Humongous Mecha are a curious thing. By all logic, they can't work in the real world due to issues with weight distribution and speed. Even if such a machine existed, it would probably move something like Honda's Asimo — slow, clunky, and stuttering.
Apparently, nobody told this to Japan — watch any given mecha anime, and you'll see hundred-meter battle machines moving with the lithe, fluid grace of martial artists. Even more confusing: the pilot can pull off these amazing feats with nothing more than a pair of joysticks and a set of pedals. Why is this? Probably because, if the robots moved like the multi-ton walking tanks that they are, then the series would bore its viewers to death. A carryover from the Super Robot days considered too catchy to dismiss along with the humanoid form — thus making this a rather obvious sub-trope of Rule of Cool. It often dissipates when a smaller character is in the scene, where from their perspective the machine is actually lumbering.
Kaiju tend to have the same problems, for similar reasons; you'd be bored if Godzilla threw an enemy and it took 30 seconds between the start of its trajectory and it hitting the ground.
It should be noted that this phenomenon occurs almost exclusively in Japanese media;note Humongous Mecha from Western sources tend to actually be big, slow, clumsy walking tanks (see BattleTech). This happens occasionally with Japan as well (see: Armored Core before the fourth installment, and of course, Steel Battalion).
It also should be noted that spider tanks can fall just as easily in this trope as humanoid robots, but rarely do. In fact, if a Mecha series has both you can expect that humanoid robots will move with much more fluidity than the multi-legged counterparts, even though logically the opposite should be true. Animal Mecha almost always display this, and if they take the form of an animal more agile than humans (such as feline/canine), expect them to be equally more agile or graceful than humanoid counterparts.
Can allow the use of a Motion Capture Mecha.
Subtrope of Faster Than They Look.
Exaggerations and Lampshade Hangings
- Mazinger Z: The Super Robot Genre Trope Maker actually subverted this trope. When the series was animated, Go Nagai reminded the cartoon-makers Mazinger-Z was a huge, heavy machine, therefore it should look heavy. Hence, Mazinger walked apparently slowly, shaking the ground and making much noise with each footstep. The robot was frequently seen from below to reinforce the sensation that it was very tall. It still was more agile than it should have been, but by no means did it seem graceful or nimble. Go Nagai wanting Mazinger-Z to seem heavy was the reason Jet Scrander was a Mid-Season Upgrade. Go Nagai intended Mazinger-Z to fly all along, but he feared if Mazinger flew from the get go, the robot would seem light, so he only gave it wings when it was firmly established Mazinger was heavy.
- In Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, the ganmen are piloted with nothing but a pair of handles. That's no big deal. However, when that mech pilots another mech using similar handles, which then pilots another mech using handles, which then pilots ANOTHER mech using handles, it gets ridiculous. Of course, in this series the Rule of Cool is a law of physics, so you should really just relax.
- Full Metal Panic! has a silly little moment featuring tangoing mecha. It's justified in that to do that it took weeks if not months to code all the movements to make it look fluid and it's later subverted when one of the Arm Slaves slips off at the end and crashes into some stuff.
- Mobile Suit Gundam Wing: The Gundam Heavyarms, despite being the heaviest Gundam in its series, can do circus acrobatics just because its pilot can (To be fair, it is also the leanest and least-bulky in design too, so go figure). Later taken to ridiculous heights when it does a spinning flip carrying four in-scale gatling guns.
- This trope forms a minor plotpoint in Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans. One of the most reliable ways to tell whether or not a mobile suit is piloted with the use of the Ālaya-Vijñāna control system is to simply look at the way it moves. A suit with that control system will both have much more fluid and life-like movements as well as much faster response time when compared to traditional control systems. This is because the Ālaya-Vijñāna involves plugging the mobile suit's controls directly into the pilot's own nervous system (via cybernetic implants in their spinal cord), and obviously simply thinking about what you want your machine to too is both faster and more precise than operating control sticks and pedals.
- The CGI Reideen demonstrated the artistic reasons for this trope by averting it in the early episodes. Reideen took half of eternity to perform relatively mundane attacks and would have been defeated if its enemies weren't under the same constraints. Later episodes embraced this trope, however, especially when combat moved into space where gracefulness was somewhat justified.
- In Neon Genesis Evangelion, we have the titular Evangelions. They're huge, taller than most of the buildings in Tokyo III, and take this trope Up to Eleven in the Rebuild continuity, where they're seen breaking the sound barrier by running. Not flying, not jumping, but running. This is a justified example of this trope because they only look like robots; they're actually giant biological humanoids cloned from aliens placed in armor so constricting that they can't control their own movements, and the pilots are controlling them with their minds, not with physical controls.
