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Monday, November 21, 2016

Twelve Mech Anime That Have Been AWOL From SRW For Far Too Long Part 2

Welcome back to this list of mech anime that were, at various points in time (mainly the 00s), featured in the rosters of various entries in Banpresto's (now B.B.Studio) Super Robot Wars video game franchise, but have not been seen in at least a decade. In Part 1 we mainly looked at games that were last seen in the Alpha Series, D, or MX, so here in Part 2 we'll be looking at six mech anime that were last seen from SRW from three specific entries that all (mostly) came out after Alpha 3, i.e after Bandai (which owned Banpresto) merged with Namco.


Brain Powerd
Yoshiyuki Tomino's ouvre of work has generally been best categorized in two categories: "Kill-Em-All Tomino" & "Happy Tomino". While not every single work he's done fits into these two categories perfectly, you can split his work up fairly well like this. "Happy Tomino", in particular, is where his most bizarre & (fitting every possible inflection of the term) interesting titles tend to wind up, though. Stuff like Blue Gale Xabungle, Overman King Gainer, Turn-A Gundam, & even Gundam: Reconguista in G are all anime he made when he was generally in a much happier time in his life, but one of his most curious in this category would easily be 1998's Brain Powerd (the missing "e" was added back in for Bandai Entertainment's English release). Though initially conceived of & planned before Hideaki Anno & Gainax made Neon Genesis Evangelion, Tomino "resigned" himself to having to accept that people were going to (understandably) see Brain Powerd as his take on what Eva did. Today, this anime is best known for telling a completely unrestrained Tomino story (i.e. it's weird & kind of hard to follow), featuring a completely beautiful soundtrack by Yoko Kanno (which she apparently had to make without ever seeing a single second of animation), having an OP where all of the lead females are butt naked (look it up yourself, perverts), & being a part of only two games in the SRW franchise.

Brain Powerd's franchise debut came in 2003s Super Robot Wars Alpha 2 for the PlayStation 2, where it saw relatively strong focus for the most part. Interestingly enough, while the likes of Hime Utsumiya & Yu Isami did not return for the finale of the Alpha Series, they did appear in the game that came out just two months after that, 2005's Super Robot Wars J on the Game Boy Advance. Almost understandably, this series hasn't been seen since, and considering the bizarre nature & infamy the show has, I'm not really sure if it's one that we'll ever be likely to see again. Still, considering that the other "Happy Tomino" shows have been featured recently via the Z Series (minus G-Reco, though I'm positive that'll be in an SRW game soon enough), I guess there's always the chance for Brain Powerd to be given another chance. The mechs themselves are interesting from a design standpoint, & since they were done by Mamoru Nagano it could easily be a good fit with the likes of Zeta Gundam & Heavy Metal L-Gaim.

Chances of Return?: That being said, Brain Powerd is still Tomino at his likely most bizarre, so there's a chance that Bandai Namco may not exactly be in a rush to celebrate its existence; J did come out just before the merger happened, after all. Still, I'm personally all for oddball entries in SRW games, so bring on the madness!


Hades Project Zeorymer
Mecha tend to be made with an overall "all audiences" rating in mind, since you have to sell those toys & model kits, after all. Therefore, there was some talk back when 2013's SRW UX was announced & confirmed that Kishin Houkou/Roar of the Machine God Demonbane was making its debut in the franchise through it. Demonbane was the TV anime adaptation of the PS2 visual novel, which in turn was the censored port of the PC eroge visual novel, i.e. it originally featured nudity & sex. This wasn't the first time SRW skirted with an adult-oriented mecha story, though, as that notoriety has to go to Hades Project Zeorymer. Originally an adult manga by Moriwo Chimi (the pen name Guyver's Yoshiki Takaya uses for his adult works) that ran in hentai magazine Lemon People back from 1983-1984, Zeorymer would be adapted into a four-episode OVA from 1988-1990, which removed all of the sex & adult content & told an overall different story. This OVA adaptation would then make its SRW debut in 2004's Super Robot Wars MX for the PS2, followed by one last appearance a year later in 2005's Super Robot Wars J for the GBA; one could, I guess, also mention the PSP port of MX that came out in 2005. Ever since then, even with Takaya/Chimi returning to his original manga & finishing it up back in 2007 & then penning a sequel manga (Project Zeorymer Omega) that's currently on hiatus, Banpresto has yet to bring back one of the most powerful mecha to ever appear in the franchise.

