    8) Sleek mecha designs that look like they would actually work. Avoid too many little bits that jut out, stick out, fly around for no apparent reason. Where’s patlabor when you need it?
    9) Please let the villain just be a guy with different political views. Not every bad guy needs to be a homicidal maniac just because Hitler was a homicidal maniac and ‘good vs evil’ is an easy sell
    10) In real life, pilots are probably pretty bad soldiers. Meanwhile special forces soldiers who can actually fire a gun and fight, probably couldn’t pilot. Please keep this in mind mecha show creators!
    11) And finally… please oh god no super beamspam weaponry. I don’t care if it’s a Macross cannon, a Gundam SEED planet destroying laser, or A-LAWS laser. This stuff has no place in a proper mecha show, and hell even the actual Death Star had huge limitations.

    So basically what I’m saying is that I want a mecha Band of Brothers*. Well a man can dream can’t he?

    *Yes I’m aware the ‘villian’ was Hitler there, but hey didn’t actually directly fight him

    • Posted February 17, 2011 at 7:01 am | Permalink


      1) 08th MS Team, also dearest Bernie in 0080 (without the… can’t spoil other readers lol)
      3) LOL
      4) As long as we exclude FMA: BRO from “well thought-out” battles, we’re good. I had my hopes so high leading up to the tank battle up North (siege) and then …oh well, LOL set-piece. The final battle in the city is entertaining as hell though.
      5) There’s actually a lot of this: Amuro after Ramba Ral, Renton after rescuing Holland (who was rescuing Norb) come to mind. But both characters are emo wrecks prone to running away (Amuro though had already run away leading up to the Ramba Ral arc so he can’t really do that anymore; then Renton ran away almost directly after that incident then leading up to his own Ramba Ral arc — Charles Beams).
      6) SOUTH BURNING (0083)
      7) long sigh aimed directly at Gundam and Code Geass.
      8) where did 8 go?
      9) OH MY GOOOOOD, ABSOLUTELY SHIT PARTS OF THE GUNDAM SEED SUB-FRANCHISE.. I can’t stand these villains (Murata Azrael, Patrick Zala, Durendal…) because they are too stupid to be really scary. By stupid I mean maniacal in a self-destructive LAME way.
      10) ugh Kira and Athrun…

      HOWEVER, Setsuna actually belongs to a certain tradition, along with Heero Yuy that finds its root in (drumroll…)


      Chirico is John fucking Rambo in robot anime form. While I like Chirico, I don’t endorse more characters being universal fighting machines beyond being pilots. I actually agree with you, really.

      11) I don’t think beam spam will ever go away, but less of it please. Broken Blade please you in this context (3 eps in, ZERO EXPLOSIONS… while remaining very violent; what a treat!)

      Funny, mechafetish and I had this long conversation on what we want to see in a real robot anime. We ended up strongly agreeing that we wanted a robot anime version of Band of Brothers. I’m glad we aren’t alone.

      • yf19ex
        Posted February 17, 2011 at 6:46 pm | Permalink

        In regards to number 11. It should follow anime law #27

        Law conservation of firepower:
        “Any powerful weapon capable of destroying / defeating an opponent in a single shot will invariably be reserved and used as a last resort.”

        Even the original Macross Main Cannon had its limitations. The Yamato too. (They took that limitation out in the new movie) Although I do enjoy watching one starship take out a fleet when it desperately has too. Now single unit systems like MS’s having that kind of firepower, thats a different story…

        • Posted February 18, 2011 at 4:42 am | Permalink

          Yeah, I agree… BUT…

          …not quite in the spirit of disagreement, I recall how back in the day some viewers used to pick at super robot shows by pointing out at how the hero robot wastes time by using the less effective weapons when he can just draw out the HISATSU FAINAL ATTACK at the get go.

          It should be pretty obvious that the threat of immediate destruction via superweapon should change the tactics of the participants. LotGH did it very, very well (Iserlohn’s Thor Hammer).

