Giant Robo : The Day Earth Stood Still

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Jex

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Nov 16, 2009
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Introduction

It clear that the anime community seemed to quite like 2007's Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann. Actually, let me fix that so that's it's more accurate.

You folks loved it so passionately, so vocally and so consistently that I'm sure it drove everyone else completely bonkers. But such is the way of the internet..

But hang on, there's been a ton of so called Super Robot (see Glossary, below) shows in the past, and if you're a fan of TTGL I'd imagine quite a few of these shows would be right up your street, or collective streets.

Plenty of them have been awesome and I believe they are due some attention. So here I am, making a modest suggestion : why not trying watching a little program from the 90's called Giant Robo : The Day the Earth Stood Still?

Confessions..

While I bring up the comparison in the title of this thread it should be noted that two shows are actually fairly different in theme, look, story and so forth. Yet at their heart, these are both excellent Super Robot shows. (I'm sure purists will slightly vexed by my comparison between the two works, but as many current anime fans have only seen TTGL I felt it would be instructive to lead with the most well-known work of the day.)

Hell, I think is GR one of the finest shows ever made and you should give it a shot even if you didn't enjoyTTGL, after all they are two very different works. For example, there's no fanservice present here, and things never quite reach the same level of absurdity.

But as I'm getting ahead of myself let me explain why this show is worth your time. As usual I won't include any spoilers in my summary, but please feel free to discuss the work below (with spoiler tags on, of course!).

Origins

GR is based of a 1967 manga by Mitsutery Yokoyama (Gigantor) and was also adapted into a live-action TV show known in the U.S. as Johnny Sakko and His Flying Robot. However, this OVA is fairly different to both those properties.


Giant Robo - The Day The Earth Stood Still



Giant Robo : The Day The Earth Stood Still is a seven-part OVA released from 1992 to 1998 and directed by the well known Super Robot director Yasuhiro Imagawa. Here's a brief summary :

The Anime Encyclopaedia said:
The Shizuma drive, a clean energy source that has revolutionized world energy and eliminated pollution has a fatal flaw. The evil Professor Franken Von Vogler and his associates, would-be world dictators Big Fire, plan to exploit this flaw to wreck havoc across the world. The Experts of Justice set out to stop Big Fire's evil scheme. Their members include martial artists, scientific geniuses, secret agents and a young boy called Daisaku. Only he can control Giant Robo, a 90-foot-tall war machine designed for Big Fire but now devoted to fighting crime.
Just to get one thing out of they way first : despite appearances this show is not just made for kids, or stunted man-children. This show actually has far more in common visually with Golden Age superheroes, complete with clearly defined heroes and villains, Art Deco designs, classical music and battles on an a grand scale.

Story and Characters



I won't be going into much more detail then that, as this OVA is only seven episodes long (although these are actually twice the length of standard anime episodes). Suffice to say, the events portrayed manage to rise above the rather kitsch and clichéd elements that bog down so many of shows of this type, which sometimes end up as being overly-simplistic.

This story goes to certain places, and contains particular scenes, that are not generally found in 'kids shows'. It may appear visually 'retro' but the storytelling is modern, consistent and excellently paced. None of this would matter, of course, without a good cast of characters.

On that front, the show is packed to the rafters. This is largely the result of huge amount of cross-over characters, pulled from various sources. Interestingly, whilst many of these characters are unabashedly based off of familiar tropes : the scientist, the strong man, the cool headed boss, the diabolic villain - they still manage to strike the right note within the overall tone of the show. It's not always bad being a trope, after all.

When titans clash



At the same time, the show also managed to deliver on it's action front. There's a certain type of action, prevalent in shows such as Gundam or Macross, where robots move as flexibly as a human being, fly around with ease and engage in battles that are as graceful and nimble as any ballet.

Then there's shows like GR, where robots move as if they were actually 90ft tall and weighed a thousand tonnes. They are slow, ponderous, and deliberate. But none of this stops them having excellent battles. The creators of GR really understand this variety of battle well and it shows in the direction and cinematography.

A common technique involves not revealing the full of size or shape of the robot, instead we get a sense of it's massive scale through comparison with buildings.