- Cybodies in Star Driver are very graceful and fluid in their movements, especially once they series reaches Third Phase, which basically turns the Cybodies into Motion Capture Mecha. It's best seen with Tauburn, the main character's mecha, who's in Third Phase from the very first episode on and frequently does flips and corkscrews like an ice skater in the olympics.
- The Titans in Attack on Titan have a Justification: they're a lot lighter than they should be for their size, and their musculature is in most cases nearly identical to a human's, so they're able to move with nearly as much grace and fluidity as a human (it varies from Titan to Titan exactly how graceful they are in practice). The Colossal Titan, however, is an exception. Being over five times as large as any other Titan, it is also extremely slow and moves rather clumsily. If it didn't have the power to vent superheated gas from its flesh, it would be virtually helpless against the human soldiers, who are used to dealing with much smaller and faster targets.
- Lampshaded and handwaved in Kuromukuro, because the Geoframes explicitly feature gravity manipulation technology, which allows 300-ton giants to have an effective mass of a paperclip. In one episode it allows the heroes to transport the titular mecha over a dinky bridge that in no way could support its 320-ton bulk without the phlebotinum. This is also what gives the mecha in the series their otherwise impossibly fluid mobility.
- Digimon Tamers: SaintGargomon is a giant, green mecha, rougly about the size of MegaloGrowmon. But since he's fused with his Tamer Lee Jiangliang, SaintGargomon is capable of performing Jiangliang's Tai Chi moves, even though his movements are kinda slow.
- Super Dimension Fortress Macross: One of the most legendary feats in the original was the 'Costume Change'. Using what is effectively an overcomplicated jet cockpit, Max Jenius manages to knock a 50' giant out with his mecha, then actually put on its clothes over his mech, to try to be inconspicuous.
- Justified in Darwin with regards to the control rig, a cybernetic implant that allows a person to meld their mind with a Knightmare frame and control it like their own body. When Kallen dodges the Four Holy Swords attack from every direction at once, Tohdo notes that such agility should be completely impossible with such a machine. Once a control rig is hooked up to the Guren Mk II, Kallen is basically unstoppable.
- In Cloverfield, the giant monster manages to sneak up on the protagonists, hiding Behind the Black.
- Dude, Where's My Car? zigzags this trope. The giantess that shows up during the climax is nimble enough to grab a guy for a quick snack, she is mostly lumbering combined with a Sexy Walk.
- The Showa series played this trope completely straight, as well some of the Millennium films, particularly Godzilla vs. Megaguirus and Godzilla: Final Wars. The Heisei series tried to avert this as part of the filmmaker's attempts to make Godzilla Darker and Edgier. In contrast to the fast-paced, exciting battles seen during the Showa era, inspired by Japanese pro-wrestling, Heisei kaiju slowly waddle towards each other, spew lasers back and forth, and when they're feeling really ambitious, will mix things up with some shoulder bumping. Fans complain about the fight sequences of the Heisei era to this day.
- Godzilla (2014) plays with this trope. Godzilla is back to a lumbering behemoth who causes a lot of damage just by walking through an area, but he is especially graceful in the water, capable of sneaking up on the M.U.T.O. kaiju just fine, and seems to be trying to weave his way through the cities as much as he can to avoid too much damage unlike the M.U.T.O. He's only walking fast in comparison to humans because his strides are so much longer.
- Pacific Rim: Guillermo del Toro avoided the use of motion capture because it would make the Jaegers look less like machines and more like this trope. Still played somewhat straight, especially by Striker Eureka.
- Justified for Striker Eureka as it is a top-of-the-line Mark V Jaeger. Gipsy Danger is a rebuilt Mark III that is noticeably slower and less graceful while the old Mark I Chernyl Alpha is very clunky and brutish.
- In Real Steel, some fighting robots have "Shadow Mode", a function that enables the robot to mimic human movements perfectly. It's one of the reasons why Atom is so deadly in the ring: his agility, courtesy of Charlie's boxing skills, allow him to dance laps around his clunkier opponents.
- Early works in the BattleTech Expanded Universe had Battlemechs with ridiculously graceful movements, being capable of performing Unnecessary Combat Roll and other silliness that in the boardgame would result in a mech falling on its face and crushing the cockpit. Later novels toned down the gracefulness to be more in line with the boardgame, though still more graceful than they should be, because reading about a battlemech failing a piloting check and falling to its death from the top of a building would quickly get dull.
- The Stormlight Archive:
- Lampshaded when one of the heroes notes that the chasmfiend (giant carnivorous lobster-thing about the size of an apartment building), shouldn't be anywhere near as graceful or fast as it is. This is stated to be very creepy. This is justified because greatshells (giant arthropods, from horse-sized to island-sized) are essentially powered by magic. They have stone-like objects called gemhearts which absorb the ambient magic of the planet. Also, Roshar's gravity is only seventy percent of Earth normal.
