Archive for the 'Mecha Madness' Category

Let’s Just Talk Mecha Today

Having just finished watching the excellently exciting IGPX sans the final 2 unbroadcasted episodes, there is no room in my mind for anything other than cool mecha. So for today, I’ll just talk a bit about mecha in general.

Some people hate it (Hung), some people adore it (ME). But out of those who like it, there are various types as well. We have the super robot fans (not me), the rugged realistic fans (erm me) and the slick sci-fi fans (me too). On the whole, it is safe to say that most mecha fans are male.

People have heard me raving about the greatness of IGPX. Why? The show is basically equipped with a standard racing plot – rookies, with much guts and spirit, win the competition. Then in their second year, they let fame and glory get to their heads but still win again after much trials and tribulations. It’s pretty much the way for racing anime. IGPX is great because of the racing/fight scenes and mecha designs. The 7 teams who appeared in the show have three mecha each and these 21 are superbly designed for both beauty, function and form.


Team Satomi’s Forward. One reason it’s hot is the glossy paintwork that’s even animated to the finest detail.

The team consists of a forward, a midfielder and a defender. While this concept sounds good on paper, the show doesn’t really show why having different positions is necessary. Of course, you would expect a forward to be speedy and pack acceleration, a midfielder to be all-rounded and a defender to be strong, armoured but slow. However, in the show, you can’t really tell the difference in stats. But anyway, this specialisation itself is cool already. The beauty of the IGPX mecha results from the combination of function and form.

Unlike say Super Robot Wars, Godannar or even Gundam (especially Seed, G and Wing), which are totally bullshit in terms of realistic functional design, IGPX’s mechas are perfectly streamlined for their purpose (racing) and every single part serves a rational purpose, either for more speed, handling or battle. It would be expected of Production IG actually, since the best functional designs come from their anime. The others would be Tachikomas and Jigabachi from GitS:SAC. The Macross Valkyries are also part of this elite class of form and function.

The IG machines from IGPX can also transform into a Speed Mode, not unlike Eureka seveN’s LFOs’ vehicle modes. Man, these transformations are sooo cool. While most of the time, transforming mecha are quite implausible and unnecessary, the simplicity of IG machine’s Speed Mode change totally makes sense.

All the 7 teams in IGPX have their own unique style. Satomi’s yellow and blue team colours just scream "I’m for racing!" and they are so unarmed, that it’s quite dumb of them. Team Sledgemama’s pistons-and-pipes heavy metal style fits with their rough manly image, and their weapons, the finger and arm missiles, allow for great offense. Then we have the classy and elegantly regal Team Velshtein, equipped with a super tornado punch and aerial gliders. Team Skylark, a all-girl melee team, has extendable arms for some super boxing action. Team Black Egg, that’s totally CYBER, plays defensive, without weaponry but a tonne of evasive equipment. Team Edgeraid and their hoops and wires, uses complex team strategies and manuveres like.. Spidermen. And then White Snow, who are hackers and sneaky bastards.


Team Velshtein’s mecha is something a yaoi bishonen should pilot.


Hard men pilot these. With tonnes of exhaust pipes and cylinders.


Graceful woman IG machine. Note the folded forearm can flick out like a switchblade. It’s also equipped with a slipstream disrupter.


The defender of Team Edgeraid pays tribute to Ghost in the Shell.


They have totally cool machines, Team Black Egg but they were so gay because they didn’t attack.


Fantine is voiced by Horie Yui. Hocchan!

As in most sports anime, the main team is always balanced while the opponents are one-trick ponies who lose when their one trick is defeated. To some extent, IGPX has this. But there is still a lot of amazing action scenes. I NEED TO GET the toys for these man! I hope they make like all 21 fully detailed and poseable, diecast with glossy metallic paint.

Moving on, I shall talk about Tachikoma and GitS. I really like how animal form is incorporated stylishly into these mecha (ouch Zoids!). Tachikoma is a spider, while Jigabachi is the wasp (and it means Wasp in Japanese). We all know wasps hunt spiders, hence Jigabachi’s designation of anti-tank helicopter. The attack tank in one of the earlier eps was designed like a scorpion, and the humoid mecha in the mines are shaped like gorillas. I’m so getting Megahouse’s Perfect Piece Tachikoma that’s coming in December, despite its killer price. There are also plans to build a gigantic model kit Tachikoma army with the fellows. I’m going for a gunmetal coloured EVIL one.


