There is a school of thought that supposes that part of the appeal of Humongous Mecha
is... well, being humongous. A giant robot fight in the middle of a city or far above the earth allows for martial arts action coupled with lots of crazy weaponry
, and plenty of property damage
. However, now that the show's winding down and all the opponents are either dead or good
, the Big Bad Eldritch Abomination
or Sufficiently Advanced Alien
of the day has shown up, and... well, it's kind of extra
humongous. What's the solution?
Well, heroes are always cooler when you put them in giant robots, and your average giant robot is itself a hero, only fifty feet tall and metal, so...
This is basically what happens when you take this to its natural conclusion: a mecha which itself is riding in an even bigger mecha, or at least a mech-sized suit of Powered Armor
. Sometimes there's a valid reason for this, but it's always at least part Rule of Cool
Compare with Combining Mecha
and the Mecha Expansion Pack
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Anime and Manga
- The Ur Example is the Gordian, from the show of the same name, a dude inside a Motion Capture Mecha inside a Motion Capture Mecha inside another Motion Capture Mecha. The design was later reused with some modifications as Vi-Kungfu from Machine Robo: Revenge of Chronos, but with one less mecha.
- In Super Robot Retsuden -a Ken Ishikawa Affectionate Parody / Crossover- of several Go Nagai Mecha Shows, Mazinger Z, Great Mazinger, UFO Robo Grendizer, Getter Robo G AND Kotetsu Jeeg rode a ridiculously, impossibly, massively huge Transforming Mecha in the Final Battle.
- Gundam SEED Astray, as well. Initially, when Lowe makes the 150 Gabera Straight (which, by the way, re-redefines the BFS - it's an orbital katana 150 meters long), he has to put his Astray Red Frame into a Junk Guild Power Loader (pictured above) just to swing it.
- Gundam 00 has a surprise somewhere in the middle season: the Mighty Glacier Gundam Virtue is revealed to be just a Powered Armor of a smaller Fragile Speedster, Gundam Nadleeh. Dropping Virtue's armor off enables Nadleeh's pilot to play Judge, Jury, and Executioner on his teammates if he's dissatisfied with them.
- Season 2 has the same in the form of the Seravee Gundam carrying the smaller Seraphim Gundam folded up on it's back. Or to be more exact, the two have the same cockpit but Seraphim is facing backwards (though it doesn't need the cockpit to operate; Seravee can launch and remote-control it). Unlike Nadleeh, Seraphim doesn't need to drop Seravee off piece by piece; it can simply eject and unfold. The Mobile Suit Variations line introduces an alternate version of Seravee that carries three weaker versions of Seraphim.
- Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann has the Space Gunmen, which are essentially up-scaled Gunmen capable of fighting and moving in space and piloted by regular Gunmen, which are then piloted by humans.
- The show practically runs on this trope (In addition to the standard Hot-Blooded fare and universe-powering Rule of Cool) as it's essentially the major signature power of the Lagann - a smaller head-shaped robot compared to the standard Gunmen, it can drill itself into larger robots and take command of them. So, really. In the end, we have a human piloting a robot about the size of a human co-piloting a mech the size of a building piloting a robot the size of an entire city, piloting a robot the size of the MOON, co-piloting a robot who is measured in light-years.
- And then they proceeded to break the barrier AGAIN in the expanded final battle in the compilation movie, by giving every member of the Dai-Gurren a Tengen Toppa mecha of their own, which combine into Super Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, which is the size of the universe and looks a lot like Kamina.
- Bubblegum Crisis had the Motoslaves, Cool Bikes that transformed into Powered Armor for the Knight Sabers' Powered Armor.
- Getter Robo has the awesome-slash-terrifying ability to crash into any material, including organic masses and then reform them around itself into a larger Getter with the original buried in the center.
- Martian Successor Nadesico has the Black Selena, a mecha inside a mecha inside a ship.
- Code Geass: So, your resident Orange has just pledged his allegiance to your cause out of LOYALTY to your family? Now, we just need to give him a good custom mech, hmm... Hey, I've got it! Let's take the original Sutherland frame he piloted in the early series, and make it into the central core unit of the rebuilt Siegfried he became famous for at the end of the last season! Ladies and Gentlemen, I present - for your humble consideration - the
STORM OF LOYALTY Sutherland Sieg! Basically, Jeremiah controlled the Siegfried through the core Sutherland Unit, which was itself outfitted with the Siegfried's telepathic controls (Rakshata is mentioned as being "disappointed" that the system isn't feasible for mass-production). When the Siegfried is destroyed, the Sutherland unit activates and comes into play. And it. Is. AWESOME.
- Guyver has the Guyver Gigantic, which is this trope applied to Organic Technology Powered Armour.
- Heroman gets powered armor near the end of the series.
- In Machine Robo: Revenge Of Cronos, hero Rom Stol can pilot a giant mecha named Kenryu.... and generally gets a sound butt whupping before summoning a giant mecha for Kenryu to operate, Vikungfu.
- In a directly-related example, the designs of Rom, Kenryu and Vikungfu were retooled from the designs of the protagonist of an older anime/toyline, Gordian Warrior, in which the human-sized robot Protteser, who would hop into the larger mecha Delinger, who would then hop into the largest mecha Garbin.
- Captain Earth combines this with Mecha Expansion Pack; to intercept a Kiltgang, the "Ordinary" version of the Earth Engine is jetted up into space via shuttle, then passed through three orbital stations where the larger main mecha is assembled in stages around it. The later Nebula and Flare Engines work the same way.
