Series Recommendation: Metal Armor Dragonar

After the success of the Gundam trinity 0079, Z and ZZ, Metal Armor Dragonar was released to renew fan’s excitement and interest in the Real Robot genre. Featuring the three-man squad format of 0079 and the lighthearted-ness of ZZ, Dragonar became one of the definitive Real Robot classics alongside Gundam and Macross. It also features one of the best Char Clone till this day.

Dragonar has 2 factions are at odds with each other (well of course). 3 teenagers, Kaine, Light and Tap, on a space colony happen to stumble across military-secret super prototype Metal Armors when their home was invaded. Now, 3 young boys got involved into the never-ending tides of war, but they intended to end it. Along the way, they will meet new people, new enemies and put an end to the long-lasting conflicts between humans.

+ Plot:  A very typical military story. The journey follow Kaine and his 2 friends as they run away from the enemy invasion. At first, they are unwilling but gradually, they want to end the war themselves so that their loved ones would be able to live in peace – very much like Amuro. The journey of the pilots got a decent variety, going to various places including Earth, Space, etc… The experience they have throughout the series is very different, sometimes very serious, sometimes funny and lighthearted. We can actually see them as teenagers being the unwanted weapons of war, but still retain their cheerfulness thanks to their comrades and friends. The cast of side-characters are also very interesting in their own way. The “villains” also have different flavor to them, especially the Char clone of the series. You’ll instantly recognize him when you see his charisma.

Animation: The series was produced in 1987 by Sunrise, so you can expect similar quality to that of some later Gundam shows (ZZ Gundam). Nevertheless, the show looks quite decent. The OP animation is beautifully done by Masami Obari so it really prep you for a good time. The Dragonars have much less “funky” frames compared to 0079 and most of the action are very decently done. There are some pretty good still frames as well.

Mecha Design: By the first official Mecha Designer that set the definitive qualities for Real Robot genre, Kunio Okawara-sensei. The machines aren’t entirely blocky, with curves here and there to emphasize the proportion and help make animating them more dynamic. All the Metal Armors possess a distinctive feature similar to what Gundam 0079 did. The main unit – Dragonar-1 – is the usual main primary color of white, red and blue with some yellow highlights. The 2nd unit – Dragonar-2 – is actually quite unique with a purple overall color-scheme. The 3rd unit has a standard color-scheme with more blue than red but it stands out by having a unique head design. An AWACS unit as part of the main squad is quite rare.

Music: Fantastic music from Kentaro Haneda. The familiar “up left up” symbols from the OP can be seen wherever there’s talk of Dragonar. The first OP “Yume Iro Chaser” is very cheerful, reflecting the bright first half, while “Starlight Serenade” is very emotional and reflect the more serious later half. Nevertheless, the composition of the series is beautiful.

+ Conclusion: Metal Armor Dragonar was made as an “igniter” to the Real Robot flame. While not as accomplished as Gundam (therefore no subsequent series were produced), Dragonar is adored by mecha fans as one of the great Real Robot classics, combining both the “war is bad” message and the realistic growth of a teenage pilot.

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