Tachikoma


Jigabachi

Macross owns Gundams seriously. Even if I like both, the former looks far better. Out of all the Valkyries, my favourites would be YF-19 (the reverse winged one in Macross Plus) and the EVIL SV-51 piloted by Ivanov in Macross Zero. The rest are cool but not as great. Gundam’s chunky designs totally do not make sense, but I do like some of them. If I had to choose one Gundam to name my favourite, it would be the F91. People tell me I’m insane though. The Astray series are pretty nice too, especially the Blue frame with the extra weapons pack and the Gold Amatu Custom. Other notable ones in the Gundam universe are Gundam EZ-8 (o8th MS Team), Kampfer (0080), RIck Dom and the Full Armour Duel Gundam.


SV-51 plane mode


SV-51 Gerwalk mode

Then we have more generic militarish mecha, like Jinki extend, Full Metal Panic etc. Some of these look good but never leave a lasting impression. I can’t even remember how the M9 looks like. But sometimes, particularly in GONZO shows, the lead mecha looks like shit but a support one appears for an episode or two and makes a huge impact. Burst Angel’s lead mecha, the gunner on rollerskates, is spectacularly unawesome but in episode 21 or 24, the high way patrol robot looks like a traffic police version of IGPX’s IG Machine (and this was before I watched IGPX).

Since we are on the topic, mecha come in all shapes and sizes. From the spiny, rectangularly chunk Zegapain (which looks like fuck), to the almost-alive Raxephon and totally alive Evas. I find organic mecha to be pretty ugly actually. And Zegapain fails. The only organic mecha I like would be Dominator from Overman King Gainer, and that is not for the appearance but its function. We should also not forget the amazing Buster Machine no. 7, who is the best looking female mecha ever (because she doesn’t have missile tits).


Nono!

If we are talking about old robots, we can’t forget Super Robots. I never was much of a fan and actually find them rather ridiculous if taken seriously. Of course, I love Gravion because it is and knows it is a big joke. As for others, I totally have no interest. Raijin-oh, I watched as a kid along with the likes of Power rangers.


Gravion!

Then we have Steampunk mecha like Sakura Wars’ Koubu and Giant Robo. In all honesty, these are seriously butt ugly but taken in context, people still adore them. For Sakura Wars, my favourite would be the Maria Custom (by that I mean, the least ugly).

And that’s all for the random mecha talk. I love random mecha talk.

#1 Mecha Madness: The DOMINATOR

The first mecha Riuva is featuring in the Mecha Madness column is the Dominator!!!! What’s that, you ask? It ‘s only the coolest organic robot to have graced the screens of otakus everywhere. For the benefit of the unenlightened, I will briefly explain why I chose it.

Dominator is from Overman King Gainer, the hugely popular (in Japan at least) Tomino series produced in 2002. The mecha from that show are divided into two classes: Overmen and Silhouette Engines. The former are basically much more powerful and come with unique special abilities known as Overskills and the latter are grunts. Dominator is an Overman of course and its Overskill is the ability to form any shape and change its mass and volume at will. How cool is that!!??

The Overskill gives it the power to form weapons, shields and transform into any shape that the pilot can envision. I will explain more about its abilities later.

Pilot
The pilot of the Domi is Cynthia Lane. She’s the online arch-nemesis of the protagonist, King Gainer, and they play online games together all the time. Gainer doesn’t realise that Cynthia’s an Overman pilot until very late in the series.

She’s quite similar to Anemone from Eureka seveN, just less psycho. Still a bit emotionally unstable though, thanks to her foster father, Kid Munts aka Boss of Siberia Railways (the bad guys of the show), raising her to be the ultimate Overman pilot. Cynthia thinks of Overman battles as a game, so she doesn’t get scared and just has fun with her creativity, forming a multitude of various forms with the Domi’s Overskill.

Cynthia is extremely cocky and loves to trash-talk her opponents, eats chocolates all the time and is very cute. I like her. I do not like pacificist mecha pilots, mean ones are just fine.

Her gaming skills are just as good as her piloting, she’s the undisputed queen gamer in her world, with only Gainer being able to defeat her online. Not in real life though. Everyone loves gamer chicks.


Cocky gamer chicks turn me on.


Mercilessly brutal choco-swallowing young girls who wear their bras on the outside rule.

Total Domination!
Domi is a very well-balanced mecha, strong both offensively and defensively. The unrivalled unpredictability and versatility makes for a very very fearsome Overman. Unfortunately, due to the same factors, it is also very difficult to pilot. Asuham, a skilled Overman pilot, tried and completely failed to utilise the Domi properly, getting owned badly in the process. Only Cynthia, with her immensely well-developed sense of spacial perception, hand-eye coordination and super reflexes, basically referred to as Oversense, mixed with child-like creativity, brings out the monster within the Domi.