- Averted/Downplayed with other, larger greatshells called Tai-na. They do move extremely slowly, but given they're the size of islands, they still presumably move faster than they should.
- At least two of G.K. Chesterton's novels feature a main character who is built on the same scale as Chesterton himself but moves like a grasshopper. This is noted to feel vaguely unnatural to observers.
- Invoked in Maskerade, where Agnes knows the tremendously obese opera singer waddling onstage isn't the real one, since the real one reminds people of a moored dirigible.
- In Animorphs, Jake describes the rhino morph as a tiptoeing giant.
- The title character of The BFG is twenty-four feet tall and moves like a ninja. At least he's notably wiry and thin; the other giants are even taller, built like linebackers and just as sneaky and agile...and put that to use in much worse ways.
- Super Sentai and Power Rangers have embraced this more and more as the series' mecha fights have slowly shifted from People in Rubber Suits to CGI. Take the Delta Squad Megazord, which uses a lot of diving and rolling in its Gun Fu.
- The episode of Red Dwarf where the Cat not only steers one massive earth-moving robot as if it were Fred Astaire, he gets an entire deck of similar machines to act as a synchronised line of backing dancers.
- Warhammer 40,000 has both straight-up and averted examples — deliberately so, in that the otherworldly grace and speed of certain alien races' machinery is explicitly contrasted with the bulk and clumsiness of human constructs and less advanced aliens' technology. The giant titan walkers of the Eldar embody this trope, being huge yet slender and impossibly graceful war machines made from psychic-reactive exotic polymers and augmented by the souls of dead Eldar. Eldar revenant scout titans even have jump jets to let them leap huge distances. Tyranid bio-titans are less graceful than Eldar titans, but still possessed of an insectoid speed and maneuverability they shouldn't really have at that size. By contrast Imperial (human) titans are clumsy, lumbering behemoths that shake the earth as they trudge inexorably forward. At the farthest end are Ork Gargants, which are essentially waddling mountains of scrap metal festooned with guns.
- Part of the evolution of Tau technology between the various editions of their codex (explained as actual technological innovation — practically unheard of by anyone else in the setting — between eras of expansion) has their mecha trending towards this. In early depictions, Tau Battlesuits were graceful fliers (well, really good jumpers) due to their vectored thrust, but their actual movements were fairly clumsy, their weapons tended to be fixed guns without a lot of articulation, and they were utterly execrable in close combat. Later models moved more fluidly, were faster and more responsive, and sucked less in melee. For example, in their third-edition debut, Broadside artillery mechs mounted their railguns as Shoulder Cannon with limited traverse; in sixth edition, they wield massive rifle-like guns in articulated hands. Even the brand-new Riptide heavy mech is vastly more nimble than their previous models.
- Early BattleTech was weird about this. Many of its 'Mechs are based on existing designs from anime that tended towards the blocky, but there have also been descriptions of these things doing Unnecessary Combat Rolls. Just imagine one of these◊ tucking in its shoulder and doing a forward roll on the ground. Modern versions of the game and the book adaptations have since cut back heavily on the acrobatics. It's considered canon, and there's even on mech that due to specialized equipment is considered agile enough to perform a cartwheel, but it's also something that's cool but not actually useful in any sort of battle situation.
- The Armored Core series started out with an element of this and progressively became worse. The first game had reasonably-paced combat, though the giant mechs still moved with far more agility than so many tons of steel should rightfully have. However, the combat got faster in each sequel until becoming absolutely ludicrous in Armored Core 4. The giant robots in this game can fly and zigzag around faster than human characters can in most action games. The speed of combat was toned down for Armored Core 5.
- Reaper capital ships in the Mass Effect series are notorious for their flagrant defiance of the laws of physics, even by the standards of Space Opera. In the first game, Sovereign's first major appearance has it pull a turn that Joker explicitly notes would snap an Alliance dreadnought of similar specs in half. This does have its downsides, though: it takes the majority of their mass effect power to do, which also happens to be how their Deflector Shields work, so a Reaper caught in the middle of a high-performance turn is much more vulnerable to attack.
- Completely averted with the capital and super-capital ships in Homeworld. They move and turn like they're stuck in treacle. So much so that it's possible for some ships to dodge the lethal beam weapons of the Ion Beam Frigates since they're a Fixed Forward-Facing Weapon.
- Sym-Bionic Titan:
- The eponymous robot is about at least several stories tall and must weigh quite a few tons (even accounting for the improbable mechanics of its construction), yet it can perform impressive feats of martial arts with no regard for the laws of physics.
- This is subverted with the H.M.E.R. It's bulky, slow and needs a ridiculous amount of jets all over in to make simple maneuvers. Probably justified in that the Titan is built by aliens with technology at least centuries beyond Earth's, while the H.M.E.R. is mostly Earth tech inside a shell of scavenged alien armor.