Seriously, when I say "most powerful", I'm not joking, and that could very well be why Hades Project Zeorymer has never returned. In both MX & J, the Zeorymer itself is easily the most powerful unit as your disposal, so much so that it's outright overpowered to an absurd degree; it is, without a doubt, one of the most ridiculously broken units in SRW history. Defense ratings that make taking damage a pittance, attacks so powerful that even the weakest ones can one-shot enemy grunts without much upgrading, and accuracy & evasion so effective that it almost never misses & is nearly never hit (it can literally teleport)... And that's only in MX! The OVA's appearance in J brought with it the unlockable upgrade Great Zeorymer (an unused design where it uses the major enemy robots' weapons), making it only even more powerful & godlike!! If anything, I'd almost wager that Takenobu Terada & company are downright afraid to ever bring Zeorymer back, simply because there is now a double precedent for how it must be portrayed in SRW, i.e. it can't be anything less than a god among robots. That being said, the use of series like Demonbane since Zeorymer's appearances, not to mention the general constant upping of the ante when it comes to how strong a Banpresto Original mech tends to be with new SRW games, kind of makes it more interesting than ever to bring back Takaya/Chimi's being of destruction.

Chances of Return?: Regardless of how overpowered & outright broken Zeorymer may be in the two games that featured it, or maybe even because of that, there is an appeal in seeing such an devastating force appear in an SRW game. Especially with the original story actually having been finished since its appearance in the franchise, I think there may still be a chance for Hades Project Zeorymer to return. Maybe only once more, and especially if it can be mixed together with Demonbane, but I think it's more than possible.


Mirai Robo Daltanious
Tadao Nagahama's unfortunate passing from hepatitis in 1980 took away from the anime industry a man whose potential was only just becoming seen; he was nicknamed "The Emperor", like Akira Kurosawa, for good reason. When it comes to mecha, Nagahama was the man who started moving the genre away from being nothing more than episodic battles with monsters-of-the-week, instead deciding to start telling character-driven stories featuring people (both good & bad) who truly evolved as the story went on & conflicts that had real meaning behind them. While he could only do so much with Brave Raideen, as he took that show over from Yoshiyuki Tomino half-way in, his 70s trio of Com-Battler V, Voltes V, & Tosho Daimos helped show a new side of giant robot anime, being deemed the Robot Romance Trilogy & having been featured fairly heavily in SRW history; their last mainline appearance was Com-Battler & Voltes in L in 2010. That being said, what about the fourth, spiritual entry? One of the last shows Nagahama worked on before his death, as "General Director" (i.e. he oversaw production but didn't direct it himself), Mirai/Future Robo Daltanious is officially considered the successor to Nagahama's trilogy that directly preceded it, & features a lot of conceptual similarities. It was also what World Events Productions originally had planned to adapt into Voltron for North America, but a misunderstanding by Toei resulted in Beast King GoLion being sent over instead. While the Robot Romance Trilogy became a bit of a staple for SRW for a good while, Daltanious only has two games to its name, and in both cases acts as a replacement for its older cousins.

Daltanious first appeared in Super Robot Wars D for the Game Boy Advance in 2003, where it rubbed shoulders with the likes of God Mars, Getter Robo Armageddon, The Big O, Macross 7, & even Megazone 23 in a dark & post-apocalyptic world; fitting, as Daltanious took place in an Earth that had been taken over by the Zaar Empire. A year later, Kento Tate & company would appear in Super Robot Wars GC for the GameCube, which was a game that was all about celebrating mech anime from the late-70s & early-to-mid 80s; it would be ported to the Xbox 360 in 2006 under the name Super Robot Wars XO (read my review for more info). While I did say that mech anime of the 70s was more or less restricted from this list in Part 1 due to the fact that the voice actors who were in those series are simply getting too old (or are outright retired), Daltanious is a bit of an exception to that since the major cast required for voice work are still somewhat active in the industry. Main character Kento Tate was voiced by Toshio Furukawa, who is still voicing Piccolo for Dragon Ball products to this very day, while co-pilot Danji Hiragi was voiced by Yoshito Yasuhara, who was heard just this year voicing Rodney in the anime Endride. Sadly, Osamu Kobayashi & Osamu Ichikawa (who voiced Gascon & main villain Kroppen, respectively) have since passed, but Banpresto could either recast those (as was done for General Kabuto in the past) or re-use their voice work from GC/XO. It's not ideal, but the latter option has been done before for characters who weren't the lead. Sadly, I don't think we'll ever see Daltanious fight alongside its Robot Romance cousins, especially since some of the main cast for those three shows have either retired or passed on.

