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Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Twelve Mech Anime Yet to Hit SRW, But Aren't Lost Causes Part 2

Banpresto's Super Robot Wars franchise will likely never truly die out, especially when there are always new mech anime to bring into the fold. In the end, it's that very mix of the old-school with the new generation that makes the franchise so appealing, and even if the original character leads wind up being less than memorable one can always look to the licensed properties for enjoyment. Without a doubt, SRW is a big part of why I've become a fan of mecha & why I have learned so much about various mech anime in general. Making this list is reminding of how little I've played of the franchise for a good while, and one day I'll have to rectify that. In the meantime, however, let's look at another six titles that I think aren't completely hopeless in their chances of making it to mecha Valhalla.


Heroic Age (2007)
Mech anime featuring Hisashi Hirai character designs are no strangers to SRW, what with Gundam Seed being one of the most popular entries of the franchise in Japan, as well as the occasional use of Fafner here & there (with the currently-airing sequel Fafner Exodus obviously making it to the franchise within the next couple of years). Now I could be facetious & list Gin-Iro no Olynssis, as that would fit this specific criteria, but considering how utterly bland & aimless that show was, or at least I didn't like it much, I'm not even sure if Banpresto's staff could make that anime work any better. Therefore, I'm going to go with the only other option, the more well-received & liked mech epic Heroic Age. Detailing the journey the "Iron Tribe" of humanity departs on to find their savior & help bring about peace between the various other Tribes of the universe, Heroic Age was a Greek myth-inspired series that featured a bit of a change to the genre. While still generally considered a "mech anime", the giant beings called Nodos were in fact the transformations of human-sized characters, like the eponymous lead Age. Still, the show (as I've been told) followed a lot of the standards & traditions of mecha, not to mentioned featured actual robots, making it still viable as a choice for SRW.

As for actual implementation, Heroic Age does bring about an interesting kink in that it's completely an interstellar story. SRW has always involved Earth as a setting by nature, even forcing series that take place on other worlds, like GUNxSWORD or Zoids, to use Earth as their new home to make them work. To be honest, though, it would be interesting to see an SRW title actually ditch Earth completely & rely instead on various planets in general. It would allow Heroic Age's story to be adapted while also making it possible to utilize other non-Earth set stories, like the previously mentioned two shows as well as others like VOTOMS, GoLion, L-Gaim, the J9 Series, & Dangaioh, or even have it be a new way to utilize fantasy world anime like Dunbine, Escaflowne, or Ryu Knight. It would even be a great way to bring back Crossbone Gundam, which doesn't take place anywhere near Earth at all! Still, if only to make sure the usual Mazinger & Getter Robo are used in some way, Earth could still be used, but only as one of the many planets traversed for the story. It would certainly make for a truly unique entry in the franchise, no doubt.

Songs that Could be Used? Without a doubt, angela's "gravitation" not only sounds completely fitting for a story influenced by (& even named after) Greek myth, but would sound absolutely magnificent if remixed in the way that SRW is known for.


Red Baron (1994-1995)
Sometimes specific anime are included in an SRW game purposefully because of how similar they are. MX for the PS2 was notable for having both Brave Raideen & RahXephon because of how similar the two shows were (the latter was heavily inspired by the former), as well as having G Gundam, Machine Robo, Gear Fighter Dendoh, & Tosho Daimos because all of them involve martial arts-focused giant robots & pilots. This is also why you usually see Metal Armor Dragonar's story mixed in with Universal Century Gundam, or why Xabungle, Turn-A Gundam, & Gundam X tend to be kept together due to their post-apocalyptic/far future settings. Therefore, it's kind of surprising that Banpresto hasn't done one of the most obvious pairings yet & made an SRW that features both G Gundam & Red Baron. The two shows aired on the same exact time slot on rival networks, both were new takes on old series (the latter was originally a tokustatsu series from the 70s), & both were (on the surface) about a man who pilots a giant robot using martial arts & competes in a giant robot tournament. While G Gundam was the overall winner, both in ratings & legacy, Red Baron was still successful enough to be extended beyond it's originally planned 35 episodes (it ended at 49) due to solid toy sales.

As for implementation, I really only see Red Baron getting into an SRW game if G Gundam is also in it. While I did really enjoy the first episode that I saw, I just don't think that it has enough clout on its own to really be considered as a viable entrant into the SRW canon. Yeah, this puts the show into the same category as Next Senki Ehrgeiz from Part 1, i.e. it doesn't mean much at all to most people, but since I'm the one making the list I don't really care. Much like Ehrgeiz, Red Baron has never been released on DVD (VHS & seemingly-super rare LD only), which is slightly odd since the original toku & it's sequel have been released on DVD, so while inclusion could be made to coincide with a first-time DVD release, I still only see Ken Kurenai's story being told if Domon Kasshu's can be done so simultaneously in the same game; combine the Metal Fight with the Gundam Fight (see, another similarity!) & everything's a go.

