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So You Want To: Write A Humongous Mecha Anime

Necessary Tropes

  • Humongous Mecha - This one is pretty obvious, although you can use Mini-Mecha instead.
  • Applied Phlebotinum - You need some form of explanation for why they're using giant humanoid robots/golems/biomechs instead of tanks and planes. It can range from "Getter Rays need a human form!" to "They're magical" and even more 'realistic' explanations such as Gundam's "Humanoid robots can turn around in space without wasting fuel". Careful with making these mecha more specialized - they may slide out of your series' focus.
  • Rule of Cool - Even most Real Robot shows operates on this, because if it were any more real, it'd just be using tanks instead.
  • Big Red Button - No mecha series is complete without one.

Choices, Choices

Pitfalls

  • Falling into the Cockpit can be done correctly, but sometimes it'll just come off as totally lame. It's a borderline Dead Horse Trope. Super Robot shows tend to try to justify it and Real Robot shows tend to avoid it.
  • Follow the Leader - As successful as Evangelion, Gundam, Macross, Getter Robo, etc. were, don't make the mistake of aping elements from them left and right. Originality is a nice thing to have.
  • Lensman Arms Race - If you're doing a staunchly Real Robot setting, don't pull this. This will probably just confuse your fans. In Super Robot, go right ahead... just do it right.
  • Gainax Ending - Goes without saying.
  • Square/Cube Law: A 50-foot tall robot will more than likely crunch! under it's own weight, and normal vehicles can outmaneuver them very easily. How will you get around this?
  • Conspicuous CG: CGI will help you get the most out of your budget and can produce some impressive visual effects, but screw it up and the entire project will look half-assed.

Potential Subversions

Writers' Lounge

Suggested Themes and Aesops

Potential Motifs

Suggested Plots

Departments

Set Designer / Location Scout

Props Department

Costume Designer

Casting Director

Stunt Department

Extra Credit

The Greats

The Epic Fails

  • Gundam SEED Destiny: This installment is notorious for its huge hatedom. If anything, it's greatest failure(s) seem to lie in the fact that all too often, personal conflicts between cast and crew would spill over into the story itself. Whether you like this series or not, don't let this happen.
  • Gundam AGE: While having an ambitious plot can help your series stand out, this show proves that ambition can become a wash if you do not have competent writers in your writing staff. Thanks to its rushed and/or poorly-developed plot-lines and characters, AGE became the worst received (and rated) Gundam installment yet. Moreover, Kio Asuno is a prime example of how not to write a Technical Pacifist into your story.
  • Martian Successor Nadesico: The Prince of Darkness shows how not to do a movie sequel. Its problems lie mainly in an overly abrupt shift in tone and characterization and poor pacing throughout. Much of this stems from the fact that it was a planned trilogy cut to one movie, so if you're planning on multiple movies make sure you have a good sense of what plot points are most important, just in case. Aside from that, know why people like your story and characters and don't lose that.
  • Zeorymer. The manga never seems to realize that the Designated Hero is possibly one of the only instances where the Wangst-ridden Extreme Doormat personality is actually more likeable than his "badass" self. The anime, on the other hand, fails to effectively communicate how the villains' Fatal Flaws bring them down, which makes the robot look invincible and boring.
  • Astro Plan, for being a ripoff of the most shameless order.
  • Candidate for Goddess / Pilot Candidate shows us why blatantly ripping off other mecha, such as Evangelion, and providing a weak Gecko Ending can be very, very bad for your show.
  • Super Dimension Cavalry Southern Cross is not really spectacularly bad so much as uninteresting to the point of being a cure for insomnia. Reportedly, the Japanese reaction to the "Southern Cross" segment of Robotech was along the lines of "How the hell did they make Southern Cross watchable?"
  • Space Thunder Kids shows us all why having a plot is important. Battle scenes are all well and good, but they have to be meaningful. Don't just use Stuff Blowing Up to pad a thin script. Also, Plagiarism is bad.
  • BattleTech's animated cartoon was an attempt to take a popular video game and tabletop wargame franchise and bring it to television. Unfortunately, an astounding lack of research and clumsily rendered animations led to mediocre results at best. Be mindful of your setting and prior fan expectations if you're going to do an Animated Adaptation or similar derivative work.

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