Chances of Return?: While I think it's awesome that essentially every mainline SRW game now features voice work (once UX on the 3DS brought it to Nintendo handhelds in 2013), the fact of the matter is that not having to include voice work for handheld games did work to the benefit of older series, especially those from the 70s. It was because L on the DS did not feature voice work that Com-Battler V & Voltes V were able to see mainline inclusion as late as 2010; they are in X-Ω, which also doesn't feature voice work, but that also is not a traditional SRW game. Still, the fact of the matter is that 70s mecha is only going to be featured less & less as time goes on, with even next year's V only featuring two 70s series (Daitarn 3 & Zambot 3). While Daltanious does have the benefit of having it's major good guys be voiced by actors who are still in the industry, & I'd love to see this series used once again (it was a really good robot in GC/XO), I think Daltanious (like most 70s series) has had its time pass by now.


Shin Getter Robo vs. Neo Getter Robo
While Gundam is a mecha giant (no pun intended) with plenty of entries to choose from when it comes to making an SRW game lineup, & Mazinger has recent fare like Shin Mazinger & Mazinkaiser SKL to rely on for a good while (even the Mazinkaiser OVAs require the old cast), the final part of the "Holy Trinity" (as some apparently call it) has a bit of a dilemma. For the longest time Banpresto could rely on the classic Getter Robo titles (mainly the original series, Getter Robo G, Shin Getter Robo), but time has continued on & Akira Kamiya & company are only getting older to rely for new voice work; the last mainline game (i.e. not X-Ω) to feature an old-school Getter was SRW Z in 2008. Possibly taking that into consideration, Banpresto did experiment with using more recent takes on the franchise during the 00s. Cult-classic OVA series Getter Robo Armageddon debuted in D back in 2003 & has effectively become to de facto replacement for the classic stuff after its return in the Z Series & inclusion in the upcoming V, while New Getter Robo (the last Getter anime to have been made so far) saw a single inclusion with Neo, but there is one other OVA that saw two tries & I feel deserves more love: 2000-2001's Shin Getter Robo vs. Neo Getter Robo.

The best way to describe Shin Getter vs. Neo Getter easily is to say, "It's the apology for Getter Robo Go." Both a manga done by Getter co-creators Go Nagai & the late Ken Ishikawa & a 50-episode TV anime done by Toei, the manga was the canon sequel to Ishikawa's original Getter Robo manga, marked the first appearance of the now-iconic super robot Shin Getter Robo, & is considered one of Ishikawa's best works. The anime, on the other hand, is generally considered completely terrible & is both the last Getter anime ever animated by Toei & the last Getter anime ever made for TV. Shin Getter vs. Neo Getter, though not an accurate adaptation of the Getter Go manga, was a much more enjoyable & loving work to what it was influenced by. Interestingly enough, this OVA was the first to replace "OG Getter" in Banpresto's franchise, making its debut in 2002's Super Robot Wars R for the Game Boy Advance. It would then make its sole console (& voiced) appearance in 2004's SRW GC, later 2006's SRW XO, where it once again was the Getter representative. Ever since then, we saw the sole appearance of New Getter Robo & the return (& dominance) of Getter Robo Armageddon, so is there any hope of a return for this small, four-episode OVA?

