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Anime / Heavy Metal L-Gaim

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Heavy Metal L-Gaim is a 1984 anime television series directed by Yoshiyuki Tomino, with character and mecha designs from Mamoru Nagano, who would later go on to create The Five Star Stories.

L-Gaim takes place in the Pentagona System, a solar system made up of five planets. Oldna Posaydal, the legendary emperor from the planet Gastogal leads his 24 Temple Knights from planet to planet until all have fallen under his control. His final victory is on the planet Mizum in 3975 when he defeats Kamon Walha V, ruler of the Yaman Clan. However, before being overthrown Kamon hid his heir, Kamon Myroad on the planet Mizum with the legendary white mecha, L-Gaim.

Fifteen years later, now grown up and known as Daba Myroad, he lives in planet Koam peacefully. During a trip through the desert, he and his friend Kyou meets a girl named Amu and run into the Lilin's scavenger gang. After a brief scuffle, one of the defeated thugs hands over a cash card to Daiba before dying and requests him to deliver it to a man named Amandara Kamandara (a weapon dealer who sends weapons to both the Imperial army and the rebels). Daba sets to do so, not knowing that this action would lead to him leading a rebellion to free the planets of Pentagona from Posaydal's grasp.

Other than in several Super Robot Wars games, L-Gaim has also showed up on Another Century's Episode saga.

This anime provides examples of:

  • Autobots, Rock Out!: When Shingeki L-Gaim kicks in with an instrumental version of Time For L-Gaim, you just know asses are going to be kicked. Doubles as Theme Music Power-Up.
  • A-Cup Angst: In episode 9, Amu mentally notes that Leccee's breasts are bigger than hers.
  • Ace Custom: What the Original Heavy Metals functionally are.
  • Ace Pilot: Most main characters at at least proficient with Heavy Metals; Daba, Gablae, the Thirteen, and really anyone else who uses an A-Class HM can be assumed to be this.
  • Action Girl: Amu, as an actor-turned-bandit, fits this about as much as you could expect. Lillith, surprisingly, is also like this, though she appears to prefer the quiet life. Leccee qualifies as well.
  • Air Jousting: The nature of the show is such that there's quite a few of these, starting from early on.
  • Artificial Limbs: Lilin is forced to get one after an encounter with Daba's Lightsaber - such limbs are biological and grafted on with relative ease in the setting. Later, Giwaza gets one too after squaring off against Nei Mo Han
  • Barbie Doll Anatomy: Averted. In episode 11, a soldier cuts Amu's clothes off as torturing her, and her nipples are clearly visible.
  • Battle Aura: L-Gaim Mk. II's advanced central computer's silhouette does this, sort of.
  • BFG: Buster Launchers, like the kind L-Gaim Mk. II uses. They're a class of weapon, different from standard Power Launchers in that they can only be used by A-Class and better Heavy Metals due to their power requirements. Various characters use them as necessary throughout the show.
  • Big Eater: Gavlet Gabulae, apparently, as is introduction to the protagonists is eating their food - enough for three people!
  • Binary Suns: The four habitable planets of the Pentagona system (Mizun, Koam, Gustgal and Trydettol), as well as the asteroid belt near Gustgal's orbit that's implied to be the remains of a fifth world long since destroyed, orbit a pair of yellow Sun-like stars. Unusually enough for an artistic depiction the stars seem to vary in size, with one depicted clearly smaller than the other, even in distant background shots.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The Poseidal Empire is destroyed and the war has be successfully closed - with several bad guys surviving and in custody, even - but Daba tells his friends that he is going to take Olivy back to Koam and nurse her, as she was brain-damaged by Poseidal.
  • Broke Your Arm Punching Out Cthulhu: L-Gaim Mk. II in its fight against Original Aug. Though in this case, the arm was ripped off.
  • Butt-Monkey: Kyao is often the target and victim of jokes and sight gags in the show, often just as he's being greedy, clumsy, dumb or simply loud. Some of it is deserved (like that time he stole that cash card Daba intended to deliver, only to find that it was frozen, but other times it really just seems like he's the show's lightning rod of slapstick.