- In God Mars, whenever using Gaia isn't enough (which is often), it can get inside the God Robot Sphinx before combining with the other five to form the eponymous giant robot. Gaia does need the extra protection, though, since it's equipped with a world-destroying bomb.
- In Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn (at least in the OVA) the MSN-06S Sinanju becomes the core of the massive mobile armor NZ-999 Neo Zeong in final episode.
- Many of Iron Man's special suits are designed to be piloted by Tony while wearing his regular suit, like the Hulkbuster suits.
Live Action TV
- The Mekton Plus expansion from Mekton Zeta has this as one of many, many options for its mecha. Of course, that expansion is basically rules for every giant robot trope in history, from transforming, to gattai-ing, to organic ones, so this should hardly be seen as a surprise.
- In Warhammer 40,000, the Space Marines have two different takes on this:
- The Grey Knight Nemesis Dreadknight is an open-bodied mecha piloted by a Grey Knight in a manner similar to the powerloader from Aliens or the mechas from The Matrix Revolutions. It packs an enormous amount of firepower and is intended to fight Greater Daemons of Chaos. The fanbase is rather torn on whether they are cool or silly-looking; it's been referred to as baby carrier◊.
- The latest Space Marine codex introduced Centurion armour, which is essentially a huge, unwieldy suit of Power Armor wrapped around the pilot's normal Power Armor and loaded down with either terrifying amounts of firepower or tank-shredding drills with built-in flamethrowers.
- Exalted has Warstriders, magitek superweapons which vary between giant powered armors to castle-sized war machines. Exalted also has the Alchemical Exalted — mechanical demigods with heroic mortal souls, empowered by a titan's Essence. Nothing stops Alchemicals from riding Warstriders... This is actually rather likely, considering the mechanical nature of the Alchemicals' world.
- The -Super Dimensional Gear Yggdrasil IV- in Xenogears plays this trope with an extra layer. You have a giant robot so colossal that it holds, in its hands, an enormous aerial pirate ship, which itself is so colossal that it has a hanger full of building-sized mechs!
- The Huckebein Mk III from Super Robot Wars Alpha is able to equip a suit of Powered Armor called the Boxer Frame. The frame can also detach and transform into a flying surfboard, just for the hell of it.
- Surfsword, actually. It was constructed from an incomplete mech intended to become a sword for the SRX.
- The final battle in Metal Wolf Chaos has Richard Hawk's Mini-Mecha climbing into a larger, more powerful quadrupedal mecha.
- The EXTREME Gundam in Gundam Extreme Vs. uses this: the main mobile suit pilots a larger frame that carries most of its weaponry. It has three of these frames: Carnage (Lots Of Explosions), Ignis (Beam Spam), and Tachyon (BFS). Full Boost added a fourth, the centaur-like Mystic Phase, which is something of a balance of the other three.
- MechWarrior Living Legends, has this for the sake of gameplay. When a player ejects from a BattleMech, he goes flying into the sky in a full suit of Elemental or Longinus Battlearmor, where he can then engage players on foot. The rest of the series does not feature this (nor is it in the source material, BattleTech), as the eject button in previous games was essentially the suicide button.
- Fortress Maximus, of Transformers Generation 1. A Headmaster, he was too big for a human to transform into his head. Spike was given Headmaster armor so he can become the head of a normal-sized Transformer named Cerebros. Cerebros in turn turned into Fort Max's head.
- Headmasters in general are this, being small robots that transform into the heads for bigger ones. Some of them appear in later toylines.
- That varies according to the storyline used. For example, the Western Transformers canon, the Headmasters were organic aliens who wore exo-suits allowing them to transform into the robots' heads. The Japanese Headmasters series (taking place after "The Return of Optimus Prime" but ignoring the Grand Finale three-parter, "The Rebirth") had them as a separate race of (human-sized) robots who built Transformer-sized exo-suits called Transtectors to better interact with the Autobots. There were also Headmaster Juniors, which were humans who donned Transformer-like armor.
- There were also "Powermasters", humans in armor (or smaller robots, depending on the continuity) that became the engine for their larger partners.
- Ultra Magnus's original toy is essentially the Optimus Prime figure in white, sitting inside a massive, fully-humanoid robot made of the truck's trailer. The Dreamwave continuity featured this, and IDW had a somewhat roundabout take: Ultra Magnus is a Legacy Character, whose armor is passed to certain Cybertronians with powerful enough sparks to bear it without strain. The current Magnus takes it a step further: under the Magnus armor, he's normal-sized, but the normal-sized body is actually one of these for his true body, which comes up to Rodimus's waist.
- Transformers Victory features the Brainmasters, which are small robots that turn into the faces of larger robots. Saber then gets extra stuff on him to become Star Saber, and later combines with Victory Leo to become Victory Saber.
- Transformers Animated, the Autobots' ship transforms in to a huge mecha called Omega Supreme. He has a mind of his own and an interior control console, so it's hard to say how much control the pilot has.
- It's given more detail in the third season: Omega Supreme's programming was rather simplistic so he needed a second Autobot to pilot and guide him.
- To elaborate: he's programming is pretty much "kill everything that you are told". So second Autobot is needed to identify targets...
- This seems to be series tradition for Omega Supreme, the toy of the Energon has a head that can turn into a small robot itself. (The plug for it doubles as a spare, comically tiny head.)
- The Men In Black Animated Adaptation had some aliens which used Mobile Suit Humans and one race so small they piloted mechs of the first species to pilot the human suits.
- The first episode of Megas XLR presents the ultimate weapon of the Glorft: the UMD, a Combining Mecha made up of Combining Mecha that were already made up of full-sized Humongous Mecha. In short, it flicks Megas away with its finger.