aka: Combat Mecha Xabungle
The name of this planet is Zora. But, the people have long since forgotten that name...
Is it a breeze or a storm?
On the distant desert planet
of Zora, two distinct civilizations of humans exist: the Innocent, who pioneer culture and science from the safety of their domes, and the Civilians, who live beyond the domes yet rely on the Innocent for the provisions necessary to survive - especially the Walker Machines
and battleships that allow them to traverse the land. The Innocent have long ago decreed that any crime committed among the Civilians is automatically forgiven if the perpetrator isn't brought to justice in three days.
Jiron Amos, whose parents were murdered by ace Breaker Timp Shaloon a week ago, isn't about to let a time limit get between him and justice.
Originally airing in 1982 and enjoying revived popularity due to its inclusion in Super Robot Wars Alpha Gaiden
(long form: Sentou (Combat) Mecha Xabungle
, to some Blue Gale Xabungle
in deference to its Expository Theme Tune
) chronicles Jiron's attempts to get even with Timp, his alliance with the Sandrat bandits, their
alliance with culture-obsessed landship captain's daughter Elche Cargo, her
issues with ex-employee and would-be suitor Kid Hola, and the eventual one-ship crusade against the Innocent's rule that spawns from Jiron's vendetta.
In the hands of anybody else, this would be a particularly gritty tale of desert justice and class warfare, but with Yoshiyuki Tomino
at the helm during his post-Ideon
emotional peak, the 50-episode series turns into an over-the-top Humongous Mecha
romp dripping with too much humor for a lesser (or darker) mecha anime to properly handle. Heck, even it can't handle the comedy lightly, often breaking the Fourth Wall
alongside the Three-Day Rule to poke fun at the cliches of its Super Robot
Compare Overman King Gainer
- Abusive Precursors: The Innocent want the Civilians to become the new inhabitants of Zora, and so most of the series is a sort of test to see if they are truly worthy. The "Abusive" part comes into play when some of the more entrenched Innocent don't want to lose their positions of power...
- Ace Custom: Timp's "Government"-type Walker Machine seems to be the only one of its kind with missile launchers mounted on the forearms.
- Better: he also replaces one of the forearms with a missile launcher... only for it to revert to being an arm in the very next scene.
- Ace Pilot: Greta is a steamroller type.
- Actual Pacifist: Maria Maria attempts to be this in her debut episode and it's made clear that she's always been like that. This is universally seen as really weird by the other characters, who can all use guns and fight for their lives on a regular basis. Her particular brand of pacifism is literally that and she refuses to take violent action against anyone - so the Iron Gear crew has to save her life, with the result that she re-examines her lifestyle in the end.
- All of the Other Reindeer: Nowhere near as extreme as other examples, but Jiron's single-minded quest to kill Timp a week after the fact is treated as ridiculous in a world where everyone is forgiven after 3 days. Turns out, this is the whole point of the rule, to have someone question it.
- Ancient Tradition: While they've only been on Zora for 200 years or so, this is the intended purpose/mission of the Innocent. See "Abusive Precursors" above.
- Ascended Fangirl: Elche tries to be this, and finally succeeds...
- As You Wish: Despite being brainwashed and having no proper memories of her past life, Elche still names her new Landship after her father.
- Big Bad: King Kashim.
- The Big Guy: Dike and Fatman Big. The former is a gentle giant, both kind enough to offer up his other hand when Jiron couldn't shake with his right, and thoroughly aware of his status as a background character. The latter is a muscleman whose dedication to Elche is touching, to the point that he can sense her impending danger from 3 kilometers away.
- Bishounen: Biel, and Arthur Rank - a high-ranked Innocent and their leader. Pretty much all the girls call him Arthur-sama~. They both turn out tougher than expected as well.
- Bizarre Alien Biology: Subverted, a little. The Innocent are incapable of surviving on Zora outside of the domed habitats, and so create a few races to do so. Which means that, by the usual logic, it's the Civilians who have this.
- Bokukko: Tron Miran, a member of Sault - it's through her actions that the Iron Gear eventually joins with Sault. She also beats Jiron in a fair fistfight - the beating she gives him is almost completely one-sided. Sadly, she dies in her debut episode. Jiron keeps her WM-sized bazooka as a memento.
