Series Recommendation: Giant Robo: The Day The Earth Stood Still

Hail, Big Fire! Allegiance or death!

Yasuhiro Imagawa – a name famous for directing hit and critically acclaimed mecha anime: Mobile Fighter G Gundam, Shin Mazinger Z, Tetsujin-28 Gou, the first 3 episodes of Getter Robo: Armageddon. However, among those works, a film even though less known to many people, is his magnum opus, that is the OVA Giant Robo: The Day the Earth Stood Still (Giant Robo: TDTESS for short).

Giant Robo: TDTESS is a re-imagining and tribute of not only Giant Robo but all of Mitsuteru Yokoyama’s works, from the artistic perspective of one of his die-hard fans, Yasuhiro Imagawa. It consists of seven episodes, each about 40-60 minutes long. The film takes place in a future world where humans have found a renewable energy source – Shizuma Drive that can replace oil and nuclear power, and concerns about energy safety have been resolved. However, under that peace is the battle between the evil faction, the Big Fire group who want to rule the world through domination, and the hero group formed by Interpol, the Experts of Justice, including our main characters – 12-year-old Daisaku Kusama and the strongest robot on Earth – Giant Robo. Both factions are drawn into a war between good and evil that revolves around an event that took place 10 years ago, related to the formation of Shizuma Drive, the Tragedy of Bashtarle.

+ Plot: The setting of the film is quite special as Imagawa sensei, a lover of Hong Kong martial arts films, creates a retro futuristic setting by combining modern technologies with the 60s setting of Giant Robo and elements from the wuxia works. Imagawa sensei, as usual, entices viewers by bringing up a grand mystery and then gradually solving it in later episodes. The ingenious disclosure of that mystery, and at the same time integrating the mystery of each character, is what makes the plot of the film so attractive. The pacing is fast from the beginning, and although throughout the film the plot moves quickly, it doesn’t make the viewers overwhelmed or confused. The best thing about the plot is the messages and questions that the film poses, but does not answer and leaves the viewer to reflect on themselves through the characters in the film.

As for the character, Daisaku Kusama, like many mecha protagonists, inherited the Giant Robo from his late father, along with his wish  to defeat the BF Group, and had to join the Experts of Justice from a young age of 6 years old. Which makes him both steadfast and obsessed with fulfilling his father’s legacy, and throughout the film his growth. The movie’s supporting characters are quite large for a 6-hour series, and the concept of each character is pretty simple: at first they feel like typical villains and heroes straight out of sci-fi anime of the 60s, or from wuxia works, but thanks to the amazing writing, each person left their own and distinct mark. My favorite character is probably Taiso, the chad aniki of the OVA, although his past is not revealed too much, but his demeanor and actions are admirable.

+ Animation: The storyboarding and animation was handled by Kazuyoshi Katayama, who later directed a famous mecha classic with a neo-noir style, The Big O. Artstyle of the film emulates Yokoyama sensei’s artstyle, giving the film a nostalgic feel. Animation of Giant Robo: TDTESS is not too smooth, but with great cinematography, the OVA still leaves extremely epic action scenes. The most remarkable point is the use of light in the film, creating light and dark scenes that are both magnificent and express the theme of the anime well. The character design of Giant Robo: TDTESS features both Yokoyama sensei’s and wuxia elements, creating a fresh and interesting experience. Of course, Gin Rei is still your source of physics-defying fanservice.

+ Mecha Design: Makoto Kobayashi serves as the film’s mecha designer, who’s mecha designer for Mobile Suit Gundam Zeta, Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ, Venus Mars. The most notable is the redesign of Giant Robo, from a skinny robot to a giant, powerful and terrifying weapon of destruction, armed with weapons to the teeth. This new design along with the visual and sound effects really puts the “Giant” in the “Giant Robo”. The shoulders, torso and “skirt” have been buffed up significantly compared to the Toku design. The face still looks like a Pharaoh which is still a unique and eccentric design decision. The whole mecha looks like a bulky Egyptian wrestler that when move, will deliver a TON of weight.

+ Music: The series features a critically acclaimed soundtrack, composed by Masamichi Amano, composer of the classic film Battle Royale, and performed by the Warsaw National Philharmonic Orchestra, which performed the soundtrack for many famous anime series such as Cowboy Bebop, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, Hellsing Ultimate, etc. The soundtrack of the anime alone is worth watching. In addition, the voice actors have also been very successful, when in many scenes you can feel the emotions of the characters right from their voices.

+ Conclusion: Conclusion, with excellent plot, characters, music, and visuals, the film is worthy to stand on par with the classic anime, and of course worthy of your interest. Don’t wait any longer to enjoy this masterpiece!

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