9.01.2012

Crush them, Giant Robo!! pt1

I'm going to take a quick departure from talking/stressing about working on LG2 to talk about something near and dear to my heart: giant robots.  I'm a huge fan of the giant robot genre, but more so a fan of the super robot subsection.  There are two subsections to the giant robot genre: real robot and super robot.  Real robots are defined by having mechanics and operations based on real world physics, as well as limited ammunition.  Perfect examples of real robots would be Mobile Suit Gundam, the Evangelions, Patlabor, Mechwarrior, etc.  The super robot genre I find to be characterized by two things: mechanics or operations based on fictional elements/undiscovered power sources, and a method of control that isn't appropriate for the complexity of the robot.  Let's look at a roster of super robots: Jehuty and Anubis from my favorite robot game of all time, Zone of the Enders, the Megazord, the robots from Robot Alchemic Drive, Red Baron, RahXephon, the Argento Soma Robots, etc.  I could go on and on. 

(Tetsujin 28-go and his archrival Black Ox)

The single robot that started the ENTIRE super robot genre was Tetsujin 28-go, known in america as Gigantor.  Tetsujin 28-go was created by manga artist Mitsuteru Yokoyama in 1956.  Wildly successful when it came out, it has spawned several animes and manga sequels.  The titular robot in the series was controlled by 10-yr old Shotaro Kaneda by means of a hand-held remote control.  Let's take a second and zoom out here.  A gigantic, super-powerful, humanoid robot is controlled by what amounts to an Atari controller.   ?!?!?!  As if.  This is the crux of the super robot genre, though.


In 1967, Yokoyama was asked to write a premise for a Tokusatsu TV show (tokusatsu is a genre of Japanese television that translates out to "special effects" it covers everything from Atragon, to Gojira, to Zuranger [power rangers] I LOVE IT).  Yokoyama wrote a premise for a show that he called Giant Robo; "A robot that can only be controlled by a hero"  In Giant Robo, the titular robot is controlled by Daisaku Kusama.  Daisaku controls Robo by speaking into a watch.  ONLY Daisaku can control Robo (as opposed to Tetsujin, which anyone could use as long as they got the Atari stick).  Giant Robo was constructed by Daisaku's father for the international terrorist group, Big Fire.  Naturally, he has a change of heart at the conclusion of Giant Robo's construction, and hands over control of Giant Robo to his son.  This is a start of a really charming precedent in the giant robo genre of the main robot having been built originally for EVIL!  Giant Robo had a run as a manga and as a live-action TV show (known in the US as Johnny Sokko and his Flying Robot.)

That's it for the Giant Robot history/rant...FOR NOW!  Next time: fanart and Giant Robo: The Day the Earth Stood Still!!!

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