Chōdenji Robo Combattler V (Chōdenji Robo Konbatorā Bui) is the first part of the Robot Romance Trilogy of Super Robot series created by "Saburo Yatsude" and directed by Tadao Nagahama (the next ones being Voltes V and Daimos). The robot's name is a portmanteau of Combine, Combat and Battle, and the V is intended both as an abbreviation for "victory" and in reference to the five component machines that form the robot, as well as its five pilots. The V is proununced as the letter V, whereas in the follow-up series, Voltes V, it is prounounced "5".
The series (along with the later two shows) was created by Saburo Yatsude, who would later go on to create GoLion (best familiar to American viewers as the "Lion Force" half of Voltron). "Saburo Yatsude" is not a real person, but a pseudonym which refers to the collective staff at Toei (the main office, rather than the animation studio; the series was animated by Nippon Sunrise and produced by Toei Co. Ltd).
Thousands of years ago, the people of the planet Campbell decided to leave their planet and seek out new worlds to inhabit. One group, lead by the scientist Oreana, landed on Earth, but was delayed from their mission. In the early 21st century, Oreana's group reawakens and begins their plan to conquer the Earth.
The only effective defense against the Campbellians' giant bio-mechanical slave beasts is the super-electromagnetic robot, Combattler V and its pilots. The robot creator, Professor Nanbara, however, only had one pilot ready; his granddaughter Chizuru. Hence, with the authority granted from the UN, he called forth three teenagers and one pre-teen boy with different backgrounds; street racer Hyouma Aoi, Olympic marksman Juzo Naniwa, judoka Daisaku Ishikawa and boy genius Kosuke Kita. Together with Chizuru, the team must learn to combine their mind and strength to effectively pilot Combattler V and defend Earth.
The entire series follows the then-standard Monster of the Week format, with the first season featuring Oreana's protege General Garuda sending various mecha to defeat Combattler V. His tactics range from brute force to cunningness and taking hostages. At one point he even duels Hyouma in a sword fight with their feet chained together. As the series moves on, his trust for Oreana lessens. Garuda eventually discovers that he is in fact a cyborg after chancing on a room containing numerous failed attempts at creating him. In the final episode of the first season, he defeats Oreana, and then duels Combattler V, which eventually leads to his defeat.
The second season features Empress Janera and her generals Dungele and Warchimedes. Eventually, the entire base of the Campbellian empress is deployed, and only through the help of the airborne Nanbara Connection Base is Combattler V able to destroy it. However, Janera manages to deploy an Earth Bomb which is supposed to destroy the Earth. Notably, the team is not dispirited, but are quite calm and instead happy for having the chance to fight to protect Earth. Just as it looks as though Earth will be destroyed, the "true" leader of the Campbellians, Deus, riding in a golden wagon, informs the team of the coup d'etat at Campbell, and stops the bomb seconds before it reaches the Earth.
The series was brought over to the US in a fashion... As part of a toyline called Shogun Warriors that also included other super Robots such as Raideen and Great Mazinger In 1979 Marvel Comics licensed it as part of the 20-part miniseries Shogun Warriors, along with Raideen and Planet Robo Danguard Ace, under the name Combattra. One of the latter issues in the series even featured the standard "Heroic misunderstanding" with the Fantastic Four.
In 2020, the show is airing on Toei's official Youtube channel in an effort to promote the show outside of its fanbase with English subtitles.
Combattler V' provides examples of:
- Accidental Pervert: In episode 16, a kid called Kotaro sneaks in the base and accidentally walks in on Chizuru when she's taking a shower.