Chances of Return?: If you're wondering why Armageddon has effectively become the de facto Getter Robo representative for SRW, it's two-fold. First, it's a story that can be told up through the (fittingly bizarre) ending; New's appearance in Neo did not actually cover the last couple episodes of that OVA's story. Second, & most importantly, it comes down to nostalgia for the iconic pilots. While Armageddon does eventually turn its focus to a new trio of pilots for the Shin Getter, who are variants of the pilots in Go, you still always wind up with the iconic Ryoma, Hayato, & Benkei trio (& Musashi if the early episodes are covered slowly, like in Z2). Shin vs. Neo, though, is all about the new trio of Go, Shou, & Gai, with the original trio either in an authoritative role (Hayato), in a completely incapacitated role (Ryoma), or in an outright dead role (Musashi); Benkei is nowhere to be seen here. It's Go, Shou, & Gai that start out with the Neo Getter, & it's those three that pilot the Shin Getter, & that's probably what makes this OVA less appealing to bring back.

Does Shin Getter Robo vs. Neo Getter Robo deserve to return to SRW? I say yes, without a doubt; I love Getter Robo Armageddon, but I don't want it to overstay its welcome. Will Shin vs. Neo ever return to SRW? I'm honestly not sure, & I think the chances are pretty low, sadly.


Metal Armor Dragonar
Though debuting at the very end of the 70s, Gundam didn't hit its stride until the 80s via reruns of the original TV series, the movie trilogy, & then actual sequels. After Gundam ZZ ended, though, Sunrise considered retiring the series right then & there, with Metal Armor Dragonar taking its place from 1987-1988. Said replacement was only temporary, however, but the story of Kaine Wakaba, Light Newman, & Tapp Oceano's battle against Giganos did resonate with viewers enough to keep it in their memories. Dragonar was more or less forgotten by companies after its airing & throughout the 90s, but Banpresto decided to dust it off & bring it to its crossover franchise in 2001 with Super Robot Wars A on the Game Boy Advance, where it was featured fairly heavily in terms of story. It then made its console & vocal debut on Super Robot Wars MX in 2004, followed by a polygonal appearance in Super Robot Wars GC, also in 2004. The last SRW appearances by Dragonar after these games were only in ports & partial remakes via XO in 2006 & A Portable in 2008. Technically, that would put this out of contention for this list, as it did last appear less than 10 years ago, but A Portable (aside from having a completely redundant name [as the original was already portable]) is a pretty lazy remake, with essentially no new content or animation; every sprite & attack animation is simply reused from MX, Alpha 3, Impact, & OGs (for the originals). Anyway, why hasn't Dragonar made a proper return yet?

What's even more odd is that, following its SRW appearances, Metal Armor Dragonar received a bit of a promotion push. In 2005, the series received its first DVD release in Japan (as well as a re-release in 2010), & became a notable part of the Banpresto/From Software crossover series Another Century's Episode, appearing in all three games of the original PS2 trilogy from 20005-2007. Once the 00s came to an end, though, Dragonar has all but been forgotten again, with it's spiritual cousin series Gundam likely the main culprit. Since the anime was initially conceived to be a replacement, it's not surprising that Dragonar's inclusion in both SRW & ACE has always been in concert with Gundam, usually having Giganos team up with Zeon & the like. Similarly, the team at B.B. Studio can't simply use the "post story" excuse & just toss Kaine, Tapp, & Light into an SRW game with their Dragonar Customs; they don't have quite that same cachet & honestly deserve proper inclusion, anyway. Personally, this is easily my most wanted return in the entire list (both parts), mainly because Dragonar deserves way more love; honestly, it learned from Zeta Gundam & Gundam ZZ, doing some things better than either. It really should have become a bit of a reliable standard for SRW, one that could always be brought in without much trouble.

Chances of Return?: What really hurts Metal Armor Dragonar's chances of returning is simply the glut of other real robot series there are used in various ways, especially when considering Gundam. The simple fact of the matter is that the series has always been stuck in the shadow of what it was originally meant to take the baton from. I think Dragonar has a chance of coming back, if only a small one, but it really needs an opportunity to shine more on its own, if it ever happens.


