Mecha anime: Music, ships, and the stupid reasons I watch them

Originally written at 18/8/16

The term Mecha may refer to both scientific ideas and science fiction genres that centers on robots or machines controlled by people. These machines vary great in size and shape, but are distinguished from vehicles by their humanoid or biomorphic appearance.

As the title suggests, in this post it’s all about mecha anime! If you didn’t read my most recent review about Voltron, I am not a mecha anime person. If I continued to watch a mecha series after its first 3 episodes you can bet there’s a stupid reason behind it. Now let us move on to the mecha anime I have seen since childhood! Entry number one:

Appleseed isn’t so much mecha as it is cyberpunk. Sadly it did not survive the DVD Purge. I watched this when I was still a brat and so I didn’t know the significance of the characters. I just saw it because I was bored and it’s a new CG animated movie my dad was so crazy about. I remember the main character was a fighter of some sorts, and her lover/husband is that big bulky robot there. At first my smol brain cannot comprehend their relationship like?? WHy?? A robot and a human??? After a few years, you know that moment when you suddenly thought about something irrelevant to your situation and go “wait… that thing from years ago is not what I thought it is!” I suddenly remembered seeing a brain in a fluid-filled container in the head of the robot. So the robot husband is no robot at all; he’s a cyborg!!!

Patlabor was my first official mecha. My memory of Patabor is so vague and blurry I could only recognize the TV series by echoic memory. This is what happens when you binge watch a series without skipping the opening in every episode. The mecha designs were very simple, yet it fascinates the kid me back then. There are no lens flares, no space explosions, just tons of Godzilla-level city destruction. The whole show isn’t as sci-fi or futuristic like the rest of the mecha anime we know of today. Maybe that’s why Patlabor holds a special place in my heart even though I don’t watch mecha. It’s childhood nostalgia. After a few years I thought of watching some Pokemon on TV so I rummaged through dad’s anime stash, and guess what I found? A well kept Patlabor TV series case! A CD case! This classic survived the DVD Purge and is now in the ole CD stash along with various 90s Japanese dramas.

Full title Mobile Suit Gundam SEED, this mecha anime is a life changer. I have finished all 50 episodes so I do have a stupid reason for watching SEED. There are four (self-assumed) mains. The leads are Kira Yamato and Athrun Zala, they love and hate each other but are bros for life. There’s Lacus Clyne, Athrun’s fiancee and a princess who is loved by all; and Cagalli Yula Athha, lesser bifauxnen and also a princess who can kick ass. Three out of the four leads are designer babies, aka Coordinators.

The stupid reason I watch it: Shipping. Before I even knew what shipping and otps are, SEED was there and god I was such a fangirl! The story starts out with Athrun/Lacus because they are engaged. However there are no romantic feelings between them, only responsibility. Kira meets Cagalli and they bond into bros or maybe something more?? Kira consults Cagalli with his PTSD while Flay (alpha bitch ugh) gets super bitch jealous of their relationship. At first I thought “Oh well, the pairs are set I guess” WRONG! The writers create drama with Athrun and Cagalli having a suggestive first meeting followed by more will-they-won’t-they scenarios. Kira and Lacus have a more romantic, fairytale-esque interaction, mostly because Kira is meek and Lacus is soft spoken. There are still instances where Kira and Cagalli can get together, if not for one thing: they are twins! So unless y’all wanna go to the incest tag it’s a no-go. In the end Kira/Lacus and AsuCaga are confirmed canon! There’s also the enemy-to-lovers pairing Dearka/Mir. If not for shipping (AsuCaga in particular) I probably won’t ever watch SEED.

Sadly good things never last long because the sequel GSD came out with a new lead, new ships and new characters, particularly Meer Campbell and Meyrin Hawke. These two are threats to my OTP which is AsuCaga. Shit why is Athrun always the ladies man god save us! Meer gets rekt in the end, but Meyrin lives and in the last episode Athrun is seen with her instead of Cagalli! That was my first time getting involved in ship wars. Just when everybody thinks AsuCaga is doomed the creators threw out extra materials which helped, but only slightly. It wasn’t until they clarified that AsuCaga is still a thing after GSD that the wars died down a little. Not to mention in the HD remaster of SEED….

It wasn’t until few years ago that I noticed that Gundam SEED and Heroic Age have the same art style. Hisashi Hirai is behind the character designs of these two anime as well as Fafner, another mecha series. I have less memories of this anime compared to SEED, but I do remember the mecha in here is not a true mecha at all; it’s the other form of the main lead (Age). Bio-mech? Heroic Age stars Age as the innocent boy who can transform into the bio-mech, Princess Deianeira as the… love interest??

The stupid reason I watch it: Feels. Heh. This section will be short because I would only discuss the ending here. So Deianeira finds Age and takes him in, hoping he will somehow change humanity’s fate. He does, but by doing so he inevitably vanishes into a portal. Deianeira misses him, but she continues to fulfill her promise to Age for four years. Just as she was about to leave a planet she loves, a portal opens and Age appears. Deianeira reunites with Age and they vanish inside the portal. That’s some really half-assed ending since GSD. This ending also made me depressed for a week. Can’t the writers put something a bit more obvious? What about Deianeira’s kingdom? Can she really just disappear like that? It will remain a mystery…

MF is part of a bigger series simply named MACROSS. Like Gundam, Macross has a timeline and various anime, OVAs and movies. What sets them apart is that while Gundam is more about civil war, Macross focuses on alien invasion and space exploration, and also singing! MF has introduced me to May’n and Megumi Nakajima, both who are brilliant artists. Macross Frontier has three mains: Alto Saotome, the pretty boy who is a pilot; Sheryl Nome, a space idol who looks mature beyond her age; and Ranka Lee, newbie space idol who debuted recently.