    • Gablae seems to get it worse at times - unlike Kyao, he actively tries to be serious, but the show always seems to find a way to pull the dignity rug out from under him.
  • Cat Fight: Amu and Leccee get into them constantly over Daba (considering both are seriously into him), and they're not entirely against using Heavy Metals to settle it. One of them happened during a strategic meeting - hair pulling and everything - leaving the leader of La Résistance to just watch stunned.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Olibee is this, since she was mentioned in episode 1. 21 episodes later, she's revealed to be Daba's half-sister, who is brainwashed into serving Poseidal.
  • Chick Magnet: Daba. Amu and Leccee (and very likely Lilith too despite the difference in species) are all into him.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: Amu never misses a chance to try to cling to Daba. Thus, she's unhappy when they meet Leccee and Daba shows signs of being attracted to her. (Leccee feels the same towards Amu, but is less physical about it.)
  • Colony Drop: Operation Star Dust consisted of La Résistance launching hundreds of asteroids near planet Gastogal towards Sveto, The Empire's capital city.
  • Creative Sterility: When the show starts, the L-Gaim is the newest Heavy Metal due to this. Official research into new Heavy Metals apparently ceased some time prior to the start, to the point that the designer working on the Stack had to get close assistance from Kyao (who'd become intimately familiar with L-Gaim's Yaman tech) to convert it into the useable Mk. II.
  • Deflector Shields: Subverted Trope. Many Heavy Metals use physical shields of some type or another that are effective against Energy Weapons, and physical armor materials appear to be as durable in this setting as they are in real life. Deflector Shields are another layer on top of that, but are only effective against Power Launchers (Sabers and projectile weapons go right through them) and are projected at a range that necessarily can be circumvented with some planning. In an early episode Daba fired L-Gaim's Power Launcher at Nei Mo Han's Auge, only for its barrier to deflect the beam; his solution was to get a bazooka and fire that inside the barrier's effective range, shattering the shield and cracking the HM's head.
    • It turns out that there's another way to subvert them, again with Nei Mo Han and the Auge: barriers conserve momentum while deflecting. (The Auge was unable to move forward when its barrier was deflecting half a town's worth of small-arms fire.)
  • Disproportionate Retribution: The group gained the enmity of Gablet Gablae when he stole their food and they had the gall to complain about it, demanding that he reimburse them for it (and then demanding actual reimbursement when he tried to pay with a cheap digital clock).
  • Distracted by the Sexy: In one of the first chapters Kyao got distracted by Leccee's breasts. the consequences were... painful. See Groin Attack example below.
    • And in episode 11, Amu uses that strategy to distract two soldiers.
  • Easily Forgiven: For killing Lilin (thus making him an enemy of her daughter) and betraying Daba and chums, Hashamoja gets this. Not even Lilen's daughter wants his head. He's seen pinching the surrendering Anton's face and seeing Daba and Olibee off.
  • The '80s: The series was produced in that period...
    • '80s Hair: ...and as a result, there's a lot of this. Nei Mo Han is a big offender, with her giant, floating mane, held by a hair band. And young Daba had a mullet!
  • Energy Weapons: Laser guns and swords are in common use. At the mecha-scale, the most commonly used long-range weapons are 'Power Launchers', pretty much your standard Real Robot laser/beam weapon. However, few Heavy Metals actually have them as built-in/standard weapons, and they are usually mounted on the HM's arm. They are generally not self-powered, and must be connected via power cable to their power source, usually the HM itself; unusually for the genre, the connectors are located in easily accessible places (L-Gaim's outlets are roughly where a belt buckle would be, and this is considered normal practice) and the cables themselves are highly vulnerable, to the point that a direct hit to one renders it Made of Explodium. Anything weaker than L-Gaim can be destroyed or disabled this way, it seems.
  • The Empire: Poseidal's Empire
  • Evil Counterpart: The real Posaydal to Daba. Both were involved in a conflict to lead Pentagona, both were involved in a Love Triangle and both took over as the leaders of Pentagona. However, Posaydal never wanted to let go of his rule, becoming a despot obsessed with maintainting power and life in an eternal cycle. Daba on the other hand never craved power and saw it only as a means to an end for achieving peace and safety, given there was no other way. Posaydal turned Mian and Flat against him, making bitter enemies of them. Daba never abused Amu and Leccee and thus made some of the greatest friends in both of them.
