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"Dairugger fighting formation on!" — Aki, Once an Episode
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Combining Mecha from Toei that aired on TV Tokyo in 1982. Since shows like this were a dime a dozen in Japan, it unfortunately got overlooked. But elsewhere, including the US, where Humongous Mecha shows were still practically unheard of, it got recognition as the vehicle robot of Voltron.

Dairugger is a peacekeeping and exploration robot during the days of space exploration. The Terran League (consisting of planets Earth, Sala, and Mira — but mostly Earth) decides to survey the galaxy, so that they can make a galactic star map. But the first mission runs into the Galbeston Empire, who decide to attack Earth. Dairugger is sent to defend, but eventually learns that the Galbeston are actually desperate for a new home, as their planet is doomed.

Like GoLion, Dairugger XV has been released in its original form on DVD in R1, as ''Armored Fleet Dairugger XV". It was released in 3 "collections" (consisting of 3 discs each), but as of mid-2018, only the first collection is easily available.

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See also GoLion, Super Dimension Fortress Macross, and Super Sentai.


Tropes:

  • Aliens Speaking English: Or Japanese, in this case. The Galveston Empire sends their first ultimatum to the Rugger Guard in perfectly understandable Japanese, despite having never encountered humans or the tri-planetary alliance before. Worse, when trying to determine if a newly-discovered planet might be inhabited by a heretofore unknown species, the Rugger teams don't even think twice about broadcasting "We come in peace" over loudspeakers in Japanese.
  • Audible Gleam: Whenever you see-and-hear one of these, it means the first sighting of a Galveston attack fleet. Unless you see it in a Galveston commander's eye, in which case it means he's about to do something really devious.
  • The Battlestar: The Rugger Guard, the space carrier from which the vehicles launch before combining. It looks suspiciously like a 20th century aircraft carrier. It's also ridiculously tough; despite having a primary mission of exploration, it only sustains minor damage in firefights that utterly destroy its military escort fleets.
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  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Virtually every single commander working under Teles (Hazar) immediately and laughingly disregards his orders to seek peace with the Earth Fleet; also a case of Too Dumb to Live, as basically every last one of them meets Dairugger's sword. They do this with some sanction, but the viewscreen has barely clicked off when they give the order to attack anyway, usually to some incredulous soldier who basically says "Dude?!"
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: The tri-planet alliance ships fire white or blue-white beams. The Galveston ships fire red beams.
  • Combining Mecha: Two ways! 15 small vehicles could combine into three larger ones (Kurugger, Kairugger, and Rikuruggernote ), and then if that didn't get the job done, could re-combine into the titular super robot. It's unusual in that Dairugger can combine and act even if some pieces are missing (once it combined without its right leg, once without the head), but it doesn't seem to operate at peak efficiency in those cases.
  • Everything's Better with Samurai: Dairugger is modeled after, or at least inspired by, a samurai warrior; from the look of its head to its reliance on swordsmanship.
  • Faster-Than-Light Travel: Barely hinted at twice, when the Galvestons mention ships going into or out of "warp." For the rest of the series, the ships ply the space between the stars by just cruising with their normal engines.
  • Fighter-Launching Sequence: From the team members sitting on their elevator chairs, to the chairs moving into glass bubbles, to the bubbles being lowered into the seats of the 15 fighters, to the fighters launching one at a time.
  • Forgot I Could Fly: Every time Dairugger gets driven back to the edge of a cliff.
  • Genre Blindness: At least two of the Galveston captains tried to ram Dairugger instead of retreating. Guess how both played out...
  • Green Aesop:
    • An early planet the Rugger Guard encounters is dying because Galveston or its inhabitants "didn't respect nature."
    • The continents on Planet K (the planet with the red moon) are in the process of falling into the ocean. In episode 37, it's revealed that this is happening because its inhabitants conducted underground nuclear tests.
    • Galveston itself is doomed from UV rays, because they destroyed their own Van Allen belts.note 