The stupid reason I watch it: Music, feels!!! Music is a staple of Macross. There’s a whole album consisting of opening, ending and insert songs just for the anime! The movies have another two to three albums of OST and Vocal Collections. Not counting the promotional material, of course! The greatest aspect about MF is the remixed songs; the Nyan Nyan Service Medley has two versions: the normal version which is 7+ minutes long and the extended (tokumori) version which is 12+ minutes long. There’s also the movie revamped version Nyan Nyan Final Attack Frontier Greatest Hits! which is also 7+ minutes long. All of them are bloody awesome. Guess who is going to watch Macross Delta next?

The feels come in during episode 10. I have to tell the origin story Macross Zero. Shin, an ‘outsider’ crashes on a Mayan island. He meets the tribe priestess Sara and her younger sister Mao. Mao bears an obvious crush on Shin, but he instead falls for Sara, and she him. Unfortunately the two were never meant to be, as fate separates them in the most horrible way. Mao loses her crush and her sister. In episode 10, Ranka and Alto are filming the re-telling of this origin story. Ranka stars as Mao and Alto is Shin’s stunt double. The irony is that Sheryl, Mao’s granddaughter, plays the off set role of ‘Sara’, kisses Alto, as ‘Shin’ to provoke Ranka, who is ‘Mao’. What Sheryl did helped Ranka get through the underwater kissing scene, but still… How can you make light of such a tragic love story?

You can not know about Macross, you can not know about Gundam, but you cannot not know about Neon Genesis Evangelion. NGE has so many installments it’s impossible to talk about all of them in one post, so in this one I’m going to review about the one which blew my tiny mind when I was a kid – The End of Evangelion, a movie adaption, which is also two episodes??? It’s the one with this creepy poster, not that any of the adaptions are not creepy at all heh heh…

The stupid reason I watch it: Pure curiosity, this was later than Appleseed or Patlabor, but earlier than SEED. NGE can only mean a mind-breaking and disturbing anime experience, because it is the epitome of mental distress. Watch at your own risk. I don’t remember the details, but everything is fucked up. And ‘fucked up’ is an understatement. In the end you see this bloody poster scene: A sea of blood and Rei’s giant head floating, eyes wide like she just saw the second coming of Jesus. Naked giant Rei was walking around before collapsing into the sea, then proceeds to dissolve/disintegrate until only the head is visible. Shinji (the male lead) proceeds to strangle Asuka (the female lead) before giving up and bursting into tears. How fucked up are these teenagers’ life huh?

Did I mention that poor Shinji has Oedipus complex, and so is attracted to Rei, a clone of his mother? How about the fact that there’s another installment about Kaworu, the sexiest, hottest, white-haired animu boy who so happens to live up to his inevitable destiny of death? And he died by head explosion (I think)??? And Kaworu has a crush on Shinji?? And Utada Hikaru, one of Japan’s most successful artists of all time, contributed two songs which should be illegal because the songs can trigger so many feels?? I watched this shit when I was a kid, A KID! It scared the fuck outta me when the ending came about, GOD!

But really man, everyone should watch NGE. I’m serious. Any installment is fine because mind-fuck is guaranteed. Like Sweet Pool, after experiencing the mindblow you will never feel the same again.

Now we tackle the real juggernaut: THE FIVE STAR STORIES

FFS is not very well known. Maybe because its story is too hard to process, or maybe because it’s too long and too old (it’s from the 80s till now). In FFS the mechas are called mortar headds, or MH for short. They are piloted by two individuals: one is a gifted pilot while the other must be a genetically engineered human, or also known as Fatimas. When I say FFS is the juggernaut, I mean literally and figuratively. The smallest MH is a little bit shorter than the average Gundam, but the biggest MH is a monster, topping at 201+ metres and is rivaled only by that sick mech from Gurren Lagann! Figuratively, no other mech in ANY ANIME have designs as beautiful or elegant as the MH in FFS. Here’s a post about the MH figurines. Will upload a better version next time.

Time to rate! Indicators are finished(F), halfway through(H), and outright gave up(G). Fanservice is a must in (most) mecha, so to rate it we have from tame to explicit: Mild FS, FS-y, FS and extreme FS. Apart from the mecha animes mentioned above, there are many more that I have seen. Most series earlier than 2010 are finished due to the lack of entertainment:

Gundam SEED: F. Mild FS. Not counting the angst sex by Kira and Flay.
Heroic Age: F. There’s a woman with a big boob window. FS-y alright.
Macross Frontier: F. Sheryl has bazongkas, there’s a boob joke, and plenty of bouncing tits. FS.
Neon Genesis Evangelion: H. Any assumed fanservice is creepy is hell.
Aquarion: F. Pretty darn cool, if not too FS-y.
Eureka Seven: F. OTP, mild FS, has better ending than Heroic Age.
Xam’d: Lost Memories: F. Decent, I actually liked it.
Break Blade (OVA): F. The opening song is brilliant. FS-y.
Burst Angel: H. Harem, yuri and FS. I couldn’t bring myself to watch it.
Asura Cryin’: H. OP was nice, but story… not so much. FS-y.
Linebarrels of Iron: H. Extreme FS. Hisashi Hirai’s work.
Rideback: H. The lead is a female, so fanservice is limited, but still there. Mild FS.
Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet: G. Decent, colorful and cheerful I guess?
Rinne no Lagrange: H. Cutesy story. We have three female leads, but one of them has bazongkas. Mild FS.
Infinite Stratos: G. The lead is the only male able to pilot the mech. Harem and extreme FS.


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