Forty years ago, amnesia struck all the inhabitants of Paradigm City, a strange metropolis that seems to be 75% Film NoirNew York and 25% City Of The Future. In the decades since, life has gone on, despite the loss of history, the loss of past, and the loss of self which has struck each and every inhabitant.Roger Smith is one of them. A former member of the Military Police, Roger now makes his living as a negotiator (a combination of private investigator and professional go-between). It's a job that pays well, as the penthouse atop his private building proves. Roger has been described as half Bruce Wayne, half James Bond — but when negotiations fail, he has something else to fall back on: The Big O, a giant battle robot (known in this show as a "Megadeus" — pronounced "mega-deuce") that he stores in the abandoned subway tunnels under the city.And fall back on it Roger must; after forty years, lost secrets and forgotten memories are returning, and all manner of threats to Paradigm City and its people are coming with them. Aided by his butler Norman and the sarcastic (and opinionated) android girl R. Dorothy Waynewright — along with (occasionally) his former commanding officer in the police, Major Dan Dastun, and the mysterious and beautiful free agent who tells Roger to just call her "Angel" — Roger faces off against monstrous forces from all manner of enemies while simultaneously pursuing the truth behind Paradigm City's lost history.There is a very Japanese cultural perspective here, in that wherever Roger goes in his investigation of the Monster of the Week, the people he talks to always think it is "a god." Apparently anything strange or inexplicable is attributed to the gods. Each of the giant robots is even explicitly referred to as a "Megadeus."Despite that cultural perspective, it turned out to be hugely popular on its Toonami and [adult swim] runs (the show actually bombed in Japan); it was so popular with American audiences that it wound up getting a second season produced primarily for said audiences (with Adult Swim sharing production credits for the second season). It was even stated by the creator himself that this was his exact intention, wanting to create a show that would appeal to American tastes and sensibilities even if it meant sacrificing the Japanese audience (the show even used the somewhat-foreign concept of a season-ending Cliff Hanger to set up the second season years before it actually debuted). Although the second season proved popular, the show was not renewed for a third season (which likely would have answered the numerous questions the second season left viewers with) as [adult swim] began to focus on comedies and animated shows that were cheaper to produce.Feel free to check out the character sheet.Not to be confused with the "other" Big O. Or The O. Or big-O notation as used in mathematics or computer science. Or the tire store. Or the Fan Nickname for the Olympic Stadium in Montreal. Or the common nickname for legendary 1960s NBA player Oscar Robertson. Or Big "NO!", either. And try not to mistake the sixth DVD, "The Big O: Missing Pieces" for Shel Silverstein's book The Missing Piece Meets the Big O. The name actually seems to be one of the many religious references (like "Behemoth and Leviathan") that appear in the show, in this case to "Alpha and Omega". This might not make much sense to the ears of American fans watching Toonami, but keep in mind that while American English pronounces it "Oh-may-gah", proper British English pronounces it "Oh-mega". O-mega, mega-O, "big" O. The name of the Greek letter "Omega" literally means "Big O", in contrast with Omicron (O-Micron), which means "little O".
Animation Bump: The show got a huge increase in quality in the second season, due to AS helping fund it.
Angst Coma: In the first episode of the second season, Roger goes introspectively catatonic as he struggles to figure out just who — and what — he is.
Arc Words: "The power of God;" "tomatoes;" "the world is a stage;" "Cast in the Name of God." The final few episodes of the second season have a phrase repeated by several characters, which is "A bird whose wings have been plucked will lose all of its feathers, and turn into the creature that it was before it evolved into a bird."
Roger: So I see...Beck, the would-be criminal prince of amnesiaville is at large again...His speciality is exploiting the hopes of the desperate and the memory-challenged. He is a man without conscience or remorse...and he is a Smoker
Bling Bling Bang: Alan Gabriel can be seen armed with a gold-plated pistol as his personal weapon.
Book Ends: The first scene of episode one is the last scene of the series. Yup.
