Zettai Muteki Raijin-Oh, titled Matchless Raijin-Oh on all further English releases, is the story of the world's most powerful super weapon and the classroom of children who command it.
Eldoran, the defender of the Earth, pilots a set of giant robots that can combine and form the mighty warrior, Raijin-Oh, and is charged with defending the planet from evil aliens. When the Jaku Empire, a race of fifth-dimensional beings, descends upon the Earth in attempt to conquer it, Eldoran is there with Raijin-Oh to drive the forces of Evil away and keep the planet safe from harm. An epic space-robot mecha battle is about to begin!
Or not. Eldoran goes down in less than a minute and is sent hurtling toward the planet.
Injured and struggling to keep control of his vessel, Eldoran can't escape the Earth's gravitational pull and falls toward the Earth — more specifically, straight toward an unsuspecting Japanese elementary school.
Meanwhile, Mr. Shinoda's fifth-grade class is staying after hours due to poor scores on a recent test. Some odd activity in the afternoon sky catches the attention of the students, and they stare outside, dumbfounded...until they realize an unidentified object is heading straight for them—Oh, Crap! GET OUT OF THE WAY!!
Robot falls, everyone dies.
Actually, no! With the last of his power, Eldoran is able to preserve the children's lives...at the cost of his own. However, the threat of the Jaku Empire still looms above the Earth. With Eldoran gone, there's no one to pilot Raijin-Oh, so he must name an heir quickly and pass on the power to someone who can defend the planet in his stead. Unfortunately, the only ones around to ask are the fifth-graders he just rescued. Left with no other choice, he passes the robots onto the children with little explanation, and uses the strength he has left to reformat their classroom into a pimped-out computer command center.
Left with no choice and no instruction, the children of class 5-3 — now with three (later four) giant robots at their disposal — are forced to learn how to defend the Earth on their own by trial and error. Hilarity Ensues.
Zettai Muteki Raijin-Oh, the first series of the Eldoran franchise trilogy, is a genuinely heartwarming series that has a surprising amount of character development; much more than you would expect from a giant robot show aimed at younger children. The main cast is made up of the eighteen students, each with their own distinct look, personality, and duty. The three stars of the series are Jin, Asuka and Kouji, who are charged with piloting the three robots that combine to form Raijin-Oh. While they're out fighting, their Class President, Maria takes control of the command center and guides the entire class body to monitor Raijin-Oh.
The show is based on a very simple concept, but it's executed very beautifully. The writers aren't afraid to lampshade classic tropes of the Giant Robot genre on a regular basis.
Almost 20 years after first airing in Japan, it was licensed by a brand-new anime distribution company called Anime Midstream. Despite many doubts, Midstream successfully released the first volume of Raijin-Oh at the end of December 2009, with more releases coming over the next several years, before finally reaching the end of the series in 2014.
Yatate Bunko, Sunrise's publishing subsidiary, published a novel based on this series starting April 18, 2017.
This show contains examples of:
- Academy of Adventure: The school is hiding giant robots under campus and one classroom turns into a command center.
- Adults Are Useless: Beautifully averted. Sure, the kids are the only ones who could control Raijin-Oh but once outside the mecha and the control center, they still needed all the guidance from their elders, who are just as knowledgeable as they needed to be with the obvious exception of the annoying, borderline Neidermeyer Army General.
- Even the General becomes a valuable ally once he warms up to the fact that the world's most powerful weapon is in the hands of children.
- Afraid of Needles: Jin, of all the things that he has to develop a phobia for. It even incapacitates him for a while during battle when they faced off with a syringe-themed Monster of the Week.
- Always Chaotic Evil: The Jaku Beasts - No exceptions, justified because they seemed to lack any higher intelligence than their own programmed instincts. A little girl who kept a vegetable-eating monster briefly as a pet tried to appeal to it but failed to awaken any good in it. The closest we can come to an exception was that of the superhero monster, but as mentioned, the monster was only acting on its programmed instinct and generally was still considered a nuisance.
- Androcles' Lion: Jin's parents are the only ones who took Taida in, when the rest of the world wanted his blood. Later in the same episode, he protected them from a rampaging Jaku Satan.
- Animal Mecha: Hou-Oh, Juu-Oh, and Bakuryu-Oh.
- Battle in the Center of the Mind: After God Raijin-Oh and Jaku Satan teamed up and destroyed Warusar, a disgruntled Belzeb insisted on challenging God Raijin-Oh one final time. As a last ditch effort, he cast a spell on the pilots Jin, Asuka, and Kouji, putting them in a dream where the world no longer believed in them nor the existence of Raijin-Oh. The spell failed to break the trio's spirits and they confronted Belzeb again. Belzeb burst into tears, finally realizing that his enemy is far too strong for him to defeat - be it physically or mentally. He accepted his defeat, made his peace with the kids and left Earth without further conflict.
