Shinkansen Henkei Robo Shinkalion (新幹線変形ロボ シンカリオン Transformable Shinkansen Robot Shinkalion), simply shortened as Shinkalion, is a Real Robot Genre Transforming Mecha anime animated by OLM Incorporated and Ajia-Do, and co-produced by East Japan Marketing & Communications, Japan Railways Group, Shogakukan-Shueisha Productions, and Takara Tomy which premiered on January 6, 2018. The anime is based on the popular transforming train figure line of the same name by Takara Tomy.
The story takes place in modern-day Japan, where it was plagued by an unknown type of virus that is converting objects and life forms alike into bio-mechanic beings. In order to further research and combat these types of enemies, the Japan Railways Group created a nationwide secret organization called the Shinkansen Ultra Evolution Institute in researching, developing, and deploying combat mechas based on the forms of their bullet trains (or shinkansens) called "Shinkalions" to chase those viruses down. But because the Shinkalions requires a high sync ratio in order to pilot them, combats were not as effective.
Here enters our Kid Hero, Hayato Hayasugi, who initially chased behind his dad, Hokuto Hayasugi to give him his work pass, only to find out not only his dad is one of the members of the Shinkansen Ultra Evolution Institute (S.U.E.I.), but also one of the core developers of the Shinkalions. When a bio-mechanical monster appears and attacks the S.U.E.I., Hayato himself just happens to be a perfect match for one such Shinkalion: the E5 Hayabusa.
After a brief father-and-son discussion over the matter, Hokuto allows his son to pilot the E5 Hayabusa to take down that monster, and the mission ended with success in under ten seconds.
While fully aware that the method of employing children pilots is indeed Harmful to Minors, the S.U.E.I., to the best of their abilities, acknowledged this is by far the best option to fix their national problems in the long-run, prompting the institute to proceed in expanding their search, and scout potential underage pilots with extra caution and respect their candidates if they intend not to take part of the project.
And so begins Hayato's wild train ride to save Japan from evil with his E5 Hayabusa...
Shinkalion’s television series ran for a total of 76 episodes, and was domestically praised in bringing the Transforming Mecha genre back in light to a new generation of kids whose parents grew up with the likes of 90s mecha shows, particularly Evangelion and the Brave Series.
An sequel movie, titled Shinkansen Henkei Robo Shinkalion THE ANIMATION: The Mythically Fast ALFA-X that came from the Future, was announced and released in theaters on December 27, 2019. The movie is a Crossover with Neon Genesis Evangelion, Hatsune Miku, and Godzilla, prominently featuring Shinji Ikari, Hatsune Miku, and a ice-based version of Godzilla. This portion of the franchise appears in the final DLC of Super Robot Wars 30, with the exception of Shinji, Miku and Godzilla.
A second series, this time focusing on a different set of pilots, was announced in 2021. Titled Shinkansen Henkei Robo Shinkalion Z, the series premiered in April. A third series, Shinkensen Henkei Robot Shinkalion: Change the World, was announced on December 27, 2023 and is scheduled for a 2024 release, with Production I.G and Signal.MD co-producing the anime.
WARNING: The train on bound to this station contains some unmarked spoilers, especially the ones coming from the movie. Please be advised to approach this station with caution and care as the train arrives to its destination. Thank you and have a nice day!
Tropes! Now Departing!:
- Action Girl: Hatsune Miku (Yes, that Hatsune Miku, more or less), the female pilot of the H5 Hayabusa Shinkalion.
- All Just a Dream: The entire Evangelion episode is this, revealed after Hayato wakes up at a tree he took a nap under due to the heat that day.
- Or Was It a Dream?: He then finds photos of Tokyo-3 and Hikari on his digicam, much to his amusement and shock - followed by the camera panning to the opposite side of the track to show Asuka and Rei in a nearby soba shop. Then it zooms away to reveal Shinji watching the station he's in from afar...
- Alliterative Family: The Hayasugis, with the exception of Mommy Sakura, have names in Alliterative Name format. However, the daughter of the family, Haruka, took the rhyme by her mom's name.
- All There in the Manual: The official Shinkalion fanbooks tends to give more insights about the show, ranging from its terminology and chronology, to fascinating ones likes the character profiles, the specs of each Shinkalion and the real-life shinkansens they were based on.
- Alternative Foreign Theme Song: This is the theme song in Taiwan.