Bowdlerization: When the first season of the show aired on Toonami, the word "God" was digitally altered to "Good." It's one of the very few changes they made to the show, and it doesn't even hurt the show all that much. (This change would be reversed when [adult swim] started airing the series.)
Likewise, Paradigm Corp. is merely "church and state," as opposed to "God and state."
Brawler Lock: In episode 17 "Leviathan" Big O grabs the title megadeus' pincers during their battle.
Episode 22 (Hydra) is a relative breather episode. While it has several important points such as Roger's memory of being in some sort of war, as well as the re-energization of Big Fau, it comes right after the two-parter of Stripes and The Third Big, which includes Big Fau's first appearance and the revelation of the Union and is followed by what is basically the beginning of the Grand Finale.
Briefcase Full of Money: How Roger negotiates Dorothy's release from Beck in the first episode. Afterwards, he activates the briefcase by remote control which leaves Beck without any money.
Broken Masquerade: Near the end of the second season, Gordon Rosewater proclaims that there never were any memories before 40 years ago. Then, Angel starts to delete the world systematically herself...followed by the season's Gainax Ending of a then-cancelled show.)
Not attacks, but it seems to be a requirement to say "Showtime!" and/or "Action!" to start up a Megadeus.
In addition, Roger has to call out "Big O!" to get Big O to transport to his location.
The specific words "Big O" and "Showtime" may not be specifically necessary, but Roger's voice is-in fact, this is exploited in an episode when the villain somehow manages to craft an animatronic bust of Roger which is a perfect replica of his face and chest cavity, so that it will have Roger's voice (I guess synthetic vocal chords sound just like regular kind); he then sets it on a little automated buggy and has it shout "Big O!" into one of Roger's watches, over and over, so that the robot is too busy chasing the bust to come to the aid of the negotiator. Fortunately, once the buggy falls into the water, Big O stops in its tracks, as with no voice command to follow, it has no reason to move, foiling the villain's plans.
Dorothy: Not with the displacement capacity of my air tank. You're such a louse, Roger Smith.
Roger: Heh, you're definitely our Dorothy.
Cultured Badass: Roger Smith and Alex Rosewater; Beck tries for, and fails at, this.
Cut Short: Although it's not an overt cliffhanger, the second season was apparently written under the understanding that there would be a third. Unanswered: Angel apparently remade the entire holographic world, but did she keep that power or give it up? Do people remember what happened? Is Alex Rosewater still at large, and is he really the Big Bad? Was the giant dome over the city restored, and if so, won't the lights fall and devastate the city all over again? Above all, why did someone trap a city of people in a giant holodeck with no memories?
The finale was set up so it could work both as a conclusion to the series and as a way to set up a third season. In other words, the creators wrote it that way with full knowledge that they might not be able to make any more (which is also how they wrote the season one finale.)
And considering that this is Big O we're talking about, a third season would likely have ended even more ambiguously.
Dead Man Writing: In episode 24 Roger receives a letter from Michael Seebach (Schwartzwald), which was to be delivered after his death.
Disney Death: Most of the show's world is destroyed over episodes 23-26, then undestroyed.
Doesn't Like Guns: Roger on the in-verse Justification that it's not "gentleman"-like and meta-verse Justification of being based on Batman.
Domed Hometown: Paradigm City has a series of domes that house the wealthy citizens. It's implied, however, that the entire city is under one massive dome.
Dramatic Chase Opening: The episode "Hydra" begins with a female agent of the Union being pursued through the streets of Paradigm City by members of the Military Police.
Dynamic Entry: Although Big O is a rather slow moving robot, it scores several of these on opponents. In episode 13, Big O rises from beneath the ground to save Roger from psychopath android Red Destiny. Big O does this by smashing said android into the ceiling of the subway tunnel both Roger and Red Destiny were standing in.
Actually Big O is a lot faster and more graceful than people give him credit for. When shot from close up he appears slow and slunkty, but when the camera pulls back he appears to be much faster. This same effect was used in the Transformers films to give the robots a sense of weight.