  • Expy: Lilith the fairy looks and sounds almost exactly like Cham Hau from Aura Battler Dunbine. This similarity has never been fully addressed, although it's pretty likely that the staff (a number of who'd worked on that show) just had a soft spot for the spunky fairy. Further proof for this can be seen in Lilith's space suit, which has wing covers very similar to those of Dunbine's. It's even commented on when Cham and Lilith meet in games (Super Robot Wars 4 and Super Robot Wars Compact).
  • Fairy Companion: Lillith Fau, the last fairy left on planet Koam, though whether that means she's the last fairy period is never answered.
  • Falling into the Cockpit: Averted. Nearly everyone who pilots a HM is trained (though the controls are apparently simple enough that even Lillith can operate one under certain favorable conditions). Those that aren't are quickly removed from the picture.
    • In Daba's case, L-Gaim is something he got from his father.
  • Family-Unfriendly Violence: It may be Lighter and Softer than how Aura Battler Dunbine ended, or even Space Runaway Ideon, but the first episode has Lilin getting her arm chopped off by Daba's Laser Blade, Star Wars-style.
  • Fiery Redhead: Leccee can be quite temperamental when someone - particularly Kyao or Amu - gets her angry. Lillith can also be this way, and sometimes it seems like the only thing keeping her from sortieing in a Heavy Metal is the fact that the controls aren't built to her size!
  • First Girl Wins: Subverted. Amu was the first girl that showed up in the show, and eventually Daba accepts her feelings. However, it turns out that Daba met Olibee as part of the show's backstory and he chooses to become her caretaker after the war ends.
  • Flying Car: Called Flowsers in the setting, though we see more bikes or transports than actual 'cars'. L-Gaim and L-Gaim Mk. II use them as pilot seats.
  • Foe Romance Subtext: Lampshaded by Daba in chapter 15. Unknown Rival Gablet's became so driven and so obsessive with defeating him that sometimes it sounded like if he had a crush on him.
    Gablet: Daba! I am your opponent.
    Daba: You sound like if we were a couple.
  • Freudian Excuse Is No Excuse: Amandara Kamandara (AKA the original Emperor Oldna Poseidal)'s catalyst for establishing an oppressive empire was after his own family was slain by the Yaman tribe. Daba calls him out on this, as this doesn't justify the atrocities he did afterwards, starting with the Yaman nearly wiped out by his hand.
  • Glass Cannon: The show takes pains to show that Heavy Metals as a whole are a bit exposed and vulnerable to physical attack, and are more like Walker Machines than Mobile Suits.
  • Grand Finale
  • Gratuitous English: The opening theme songs "Time For L-Gaim" by MIQ and "Kaze no No Reply" by Mami Ayukawa. Also the fact that the titular machines are called "Heavy Metals".
  • Grey-and-Gray Morality: After a successful skirmish, rebel leader Stella is giving an inspirational speech to a group. In the background, two inhabitants of the freed town grumble that he makes them sick, talking like if he was making war in the name of justice. (Daba never fully trusts him, as he is too adherent to the old royal ways and is thus not much better than Posseidal.)
  • Groin Attack: Leccee kneeded Kyao during the trip to Mizum in one of the first episodes.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: The rather unscrupulous Stella Coban has one of these in Episode 16. After being severely incapacitated in the previous episode, he decides to take up a flosser in a desparate all-or-nothing move, managing to shoot Gablae's Graia heavy metal which allowed Daba and Leccee to break the chokehold Nei and Gablae had established on them. The resulting blast from the Graia's power cables exploding knocks the flosser and Stella, who died immediately on impact.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Gablet Gablae, eventually, defects from Poseidal out of love for Quasan Olibee.
  • High-Heel–Face Turn: Leccee, after meeting Daba.
    • Quasan, once her brainwashing wears off somewhat.
  • How Unscientific!: This is a Humongous Mecha Real Robot Genre Mecha Show. In episode 2, Daba meets a fairy capable of casting illusions, reading minds and scouting souls. (They're not unheard of, mind: Kyao's hometown had a saying about them - "if you want the world, make a fairy smile" - and folks from the area Gavlet was born in believe they are a severely bad omen).