DomiLook

The Domi looks very similar to Hao’s Spirit of Fire from Shaman King. In its default mode, the Domi has long limbs, a featureless face, and a yellow chest with three green eyes across it. The rest of its body is bright red. A Buddha-halo thingy forms from its shoulder when Cynthia feels like it. That’s about all the details it has, it basically looks like a slimy amphibian bot.

The Overskill of the Domi allows it to change its mass, shape and volume freely. Hence, it has amazing mobility, attacking, defensive and counter properties that Cynthia utilises to the max!


A faceless slimy creepy mecha. Note the ring on its shoulders.


It’s pretty intimidating. Cynthia proclaims that she’s gonna destroy them all, and gives them time to run for their own Overmen while she stretches.

DomiMobile
Most, if not all, Overmen are able to fly and hover freely in the air. But our favourite organic mecha takes aerial maneuverability to a whole new level. Capable of amazingly tight turns and instant random directional changes, the Domi also possesses great acceleration. For a comfortable leisure trip, it even has a cruising mode the shape of a tear-drop.


Cruise mode – Compact and convenient. The cockpit door is a large zipper.


The Domi doesn’t use external boosters like other mecha. Hell, it doesn’t even use any visible form of propulsion. Even other Overmen have to use their Photon Mats to fly, Domi just floats away like a rock in space. The lack of external propulsion devices makes this Overman stealthy, silent and able to operate in all sorts of terrain, even ice and water.


Domi on Ice! And drilling into the thick ice-sheet…

DomiAttack
Non-melee attacks are rarely used but situationally useful. Lasers fired from its palms and the battering ram are the only two long range attacks. The primary mode of attack are grappling techniques, which are launched from counter moves. Material blades shaped from its own body also add to its creative arsenal.

The super 360!

Domi starts by grabbing the Golem’s legs from behind and swinging forward with its momentum.


Then with its super ab muscles, Domi gives the Golem a good backflip kick in the face, and takes the dominant position when it’s stunned by the strike.


For bonus damage, Domi aligns the Golem to where the trajectory of the disc lies. Golem himself threw the disc. For super bonus damage, Domi catches the disc.


And smashes Golem! Talk about humiliation!

The Disc of Death

Morphing into a razor-sharp disc, Domi halves the enemy. Ouch.

Long Range Attacks

Palm lasers and the Battering Ram give the Domi long range fighting capabilities too

Precision Strikes

Underhanded anti-pilot attacks are also possible. Domi goes scalpel mode and pries the King Gainer cockpit open.

No Escape

Golem thinks he can escape by diving under water. Fat chance, Domi’s reach is beyond that and it grabs Golem, dislocating its joints by morphing more hands.

Walker Mode


Kilometre-long limbs shoot out!


And Domi becomes a leggy maruding ball.


The white speck is King Gainer. Check out the anime cos this part is extremely cool!!


Caught like a fly. The End.


Jelly Goliath Mode


Domi becomes Jello, spreading miles across. The white speck is King Gainer.


KG’s eaten froggy-style!


Cynthia gets a kick out of laying KG on a blob of jelly and shaking him about. Then tries to assimilate him.


DomiDefence
I am Domi. I see an incoming projectile. I can either a) contort my body in outrageous shapes to avoid it, b) fly away with my speed, c) block it with a formed shield, or d) let it hit me and bounce off my supple smooth skin. Ooh, what say you, Gaara, to this rendition of Absolute Defence?


Brute Speed!


Evasion Limbo rock style. He’s world champion.


Domi just pulls his arm back into his body to avoid the disc.


Shield up!


Soft, supple and impenetrable.


Who needs Kevlar? Domi IS Kevlar.


Domistrikeback
Like a Tai Chi master, Domi uses the power of the enemy against themselves. Its trademark counter techniques not only let it evade the attack, but also make the enemy regret he ever did it.

The Super Spin Move

Caught in a wave attack, Domi spins.


And spins out of it, unleashing a rain of destructive black energy in all directions

Weapon Break!

The Knight Battleskill from Final Fantasy Tactics, Weapon Break!

Hooking King Gainer’s Chainsaw Rifle out of his hands, Domi goes into furious spinning motion.


Chucking the gun far away.

Catch!

Yet another FFT skill, this time it’s Ninja’s Catch ability.


Using its elasticity to the max like Luffy, Domi dodges and propels itself upwards.