- Car Fu: Shinoda does this in an episode against the Monster of the Week; ramming his car straight into the face of the said monster.
- Chest Blaster: Raijin-Oh's "Raijin Flash" attack fires a green gem out of its chestplate. God Raijin-Oh uses a stronger, red version of it called the God Hyper Flash.
- Color-Coded Characters: Averted!
- Jin wears red and yellow, but his robot is white and blue
- Asuka wears blue, but his robot is red
- Kouji wears green, but his robot is blue and gold.
- Combining Mecha
- Communications Officer: Raijin-Oh is so complex to operate that it needs two communications officers.
- Conservation of Ninjutsu: The TV series had the titular mecha struggling to beat a single Monster of the Week. The OVA sequel features all the previous Monster of the Week returning to fight. If you guessed that Raijin-oh was cutting them down one by one with ease, you're right.
- Creator Provincialism: The Akudama that give birth to Jaku Beasts are seemingly scattered all across the Earth at the beginning of the series, yet only one episode features a monster appearing anywhere besides Japan.
- Creepy Cockroach: In the second episode, Jin frightens Maria with what turns out to be a rubber roach.
- Defeat Means Friendship: In the series finale, Belzeb finally accepted his defeat, made peace with the kids, and left
- Defector from Decadence: Belzeb and Falzeb turned on their former master Warusar, after he attempted to kill them.
- "Do It Yourself" Theme Tune: The show's ending theme is performed by the voice actors of several members of the Earth Defense Class, collective credited as the "Earth Defense Chorus".
- Enemy Mine: Belzeb turned against his master Warusar and helped God Raijin-oh to take him down.
- Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Belzeb could not understand why he kept losing to a trio of kids piloting a robot. He couldn't understand why his subordinate Taida choose to protect his human friends from harm either. Until the finale anyway.
- Extreme Omni-Goat: Invoked when Jin attempts to feed his failed test papers to Carol, the school goat. It didn't work.
- Falling into the Cockpit: Played straight and with a twist: Jin, Asuka, and Kouji are literally thrown into the respective cockpits of their mechs during the school's massive transformation sequence.
- Fanfare: The transformation sequence has this.
- "Fantastic Voyage" Plot: An episode features a shrunken Raijin-oh and Jaku Satan fighting inside Shinoda's body.
- Finishing Move: God Thunder Crash for normal Raijin-Oh and Hyper Thunder Crash for God Raijin-Oh. Both moves start by immobilizing the Monster of the Week in an energy field before the actual attack.
- Freudian Trio: Jin, the impulsive, Hot-Blooded hero (Id); Asuka, the straight-laced upper-class boy who emphasizes on rules and consequences (Superego); Kouji, the calm, non-confrontational type who acts as The Heart of the team as soon as he got over his initial timidity (Ego).
- Gender-Equal Ensemble: The Earth Defense Class consists of exactly nine boys and nine girls.
- Grand Finale: The last 3-4 episodes. The Akudamas that created the Monster of the Week are completely destroyed, Warusar was destroyed, Taida was exiled to Earth, and Big Bad Belzeb accepted his own defeat and retreated.
- Subverted upon the release of the OVA sequel, albeit on a less grand scale.
- HeelFace Turn: Jin's parents showed kindness to Taida, which had him thinking twice about his mission. Eventually in the finale, he pleaded with Belzeb to stop fighting. Belzeb granted him mercy by exiling him to Earth.
- Hot-Blooded: Jin, full stop. One of his image songs is titled Hot Blooded! Hot Blooded! Men Are Hot Blooded!
- "How Did You Know?" "I Didn't.": When episode 43's Jaku Beast causes Reiko to grow into a giant, Maria convinces her to help Raijin-Oh fight it by saying that defeating it will undo its powers. When Maria's asked after the fact how she knew that, she admits that she just said that to get Reiko's help and didn't actually know it would turn her back to normal.
- Humongous Mecha
- Idiot Hero: Jin is portrayed as one when outside of battle. Had a running gag of scoring *very* badly in his academic assessments.
- Image Song: The main characters get quite generous helpings here; Jin, Kouji, Asuka and Maria get two or three each, and the remaining 14 main characters each get a song. Even the villains get a shot in a "karaoke showdown" themed song.
- Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain: Taida. He even befriended Jin's parents.
- Jerk Jock: Asuka can come off as this sometimes, though he is a genuinely nice guy.
- Kid Hero: Jin in a nutshell.
- Kid With The Remote Control: More or less the entire concept of this show. No one outside of class 5-3 can control Raijin-Oh.
- Magikarp Power: Late in the series, a monster of the week took the form of a pair of Ice Skating boots, which proved to be absolutely useless in combat and showed no resistance either. That all changed when Jaku Satan merged with it, making it one of the tougher opponents that God Raijin-Oh had faced - It even managed to fend off God Thunder Crash briefly.