- Airborne Aircraft Carrier: Graydon, Garuda's personal aircraft, which used slave monster production, missiles from its top, levitation, even underwater, an underside tractor beam, teleportation, a buzzsaw hidden in one of its six wings, and a pink heat ray; Bromber, Warchamides' attack saucer which had the aforementioned levitation and tractor beam, yellow eye lasers, and missile launchers at the midsection; and Santomagma, Empress Janera's warship used in the final episode. It was heavily armour-plated and its capabilities included creating tornadoes from its underside, firing spike missiles from the carapace, a flamethrower mounted in its mouth, freezing wind from its front and side mouths, detachable front and side heads, fangs strong enough to break Combattler's weapons, and laser beam bolts from all four heads.
- Always Chaotic Evil: For a while it seemed the trope was being played straight, but it was ultimately averted. The Campbellians that were attacking Earth were not representative of the entire race, but a rebel faction led by leaders constantly indoctrinating their troops into believing it's HUMANS who are Always Chaotic Evil. For the most part, the Campbellians were not presented as evil or harbouring ill will towards humans, and actually at the end Deus, the Campbellians' true leader, came to Earth to stop Big Bad Empress Janera personally, and vowed he would help to rebuild what Janera destroyed of Earth.
- Artificial Limbs: Hyoma Aoi got replacement arms after Garuda shot his original arms off. Unlike from other examples of this trope, they did not grant him super-strength and they did not work perfectly at all. Several times they stopped working momentarily in very inopportune moments (such like when he was driving his car or fighting in his Humongous Mecha).
- Artistic License Biology: Lampshaded in episode 9. The main characters are studying a strange giant egg. A X ray scanner reveals a four-legged animal inside it. The next conversation follows:Hyoma:: Looks like a horse.
Juuzo: Idiot, that's a goat!
Chizuru: You're both idiots. Horses and goats don't hatch out of eggs!
- Beehive Barrier: The Nanbara Connection was protected by one, and it was pretty sturdy. Some of Garuda's schemes involved infiltrating one of his agents in the base in order to turn it off.
- Berserk Button: Hyoma lost his parents when he was barely a toddler. Kill one child (even if it is an animal cub) or leave him/her/it parentless, and he will go nuts before beating the crap out of you.
- Big Bad: Oreana, followed by Empress Janera.
- Bifurcated Weapon: Twin Lancer!. Used in the second half of the series, Combatter V can release a blade in each shoulder to form a lance.
- Bring It Back Alive: Tragically played with. In episode 10 Dr. Yotsuya and the team are studying an unknown creature hatched from a giant egg mysteryously appeared on the city. When the strange animal gets upset, it escapes its containment and starts to cause havoc, and Juuzo wants to shoot it down instantly, much to the displeasure of Doctor Yotsuya that wants to study it and to the anger of Hyoma that is Conveniently an Orphan who Wouldn't Hurt a Child. Unfortunately, Juzo manages to kill it before they can stop him... which is exactly what The Dragon wanted.
- Butt-Monkey: Kinta and Chie Ichinoki. The Campbellian side, for their part, has General Dungele.
- Chainsaw Good Atomic Chainsaw. Combattler V can launch tank treads on back armed with spikes.
- Calling Your Attacks: And how. This show is more than thirty years old, yet the fully upgraded Combattler is still the mech with the biggest number of different attacks in history.
- Car Fu: Gran Light Wave Rail, Fire! Grandasher!. First used in episode 26, Combattler V can form a tangible energy trail from its chest, turn into a tank-like vehicle and ram down opponents.
- Combining Mecha: The first one that tried a -sort of- realistic combination.
- Deflector Shields: The Nanbara Connection was protected with a semi-spherical energy shield. Most Robeasts had a hard work breaking it, so The Dragon came up with plans to infiltrate the place and disable it.
- The Determinator: Hyoma. What if Garuda shot his arms off? What if he is ill and dying? He'll still get on the Battle Jet and kick butt!
- Deus ex Machina: If it wasn't for Deus stopping Janera's bomb in the last minutes before the Combattler Team do, the series would've been plunged straight into at best Bittersweet Ending.
- Drill Tank: Battle Craft, one of the modules that shape Combattler's body.