It seems like the Big machines are not exactly slow, and can in fact move very quickly, and might even be hard to stop once they get going with all that mass they have. What they aren't seems to be maneuverable: no backflips, quick leaps, or acrobatics common to mecha these days. The trade off of course is being almost completely indestructable.
Additionally, Big O punches through a wall to save Dorothy from a spider-mech in season 2.
Early-Bird Cameo: Big Fau is seen in a vision in Episode 13 at least a good 6 episodes before it would make an official appearance.
Emotionless Girl: Dorothy by way of being a Robot Girl. Maybe subverted, considering she snarks at every opportunity and has no qualms about annoying Roger. She also expresses warmth and fondness for Norman.
Empathic Weapon: The Megadei all have what appears to be a system of judging the worthiness of their pilot. When they turn on, a display says "Cast in the Name of God, Ye Not Guilty" if the robot accepts its pilot. They also turn off several times throughout the series in response to the pilot's emotional state. The Megadei even seem to be able to be able to move of their own volition in a limited fashion. Pilots are frequently caught in the hands of their Megadeus before they get in the cockpit. Big O goes so far as to punch through a wall to protect Dorothy even though it wasn't being piloted.
In the one instance where a Megadeus didn't accept its pilot, it flashed the words "Ye Guilty" on the display. Then it proceeded to "eat" him.
Episode 21 had Big Fau, the Third Big, respond to Alex's screams that he was its Dominus with "Cast in the name of God...Ye Not."
Incidentally, the phrase "Cast in the name of God, ye not guilty" used to be put on the axes of executioners. Christianity was big at the time the practice was performed-it was specifically so that executioners wouldn't be beholden to the Sixth Commandment ("Thou shalt not kill") in the course of their work. The weapon was cast in God's name, and thus it was God's work that any given criminal should be punished in this manner. Make of this what you will.
The Big units also appear to be able to recognize other Big-type units. In episode 21, all it took for Big O to subdue Big Fau, who was going berserk while being piloted by Alex, amounts to a silent Get A Hold Of Yourself Man gesture and little talk from Roger, at which point it shut itself down.
Evil Plan: Alex Rosewater is doing something sinister with Big Faul and Alan Gabriel has his own agenda and the Union is up to something but due to the Mind Screw it's hard to tall what. Beck has the much more straight-forward 'make lots of money illegally' deal.
Evil Twin: Red Destiny is this for R. Dorothy; she appears for a grand total of one episode.
Expy: Roger was deliberately designed to resemble Bruce Wayne. Norman is essentially Alfred. With ordnance...well, okay, more ordnance.
And Alan Gabriel is pretty much the Joker with a drill hand.
They even have a Jim Gordon!
With shades of Harvey Bullock, as Dastun is less-than-thrilled about Roger solving what the police aren't able to (which is almost everything).
And Angel would be Catwoman. Really, we could go on and on.
They also appear to use a very specific version of the Batman Mythos for inspiration. Gotham and Paradigm are designed with very similar "Dark Deco" styles, Roger is pretty much an anime version of Bruce's redesign for The New Batman Adventures, Angel is blonde, just like Selina Kyle in the animated series (in the comics she has black hair), Norman is just Alfred with an eyepatch, and Dorothy's red hair and relationship with Roger seems inspired by both Barbara Gordon and Dick Grayson, and as mentioned before Dan Daustin is a combination of Commissioner Gordon and Harvey Bullock (Batman: TAS is where Harvey Bullock first saw mainstream success).
In fact, Sunrise Studios worked on animation for Batman: The Animated Series prior to the creation of The Big O.
Eyepatch of Power: Again, Norman. (Especially in the manga, where he has to face down a group of armed, arsonist youngsters in a church. He covers the one remaining eye of a goddess statue with his eyepatch, picks up a firearm, tells the punks, "THIS is how you use a machine gun," and shoots a perfect outline of the group in the wall behind them. He succeeds in leaving Dorothy speechless and wide-eyed. Then they go home and he makes dinner.)
