Welcome to the fourth annual Mecha Month on The Land of Obscusion! Once again, this month will be nothing but giant robots & the people who pilot them, and for this year I want to bring back a side-focus that was lost the previous year. Therefore, let's talk SRW...
Debuting back in April of 1991 on the Game Boy, the Super Robot Taisen/Wars franchise has become more than simply a crossover of popular mech anime, like Gundam, Mazinger Z, & Getter Robo. Instead, it's also become a bit of a celebration of the genre itself, bringing all sorts of series, both old & new, together in ways that are usually just awesome; in some ways it's even improved on some entries (SRW Z's take on Gundam Seed Destiny, for example). Personally, the coolest thing about this franchise is that it's brought to light so many lesser known mech anime, titles that have generally been forgotten with time. In fact, there have been a few games that specifically relied on lesser-celebrated shows, I've reviewed two/three of them via Compact 3 & GC/XO, & given them their extra 15 minutes of fame. Escaflowne, Betterman, Mechander Robo, God Sigma, the 80s version of Tetsujin 28, Dai Guard, the J9 Series, the Eldoran Series, Acrobunch, Daltanious, & GoLion are just a spatter of the lesser known shows (in Japan) that have been given the Banpresto push, and this year's entries (BX on 3DS & X-Ω on iOS & Android) have seen the SRW debuts of Giant Gorg, Panzer World Galient, Albegas, & freaking Dorvack! It's, quite frankly, amazing at times.
Naturally, though, there is still a metric ton of mech anime that still has not been given such an opportunity, and in some rare cases may never see inclusion. For example, franchise producer Takenobu Terada coyly hinted in a radio interview a few years back that his team couldn't get Mashin Eiyuuden Wataru for SRW Neo on the Wii, as it would have fit the 90s motif perfectly, due to licensing issues (they went with NG Knight Lamune & 40 as a replacement), and it's been stated that Takara Tomy will "never" allow any Brave Series show, outside of GaoGaiGar, from being in SRW for unknown reasons. At the same time, there are plenty of forgotten mech anime, especially from the glut of seemingly random shows that came about during the late-70s & 80s, that will likely never be included because people just don't care about them. I can nigh-guarantee you'll never see the likes of Astroganger, Gowapper 5 Godam, Ginguiser, Baratack, Daikengo, Govarian, or even God Mazinger in an SRW game. Still, there are plenty of series, both forgotten & celebrated, that I think may still see inclusion in this massive franchise one day, & I'm going to list off twelve of them. So enough of me babbling, let's get to the list, where I can continue babbling.
Masou Kishin Cybuster (1999)
I'm going to start off with one that isn't looked at fondly, though I found it enjoyable enough, but at least has a tangential chance. Created as an alternate take on the very first original creations of Super Robot Wars, the Cybuster anime by Ashi Pro (now Production Reed) was an insanely different version than what fans of the Masou Kishin/Lord of Elemental sub-franchise were used to. While there was still an alternate world called La Guias, a man named Masaki, an evil organization called the Divine Crusaders/DC, & various mecha that relied on the elements, this anime put a decidedly more real robot focus on everything, rather than utilize that wild, fantasy-based super robot execution that fans loved. The overall product is definitely a mixed bag, but I feel that the series does receive more hatred than what's deserved simply because of how wildly different it is from what fans expected.
Still, the simple fact that it is tangentially related to SRW gives it an ever-so-possible chance at one day being included in a game. It could be used on its own in a game that uses the concept of going to other worlds, which is how series like Escaflowne, Dunbine, & Galient are generally handled when they are included. While I can easily guess that seeing Cybuster be included in an SRW game would result in vehement hatred from some fans, probably using the fallacy that it would be "taking the place of" something else, it has been shown before that Banpresto's staff for SRW generally knows how to take something that may be flawed & utilize it in ways that can still make it look appealing. Without a doubt, seeing Cybuster via this form in SRW one day would, most definitely, be a trip.
Songs that Could be Used? The OP, "Senshi yo, Tachiagare", & the ED for the DVD-exclusive episode, "Tamashii no Wing", and both would sound outstanding. While the soundtrack for the show was good, nothing really comes to mind in terms of being worthy of including in an SRW game, aside from those two.