  18. DonQuigleone
    Posted February 17, 2011 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

    Testify man! Testify! Mecha is a great genre, and we NEED more of it! For me:

    Definitely Want to See:
    1. Deaths, a battle doesn’t feel as meaningful if noone dies in it. And not just red shirts please, important characters, maybe not main characters (you need to anchor the show), but certainly everyone in the second tier, it keeps the show more unpredictable. It also nicely illustrates the horror of war type theme.
    2. Consistent ideological theme: LoGH or Gurren-Lagann do this very well. SDF Macross is also a good example. When there’s a consistent ideology involved the show feels like it has more “heart”. It has more of a point. When a show’s core ideology is too shallow it feels hollow, like Gundam OO. It has an “anti-war” thing, but at the same time, the wars in question are never shown to be too terrible, and it spends waaay more time on powering up and ass-pulling you. 00 had no heart. It doesn’t need to be sentimental (like Gurren-Lagann), but there needs to be something tieing the whole together, to make it more of a whole and less of a corporate product.

    Want More of:
    1. Gar Characters, it’s wildly unrealistic, but the whole manly speeches in the middle of battle always feel great. Guys like Schenkopp, pre-S2 Graham Aker, Roy Fokker, Ali al-Sarchez, Max Jenius etc. always warm my heart.
    2. Battles won through smarts, not new tech, particularly towards the end. LoGH is king here. All the tactics were fairly well thought out, and tech or numbers were always able to be overcome (indeed the superweapons usually turned out to be useless).
    3. Superweapons, kinda defies point 2, but superweapons are COOL, however they should be an element of battle terrain, rather then Power Up. Think Iserlohn Fortress. Was a superweapon, but had exploitable weaknesses. But not too many.
    4. Set piece battles, Battle of Narita (Geass), final battle of frontier, most battles in LoGH are good examples. Big and orchestrated. Wow the viewer.
    5. Scheming, it’s quite enjoyable to have[well thought out,Logh good, Geass medium, 00 bad] political intrigue, stuff that happens behind the scenes should be as important as what happens in the cockpit, good schemers are great all round.
    4. Female Pilots, most pilots are male, however mecha is better about this then many equivalent genres, but for the wrong reasons probably…

    Less of:
    1. I’ll echo less of super robot prototypes, Customisable Mass production models are better. However they make the show more toyetic, a nessecary evil.
    2. Teen Pilots, it wasn’t realistic in 1980, and it’s still unrealistic. Again it’s a nessecary evil for the target demographic I guess.
    3. Outright evil characters, a strength of mecha is that usually the antagonists feel they are good and the protags are evil. Let it be driven by ideological differences rather then good vs. evil.
    4. Combining mecha, I like transforming mecha (go Macross), but I’ve never made any sense of Combining Mecha. In Super Robot I guess it’s okay. But in real robot? No way.

    None of:

    1. Coming back from the dead, as a plot device it should be reserved for one or two occasions only, it’s usually waaay over used. Better to err on the side of not using at all, only appropriate for extremely sneaky characters, who you’d expect to have a plan for everything.
    2. Ace pilots who are aces for no good reason. They need to prove it. Certainly not because they’re the main character and the plot demands it. They have to go through training and/or be veterans and/or show good reflexes. Also become an ace pilot as the story progresses. Broken Blade is an offender here, as are most Gundam shows.

    Woo! I’m just waiting for some more mecha to dream to… Maybe the new geass show will work out?

    • DonQuigleone
      Posted February 17, 2011 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

      Oh yeah, and no Newtypes, hate people with super abilities in my mecha shows. Though Geass works well, as the powers are well defined, and usually non-combat.

    • Posted February 18, 2011 at 5:01 am | Permalink


      1. LOL kill off the supporting cast! While I can’t really endorse this, I’m not against it either! MORE DEATH!

      2. Yes, 00 did fail to portray how terrible the wars are… UNLESS, we are so de-sensitized by all the war porn we see that Setsuna as a very young boy gunning down his own parents can’t be considered horrible enough.

      I do think that child soldiers aren’t much of a statement in a subgenre of anime that CONSISTENTLY uses teenagers as lead pilots and saviors of humanity.


      1. Yes, though I can’t say I’m a fan of Ali.

      2. Yes.

      3. Yes, well thought-out tech is always welcome.

      4. YES.

      5. Yes, but enough of these shadow societies and corporations bullshit. I like how Evangelion did it, and I don’t mind Anaheim Electronics in UC Gundam, but fuck it: Blue Cosmos; whatever that thing Alejandro Corner was part of that 00s2 completely forgot about; all these crap expies in Super Robot Wars; etc.

