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 and managed to pay off its budget, 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.The second season airs on the revivedToonami block on July 27th, airing at 3:30 AM and joining the lineup alongside Sword Art Online. Whether this can be considered a rerun or a premiere is debatable, seeing as how the series is considered a Toonami classic, yet the second season was exclusive to [adult swim] and never aired on Toonami before.As of 2013, The Big O (both seasons) is licensed in the United States by Sentai Filmworks.Not to be confused with The O. Or big-O notation 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 The Immodest Orgasm. 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" - 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."
Arm Cannon: One of Big O's attacks in the second season.
Norman: It seems there is an imposter. 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: Besides the usual edits for violence, death, some fanservice (one episode edited out Angel sticking a pair of sunglasses into her cleavage), and imitable vices (read: smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol), there were also edits to remove anything referencing God or Christianity (even though that's not a common religion in Japan):
When the first season of the show aired on Toonami, the word "God" in "Cast in the name of God, ye not guilty" 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" (which doesn't really make a difference, as it's still a religious reference).
They also changed the name of this electric serpent in #3 from "god" to "titan".
Episode 9 (Winter Night Phantom) had a crucifix digitally removed from the sequence where a little girl blows up a cathedral with a bomb (which was also edited).
Episode 11 (Daemonseed) edited all the Christian comparisons to Heaven's Day being like Christmas (which kills the meaning of the episode).
Brawler Lock: In episode 17 "Leviathan" Big O grabs the title megadeus's pincers during their battle.
Episode 18 which comes straight after 2 back-to-back dead serious episodes.
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 the 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.
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.
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. Except the evil megadeus that Schwarzwald found that attacked Dorothy. That one was a jumpy monkey megadeus, with hands for feet, just like a monkey.
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.
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. so obviously they can think and act on their own if their owner is in danger or in need
In the one instance where a Megadeus deems it's pilot particularly unworthy , 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. In Christianity (the religion of the countries that did this with their executioner axes) the death penalty is explicitly commanded by God as punishment for the crime of murder, thus the inscription reminded the executioner that he himself was not committing murder, but justice. In the series the megadeuses seem to fight just wars rather than perform executions.
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.
Every Episode Ending: "We have come to terms" or "No Side." Probably in reference to the fact that Roger is a negotiator with a life and friends. Whenever his social interactions result in him or his friends winning or benefitting it says "we have come to terms," but whenever it is a draw or nobody truly wins or benefits it says "no side."
Evil Plan: Alex Rosewater is doing something sinister with Big Fau 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.
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).
...is the Riddler, more or less.
Unrelated to Batman for once, Beck is meant to be a parody of Lupin III.
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 except Dorothy is just better, 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.
Big O's face is basically Robot Keiji K's. No, really! ...made better with R. Frederick O'Reilly's appearance later on, who strongly resembles Robot Keiji K in everything but the face.
Let's take it a step further: since the premise of this show involves a city that without memories it's very possible that all of these people are just the citizens of Gotham... just kidding.
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.
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. so obviously he uses it to tell time It also has a laser-powered cutting torch.
Gatling Good: Big O's Arm Cannon added in the 2nd season consists of the forearm opening up into a multi-barrel rotary beam cannon.
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.
They also misspell Seebach's name (they spell it with an "Z" at the beginning).
Guns Are Worthless: For the most part Big O's most effective weapons are its piston powered fists. Despite its 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 against 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's 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.
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 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.
Alan Gabriel gets his own later.
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..
Rays from Heaven: In episode 14, "Roger the Wanderer". At the end of Roger's hallucination he rediscovers his sense of purpose and finds himself back in Big O. After he knocks down all three of the foreign megadeuses, rays of sunlight shine through the clouds above as he prepares his final attack, which disables his opponents and saves Paradigm City. Watch the sequence here.
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 Reason You Suck" Speech: Big Duo gives the shortest one on record to Alan Gabriel and proceeds to absorb and kill him, since he is an insane sadistic motherfucker and thus not worthy of piloting a Megadeus: "Ye Guilty."
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.
Running Gag: R. Dorothy waking Roger up by playing the piano.
Though never said out loud, it's made damn clear that Paradigm City is built on top of New York City. To drive the point home, every instance of a notable New York landmark showing up, generally shows that landmark (and everything around it) destroyed.
In Episode 5, it's mentioned that a man fell into the Hudson. In that same episode, its revealed that the bridge he fell from is the George Washington Bridge.
Several track titles on the Original Sound Score II album allude to actual Manhattan streets and locations.
Several key storyline events happen in Grand Central Station.
A JFK Mark is mentioned, almost certainly a reference to New York's JFK Airport. The airport itself is seen (in ruins) in the same episode. Its later implied that Big Duo was found here.
Mad Scientist Eugene Grant's lab appears to be based in the American Museum of Natural History.
In the episode "Leviathan", Coney Island and its famous roller coaster, Cyclone, are visible in the wastelands just outside the city.
Roger likes driving across the Brooklyn Bridge, fully visible in the 3rd episode. It is one of the few New York landmarks that isn't destroyed.
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.
Sand Worm: In episode 17 "Leviathan", the title megadeus is a giant mechanical version.
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).
Spell My Name with an S: Almost certainly by accident, R. Dorothy Wayneright has a very similar name to a character on Yes, Minister, Dorothy Wainwright. Go on and guess what the "Wayne" part refers too...
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.
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.
Dorothy's piano playing from episode 6, became this in season two. Made even more obvious due to its older style of coloring, as opposed to the digital coloring process of season two.
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.
Super Senses It would seem that Roger can hear pedestrians talking and shouting to him from the midst of a megadeus battle ground zero because Big O can hear that well.
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.
What Happened to the Mouse?: In the penultimate episode, a giant robot twenty times bigger than any of the Megadei is introduced and shown on screen for 3 seconds before it gets crushed by a chunk of falling debris, and is never mentioned again. 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."
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. However, being an android Dorothy is technically ageless and is more than equal to the characters of the series. Being technically ageless and having been designed to be who she is, her lifetime time since her activation is irrelevant and it's really a nonexistent problem.
Though as mentioned above, this possibly applies to Roger as well. invoked