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Anime / Fang of the Sun Dougram

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A Soldier of Light steps forward to challenge the Hawks in the Shadows.
"Not even justice, I want to get truth!"

In Space Century (SC) 152, the planet Deloyer, Earth's only colony, is home to a growing independence movement. The Fang of the Sun are a small team of guerillas fighting against Earth's occupation. To counter Earth's Combat Armors, they have a lone Combat Armor of their own: Dougram, a CA specially built for Deloyer's environment — and piloted by Crinn Cashim, the rebellious son of the leader of the Earth government on Deloyer.

Fang of the Sun Dougram is a 75-episode anime series by Sunrise that aired from October 23, 1981 to March 25, 1983, directed by Ryousuke Takahashi. The show was part of the first flourishing of Real Robot stories. A considerable chunk of Dougram's DNA comes from Mobile Suit Gundam, which several of the staff, notably the mechanical designer and the scriptwriter, also worked on.

Dougram is noted for its ground-level approach to action: Combat Armors are powerful, but infantry and air support play an important part in most of the battles. (Dougram itself has to be hauled to the battlefield on a flatbed truck.) The series also has a fairly involved political landscape. Several members of the Earth Federation lend some support to the rebels, while the occupying forces themselves are divided between hardline and moderate officers.

The story's tone is cynical but not extremely so. War is terrifying and ugly, but not without moments of happiness and comedy. The Federation's rule is oppressive, but there are sympathetic Federation characters. Death is permanent, and usually random and futile — but on the other hand named characters die at a surprisingly slow rate. And, unlike Mobile Suit Gundam, Dougram doesn't threaten the characters with superweapons which might end civilization at a stroke; it threatens them with politics and economics instead, which, over enough time, will have the same effect. Towards the end, the battles even start becoming ancillary to the gears that turn when a country gains independence.

Although it is No Export for You series, western mecha fans might recognize many of the combat armors under different names from BattleTech.

In 2021 Shogakukan's eBigComic4 Manga website announced that it will release a web manga based on this series, titled "Get Truth Fang of the Sun Dougram", on May 28. It is drawn by Yasuo Ohtagaki (The guy behind Mobile Suit Gundam Thunderbolt) and supervised by the original director of Dougram Ryousuke Takahashi.

Fang of the Sun Dougram contains examples of the following tropes:

  • The Ace: J. Locke. Shows up in the nick of time to save the Fang of the Sun's bacon, recruits Zaltsev, shows up in the nick of time to save the independence movement's bacon... Vaguely looks like Che Guevara and has an Eyepatch of Power to boot - Sunrise couldn't have made a greater Ace if they tried.
  • Ace Pilot: Crinn. He takes some time to work into it, and it's clear that the tech gap between Dougram and the other Combat Armors plays a huge part.
    • The Unit 24 pilots as well. They give Crinn and Dougram more trouble than anyone else in the story.
  • Action Girl: Canary, and it's worth noting that this trope is highly uncommon in the setting. She is emphatically not The Heart, and is the usually the most pragmatic-minded member of Fang of the Sun (failing that, she's the least likely to follow Honor Before Reason).
  • Alternative Calendar: Space Calendar. By Anno Domini reckoning, the series would be in the 2140s, since Lecoque quoted Douglas Mac Arthur's "I shall return (said on March 21, 1942)" when he went to Earth to gather power.
  • Anti-Villain: Rick Boyd. For a considerable stretch of episodes, he seems to be the only decent man in the Feddie camp, and Samalin comments at one point that if there were more men like him in the Federation, the war would never have started.
  • Big Bad: Donan Cassim is the prominent Earth Federation politician who controls the occupying Earth forces and wants to crush the rebellion and keep the planet a part of the Earth Federation so he can use the local resources to save Earth. However, Helmut J Lecoque, his secretary, turns out to have been manipulating him to secure power for himself all along and takes over after his death.
  • The Big Guy: Chico. Wields the Big-E Gun and a mechanic from birth as well. (And, naturally, is voiced by Banjo Ginga.)
  • Bittersweet Ending: Very much so. Deloyer's independence is recognized by the Earth Federation, but Earth corporations and occupation troops remain. Samalin dies, and Zaltsev is jailed on trumped-up charges of war crimes - for 30 years. However, the main characters all live and we're left with the hope that they can build a bright future on the planet. The Fang destroy Dougram to symbolize them moving on to make their way on the new Deloyer, and Crinn himself returns to Earth after promising to return within 6 months.
  • Black-and-Gray Morality: Fully kicks in after episode 30 or so. Prior to that, the Federation officers Fang of the Sun fought kept it safely in Black-and-White Morality.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Nanashi's generally the clown of the group, but he's actually quite perceptive and is their 'out-of-the-box thinking' guy. One episode opens with a shot of him reading a book by Guevara.
    • The Garcia Platoon. They are a bunch of undisciplined thugs, but they still manage to be a serious threat to the Fang of the Sun.
  • The Captain: Rocky leads the Fang of the Sun in combat, though it takes him some time and experience to be a full example of the trope. He spends the earlier episodes as a Sergeant Rock and learning from Crinn (who has actual military training), and is more than happy to take change once the Independence Movement is structured into a military.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Comes into play at the end of the Garcia Platoon arc. After Heckle fires a Bait-and-Switch Gunshot to kill Garcia's Number Two before he can throw a grenade, the dropped grenade gets a Traitor Shot at the end of the episode, rolling around Festa Bronco's bike with its pin still in place. The next episode is A Day in the Limelight for Festa, culminating with him surviving an attack on Garcia's Desert Gunner to rescue Crinn and the Dougram. Afterwards, he races across the dunes in pure joy as the rest of the Fang of the Sun watches — and the pin of the grenade catches on a bolt, causing it to explode and kill Festa in the last few minutes of the episode.
  • The Chessmaster: Lecoque, who only starts really throwing his weight around after the rebels have taken root in the Andy mines. It gets to the point that, towards the end of the show, his machinations displace the Fang of the Sun's actions (this was a common complaint during its original run, that the protagonists could have done anything and the show would still end the way it did).
  • Combat Pragmatist: Crinn starts off as a very green rookie Soltic pilot prone to panicking in combat, but once he gets some experience piloting Dougram he becomes an amazingly dirty fighter, with few to no qualms about shooting enemies in the back, tackling them to the ground before blasting them, aiming for the cockpit, or even destroying mecha while their crews are still climbing on them.
  • Child Soldiers: Exploited. Several members of the Fang of the Sun qualify, and Lartof makes a point of mentioning this in his article on them in Episode 22. (The civilian Deloyans who read about this seem impressed that a group of kid Deloyans are doing so well against trained soldiers.)
  • Cool Bike: The Fang of the Sun starts out life as a biker gang of sorts, and for a while they use some of their bikes as supplementary transport.