The use of low-angle shots, combined with powerful shadows make Giant Robo a menacing figure.



Observing battles from this distance allows us to witness the events clearly, while also making the battle seem more 'epic' as we see the robots tower over the buildings.



But it's not only large and ridiculous looking robots that duke it out. The creators were aware that something more energetic would sit as a good counterpoint to the plodding of the robots. To this end it seems that every hero and every villain has their own unique superpower. Therefore battles between them will often revolve around a high-speed clash powers, as opposed to a robot slugging match. Thankfully, the show never stops to explain how any of this is possible, it just runs with it.



It's a real testament to the shows quality that the whole thing work without descending into a completely incomprehensible mess. A large part of what holds all these diverse pieces together is the impressive visual design and excellent musical direction.

Design



It's almost pointless to talk GR's visual design when I can just post pretty pictures, but I'll do both anyway. Unfortunately I've never taken any art classes on the history of art, so what my thoughts on the subject will be rather amateurish. Impressively, the shows retro look inspired a whole selection of other shows :

The Anime Encyclopaedia said:
GR was the first of the 1990s "retro" boom, a number of anime made in a deliberately old-fashioned style that recalls the imagery of the Golden Age of sci-fi...it's style was copied in other shows including Super Atragon, Kishin Corps, Sakura Wars and Ambassador Magma.
Here's a choice selection :

The Shadowy Organization, Big Fire



One of Big Fire's hideouts. It couldn't look any less subtle



The creation of the Shizuma Drive, as shown by flashback



Even the small stuff, like car radio's, look awesome



Suffice to say, GR looks stunning. The aesthetic choices blend design elements from a number of decades including : the 20's, 30's and 50's, all combined with the futuristic technology made possible by the Shizuma drive. Once again, credit must go to the art director Yusuke Takeda. He managed to pulled off the difficult taking all these divergent styles and not simply placing them side-by-side, but actually blending them into one coherent world. Think Fallout, but with a lot more colour.

Animation

The animation is equally fantastic, thanks to the work of numerous skilled animators (see the ANN page) these episodes almost look 'movie quality' in a number of places. This is all thanks to this show being an OVA with a considerable budget.



The Music

GR's musical score is equally impressive. It was composed by Masamichi Amano (Battle Royale, Urotsukidoji) and performed by the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra. Here's a brief sample of the aural treats this work has to offer GR-Main Theme

The music used in this particular sequence is especially haunting



A great score score is (generally) important for any work of visual media, but it is especially effective in a work such as GR. The sweeping Wagneresque elements of the score match with the melodramatic and exaggerated action present on screen, but even the more light-hearted tunes are fitting.

Conclusion

I know Giant Robo is awesome, and hopefully this thread will have persuaded you to at least check out the first episode. I'll finish by taking the words of someone whose views on the subject mirror my own
In the wrong hands this would be leaden and tormented, but Giant Robo does something very right with this material: The more we learn about the pasts of everyone involved, the more their motives are given context and weight. Instead of looking at good guys and bad guys, we’re looking at people with complicated and sometimes deeply conflicted reasons for being what they are... All anime should be this thrilling, this ambitious, and this satisfying.
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Related Works

If for whatever reason you find that you enjoy this kind of madness, there are plenty of other works worth investigating in the Super Robot field. I am far, far from an expert in this strange world, but I'll throw out a few brief recommendations.

The same director who brought you Giant Robo also created G Gundam'(1994) and, more recently, Shin Mazinger Shougeki! Z Hen (2009). However, be aware that both these works are far longer then GR. Shin Mazinger is the same length as Gurren Laggan (26 episodes) and G Gundam clocks in at a far longer 49 episodes.

A sizeable chunk of these Super Robot shows are based off Go Nagai properties, as he laid the ground work for this genre in 1972 with his famous Mazinger Z. On the plus side, if you like one of his works you'll probably enjoy the rest.