- Brainwashed and Crazy: Elche for a chunk of the latter half of the series.
- Bratty Half-Pint: Chiru... by Civilian standards, anyway - meaning her firearm is a measly Scorpion vz. 61 and she can only pilot a Hobuggy or ride shotgun at most. In practice, a capable cross between this and Tagalong Kid.
- She'd otherwise make a pretty good Gundam lead.
- Calling Your Attacks: "HISSATSU! XABUNGLE PUNCH! Heh heh, I Always Wanted to Say That."
- They then proceed to do this in their Super Robot Wars appearances (Jiron says the above line much more enthusiastically). Chiru even calls out seishin spell names in Z.
- Captain Smooth and Sergeant Rough: Elchi and Rag, in the beginning - although the former's control over the Sandrats is tenacious at best. Katakam and Jiron, at first.
- Wonderfully inverted towards the end: Rag ends up as captain of the Iron Gear, and Elchi's in the Xabungle.
- Chicken Walker: The prevalent design amongst Walker Machines, in fact.
- Clarke's Third Law:
- Combining Mecha: The two Xabungle units (and later Walker Gallier) are formed from two truck-like vehicles each.
- Somewhat deconstructed by the Xabungle's design - the pilot(s) in the WM's midsection can't get out or contribute to the battle.
- Walker Gallier plays this straight... but the pilot of the Gally Wheel (waist and below) can see the action, and switches from pilot to gunner.
- Comic Book Fantasy Casting: Kashim King is so Sydney Greenstreet it hurts.
- Comm Links: Yep, none of those here! Which justifies the series' use of yelling at each other from their Walker Machines, just as often with the aid of a megaphone as not.
- To be fair, they do use radio sometimes... but the first long-range radio seen in the show is part of a backpack bigger than the guy using it.
- Cool (Land)Ship: The Iron Gear. Although it was originally intended to be a Cool Starship during the earliest planning stages.
- Crystal Spires and Togas: The Innocent, or at least Elche's image thereof.
- Death from Above: The Iron Gear, in the last episode, to a Dome.
- Hahaha! Because it's an anime!
- Decontamination Chamber: Gas and light. As it's something they always have to go through to enter a dome, the Civilians think that it's part of the pomp and circumstance of the Innocent.
- Desert Punk: Desert? Check. Punk? Check. ...Gasoline-powered Giant Robots? Double check!
- Determinator: Jiron, full stop. In-story, Maria is referred to as this for her dogged (some would say blind) adherence to pacifism.
- Dodge the Bullet: Jiron is really damn good at this... And everyone else to some extent or other.
- Earth All Along: Apparently Zora isn't the only name people have forgotten for their planet...save the fact that most Civilians call it Earth anyway already. All but a given in its Super Robot Wars appearances, especially its events developing After Two Ends in Alpha Gaiden (the latter being an apocalyptic clusterfuck of the After War Gundam X and Turn A Gundam backstories).
- Elaborate Underground Base: A necessity for the Innocent - domes can only be so big.
- Everyone Calls Him Barkeep: Medic Helt is... a doctor. On his own at first (he shows up in the first episode and fixes Jiron's arm), then for Sault, then finally for Iron Gear.
- Evil Knockoff: The Blackalley, a walker machine based on Xabungle and Gallia. However, it is only threatening when Timp uses it as an Innocent grunt could barely control it and Dowas did not use it in actual combat.
- Fantastic Caste System: The gap between the Innocent and the Civilians is ludicrous.
- Fanservice: On several occasions - for example, one scene in episode 2 has a good shot of Rag's rear end while she's trying to hotwire the Xabungle vehicles. And then there's Elchi's short dress. And the fact that Rag is shown to not wear a bra...
- Fat Bastard: Kashim King, who kind of looks like Sydney Greenstreet.
- The Film of the Series: Xabungle Graffiti was released 6 months after the series ended. Basically a Clip Show. While the show is a comedic take on serious mecha tropes, the movie really takes a hammer to the fourth wall - and has an improved ending: Instead of Arthur dying and Elchi being permanently blind, Arthur fakes his death and Elchi's eyesight is restorable with Innocent technology.