Songs that Could be Used? It may not be as iconic as the songs for its eternal rival from Sunrise, but "Tatakae! Red Baron" would still work great for the red-colored Metal Fighter. Just make sure that the "Red Baron! Fi-yah!!" & "Red! Red! Red! Red!" parts of the song keep their vocals intact, as Banpresto has done that for songs on occasion.


Fang of the Sun Dougram (1981-1983)
For the longest time, many mecha fans were almost assured that Ryosuke Takahashi's Armored Trooper VOTOMS would never be seen in SRW, either because the story has a lot of working parts to it or simply because of stuff like the iconic Scope Dogs being too small to really feel like a viable fighter against giant mechanical beasts of destruction. SRW Z2 on the PSP, though, did the impossible by including that series, and Banpresto went to the trouble of adapting not just the original TV series but seemingly also every single OVA expansion ever made (at least the ones with VOTOMS in the title, so no Armor Hunter Mellowlink). Now with that Takahashi series being added to the franchise's canon, how about bringing in his first major work?

Holding the record for longest individual real robot mech anime at 75 episodes (the original Mazinger Z holds the overall mech record at 92), Taiyou no Kiba/Fang of the Sun Dougram tells the war story of Crin Cashim as he & his friends form the Fang of the Sun squadron & join a rebellion against the Federation that Crin's own father is Governor of. Taking the concept of realistic war told via giant robots that the original Mobile Suit Gundam introduced, Takahashi took Dougram even further into that genre, apparently relying on actual war strategies & slow-paced storytelling that surprisingly became popular with viewers, resulting in the record-holding show length; Gundam may have started the real robot sub-genre, but Dougram solidified it as viable. Without a doubt, even without having seen the show, I'd imagine that Dougram's story could easily be integrated into a Gundam of some sort; though the show originally took place on the colony planet Deloyer, it could likely be reset on Earth. With VOTOMS having made the jump, my only guess is that Dougram will one day join the SRW franchise. I'm sure the long story is likely the biggest hurdle for it, but I doubt it would be impossible to adapt.

Songs that Could be Used? Sadly, I'm only familiar with the OP, "Saraba, Yasashiki Hibi yo", but it is an iconic theme that could easily be used for a game. I'm sure there are also some songs from the soundtrack by Tohru Fuyuki/Shoko Maita that could be used, as well.


Kannazuki no Miko/Destiny of the Shrine Maiden (2004)
You know what SRW is missing? Yuri... Take that as seriously or facetiously as you want.

Anyway, manga duo Kaishaku (taken from the job of kaishakunin, i.e. the one who beheads someone who just committed seppuku) had a bit of notoriety for the late 90s & the first half of the 00s, due to manga like Steel Angel Kurumi, Magical Meow Meow Taruto, & UFO Ultramaiden Valkyrie, all of which were made into anime. Probably the duo's most well known work, though, is Kannazuki no Miko/Priestesses of the Godless Month (that's October for us laymen), a.k.a. Destiny of the Shrine Maiden, a 2004-2005 short manga that saw a 12-episode anime adaptation in late-04. It tells the tale of two high school girls who are actually reincarnations of the solar & lunar miko that sealed away the Orochi of ancient folklore, this time represented as eight mech-toting warriors. When the Orochi breaks free & tries to kill the girls, however, one of the Orochi decides to instead protect the girls & goes against his former allies.

Kannazuki no Miko was pretty notable when it first came out due to the fact that it mixed together a yuri romance story with hyper-stylistic & fantastical mecha action. Nowadays, though, it may not feel quite as original, and even those who saw it back then tend to remember for just those two elements, not caring much for the story itself. Still, the concept of the story allows for relatively easy integration into an SRW title, and the yuri romance would still be something new for the franchise, which has rarely (if ever) delved into that territory in general. Combine that with some crazy mech designs, and I think this series, while not a #1 pick by any means, would still be a fun one to see used.

Songs that Could be Used? Aside from the yuri & the mechs, there is also one more aspect of the show that it's remembered for, and that's for having some absolutely stunning themes performed by KOTOKO. The ED, "Agony", is enjoyable enough, but the real treats are the OP, "Re-sublimity", & insert theme, "Suppuration -core-", both of which mix together hard rock & techno in a way that still makes them hard to top, even today; they would make excellent SRW themes. Also, yes, the word "suppuration" is actually used correctly in the latter song... Which is both cool & really discomforting.