      I didn’t mind Macross Galaxy, as it clearly became a rival colony fleet which led to a colony ship vs. colony ship smackdown.

      4 (again, for some reason). GAINAXING? Never wrong.


      1. superprototypes ugh. Gundam Unicorn is how to do it right, maybe CCA, and definitely 0083.

      2. We can at least expect 20somethings in OVAs (Macross Plus, Zero, come to mind). TV anime? Fat chance.

      3. Oh god enough of the Ribbons, Murata Azraels, Durendals, Patrick Zalas, and that adkjgjal asshole in GSD. It’s not so much that they are evil, but annoyingly MANIACALLY so.


      1. LOL

      2. Hehe, demonstrations of potential are important in establishing future ace status (by future I mean by the 3rd ep). I don’t think Rygart is an ace, as his success is all a matter of luck so far. Kira however…

      3. NTs… I don’t mind them so much in Gundam, but please don’t make them in other anime please.

      • DonQuigleone
        Posted February 18, 2011 at 9:25 am | Permalink

        Thanks for the endorsement!

        After thinking a bit more about it, I think more plotlines that are “classical” would also be good to see more of. More plotlines that are tragic (in the greek sense, people failing due to their own faults), and characters that are “larger then life”. LoGH has this kind of thing in spades (eg, the story of Reuental is a classically tragic), likewise the quite enjoyable euphinator incident of Geass is also classically tragic, in that it’s lelouch’ fault for being a bit too proud, and he has a loss of moral authority.

        Mecha is often at it’s best when it apes plotlines from the likes of Three Kingdoms, the Iliad or Shakespearean tragedy, over emulating more comic-book like sensibilities(in Gundam 00…). These kind of storylines aren’t realistic per se, but they always have a very epic feel, and Mecha is uniquely placed in this regard as the cast are usually “exceptional” in ability or position. Leaders tend to get far more attention then they would in most modern war genres (in which the footsoldiers are the more focused on group, and commander are more distant), and also, like ancient warfare, mecha combat is supposed to be glorious. LoGH, while not a mecha anime per se(It’s functionally a mecha anime without the mecha in many ways), has far more in common with Romance of the 3 kingdoms, the Iliad, Shakespearean plays, and pre modern war histories then it does with most modern fiction, which gives it is timeless epic feel. Many other mecha shows are similiar, particularly Code Geass.

        We need more of the tropes of Classical literature in our mecha!

        DWtoS 2: It’s more that there was a lack of mission and urgency in how the show worked, simply fighting to end war is a bit too ambiguous, and the wars they showed them “ending” are laughable (lol at Sri Lanka), and it’s not like the planet was in a state of world war. No big developments really happened to justify their going to such trouble, at least UC has the colony drops, and blatant belligerence. The best they could muster was the occasional background episodes, but such things need to be far more integrated. Viewers needed t be hit over the head constantly. Reinhard frequently spoke about how he wanted to control the universe, and change things (and constantly showed what he wanted to change), Setsuna? Not much. S2 is even worse, as the “attrocities” shown are only ever aimed at rebel groups, and far as we’re aware the government is democratic and free. Furthermore Ribbons and the Innovadas didn’t particularly spread wars or anything but were straight megalomaniacs, which is kinda different. Innovadas would have made a better “3rd enemy” rather then main antagonist as they were.

        WMof 5: Yes, when it’s don badly it doesn’t work well, in particular I think it works better if the motives of the schemers is selfish (wealth, megalomania), and we know more about their actions then the main characters do, when done badly their stuff comes from nowhere and feels like a deus ex machina to create drama. Foreshadowing is important here. Also in mecha (and real robot in particularly) they don’t work as well as main antagonists, if they’re a shadowy organisation. Mecha antagonists should be like Char, people you can sympathise with and exist from the beginning.

        No 2: it’s more that ONLY Rygart can pilot it, Unicorn does this too where only Banagher can pilot the UC gundam, it’s a bit absurd to have a piece of military hardware be so closely associated with one person, particularly when that person is very untrained and the piece of hardware is better then anything else (IE a super prototype).

        • Posted February 18, 2011 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

          I too have a taste for elements of classical lit in mecha anime. Since the setting (with all these robots) are contrivances to begin with, I don’t mind going full-out with the epic feel of the melodrama in classical lit.

