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Manga / Giant Robo

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Giant Robo is a manga that ran in Shonen Sunday from 1967 to 1972. Created by Mitsuteru Yokoyama, who created the Mecha genre with Tetsujin 28 a decade earlier, Giant Robo ups the ante by combining Humongous Mecha with Spy Fiction to tell a more somber story.

The plot goes as such: when a secret terrorist organization named Big Fire (BF) schemes to conquer Earth, the United Nations aims to defeat them by dispatching a secret agent to stop them. However, when a college-aged Japanese tourist named Daisaku Kusama is mistaken for the agent and kidnapped by BF, the teenager discovers their Secret Weapon: a Humongous Mecha named Giant Robo, or GR-1. With their greatest weapon turned against them, Daisaku wields Giant Robo to counterattack Big Fire's remaining GR units.

Following the conclusion of the manga's original storyline in Fall 1967, future issues were written as side stories to the concurrent Toku show. Whereas some were written by Yokoyama, many others were written by other artists.

A few decades (and a handful of successful adaptations) later, Yasuhiro Imagawa, director of the Giant Robo OVA, scripted a new manga. Dubbed The Day The Earth Burned, the manga started publication in 2006. While this version is an Alternate Continuity, it does act as a Spiritual Successor to the OVAs, with the same tone and many of the same characters. The original manga has also recently become available on most major manga websites.

The 1967 manga provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Age Lift: A unique case in that it occurs mid-series. Daisaku was changed from college-aged to a pre-teen about a month before the Toku series began airing, with no acknowledgement of this in-universe.
  • An Ice Person: Two of the grade school manga's features two separate Ice powered villains, an Ice Robot and an Ice Kaiju that used a Breath Weapon against Robo and the heroes.
  • Badass Normal: Daisaku is an 18 year old student and a candidate for an Olympic Marksmanship contest. He's mistaken for a United Nations sleeper agent trying to sabatoge Big Fire's world domination ploy and through chance becomes controller of Big Fire's trump card. Despite all this power thrusted on him, he is unfazed by it and simply wants to help Azuma and his team stop Big Fire to do the right thing.
  • Big Bad: The BF Chief who only briefly appears in the manga. He is a genius warring kingpin and the one who issued the GR Project into fruition.
    • Big Good: Azuma, the Chief of the United Nations team that assists Daisaku and Giant Robo in defeating Big Fire's ploy for global domination. After Daisaku is injured, he is most concerned about sending Daisaku out to control Robo for his young steward's safety over his own.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: Whereas future adaptations, starting with the Toku show, featured Daisaku using a wristwatch-gadget to control the titular mech, the original manga's run had him directly shouting commands either in-person or via radio.
  • Finger Firearms: GR-3's primary weapon is this.
    • This is also GR-1's main weapon in most of the grade school manga's.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Giant Robo does this in the final issue of the second grade manga in a loose adaptation of the live action series' now infamous finale.
  • Land, Sea, Sky: The GR units were made with this mindset.
    • GR-1 was built for mainly land based attacks.
    • GR-2 was designed to traverse in the ocean.
    • GR-3 was created for air attacks.
  • Mistaken for Spies: The beginning of the manga has Daisaku captured by Big Fire agents in Taiwan after mistaking him for a sleeper agent trying to destroy their factory producing GR-1.
  • No Ending / Sequel Hook: The manga ends with Daisaku and GR-1 destroying Big Fire's undersea base drowning everyone inside it and the two rising up from the depths of the surface but Big Fire is still on the loose and the narrator assuring the audience Daisaku and Robo will fight until Big Fire is defeated for good.
  • Rocket Punch: GR-2's signature weapon. Notable for predating the use of the weapon in Mazinger Z by a few years.
  • This Is a Drill: In one of the grade school manga's, Big Fire uses a drill machine to burrow underneath Unicorn HQ to dispatch one of their traitorous agents.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The Big Fire Chief, a rotund, pointy hatted villain leading his secret society, only briefly appears near the beginning of the manga plotting to capture GR-1...and seemingly vanishes after that.