Next Senki Ehrgeiz (1997)
Okay, I'll admit that this is an utterly personal choice, without a shadow of a doubt. I mentioned those forgotten mech anime of the 70s & 80s, and I'm sure that, for most people, Studio Deen's Ehrgeiz is a perfect example of such a mech anime from the 90s. It may have some insignificant notoriety as being the first mech anime to ever air in late-night, but even in Japan this is a completely forgotten show; it doesn't even have a DVD release in its home country, 18 years later. Still, this series just clicked with me ever since I first saw the VHS tapes about a decade ago. If you've been reading this blog since the start (all 10 of you [& that's probably over-estimating]), then you know that I've brought this series up on rare occasion; it was the third review I ever did here, I included it on an early license rescue list, & I listed it as a mech anime I would license (& only I, I'm sure of it). I own the VHS tapes we got over here, & I even took advantage of some good deals to own all but one laserdisc (just missing Volume 5) from the Japanese release. It's also because of Ehrgeiz that I received my all-time favorite con moment, where I gave JAM Project's Yoshiki Fukuyama my Volume 1 LD to autograph (as his old band Humming Bird did the OP), and he responded with an absolute nostalgia bomb of shock & sheer glee for being reminded of his "first anime"; you can't quantify how happy I felt to see a moment like that. But, anyway, back to the show itself.
To be quite honest, I do think Ehrgeiz could fit in nicely with SRW. The story could easily be mixed in with most other series, whether it's the Next Government, the Terra resistance force, or the abandoned Next 7 colony that the outlaws operate out of. The focus on how the mysterious "S" roams about space, causing havoc in its wake, and brings the three main parties together & interact isn't one that would be tricky to mix in with other series, as long as space is a heavily used environment. It also has a wide variety of robot units to bring in, whether it's Akane Aoi, Arnold, & their Next MVs, the Terra MV forces, or being able to directly control Jay & the outlaws. The only question is whether it would be reasonable to actually create a six-unit team attack for the outlaws, in order to imitate a blitz that they do at the end of the show; an SRW game with individual units would make it hard, but one that uses pairs or squads would be easier. Finally, Namco Bandai, which has rights to Ehrgeiz when it comes to distribution (it does stream on Bandai Channel), could have the show be included in a future SRW game if they were to finally put the show out on DVD, using the game as a bit of cross-promotion; it wouldn't be the first time SRW was used in that fashion, after all.
Songs that Could be Used? The OP, "Dream Jack", is just an excellent song & one that would be an easy fit for use in SRW. That being said, though, the Shiroh Hamaguchi/Akifumi Tada soundtrack has some excellent choices, too, like combat theme "Hakuheisen/Hand-to-Hand Combat", which would work for battle, or "S.A.C.", the theme for "S" itself, which would obviously be used as an override theme when fighting "S".
Platinumhugen Ordian (2000)
I'm getting all of the titles that I've watched/reviewed out of the way first, & the last of those comes from a man who's very familiar with the Super Robot Wars franchise, Masami Obari. You see, Obari is has excellent relations with the people behind these games, and has not only directed the Super Robot Wars OG: The Inspector TV anime, but has also designed the Compatible Kaiser for SRW OGs & Gaiden, the Shurouga in SRW Z, & has even animated the cut-ins for his own creations (Dancougar, Detonator Orgun, Gravion, etc.) in various games. In turn, Banpresto has featured numerous mech anime that Obari either did the mecha designs for or even directed himself. Dancougar (both the original show & Nova), Fight! Iczer-One, Gravion & Gravion Zwei, Detonator Orgun, & Metal Armor Dragonar (which he only did a small bit of animation for, but kind of became quietly notable for) have all been included, yet there still remains one notable Obari mech anime that hasn't seen inclusion in SRW. Obviously taking inspiration from Neon Genesis Evangelion to an extent, Platinumhugen Ordian is an ambitious title that may have aimed a bit too high, resulting in a fairly convoluted second half, but manages to still be intensely memorable, or at least I found it to be that. I just wish it had a better translation out there than the half-assed fan translation that's over a decade old.
