, or more fully, Invincible Super Man Zambot 3
, is a 1977 anime series by long-standing mecha anime studio Sunrise
and Yoshiyuki Tomino
. Despite consisting of pretty standard Super Robot
fare, Zambot 3
stands out for three things, with the first two coming out of the third. Firstly, it had somewhat of a Downer Ending
. Secondly, it featured child abuse
on an unprecedented level for a childrens show. And thirdly, it was one of the earliest (if not the
earliest,) attempts at a Deconstruction of the Super Robot
genre. The general story is that Earth is being invaded by aliens known as the Gaizok
, which are chasing after the survivors of another planet they ruined, who came to live and hide on earth.
However, these refugees left behind two weapons - King Beal
and Zambot 3
, for their descendants to use. Cue Monster of the Week
Still, the show stands out because it isn't just
'Monster of the Week
.' As our lead hero Kappei Jin and his allies fight the Gaizok, countless
homes and towns are demolished in the process
, and whereas some later series such as, say, Megas XLR
would just play it all for laughs, Zambot plays it all completely straight
. The results would have been a turning point for the Humongous Mecha
Genre had it caught on, with greater maturity and sophistication in the storytelling and a much darker atmosphere. But alas, this wasn't to be, and it wouldn't be until a couple of years later, when Gundam was broadcast and the Real Robot
genre was invented, that the next big advance in the Humongous Mecha
genre would occur (both shows were directed by the same guy
, no less!).
It occasionally gets featured in Super Robot Wars
, where it usually has a high chance to appear together with its Spiritual Successor Daitarn 3
(in fact it can't seem to exist without Daitarn in SRW), thus they could do combination attacks together. This, however, is mostly offset with the lessening of its brutal nature and child abuse
. Its appearance in Super Robot Wars Z
rectifies this to a degree, by showing how the abuse takes its toll. But it still (barely) avoids the Kill 'em All
This show provides examples of:
- Ace Pilot: The ace pilot Kappei literally pilots a robot called Zambo Ace.
- A.I. Is a Crapshoot: The Big Bad is an alien super computer.
- Alien Among Us: The Jin Family.
- Alien Invasion
- Anyone Can Die
- Attack Its Weak Point: Most Mecha-Boosts are so heavily armoured that this is the only way to defeat them.
- The Battlestar: King Beal for the heroes, the Bandok for the villains.
- Big Friendly Dog: Kappei's oddly purple-furred hound, Chiyonishiki.
- Bittersweet Ending: The series ultimately ends with many innocents killed, much of Japan completely wrecked, and several members of Kappei's family dead, including his teammates - but also with Gaizok's assessment that Humans Are Bastards proven wrong, as a crowd of people flock to Kappei to finally cheer him as a hero.
- Bloodless Carnage: Whenever a human bomb explodes, the human completely vanishes.
- Break the Cutie
- Calling Your Attacks
- Chekhov's Volcano
- Child Soldiers
- Combining Mecha: Zambot 3 is formed by combining the Zambo Ace, Zambull and Zambase.
- Cool Ship
- Death Is Dramatic: At least, it becomes so - in the first few episodes, civilian casualties seem to be completely shrugged off.
- Deconstruction: One of the first, if not the first, when it comes to the Super Robot genre, eighteen years before Neon Genesis Evangelion. However, the show just never really caught on, though recently, it's started to get a bit more attention.
- Destructive Saviour: This series PERSONIFIES this trope. Yoshiyuki Kill 'em All Tomino went to extreme lengths to show why it is not a good idea getting two Humongous Mecha fighting in a populated area. Although the children piloting Zambot stop the MechaBoost, they caused enormous amount of damage, (which does nothing to convince the Earth folks who hate them they are ON its side).
- Earn Your Happy Ending: Kozuki. And also Kappei, even if in a much more expensive way.
- Expository Theme Tune: "Three mechas unite as one. Our justice in the shape of a giant robot. It's name is Zambot 3!"
- Falling into the Cockpit: In Kappei's case, literally.
- Fantastically Indifferent: When Kouzuki finds out that Kappei and his family are aliens, he responds with a blase "Man... I knew it would be something like that."
- Finishing Move: MOON ATTAAACK!
- Forgotten Phlebotinum: The Gaizok create a material that can deflect absolutely any attack. One Mecha Boost is coated in this, then it is never reused.
- Actually, the associated trope is averted. Butcher does bring back the most successful of the Mecha Boosts for one episode and that one is included.
- Home Base: The King Beal, which was an Airborne Aircraft Carrier AND a Cool Starship.
- Humans Are Bastards: The reason why Gaizok decided to destroy mankind.
- Humongous Mecha
- Infant Immortality: Averted.
- Jerkass: Kappei is a total asshole at first, deliberately refusing to have his machine combine with the others, nearly killing someone by pretending to punch them while in the machine, and pretty much mucking things up more than he needs to.
- Kaiju: The Mecha Boosts are technically robots, but they generally look more like organic monsters you might find in a Godzilla film.
- Kid Hero
- Kill 'em All: By the man himself.
- Large and In Charge: Killer The Butcher.
- Let's Get Dangerous
- Limited Animation: No animation supervisor, and many episodes were animated by just one or two people.
- Made of Explodium
- Miniature Senior Citizens
- Monster of the Week
- Names to Run Away From Really Fast: The fake leader of the Gaizok is called Killer The Butcher.
- Off Model: Thanks to the reasons outlined above, this happened constantly.
- Omniscient Morality License: So it's okay for Uchuta and Kappei to mock Keiko and imply she hasn't been weaned off her mother's breast milk and then laugh when she rips her birthday present kimono in the process of trying to grab them. It was all just to piss her off so she'd storm off and go visit her mother. Sure. That makes up for being, you know, asses for no real reason.
- Gaizok is actually a super computer designed to find and destroy any creature with an evil intent in the universe.
- "On the Next Episode of..." Catch Phrase: "Well, how are they going to fight through this?"
- Psychopathic Manchild: Butcher's not only a completely unforgivable asshole, but spends most of his on screen time acting like a moron. Makes it all the more terrifying when he turns killing people into a game.
- Reality Ensues: Kids being pilots of a Humongous Mecha can actually be psychologically straining, and immaturity can lead to deaths. Also, cities do not get magically repaired after getting smashed down during a battle between giant robots, and often the cast has to fight on the ruins of a city destroyed in an earlier battle.
- Robeast: Mecha Boosts
- Scarf of Asskicking: A technicolor one made by Aki in one episode. Zambot wears this at the very end of the episode, possibly making this the Trope Maker for mecha.
- Sleep Learning: Which is only the start of the child cruelty.
- Some Kind of Force Field: Around the Bandok.
- Spiritual Successor: Daitarn 3
- Though this is arguable, considering the two shows couldn't possibly be any more different, at least in terms of tone. Daitarn might be a successor, but not necessarily a spiritual one.
- Super Robot
- Super Robot Wars: Super Robot Wars 4, Super Robot Wars Compact 2, Super Robot Wars Advance, Super Robot Wars Reversal, Super Robot Wars Z, and Super Robot Wars 64.
- Theme Music Power-Up
- Tokyo Is the Center of the Universe
- The Tokyo Fireball
- Transforming Mecha
- Villains Out Shopping: Killer the Butcher, in spite of being a pretty depraved guy, is often shown doing stupid stuff like trying on jewelry or taking a bath.
- Why Am I Ticking?: Halfway through the series, this becomes the weapon of choice for the Gaizok.