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 inSuper Robot Wars Alpha Gaiden and Z, Xabungle (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 predecessors.Compare Overman King Gainer.
We got away with writing this Trope list for three days!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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...
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.
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.
They're Earthlings - why else would they have an Apollo Lunar Lander as a museum piece?
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.
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.
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.
Many people have actually found this rather surprising in retrospect, as one would think that the Old West-inspired setting and characters would've made this a shoo-in for export in the 80s. For whatever reason, though, the show never made the jump across the pond.
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.
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".
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 ∀ 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 Major Fridge Horror 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.
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. ∀ 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 subninjas (people or other inconveniences that wantonly destroy fansub groups in the place of the series actually being licensed for localization), 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).
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.
...and there would be if they didn't lampshade it so damn often (example: Chiru notes once or twice on the seriousness of the situation). The point is more that, oddly for a mecha anime, there really isn't a gender gap amongst the Civilians.
The Squad: Separate from the Five-Man Band, the Iron Gear roster looks a bit like this, especially towards the end of the show.
The Engineer: Kotoset Memuma, Not-Captain and head engineer of the (perpetually understaffed) Iron Gear.
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)...
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.
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 Could Have Been: Before Tomino joined up as director, the Iron Gear and Xabungle were supposed to have been the Cool Ship and Combining Mecha of a serious, outer space show called "Exploiter" (which helps to explain why they look so out of place on Zora, mechanically). Amazingly, the character designs apparently weren't changed much from that period and the finished show.
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.
Woolseyism: In the fansubs and translation of Alpha Gaiden, Timp's overly personal and casual speech is changed to make him sound like a Cowboy. Specifically his frequent use of refering to people with sarcastic Japanese sibling terminology is changed to "Pardner" and "Missy".