I heartily recommend Gunbuster as well, but I presume the majority of anime fans have already experienced this classic Gainax OVA . For those short on time, it has the added benefit of only being six episodes long.
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Glossary of Terms

Anime : That thing where pictures magically move around.
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Bashtarle : We...we don't go there any more...
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Cross-over characters : The act of taking characters from a number of separate and distinct works, and placing them all together in one particular titles.

In the case of GR, Imagawa discovered he couldn't use the original manga characters, so he borrowed characters from a number works by Yokoyama, the author of the original manga. These included Godmars, Babel II and even Little Witch Sally.
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Fanservice : A name given to a scene or event inserted into a work solely for the purpose of pleasing fans, even if it doesn't make any kind of thematic sense. In the medium of anime this often refers to sexual fanservice via provocatively dressed characters, shower scenes, upskirt camera angles and so forth. However, you can also please the fans in numerous other ways, such as bringing back old characters, extravagant fight scenes, playing a 'classic' musical theme from the shows past, etc.

There isn't any of the classic 'titillating' fanservice in GR, although it is present in three part Gin-Rei specials.
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Franken Von Vogler : The name you should bestow upon your first born son.

No, really. He'll thank you when he grows up to be a real man.

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Gainax : An animation studio which has produced such well known works as Gunbuster, Evangelion, FLCL and Gurren Lagann.
They also happen to be well known purveyors of Fanservice.

See Wikipedia's article here and my own earlier thread for further details.
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GAR : "To feel GAR for someone is to be is such awe of another guy’s manliness that one agrees to follow and be protected by that dude. It is an acknowledgement of someone else’s obvious superiority in manliness." This isn't the kind of definition I'd use, but then, I couldn't find any others.
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Giant Robo (the Robot) : A 90ft tall robot with a terrifyingly blank face, reminiscent of an Egyptian statue. His growl sounds like a cross between a lion and a V8 engine.
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Go Nagai : is the creator of such works as Mazinger Z, Cutie Honey, Devilman and many others.

Wikipedia will tell you that Go Nagai is "is a Japanese manga artist and a prolific author of science fiction, fantasy, horror and erotica" but I feel it's more succinct to describe him as "one crazy bastard" as a variety of his works are fairly deranged. In the best possible way.

Suffice to say, his first manga "influenced Japanese society radically, effecting both social mores and what was considered appropriate for manga." It also pissed off the PTA. Score.
See articles here Go Nagai.
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GR : An abbreviation of Giant Robo : The Day the Earth Stood Still, simply to save me writing it out a thousand times. Or even twice, that's a damn long title.

Confusingly, this series is technically the middle part of a trilogy of shows, except that the first and last parts haven't been made yet. Sadly, they probably won't ever be made because they cost too much and make too little back.

Not to be confused with 'GR:Giant Robo' a re-imaging of the original manga, produced for television in 2007.
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Jerk 2.0 : Someone who might not enjoy this show. But they should give the first episode a spin anyway!
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Manly tears : Super Robot shows, despite appearing to be simple wish fulfilment fantasies for eight year-old boys, are often surprisingly sentimental. For whatever reason, it's alright to cry when watching something that's 'manly' (as opposed to some kind of 'feminine' romance work) and so tears spilled when watching this variety of work are 'manly tears'.

See article here, beware minor spoilers Manly Tears
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OVA : Stands for Original Video Animation. It refers to any work which is created to be sold directly to the home video market, and not for broadcast television. As they often have a large budget (and aren't constrained to a tight television schedule) these works often feature high quality animation, lengthy running times and scenes that could never be shown uncensored on broadcast television.
See articles here : http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/OriginalVideoAnimation?from=Main.OVA and OVA-Wikipedia.
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Pathos : When a work directly appeals to the audiences emotions. In Super Robot shows this often involves passionate and 'manly' speeches. The director of GR certainly wants you to cry some manly tears. Synonymous with hot-blooded passion and related to the concept of GAR.
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Super Robot :
"Super Robot" is a term used in manga and anime to describe a giant robot or mecha, with an arsenal of fantastic super-powered weapons, extreme resistance to damage unless the plot calls for it, sometimes transformable or combined from two or more robots and/or vehicles usually piloted by young, daring heroes, and often shrouded by mystical or legendary origins.

