We are the Earth Defense Class!
Why let mature, responsible adults pilot your super weapons when there are perfectly good children right there? Zettai Muteki Raijin-Oh
, titled Matchless Raijin-Oh
on all further English releases, is the story of the world's most powerful super weapon and the classroom of children who command it.
Eldoran, the defender of the Earth, pilots a set of giant robots that can combine and form the mighty warrior, Raijin-Oh, and is charged with defending the planet from evil aliens. When the Jaku Empire, a race of fifth-dimensional beings, descends upon the Earth in attempt to conquer it, Eldoran is there with Raijin-Oh to drive the forces of Evil away and keep the planet safe from harm. An epic space-robot mecha battle is about to begin!
Or not. Eldoran goes down in less than a minute and is sent hurtling toward the planet.
Injured and struggling to keep control of his vessel, Eldoran can't escape the Earth's gravitational pull and falls toward the Earth — more specifically, straight toward an unsuspecting Japanese elementary school.
Meanwhile, Mr. Shinoda's fifth-grade class is staying after hours due to poor scores on a recent test. Some odd activity in the afternoon sky catches the attention of the students, and they stare outside, dumbfounded... until they realize the unidentified object is heading straight for them crap crap crap get out of the way!!
Robot falls, everyone dies.
Actually, no! With the last of his power, Eldoran is able to preserve the children's lives... at the cost of his own. However, the threat of the Jaku Empire still looms above the Earth. With Eldoran gone, there's no one to pilot Raijin-Oh, so he must name an heir quickly and pass on the power to someone who can defend the planet in his stead. Unfortunately, the only ones around to ask are the fifth-graders he just rescued. Left with no other choice, he passes the robots onto the children with little explanation, and uses the strength he has left to reformat their classroom into a pimped-out computer command center.
Left with no choice and no instruction, the children of class 5-3 — now with three (later four) giant robots at their disposal — are forced to learn how to defend the Earth on their own by trial and error. Hilarity Ensues
.Zettai Muteki Raijin-Oh
, the first series of the Eldoran
franchise, is a genuinely heartwarming series that has a surprising amount of character development; much more than you would expect from a giant robot show aimed at younger children. The main cast is made up of the eighteen students, each with their own distinct look, personality, and duty. The three stars of the series are Jin, Asuka and Kouji, who are charged with piloting the three robots that combine to form Raijin-Oh. While they're out fighting, their classmate Maria takes control of the command center and guides the other 14 children as they monitor and contol Raijin-Oh.
The show is based on a very simple concept, but it's executed very beautifully. The writers aren't afraid to lampshade
classic tropes of the Giant Robot genre on a regular basis.
This series is particularly notable due to recent developments. Almost 20 years after first airing in Japan, it was licensed by a brand-new anime distribution company called Anime Midstream
. Despite many doubts, Midstream successfully released the first volume of Raijin-Oh at the end of December 2009. It's too early to judge how successful they're going to be but here's hoping they can make it in the world.
This show contains examples of:
- Academy of Adventure: The school is hiding giant robots under campus and one classroom turns into a command center.
- Adults Are Useless: Beautifully averted. Sure, the kids are the only ones who could control Raijin-Oh but once outside the mecha and the control center, they still needed all the guidance from their elders, who are just as knowledgeable as they needed to be with the obvious exception of the annoying, borderline Neidermeyer Army General.
- Even the General becomes a valuable ally once he warms up to the fact that the world's most powerful weapon is in the hands of children.
- Afraid of Needles: Jin, of all the things that he has to develop a phobia for. It even incapacitates him for a while during battle when they faced off with a syringe-themed Monster of the Week.
- Animal Mecha: Hou-Oh, Juu-Oh, and Bakuyru-Oh
- Calling Your Attacks
- Car Fu: Shinoda does this in an episode against the Monster of the Week; ramming his car straight into the face of the said monster and earning him both a Crowning Moment of Funny and a Crowning Moment Of Awesome.
- Color-Coded Characters: Averted!