  • Cool Old Guy: Lartoff is pretty much the one person everyone trusts at face value, no exceptions, and even gave The Fang of the Sun their name. (The team responsible for the most popular fansub appears to think so - his dialogue is at one point inflated into "I am kind of a goddamn phantom, you see.")
    • The unflappable ship captainnote  voiced by Tesshō Genda in episode 30. Combat Armor/Helicopter battle breaks out on the deck of his ship? Notes that they'll run out of fuel eventually, then lights his pipe and watches. A missile hits very close to the bridge? Still smoking his pipe, still watching (but a little sooty for it).
  • The Engineer: Heckle (Huckle?), who keeps Dougram running and is well-versed in the operations of Federation bases as a bonus. He even participates in some field missions as well, but is a little skittish and much more in his element with a wrench.
  • Everybody Smokes: It's usually characters who have the time (bored guards, Lartoff) or money (Federation politicians and well-to-dos) to do so, and the Fang of the Sun members don't smoke - though Billy is offered a cigarette, Heckle reminds them that he's underage and smokes it himself (then coughs it up). This is never explained, though it is recognized as a health risk in the setting by medical professionals.
  • Falling into the Cockpit: Mildly subverted or averted, depending on how you look at it. Crinn is a trainee Combat Armor pilot from the very beginning and is hand-picked to be Dougram's pilot by Saharin (the aversion). But, just as it seems Crinn is about to fall (or be pushed) into the cockpit, it turns out that the Federation has already stolen Dougram (the subversion).
  • Fantastic Racism: It's by no means universal (the Deloyan Fang of the Sun members accept Crinn quickly, Billy especially), but 150 years of colonization has clearly exacerbated racial tensions between Earth and Deloyer-born humans, and the signs have been there from the very beginning of the story. The worst part is that the characters can mostly see physical differences in ethnicity, but the Mukokuseki animation means that the viewer either won't see them at all, or is forced to guess.
    • It starts coming to a head episode 50, where we learn that the 8th Federation Army, stationed on Deloyer, is around 80% Deloyan, with the Earth-born minority holding most of the officer ranks. After one too many forced Deloyan-soldier-on-Deloyan-guerrilla executions without trials on a certain base, there's a coup - and suddenly the Independence Movement gets 800 new recruits.
  • The Federation: The Earth Federation. In Dougram this appears to be an actual federation of seven distinct states, with their own economies and interests, but - at least on Deloyer - one unified military. As time passes, it becomes increasingly clear that those economies and interests are more important to those states than unification.
  • Foreshadowing: The song the Fang of the Sun group sing seems to foreshadow the final battle, given the nature of how it plays out.
  • Genki Girl: Rita from episode 31 is the most energetic and jovial female character in the series.
  • Grand Theft Prototype: Initially averted, as the rebels built Dougram themselves. But possibly then played straight, as the Earth Federation steals Dougram, and Crinn has to steal it back.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Heckle is initially part of the Garcia platoon's supply line, but as he is exposed to the Fang of the Sun and especially Garcia's men, he turns traitor and joins with the former.
    • Jackie Zaltsev is a loyal, hardass Federation Army officer and the first real threat the Fang of the Sun faces from them - until the Feddies grab onto the Idiot Ball hard and mistreat him unnecessarily. J. Locke (who turns out to be an old rival of his) has an easy time picking him up.
  • Hollywood Tactics: the show makes a point of averting this wherever possible (anytime any faction is in position to use tactics at all, they will), but the Fang of the Sun is typically so outnumbered or in an otherwise lopsided situation that tactics won't help them.
    • Comes to a head in the Palmina arc when it finally becomes clear that the guerrillas can't simply attack the Federation head-on, and must adopt a military structure. And then Zaltsev starts working as the Independence Movement's chief of staff.
  • Home Field Advantage: Dougram's- and by extension, the guerilla forces'- sole advantage they have. Deloyer interferes with the comms and Combat Armors of the Federation forces, while Dougram is specifically made for Deloyer (aside from being a Lightning Bruiser to boot) and the guerillas have specially made (if limited) tech that works on the planet.
  • Honor Before Reason: Hot-bloodedness is usually the downfall of the various guerrilla groups - when they try to take on the Federation forces toe-to-toe rather than asymmetrically, counting on elan to carry them through, they tend to lose.
  • The Idiot from Osaka: Variation - Giorgio speaks with a noticeable Kyuushuu accent (Shigeru Chiba is from Kumamoto), and gets ribbed by the other Fang of the Sun members as a "small-town biker" for it.
