Sai Mecha 2012 Round 1 – Earth Side
May 6, 2012
Hello, mecha fans! This is ExecutiveOtaku here at the opening round of the season. Things are about to begin here in the Sai Mecha arena. Ghostlightning has been down in the hangars getting the scoop on the Earth Side contestants, so go check out his report before heading to the polls. Polls are open from now until 23:59 EST on 10 May. The game is on, mecha fans!
The Arbalest is a humanoid armored weapon in the real robot tradition called an Arm Slave. It is a modestly sized, infantry unit that for all intents and purposes fights like a giant infantryman. This is true until it starts using its special power source called the Lambda Driver which turns willpower into physical force and turns the Arbalest into, for all intents and purposes, a super robot the way Gao Gaigar or even Gurren Lagann is a super robot, and perhaps just as powerful if not more so.
It is a sterling example of super robots (usually the main unit) in otherwise real robot shows, mass produced and broadcast by Sunrise/Bandai from the 90s onward starting with Mobile Suit Gundam Wing.
Gurren Lagann in its many escalating forms is the embodiment of humanity’s will to freedom. If limitations to freedom can be represented by walls, then the Gurren Lagann has the drill to break through it. It is designed to be the ultimate robot to end all robots in robot anime history; not only in terms of universe-breaking ridiculousness, but also in terms of possessing design tropes to encompass the entirety of robot anime tradition:
Powered by will
Super prototype (from which mass production units are built on)
GN-001 Exia is the first Gundam exclusively designed for dueling. It is designed to be agile, to maximize a variety of bladed weapons and attacks when it reaches close quarters. It is aided by GN Particle shielding and stealth to dash into melee range. It is also able to use long range weapons such as the GN Arms before dashing into its customary melee range. As Gundam designs go, it is of the tradition of narrow-waist and slim designs, evoking the silhouette of a tall and slender bishounen — a tradition that perhaps began with, but definitely was popularized by, Mobile Suit Gundam SEED.
The Big O is a super robot, called a megadeus, of mysterious origin. This particular unit is very slow and fights primarily if not exclusively on the ground. It relies on incredibly tough armor and a large variety of armaments to fight, but ultimately in inexorably advances towards its opponent to deliver devastating physical attacks. To achieve this, The Big O is capable of running.
The Ingram is a civilian peace-keeping mecha, called a labor. Particularly it is a police unit patrol labor, from which the title of the show Patlabor comes from. The design actually includes an open cockpit wherein the pilot is actually visible from underneath the head unit and directly above the torso of the humanoid form. The unit was designed to apprehend rogue civilian labors, not so much for militarized combat.
RahXephon is one of the first post-millennium super robot designs. In terms of power, attacks, size and dimensions, it is very much a super robot. Its origins are mysterious, and it behaves like, and is regarded as, some kind of God. The unique aspect of this unit is its sonic attack. It “sings” a song that is very destructive, especially against its opponents called dolems, which are also super robots but influenced by the kaiju (monster) traditiion of Ultraman that was brought into robot anime via Evangelion.
The Takemikazuchi is a Vector Type Autonomous Tank Walker, which is the kind of mouthful one expects from a mech in the real robot tradition, only that it doesn’t come from a real robot anime. But like many supposed real robots, it uses a lot of super robot tropes such as:
Being a rare artifact from a mysterious past
Is made of mysterious technology
It runs on mysterious energy, potentially unlimited
Interestingly enough it is crewed by 5 people, making it closer to a capital ship (in the context of robot anime storytelling), allowing multiple cast members speak to each other and provide expositionary dialogue of what’s happening in the battle (while remaining female and cute, as with bridge bunnies).
The Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam is the first titular Gundam to transform in the super robot tradition of Yuusha Reideen and Tossho Daimos, etc. but perhaps closer in terms of influence to the more recent Variable Fighters of Super Dimension Fortress Macross. It is also the first Gundam that had direct contribution from the lead pilot in terms of design prior to deployment. Also, unlike its predecessors, the Zeta Gundam is capable of performing attacks in the super robot tradition (Yuusha Reideen), but mostly aided by mysterious Newtype powers.
Shin Getter Robo is the third generation Getter Machine in a long tradition of Getter Robo super robot anime. It is said to be the most powerful, if unstable unit. Like the Getter Robos before it, it is formed by a combination of 3 Getter Machines into 3 distinct forms (Getter 1, 2, and 3). It fights other giant robots called mechasauruses [sic mechasauri] which are piloted by (evil) dinosaur people from within the Earth.
