I know many of us aren’t watching Kishin Taisen Gigantic Formula, but seriously, you guys really should. I shall explain why in this post. I’ve never really liked GF in particular but I was thinking about why I didn’t drop it and then it struck me - it’s actually awesome.
The main reason why it’s the best mecha show this season is because it’s probably the only mecha show ever to deserve the title of "MECHA DESIGNERS ALL-STARS PARTY". GF pits 12 different mecha from various countries against each other in the Wisest World War, refereed by the United Nations. For more on the plot, check out Cruel Angel Theses’ post on GF. I can’t be arsed to rewrite.
I’m at episode 8 now and GF, from a typical shounen mecha anime featuring a generic Japanese mecha Susanoo (Japanese mecha are always called this), has become a collective of short stories. How it does this is through the use of the reasonant sympathy system as a form of narrating. As chibiEngineer installed the system into Susanoo, the main characters Shingo (weak shit) and Mana (emo shit) are able to peek into the life stories of the other mecha pilot teams from around the world. The two are essentially ghosts when doing so, and hence instead of being protagonists, they now take the role of observational 3rd person narrators in relation to the foreign characters.
What director Gotoh Keiji wants to achieve via this technique would be a series of episodic short stories inter-woven via the common perspective of Mana and Shingo. As it would only make sense for neighbouring countries to attack each other, there is thus little possibility of Japan being attacked by England or France and hence for the faraway countries to be involved in the story, this technique was used. Perhaps that would explain why Shingo and Mana are both idiots, as them being likeable may result in viewers getting pissed off when they become the 3rd person narrators.
It’s not a unique thing this season. One other anime has a similar format to storytelling and does it 1000% better. A cookie to anyone who can guess what is that anime?
Also of note is the character design. What do Kiddy Grade, Utakata and GF have in common? They are all directed by Gotoh Keiji yes, but all the character designs (those big bulging eyes) were done by his wife, Kadonosono Megumi. Such is the similarity of design to works which have been credited to Gotoh himself (Nadesico, Gatekeepers) that some feel the wife played a part.
Gigantic Formula is also interesting in its perception of foreign (non-Japanese) cultures and countries. As of episode 8, the following countries have been explored: Japan, China, Russia, England (NOT A COUNTRY), Egypt, Greece. And if my general knowledge came solely from Gigantic Formula, this is what I would gather from the series. Japan is a land of genius children and idealistic do-gooders, with lots of ninjas. China citizens all know kung-fu, all stand pencil-straight and are rigid and communist. Russians are blonde and love to conduct scary psycho-experiments. Egypt is poor (why? because it’s in Africa!). Greece is made up of rowdy, alpha males who are also Muslim.
But enough about the show. We don’t actually give a shit about it. The shining light of Gigantic Formula are the mecha and its battles. Check out this site, it list’s all the countries and their mechs. As usual, Europe is over-represented with 6 out of 12. Asia is next with 3, while Africa, North America and South America each have one representative. Ha you Aussies were ignored as usual. What is truly exciting is, each of these 12 mecha were created by different designers, each very famous with bulging portfolios of famous works. Thus, there is vast variety in styles and armaments, which makes for a mecha fanboy’s wet dream.
Let me introduce the 12 mechas and their designers. It is sometimes possible to see the designers’ styles incorporated but not that much at times. Obviously they’ve all tried to add the flavours of their respective countries into the mecha, some with hilarious results.
Designed by Fujita Kazumi and Ebikawa Kanetake
This is Italy’s mech. It has not appeared too much in the show so it remains a mystery. Fujita’s works include GaoGaiGar, Gundam ZZ, Gundam Z, Macross II. Ebikawa hails from GONZO it seems, and did the mecha for Burst Angel, Solty Rei, Blue Sub 6, Full Metal Panic, Melty Lancer, the upcoming Gundam 00, Soukou no Strain, Suzumiya Haruhi (ep 11 lol), Vandread, Yukikaze. In other words, I think Ebikawa is very powerful. Seriously, Vandread?? Burst Angel?? FMP?? Blue Sub 6?? Aren’t these my favourite shows??
Designed by Murakami Katsushi
The great Mecha of the USA! Funny that it’s called Jupiter… isn’t that Greek? I would think the American mecha should be called Bush or something. Or Jesus, for that matter. Murakami seems to be not that prolific, at least according to his profile. He was producer of Macross II, and is the mecha designer for Dancougar Nova (can’t say that’s a good thing). I wonder if it’s anti-American sentiment at play here, getting a less famous guy to make the US mech. Anyone knows more about him? And Jupiter hasn’t appeared in the show thus far, yet Jupiter is shown to have a really old-school style appearance at least shape-wise.
Designed by Miyatake Kazutaka
The mecha of China is purple. Gah. I would’ve thought they’ve made it red or even dark green. Anyway, Miyatake is legendary - Angel Links, Dunbine, Dirty Pair, Flag, Glass Kantai, GUNBUSTER, Macross all the way including 7, Plus and Zero, Maihime (he’s the mother of Kagutsuchi!) and tonnes more. Xuanwushen was a defensive and speed-based demon, I say was because it lost to Japan. Surprise, China losing to Japan! XWS has awful designs though, the stereotypical China-style patterns all over.
