A Show Within a Show to Martian Successor Nadesico, Gekiganger 3 is an affectionate pastiche of Super Robot anime of the 1970s and 1980s. An OVA was released in 1998 which compiled all the Gekiganger 3 clips seen in Nadesico in chronological order and included a Short Film.
The ancient Super-Paleolithic people predicted that the alien Kyo'akk empire would invade the planet and left behind plans for a Super Robot, Gekiganger III, to stop them. Professor Kokubunji builds it, and Hot-Blooded pilots Ken Tenku, Joe Umitsubame, and Akira Daichi take it into battle against the mecha monsters of Prince Akara and his overlord, Emperor Hyperion. Midway through the series, Joe is killed and the Gekiganger III is destroyed only to be replaced with Gekiganger V and new pilot Tetsuya Ryuuzaki.
The OVA movie (with the Framing Device of the Nadesico cast seeing the movie in a theater) features the return of the Super-Paleolithic people, who attack both the humans and the Kyo'akks in an attempt to reclaim the world. Akara must temporarily join forces with the Gekiganger team to stop them.
Title completeness aside, not to be confused with Juken Sentai Gekiranger.
This Show Within a Show includes examples of:
- Aliens Steal Cable: The Kyo'akks research Earth culture by watching anime.
- All There in the Manual We only see short clips of the series in Nadesico, but there's plenty of supplemental material included with the merchandise that tells more of the Gekiganger story.
- Americans Are Cowboys: Cowboy Johnny and the Texas Robo are from America.
- Amnesiac Dissonance: Aquamarine, an enemy who gets amnesia in a crash and falls in love with Ken.
- Back from the Dead: Joe Umitsubame of course.
- Calling Your Attacks: It's a Super Robot show, what do you expect? GEKIGAN SWORD!
- Chest Blaster: GEKIGAN FIRE! Only on Gekiganger V curiously enough.
- Days of Future Past: Despite being a perfect imitation of a 1970s super robot show, it was supposedly created in the 2090s.
- Deflector Shields: Both Akara's robot and the Kokubunji lab have them, the former of which was, oddly enough, based on the Nadesico's Distortion Field. A strange result of the Clip Show episode causing a recursive case of Show Within a Show.
- Eagleland Cowboy Johnny and his Texas Robo are from America.
- Expy: The main cast are all Expies of the cast of both Getter Robo and Voltes V.
- Eye Beams: Gekiganger's eyes can shoot GEKIGAN BEAM!.
- FaceHeel Turn: Nanako's brother Rokuro becomes a villain.
- Famous Last Words: Subverted. Joe's first death had him saying "I'm sorry, Nanako-san... I couldn't take you to the ocean..." This, in the Nadesico-verse, became very iconic that Gai Daigoji specifically said that when he was Killed Off for Real. But then subverted that in the sequel, Ken turns out Not Quite Dead.
- Fully Absorbed Finale: Not exactly a "finale", but the OVA actually does advance the story of Nadesico briefly, by showing that Akito and Yurika are going to get married.
- Meaningful Name: Ken Tenkuu's name when said in the proper Japanese order of Family -> Given, is rendered as Tenkuu Ken, which was the name of the weapon used to execute Voltes V's Finishing Move.
- Monster of the Week: Presumably... we don't see Gekiganger every week.
- Narm: Intentional, as part of the Affectionate Parody. Even In-Universe some people comment on how ridiculously melodramatic the plots can get.
- Off-Model: Again, intentional, though there's surprisingly little of it... the biggest offenders are probably the fight scene between Ken and Joe, though that's more of an Art Shift, and Joe's mouth when he's telling Ken to use Gekigan Flare before he dies.
- Recap Episode: The Gekiganger team watches the Recap Episode of Nadesico. The OVA also starts with a recap of sorts- a compilation of several Gekiganger clips that had previously been seen in Nadesico.
- Say My Name: "JOOOOOEEEEEEE!!!" is the most famous, but there's also "SAPPHAIAAAAAAA!", "AQUAMARIIIIIINE!" and even, in the movie, "KEEEEN!"
- Shout-Out: If it's not foreshadowing for the plot of Nadesico, it's probably a Shout-Out to an old-school anime: see below.
- Show Within a Show: Martian Successor Nadesico. It runs both ways. Don't try to figure out how that works.
- Stay in the Kitchen: Done only slightly less obviously than usual in the movie- Nanako wants to replace Ken in the Gekiga Jet but Joe tells her she should stay with him instead. Despite this, the Jovians in Nadesico who based their culture on Gekiganger follow this as a philosophy.
- Theme Naming: The family names of the main pilots have to do with where their vehicles run. Also, Aquamarine and Sapphire are both named after jewels and both fall in love with a hero.
Anime series that receive a Shout-Out in Gekiganger 3 include:
- Combattler V and Voltes V: The villains are similar to those of these series; Gekiga Jet, Marine, Tank = Combattler V's Battle Jet, Marine, Tank; Gekiganger V's name comes from Combattler V and upon its appearance performs the same pose; Gekigan Sword = Voltes V's Tenkuu Ken, which also gave its name to Gekiganger's hero. And "Let's Gekiga In" is a play on Voltes V's "Let's Volt In".
- Daitarn 3: the logo for the show is very similar in the design for the "3"
- Devilman: Gekigan Cutter = Devil Cutter.
- Getter Robo: the three-machine/three-robot system; the character archetypes of the pilots and supporters; Gekigan Vision = Getter Vision; one of Rikuganger's finishing moves is named for Musashi; the death and replacement of a main character (though not the same archetype); the final pose in Gekiganger's transformation sequence is the same as that of Getter Robo G; Cowboy Johnny/Texas Robo = Jack King/Texas Mack.
- Mazinger Z: Gekigan Fire, Gekigan Punch, Gekigan Beam = Breast Fire, Rocket Punch, Koshiryoku / Photo-Atomic Beam; "Gekiganger Dies In Flames!" = "Kouji Kabuto Dies In Lava!"; The movie has a similar plot to one of the Mazinger Z movies and begins with a similar opening sequence. The Gekigan Sword is also deployed from the side of the knee, just like the Mazinger Blades. Joe's Big Damn Heroes moment at the end of the series is similar to Tetsuya and Great Mazinger's introduction in the Mazinger Z movie as well.
- Science Ninja Team Gatchaman: The Hero and The Lancer are Ken and Joe, respectively. And Joe dies and returns...