- Five-Man Band: Among the Sandrats:
- Forgotten Phlebotinum: The Iron Gear gets a slight upgrade with the Triple-Barreled Delayed-Burn High-Temperature Spreading High-Explosive Cannon... Too long! The "Potan Cannon" area effect weapon. It's used in one battle (and Jiron rips it off, so it can fire at closer range), then either forgotten or simply not used. Clearly a Weapon of Mass Destruction in this world, and probably an example of Holding Back the Phlebotinum.
- That, or they ran out of fuel/energy/ammunition for it. It was originally a gift anyway.
- The Gunslinger: Timp thinks he's one of these... but he screws up a little too often.
- Handguns: Most of the main cast uses one - Dike (shotgun) and Chiru (sub-machinegun) excepted.
- Hot-Blooded: Jiron has this in freaking spades. Some speculators believe the universe will implode if Jiron gets anywhere near Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann. If he's this Bad Ass just running on gasoline, imagine what he'd do with Spiral Power.
- Make a fortune in a Blue Stone mining operation?
- Their mutual appearance in The second Super Robot Wars Z suggests that there isn't all that much interaction between them, despite being stuck with each other for ten years.
- Idiot Ball: Elchi likes to juggle these every few episodes.
- Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: Played straight for both the good and bad guys, actually - it's rare for anyone to get hit except for plot reasons - due to Dodge the Bullet taking far higher priority.
- Improbable Weapon User: The "Boomerang Idiom" within Walker Gallier's Full Armor complement. Then again, it's tough to see what the word "Idiom" has to do with stuffing a Precision-Guided Boomerang full of enough rockets to clear out a 180-degree radius of enemies.
- It Runs on Nonsensoleum: Subverted - everything runs on gasoline. The Nonsensoleum involves the engines, which get absurdly good mileage.
- This is recognized in Super Robot Wars Alpha Gaiden with the "High-Efficiency Gasoline Engine" item, which improves the equipping unit's mobility and agility a bit. Try not to think about how that works in space.
- Justice Will Prevail: As Jiron says, "What's wrong with wanting to settle things?" (The three-day rule effectively prevents justice that takes too long.)
- La Résistance: Salt/Solt/Sault, the local democratic Civilian's movement. Never really becomes The Alliance, as it was mostly a supply network without a strong military branch before the Iron Gear and crew joins.
- Last Girl Wins: Of the three initial ladies on the team, it's Elchi who Jiron ends up with and obviously cares most for.
- Limited Wardrobe: Almost all the main characters. Somewhat justified for Jiron and the Sand Rats, as they seem to have boarded the Iron Gear with only the clothes on their backs, and given the show's setting this is understandably the norm.
- Exceptions: Jiron gets his ...iconic brown gear during the first episode and Fatman (of all people...) has a Calvary officer's outfit he likes. Elche changes several times over the course of the show, as befitting someone of *cough* "high culture".
- Lost Technology: There's the stuff the Innocent made after coming back to Earth... and then there's the stuff that seems to have been in museums while they were gone. The infamous ICBM is one of them.
- As is the Walker Gallier, apparently - see Homage.
- Love Triangle: Rag and Elchi both have a thing for Jiron. Jiron himself doesn't show a preference until about halfway though the show, when Elchi gets brainwashed. THEN he starts trying to talk her out of it with love, eventually getting through to her for long enough to run a reversal procedure. When she loses her sight, he decides to live with her.
- Chiru also has a thing for him (which explains a lot when you think about it), but Jiron only sees her as a reliable friend, nothing more. There's a piece of artwork released with the soundtracks that's a bit more obvious about this.
- Made of Iron: All the Civilians, like you wouldn't believe. Explicitly created that way by the Innocent, so they could survive in the harsh Zora landscape.
- Meaningful Name: Rag is generally very hot-tempered and irritable.
- Mecha Expansion Pack: "Full Armor" ensembles for the Xabungles and Walker Gallier; the former really just consists of all the one-off weapons that model had been equipped with up to that point (and is enough for Jiron to single-handedly destroy a domed trading Point), while the latter adds a five-tube missile launcher that was never used in-show.
- Midseason Upgrade: Walker Gallier. In fact the first one of the Real Robot genre, since Amuro used the Gundam the whole way through his show.
