Anime Review: Super Robot Wars OG the Inspector – A Passionate Adaptation Filled With Obarism

Each different Mecha fan certainly has their own reasons to fall in love with this genre – it could be interesting storytelling, humane messages, relatable characters, etc. However, perhaps the majority of fans, including myself, agree that the exciting and fiery battle scenes are a big factor that attracts them to Mecha. Among modern Mecha anime, one series has embraced this element and brought it to a new level. Crafted with passion by Masami Obari and his friends and colleagues, Super Robot Wars OG the Inspector is one of the important icons of Action Mecha.

The anime is based on the Super Robot Wars game series, a longtime JRPG title produced by the game company Banpresto. The main feature of this game series is bringing robots and characters from many famous Mecha animes, mangas or even games and letting them fight side by side in common storylines. Branching off from Super Robot Wars, Super Robot Wars Original Generation takes the “Banpresto Originals”, original characters created by the game company for previous instalments, and brings them into a completely separate story with elements from previous games. Loosely adapting the game Super Robot Wars OG 2, Super Robot Wars OG the Inspector continues the story of the Hagane and Hiryu Kai fleet half a year after the L5 campaign.

It can be said that the original plot of the game is too large to fit into 26 episodes. Although Obari, along with series composers Tatsunosuke Yatsufusa and Yuichiro Takeda, tried their best to make cuts and additions so that the plot could flow best while still preserving important events and moments from the game, exist still subplots, characters that do not contribute much to the overall story (for example, Lee Linjun, the Plantagenet campaign and some of the characters behind it) or some confusing things (such as information surrounding Einst, Inspectors, Shadow Mirror, Earth Federation Army or even the main cast are quite ambiguous).

What was his deal anyway?
However, if you watch Super Robot Wars OG Divine Wars first (this is really necessary), or play the game, then watch this anime one more time while not paying too much attention to the things I mentioned above, then you can start enjoying what’s happening on the screen. At this point, the events in Steel Dragon Squadron’s journey gradually become more integrated and seamless, and although it is not a peak story, it is enough for viewers to feel interested and continue to enjoy the actual good stuff from the anime.

Although the plot moves really fast, there is no boring episode—quite the opposite. Each episode includes one or many battles filled with the essence of Obari and his friends and colleagues to attract viewers’ attention. In addition, the character-driven story also greatly contributes to the appeal of the anime.
Ryoto in the Exbein Boxer (Episode 8)
Above all, what impresses me the most is that whether you have played SRW OG 2 or not, when watching this anime, you can see the determination to recreate the feeling of playing the game from the SRWOG Project team. From big details like telling the story from an overall perspective, arranging each episode like a game stage (story plot, then opening or ending the episode with a battle), to small details like a list of moves with their destructive power in the cockpit of the robots, episode title “Bushin Soukou DyGenGuar episode 15”, units unleash their strongest moves on bosses in two episodes 25-26, etc. All of this is enough to make SRW OG the Inspector a candidate for Best Video Game Adaptation.

In short, despite not completely beating the challenge of cramming the entire plot of SRW OG 2 into 26 episodes, the director and writer team still crafted a good plot while using their enthusiasm and love for the game series to make up for the shortcomings.

First, let’s talk about the overall cast of Super Robot Wars OG. This cast of characters is truly massive, counting only the main characters of Steel Dragon Squadron. The number already surpasses 30. Despite this large number, each character has their own quirks. In terms of ideas, the characters are created simply by combining tropes, but the execution is clever enough to separate them from each other and engrave them in the minds of the audience/gamers. For example, R-1 pilot Ryusei Date, in terms of concept, is simply a typical hot-blooded Mecha protagonist and Mecha nerd, but his kindness is shown through the lengths he goes to protect his friends and his obsession with robots, making it easy for him to win the hearts of players/viewers. In addition, small highlights in design, personality, and voice also greatly contribute to the uniqueness of each character.

Source: (This image includes some characters from Super Robot Wars OG Gaiden)
Because the cast of characters is so large, I will only comment on the characters that undergo character arcs in Super Robot Wars OG the Inspector, which are Kyosuke Nanbu and Excellen Browning, Arado Balanga and Seolla Schweizer, and Lamia Loveless, and a bit on the antagonists. One thing I like about this anime is that no character is left out: even though they are not the focus of the story like the characters above, most of the main characters still get side plots, spotlights, or moments of their own, which adds to each character’s mark.

Every time, at the end of the first opening
The poster couple of the anime. You can see them standing next to each other anywhere, from the opening, ending to the movie poster, in addition, their relationship is also the focus of the plot of the Inspector. Although this couple is quite adorable, their love for the Inspector is not very well-developed. They don’t have many romantic scenes (the two scenes where Kyosuke and Excellen are affectionate with each other are in episode 7 and the beginning of episode 15, and those scenes aren’t that romantic), don’t have much chemistry (the only thing that connects them is their opposite personalities, the two scenes I mentioned above and the shuttle incident involving Einst), and there aren’t too many challenges to their relationship (the only difficulty they encounter is Kyosuke having to rescue Excellen from Einst, and he did it quite easily after receiving the Alteisen Riese).