- Drives Like Crazy: Hyoma Aoi. He is not a lousy driver but a Badass Biker, but he likes having a bit too much fun as he drives. In his first appearance, he caused a traffic accident because he broke the speed limit and several patrol cars were trying to catch him. All of his chasers crashed into each other, but of course, he avoided crashing.
- Eenie, Meenie, Miny Moai: Robots (called Dormane) shaped like these are used to defend Oreana's island stronghold in the climactic showdown against her forces.
- Energy Weapon: V Laser. Used in the second half of the series, Combattler V can release purple energy Vs from the V on its forehead.
- Expository Theme Tune: Its song names several of the weapons it has ("Choudenji YOYO! Choudenji TA-TSU-MA-KI!!choudenji SPIN!!") while showing them on screen.
- Eye Beams: Combattler itself didn't have them, but several Slave Beasts did. A good example is Kiira from episode 9.
- Falling into the Cockpit: An interesting instance. In the first episode, the team handles the vehicles forming Combattler reasonably well, in spite of neither of them -but Chizuru- had seen them before or got pilot training. However it was later revealed there are computers located in their helmets help them to handle their vehicles by giving instructions. However, in a later episode, a young boy sneaked into the Nanbara Connection, heard about the helmets, stole Hyoma's helmet thinking he also would be able pilot Combattler, and... almost got killed.
- Five-Man Band: The first example (and most imitated) in a robot series:
- Flying Brick: The mecha equivalent ("It's not 57 meters and 550 tons for nothing!")
- Greater-Scope Villain: Empress Janera is the power behind Oreana and her son General Garuda and the eventual foe of the Combattler Team.
- Half-Human Hybrid: Garuda.
- Home Base: The Nanbara Connection, located in the coastline and protected by a Beehive Barrier.
- If It Swims, It Flies: The Battle Marine, one of the machines that forms the body of the Humongous Mecha -to be specific, the legs- is able to swim and fly -and it also carries around the Battle Tank, which cannot fly on its own).
- Kangaroo Court: In one episode of the first season, the Campbellians built a Robeast disguised as Combattler and caused havoc with it. Professor Yotsuya and the Combattler team were put under arrest and judged nearly instantly, and during the proceeding it was painfully obvious the minds of the courts were already made and the Combattler team wouldn't be given a fair hearing.
- Kansai Regional Accent: Two members speak with country-style accent: Juzo and Daisaku.
- Killer Yo-Yo: Super Electromagnetic (Chodenji) Yo-Yo!.. Combattler V can release from the arms a pair of powerful yo-yos that are each equipped with a powerful buzzsaw.
- Latex Space Suit: All of the pilot suits.
- Leader Forms the Head: Hyoma is the team's leader. Guess what body part his jet forms. No, seriously. Take a guess.
- Macross Missile Massacre/Recursive Ammo: Big Blast Divider!. Used in the second half of the series, Combattler V can release a giant blue rocket from its stomach. In this version, the rocket can also split into dozens of cluster missiles.
- The Man Behind the Man: After the first season it was revealed that Oreana was working for Empress Janera.
- Mentor Occupational Hazard: Professor Nanbara. He built Combattler, recruited four young teens and his granddaughter, taught them to handle the robot... and shortly after he died.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Juzo in episode 10.
- Nothing Can Stop Us Now!: This is used disturbingly frequently by Prince Garuda. When he blew Hyoma's arms off, when he blackmailed the Japanese Government in blowing up the Nanbara Connection -the HQ of the heroes-, when he deceiving the Japanese police to get the Combattler team under arrest... You would think he would learn to STOP Tempting Fate after the first time...
- Once per Episode: To combine their vehicles -needless to say, it happened every episode-, the team yelled "Let's combine", and if they were ready to combine correctly, Ropetto authorized the combination repeating: "Combine OK". And then you have the Finishing Move ("Choudenji Tatsumaki" and "Choudenji Spin") that were used every episode.