  • Heroic Sacrifice: On both sides. On many occasions, a lone ship captain has chosen to ram the enemy, with himself still on board the ramming ship, in order to stop the enemy or clear a path through an Asteroid Thicket.
  • Humongous Mecha / Super Robot: Dairugger itself, but also the Galveston battle machines/battle attackers it's called upon to fight.
  • If It Swims, It Flies: The Sea Team, whose ships could fly through the air and even through space as easily as they operated as submarines. However, all fifteen ships could fly, even the Land Team; and in episode 36, all fifteen ships maneuvered underwater.
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: When Aki is attacked by queen Xuneau's guards on planet Eldora, he evades scores of shots by doing a couple of backflips. Similarly, in episode 44, three of Aki's team are ambushed on foot, in the crossfire of over a dozen Galveston soldiers with automatic weapons, and none of them get hit.
  • Informed Flaw: In one episode, Aki says that Dairugger is not made for combat. This despite that (A) they only ever form Dairugger when there's an enemy to fight, and (B) it's the most effective fighting machine in the entire galaxy.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: Fifteen pilots of the individual vehicles, and that's just to start. There's also the crew of the Rugger Guard and plenty of recurring characters from the Galveston Empire.
  • No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup: Dairugger is the only one of its kind in the galaxy. Earth's Galaxy Garrison tried to build another Super Robot to help out Dairugger, but it ended up being slower, weaker, and more fragile — to the point that it was destroyed during testing.
  • Nuclear Weapons Taboo: In episode 3, the Galveston fleet devastates the surface of a planet with "photon missiles," whose blast radii were eerily similar to thermonuclear weapons. (Oddly, when the Galveston fleet reached Earth, they attacked the Metropolis with much lower-yield conventional weapons.)
  • Old School Dog Fight: The Air Team vehicles got to do a bit of this before the need to form Dairugger arose.
  • Plot Armor: Since all fifteen Rugger Team vehicles are necessary to form Dairugger, none of them ever gets destroyed or even badly damaged — even in firefights that wipe out half their escort fleet.
  • Rubber-Forehead Aliens: The aliens of Galveston are basically humans with blue skin and red eyes. Keats and Kirigas, the two Rugger team members from planet Mira, are a different shade of blue and have pointy ears. Kreuz, the only team member from planet Sala, is yet another shade of blue with a tiny circle on his forehead.
  • The Short Guy with Glasses: Yasuo
  • Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale: Distances are reckoned in units of "space kilometers," and there's no consistency in how they're used. One episode, an Earthlike planet right outside Aki's window and filling half the sky will be "ten thousand space kilometers" away; the next, an invading Galveston fleet at Mars will be "2.5 space kilometers" away from Earth.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Some of the Dairugger vehicles- particularly the head and chestplate- look a lot like the Thunderbird craft.
    • The name "Rugger" is a reference to rugby.note  There are 15 players on a rugby team.
  • Space Is an Ocean: The opening to every episode shows a storm-tossed wooden sailing ship against the following narration:
    "Once, people staked their youth on the sea. On the Seven Seas, the flames of romanticism, ambition, adventure, and aspiration burned and clashed. Now, young people of the year AD 2200 challenge the sea of stars. What awaits them there is a world beyond our imagination."
  • Stock Footage: For both the launching of the ships, and Dairugger's combination (though the latter was sometimes subverted).
  • Transformation Is a Free Action: Often averted or subverted, most notably in episode 25 when one of the ships that formed Dairugger's right leg was hit mid-assembly. Rather than stop the whole process, however, Dairugger was able to finish combining without the leg, though that made the robot clumsy in combat until the pilot recovered and was able to rejoin Dairugger.
  • Wagon Train to the Stars: The Rugger Guard's mission is to explore the galaxy and map all of it out. (This is different from the Voltron version, where they were specifically searching for worlds to colonize.)
  • What Did You Expect When You Named It ____?:
    • The aliens' home planet, which is undergoing a deadly environmental disaster, is called "Galveston."
    • The two peace-loving Galveston leaders, Teles and his father Tes, come from the "Socrat" family.
    • The scheming power-hungry Galveston leader is named "Al Caponero."

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