- More Expendable Than You: Biel to Jiron.
- The Narrator: Works a bit differently in this show, as he is more of a storyteller doing the Opening Monologue, Opening Narration, and previews in a Kamishibai style.
- No Water Proofing In The Future: Played straight, as Zora is mostly desert and everyone uses Walker Machines (which are barely more waterproofed than a modern car).
- Non-Action Guy: Although he's clearly Elchi's right hand man in the first couple of episodes, Fatman doesn't seem to do much else for the first third or so of the series.
- Nuke 'em: The Innocent try this on the Iron Gear late in the series. It doesn't take.
- Oh, Crap: The Iron Gear (WM) already has a reputation for being nigh-invulnerable by the time it reaches X-Point, but the defenders know what to expect. And then they watch it jump. It just smashes onto X-Point, with one guy basically commenting "yeah, we're completely screwed".
- Omake: The filler in [[The Film of the Series Xabungle Graffiti}} tends to work this way.
- Only One Name: Quite a few characters. For example: Chiru, Burume, and Daiku.
- Panty Shot: Elche tends to provide plenty of these.
- Rebel Leader, subverted: Sault originally has Katakam Zushim who, while actually pretty good at rallying people and supplies behind him, varies from okay to terrible at the actual "bringing down the empire" part. Jiron takes over after his death (sorry, his "death") but isn't much better, with his attack plans basically working out to "blow up (letter) Point", but with him fighting on the front lines.
- The eventual solution appears to be a small group of leaders/planners based in the Iron Gear.
- Red Herring: The Blue Stones that are so important to everyone? That are the equivalent of Gold during a goldrush? Worthless and mundane, and different materials are used as actual money.
- Although they become an important plot point in Super Robot Wars Alpha Gaiden, The blue stones are believed to be formed from the Humongous Mecha of after the Preventers time period fighting the Dinosaur and Mycene emipres as well as each other, which in turn is revealed to be caused by the Turn A Gundam destroying them all with the Moonlight Butterfly.
- There's another possibility for what they are, too. It's said that the Innocent can survive in places that have been cleared of Blue Stones, which implies that they're some kind of pollutant. The Innocent just told the Civilians that they were valuable so that they'd collect them so the Innocent could dispose of them (at least some of the "Ascension of Light" rocket launches from the payment point domes may be them shooting the stuff into space). This leads to some of the good ol' horror of the fridge when you think about it. What's a dangerous pollutant that's blue? Radioactive cobalt. The reason the world is in ruins could be due to the effects of a Cobalt Bomb, a hypothetical type of nuclear weapon that was never built because the fallout would kill nearly everything on Earth.
- Red Shirt: Subverted - while there are plenty of nameless Breakers on all sides of the eventual conflict, due to a number of factors (Tomino giving the finger to his nickname, the story taking place on Earth, the durability and cockpit locations of Walker Machines, etc.) they all have an unusually high chance of survival.
- Rule of Three: The Three-Day Rule!
- Shout-Out: In Zeta Gundam, one of the mobile suits at Hayato Kobayashi's museum appears to be the Walker Gallier. Crossbone Gundam is even better about it, reusing a Gallop-type as a worker MS. Turn A Gundam makes mention of Gallia, the continent most of the action takes place on.
- Spaghetti Western: Played with, in that according to the maps in SRW most of the action takes place in Southern Europe, but the setting and characters feel like a Wild West story.
- Spell My Name with an "S": Most of the fansub attempts use spellings of characters' names that run counter to the ones used in Alpha Gaiden (Chiru -> Chill, Dike -> Daiku and so forth). Since they all seem to fall victim to subninjasnote , though, this article will use the Alpha Gaiden Romanizations at least until AXSUS manages to sub the entire series.
- And then you have the Civilian's Democracy group Solt(Jap. pron.)/Salt(what it sounds like)/Sault(short for Assault, which makes the most sense).
- A standout is "Elche". What few Japanese sources exist usually spell her name that way... despite the katakana and vocal pronunciation very unambiguously being "Elchi", or エルチ. Elche would actually be spelled "エルチェ" in kana. This leads to a lot of debate, even in the SRW community, as to how her name should be spelled.
