The future has shone upon us with its glorious brilliance...
In a future yet to be, the third energy revolution is ushered in by the invention of the Shizuma Drive, and with it, mankind celebrates a new era of prosperity.
But lurking in the shadows cast by the brilliance of our new found hope, two great powers clash!
Big Fire; a secret organization bent on total world domination!
"Hail, Big Fire! Allegiance or death!"
But despair not! To defend us from the threat they pose, the International Police Organization's mighty Experts of Justice have been formed, comprised of members from around the globe! Fighting by their side is the greatest robot on the planet, Giant Robo, commanded solely by one young man: Daisaku Kusama!
"Crush them! Go, Giant Robo!"
Giant Robo is one of the oldest franchises in Japanese comics. It first appeared as a manga by Mitsuteru Yokoyama that ran for nearly a year from 1967 and 1968. It was adapted into a live-action Toku series that same year, and the show gained a mild cult following when it was aired in the US as Johnny Sokko and His Flying Robot.But history be damned, when somebody mentions Giant Robo today, they're not thinking of either of those. They're thinking of Giant Robo The Animation: The Day The Earth Stood Still, one of the greatest - or at least the most completely insane - works to come out of the anime industry in the last 20 years.An (unholy) amalgamation of Wuxia, Superheroes, Richard Wagner, Mecha Anime and pure insanity, Giant Robo: The Day The Earth Stood Still is notable for being an early and rather impressive example of the Massive Multiplayer Crossover, formed when director Yasuhiro ("G Gundam") Imagawa was told that he couldn't use any of the supporting characters from the manga or TV versions of the Giant Robo story. Struck by inspiration, he instead decided to instead take characters from the rest of original creator Mitsuteru Yokoyama's work, including Babel II, Sally the Witch, Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Akakage and many others. To add to the effect he decided to draw them all in Yokoyama's classic 1960s style, along with a retro-futuristic world set in an alternate 1920s populated by Ninja, ancient Chinese warriors, Sharp Suited Businessmen and Badass Longcoats walking side by side.Amazingly, it works.Oh and don't pay any attention to the synopsis above, or let the art style and Kid Herofool you into thinking this is a kids' series in the vein of G.I. Joe or M.A.S.K.. Giant Robo's plot starts off slow and deceptively cliché-ridden, with a blatant Mad Scientist and McGuffin driving the first half of the plot, and then we get the Wham Episode, rewriting the entire premise, beating the snot out of the good guys and resulting in several major characters getting Killed Off for Real. It's not the first, or even the most dramatic.A new anime, GR: Giant Robo, premiered in 2007 to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the original manga; however, it was not related to the OVA series, and many fans considered it a disappointment.On the brighter side, Imagawa also scripted a new Giant Robo manga, "The Day The Earth Burned" that started publication in 2006. While this version is also an Alternate Continuity, it does act as a Spiritual Successor to the OVAs, with the same tone and many of the same characters. The original manga has also recently become available on most major manga websites.See also: Shin Mazinger, another great Super Robot series by Yasuhiro Imagawa. Like Giant Robo, it is a revival of a classic series and involves heavy crossover from the original artist's entire body of work.
A series that LOVES its tropes, twisting them and playing them straight with the same vigor, the Giant RoboOVA features examples of:
Action Bomb: Silent Chuujo, apparently. As the Sphere floats towards the last Shizuma Drive bastion, there's Chuujo on a bluff. He loosens his tie and shirt, takes a few practice jabs, then flies up to punch the Sphere. That dialogue in episode 2 makes far more sense when you know this.
Broken Pedestal: Zigzags with Vogler to one of his assistants. It goes back-and-forth at least 5 times, finally resulting in subversion. Vogler really meant for the best for the world.
The Brute: In the BF there's Jujoji who has some devastating magic powers. The Fabulous Fitzgerald loves to carve up people with his snapping fingers.
The Call Has Bad Reception: Dr. Vogler had good intentions. Originally, his son had good intentions. The only problem was that by the time Dr. Vogler tells his son what needed to be done, he didn't have a very good vocabulary...
Canon Immigrant: When Tetsujin #28 was remade in 2004, the Murasame Kenji that appears there isn't the original characterization - it's this one. He even calls himself "the immortal Murasame Kenji" just before going down in a hail of bullets and encouraging Shotaro... then getting up and wiping off the ketchup. Additionally, Tetsujin uses Robo's growl rather than its original sound.
Cool Old Guy: One of Big Fire's Magnificent Ten is actually called Old Man Kawarazaki. His fellow Magnificent Ten colleague Shocking Alberto also has a lot of the traits, exchanging taunts with the early twenties Big Bad over their respective ages.
Death Is Cheap: It is very cheap for Murasame Kenji, since he just revives despite several violent deaths, and since he can apparently do so in an area he couldn't get to corporeally, it's part of his strategy. He even shoots himself in the head to drive home the point, noting that he "can't die."