  • Intrepid Reporter: Lartoff is a war reporter who has no problem with taking advantage of the Federation's rather generous press freedom to report as many sides of the conflict as he can. He avoids actually being part of the conflict, however.
  • Killed Off for Real: Festa Bronco dies a fifth of the way through. Rita dies in episode 45.
  • Land Mine Goes "Click!": Encountered in episode 36. They are apparently Anti-Combat Armor mines, and while they go off by being stepped on, they can also be dug up and removed with relative ease. (Chico hits on the idea of just shooting a path through them with the Big-E Gun, wide enough to ride a bike over. They take advantage of this to steal some metal detectors from the Federation troops who planted them.)
  • La Résistance: the show makes a point of showing that this isn't a rebellion as it is several groups of guerrillas (at least a dozen show up for a meeting) fighting for more or less the same purpose. Their existence is justified by, at least initially, the Federation being enthusiastic about hunting down former rebellion members as guerrilla members. It's pretty much only through Samalin's hard work that they unify at all.
  • Mecha Expansion Pack: Combat Armors have a number of hardpoints that make this possible, but they're frequently not taken advantage of (custom models largely don't exist, and a light-armor Soltic variant gets tried out once). Dougram, for example, gets a 'turbozack' backpack which adds a large, over-the-shoulder 'linear cannon', and later gets outfitted with a missile launcher on its right shoulder.
    • Necessary Drawback: However, because Combat Armors are largely designed to excel at a single combat role or terrain, it's often more effective to just switch to a different model that's better for the task. Dougram itself is an above-average Jack of All Stats on Deloyer, and while the Turbozack/Linear Cannon backpack gives it a huge advantage in terms of firepower, this increases its weight to the point that an Earth-made C.A. with a terrain advantage can overwhelm it. The solution when that situation first came up turned out to be for Dougram to just blow a foothold into the canyon walls and jump up that way.
  • Minovsky Physics: The X Nebula, within which Deloyer's solar system is located, interferes with communications and Earth-made computers - meaning that Combat Armors are slower than they should be on Deloyer, and all but forcing them to need helicopters and sometimes tanks as backup. The X Nebula's effects aren't clearly defined, but this is more because it's taken for granted as an environmental condition (along with Deloyer's twin suns) rather than the plot using it as a handwave.
    • The pro-independence forces have some access to Deloyer-made computers and radios that are designed to negate these conditions (and contribute heavily to the Fang of the Sun's successes), but even they are more limited than their Real Life contemporary counterparts.
    • About halfway through the show, the Federation finally starts catching up on this front, and begins deploying X Nebula-resistant "Blockhead-C" Combat Armors.
  • No Water Proofing In The Future: Played realistically - Combat Armors can operate in rain, but not underwater. Dougram is unique in being able to turn on its full waterproofing at will (that is, it's submersible), and Crinn takes full advantage of this on several occasions. Other Combat Armors can have waterproofing, but Linear Guns won't work underwater and it isn't a widely-used feature. The Soltic "Mackerel", for example, is an underwater-use C.A., but it suffers from a severe lack of firepower above-surface and is at best an even fight for Dougram. (Plus, the Federation has gunboats that can move faster anyway.)
  • Older Than They Look: Billy looks, sounds, and acts 12ish at best, when he's actually 16.
  • "On the Next Episode of..." Catch-Phrase: (Spoken in Engrish.) 'Not even justice, I want to get truth!'
  • Percussive Maintenance: Averted, surprisingly. Everything that would reasonably need careful maintenance gets it, and is even prioritized. (Heckle, for example, is kept very busy just keeping Dougram in proper working order.)
  • Random Smoking Scene: An unusually large number of characters light up at one point or another - everything from cigarettes to Lartoff's stoogie. Most of the time, it has absolutely no bearing on the plot, nor is it ever an indicator of the character's mental state, but there are some exceptions. It's... almost like the animators were showing off their smoking animation skills.
    • In episode 22, Destin offers his lighter to light Lecoque's cigarette for him... who pointedly ignores it and uses his own lighter, to show just how much contempt he holds for the turncoat.
    • After his doctor confirms that he has six months left at most, and he needs to quit, Donam Cashim gives up smoking. He still reaches for a cigar in one scene, before putting it down.
