Anime / Zambot 3

Destructive Saviors, child abuse, and Kill 'em All, oh my!

Zambot 3, 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 format.

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 ending.

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