Zeorymer of the Heavens is a stupendously powerful super robot stolen from the Alien Hau Dragon (empire), and conscripted for use by the Japanese government. Zeorymer of the Heavens is able to hover, fly, teleport unspecified distances, and possesses an incredibly potent weapon known as the Hades Attack: when it lifts its arms in the air then lowers them across its chest, slamming its fists together or against the large golden orb on its chest, the robot releases a huge blast of golden energy that, at full power, can cause an explosion visible from space (inferring the power of several gigatons at least, though even on lower settings this final weapon seems equal to most nuclear weapons in scale). When this attack is activated, a mysterious voice, possibly Zeorymer’s itself, can be heard saying “Meiou,” the attack’s name.
Obscure anime, but popular robot due to being featured in Super Robot Wars MX, and Judgement, notably the easiest games in the franchise precisely because of Zeorymer, whose appearance makes the whole thing go on easy mode.
Dai Guard is a super robot design in a fully-realized real robot environment with a level of attention to detail that exceeds most real robot anime (as evidenced by many of the far more fanciful entries above). By this it means that the production, maintenance, expense, and operation of the Dai Guard involves a massive and complex bureaucracy that gives life to a very human story within the context of a “giant robot protects the Earth from alien monsters” (the kaiju tradition also shared by Evangelion and RahXephon). In terms of performance, it is even slower perhaps, than The Big O; painstakingly conceptualized to be as “realistic” as possibly science fiction can bear.
The Nirvash Type 0 is a mysterious, sentient, robot superprototype in the tradition of both Neon Genesis Evangelion (for the sentience and the design silhouette) and Super Dimension Fortress Macross for the transformation and aerial combat dynamics. What makes this unit incredibly unique is how it flies using “Trapar Waves” using what is, for all intents and purposes, a surfboard. It fights mostly in close quarters combat, preferring to evade opponents missile barrages to land strikes on its opponents. This is quite distinct from Gundam style close combat wherein the mobile suits can stand statically and duel with swords. The Nirvash behaves more like a jousting knight who lands strikes using a lot of forward momentum. It does pay homage to Gundam with its world-altering final attack powers similar in thematic effect and colorful style to Turn A Gundam.
The VF-25 Messiah is the 25th anniversary design of the Variable Fighter, a three form mechanized weapon popularized by Super Dimension Fortress Macross. The Messiah is an all-around performer that is suited for any combat mission. Beyond the three forms it can assume, it can be outfitted with particular service packs that suit the combat mission it performs. In design terms it moves away from the passive-stealth influenced designs of the ’90s and back into a more heroic look that features a long, slender silhouette that also features the fastest transformation times in VF (and real robot anime) history.
Mazinger Z is an invincible fortress of steel, defending the Earth against mechanical beasts designed by Dr. Hell and other remnants of the Mycenean civilization. It is the first ever super robot, taking the idea of the super hero and making it a lot better by making the human pilot super by virtue of the machine. This introduced size dynamics among other things in the super hero tradition. Like super heroes, it has an array of powerful attacks that dispatch enemies in various (cruel) ways, as Japanese style super heroes have no compunction destroying their opponents and portraying death of bad guys (en masse).
The Delphine is another of those mysterious ancient relics that saves the day, albeit its uniqueness comes within the context of its setting where robots (golems) are crystal quartz that can only be made to move by sorcerers (pilots). The Delphine precedes all of this and can only be piloted by an un-sorcerer, making it a very interesting faux-underdog kind of unit (it’s hard to call it an underdog when all the resources of a kingdom is backing its development/tuning). Lacking the ability to field the conventional weapons of its day, it relies on a wide variety of melee attacks. It is one of the rare units that fully embraces both science fiction and fantasy in its conceptualization and execution.
Mazinkaiser SKL is a variation of the 3rd generation Mazinger robot (Z, Great, Kaiser). What sets it apart from prior incarnations is how it is dual-piloted albeit only one pilot at a time assumes control. This allows SKL to perform radically different fighting styles: 1 is a more conventional giant sword wielding style, but the other is a close-combat pistol style that involves moves and techniques one expects more from say, the Gundam Exia. The styles themselves produce similar results (i.g. the battlefield is cleared of enemies) albeit the sword is still the likely weapon to dispatch final bosses.
Bonus Round: Best Use of Mecha in/by Moe
(Yeah, I know it’s not a comprehensive list. Come at me, mechaota!)