UFO Robot Grendizer
Hearing any of these themes now always sends me back to being eight years old again, watching these shows on the air (in the case of Voltes V), or from a rented betamax tape (in the case of both Daimos and Grendizer). I’d imagine that something about these super robot shows had a massive impact on me as I was growing up, but, truth be told, it was an experience almost uniquely associated to my childhood in the Philippines. It wasn’t a particularly deep association, mind you — when you’re a kid, it’s harder to connect the dots between the heroic struggle against the oppression of the strong over the weak and the political reality of living in a dictatorship, but certain themes of courage and valiant sacrifice do manage to get through.
When I moved to Canada when I was twelve, anime generally fell by the wayside in favour of other geeky offerings (Dungeons & Dragons, video games, and comic books, mostly), and it wasn’t ’til the early twenty-first century that I started watching anime again in earnest, largely due to Neon Genesis Evangelion (and boy, was that ever a reaction to the earnest offerings of the super robot genre).
No modern anime quite recaptures the feelings of exhilaration and heroic righteousness engendered by these three shows, but I suppose we’re into post-modernism now and the wide-eyed honesty of that time is long since past. Gurren Lagann came close, with its structure that mirrors the ages of the mecha genre in anime with the first eight episodes, up to the death of a major character, being the late ’70’s and early ’80’s age of super-robots; the middle act with all its tragedy and pathos and redemption being the Evangelion / Gundam-esque “silver age”; and the last act being… well, the post-modern take on mecha in general, which seems to be a combination of knowing references, a desire for the return of the old “hard work and guts pays off” approach, but always acknowledging that sometimes, everything you work for doesn’t mean you get the happiest ending.
It may be a bit of a fool’s errand to seek to recapture that essence of childhood while looking through today’s mecha offerings, but plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose, and who knows, the days of the Robot Romance Trilogy might yet come again.
I can’t stop watching it. It’s so… charming.
Yes, I know who the target demographic is. No, I’m not buying the toys (it’s not like I have the shelf space, plus I still have a slew of SF IV figures still-in-box to display after this renovation is all done and my walls stop shaking). Also, I knew that I recognized Rainbow Dash’s voice from Hey Ocean!
Although I keep hearing J. Jonah yelling “I want Portals! Pictures of Portals!”
Hobo with a Shotgun! (Rutger Hauer!)