Series Recommendation: Gad Guard

Come, Lightning!

One of the hidden gems of early 2000s mecha – the golden age of giant robots, Gad Guard completely went under the radar despite it being a really unique, sometimes downright eccentric show with very steampunk theme – something that was all the rage back then. With a very impressive staff list, Gad Guard managed to stay under the radar for so long that it’s time to dig it up.

Gad Guard is set in a post-apocalyptic world, although not as bleak as other sci-fi series. Humans have exhausted the Earth, and the world was divided into segments called “Units” (basically the size of a city). The story follows young Hajiki Sanada, who lived with his sister and mother in Unit 74, which is basically a slump. He took on work as a delivery boy to earn money to one day buy back his old house in a more glamourous Unit. And then, he accidentally stumbled across a GAD on his job: a mysterious metal object that somehow turned into a giant Robot. With the meeting of Hajiki and Lightning (he gave the robot the name), doors to even darker society that lay underneath the already dark town of “Night Town” begin to open, introducing him to more dangerous jobs, as well as other GAD users.

+ Plot: Gad Guard possess a very steampunk, Big-O sort of feel, or you can relate it to Steam Detective as well. A poverty-stricken town, a youngster aspire to return to a comfortable life while protecting his family while searching for the truth about his father, the criminals that run rampant underneath the town that electricity doesn’t reach at night. That’s a very potentially exciting setting.

The characters are likeable and have their own modus Operandi. Although most of them are teens, they possess complicated issues and great power that they couldn’t wield properly. Gad Guard details the growth and interaction of a band of misfits and the clashes of young ideologies that may rivals the complex issues that social adults have. The show doesn’t hesitate to make you feel frustrated by laying bare the extremes of humanities, but also deliver the most heart-warming moment that we can empathize with. The recklessness of youth, the bleak world of strong-vs-weak, the inhuman-yet-human Tekkoudos, all weave together to tell an amazing adventure of a young boy to become a man.

+ Animation: Gonzo and Amber Film tagteamed on this one, but I think Gonzo did most of the work. Since the animation style is very similar to how Gonzo did early 2000s animes. The mechs move true to their nature: an amalgamation of metal and human will. Clunky at times but incredibly fast at others, the mechs reflect their master’s intention very well.

There are plenty of Sakuga moments in the show where it’s just pure steampunk high-speed action, while others are emotional and play like a slow burn. Gad Guard animation isn’t perfect 100% of the time, but the show makes it worthwhile with extremely consistent quality and sudden burst of top-tier animation.

+ Mecha Design: Yoshitsune Izuna came up with the concept and design of the Techode (Tekkoudo), and other mechanics designs were by Toshiharu Murata and Yoshikazu Miyao. And one of their names should be very familiar with Gainax fans: yes, it’s Izuna – the designer of Diebuster’s machines. That is why the lead machine looks extremely similar to Dix-Neuf before he went all Banchou style. The other Techode are highly eccentric and specialized, which is reminiscent of the Buster Machines, just that they are much smaller and served very different purposes. The Techode designs are very diverse and acts as a mirror to each characters’ feeling and resolve. Hence you will see a lot of interesting designs.

+ Music: Actually, the BEST part of the anime. Composed by the legendary Kohei Tanaka, Gad Guard soundtracks are atmospheric, catchy, and paint over the scenes to enrich their aesthetic even more. It’s like a wonderful combo when you have a crispy bun, fresh lettuce, juicy tomato and crunchy onion covering the fragrant, rich beef patty inside a burger. It just works so well with everything else. The jazzy tune combined with the tone and artstyle makes it both modern and classic at the same time, which depicts the world setting well: hundreds of years of stagnation, a futuristic world that was left in the past.

+ Conclusion: Overall, Gad Guard can be said to be a spiritual successor to Big O. As Big O ended in March 2003, Gad Guard started airing in April of the same year. The aesthetics are very similar, but in contrast to Big-O noir and adult-like theme, Gad Guard painted a colorful tone over a bleak setting and is filled with youth and all its coming-of-age elements. The characters are well-written with their own naïve struggles, the animation are badass and awesome, the music is simply top-tier, Gad Guard is an anime that is worth checking out!

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