Impossibly Graceful Giant
Humongous Mecha are a curious thing. By all logic, they can't work in the real world due to issues with weight distribution and speed. Even if such a machine existed, it would probably move something like Honda's Asimo — slow, clunky, and stuttering. Apparently, nobody told this to Japan - watch any given mecha anime, and you'll see hundred-meter battle machines moving with the lithe, fluid grace of martial artists. Even more confusing: the pilot can pull off these amazing feats with nothing more than a pair of joysticks and a set of pedals. Why is this? Probably because, if the robots moved like the multi-ton walking tanks that they are, then the series would bore its viewers to death. A carryover from the Super Robot days considered too catchy to dismiss along with the humanoid form— thus making this a rather obvious sub-trope of Rule of Cool. It often dissipates when a smaller character is in the scene, where from their perspective the machine is actually lumbering. Kaiju tend to have the same problems, for similar reasons; you'd be bored if Godzilla throws an enemy and it takes 30 seconds between the start of its trajectory and it hitting the ground. It should be noted that this phenomenon occurs almost exclusively in Japanese medianote ; Humongous Mecha from Western sources tend to actually be big, slow, clumsy walking tanks (see BattleTech). This happens occasionally with Japan as well (see: Armored Core before the fourth installment, and of course, Steel Battalion). It also should be noted that spider tanks can fall just as easily in this trope as humanoid robots, but rarely do. In fact, if a Mecha series has both you can expect that humanoid robots will move with much more fluidity than the multi-legged counterparts, even though logically the opposite should be true. Animal Mecha almost always display this, and if they take the form of an animal more agile than humans (Such as feline/canine), except them to be equally more agile or graceful than humanoid counterparts. Can allow the use of a Motion Capture Mecha. Often a form of Art Major Physics. May be contrasted / paired with Graceful in Their Element, when the pilot is unable to do anything remotely as acrobatic themselves. Subtrope of Faster Than They Look
Exaggerations and Lampshade Hangings
open/close all folders
Anime & Manga
- Mazinger Z: The Super Robot Genre Trope Maker actually subverted this trope. When the series was animated, Go Nagai reminded the cartoon-makers Mazinger-Z was a huge, heavy machine, therefore it should look heavy. Hence, Mazinger walked apparently slowly, shaking the ground and making much noise with each footstep. The robot was frequently seen from below to reinforce the sensation that it was very tall. It still was more agile than it should have been, but by no means did it seem graceful or nimble. Go Nagai wanting Mazinger-Z to seem heavy was the reason Jet Scrander was a Mid-Season Upgrade. Go Nagai intended Mazinger-Z to fly all along, but he feared if Mazinger flew from the get go, the robot would seem light, so he only gave it wings when it was firmly established Mazinger was heavy.
- In Gurren Lagann, the ganmen are piloted with nothing but a pair of handles. That's no big deal. However, when that mech pilots another mech using similar handles, which then pilots another mech using handles, which then pilots ANOTHER mech using handles, it gets ridiculous. Of course, in this series the Rule of Cool is a law of physics, so you should really just relax.
- Pictured above is from a silly little bit from Full Metal Panic! it's subverted in that to do that it took weeks if not months to code all the movements to make it look fluid and it's further subverted when one of the Arm Slaves slips off at the end and crashes into some stuff.
- Mobile Suit Gundam Wing: The Gundam Heavyarms, despite being the heaviest Gundam in its series, can do circus acrobatics just because its pilot can (To be fair, it is also the leanest and least-bulky in design too, so go figure). Later taken to ridiculous heights when it does a spinning flip carrying four in-scale gatling guns.
- The CGI Reideen demonstrated the artistic reasons for this trope by averting it in the early episodes. Reideen took half of eternity to perform relatively mundane attacks and would have been defeated if its enemies weren't under the same constraints. Later episodes embraced this trope, however, especially when combat moved into space where gracefulness was somewhat justified.
- In Neon Genesis Evangelion, we have the titular Evangelions. They're huge, taller than most of the buildings in Tokyo III, and take this trope Up to Eleven in the Rebuild continuity, where they're seen breaking the sound barrier by running. Not flying, not jumping, but running. This is a much better example of this trope because they're giant biological humanoids cloned from aliens placed in armor so constricting that they can't control their own movements.
- The Showa Godzilla series played this trope completely straight, as well some of the Millennium films, particularly Godzilla vs. Megaguirus and Godzilla Final Wars. The Heisei series tried to avert this as part of the filmmaker's attempts to make Godzilla Darker and Edgier. In contrast to the fast-paced, exciting battles seen during the Showa era, inspired by Japanese pro-wrestling, Heisei kaiju slowly waddle towards eachother, spew lasers back and forth, and when they're feeling really ambitious, will mix things up with some shoulder bumping. Fans complain about the fight sequences of the Heisei era to this day.
