SaiMecha 2012 – RaGARok Round 1
July 10, 2012
The final phase of Sai Mecha 2012 begins now with the first RaGARok round. These matchups will set the tone for the remainder of the tournament, as these fan favorites clash in the arena. Here is ghostlightning with your contestants’ writeups. Voting is open until 23:59 eastern time on July 14 (Saturday.)
MATCH NUMBER ONE
Gurren Lagann vs. VF-25 Messiah
Two of the best-in-class examples of their respective traditions. Gurren Lagann is a combining super robot of the Gunbuster tradition; using only 2 units to form. However, the brilliance of this is the near limitless expansion/upgradability as the Lagann is primarily a control/power source unit that becomes the basis of further versions — which respective sizes result in ridiculous ratios. This requires the entire robot to control the larger one by sitting in the cockpit in the lower center torso of the larger unit. Continue this, matroshka doll style until you reach the size of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann who uses spiral galaxies as stepping stones.
The VF-25 Messiah is the ultimate real robot. Now, for some people that means the most realistic real robot, but that’s just silly. The real robot tradition is more fantastic than the super robot tradition because the expectation for real robots is to be realistic. The fair and desirable expectation for real robots are excellent portrayals in military contexts: soldiering and battles as opposed to the super robot tradition of pro-wrestling matches. As such, the VF-25 is the last word in versatility. The base unit has three forms: spacecraft fighter/gunship/infantry. By default it can be deployed in a variety of missions limited only by the abilities of its pilot. Beyond this, the modular mission packs (armor/strike/super) can expand its assault capabilities. Finally, there are actual design variants that allow for specific roles: tactical leader/sniper/reconnaissance. Thus, a single team with all variants can perform the mission catalog of an entire battle group: recon/patrol/search & destroy/skirmish/assault; in all environments except aquatic.
Super vs. Real, who will you kiss?
MATCH NUMBER TWO
VF-1 vs. Turn A Gundam
The VF-1 is the original Variable Fighter. From its core design the concept of versatility plays out incredibly well. It is not as versatile as its 25th design iteration (as expected), but the results and impact of this design is the fact that the VF-25 is such a successful design. It’s the legacy of the VF-1. Thus, it is useful to discuss its history. It mainly saw action in the great Space War against the Zentraedi wherein it routinely had to engage enemies at greater than 3:1 odds. The SDF Macross had a total complement of 300 or so VFs and it routinely engaged Zentraedi battle groups at greater than 3:1 odds wherein each ship carried 1,000 fighter units of various makes (mostly Regulds), piloted by soldiers genetically engineered, cultured, and bred for fighting.
The Turn A Gundam is a notable “tweener” unit straddling the divide between the real and super traditions of robot anime. Being a Gundam it’s milieu is a militarized conflict involving armies deployed to secure strategic and tactical objectives and fighting in battles and/or operations. The Turn A itself however, is a unit with god-like powers that is linked to the technological apocalypse that is part of the history of its narrative. For a Gundam it is also quite large, and would tower over many titular units in other Gundam shows, and has the weapons array reminiscent of ’70s super robots.
Real vs. Unreal, do you like your categories neat or messy?
MATCH NUMBER THREE
Zaku II vs. Gunbuster
The Zaku is the grunt’s grunt mecha. It’s how it’s beloved, but it didn’t actually start out that way. What it was is a groundbreaking piece of technology that allowed Zeon to take over the Earth Sphere at the onset of the One Year War. Relative to the aircraft, tanks, and other mechanized units… it was NOT a grunt. It was the shiny knight unit. The EFSF’s GM is actually gruntier in that it is a less-developed piece of technology. It just overwhelmed the Zeon armies with sheer numbers. Now that’s grunty. The Zaku II gets this grunt-worship because primarily due to the Gundam, who is a super prototype kind of unit that stands in very stark contrast with the Zaku. That, and the eventual development of MS variants that did more special roles, or simply outperformed the Zaku.
The Gunbuster… this is no Zaku boy, this is no Zaku.
[Affectionately regarded as the “God” of Zakus due to its being a ginormous super robot that’s firmly grounded in real robot sensibilities and aesthetics, but precisely because of its mono-eye sensor that characterizes not only the Zaku, but most of the Zeon robot designs.]
MATCH NUMBER FOUR
Evangelion Unit 01 vs. YF/VF-19
It’s a giant god-like machine, whose silhouette is more reminiscent of a powered suit in the tradition of Ultraman than it is of chunky super robots. However, for most of its run defending Tokyo-3, it was governed with far stricter limitations compared to most real robots, most notably the requirement to be hooked up to a power supply and having such a limited power storage capacity. In many ways, its highlight moments are characterized by it turning into something more monstrous than the monsters it fought. In terms of the humanoid fighting style it’s far more closer to wrestling than the more karate-based styles of 70’s super robots.
The YF-19 is the missing link between the VF-1 and the VF-25 units. Much of the current technological features and capabilities of the VF-25 were first featured in the YF-19 prototype: capablity of carrying a standalone superdimensinal fold device, pin-point barrier, and the departure from the battloid silhouette that exposes the fighter cockpit in front of the lower center torso of the robot. What is notable in the design itself its its swept-forward wings in Valkyrie mode. It is a powerful machine that won the contract for the next generation of mass-produced VFs in Macross. [It also formed the basis for Basara’s custom concert mecha…take that as you will. -EO]
Trailers and intros to jog your memories or introduce you to the shows