- Badass Creed:
- Tsuranuki has a Once an Episode variation of this, usually in regards to his motivation in an episode's plot.
- Hayato Hayasugi has one for the rest of the series:
- Bland-Name Product: This is actually averted. Due to Japan Railways and Google being involved with the show, they're able to use the names of actual trains, show the characters using Google Maps (and even Google Earth, if the first episode has anything to go by), and allow Azusa to be a Youtuber.
- Book Ends:
- The first and last episodes has the E5 Hayabusa finishing off their enemy in a Single-Stroke Battle.
- Catchphrase/Verbal Tic: A good portion of the kid cast have these, which are listed in the character sheet.
- Chekhov's Gun: In episode 14, Azusa has been unknowingly recording footage of Hayato's E5 Hayabusa, Akita's E6 Komachi, Tsuranuki's E7 Kagayaki and Shinobu's E3 Tsubasa (later joined by Ryuji's N700A Nozomi) fighting a very strong Monster of the Week while inside the capture field, ending with her becoming a member of the Shinkansen Ultra Evolution Institute by the end of the episode with the video intact. This will come into play later in episode 74 as she uploads a complete compilation video of all Shinkalion battles so far online, allowing everyone in Japan to give their moral support to the pilots in the final battle.
- Chest Blaster: The E5 Hayabusa and its upgraded version, the E5 Hayabusa Mk.II has one made for its Grand Cross finisher. A number of other units also have this feature.
- Combining Mecha: All Shinkalions, especially the E5 Hayabusa, has this special function called Link Gattainote , allowing them to combine two robots into a single "linked" unit.
- The 700 Series Shinkalion takes this one step further by combining three 700 Series Shinkalion units into one Humongous Mecha, the Shinkalion Trinity.
- The E5 Hayabusa Mk.II Shinkalion takes this even further by combining not only with a Shinkalion, but also its special auxiliary gear, creating a new type of combination called Over Cross.
- Containment Field: In order for the Shinkalions to fight without doing any sort of property damage, battles usually takes place inside "capture fields" created by S.U.E.I. to minimize any outside damage (and to keep the combatants from both sides hidden from the public). However, the fights must be done within fifteen minutes or less. Otherwise, the field will collapse and the enemy escapes to wreck havoc outside.
- Crossover: This series is increasingly becoming known for this, mainly to hype up parents, and hopefully dish out their personal wallets during the process.
- Who knew Miku Hatsune started out as a mecha pilot at the age of 11?
- One of the most (in)famous trades this series offered was to have Hayato slip into Tokyo-3 and work with Shinji Ikari. Complete with their famous soundtracks.
- Shinji's 500 Series Type EVA first debuted in episode 17 as a shinkasen, while their official team-up is in episode 31 - complete with iconic poses (for both the people and the robots), music, and even the design of the episode's title card!
- Shinkalion itself was featured in a crossover, with Hayato and the E5 Hayabusa Shinkalion making a surprise appearance in the movie of its predecessor series Tomica Hyper Rescue Drive Head.
- A meta example: Hayato and Seiryuu joined forces with the Brave Express for one crossover event in Super Robot Wars X-Ω.
- Cool Train: Obviously, the Shinkalions are this, being real-life Japanese bullet-trains able to turn into Humongous Mecha. The Black Shinkalions, however, are show-original designs in both forms. Given their animal motifs, however, they still qualify for this trope.
- Finishing Move: Individually, each Shinkalion has at least one or two finishing attacks that can destroy their targets, either with their weapons, Link Gattai, Over Cross or a feature available specifically for a particular Shinkalion.
- Foreshadowing: Late in the show, Ryuji explains that he's looking to the future, and looking into taking a more executive role at the SUEI. Come Shinkalion Z, Ryuji's no longer a driver (as his compatibility rating has declined with age), but he has indeed taken on the position of Acting Director of the SUEI's Nagoya Branch.
- Another example occurred towards the middle of the series, where Hayato and Ryuji discuss the Doctor Yellow. Ryuji later compares himself to it to get Hayato to remain where he is. Cue the next few episodes where Ryuji is now the Doctor Yellow's driver, and the lampshade is hung via a flashback scene.
- Homage: This series is also best known for its many homages to the whole of the Mecha genre, with several aspects of the show reconstructs themes presented in Neon Genesis Evangelion, and throws in various elements used in the Brave and Gundam series; especially from these titles.