- Godzilla (2014) plays with this trope. Godzilla is back to a lumbering behemoth who causes a lot of damages just by walking through an area, but he is especially graceful in the water, capable of sneaking up on the M.U.T.O. kaiju just fine, and seems to be trying to weave his way through the cities as much as he can to avoid too much damage unlike the M.U.T.O. He's only walking fast to humans because his strides are so long in comparison.
- Pacific Rim: Guillermo del Toro avoided the use of motion capture because it would make the Jaegers look less like machines and more like this trope. Still played somewhat straight, especially by Striker Eureka.
- In Real Steel, some fighting robots have "Shadow Mode", a function that enables the robot to mimic human movements perfectly. It's one of the reasons why Atom is so deadly in the ring: his agility, courtesy of Charlie's boxing skills, allow him to dance laps around his clunkier opponents.
- Early works in the BattleTech Expanded Universe had Battlemechs with ridiculously graceful movements, being capable of performing Unnecessary Combat Roll and other silliness that in the boardgame would result in a mech falling on its face and crushing the cockpit. Later novels toned down the gracefulness to be more in line with the boardgame, though still more graceful than they should be, because reading about a battlemech failing a piloting check and falling to its death from the top of a building would quickly get dull.
- Lampshaded in The Stormlight Archive when one of the heroes notes that the chasmfiend (giant carnivorous lobster-thing about the size of an apartment building), shouldn't be anywhere near as graceful or fast as it is. This is stated to be very creepy.
- At least two of G.K. Chesterton's novels feature a main character who is built on the same scale as Chesterton himself but moves like a grasshopper. This is noted to feel vaguely unnatural to observers.
- Invoked in Maskerade, where Agnes knows the tremendously obese opera singer waddling onstage isn't the real one, since the real one reminds people of a moored dirigible.
- In Animorphs, Jake describes the rhino morph as a tiptoeing giant.
- Warhammer 40,000 has both straight-up and averted examples — deliberately so, in that the otherworldly grace and speed of certain alien races' machinery is explicitly contrasted with the bulk and clumsiness of human constructs and less advanced aliens' technology. The giant titan walkers of the Eldar embody this trope, being huge yet slender and impossibly graceful war machines made from psychic-reactive exotic polymers and augmented by the souls of dead Eldar. Eldar revenant scout titans even have jump jets to let them leap huge distances. Tyranid bio-titans are less graceful than Eldar titans, but still possessed of an insectoid speed and maneuverability they shouldn't really have at that size. By contrast Imperial (human) titans are clumsy, lumbering behemoths that shake the earth as they trudge inexorably forward. At the farthest end are Ork Gargants, which are essentially waddling mountains of scrap metal festooned with guns.
- Part of the evolution of Tau technology between the various editions of their codex (explained as actual technological innovation — practically unheard of by anyone else in the setting — between eras of expansion) has their mecha trending towards this. In early depictions, Tau Battlesuits were graceful fliers (well, really good jumpers) due to their vectored thrust, but their actual movements were fairly clumsy, their weapons tended to be fixed guns without a lot of articulation, and they were utterly execrable in close combat. Later models moved more fluidly, were faster and more responsive, and sucked less in melee. For example, in their third-edition debut, Broadside artillery mechs mounted their railguns as Shoulder Cannon with limited traverse; in sixth edition, they wield massive rifle-like guns in articulated hands. Even the brand-new Riptide heavy mech is vastly more nimble than their previous models.
- The Armored Core series started out with an element of this and progressively became worse. The first game had reasonably-paced combat, though the giant mechs still moved with far more agility than so many tons of steel should rightfully have. However, the combat got faster in each sequel until becoming absolutely ludicrous in Armored Core 3. The giant robots in this game can fly and zigzag around faster than human characters can in most action games. The speed of combat was finally toned down for Armored Core 4.
- Sym-Bionic Titan:
- The eponymous robot is about at least several stories tall and must weigh quite a few tons (even accounting for the improbable mechanics of its construction), yet it can perform impressive feats of martial arts with no regard for the laws of physics.
- This is subverted with the H.M.E.R. It's bulky, slow and needs a ridiculous amount of jets all over in to make simple maneuvers. Probably justified in that the Titan is built by aliens with technology at least centuries beyond Earth's, while the H.M.E.R. is mostly Earth tech inside a shell of scavenged alien armor.