  • Ideal Hero: Being Responsible and honorable, Daba fits the bill quite nicely.
  • I Gave My Word: The first arc revolves around the main characters fighting or running from a gang of scavengers, hiding in cities and woodlands, getting into trouble with the army, gaining new enemies, hijacking a trade starship to travel to another planet... all because Daba promised a dying stranger than he would deliver a cash card to Amandara.
  • If It Swims, It Flies: Subverted, as most Heavy Metals need additional equipment to do so.
  • Important Haircut: In episode 9, to prove that her Heel–Face Turn was real, Leccee unsheathed her rapier, stated that she would cut the most precious thing to a woman, and then cut her hair and offered it to Daba (crying as she did so). That got the main characters to believe her.
  • Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain: Gavlet Gabulae is a particularly jarring example. He's introduced as the primary rival, repeatedly shown to be a capable officer and Heavy Metal pilot, and is clearly a real threat, but never once defeats Daba.
    • Averted... somewhat once he undergoes his Heel–Face Turn. On one hand, his first battle after he defects has him losing badly to a minor villain (Rockly Ron). On the other, Rockley was piloting a much more advanced Heavy Metal, and Gabley proves his skill by managing to help hold off THE ORIGINAL AUGE, which even the mighty L-Gaim Mk 2 couldn't defeat!
  • It's All My Fault: In episode 11, Amu begs Leccee to let her pilot the Booster because it was her fault they got caught. (Though she was hamming it up a little to get her way.)
  • Japanese Ranguage: An infamous Japanese scan claimed the L-Gaim Mk. II featured a Morvabul F-Lame, which may or may not be a seriously impressive example. (For the record, Mamoru Nagano apparently came up with the idea for "Movable Frames" for in-show and toy manufacturing purposes, and it's not totally clear where the odd spelling came from. "Morvabul F-Lame" is pronounced and treated as "Movable Frame" for all intents and purposes, but the former appears to be the official spelling as it applies to Heavy Metals.)
  • Kinetic Weapons Are Just Better: Power Launchers are the standard weapon in this setting, so this trope only occasionally comes up in certain A-Classes. As Heavy Metal defenses tend to be designed around Energy Weapons, the trope is fully justified - it's just that kinetic weapons are harder to use for logistics and supplying reasons, so they're also uncommon.
  • La Résistance: Various factions come and go, and it seems like every inhabited planet in the system had a couple; eventually, a cohesive force is pulled together by Daba.
  • Large Ham: Gavlet Gabulae. Amu is capable of this sometimes, being a former actor.
  • Laser Blade: Everyone uses them. Both human characters and Heavy Metals, as they're accurate and handy for precision cleaving.
  • Last of His Kind: Daba is the only surviving member of the Yaman royal family, though the Yamans weren't totally exterminated. Lilith is also the only fairy to survive a nuclear holocaust - maybe - and her race faced spectacular persecution from humans even before that.
  • Latex Space Suit: Worn by pilots during interplanetary travel and space battles, though the breathing apparatus is a combined helmet and upper torso armor.
  • Lost Technology: Original Aug. L-Gaim is 'lost' only in terms of being tech from the exterminated Yaman tribe - it can be reproduced fairly easily, and experienced mechanics will recognize it as such, but the know-how is foreign to the vast majority.
  • Love Triangle: Starts with Amu and Leccee competing for Daba's attention, eventually settling into a new dynamic with Daba accepting Amu's feelings. In the end, neither wins. (Several episodes make it clear that Lillith has feelings for him too, but Amu and Leccee never view her as a rival.)
  • A MacGuffin Full of Money: The cash card that the early episodes revolves around. It contains a few million of the local currency, forms the basis for a lengthy delivery quest, gets stolen back and forth, and gets frozen when the bank became aware of the shenanigans surrounding the thing.
  • Made of Explodium: Generally underplayed with the Heavy Metals themselves, which are electrically (solar) powered and thus don't have much in them to explode on their own. On several occasions, it's shown that Heavy Metals still function even after getting individual limbs/systems cleaved off with a Saber.