          Yes, the planet wasn’t in a state of overt war. This is what made CB rather comical, because in the end they were interfering with smaller conflicts in a way that could escalate into overt war.

          That said, I liked how CB drank its own kool-aid, that they foolishly believed in their nonsense. However, it became apparent that the show actually showcased this as some kind of redeeming moral content to justify the Gundams and make them heroes. This plus your other observations underscore the failure in this show.

          Char is an anomalous exception. Gihren was nuts, Haman was ruined by ZZ, don’t even get me started on V Trainwreck, Gym Ginghanam is nuuuts, Wong and Ulube are nuts… etc etc

          I’m fine by Arthurian conceits wherein the sword chooses the hero.

  19. Stythe
    Posted February 18, 2011 at 9:59 am | Permalink

    I generally don’t go near robot anime, but the addition of that Bounen image in your post reminded me of how much I absolutely loved Bounen. If more came out like that, I’d probably watch more.

    • Posted February 18, 2011 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

      Xam’d is barely robot anime in that the Xam’d itself isn”t quite robotic, though perhaps closer to things like Tekkaman Blade. Otherwise, it’s kind of like Turn A Gundam or Overman King Gainer only much darker and emo.

  20. blind_dead_mcjones
    Posted February 18, 2011 at 8:38 pm | Permalink

    hoo boy, where to begin….

    eh, heres my unreasonable list of demands:

    – a female lead, a non angsty, non psychic/newtype/innovator/esper/etc, non fanservicey, mentally stable, confident adult female lead who has some mecha piloting experience beforehand
    – more adults and no teenagers/kids
    – the main mecha being a flawed design and not some OP montrosity (i.e. the alteisen)
    – if a romance subplot HAS to be included, make it believable, and actually resolve it rather than leaving it hanging or having shiptease that leads nowhere, and no love triangles
    – a message beyond the basic good/bad moral platitudes and ‘war is bad’
    – no falling into the cockpit or the mecha being made by someones disapeered dad, and no gundam jacking
    – a Mecha design that can’t grouped into either the ‘GM line’ or ‘Zaku line’ (much like the flag and enact, or the original seven from Gun X Sword)
    – no swordfights, try something different (hows about pile bunker spikes? like what Gasaraki’s TA’s had in their legs, or the alteisens REVOLVING STAAAAKE!)
    – no massive bodycounts towards the end to show how ‘mature’ or ‘darker and edgier’ the show is, even tomino got sick of that shit.
    – no mid-season upgrade, just stick with the one giant robot for the entire show
    – no 6th sense psychic nonsense altogether (i may get flamed for this, but UC is the worst serial offender here. between the zeta’s bio sensor powering up the gundam using the souls of the dead, the shenannigans involving psychoframes, newtype monkeys, and so on)
    – don’t let the show dissolve into fanwank (i can’t help but feel that unicorn might be heading in this direction, could be wrong though)
    – for gods sake, if its a serious story at least try to be more subtle than a controlled demolition thats being supervised by clowns?

    personally i don’t really care if the machine is a super robot in a real robot setting provided its done right (case in point: the Turn-A gundam, litteraly the most powerful gundam in existence, period. yet it doesn’t give the vibe of being the ‘boring invincible hero’ like the strike freedom, same could apply to jehuty from zone of the enders, and (again) the original seven in Gun X Sword)

    also, quit it with the contemporary/future wartime scenario, its been done to death, why not have it set in the futuristic equivalent of the wild frontier or something (again i cite Gun X Sword, no armies and such, just one dude wandering about searching for the guy who killed his wife to be so that he can take revenge, another idea would be like patlabor where it focuses on a rag tag bunch of misfits in the police force and almost all mecha are little more than glorified forklifts)

    and finally, i ask that the folks making the show have their vision/story and they STICK TO IT, have some fucking artistic integrity. that means no pandering to spoilt asinine fans and their neverending complaints/demands, no completely destroying a character because you have a beef with the voice actor portraying them, no bringing a character back from the dead/introducing a captain erstatz because the original was cool/popular, and certainly no rewriting the plot halfway to accomodate a movie.

    barring a few exceptions i think what i want more or less ammounts to “make it like patlabor” or something along the lines of Gun X Sword

    • blind_dead_mcjones
      Posted February 18, 2011 at 8:53 pm | Permalink

      almost forgot, stop with the mechs zooming through the air/hoverskating, go back to being groundpounders that have to plod everywhere, otherwise what is even the point of giving the mecha legs if they aren’t even going to use them

    • Posted February 18, 2011 at 11:07 pm | Permalink

      These are your wishes so I honor them, but I do find your frustration pretty extreme.