- Jin wears red and yellow, but his robot is white and blue
- Asuka wears blue, but his robot is red
- Kouji wears green, but his robot is blue and gold.
- Combination Attack: In Super Robot Wars NEO, since all of the Eldoran series were featured in the game, it was only natural that they'd have a combination attack.
- Combining Mecha
- Communications Officer: Raijin-Oh is so complex to operate that it needs two communications officers.
- Creepy Cockroach: In the second episode, Jin frightens Maria with what turns out to be a rubber roach.
- Crossdressing Voices
- Extreme Omni Goat: Invoked when Jin attempts to feed his failed test papers to Carol, the school goat. It didn't work.
- Falling into the Cockpit: Played straight and with a twist: Jin, Asuka, and Kouji are literally thrown into the respective cockpits of their mechs during the school's massive transformation sequence.
- Finishing Move: GOD THUNDER CRASH
- Five-Man Band: While the cast consists of 18 kids, there is a "core" group of children that fills these roles in the first few episodes before the show's focus broadens.
- Freudian Trio: Jin, the impulsive, Hot-Blooded hero (Id); Asuka, the straight-laced upper-class boy who emphasizes on rules and consequences (Superego); Kouji, the calm, non-confrontational type who acts as The Heart of the team as soon as he got over his initial timidity (Ego).
- Heel-Face Turn: Jin's parents convince Taida to switch sides and later Belzeb and Falzeb follow.
- Hot-Blooded: Jin, full stop. One of his image songs is titled Hot Blooded! Hot Blooded! Men Are Hot Blooded!
- Humongous Mecha
- Image Song: The main characters get quite generous helpings here; Jin, Kouji, Asuka and Maria get two or three each, and the remaining 14 main characters each get a song. Even the villains get a shot in a "karaoke showdown" themed song.
- Jerk Jock: Asuka can come off as this sometimes, though he is a genuinely nice guy.
- Kid Hero: Jin in a nutshell.
- Kid With The Remote Control: More or less the entire concept of this show. No one outside of class 5-3 can control Raijin-Oh.
- Monster of the Week: Just as any Super Robot of its day and at the same time, is also an example of...
- Monster of the Aesop: The akudama (monster seeds) were specifically activated by the word "meiwaku" (troublesome, problem) being used in a phrase, and would then take on the form/powers of whatever was being considered a problem by the speaker. So there was a traffic jam monster, a flu monster, a superhero monster (this one had some serious "what side am I on again?" issues) and so forth.
- Motion Capture Mecha: Ken-oh/Raijin-oh's motion control system is configured this way; pretty handy whenever Jin thinks of a fancy move to get themselves out of tricky situations.
- Only Six Faces: Largely averted. 18 main characters (21 if you count the school faculty sidekicks) and no two look alike.
- Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: The kids in control of Raijin-Oh and the only ones with the power to stop the Evil Empire.
- Recruit Teenagers with Attitude: Eldoran must have done this intentionally. Surely there were enough adults in the school to put a team together, but he chose the kids.
- Rica Matsumoto: The girl who would become Satoshi (and later a member of JAM Project) got her start in this show as the starring Kid Hero, Jin.
- Shipper on Deck: In the first OVA, Asuka wants Hiroshi and Cookie to get together.
- Stock Footage
- Super Robot
- Super Robot Wars: Featured in all four of the 3-D SRW games: GC, XO, Neo, and OE (Operation Extend) for the PSP.
- Tomboy: Reiko is a sweet, adorable little girl who has masculine interests like cars and pro-wrestling.
- Transformation Sequence: 3 per episode, at least. The pilots transform into their uniforms, the robots transform into Raijin-Oh, and even the school transforms into the command center. Unlike most other anime Transformation Sequences, though, after the first few episodes these sequences are abridged or skipped completely as we're expected to know what's going on.
- Transforming Mecha
- Wake Up, Go to School, Save the World: Probably one of the only cases in which "go to school" and "save the world" are not mutually exclusive.
- When You Coming Home, Dad?: Asuka was shown to have some shades of this with his dad in one of his focus episodes.