Face Palm of Doom: the eponymous mecha's signature attack (Sudden Impact) can work like this by it grabbing an opponent's head and retracting the pressurized pistons inside the arms and subsequently releasing them For Massive Damage. Its power seems to be adjustable. When Roger did this to Beck's Megadeus, it completely separated the head and cockpit from the rest of the body. When he did it earlier against Beck's van, however, the van and its occupants were largely intact and merely shaken up.
Fake Memories: Played completely straight with Angel, but largely inverted with the apparent fake amnesia the entire city suffers.
Film Noir: A lot of the series' style comes from this.
Funny Afro: Beck and his gang sport this in episode 18.
Gadget Watches: Roger's wristwatch, which can summon Big O, control his car, detect missile lock-ons, and has a grappling hook. But it never gets used to tell the time. However it does appear to have hands to tell times in the form of a triangle and a circle.
I think it also has a laser-powered cutting torch. The reason it's not used to tell time may have something to do with it not having hands.
Gainax Ending: Though it may not have originally intended to be one.
Genius Ditz: Beck is a total moron at being a villain, but he's practically an idiot savant with neural AI technology. Sadly, his smarts are mostly used in pursuit of his villain aspirations. Maybe justified in that Beck's skills may come from his own awakening memories.
Gratuitous English: English words and phrases meshed awkwardly with Japanese, as well as one episode where a phrase in gratuitous French acts as Arc Words, and some grammatically incorrect German and Latin.
American viewers need not worry about this, obviously, especially since the dub's quality is excellent.
Though if you listen to the opening's lyrics closely...
Guns Are Worthless: For the most part Big O's most effective weapons are its piston powered fists. Despite it's many ranged weapons, the solid missiles and cannons never ever work, and the energy weapons also usually don't. To the point where an energy blast is less effective at a meteor falling to the city then punching it right before it hits.
The Men in Black: Roger Smith mainly, due to him nearly ALWAYS being shown wearing a black suit and tie (sometimes with matching shades), even in the heat of battle. This is expanded upon by Roger's rule that everyone living in his home must wear black as well (though Dorothy finds a loophole by wearing a very dark red blouse on at least one occasion). Even Roger's car and the series' titular mecha are black. As for the "memories" and "Conspiracy" and "Government Agent" parts....see Mind Screw. It Zigzags all over the place.
Merchandise Driven: Believe it or not, the anime was originally written to advertise a line of giant robot toys. Some have commented that it would be superior if the mecha were removed altogether.
Merry Christmas In Gotham: The Christmas special starts out grim as usual. We have a blind girl whose caretaker brother is a garbageman by day, and musician by night. They are starving, barely able to afford food at all. Then a mad scientist leaves a biological weapon in the boy's tip jar and it turns out the "weapon" is a massive self-growing Christmas tree made to teach people to love nature and each other. While the tree grows, everyone hears the boy's music and he is discovered. It's implied that they'll never need to worry about money ever again. D'awww.
Mighty Glacier: The Big O itself is a non-fighting game example. Unlike other mecha shows where increasingly even the real robot-type machines show increasing amounts of ninja-like agility, the Big O is massive, plodding, unsubtle, and destructive. When it's shot from a distance it's shown that it can actually move quite quickly (like a car with low acceleration but high top speed), but it's so heavy it can't stop on a dime, and it's not exactly graceful. Of course, it's got tremendous amounts of firepower, with even its weakest weapons blasting tremendous holes in skyscrapers. Its Final Stage canon blows away most of a city the size of New York. In addition, its armor seems impervious to all but the most powerful attacks in the series, taking only minor damage usually. Its Arm Shields are notably stronger then the rest of its armor, being visibly damaged (said damage being a long, thin scratch from a Megadeus's sword) just ONCE in the entire show.