This is distinct from a "Real Robot", which is a mecha portrayed as a relatively common item, used by military organizations in the same manner as tanks or aircraft.
via Wikipedia.

Although frankly, there's plenty of room for discussion about what counts as what, especially when certain shows mess up everyone's tidy definitions (I'm looking at you, Anno).

See articles here : Super Robot and here Real Robot
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TTGL : An abbreviation of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, so save me writing it out four times. If you haven't heard of this show you must have been living in a drill-proofed cave.
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Urotsukidoji : The first in a number of horror/erotica OVA's that would be compiled into 'Legend of the Overfiend' for release outside of Japan. Yes, that one, with the tentacles. Innovation!
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Bibliography

McCarthy Helen (2006) The Anime Encyclopaedia (Stone Bride Press, USA)

www.animenewsnetwork.com
http://en.wikipedia.org
http://www.genjipress.com/2006/02/giant-robo.html
http://ghostlightning.wordpress.com/
http://tvtropes.org

Where to buy
Amazon Economy Pack


 
Jun 9, 2004
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#3
I loved this show so much I did fansubs in '92-93 of parts 1-3. I remember they aired my sub of it at Anime Expo '93 in the viewing room for at least parts 1 and 2, but I don't remember if I had 3 done by the time of the con. It was great at the start, until something caused it's releases to slow down and take forever to finish releasing it.

I think Best Buy had the complete series on sale for $5-6 for a while there. I was going to grab it but I never got around to it. Sure a hell of a lot cheaper than when we were subbing it (around $80-100 per episode for the Japanese laserdisc)!
 
Mar 23, 2006
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Chicago IL.
#4
Greatest anime ova ever made. It's a shame there will never be a continuation. I remember when I first watched it, I was just speechless at the awesome.

The show even inspired me to write a analysis of father and son relationships based on the show.

The show is smart and very well written. It's a shame that people probably overlook it for its reto art style or whatever.
 

Fun Factor

Formerly FTWer
Jun 18, 2006
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#5
Rahxephon91 said:
Greatest anime ova ever made. It's a shame there will never be a continuation.
Probably for the best. 6 amazing classic episodes that stand the test of time or 26 unnecessary stretched out episodes that would diminish it's awesomeness.
 

Jex

Member
Nov 16, 2009
34,464
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#6
FTWer said:
Probably for the best. 6 amazing classic episodes that stand the test of time or 26 unnecessary stretched out episodes that would diminish it's awesomeness.
Well it does all depend, of course, on their quality. I'd have faith in the director and staff, although the first episode was created nearly a decade ago.

Apparently it would have to sell "Ghost in The Shell" numbers to every be produced, which is another way of saying it will never happen.
Rahxephon91 said:
It's a shame that people probably overlook it for its reto art style or whatever.
It's alright, people who actually hold that opinion don't deserve to enjoy it anyway.
 
Jun 7, 2004
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#9
If you like this you should watch G Gundam. Imagawa made G Gundam while he was smack in the middle of making Giant Robo, so it's heavily Giant Robo influenced. Think GR with Gundams :lol


It also addresses the whole "would Giant Robo feel bad stretched out to a 26ep anime" since yeah, at 49 eps G Gundam feels stretched out and repetitive. Also doesn't help that GR is super high budget and G Gundam is super low budget.
 
Oct 14, 2006
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i.imgur.com
#10
Giant Robo is simply amazing. Adored it since I saw the first episode way back when and appreciated how dark it was and how it refused to pull punches. Also the soundtrack is one of the best I'd ever heard. Always found it neat as hell they weren't allowed to use the original supporting characters so Imagawa used the characters of Mitsuteru Yokoyama's other work. Long long ago there used to be a Giant Robo fansite that had every character sourced with images of their original incarnation but I think it's lost to the land of 404.

I also prefer the original English dub as it always felt like it embraced the larger than life excessiveness of the series.