In terms of personality, Kyosuke is cold, reserved, emotionless and extremely indifferent to everything, while his lover, Excellen, is really carefree and loves to joke and tease around. Personally, I find Kyosuke’s personality quite monotonous, while Excellen’s personality, coupled with Yūko Mizutani (RIP)’s extremely “ara ara” voice, is way more interesting.
“Twin Birds Strike!”
Despite using machines that inherited the concepts of Alteisen and Weissritter, the story between Arado and Seolla was developed better than Kyosuke and Excellen. That story starts from scratch, and develops slowly throughout the length of the series. Coming from The School, a project where children are specially trained and altered inhumanely (quite like Cyber Newtype in the Gundam universe), close friends Arado and Seolla are brought into Neue DC until an irony separates the two: Arado is captured by the EFA while Seolla’s memories are altered, turning into her friend’s enemy.

Arado himself has many psychological changes: trying to escape from EFA but having a change of heart, finding a reason to fight with EFA against Neue DC (in addition to rescuing Seolla), becoming a pilot of the Wild Wurger and finally getting his close friend back after many failures. As for Seolla, although she mainly acts as an enemy for most of the series, leading to viewers rarely seeing her inner thoughts, her feelings for Arado are clearly portrayed: she broke down because she thought that Arado died in battle in episode 4, tried to fight back fiercely when her memories of Arado were erased, and in the end, despite many brainwashing sessions, Seolla’s memories of Arado still remained, and in the end became the key to freeing her.

The above, along with small details between the two such as Arado often making impolite jokes about his close friend’s breasts and panty, the fact that their Personal Trooper is designed to work together and has a combination attack called “Twin Birds Strike”, making the chemistry between the two quite deep and strong.
She am the Lamia Loveless.
Lamia Loveless’s story is simply a “Detroit: Become Human”: real name being W17, she belongs to the W series – an artificial human series of Shadow Mirror, initially tasked with infiltrating EFA, but after what she went through together with ATX Team in particular and Steel Dragon Squadron in general, Lamia gradually gained her own thoughts, thereby deciding to betray Shadow Mirror to join Steel Dragon Squadron.

Lamia’s change is executed quite well: she has many thoughts about humans after battles as well as after bonding times with the ATX Team and other members of the Steel Dragon Squadron. From a cold spy, she gradually became more open with her teammates (most clearly shown when Lamia’s Angelg performed a coordinated attack with Raidiese’s R-2 Powered). One thing that contributes to this change is Excellen’s openness with Lamia – a nice detail because Lamia was created by Lemon Browning, the parallel world version of Excellen, who considers Lamia as her own child. After becoming a truly independent thinker, she became much more mature, even daring to argue against her former commander, who discriminated against artificial humans, Axel.

Personally, I like this character because Lamia is both well-written and cool but still has funny quirks, such as her broken language module.
(From left to right) Respective leaders of Inspectors, Shadow Mirror, Einst and Neue DC
Super Robot Wars OG: The Inspector has up to four antagonist factions, and I think the anime has the same problem as Spider-Man 3, which is using too many villains in too short a time. All four factions, Neue Divine Crusaders (Neue DC), Inspector, Shadow Mirror, and Einst, play important roles in the plot, but since the series only has 26 episodes, none of them are really built in enough depth.

Shadow Mirror is the best faction, thanks to its relevance to the plot, the creativity of the idea behind this organization (an organization from a parallel world with the goal of creating eternal conflict), cunning, and the diversity of the members’ personalities (and because of Axel Almer my GOAT).

Despite being literally the title of the anime, the Inspector is the weakest side, literally just a bunch of punching bags. Meanwhile, Neue DC and Einst, while not having as much depth as Shadow Mirror, pose certain dangers for the protagonists and leave certain impressions for viewers.

Magnificient close-up shot of Thrudgelmir
Enough beating around the bush; it’s time to talk about the real beauty of SRW OG The Inspector, which is battle scenes as hot as Mazinkaiser’s Fire Blaster. But first, we have to talk about the passion and effort that Obari put into this anime.

According to The Vanishing Trooper Incident blog, before SRW OG the Inspector aired, he said he would try to gather as many of his friends and fellow animators to create the best kind of show possible. He kinda achieved this because there were individuals involved in the anime who Obari hadn’t worked with in almost 10-15 years.

While producing, he also threw himself into his work, taking on the positions of director, episode director, Storyboarding, Animation Director, Key Animator and mechanical designer. He even did uncredited work for the anime: after the end of the show’s broadcast, Obari personally watched all 26 episodes to fix animation errors that arose due to the tight television schedule.