Where it goes Gomu Gomu Balloon.


That stores up energy, which it uses to launch a spear through the disc moving at lightning speed.


A neat flip and the disc is now on Domi’s arm.


Ready for the throw back. This amazing feat combines all of Domi’s abilities and Cynthia’s lightning-quick reflexes.

Anti-backstab


Back attack? What for?


The ambusher has no idea.

Black Domis
Seeing how effective she was, the SR decided to mass produce these units, but they have probably 1% of their prototype’s combat capabilities. Ugly too.


Useless Black Domis.

Merchandise
Other than a trading figure set which has Cynthia and Dominator, there aren’t any proper models. It’s impossible to replicate the coolness of Dominator in a 3D plastic form, so I’m not too worried by it. The form wasn’t meant to sell toys anyway. Tomino isn’t a merchandise whore, despite the Gundam franchise being the biggest in the model kit world.

The inaugural Mecha Madness Post: Introduction

Mecha is the general term for robots, especially in an anime context. It takes all shapes and forms, including the grotesque semi-organic beasts from Evangelion, the retro Super Robots like Mazinger, innocent Doraemon and war machines like the Arbalest and Macross Valkyries.

Mecha hold a special place in many fans’ hearts, as it plays to the inherent love for firepower, technology and sci-fi that (almost) all guys and some girls have. In spite of the unrealism and the cliches, there is rarely any action sequence more exhilarating than a good ol’ epic mecha battle.

This is an introduction to a regular feature I will be doing, titled Mecha Madness. I will periodically bring you articles featuring various mecha from the various categories. Expect to see the specs, power analysis, pilot intro, and most of all, reasons why they rock.

Mecha are generally agreed to be classifiable into 6 major categories.


Organic
These are designed to look like, or even act like living things or monsters. Some have a will of their own, others even devour other mecha. The most famous example is probably the EVAs from Evangelion. Besides that, other examples include the Overmen from Overman King Gainer, Brain Powerd, Xenogears and the Original Seven from GunxSword.


Evil humanoid robots that eat other robots


A mecha with dreadlocks and muscles.


Super
Hero robots that save the world fall into this category. These basically have the flashiest (or gaudiest) colour schemes, use special moves the pilots must shout out and defeat monsters of the week. These types are rapidly losing their popularity though and were most prevalent before the 80s. Some of them can combine and transform too. Examples are Raijin-oh, Godannar, Aquarion and the gang from Super Robot Wars.


A combining mecha of the past: Zettai Muteki Rajinoh!


I hate this. Godannar.


War Machine
These are typically mass-produced, weathered grunt mecha that fight wars and are destroyed without too much a fuss. The war machine types are generally as realistic as mecha can be, with suitable colours such as desert yellow or jungle green, fitting the battlefield terrain. They fight with weapons and do not have special skills. The Zaku and GM are the epitome of the war machine, Tomino introducing the concept in an era where Supers prevailed. Other examples are the M-9 Gernsback (FMP), the Macross Valkyries.


Possibly the suit that gets destroyed the most times in anime history – Zaku


This could be classified under the subsequent category but too many get destroyed. Valkyrie.


High-tech Scientific
These are the highly futuristic, super detailed mecha that make mecha lovers wet their pants with glee. These do not have super attacks, but are equipped with drool-inducing awesome weaponry and incomprehensible made-up technology. This category overlaps with the war machine one quite a bit. The Gears from Xenogears, Vandread, Angel Frames from the Galaxy Angel games and Bakuretsu Tenshi’s Highway Patrol Car.


The six Angel Frames from the Galaxy Angels game. Designed by Gonzo, they are (from top-down, left-right): Kung Fu Fighter, Happy Trigger, Harvestor, Luckystar, Sharpshooter and Trickmaster. Very very cool.


Laser spammin’ Model-selling Fanboys’ Wet Dream
Strike Freedom goes here. Along with its little Seed Destiny friends.


These little buggers have broken the piggy banks of too many children.


Harmless Helper Bots
C3PO, Doraemon, Mecha Mikan from Gakuen Alice etc. These are helpful, cute and harmless. Normally used to inject humour into a series. Hey wait a minute, Doraemon can destroy the world easily with his arsenal of tools. By just hopping on his time machine and using his Air Cannon, he can slaughter the primitive humans. Or worse, rule over them.


He’s actually the strongest here. Who else can time travel, mind control, teleport, print money etc?


If I missed out anything, please feel free to comment. Also, try and throw up some mecha names too, it may just make the next issue of Mecha Madness!