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Anime / GEAR Fighter Dendoh

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Don't stay late fighting giant robots

GEAR Fighter Dendoh is a 38-episode Super Robot anime directed and written by Mitsuo Fukuda and Chiaki Morosawa, a husband and wife team more (in)famous in America for Gundam SEED and Gundam SEED Destiny, along with Yasuko Kobayashi, a Tokusatsu writer known as a head writer for Mirai Sentai Timeranger and Kamen Rider Den-O.

Dendoh tells the story of an Alien Invasion of Earth by mechanical aliens known as the Galfa and two elementary school kids, Hokuto Kusanagi and Ginga Izumo, who are chosen to fight them by a giant kung fu robot called Dendoh. As chosen pilots of mankind's last, best superweapon, they are recruited by the organization GEAR to repel the invaders.

As people familiar with Super Robot Genre anime can tell, Dendoh is pretty standard for the genre, and intentionally so. Where it excels is in its storytelling - not being Strictly Formula- and its likeable cast of characters and their relationships. And of course, tons of Shout Outs.

The show's other major distinguishing point is that it's something of a Buddy Cop Show: Hokuto and Ginga are complete opposites (the former is an introverted nerd, the latter is a boisterous jock) but they're forced to work together because only two people working in tandem can pilot Dendoh.

A sequel was planned at one point, but when that fell through the staff released plot details, character, and mecha designs onto the Internet for all to see.

This show provides examples of:

  • Action Mom: Mrs. Izumo is a badass martial artist, and then there's Vega, alias Mrs. Kusanagi
  • Alien Among Us: Vega, also known as Hokuto's mom.
  • Alien Invasion
  • All Your Base Are Belong to Us: For bonus points, not only does the main base get invaded, but bases all around the world are also wiped out simultaneously.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever
  • Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy: Ginga
  • Big Bad: Emperor Galfa who intends to slay all human life to preserve environments as he was originally programmed to do.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: Altair who is revealed to be Vega's brother who was being used by the villains. A more prominent victim of this trope though is Hokuto.
    • Altair actually has two layers of this: At first, he only knows his life working for the villains. Then his memory and personality are somewhat restored and he remembers Vega and bits of his past life, but still believes in serving Galfa because his memories have also been altered. He becomes a more respectful opponent, especially after he learns that his rival is actually his nephew, but is still an antagonist. It's only after this second layer is broken that he truly returns to his senses. Altair implies Hokuto too will forget himself entirely if they don't rescue him soon enough when he's also taken and given false memories.
  • Breather Episode: Episode 12 starts as one, only to become a Wham Episode due two reveals about the plot. Episode 20 is a straighter example.
  • Calling Your Attacks
  • Char Clone: Altair
  • Continuity Nod: Three of the Professional Machines that appear in episodes 9, 10, and 11 also appear in the flashback of the fall of Alktos, destroying many combat robots and defeating and capturing Altair and Ogre.
  • The Dragon: Altair, later Zero.
  • Empathic Weapon
  • Evil Counterpart: Gear Knight Ogre, later becomes good.
  • Finishing Move
  • Food Chain of Evil: Lagowe does this to the Galfa Soldiers to regenerate.
    • It also does it when not wounded and just hungry (as it's a cyborg), and has been used on-screen as a threat toward incompetent officers.
  • Gotta Catch 'Em All: The Data Weapons.
  • Goldfish Poop Gang
  • Giant Robot Hands Save Lives
  • Gratuitous English
  • Heel–Face Turn: Altair, Subaru, and the Chips.
  • Hero Killer: Lagowe's special ability is to poison and kill the Data Weapons, something that should be impossible.
  • Heroic BSoD
  • Hot-Blooded: Both the boys, but especially Ginga.
  • Human Alien: Altair, Vega, Subaru and the other inhabitants of Galfa's home planet.
  • Improbable Weapon User: Vega uses explosive spinning tops, launched with her whip.
  • Katanas Are Just Better / Everything's Better with Samurai: Altair.
  • Kill It with Fire: The Dragon Flare Data Weapon.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: Done twice, both times involving Vega...
  • Mask Power: Altair and Vega.
  • Mons: The Data Weapons behave like this.
  • No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup: Justified by Dendoh being alien technology that is not fully understood yet... And then subverted by the original builders having created not just Dendoh, but also Ogre and at least four other similar mecha (appearing only in a flashback due to having been destroyed in battle by the Galfa).
  • Not So Stoic: Vega is usually very composed and cool, but sometimes things are so crazy that she can't help but flip.
  • Odd Couple: Hokuto and Ginga
  • Older and Wiser: The stillborn second season would have had the original cast acting as mentors to a team of kids piloting Dendoh-based mecha.
  • Ordinary Elementary School Students
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Subverted by Vega, who wears a wig and contacts in addition to the traditional mecha anime mask.
  • Post-Episode Trailer: Featuring Hokuto and Ginga arguing about something pointless, instead of telling you what's going to happen.
  • Properly Paranoid: Gear has a lot of hardware that would be just plain silly... Except that a plane that fires Dendoh's batteries is useful for in-battle resupply, and the fake Dendoh appearing in episode 9 was surprisingly useful.
  • Raised by Orcs: Subaru.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Ginga and Hokuto, respectively. Later, partially subverted in terms of their abilities. Hokuto starts out more intellectual, coming up with the solutions to various problems, while Ginga has more strength and skill, but as time passes it becomes clear that Hokuto's combat abilities have increased greatly, while Ginga's intelligence has not, creating a noticeable imbalance.
  • Right-Hand Attack Dog: Emperor Galfa's horrific two-headed pet, Lagowe. Somewhat subverted as he wanders on his own.
  • Robeast: All the Galfas are technically this. They are divided in Galfa Soldiers, Mechanical Beasts (a Galfa Soldier that has found some technological artifact to absorb to become more powerful), Galfa Guards (a supposedly more powerful version of the Soldiers), Heavy Machines, Professional Machines, and Rasenjo (a spiral-like Big Dumb Object with heavy firepower and the ability to carry a crapton of standard-sized Galfas), plus Aldebaran (a relatively small starship-type Galfa), Zero (similar to a Professional Machine but immensely more powerful), Lagowe (a cyborg) and Emperor Galfa itself.
  • Robot War: Technically
  • Secret-Keeper: Ginga's parents and Hokuto's mother find out that they're Dendoh's pilots pretty fast (actually, Hokuto's mother knew since the start, what with being Vega and all...), but don't tell. Most notable is Ginga's father, who is an Intrepid Reporter and, after finding out, destroys the memory card with the pictures proving it, deciding that the world doesn't need to know yet (and asking Eris to call him first when the world will need to know).
  • Super Robot Genre
  • Shout-Out: To just about every Humongous Mecha anime out there. A particularly notable example is this first episode exchange:
    Hokuto: Does this thing have any weapons? Like bombs or rocket punches or beam cannons or electromagnetic waves or arrows or yo-yos?
    Vega: No.
    • Though they did eventually get the yo-yo.
  • Stellar Name: Hokuto means "North Star". Ginga means "Galaxy". Not to mention Vega and Altair, plus Subaru ("Milky Way") later on...
  • Stock Footage: Tons. Taken together with Gundam SEED, it seems to be a staple of Mitsuo Fukuda's directorial style.
  • This Is a Drill: The Unicorn Drill Data Weapon.
  • Those Were Only Their Scouts: At the start of the series, the Galfa send in Rasenjo with its enormous cargo of Galfa Soldiers, some Heavy Machines, and three Professional Machines that would have likely overwhelmed Dendoh early on. They only send a few at a time because their main goal is to recover the Data Weapons, and when the time comes to take Rasenjo on with its regiment depleted, it's a long and hard battle. Then they send in a small special operation force of Professional Machines to steal them back. When that fails, they mobilize their full force... Consisting of thousand of Rasenjos each with their own regiments of Mechanical Beasts. Thus the final battle being GEAR attacking the Galfa home planet to take out Emperor Galfa and thus shut down all the Galfa before the Rasenjos get into weapon range of Earth.
  • Time Master: The special skill for the Gatling Boar Data Weapon.
  • Toyetic: The titular mecha looks like a toy, appears to be powered by two giant AA batteries, and can only be piloted by two kids.
  • Verbal Tic: Dawa, jyan, bari!
  • Wake-Up Call Boss: Altair with Ogre. Before their arrival, Dendoh had little problem with the Galfa. Then Altair shows up with Ogre, kicks Dendoh's ass with little problem, and No Sells their best attack at the time.
  • Wham Episode: Episode 12. It starts as a Breather Episode made of montage from previous episodes with some elements of future episodes placed in, and then, right at the end, Vega takes off the wig that prevents people to recognize her as Hokuto's mother and confirms that Altair is her older brother, and Eris deduces that there is a seventh Data Weapon.
  • You Have Failed Me: Emperor Galfa threatens to feed Rasenjo's main underlings to his pet Lagowe as punishment for their failures (and it's implied that the very act of sending Lagowe to fool around inside Rasenjo and on Earth is a potentially lethal punishment, as the monster is liable to eat them just because), but he never gets around doing it due to Lagowe and the underlings all getting killed by Dendoh.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Zero wanted to pull this on the Chips when he first saw them, though Subaru stopped him. This might have foreshadowed Zero's attempt to do the same to Subaru.