Anime / Beautiful Fighter Geheim

Start with one shojo series. Throw in a batch of Humongous Mecha with a dash of proto-Evangelion flavor. Stir well, then carefully mix in some side helpings of Lyrical Nanoha, Revolutionary Girl Utena, and Puella Magi Madoka Magica and bake for 26 episodes and two 4-episode OVA specials. The result: Bishoujo Faita Gehaimu—or, Beautiful Fighter GEHEIM, a forgotten gem of a series that mashes up the Magical Girl Warrior and Humongous Mecha genres while gleefully turning both on their heads. Serves one small but loyal cult-following.

Enter Yoko Yanagita, a dreamy but clumsy 15-year-old schoolgirl who is running late to class one morning when she falls down an open manhole. The fall transports her to the otherworldly kingdom of Spaetzle, where she encounters a giant bio-mechanical creature named Goethe. After offering her a magic key, Goethe reveals to Yoko that she has been chosen to become a Geheim, one of an elite class of young female warriors who share an empathic bond with these immense creatures—the Kernigs—and are the only ones who can pilot them in battle against the forces of darkness.

Turns out that ever since the princess of Spaetzle disappeared, a handful of Geheim and their Kernigs went rogue and declared war on the kingdom—and now poor Yoko is caught in the middle of it all. Will Yoko, Goethe, and their newfound Nakama overcome the odds?

Despite its bold and ambitious handling of tropes in multiple genres, this 1994 swan song of reclusive mangaka Masahiko Mizutani proved to be significantly less successful in Japan than later Deconstructions such as Neon Genesis Evangelion and Puella Magi Madoka Magica. The series remains practically unknown elsewhere; the only official North American release was a Macekred dub called Princess Fighter, which briefly aired on Canada's YTV in 1998, only to be cancelled after 12 episodes. Even in Japan, home video releases are limited to out-of-print and extremely rare collections on VHS and VCD... so Keep Circulating the Tapes!