  • Real Robot: Combat Armors require repairs, refueling and transportation between battles. They also struggle in terrain they're not designed fornote  and can be destroyed through the intelligent use of heavy man-portable weapons, if infantry can get close enough, or traps that take advantage of terrain. Their firepower ('linear guns') typically outclasses armor (but not purpose-made shields), and they are kept to below 10 meters in height. Easy Logistics is averted and supply lines are attacked or exploited whenever possible - Dougram was even built with largely Earth-made parts to avoid repair and maintenance problems.
    • At a meta level, Dougram takes pains to show how a single real robot would be unlikely to change the course of a war on its own, without politics and the media making it into something more than a pilot in a vehicle. It's more important as a symbol towards the end. (Cf. Votoms, also by Ryousuke Takahashi, where even this isn't the case and it all falls to a single man.)
  • Rebel Leader: The independence movement has one in the form of Professor Samalin, though he's a surprisingly un-badass, overweight thinker and planner rather than a fighter. Which the movement desperately needs, in fact, as it is initially a bunch of heavily fragmented guerrilla groups playing We ARE Struggling Together to the hilt.
  • Reporting Names: Not within the series, but many of the mecha are far better known in the west by their BattleTech names. And in an inversion, a number of the Combat Armors are referred to by their manufacturer's names.
  • The Revolution Will Not Be Vilified: Mostly played straight. While the independence movement has connections with shady, selfish business interests from Earth and a certain sense of Deloyan superiority, there are a number of sympathetic characters in the Earth forces. Still, most of the time the rebels are heroes, and their grievances are entirely legitimate.
  • Spider Tank: Desert Gunner and Blizzard Gunner. They are much better at moving in their preferred terrain than humanoid models.
  • The Strategist: Professor Samalin. It becomes increasingly clear that the independence movement wouldn't get anywhere without him working the guerrillas into a more effective force.
    • (Former) Major Zaltsev, while having neither the skills nor the patience to run the political and economic side of the independence movement, is a brilliant battlefield tactical commander. He was a legitimate threat to the Fang of the Sun when he was a Federation officer (the light-armor formation-based Soltic attack on Dougram was his doing), and letting him defect was an enormous Nice Job Fixing It, Villain moment.
  • Super Prototype: Dougram was intended to be the prototype to a production line Combat Armor (supplemental materials call it the "DM") much like the Gundam was, but the nature of the war subverted this - Destin sold out the factory that was intended to produce them, so Dougram ended up being a one-off. However - it's fast, powerful, heavily armored with linear gun/cannon-resistant materials, can operate underwater for a limited time, and is all-round an extremely well-balanced high-performance Combat Armor that can operate for months on end with nothing but field repairs from one engineer. Other Combat Armors can do well in one or two of those areas, but not all, and the Dougram has the highest top land speed anyway.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Pretty much sums up Canary and Daisy (though presumably even Daisy, after traveling with Lartoff as his assistant, would clash with her old life on Earth) or Rita.
  • True Companions: The Fang of the Sun. (Canary takes a while to get there, but that stops around the time Heckle shows up.)
  • Walking Tank: Crab Gunner and Tequila Gunner, literally, though it's clear that they're outdated (to the point that it's plot-relevant a couple of times).
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Donan Cashim's reason for keeping Deloyer part of the Federation? There are two planets near Deloyer that can be colonized by it after five years or so. If Deloyer remains part of the Federation, great - Earth can continue to import resources that way. If not, then Deloyer can create its own sphere of influence, and Earth will be deprived of the resources that Deloyer provides, effectively dooming it to a slow death.
  • Wham Episode: The first episode is well-known and notorious for opening with a scene that shows the wrecked, destroyed Dougram in the sand and the implication that only Canary survived. (Also an Early-Bird Cameo for the 'Jagd Dougram' armament plan.)
  • Zeerust: The few bits of technology designed to look futuristic, such as the Combat Armors, the FTL jumpgate and its associated passenger spacecraft, now look dated. The rest of the technology is decidedly late-twentieth-century: coin-operated telephone boxes are still used, for example. In general, Deloyer is closer to 1980, while Earth is portrayed as more 'futuristic'.
    • Of course, this comes with the caveat that the animation staff drew up the Combat Armors as being "form follows function" from the very start - they weren't meant to be 'futuristic' so much as 'what a Real Robot would probably look like in practice, under gravity'.