I can easily see Ordian's story fitting in with other shows' if included into an SRW game. The first half is more about Yuu & his friends training & being used in actual combat situations as part of a for-hire organization called the IMO, and those parts could easily be mixed in with the storyline of a Gundam show, for example. The second half, which is where the use of Norse mythology becomes stronger, would be a little trickier, but nothing impossible to adapt by use of route splits, which would allow the player to skip some of the more confusing parts of the story, while still getting later units like the Ordian itself. In fact, the Ordian would actually make a neat unit to play with because of how exactly Yuu pilots it. Taking inspiration from Machine Robo, which Obari also worked on, Yuu actually pilots the Ordian inside of his first mech, the Dragon Fang, much like how Rom Stol pilots the Vi-Kungfu by actually being inside the Kenryu first. Because of this, a theoretical game could allow the player to eject the Dragon Fang from the Ordian, whether by choice or due to the "death" of the Ordian. Plus, it would be interesting to see Ordian & Dragonar in the same game, since Obari obviously designed the Dragon Fang after the D-1. To be quite honest, I think Platinumhugen Ordian will eventually be included in an SRW game, due to Obari's good ties with the development studio, with the only question being when.
Songs that Could be Used? Off the top of my head, there's really only one song that could be used here, and that's the OP, "Shinryaku -the Chariots VII-". Luckily, it's an appropriately crazy song that would sound really cool in the way SRW adapts opening themes.
Ougon Senshi Gold Lightan (1981-1982)
Tatsunoko isn't exactly known for doing mecha, but the studio has made the occasional one. Oddly enough, though, the only Tatsunoko property that SRW has ever used in a game is Tekkaman Blade, which is really a power suit series, technically. You could count Macross or Evangelion, which Tatsunoko did help animate, but I wouldn't for various reasons. Therefore, let's include an actual Tatsunoko mech anime on this list. Probably the most iconic giant robot that actually belongs to the studio, Ougon Senshi/Gold Warrior Gold Lightan tells the battles between the eponymous alien robot & his friends against the forces of the evil King Ibalda. Helping Lightan out is Hiro Taikai, a young boy that Lightan hangs out with as a small lighter... Yeah, Lightan has the ability to change size, hiding out as a lighter but then growing into a giant robot when needed. This is the also the directorial debut of Koichi Mashimo, having previously worked on the original Time Bokan & the Gatchaman sequels as an animation director.
Sadly, I've never seen this show, only one episode was fansubbed, but I am familiar with Gold Lightan somewhat due to its inclusion in the crossover fighting game Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Ultimate All-Stars. Unlike most super robots, Lightan is a sentient being that doesn't really have any sort of energy-based attacks, like how Mazinger Z uses Photon Energy or Getter Robo uses Getter Rays. Instead, Lightan simply beats the ever living crap out of his opposition, relying on his final attack Gold Crash to finish off his opponents. Gold Lightan in general would be a simple inclusion both in story & gameplay, though his various smaller Lightan allies could be used as extra pilot seishin/spell slots, giving him lots of versatility outside of battle. Also, Banpresto likes to include little extras to some of their units, so I could easily see them giving Lightan the Shoryuken he learned in his ending from TvC as a bonus attack (with an obvious name change to be safe, of couse).
Songs that Could be Used? Only one, but when it's an absolutely fun song like "Ougon Senshi Gold Lightan", you can't really complain.
Magic Knight Rayearth (1994-1995)
This is one of those picks that actually has been brought up by fans of SRW whenever they start mentioning titles they would love to see used, and it's easy to see why. One of the most iconic works to come from manga creator collective CLAMP, Magic Knight Rayearth started off as a manga, but is probably most well remembered for its 1994-1995 TV anime adaptation, which ran 49 episodes across two series. Telling the story of three Japanese schoolgirls who wind up being teleported to the world of Cephiro while visiting Tokyo Tower, Rayearth mixed together mecha with shojo-oriented storytelling, creating a tale that appealed to both genders very easily. As for why such an iconic series has never been used in SRW yet, once can only guess that maybe CLAMP has never really been interested in seeing their work used in such a way, because fantasy worlds have never been a problem with the franchise. Yeah, Code Geass has been used, but that series only had CLAMP involved in the initial character designs, so they likely had next to no real say over anything regarding if it could be included or not.