    • Played straighter with Power Launchers, as successful hits will cause its target to explode violently... in space, anyway; survivability seems to rise dramatically in atmosphere. They are explicitly shown to have different power settings, and can be used to disable in the same way as Sabers.
  • Magikarp Power: Another Century's Episode 2 gives players the Amon Duule "Stack". In both the game and the series, the unit is technically a flawed and defective piece of junk, despite having a stupid powerful beam cannon that would make Gundam Wing cry. However, after some minor upgrades and using the unit for a little while, the player can upgrade it into its true form: the L-Gaim Mk. II, the most ridiculously powerful unit that the good guys get in the L-Gaim series, and a very good power unit in ACE 2.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Amandara Kamandara, very much so.
  • Mecha Expansion Pack: The various Land Boosters serve this role. The ones that attach to Heavy Metals as backpacks are called Light Boosters, and are apparently designed with standardized connectors. (Heavy Metals are fundamentally surface-use.)
  • Mecha Show
  • A Mech by Any Other Name: Giant robots in this series are called Heavy Metals, and are classified as Original, A-class, B-class, or Machineries in quality.
  • Meta Mecha: Kind of, as both L-Gaim and L-Gaim Mk. II can only be exploited to the fullest of their capacities using the Spiral Flow and Viewy air bikes. (L-Gaim can use either one and has a built-in basic control system, but it's a bumpy ride since the Flosser functions as the pilot's shock absorber.) It appears that this is L-Gaim's trump card, as thanks to this it can get away with rougher movements.
  • Mid-Season Upgrade: L-Gaim Mk. II. (L-Gaim remains a good, if basic and underarmed, A-Class Heavy Metal until the end of the show.)
  • Mission Control: Amu turns out to be surprisingly good at this.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: Certain things are beneath Gablet Gabulae... such as the simple act of walking up to someone.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: the extremely poweful L-Gaim Mk. II is easily totally trashed by the original Aug. The only thing that prevents Daba from a Heroic Sacrifice is when Mian deactivates the Bio-Relation, causing Amandara to buy it.
  • No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup: played pretty straight with the L-Gaim Mk.II, although there was clearly a prototype. But to really make sure that this was the case, when Daba and Co. stole the Mk.II, they also made off with the technician in charge of it.
    • The original L-Gaim is like this (based on a Heavy Metal that doesn't exist in any form anymore), and uses lost Yaman tech on top of that. However, it was also built with simplified tech specifically so it could be mass-produced just by analyzing its schematics - the resulting D.Ssrd ends up being 80% similar to L-Gaim, and is a complete aversion of the trope.
  • No Range Like Point-Blank Range: Happens a few times. In episode 12, a mecha is equipped with a deflector shield that stops L-Gaim's Power Launcher shots, so Daba picks a bazooka and shoots its head at spitting range. It works - can't really get off a shot without being able to see, after all.
  • The Paragon: Daba. His leadership qualities are evident from the beginning, but it's not until after the collapse of the Mizun rebellion that he starts making a name for himself as the torch lighting the way for the rebels to follow.
  • Pintsized Powerhouse: It's not clear if she's strong for her race or not, but Lillith is depicted as being stronger than you'd expect at first sight, being able to do full-size dishes and knocking a grown man to the ground with a single flying kick.
  • The Power of Friendship: What makes the rebellion a success.
  • Really 700 Years Old: The real Poseidal emperor Amandra Kamandra.
  • Real Robot: All mecha in the show. Crosses the line a bit with L-Gaim Mk. II and the original Aug, as they are unusually overpowered one-of-a-kind Heavy Metals.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Several minor characters. Most notably in the episode General Kurosu, where a criminal has taken the place of the real General Kurosu, who was executed by the Poseidal Military Forces. After he discovers the truth, Daba asks him to stand-in for the real Kurosu. He truly redeems himself by saving Daba from Nei Mo Han by interposing his Machinery between Auge and L-Gaim. Sadly, his Machinery is destroyed in the process and he dies.
  • Red Is Heroic: Leccee is a redhead and she joins the group of Daba which fights the Empire.