The result of all this effort is 26 episodes full of extremely high-quality robot sakura. From the first moments, I was captivated by the battle scene between Soulgain and Beowulf in episode one, directed and storyboarded by Obari himself.
Some examples of Obari’s “nothing in between” timing in episode 1
This fight scene is filled with the animation style that fans often call “Obarism”: “nothing in between” timing – not using any in-between frames between some keyframes, creating fast and strong action while still maintaining a sense of movement; Exaggerated proportions of robots in motion without breaking their form yet preserving their details; Extremely dynamic poses and angles; ways of highlights and shadows that enhance the details of the robots; medium and close up shots of robots etc.

These tricks, combined with effects like explosions, smoke, debris, etc. and above all, the creativity in staging the fight scenes, create robot animations that can make your blood pressure spike in an instant. Throughout the series, the quality of the animation has not diminished and, in fact, increased, delivering 26 episodes filled with high-octane and adrenaline-filled battles.
You can see that some frames are reused during the cut
One of the highlights of the series, and also one of my favourite scenes, is Zankantou Ikkitosen in episode 26. This scene really shows Obari’s genius: when the Zankantou hits Regisseur Einst and Dygenguar turns around to swing his giant sword, the cut where Dygenguar swings his sword uses very few frames, made up mainly of keyframes and a few special effects. This method not only saves costs while still creating a sense of movement and demonstrating the power of swing but also allows Obari to synchronize the movements to match the music beat! Obari my GOAT!

The character animation is not as peak as the robot animation, but there are still separate plus points. The characters are redesigned for the anime: a few characters look better, most characters look the same, and a few lose their souls. Yep, the most typical example of an anime character design losing the “soul” of the original design is Ryusei Date; bro really sold his whole friendliness in exchange for a Hollywood-like square chin. Character Acting in the anime is nothing too prominent (although there are some pretty good cuts like 4:00 to 4:09 Episode 16), but in return, the anime has beautiful character close-up shots, exuding the emotions of the character. In addition, fanservice in the anime is crazy – part of Obari’s ero directing experience is truly brought into this anime.

  Soundtrack of Super Robot Wars OG: The Inspector mainly brings the BGMs straight from the game. This OST quality has nothing to discuss anymore, and it’s too peak. Witnessing the Mecha using cool moves while the extremely fired up and exciting music attached to the pilot/robot emerges is truly very hype, and perhaps the fans of the game series feel even happier when they hear those BGMs watching the anime. The series sometimes also uses these BGM creatively: In episode 24, when Axel and Soulgain fought Kyosuke and Alteisen Riese. Initially, the “Dark Knight” theme emerged, but it went off and made way for the theme “Steel Beowulf ”when Kyosuke dominated.

Talking about Super Robot Wars, it’s impossible not to mention JAM Project, the music gods of the Mecha genre. In The Inspector, they continued to give us extremely banger openings: MAXON and Ryusei Lovers. MAXON is a rebellious song with a very fast pace, exuding stubbornness and badassery, while Ryusei Lovers follows the familiar formula of the group, featuring a heroic melody of burning love. Both songs contribute to making the openings memorable, and certainly, the total combat at the end of the show cannot be the same without Jam Project’s voice.
As a trope, while the two openings are fired-up songs, the two endings, both performed by Aki Misato, are very chill. The first ending, Bokura no Jiyuu, has a jaunty feeling suitable for its eye-catching and humorous visual, while the second ending, Saigo no Tabi, is softer and more peaceful. Both bring relaxation after each episode.
The game’s voice actors reprise their respective roles from the anime series. They, as well as the casting staff, deserve a lot of praise because their acting is truly great. If you close your eyes, you can still tell which character is which, in a huge cast of characters, based on their voices – the voice acting is this good. This is also a point I like about not only the anime but also the SRW OG game series – taking advantage of the voice, in addition to the design, to create a unique impression of each character. To do this, there needs to be extremely outstanding seiyuu, and SRW OG meets that: you can see many famous names in the seiyuu lineup such as Toshiyuki Morikawa, Yūko Mizutani (RIP), Rica Matsumoto, Kaori Shimizu, Takehito Koyasu, Tomokazu Sugita, Ryotaro Okiayu, Hikaru Midorikawa, Atsuko Tanaka, Nobutoshi Kanna, etc. It is truly a power flex to gather such a large cast of superstar seiyuu.

For Mecha fans, Super Robot Wars OG the Inspector is an action Mecha anime monument, with 26 episodes full of explosive fight scenes that not every anime can do. For fans of the Super Robot Wars OG series, the anime is a game adaptation that surpasses expectations, with animations, storylines, characters, and details recreated both faithfully and creatively, true to the “Made by fans for the fans” quality. For me, this series is probably the greatest achievement in Obari’s directorial career, and it is a testament to the dedication, enthusiasm, and love that he brings to any of his works. Hopefully, he can continue making passionate Mecha anime projects like the Inspector, and one of the projects could be an anime adaptation of Super Robot Wars OG Gaiden.

//Getter Andy//

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