- Mid-Season Upgrade: Bakuryu-Oh was introduced as such in its debut episode, but subverted in the rest of the series when it was clear that its main purpose was to combine with Raijin-oh. This trope also applies to the bad guys when Belzeb unleashes his own personal mecha Jaku Satan, in order to balance the odds.
- Monster of the Week: Just as any Super Robot of its day and at the same time, is also an example of...
- Monster of the Aesop: The akudama (monster seeds) were specifically activated by the word "meiwaku" (troublesome, problem) being used in a phrase, and would then take on the form/powers of whatever was being considered a problem by the speaker. So there was a traffic jam monster, a flu monster, a superhero monster (this one had some serious "what side am I on again?" issues) and so forth.
- Motion Capture Mecha: Ken-oh/Raijin-oh's motion control system is configured this way; pretty handy whenever Jin thinks of a fancy move to get themselves out of tricky situations.
- Near-Villain Victory: Without this trope, there wouldn't be any tension in the show. However, this was played particularly well in the Grand Finale, where Belzeb managed to take down God Raijin-oh using his upgraded Jaku Satan, and for once broke up God Raijin-oh into its individual components, with Belzeb about to destroy Ken-oh (And Jin by extension). Its only the collective willpower of the pilots that kept them fighting, allowing Jin an opportunity to stab Jaku Satan with its own sword, narrowly beating it.
- Non-Indicative Name / Oddly Small Organisation: The Jaku Empire. Said empire consists entirely of Warusar, Belzeb, Falzeb and Taida.
- "On the Next Episode of..." Catch-Phrase: Jin caps off the previews by declaring, "Even in the middle of class, we're OK to launch!" For the episodes taking place during summer he amends it to, "Even during summer break", and "winter break" in the winter.
- One-Winged Angel: Happens almost every episode for each Jaku Beast. Also...
- Taida became Black Taida after swallowing thousands of the remaining Akudamas, and even singlehandedly took down God Raijin-oh. He stood down after Jin's parents appealed to his good side.
- The remaining Akudamas eventually get regurgitated and merged to form a giant Akudama, only to be destroyed for good.
- Only Six Faces: Largely averted. 18 main characters (21 if you count the school faculty sidekicks) and no two look alike.
- Proud Warrior Race Guy: Suits Belzeb to a T, especially late in the series. To protect his honor, Belzeb challenged God Raijin-oh to a final battle and exiled a battle-weary Taida to Earth to spare his subordinate from possible death.
- Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: The kids in control of Raijin-Oh and the only ones with the power to stop the Evil Empire.
- Recruit Teenagers with Attitude: Eldoran must have done this intentionally. Surely there were enough adults in the school to put a team together, but he chose the kids.
- Shipper on Deck: In the first OVA, Asuka wants Hiroshi and Cookie to get together.
- Sorting Algorithm of Evil: Each monster of the week gradually became more difficult to defeat, and they themselves gained a mid-season upgrade through combining with Jaku Satan, to counter God Raijin-oh. This got to the point where late episodes had God Raijin-oh needing outside help to overcome the odds. Compare this to the first few episodes where Raijin-oh alone could handle the enemies.
- Stock Footage
- Super Mode: Raijin-oh combines with Bakuryu-Oh to become God Raijin-oh. This trope also applies to the Monster of the Week (Jaku Beasts) whenever Belzeb either bestows the Jaku power upon it, or (later on) had Jaku Satan merging with it.
- Super Robot
- Tomboy: Reiko is a sweet, adorable little girl who has masculine interests like cars and pro-wrestling.
- Transformation Sequence: 3 per episode, at least. The pilots transform into their uniforms, the robots transform into Raijin-Oh, and even the school transforms into the command center. Unlike most other anime Transformation Sequences, though, after the first few episodes these sequences are abridged or skipped completely as we're expected to know what's going on.
- Episode 18 reveals that the robots transform into Raijin-Oh in 2.8 seconds in real time, providing a justification for Transformation Is a Free Action.
- Transforming Mecha: Both Bakuryu-Oh and the OVA exclusive Castle Raijin-Oh.
- Undying Loyalty: Falzeb (The fairy that delivers the Jaku power) to Belzeb. Insists on staying with him even in the face of possible death.
- Wake Up, Go to School, Save the World: Probably one of the only cases in which "go to school" and "save the world" are not mutually exclusive.
- When You Coming Home, Dad?: Asuka was shown to have some shades of this with his dad in one of his focus episodes.
- You Have Failed Me: Warusar to Big Bad Belzeb, quite a few times throughout the series. However, it was only in the finale that Warusar actually attempted to dispose of Belzeb for failing him.