The second manga The Day the Earth Burned provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Adaptational Villainy: The IPO and its premiere agents, The Celestial 9, are introduced as antagonists in the story, whose agents threaten to murder Daisaku — an innocent child — multiple times in the first chapter. When it's revealed that Daisaku was actually introduced to illusory copies of them, the real Celestial 9 turn out to be a bundle of Manipulative Bastards and Smug Snakes at their very best.
  • Ascended Extra: Cervantes The Dazzling was a minor BF Group antagonist in the OVA, but is one of Daisaku's favorite adoptive uncles in the manga.
    • The remainder of the Celestial 9, whom were only mentioned in the OVA outside of Taisou and Go, play a much larger role in the manga. Considering their behavior towards Daisaku, it makes one wonder if it even worth seeing them.
    • GR-3, Gaia and Black Ox, three of the robots previously seen only in the OVA's Evolving Credits, play a fairly large role during the earlier volumes of the manga.
  • Black-and-Gray Morality: The BF group are terrorists, the IPO are only a little nicer Smug Snakes. Daisaku and Fei Long's splinter group are seemingly the only nice people in this world.
  • Call-Back: A lot of the Yokoyama robots that appeared in the opening actually have fights with Giant Robo. Contenders include Black Ox and Gaia among others.
  • Composite Character:
    • Zangetsu is a combination of his old OVA design and Genya, and is a mysterious new BF member. With a few more drops of Psycho for Hire instead of stoicism.
    • Giant Robo and his brethren are modeled after a mixture of their manga designs (more so with GR-2 and GR-3 who virtually are identical to their manga counterparts) but with their OVA backstories. The same thing applies to the other Big Fire robots as well as Big Fire's guardians who all look identical to their counterparts from Babel II, Tetsujin 28 and Mars.
    • In Siege of Babel, it's revealed that Daisaku is in fact Big Fire effectively making him a composite of both Koichi from Babel II and the title character of Mars and the one responsible for all the death and destruction inflicted in the manga.
  • Expy: The manga's Gin replaces the OVA's Ginrei, with a Japanese motif, more curves, and less maturity.
  • Fanservice: Nearly every character in the manga has some fanservice element in play. Every character except for Inspector Ootsuka and Daisaku end up either being forcibly stripped naked, being put in sexual situations and in the case of the male characters, are given very noticeable bulges on their crotch (Even Giant Robo himself has a bulging crotch.)
  • Hate Sink: The IPO here are nasty and obnoxious Smug Snakes who constantly taunt and demean Daisaku throughout the story. In the first chapter, Robo kills them all by crushing them with his hand, which at first seems pretty cathartic, but it turns out the characters Robo killed weren't the real IPO, who are less murderous then the ones first introduced yet somehow even more obnoxious.
  • In Name Only: Despite overt similarities in name, the manga makes radical Adaptation Deviations from the OVA's meta narrative, such as Daisaku being raised by the BF Group and rendering the IPO as a competing group of villains. Several changes effectively make the manga come across as a long winded and mean spirited Take That! towards Mitsuteru Yokoyama's characters and legacy.
  • Jerkass: Good. Lord. Just about everyone who isn't Daisaku, Gin, Fei Long, and a few others are so full of venom and hatred towards even their fellow teammates it's a wonder neither the IPO nor Big Fire hadn't collapsed as global organizations.
  • Left Hanging: The manga had a sequel/finale manga "The Siege Of Babel" that ran for 6 volumes...until that also ended on an even more frustrating cliffhanger. Yippee...
  • Send in the Clones: In The Siege of Babel, a mass produced army of GR-1's are commanded by Daisaku to be his personal body guards replacing his previous 3 servants during his time as Big Fire.

Alternative Title(s): Jaianto Robo