Form Feet and Legs!
March 18, 2005
In the world of anime and Saturday morning cartoons, one of the
biggest audiences is always going to be children. One of the things
that children seem to love is surprises, things that are more than they appear to be. It is for this reason that we end up sometimes with shows that take this too far, such as the decade or so of Power Rangers/Jushi Sentai/Go Go 5 the US and Japan have both had to endure. At the same time, there are shows that we have all heard of that take these same hidden surprises and make them entertaining and fun.
I grew up on Voltron. How cool was 5 gigantic robot lions that form a
humanoid mech that can summon a magic sword and thwart evil space
bugs, especially to a 5 year old. What's incredible is that 20 years later, I can still go back and watch the show and enjoy it, but the reasons are different. As a kid, the story wasn't important to me, it was just the fact that I could take out my toy Voltron lions and play along and feel really cool like I could summon swords and such. Now I'm a bit more technically minded and a lot more mature, and I realize how good some of the story elements were, and how strong some of the characters were portrayed. Obviously, Voltron was originally created with kids in mind, but they allowed the story to be deep enough and adult enough that it is still entertaining.
The same can be said of Robotech. Even though it was heavily cut from
the original Macross/Southern Cross/Mospeada story, the adult aspects of the original tale still show through and keep the story adult enough and sensible enough that you can watch it and forgive some of the dumbing down that was done to suit the younger audience.
When we compare this to Power Rangers, possibly the most prevalent
live action show involving mechs on American television, there is little if anything for adults to enjoy about the rather mundane and intentionally childish adventures that occur. "Oh no, I'm caught in a web....even though I have a sword and could cut my way out pretty easily" or such beauties as "Oh the super powerful uber megazord sword didn't kill you..damn." That's pretty much par for the course.
A more recent effort of the same variety is the "Brave" series, specifically GaoGaiGar. In my personal opinion, I find the fact that planes, trains and automobiles often find their way together to form giant robots hilarious, as there are so many better ways to create a mech. At the same time, GaoGaiGar is at least a complicated enough story and keeps a continuing pace well enough to keep your attention and make it worth catching the next episode.
If there is one thing about any type of mecha/sci-fi/magic anime or cartoon or even live action show that I cant stand, it is constant recycled animation for transformation/launch sequences. If the world worked exactly the same every time like that....well lets put it this way, it doesn't. If anyone knows a mecha/robot series that doesn't use any recycled animation whatsoever...I owe you a cookie.
Till next week. same mech time, same mech website.
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