Empire with a Dark Secret: In Giant Robo: The Day The Earth Stood Still, the Shizuma Drive, which provides clean, cheap energy, is completely recyclable and looks cool too was built upon a foundation of the deaths of billions at the Tragedy of Bashtarle. A little Locked Out of the Loop as well, seeing as Daisaku's the only character (except maybe Sunny) who doesn't know — it's just that we only find out when he does.
Enemy Mine: Shocking Alberto in the Finale, as he considers the IPO a Worthy Opponent and the Big Bad an annoying, grandstanding brat trying to steal Big Fire's thunder.
Evil Counterpart: It seems that was going to be the case between Daisuke and Big Fire. One in charge of a giant robot, the other having three amazing guardians. Both very young. Though we don't know just how evil Big Fire really was.
Big Fire (Babel II/Koichi Yamano), Achilles (Lodem), Garuda (Ropross), and Neptune (Poseidon) were originally created for Babel II. Also, Chujo the Silent, Cervantes, and Fitzgerald were modeled after various characters in the series.
Likewise, Alberto the Impact was based on a character in Mars.
Haunted Technology: Giant Robo appears to contain Professor Kusama's spirit/will, as hinted at throughout the series and seen in the last episode.
Hidden Depths: Many characters like Daisaku, Tesugyu, Ginrei, and others. Really the entire OVA series itself as it first looks like a typical giant robot series.
Humongous Mecha: In the main OVA, Robo and the Big Fire robots are of the more old-school, "vaguely sentient yet highly suggestible and obedient" variety, while the Ginrei Robo and neo Tetsujin-28 are more modern, directly piloted versions.
I Love Nuclear Power: Somewhat averted - it doesn't get significant screen time, but pretty much everybody who's around is shocked and aghast when it is revealed that Giant Robo is nuclear powered. This is ultimately the reason Robo is able to fight against Genya in the first place, because he isn't powered by Shizuma drives.
Implacable Man: The silent, armored Ko-Enshaku fills this role for the bad guys, enigmatically surviving everything thrown at him before turning up unharmed the next episode. The good guys on the other hand have Murasame, whose tendency to survive getting gaping holes blown through him becomes almost comical as the series goes on.
Irony: The Big Bad's plot to destroy the world technically succeeded, but wound up saving the world. Von Volger had tried to eliminate the new energy source because it was producing an undetectable poison gas that would wipe out all life on the planet after a certain point in time. The Eye of Volger was temporarily shutting down all of the energy cores in order to fix the poison gas problem.
I Want Them Alive: Happens in the last episode to Daisaku. He manages to get away and make it to Robo though.
Karma Houdini: Cho-Katsu Komei gets away with everything, despite arrogantly declaring himself The Chessmaster and having none of the sympathetic motives of his fellow Big Bad. As a result he generally has a very poor survival rate in fan continuations.
The Kid with the Remote Control: Subverted, slightly. Robo has its own will apparently that of Dr. Kusama and usually only follows the general gist of the commands.
Example from the last episode, at the Monster Sphere: "Shoot, Robo!" *Robo fires everything it has, plus one of its booster rockets*
Mad Scientist: Dr Von Vogler who eventually turns out to be a kindhearted and inspirational man who for PR reasons was blamed for the disaster one of the other scientists caused. After all, as far as anyone knew, he had died in said disaster and couldn't say any different!
Mooks: Made an art form. The basic IPO mooks at one point spontaneously form a human pyramid in order to block an energy blast.
Mook Maker: To a degree, Doki, who commands a whole army of warriors instead of general BF mooks.
More Dakka: Giant Robo carries enough firepower to wipe a couple of cities off the map.
My God, What Have I Done?: Genya, when he realizes that he horribly misunderstood his father's last wish and even killed his sister as a result.
New Era Speech: Dr. Von Vogler's speech during the first flashback to the Tragedy of Bashtarlle (the one repeated as the Cold Open of the second episode):
Dr. Fogler: The future has shone upon us with its glorious brilliance! The time to seize our destiny and conquer all our fears is now! In ancient times, man rubbed sticks together to create fire. Then he slaughtered the whale and battled one another for oil. After that came the atomic age. In every chapter of our history, we danced with danger. But now it will be different. For the first time in our existence, we will be delivered from fear!! Finally, we will escape the prison of our delusions, and the Beautiful Nightwill embrace us all!
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Averted! Just barely, though. In the final episode you find out that the Shizuma drives were actually creating a poisonous gas that would have destroyed all life on earth within days of the events that make up the series. The anti-drive was actually created in order to eliminate this threat before it destroyed all known life. All of the "normal" drives would have reactivated once all of the anti-drives had been activated at once, modified to correct the flaw. At the last minute, despite the heroes' efforts all of the anti-drives were activated, thus saving the world.
Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: It turns out that when the three anti-drives are together they fixed the 2% problem or else they all would have exploded.