      “Done right” under this list seems so narrow to me and shows contempt for so many of robot anime’s tropes.

      That said, I will probably really enjoy a show that does all of this so don’t let my reticence bother you too much.

  21. Camario
    Posted February 20, 2011 at 9:56 am | Permalink

    It would be fair to say that I do want to see more of the same things, but I’m not necessarily bothered by everything else because I’ve come to accept the limitations of anime as a medium in this time of economic stagnation.

    Hoping for consistent Legend of the Galactic Heroes quality (as a whole or in terms of the use of certain plot devices) is a bit difficult in this day and age though. For starters, it literally had all the time in the world to have its characters meet and talk about politics or ideology outside of the battlefield. Today, such conflicts often need to be presented in a more exciting, and, more importantly, abbreviated manner simply because the staff needs to find the balance between competing interests and requirements.

    As you’ve already observed, most modern shows do not reach the 50 episode mark (or, if they do, then it’s because they are being produced as two separate seasons) and they also don’t have the luxury of being made and released over a long period.

    In addition, LOGH was essentially the adaptation of a novel series and thus, I imagine, less vulnerable to the varying demands of sponsors and broadcasters thanks to its OVA nature. Gundam Unicorn also benefits from having the same format and origin, in spite of the obvious differences in terms of length.

    Nevertheless, I’ll be happy if at least a few of these observations and comments are taken into account, even it’s quite unlikely that the majority of them will be employed at the same time during the production of your average TV series.

    • Posted February 20, 2011 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

      Yes, which is why these are wishes and not hopes. I have no hopes… and mainly appreciate shows as they present themselves (and on their own terms).

      Also, it really would not be your average TV series if it employed the majority of these things. If our average (real robot) TV series is Code Geass (Gundam 00, Gundam SEED, and Macross Frontier), and our below average TV series is SRWOG:TI, and our above average TV series is Eureka SeveN (Turn A Gundam) accounting for the previous decade or so. [NOTE: these aren’t ratings per se, and thus I did not account for excellence and terribleness (and super robots)]

      It would be a rare and exceptional TV series, the likes of which perhaps have never been seen before (execution-wise).

  22. Rockmanshii
    Posted February 20, 2011 at 10:53 am | Permalink

    Lol finally got around to read the post. I feel like repeating stuff now that a lot of people already posted their lists. Nevermind.

    More of
    – Live ammo weapon, solid short ranged blades.

    -Bulky mechas, bigger, heavier, and more armored. For me mecha is supposed to be able to wisthand heavy hits. Doesn’t need to be a Super Robot, it can have for example detachable armor parts, or be a little slower. It can get a plane to transport it faster etc.

    -Middle aged protagonists with a wife and kids. Female protagonist is okay too.

    -More female pilots. Instead of putting useless girls in the cast just for fanservice or romance and love interest or whatever. Why not make them be pilots as well. And I think 2 people in the same army have a better chance at falling in love. And make them pilot right from the start, don’t show them for 26 episodes for no reason and make them pilot all of a sudden like Louise in 00. It’s like if they were shouting ” hey look! we’re showing you these civilians because they’ll end up fighting too someday, but for now, enjoy their boring slice of life moments”.

    -Earth/ground battles, not that I’m uncomfortable with space battles and the lacks of physics displayed sometimes, I just like Earth battles more, there’s so many sci-fi stuff already.

    -More infantry fighting on ground, and guerrilla fights in different environments. I liked the Jaburo battle in the first Gundam because.it was in a jungle.

    -Aliens as enemies. Seeing people from colonies/mars etc and earthlings fight together aliens would be nice for a change.

    -More politics and negotiations and treaties and ceasefires. That’s also a way to end a war.

    Less of:

    -Falling into the cockpit. Not that I hate it, but I’d like to see something else for once.

    -Crying, whining, I don’t want to fight etc, I want manlier characters. Or at least make them manlier fast.

    – Drama created by childhood friends on different sides.