Kenran Butousai: The Mars Daybreak (2004)
This here is probably the least likely mech anime on the list to ever get included, but it's not because of something like memorability or whether it's "good" enough or whatnot. No, the real hurdle for Bones' Kenran Butousai/Gorgeous Dancing Festival: The Mars Daybreak is its very setting. Taking place on a terraformed Mars that's wound up being a waterworld (minus the top of Olympus Mons), the story of vagrant Gram River & his time on the ship Aurora differs completely from any other mech anime out there by having all of its mech action done underwater. In fact, the mecha of the series, dubbed Round Bucklers/RBs, are specifically made solely for underwater usage, and if there's one thing that SRW has never given any real focus towards, it's water.

Sure, SRW often utilizes stages that feature some sort of watery environment, like a river or a bay near a port (&, on extremely rare occasion, a series of islands), but it's never been used as an important part of the stage; it's always a hindrance. There are very few giant robots in SRW history that have had water-compatibility as a major focus, with the only really notable one being the Getter-3/Poseidon variant of Getter Robo/Getter Robo G. Much like why I brought up Heroic Age, though, Mars Daybreak could be a great way to try something completely new & different with the franchise, though obviously not in as grand of a way as the former would require. Also, while RBs would be useless on land, I could easily see them still be workable units in space stages (hey, Boss Borot can operate in space, so no excuses). Finally, as a bonus, who would say "No way!" to an SRW game that features Popoider, a giant, talking dolphin in a spacesuit-like outfit?

Songs that Could be Used? Again, I'm not really familiar with this series, but the OP, "Take★Back", would work really well, matching the seeming loose nature of the series, if the OP footage is any indication.


Choukou Senki Kikaioh/Tech Romancer (1998)
Yes, this last entry is technically not an "anime"... But at the same time it's infused with so much love for the genre that it's a crime that it hasn't been used more often. Debuting back in arcades in 1998, Capcom's Choukou Senki/Record of Super Steel Warrior Kikaioh, better known abroad as Tech Romancer, is generally considered the spiritual successor to the company's previous mech fighting game, Cyberbots: Full Metal Madness, but it is way more than that. Kikaioh is a mech fighting game made by hardcore fans of the genre for hardcore fans of the genre, with every single facet of every giant robot & pilot(s) being a reference to some sort of anime. Whether it's UC Gundam, Macross, Mazinger, Getter Robo, G Gundam, ComBattler V, Da Garn, Dougram, or even Ultraman for good measure, this game can & will make any mecha fan proud. Hell, Capcom even got Studio Nue & Shoji Kawamori on board to help design the characters & robots!

In terms of implementation, Banpresto wouldn't really need to focus much on story, though there are various plots to follow due to each robot & pilots getting their own storylines that mix together at points. Instead, the Tech Romancer robots could simply be brought in for the fun of it all, much like when Virtual-On was first added via SRW Alpha 3. Thankfully, through crossovers like Project X Zone, which featured Kikaioh itself as a cameo attack, the relationship between Capcom & Bandai Namco is stronger than ever, so I doubt there would be any problems with getting this game included alongside the very series that inspired it. The only trick would be to make sure people actually remember this game. Sure, the team at Monolith Soft may have remembered Kikaioh, but one can only hope that Takenobu Terada & his team remember it.

Songs that Could be Used? Please, this is an easy question. I mean, what other song would be used other than one of the all-time greatest mecha OPs in history? It's not even an actual anime, yet its OP outdoes some of its inspirations, handily.
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That right there are twelve different mech anime (okay, 11 anime & 1 game) that have yet to be added to the massive canon of SRW representation, but I don't think are beyond all sense of hope. Sure, something like Red Baron or Next Senki Ehrgeiz is more of a personal choice, while the likes of Heroic Age & Mars Daybreak may require changing the forumla up a bit to properly integrate, but part of the fun of Super Robot Wars is seeing just what each new game will feature in terms of its line-up... Almost every time there's going going to be a surprise.

3 comments:

  1. I've always thought it would be essential that Dougram would show up in the series, I mean they already have Votoms,layzner, and just recently Galient.

    I do kinda feel that Vifam,Hagane no oni,Bubblegum crisis,M.D. Geist, and others could make it into the games as well

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    1. Yeah, after seeing Votoms get included I think Dougram is just a matter of time. As for the other titles you listed, I think Vifam would be possible, but not so sure about the others.

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  2. Also, the Red Baron anime has indeed received a Blu-ray release after many years.
    https://www.amazon.co.jp/レッドバロン-Blu-ray-BOX-初回仕様版-山口勝平/dp/B01HGMOZFU/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1490749687&sr=8-2&keywords=レッドバロン
    So that's something, at least.

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