For general gameplay, Rayearth wouldn't really by anything hard to put into an SRW game. Storyline-wise, there would definitely need to be judicious use of route splits, since Rayearth's story (to my knowledge) takes place completely in Cephiro, so it would either be follow that story, likely mixed in with another fantasy series (so something like Dubine would be needed), or move away until later. Either that, or Banpresto could choose to use the 1997 OVA adaptation, which brought all of the fantasy to the real world instead. Yes, that alternate take on the story isn't anywhere near as well-regarded, but it does bring about another way to utilize Rayearth.
Songs that Could be Used? Though I haven't seen the show yet, I am familiar with the opening for the first series, "Yuzurenai Negai". That alone would more than likely sound amazing if given the SRW treatment, and is almost reason enough to have Rayearth one day be included in SRW.
[11/2018 UPDATE: It sure took a while, but Bandai Namco recently announced Super Robot Wars T for the PS4 & Switch, which will mark the series debut of Magic Knight Rayearth! Fittingly, it will appear alongside fellow fantasy world franchise Aura Battler Dunbine.]
iDOLM@STER Xenoglossia (2007)
No, I am not trying to troll anyone who reads this, so give me a second. In 2013's SRW UX for the 3DS, Banpresto included what was called "Virtual-On featuring Fei-Yen HD", which was nothing more than a variant of the Fei-Yen the Knight virtuaroid that was not only based off the most iconic vocaloid of them all, Hatsune Miku, but was actually piloted by the vocaloid herself. The fact that Miku was actually in an SRW game makes the possibility of another idol product being added to SRW one day likely, but at least the one I'm listing is based on an actual Bandai Namco property. Debuting back in mid-2005 as an arcade game, The iDOLM@STER has gone on to become one of the biggest names in what I guess can be called "idol otakudom". Interestingly enough, however, an anime adaptation of the game wouldn't happen until 2011, and even then it was actually the second anime based on the franchise. The first originally aired back in 2007 & was called iDOLM@STER Xenoglossia, with "xenoglossia" being another way to say "xenoglossy", or the ability for one to understand languages that he/she has never heard before. And, yes, it was a mech anime.
This take on the franchise re-imagines the ten girls from the game as pilots of giant, semi-sentient robots called iDOLs, and by working together they protect the Earth from being destroyed by giant fragments of the Moon after our natural satellite was destroyed a century prior. Naturally, there's going to be more to the story than that, and while I haven't seen the show, nor am I interested in the franchise in general, I must admit that I curious about how Xenoglossia plays around with the concept of the game & takes it in such a crazy-different direction. I did buy the DVD sets Sentai Filmworks released a couple of years ago, and most fans of the actual franchise tend to act like this spin-off doesn't exist, so I may finally watch it one day & maybe even review it. Anyway, I'm going to guess that the plot here would be relatively easy to utilize in an SRW game, especially if Banpresto was to use make use of a post-apocalyptic setting again. Therefore, I could see Xenoglossia mixing in well with series like Gundam X, Xabungle, Getter Robo Armageddon, etc. The fact that the iDOLs are somewhat sentient would likely also result in each unit having two pilots, technically; the "Idolmaster" pilot (I see what they did there) & the iDOL itself.
Hey, if Hatsune Miku got into SRW then I don't think it would be any more ridiculous to expect iDOLM@STER to one day get in, and at least the latter has a more reasonable way of doing so.
Songs that Could be Used? I'm sure, should this series ever get into SRW, that both OPs would be used, but I'm only familiar with the first, "Binetsu SOS!!", so I'll just guarantee that one.
That's it for Part 1 of this look at mech anime that could maybe, possibly, one day make into an SRW game, even if only once. Check back later this week for Part 2, where I bring up another six possible inclusions, one of which may technically be cheating, but it's not like I'm one to follow my own rules when it comes to these lists in the first place.