- This series renders the Shinkalion pilot mechanisms based on Mobile Fighter G Gundam, with the E5 Hayabusa being unique in terms of having special AI support in a similar aspect like Mashin Hero Wataru, and Future GPX Cyber Formula
- Episode 31 in general is one huge homage to Neon Genesis Evangelion (as well as a grand send-off for the last stop of the real-life 500 Series Type EVA shinkansen), complete with its trademark music, title card design, various throwbacks and even the appearance of the MOTW that look like the amalgamation of every Angel ever shown in the original anime.
- Episode 49 has a full-on animated recreation of the first in a series of old Japan Railways holiday adverts that were very popular throughout the 1990s. They even relicensed the music (Tatsuro Yamashita's Christmas Eve) to get it right. Though given the fact that this show is another product of the Japan Railways Group, it could also probably count as a Shout-Out.
- The Four Gods: The first four of the antagonists for this series are named as Genbu, Byakko, Seiryuu, and Suzaku.
- Kid Hero: With the exception of both Ryuji and Hokuto, the former being the eldest at age 14 and the latter being the Token Adult, majority of the main cast who can pilot a Shinkalion are mostly kids, with Ren Oozora in particular being the youngest of the Shinkalion pilots at age 8!
- Macross Missile Massacre: The 500 Kodama Shinkalion's Finishing Move Missile Shield.
- Motion-Capture Mecha: Drivers are equipped with a special suit that synchronizes the Shinkalion with their movements once transformed.
- New Transfer Student: Akita Oga and Tsuranuki Daimonyama transferred to Hayato's school, as well as settling in the same homeroom as Hayato to better bond with each other as Shinkalion drivers. Akita and Tsuranuki both also share the same dorm due to the two having contrasting personalities and needed the bonding environment in order to achieve a stable Link Gattai sync rate for combat.
- Once an Episode: Every episode has Tsuranuki saying a variation of his Badass Creed Catchphrase, sometimes twice in the same episode.
- Parents as People: Parental figures in this series are presented in a much more contemporary, liberal, and vulnerable matter; placing heavy emphasis over the importance of open communication between family members, and among colleagues at work. When you noticed how deeply rooted the reserved culture of Japan is, this is an eye-opener.
- Parent-Child Team: Hayato follows the orders of his dad's institute to take out enemies using the Shinkalion as his father Hokuto occasionally order commands to Hayato via their institute's command center. Hokuto later gets to pilot a Shinkalion to directly combat enemies alongside his son, and the two eventually combine their Shinkalions to take out their opponents more frequently.
- Recap Episode: Two of them exactly, (episodes 51 and 57).
- Rule of Three: Not practiced that often in the anime itself, but the first, second and third seasons were released three years apart from each other (2018, 2021, and 2024, respectively).
- "Sesame Street" Cred: Vocaloid Hatsune Miku plays a role representing herself in this children's anime.
- Sequel Hook: In the final episode, with everyone bidding farewell in the Omiya Station, Seiryuu noted that Byakko went to space for reasons unknown, to which Azusa states to him that everything will be alright, while Hayato takes one last look at the station before joining his friends. Cue the ALFA-X arriving at the station, setting the stage for the movie...
- Spanner in the Works: If she is ever present during a plot-relevant episode, chances are, Azusa Ueda ends up (unknowingly) became involved in the plot of that episode one way or another.
- The Cameo:
- Episode 15 and 52 has the cameo of various Vocaloid characters (apart from Miku herself): Meiko, Kaito, Luka, Len and Rin.
- BOYS AND MEN, the singers of the anime's theme, appeared in one episode.
- Took a Level in Badass: Almost everyone has a moment to shine, with the debut fight of a particular Shinkalion pilot being a prime example.
- Oh, Crap!: Snow Godzilla gives everyone this reaction as soon as they recognize what it is. Even the villains freakout when a 118 meter kaiju is suddenly bearing down on them.
- Summon Bigger Fish: In addition to calling in Shinji for back-up against Valdor, Hayato has a portal open right behind the villain to drop an angry Godzilla right on top of it.
- Time Travel: A 9-year-old Hokuto Hayasugi traveled from the past to the present.
- Tractor Beam: The new villains in the movie has an equipment that can draw something across time and space into their headquarter.