  • Refuge in Audacity: Daba's initial attack on the Empire capitol falls under this, wherein they flew in and defaced Poseidal's giant statue. It's made clear that A) it only worked because their total force at the time was a transport ship and a handful of crew, and B) they got out by the skin of their teeth and a very timely Big Damn Heroes moment from the Turner.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Daba was prince of the Yaman clan, though he avoids saying so unless it's absolutely necessary, preferring instead to incite rebellions as a commoner. During the series he joins the different rebel factions and ultimately leads the rebellion against Emperor Poseydal.
  • Single-Biome Planet: Gustgal is an oceanic planet that's apparently undergone an extremely rapid erosion event, as mentioned in the Full Metal Soldier OVA. The other planets avert this: Mizun and Trydettol are temperate and verdant worlds, with both forests and barren landscape existing, while Koam appears to be a steppe planet, also with varying levels of barren and green landscapes.
  • Short-Range Long-Range Weapon: Justified on a number of levels. Standard Heavy Metals rely on visual targeting (long-range sensors exist, but only on ships, and even they have trouble with the electromagnetic jamming that's extremely common in the setting), Power Launcher shots travel slowly, and most pilots seem to know better than to stay in open sight or travel in a straight line. Particularly high-end Heavy Metals also tend to have some means of negating Power Launchers as well, in the form of a barrier or a hand-held shield like what L-Gaim carries, so anything less than a certain hit from just the right angle tends to just reveal their presence.
  • Shoulder Cannon: The Auge has these, but unlike how this usually plays out, they happen to look like purely defensive Shoulders of Doom until they rotate into firing position.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The "Docking Sensor" sequence, where the air bike combines with L-Gaim (Mk. II), is reminiscent of the famous ''Pilder On!''.
    • L-Gaim is called the "legendary white heavy metal", like the titular robot of another Tomino series.
    • Two people who look very much like Puropopief and Rose are nearly hit by Daba and Co. early in episode 2 (their difference in size is considerably exaggerated here).
    • There's a Ganga Rubu and a Dunbine figure in the abandoned Yaman toy store window, in episode 8.
  • A Simple Plan: All Daba and Co. intended to do in the first arc was deliver a cash cardnote  to a total stranger. But somehow they end up getting involved in a rebellion against The Empire and a war that spans five planets.
  • Super Prototype: L-Gaim Mk. II. Literally: It is an Amon Duule Stack improved with L-Gaim's Yaman technology.
    • The L-Gaim and L-Gaim Mk.II count for other reasons - the former is mass-produced as the D.Ssard while the more advanced Novel D.Ssard (of which we see only one, piloted by Lecce) is based off of the latter.
  • Time Bomb: The long-forgotten nuclear reactor on Paratta Star which begins ticking down to self-detonation after getting jarred by a battle outside.
  • Torture Always Works: Averted repeatedly.
    • Kyao gets tortured by Lilin for a whole afternoon before he says anything useful, and even then it's only because they start threatening Amu (meaning they wasted hours torturing the wrong prisoner).
    • Reeve (Stella Coban's aide) is tortured to unconsciousness (through Electric Torture, as they figure he's taken meds that will prevent a Truth Serum from working), when Gabulae tells them it'd be more effective to just attach a tracker to him and let him escape and is smart enough to attach two. In a nice nod towards reality, Reeve is told to rest up for a few days afterwards.
  • Transforming Mecha: L-Gaim Mk. II. They're unheard-of in the setting, to the point that a certain purple-haired test pilot didn't realize it could transform.
  • Ultimate Lifeform: Emperor Oldna Poseidal fits this description in this setting, given that he's functionally immortal.
  • Unknown Rival: Unknown isn't quite the case, but while Gabulae sees Daba as his rival and becomes obsessed with defeating him, seeking him out and challenging him at every opportunity, Daba only sees him as a persistent annoyance at best.
  • Used Future: The world definitely has seen better days.
  • The Voiceless: Lilith spends her first couple of episodes this way (to the extent of communicating through pantomime) but starts speaking normally from episode 4 onwards - sporadically. She does not start to communicate normally until about a quarter of the way through the show.
  • Walking Spoiler: Daba is a bit casual about his background as the surviving prince of the Yaman tribe, mentioning it to Lilith (who apparently doesn't recognize the importance of what he said) shortly after they first meet.