    All my requests makes me think of Break Blade lol, I love this show. Really the only complain I have with it is that the parts I liked the most in the manga probably won’t be animated at the pace they’re going.

    About the currently airing SRW, I agree that’s it’ not noob friendly but for me the biggest reason is that it’s actually a sequel to SRW OG Divine Wars which aired some years ago, if people would watch Divine Wars first and then Inspector you can understand all the story and know the characters without having played the games. The thing is there’s not even many people who know about Divine Wars and it was also quickly forgotten, because it was mediocre. Not that it’s bad, it’s watchable but Inspector is much better in every aspect. Especially the CG. You can see how they improved a lot since Divine Wars. It’s the first time I watch an anime with that quality of CG. But yeah you’re right if you’re a huge fan like me, The Inspector makes you jizz in your pants every week.

    • Posted February 20, 2011 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for sharing your list.

      On the whole I’d think I’ll enjoy a show that followed your list, so any disagreement I make doesn’t really mean much. So having cleared that up, here are a few things:

      -As much as I LOVE fatass robots, I don’t like the idea of sitting there and taking hits. There’s always is a way to crack a nut so I don’t like to see a unit just taking crap every battle and then raping enemies at the same time.

      In limited uses this could be very good. In the third ep of BB, the mobile armor suddenly is on the protagonist’s side and was used in interesting ways.

      -Aliens is a tough one. Either they’re too human (Gamilons are basically people, Zentraedi, Boazans, Brahmins, Gradosians, fuck it even Radams used humans), or they’re bugs in some form (STMC, Vajra). Personally, humanoid mecha is the best to watch fighting each other.

  23. Da5id
    Posted February 20, 2011 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

    Hey, why does everyone think X’amd was so great? Its all style no substance and never gives any clear answers past “Akiyuki gets with Haru”.

    • RahXephon
      Posted February 21, 2011 at 12:43 am | Permalink

      I don’t think this is the venue to discuss the merits (or lack of such) of Xam’d. If anything it can be problematic how the Xam’d themselves aren’t robots, or even powered suits the way say, Appleseed or Tekkaman Blade use them.

      There are piloted mecha in the show, particularly those used to combat the Xam’d.

  24. Maverick
    Posted February 21, 2011 at 8:09 am | Permalink

    Ahhh soo many opinions that I think the important ones have been said.

    Just would like to point out that “30 minutes toy commercials” still exists!! Code Geass R2, gundam 00 second season, and Gundam Seed Destiny are good examples of that. In fact, I am still surprise that while all the anime community thinks very low about GSD, they are one of the top 5 series ever in dvd/toy sales.

    Yet that brings another good point: We are wishing for change, but right now there is no security or insurance that any new revolutionary mecha anime would be turned into a 30 minute toy ad just like R2 and 00 2nd season turned into.

    BTW from which anime is that picture with the girl in the wedding dress??

    Finally, I would recommend you to check out Starship Operators if you want to see a “realistic” space opera anime. No mecha, but lots of battleship fights. One of the best anime I have seen in my life.

    • Posted February 21, 2011 at 8:45 am | Permalink

      Nakiami from Xam’d: Lost Memories.

      Let me just clear up that I do not resent anime for being merch pitches, not at all. That said, there are good ways to do this, and there are terrible ways as well.

      If there are Broken Blade toys, I will be interested because the action in those films are top notch.

      P.S. Thanks for the Starship Operators rec, I’ll get around to that sometime.
      But what I don’t consider good are episode 7 of Macross Frontier wherein the units were shown one after the other as if in a “highlight reel” which is so not Macross but verily the domain of AU Gundams e.g. W, SEED, and the 00 sub-franchises (and yes, fucking Code Geass R2).


      • Maverick
        Posted February 21, 2011 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

        Thank you, I will check Xam out, looks promising.

        Ahhh toy sales……I think media still doesn`t understand or hasn`t define what is good and what is not good for toy sales….. I think they are still stuck in the Gundam Wing formula.

        About Macross Frontier……I watched Robotech as a kid, Macross Plus at Toonami around 2002, Zero during college years, and a few episodes here and there of 7 and 2. Yet Frontier quite honestly was the Macross with the most “macross” elements and the one with the least macross feeling. I did felt more like a modern gundam as you said.