- Sliding Scale of Silliness Versus Seriousness: Usually one or the other. At one end, it makes Gundam look childish (Chiru, 8 years old, whips around a submachine gun; the women are universally tough without sacrificing femininity) and breaks new ground; at the other, it's absolutely unafraid of breaking your screen with humor.
- The Squad: Separate from the Five-Man Band, the Iron Gear roster looks a bit like this, especially towards the end of the show.
- Stepping Stones in the Sky: Jiron does this very early on as he falls from a cliff and lands safely.
- Super Prototype: Averted with the two Xabungles, played straight with Walker Gallier and the Iron Gear to an extent (it's new enough that the 120-some meter tall Walker Machine mode is demoralizing).
- ...aaand Averted with those two as well. It doesn't take long after the Gallier starts being used for the Blackalley to start being used (said machine being just as strong as he Gallier, except piloted by less capable people), and while the Iron Gear seems impressive early on, it also barely works for a while and takes constant maintenance - meanwhile, at least two more are made later in the story.
- Take a Third Option: Where your choices are 1) run away from the ICBM falling towards your current location and 2) shoot it down, Jiron decides that there's 3)...
- Technical Pacifist: Maria becomes this after her debut, working as Medic's assistant.
- Technobabble: Considerably lighter than even most Super Robot titles, the only really obvious example being the Potan Cannon's proper name (see Forgotten Phlebotinum above, 'cause damned if we're typing that again).
- Tomboy and Girly Girl: Rag and Elchi, at least at first glance. Rag turns out to have a surprisingly feminine side, while Elchi shows off her knife-throwing skills early on.
- Birin and Maria play this one straight, though.
- Transforming Mecha: Sure, the combining Walker Machines have to shift a few parts around when assuming robot form, but when your BATTLESHIP does this, things start getting Crazy Awesome. See also Macross and its brethren.
- And then Cotset (the Iron Gear's... navigator) claims that its "hands and legs were originally meant for fistfights". *punchpunchpunch* (see What Could Have Been below)
- True Companions: The Sandrats. Jiron is also quickly accepted by Rag after he saves their collective rears (and, more specifically, treats her like a lady).
- While the older members fulfill this by being a tight-knit group, Chiru appears to consider them (Rag and Jiron particularly) older siblings.
- Tsundere: Rag - blowing up Landships with a pistol-sized grenade launcher one minute, blushing and demure the next. Elchi, maybe - "cultured" and polite one minute, blowing up Landships as the captain of a 120-meter-tall Walker Machine the next.
- Note that the "Tsundere" characterization/trope basically didn't exist during the original airing, so they are both prototypical.
- Unbuilt Trope: predates the likes of Gundam Wing and Gundam SEED by fifteen and twenty years respectively, and it only gets funnier now with various mooks bemoaning why they even bother shooting at the protagonists since they'll automatically miss anyways.
- Maria comes off as a parody/deconstruction of the common Real Robot (especially Gundam) pacifist heroine; however, that would not become a trend until Gundam Wing, a whole thirteen years later.
- Unfortunate Names: Either one hell of a coincidence, or done completely on purpose, but there appears to have been a Jiron, Amos J. serving in the Korean War...
- Wham Episode: Episode 27. After several arcs of sucessful adventures and fresh off the high from acquiring Walker Galia, Jiron's new friend Tron who seems a shoe in to join the crew, Is promptly killed not a minute after first joining the battle. Jiron somberly returns to the ship only to learn that Elche was abducted by the Innocent. And unlike most kidnappings she ends up gone for a long long time.
- What Happened To The Mouse?: Strangely, we never find out why Timp killed Jiron's parents, although he explicitly says it wasn't at the Innocents' request.
- Although given the three-day-rule, it's quite possible it was an extremely trivial reason in the first place, and Timp's simply trying to rile him up by being vague. Jiron himself seems to care to care more about avenging them to find out why, anyway.
- Based on a few comments it's implied it was a simple robbery for Blue Stones (Jiron's father was a Stone miner) and nothing more.
- Wise Beyond Their Years: Chiru is this frequently, which helps to mitigate the fact that carrying and using a sub-machine gun is Troubling Unchildlike Behaviour at best.