- Our Dragons Are Different: Kiiru, the Slave Beast that showed up in episode 9 was Garuda's dragon pet (Let me stress this: Garuda's pet was A FREAKING DRAGON). And it was a Mama Bear, too.
- Panty Shot: Chizuru gives a considerable amount of these.
- The Professor: Dr. Nanbara and Dr. Yotsuya.
- Ramming Always Works: "Choudenji Tatsumaki! Choudenji Spin!". Combattler paralyzes its adversary by blasting it with a stream of electricity and then rams through its body as spinning endlessly. Hyoma often uses it as a Finishing Move, and it tends to leave a nice gaping hole in the Monster of the Week.
- Recruit Teenagers with Attitude: All Combattler team members but Kosuke are teenagers.
- Robeast: Slave Beasts and later Magma Beasts.
- Robot Buddy: Ropet, who monitors the pilots' brainwaves and authorizes combination.
- Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: Being given an invitation to the Nanbara Connections, passport and document included, meant that the Combattler team could not be arrested. That was how Hyouma got away with causing various accidents just to overspeed his bike at his excitement, how Juzo got away with pointing a real rifle with real bullet on a conductor in real train, how Daisaku managed to hitch a ride on a truck despite the regulations, or how Kosuke managed to bypass the airport security procedure despite his age.
- Shock and Awe: Super Electromagnetic (Chodenji) Spark! Combattler V summons lightning from its antennae and re-channels it through its hands towards enemies with great explosive force.
- Shout-Out: The name "Campbellians" may be a reference to SF writer John W. Campbell, who helped invent the Space Hero genre.
- Spin Attack: Combattler's Finishing Move "Choudenji Spin". Combattler replaced its hands with triangular blades, spinning quickly to shape a tornado around its body, and ram through its enemy. Justified, since often he is fighting a single Beast, and before using the move, Combattler paralyzes its enemy with an electrical discharge ("Choudenji Tatsumaki") so it does not move.
- Super Robot: Massive, super-powerful Combining Mecha with a vast array of weapons...
- Techno Babble: Plenty of blatant examples. In an episode, a court judges Combattler as too dangerous to be controlled because it is made of super-alloy (chogokin) and powered with electro-magnetic energy.
- Telescoping Robot: The Humongous Mecha and the individual vehicles had more weapons than any other Humongous Mecha. Its hands alone could store its fists, a three-pointed dagger to make its ramming move easier, sharp projectiles, a blow-torch, a clamp...
- This Is a Drill: In its final move, Combattler V creates an energy tornado that keeps enemies in place for a short period of time. It will then spin extremely fast, turn its body into a large drill of lightning, and ram itself through opponents.
- Tomato in the Mirror ( Garuda discovers, to his dismay, that he is actually the latest of a series of identical androids.)
- Transformation Name Announcement: Combattler V!
- Trope Codifier: For Combining Mecha anime. Getter Robo was the first Combining Mecha, but most of combining mechas copied Combattler-V's transformation.
- Variable-Length Chain: Super Electromagnetic (Chodenji) Crane!. Combattler V can release a spiked block which is connected to the arms with a wire.
- Villainous BSoD ( Garuda has one because of the Tomato in the Mirror revelation mentioned above.)
- V-Sign: Taken not as a hand gesture, but a symbolic phrase in Combattler V. Usually used to get spirits up.Believe in the sign of victory: V!
- What Does This Button Do?: In episode 16, Kotaro -a little kid of Hyoma's acquaintance- visited the Nanbara Connection. When Ropetto shows him the team's vehicles, Kotaro can't help to get in Hyoma's jet fighter, point at a random button and ask what it does. Ropetto tried to talk him out of touching it, but Kotaro pressed it anyway.Kotaro: What does this button do?
Ropetto: That's the ignition button. Don't touch it.
- You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Chizuru Nanbara has bluish-green hair.