        And about the highlight reel…..I felt it comming since the december first episode showcast. Everyone I knew that grew with Macross was expecting a vf-19 squadron and perphaps a vf-22 diamond force, but we got the VF-171, a budget heavy fighter. The reason: “The vf-19 is a “hero” plane, could attract more attention than the VF-25 [so we made vf-171 ugly to make the vf-25 hotter]”.

        BTW, I will add that to my mecha wish list:
        1) Keep the sense of urgency and constant threat in the show. Having the main cast going to shop clothes or taking a very high class dinner (as if they just bought the ingredients without bribing the supply chief) before the final confrontation just kills the mood.

        2) Close the damn triangle/square/octagon, or else kill the main dude or all of them. In fact, I wouldn´t mind if by the end the guy shagged the 2-6 girls and got them pregnant before getting killed in the final battle. That will sure bring a change to anime.

        3) Make the fight believable, and not just a one-side massacre. A few defeats or “victories but just lost 80% of the forces” actually makes things better. I remember when Global, Bright, and a few other great mecha generals had to think a million plans and strategies before comming with the right one to scrap a win.

        • Posted February 21, 2011 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

          I don’t want to get on a full discussion on Macross Frontier here, as I only intended to comment on the episode 7 bit (which is consistent with the movie sequences I think), but here’s my complete take on Macross Frontier.

          1) Yes
          2) YES
          3) Global doesn’t actually do much in terms of strategy and tactics. The whole time he was this fish out of water — being the first commander to fight in space against aliens. He was also helped by a lot of luck — the Zentraedi didn’t really know what to do with the Macross. The definitive battle I think was that of Saturn’s Rings.

    • blind_dead_mcjones
      Posted February 21, 2011 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

      technically only the western anime community that thinks badly of destiny, as far as the japanese audience (the ones bandai cater to) were concerned it was one of the best series’ yet, which would also go to explain why 00 season 2’s “plot” was altered to resemble it

  25. KGFJ
    Posted February 24, 2011 at 4:31 am | Permalink

    Maybe this is going to be quite ironic. I fucking hate Gundam Seed Destiny (hate all the characters. Which make me think why I even loved Gundam Seed to death when I was, like, 12 or 13) but I definitely love Code Geass and (I know, curse me) SRW OG: The Inspector. I swear I never even played the game and I don’t have any intention to play the game at all.
    I guess what I like about mecha anime is, well, the fights. The more realistic it is (and the cooler it is!), the better it is. It doesn’t have to be realistic in our own logic, but at least it obeys the standard the anime itself gives.
    and yes, I fucking hate all those wimpy characters (the ones who got no balls). Or screaming at each other about what’s right or wrong while fighting.
    I still don’t know why until now I can’t bring myself to watch Macross Frontier, although the animation is really good. Maybe because I also hate harem.
    Actually, a touch of politics and great strategies involved is a really good thing. But you can’t overuse it, like in Gundam 00.
    Sorry for my rants, but I definitely love this topic! ^^

  26. Posted February 24, 2011 at 10:49 am | Permalink

    I agree with the reasoning of most of your wants/do not wants, but most of them would not be conducive for an entry-level kid’s show. A show with the elements you describe would almost exclusively appeal to mature science fiction fans, I’m afraid. Sure, anime fandom has a higher proportion of them than the general public, but its still a niche crowd.

    I’ve enjoyed mecha anime since I became an anime fan, but I discovered of late that I’m not a such a fan for the robots themselves. I appreciate creative mechanical designs and the space opera-like narrative elements common in real robot anime, but I’m not a stickler for humanoid mechs. Sometimes a show falls too much in love with introducing shiny new Gundams that it becomes the albatross around the neck.

    • Posted February 24, 2011 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

      I think you missed out reading that I actually called for two shows. One is an entry level kids’ show (that for all I care could do anything as long as it captures the hearts of the kids for giant robots smashing each other), the other one indulging my own tastes.

      The way you describe yourself, you’re really not into the robot part of the robot shows — you’re really more of a general anime fan who happens to enjoy some elements found in robot anime (kind of like, enjoying Playboy magazine for the articles). This is all good, but clearly what you may find as albatrosses, some of us may consider specimens of RX-ABNT-001 Albatross (MP) — which may annoy us sometimes but is never an outright bad thing.

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