Designed by Takeba Shingo
Venezuela’s mecha, still a big mystery but the sillouette looks like it has a small frame with wings of cannons. Takeba’s main mecha designs appears to be the Candidate for Goddess series along with Nadesico Prince of Darkness.
Designed by Takakura Takeshi
Lovers of the Galaxy Angels games and series rejoice, for this is the same guy who created the Angel Frame designs! Chiron V is Greece’s mecha and it’s specialty is underwater combat. With twin water cannons, it’s like Blastoise, except a lot more sexy. Its appearance has lots of horns though. Takakura’s resume also includes Appleseed, DaiGuard, exDriver, Noein, Tactical Roar, Nadeisco, Planetes (!), Geneshaft etc.
Designed by Ishigaki Junya
Comrades, meet the man who gave us the pure genius that was the Xenogears mecha designs. But Griffin 6 is pretty creative… ok it’s ugly. It’s a pretty clever reference to the Japanese-perceived English traditions of nobility and top hats though. One of the few mechas here with flight capabilities, it sucks on the ground and waddles like a duck. Ishigaki also gave us Gundam X, Akane Maniax, Angelic Layer, the Amoured Core OVA, Gunbuster 2 (!!), IGPX (!!!!!), Outlaw Star (!!!), Gundam Wing, Escaflowne (!!) and many more. In other words, he is really SUGOI.
Designed by Izubuchi Yutaka
One of my favourite mecha designs in GF thus far, Diane7 is from France and basically is an longbow archer. Funny how ironic it is that she battles the country where archers used to rule. Izubuchi is pretty much summed in one word - PATLABOR. And he also is the original creator of Rahxephon. Also Towards the Terra, Gasaraki and others. Diane has a thin frame.. think of Ishida from Bleach and that’s basically a human version of this mech.
Designed by Kawamori Shoji
Seriously, has anyone NOT heard of this guy? The Armoured Core mechas, Eureka seveN (!!!), Arjuna, Engage Planet, GPX Cyber Formula, Sousei no Aquarion, GitS Movie 1, Outlaw Star etc etc, Oh, he also invented this funky thing called MACROSS. And he’s an esteemed director too. Nobody worth his salt in anime fandom should omit Kawamori from the hall of fame. Junova 8 is a peacock mecha who wins battles by spreading his wings with lots of eyes on it. Russian.
Designed by Aramaki Shinji
You like BUBBLE GUM CRISIS?? Or perhaps Wolf’s Rain, Edo Rocket and others? Personally, Nepthys 9 is my favourite thus far in the show. It’s like this shy kid who can’t do shit, except when in the locker room naked, he gets a huge erection of 12 inch penis. Nepthys is basically crappy in terms of everything but his super attack, a huge fire cannon which cooks Chiron V instantly. It also has some cool transformation parts. I’ve also always had a soft spot for golden mecha - see Hyakushiki, Vendetta, Wyvern. Also sports some Pharoah designs due to the Egyptian ownership.
Japan’s Susanoo 10
Designed by Moriki Yasuhiro
Despite it’s ugliness, Susanoo is branded goods. Moriki’s CV reads: Crest and Banner of the Stars, Gravion and Zwei, Nadesico and lots of other works. Oh, now we know why Susanoo is so ugly. Anyway, it has rather shitty ratings according to the official site, lacking in all departments. But as shown in the series, it can assimilate other mechas and use their powers.
Designed by Kimitoshi Yamane
Minerva looks like one big ass artillery platform. My guess is that it is similar to the one from CnC 3. Yamane has had an illustrious career too, with Cowboy Bebop, Galaxy Angel Rune (ugh inferior to the original though), Argento Soma, G Gundam (arhh), Gundam Seed and Astray (you know, these are actually awesome), Infinite Ryvius (!), 08th MS Team (!!), Overman King Gainer (!!!!!!!), Spriggan, Starship Operators, Tideline Blue and Escaflowne etc. German! Like Sasa.
Designed by Yamashita Ikuto
Note that while Ishtar seems to belong to India, the country is now termed "Hindustania". In fact, most of the world map is redrawn. Ishtar is the only female mecha (at least the only one with breasts). Yamashita doesn’t have that much in his resume, only this little thing called EVANGELION. Also did Kurogane Communication, Yukikaze and Blue Sub 6.
Designed by Okawara Kunio
Not a mecha it seems but a giant statue that is the avatar of the UN. Okawara was the mecha designer of the original Gundam series 1979 and almost all the Gundams (mainly the blocky ones) and 2 million other shows like Votoms. The man has a special Lifetime Achievement Award!
With this much pedigree, can anyone seriously say this show isn’t worth watching? Only if you’re a girl or a mecha hater maybe.
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