Rush! Issei & Yohshi <33
 
Mar 5, 2009
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#12
Bebpo said:
It also addresses the whole "would Giant Robo feel bad stretched out to a 26ep anime" since yeah, at 49 eps G Gundam feels stretched out and repetitive. Also doesn't help that GR is super high budget and G Gundam is super low budget.
G Gundam was a TV show, it's budget is about in line with most shows of it's time. OVA's generally always have higher budget.

Outside of feel/style, the two shows also had nothing really in common.
 
Oct 14, 2006
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i.imgur.com
#16
Oh goody, tvtropes to the rescue:
•Expy: Most characters of the OVA (who aren't from the original manga or anime) are Expys of Yokohama's other works, such as:
&#9702;Taiso, Tetsugyu, Youshi, Issei, Koushin, Kaei, Kaihou and Koshin, Shutsu, the Fishermen Brothers, Hanzui, Goyo, Kosonsho, and Jujoji all hail from Suikoden (The Water Margin).
&#9702;Cho-Katsu Komei is from Yokoyama Mitsuteru Sangokushi ("Records/Romance Of The Three Kingdoms").
&#9702;Big Fire (Babel II/Koichi Yamano), Achilles (Lodem), Garuda (Ropross), and Neptune (Poseidon) were originally created for Babel II. Also, Chujo the Silent, Cervantes, and Fitzgerald were modeled after various characters in the series.
&#9702;Likewise, Alberto the Impact was based on a character in Mars.
&#9702;Sunny the Magician is the original name of Sally The Witch.
&#9702;Red Mask bears similarities to Kamen No Ninja Akakage.
&#9702;Kenji Murasame is a Canon Immigrant from Tetsujin-28, and Dr. Vogler and Dr. Montalblan hail from there as well.
&#9702;Ginrei is from Sononawa 101 and Okami no Seiza.
&#9702;Genya was originally from Iga no Kagemaru.

BattleMonkey said:
Great series, though have to give it to Gunbuster if we were to compare. Being incomplete always bugs me about a series.
I always took it as it was complete. The ending stuff about the final climactic battle with Big Fire just struck me as a full embrace of the serial nature of the story.
 

mjc

Member
Nov 8, 2007
11,868
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#22
I'll have to check this out, it looks very cool from the descriptions/screens. Any other suggestions besides TTGL? I kinda remember watching the odd episode of Big O on Toonami years ago and that was pretty cool.
 

Hazaro

relies on auto-aim
Jan 21, 2008
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Southern California
#23
mjc said:
I'll have to check this out, it looks very cool from the descriptions/screens. Any other suggestions besides TTGL? I kinda remember watching the odd episode of Big O on Toonami years ago and that was pretty cool.
I'd suggest rewatching BigO. I just did and it was great.

If you are in for a longer haul you might consider giving GaoGaiGar a shot. It's a slow build up, but fantastic (in that sort of old classic fashion).

 
Jun 8, 2009
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Chesterfield, VA
#25
Nice, I've seen the box around but never heard much about it. Going to buy it and give it a shot, I haven't bought any new anime in at least a year and have wanted to get some older anime that's worth watching. Thanks for the informative thread.
 
Oct 14, 2006
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i.imgur.com
#27
Hazaro said:
I'd suggest rewatching BigO. I just did and it was great.

If you are in for a longer haul you might consider giving GaoGaiGar a shot. It's a slow build up, but fantastic (in that sort of old classic fashion).
I owe myself a GGG rewatch soon. Such a fun layered show.
 
Feb 28, 2009
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#28
I gave up on GGG a while back. I should give it another try. I went from 'woah this is pretty awesome' to 'this is getting dull' in about eight episodes. Maybe I'll skip ahead to 25, or wherever it is that gets good.
 
Oct 14, 2006
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#29
Dresden said:
I gave up on GGG a while back. I should give it another try. I went from 'woah this is pretty awesome' to 'this is getting dull' in about eight episodes. Maybe I'll skip ahead to 25, or wherever it is that gets good.
Part of the charm was witnessing the transition from monster of the week. It does have a slow start though.
 