Ninja: "Mask the Red" of Big Fire's Magnificent Ten.
No Indoor Voice: Everyone, especially as everything goes to hell. The dialogue of the final episode consists of nothing but EPIC SPEECH!
And Daisaku and Tetsugyu the latter saw Daisaku's expression when he damaged Robo's arm. The same feeling of pain as when Tesugyu slew his own father.
Oh, Crap: Genya when Alberto absorbs the heat energy from the sphere leaving it completely vulnerable to attack from Giant Robo. The look on his face as Robo prepares to launch one of its rocket boosters as a missile is particularly priceless.
Omake/Filler: The three Ginrei SpecialOVAs, ranging from a reasonably well-executed prequel Side Story to pure animated Crack Fic, were created to maintain interest and raise funds during the main OVA's production delays.
Crossdresser: Somehow, "Ginrei the Mighty" comes up with an excuse to have all the Experts wearing Ginrei's trademark Chinese mini-dress. Also, the first Ginrei OVA has Murasame completely disguised as Ginrei for most of the episode.
Once More with Clarity: The story behind the Tragedy of Bashtarle changes multiple times over the course of the OVA.
Overclocking Attack: this is what the Monster Sphere actually does to the Shizuma drives. Except the resulting energy can be harnessed...
Papa Wolf: Giant Robo has a Auto-Guard Circuit allowing it to activate and act of its own will when its controller's life (sensed through the wristwatch) is in danger. Robo breaks out of its maintenance dock and takes off for Daisaku (who doesn't seem to be aware of it) the first time, where it's noted that Robo was running at 50 times its usual power.
Subverted slightly, when Robo crashes into an unbreakable barrier - it can't control its output while in full-on Papa Wolf mode, and runs the risk of melting down if allowed to continue for too long.
Pet the Dog: The scene in the 5th OVA where Genya comforts a delirious Daisaku and then learning about his motivation for revenge. Also Ivan mentioning how his home was destroyed from the Bashtorle disaster.
The Plan: Cho-Katsu Komei claims several times that he is pulling one of these off, though it is left ambiguous whether this is actually true.
Real Men Wear Pink: Murasame's overcoat and Hanzui's cape. Are you dumb enough to mock them?
Roof Hopping: You know an organization is bad ass when all of its support staff / engineering mooks can roof hop onto a zeppelin to clear off before an attack. No really, Daisaku is the only normal human in the show.
Rule of Cool: How else do you explain a mecha anime with supernatural kung-fu fighters and a Wagnerian soundtrack?
Shaggy Dog Story: What it kind of boils down too when the three anti-drives are together at long last. A shame that the IPO were so good at their job. Even sadder that if Genya hadn't shot Ginrei then humanity would have been wiped out.
Shotacon: It's... it's really, really, really easy to see subtext along these lines between Ginrei and Daisaku.
GR-2 sure seems like an antagonist Mazinger. Over sized lower jaw and rocket fists. One of the robos to appear several times in the opening appears to be an evil Getter 1.
Super Robot/Real Robot: The robots stray the line. They are considered powerful enough that, even with World of Badass in play, no one wants to fight Robo one-on-one without a heavily stacked deck; on the other hand the organizational and maintenance issues they'd require is fleshed out and clearly just this side of 'impractical'. They're superweapons, and unless they're specifically built to take a hit the hand-to-hand fights don't last very long - take the complex snake-train robot being paralyzed after one hit in the first episode, for example.
Terminally Dependent Society: All the world depends on the Shizuma Drive. When it is destroyed, everything else is. The only oil refinery left is at Shangai, and then it's destroyed too; there's some solar and wind power left, but not much. The world ends in ten days.
World of Ham: This series's universe seems to work purely ON HAM!!!
Worthy Opponent: Big Fire considers the IPO to be one of these, and at least a few of the good guys feel the same. Also Alberto the Shockwave's entire reason for faking his own death.
Wrecked Weapon: Daisaku orders an extremely unwise attack on the Eye of Volger during the Wham Episode, resulting in Giant Robo getting itself seriously damaged. Cue an Oh, Crap reaction from just about every single good guy on the field.
Transformation Is a Free Action: Played painfully straight — before he performs any attack, Giant Robo has to first go through a variety of stances, yet remains unmolested by the Monster of the Week. This is most evident during Robo's missile attack, which features Stock Footage of him swinging his forearms side-to-side and up-and-down, then holding out his hands while missiles sprout from his fingertips... all while the monster waits for the routine to finish.
And the second manga "The Day the Earth Burned" includes examples of...
Black and Gray Morality: The BF group are terrorists, the IPO are only a little nicer Smug Snakes. Daisaku and Fei Long's splinter group are the only nice people it seems.
Call Back: A lot of robots that appeared in the opening finally get names or even return. The fifth robo that appeared in each opening is Gaia. And the black pointed one strolling through the city is Big Ox. And others.