Space Knight Tekkaman Blade
Okay, this final choice hasn't really hit a ten year hiatus quite yet, but we're almost at 2017 by now, so I'll let it slide so that we can hit twelve entries; also, I just want to talk about this series. Space Knight Tekkaman was originally a 1975 TV series made by Tatsunoko &, though cancelled early back in the day, is now generally considered one of its iconic superhero series. In the 90s, Tatsunoko rebooted a number of its superhero series, with the first being 1992-1993's Space Knight Tekkaman Blade, which was a completely different series in essence, with only the utmost basic concept being the same. Unlike the original series, Tekkaman Blade became a notable hit for Tatsunoko, receiving some OVA spin-offs as well as a full-on OVA sequel via 1994-1995's Tekkaman Blade II. Still, while D-Boy & his friends on the Blue Earth do have a robot ally in the form of Pegas, this is not a mech anime by any means. Therefore, when Banpresto announced Super Robot Wars J for GBA in 2005, everyone was downright gobsmacked when Tekkaman Blade was shown to be included. Two years later, in 2007, Banpresto triple-downed on the inclusion of "power suit" anime when Super Robot Wars W ("Double") for the DS not only brought back Tekkaman Blade, but also brought in Tekkaman Blade II as well as Detonator Orgun (which was supposedly made from some of the initial concepts planned for Blade). Since then, though, power suit anime has never returned to SRW, so is there any chance for the likes of Tekkaman Blade to return, this time with voice work?

Make no mistake, introducing power suits into a franchise all about giant robots was a wild gamble, one that would potentially stretch the suspension of disbelief for some fans. After all, even with an attack like the Voltekka, just how believable was it to have Blade fight against the likes of Dr. Hell's monsters, Hau Dragon, or even the Devil Gundam? All that being said, while power suit anime has not returned to SRW, the franchise did return to the concept of using smaller units. Similar to when Megazone 23 was used in D, the Z Series did mark the debut of Armored Trooper VOTOMS with Z2: Hakai-hen in 2011. Unlike most mecha, Armored Troopers (a.k.a. VOTOMS) were not terribly larger than the humans that piloted them; they were essentially super-sized power suits. Unlike Megazone's sole game inclusion or Blade's two-game test-run, though, VOTOMS was a massive focus in the Z Series, with not just the TV series but also nearly every single OVA sequel, prequel, & midquel being adapted into the massive Z storyline; even side-story OVA Armor Hunter Mellowlink got included in X-Ω. If VOTOMS can see inclusion & not have people bat an eye anymore, then why not bring back power suit anime, if not simply making a game solely featuring them?

Chances of Return?: I have no idea if J & W were really all that great sellers back in their days, which is likely why power suits have yet to return. J was announced just months before Alpha 3's release, which meant that it had next to no real focus or advertising compared to the finale of the Alpha Series. W, on the other hand, was a seeming first attempt by Banpresto at making a game aimed primarily at import gamers, as every series in the game had been released (in some way, shape, or form) in North America previously, not to mention the shocking franchise debut (& sole appearance) of Beast King GoLion, which was only popular outside of Japan as Voltron. If both of those games were successes, there's no doubt that Bandai Namco would have already brought power suits back by now. Therefore, though I think it would be awesome to see happen, I'm not putting a lot of hope into Tekkaman Blade returning to SRW.
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With that comes the end of this list of mech anime (& one power suit series) that have been gone from Super Robot Wars for what feels like way too long. Make no mistake, I'd love to see every single one of these entries come back to the franchise, but at the same time I didn't want to simply sound naive or clueless. I completely (well, for the most part) understand why none of these anime have returned in one way or another, at least in a mainline game (see Victory Gundam in X-Ω), hence why I included the parts where I judged their chances of return. Still, it'd be sweet to see any combination of these 12(-ish) choices return, so I won't abandon all hope.

Anyway, enough delaying what I had promised... Check back later this month as we end this year's Mecha Month with a look at where the Super Robot Wars franchise got its start, only with a fresh coat of paint.

2 comments:

  1. I'm a fan of all the shows mentioned except daltanious and it would be pretty nice to see them come back. Tekkaman blade mainly for a voiced entry, so we can hear Toshiyuki morikawa screaming.

    Daltanious I wouldn't mind seeing come back, but I haven't seen the show yet.

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  2. It would be nice to see Neo Getter Robo again in SRW. Even better, I was doing some research on Shin VS Neo and the Getter Robo Go Anime, and I came across this = The GRG Anime and Manga were always meant to be separate. http://nagai-again.discutforum.com/t59-anime-getter-robo-go-1991
    I have always thought the GRG Anime wasn't as bad as what others have saying, even though it does have plenty of legit flaws. I would like to evaluate it when I find it subbed.

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