Most of the Megadei are massive and cumbersome. Even the flying Big Duo handles more like a heavy bomber than an interceptor, flying mostly in straight lines and needing vast amounts of space to make a turn. The exception is the Archetype, a Lightning Bruiser which is apparently the stripped-down skeleton of a Megadeus and moves with the agility of a monkey.
Mind Screw: Try and explain the ending. Go on. Try.
Mind Rape: The premise of the show is that this happened (or may not have) to everyone 40 years ago, giving them amnesia. The problem is that there are objects and people over the city that cause the memories to reemerge, thus mind-raping them once more.
Oh Crap: Schwarzwald has this look in Episode 12 when the tables turn on him.
Older Than They Look: There are hints that Roger was around forty years ago in some form, despite looking no more than thirty or thirty-five. On the other hand, he seemingly has flashbacks of being a child during the tomato experiment 15 years ago. So yeah.
Police Are Useless: Generally justified, as the only times Roger normally finds himself dealing with criminals are negotiating hostage situations where calling the police would endanger the captive, and Humongous Mecha attacks that the police are understandably unprepared for.
Precision F-Strike: Just about the only swearing in the series is Norman, faced with robot insects, opening fire with twin machine guns with a yell of "Sons of bitches!"
Pretty in Mink: A few fur coats in the background, and one or two of Angel's outfits have them..
Real Robot: The Megadei, especially the titular Big O, straddle the line between this and Super Robot. While shown to be much bigger than reality would allow, they're all incredibly big, bulky, and slow with the amount of mass they carry. When Big O is knocked over, Roger literally has No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup when it comes to getting him back on his feet, the classic Super Robot staples are used sparingly. Big Fau is the main mech to have a Rocket Punch, and the one time Big O uses 'Final Stage', the chest-mounted Wave Motion Gun, it has to anchor itself into the ground and the pieces of the cannon fall off afterward.
The three of them arguably split elements of the Joker. Beck has the manic personality and base criminal desires, Alan is a sadistic killer, and Schwarzwald is a crazed sociopath whose actions only make sense to himself.
The differing chunks of similarities seems played with when Alan Gabriel is rejected by Big Duo; Schwarzwald, despite being quite deceased for half the series, seems to manifest through Big Duo to actively berate Alan's gleefully pointless killing as being unworthy compared to his own motivations. Alan may have had the killing down, but it takes more than killing to make you worthy of being the Joker expy of the series.
Rule Of Cool: Face it, when the plots run shoestring thin in terms of making sense, this is the glue which holds everything together.
Ruins of the Modern Age: Though never said out loud, it's made damn clear that Paradigm City is built on top of New York City.
In Episode 5, it's mentioned that a man fell in the Hudson.
Several track titles on the Original Sound Score II album allude to actual Manhattan streets and locations.
Sand is Water: The "Leviathan" is bigger than Big O, but it's freaking fast in the sand. Possibly justified since it appears to disintegrate any solids on contact, maybe it makes the sand mushier or something.
Subjected to sufficient vibration, any granular substance (such as sand) can behave like a liquid. In fact, sand frequently acts like a liquid all on its own - just watch an hourglass (Roger has several you can observe). You can also cause sand to behave like a liquid by blowing air into it. Under the right conditions, regular sand is more fluid (and able to swallow objects) than quicksand.
Sand Worm: In episode 17 "Leviathan", the title megadeus is a giant mechanical version.
Self-Parody: Does a little of this in episode 18, the funniest one in the series.
Ship Tease: Several, but the most memorably hilarious one comes from episode 18, where Dorothy declares her love for Roger...not.
Pretty much the entire Heaven's Day episode was a ship tease between Roger and Dorthy, from people commenting on how they make a cute couple to going out of their way to get gifts for each other.
Sinister Subway: Though the residents of Paradigm City believe this is true about their own subway, they are apparently very safe and are used by Roger Smith to transport his robot, though, it should be noted that Roger has only mapped out the basic system (and has yet to explore what is beneath the subway).