Hazaro

relies on auto-aim
Jan 21, 2008
32,249
0
1,090
Southern California
#30
Dresden said:
I gave up on GGG a while back. I should give it another try. I went from 'woah this is pretty awesome' to 'this is getting dull' in about eight episodes. Maybe I'll skip ahead to 25, or wherever it is that gets good.
Sounds about right, just make sure you see the bird guy first + fire trucks.
 
Jan 30, 2008
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#35


Before Mediablasters licensed this series I paid $80 for a Korean dvd boxset with shipping and a tip included. It was worth every dollar. Time for a rewatch.
 
#37
Narag said:
Giant Robo is simply amazing. Adored it since I saw the first episode way back when and appreciated how dark it was and how it refused to pull punches. Also the soundtrack is one of the best I'd ever heard. Always found it neat as hell they weren't allowed to use the original supporting characters so Imagawa used the characters of Mitsuteru Yokoyama's other work. Long long ago there used to be a Giant Robo fansite that had every character sourced with images of their original incarnation but I think it's lost to the land of 404.

I also prefer the original English dub as it always felt like it embraced the larger than life excessiveness of the series.

Rush! Issei & Yohshi <33
Because it is. The OG English dub is better because it made it feel like an old 1940s Flash Gordon style movie serial.

I remember when I thought this series was going to be lost to the winds forever like El Hazard and Fushugi Yugi, I bought a "Asian DVD Set" off of eBay. A few years later, someone released an official Licensed version so I bought those too. But the bootleg case I got looked so much better, I just kept the bootleg box and put the official DVDs inside that.

Maybe I should rewatch this sometime soon.
 
Jan 29, 2007
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Madison, WI
#38
Yeah, make sure you watch the series with the original dub. I think it's a hidden audio track on the DVDs - you have to access it using the audio track button rather than via the DVD menu.
 

Jex

Member
Nov 16, 2009
34,464
0
0
#40
Damn, I still managed to make some formatting mistakes. Luckily, no-one seems to have waded through the whole thing because they've already experienced the greatness that is Giant Robo.
Ether_Snake said:
Looks like it was draw by the guy who did the art for the Lunar games.

I bet it is.
Great call.
DrForester said:
Love my Eye of Vogler box set.
That looks ridiculous, and awesome.
 

Jex

Member
Nov 16, 2009
34,464
0
0
#43
krypt0nian said:
Without a LTTP on this topic you made me think there was a new giant Robo continuation anime.

So now I hate you.
Apologies, although technically I believe that would be called Giant Robo : The Siege of Babel.
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As I'm currently watching Shin Mazinger Z right now I'm reminded how he manages to make all the supporting cast. None of them just sit around chatting, they all do something ridiculous and awesome.
 
May 6, 2006
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#48
Great anime show. I remember first watching it many moons ago. It really tricked me as when i first was watching it i thought "ah here's a friendly nostalgia influenced anime" then it just kicked it all into high gear and became so much more
 
Dec 28, 2006
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#49
Giant Robo is one of my favourite anime of all time. It really is just that damn good and it barely seems to get a mention from most modern anime fans who seem to only care about harem "comedy" and loli panty shot shit.

But this is a classic in the truest sense of the word, it's just a pity that it's so underrated by most. The animation and style are fantastic, the storyline is surprisingly deep and emotional, the action scenes are awesome and the music, my god the music is possibly one of the best OST for any anime ever.

Seriously each of the 7 episodes has it's own soundtrack composed by Masamichi Amano and performed by the Warsaw philharmonic orchestra. (I own the OST to each episode).

The story behind the creation of it is really interesting in and of itself considering they were not allowed use the characters from the original manga so instead the combined all of the authors other work into this strangely awesome amalgamation of animation.

Not to mention that Giant Robo essentially pioneered and popularised the "retro" look for modern anime.

Damn I love this anime so much! So glad it's getting its own appreciation thread on GAF and thanks OP for having such a detailed and awesome first post!
 
Jan 28, 2007
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S. Hemisphere
#50
Ryujin said:
Giant Robo is one of my favourite anime of all time. It really is just that damn good and it barely seems to get a mention from most modern anime fans who seem to only care about harem "comedy" and loli panty shot shit.
:lol

Fight the good fight, noble manly purist.
 
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