Go on and guess what the "Wayne" part refers too...
Spirit Advisor: Played with in the manga. Schwartzwald appears makes his first appearance in the manga (post-disfigurement) as what may or may not be a drunken hallucination of Roger's. While he makes a physical appearance piloting Big Duo, Schwartzwald continues appearing to Roger while he pilots Big O, pointing out the parallels between the two of them as far as their attitude towards memories go and even giving him the occasional motivating speech.
And in the final chapter, Angel gets one as well...in the form of Beck.
Stock Footage: Spoofed/homaged in a Combining Mecha's transformation sequence, which fades out exactly as if transitioning to stock footage, despite the fact that it only appears in one episode.
Also played completely straight with a variety of car driving scenes that get repeated throughout the series - Roger passes a certain compact no fewer than five times on the highway.
Spoofed with episode 18 where Dorothy imitated the driving scenes with a bike.
Super Robot Wars: The Big O has appeared in D and Z. Roger is significantly more verbose in the latter while piloting Big O than he ever was in the show (justified since this is a mostly text-based game). Dorothy will occasionally perform the actual action in D as well. She becomes a subpilot in Z and at one point she and Norman help Banjo and his people masquerade as maids and butlers. Set to reappear in the sequel to Z.
Suspiciously Similar Song: The opening theme sounds suspiciously similar to Queen's Flash Gordon theme. To the point that when Bandai remastered the series on DVD, they had to replace it with a new song. Meanwile, the second season's opening, "Respect," never even made it to the first DVD release - it was almost a note-for-note copy of Gerry Anderson's "UFO." Both openings ended up airing on Adult Swim.
Take Our Word for It: Dorthy seems to have a beautiful singing voice, but she only hums and plays the piano.
Technical Pacifist: Roger; he refuses to carry a gun or commit an act of violence against a woman.
This does not prevent him from using Big O's arsenal of Gatling cannons, lasers, pile driver punches (which usually blow through nearby buildings after holing their target). The local police often dread the destruction caused when Big O shows up.
Again, this is par for the course in the long line of Batman shout outs, Bats himself refuses to use a gun but has no problem arming his various cars, motorcycles, jets, and other equipment with enough ordinance to completely level a small country. He has also shown himself as perfectly capable of wielding a gun.
Telescoping Robot: Big O and the other Megadei. Not so much as to be unbelievable in terms of mass and volume, but in overall context...
Final Stage pushes it though. Even if it assumes that the "barrel" of the gun is hollow, it pushes the mass of Big O to extremes
That Man Is Dead: Schwarzald, and later referred in a dialogue between Roger and a Paradigm Group Executive.
Word Of God says that this was the Behemoth, the counterpart to the Leviathan activated by Schwarzwald, that was awakened by Vera and The Union in a final attempt to destroy Paradigm City. This was hinted and foreshadowed a little, but no one is gonna blame you for not being able to figure it out yourself.
Whip It Good: In episode 25 "The War of Paradigm City", Agent 12 of the Union uses a whip several times.
Wise Beyond Their Years: Roger ( Or is he?). Word Of God says they wanted Roger to avert the "Kid Hero" trope so the protagonist would be someone kids could look up to and, for the older viewers, someone they can relate to.
The Worf Barrage: Usually played straight, but subverted hilariously in "The Greatest Villain" - Beck's robot appears to block it, then falls apart a second later, resulting in an extremely short fight. Even mentioned in Super Robot Wars Z where its encyclopedia entry notes "it did not get any fight scene."
You Mean Xmas: Heaven's Day which is pretty blatantly Christmas under another name. Even Rosewater points it out near the end of the episode. Justified though due to the mass amnesia.
Younger Than They Look: Dorothy. It's never lampshaded, despite the romantic interest that seems to develop between her and Roger; on the other hand, maybe this is normal in a city where androids and humans coexist as equals.
Though as mentioned above, this possibly applies to Roger as well.