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So You Want To / Write a Humongous Mecha Anime

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Extra Credit

  • If Super Robot, pack in some Crazy Is Cool. If Real Robot, do it anyway.
  • Nothing says cool/profits like introducing a Mid-Season Upgrade. That's double the money in model kit merchandise!
  • Fun with Acronyms
  • Any mecha show can be made exponentially cooler with moar Techno Babble.
  • Take into account the possibility of your work appearing in a Super Robot Wars game - don't go out of your way to include stuff for the writers of those games to fix, since it's not a sure thingnote , but do at least consider elements that could work with other staples in the franchise (Mazinger Z, Getter Robo, and Gundam) if you think your work has a shot.
    • While Super Robot Wars is known to fix many problematic series, even some of those in the Epic Fails section below, do not make this an excuse to slack off and make your creation fail and hope SRW will salvage it in the future. Just consider that option to be some sort of last resort, in case you already did your best and somehow still failed.

The Greats

  • The Romantic Robot Trilogy of Combattler V, Voltes V and Daimos.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam - An innovator in its time, it helped codify what Real Robot was.
  • Space Runaway Ideon - Directed by "Kill 'Em All" Tomino, who lives up to his nickname here, it is about the Ideon, a Super Robot with a rather scary power source, the Ide. Was one of the inspirations for Evangelion.
  • Macross - While it wasn't the first Transforming Mecha show, its slick designs, catchy music, The Power of Love and other elements helped turn it into successful franchise.
  • Zeta Gundam - Took Gundam to the next level.
  • Armored Trooper VOTOMS - Votoms is the leader of what defines 'Real Robot'. The mecha are basically glorified humanoid tanks, and their main propulsion most of the time are wheels built into their feet. Instead of a kid, the main character, Chirico, is a hardened elite soldier who knows what he's doing.
  • Dancougar - A deconstruction of Hot-Blooded heroes. The heroes have trouble getting along with their superiors and each other, often drop the ball and cause collateral damage, and they can't even successfully combine into the titular robot until halfway through.
  • Transformers - More than meets the eye.
  • Patlabor - A rare example of mecha used in a civilian rather than a combat setting, if you want to see how that works. Like Votoms, it is on the "very real" end of the spectrum.
  • Exo Squad - An early example of original Western Real Robot series, inspired by Gundams and set firmly in the Military Science Fiction zone.
  • G Gundam - A great example of how Humongous Mecha can be combined with any genre. A Chinese martial arts adventure with giant robots? Awesome!
  • Giant Robo - Both an old live-action series (with Giant Robo being a guy in a suit) and later an OVA series, which was directed by the same director who did G Gundam.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion - Love it or hate it, Evangelion changed the genre forever. It created a whole new school of more organic mecha design, and subverted so many Super Robot tropes. It is the Watchmen of mecha anime.
  • Gundam Wing - The first Gundam series to gain a major fanbase in America, and in both countries, it introduced a new viewer demographic: Girls.
  • Eureka Seven - While this series took time to find its footing, the series became a classic for its badass action, excellent character development, and for having one of the most best handled anime love stories of all time.
  • RahXephon - At first glance, it seems to be an Evangelion imitator, but it's actually a Spiritual Successor to Brave Raideen. It combines a musical motif with mesoamerican mythology to create a rich, alien atmosphere.
  • Megas XLR - A rare true American example of the Super Robot genre, made from whole cloth rather than by Macekreing an anime. Defined by Rule of Cool, Rule of Funny and Crazy Is Cool.
  • The Big O - Batman with Mecha? Alright!
  • GaoGaiGar - Helped make the Super Robot Genre cool again. While we're at it, also try out the Brave Series that the show is part of, they're all honest-to-God Super Robot Genre shows that you could take notes of and executed the tropes well.
  • Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann - in case you don't want your Super Robot to fight one Monster of the Week after another, you can turn to these for good examples of lighthearted Super Robot adventure series. Gets darker later on, though also more awesome.
  • GunBuster / DieBuster: Considered to the big sisters of Gurren Lagann in terms of tone, hard work, and guts, right down to the protagonist of Gurren Lagann, Simon, being a Gender flip of Gunbuster's Noriko. The endings of both are well known for their ringing the tears out of oldschool Otaku, in a beautiful way.
  • Combat Mecha Xabungle - Who says a Real Robot series can't be a lighthearted adventure? Certainly not this series.

The Epic Fails

  • Gundam SEED Destiny: This installment is notorious for its huge hatedom. If anything, it's greatest failure(s) seem to lie in the fact that all too often, personal conflicts between cast and crew would spill over into the story itself. Whether you like this series or not, don't let this happen.note 
  • Gundam AGE: While having an ambitious plot can help your series stand out, this show proves that ambition can become a wash if you do not have competent writers in your writing staff. Thanks to its rushed and/or poorly-developed plot-lines and characters, AGE became the worst received (and rated) Gundam installment yet. Moreover, Kio Asuno is a prime example of how not to write a Technical Pacifist into your story.
  • Martian Successor Nadesico: The Prince of Darkness shows how not to do a movie sequel. Its problems lie mainly in an overly abrupt shift in tone and characterization and poor pacing throughout. Much of this stems from the fact that it was a planned trilogy cut to one movie, so if you're planning on multiple movies make sure you have a good sense of what plot points are most important, just in case. Aside from that, know why people like your story and characters and don't lose that.
  • Zeorymer. The manga never seems to realize that the Designated Hero is possibly one of the only instances where the Wangst-ridden Extreme Doormat personality is actually more likeable than his "badass" self. The anime, on the other hand, fails to effectively communicate how the villains' Fatal Flaws bring them down, which makes the robot look invincible and boring.note 
  • Astro Plan, for being a ripoff of the most shameless order.
  • Candidate For Goddess / Pilot Candidate shows us why blatantly ripping off other mecha, such as Evangelion, and providing a weak Gecko Ending can be very, very bad for your show.
  • Super Dimension Cavalry Southern Cross is not really spectacularly bad so much as uninteresting to the point of being a cure for insomnia. Reportedly, the Japanese reaction to the "Southern Cross" segment of Robotech was along the lines of "How the hell did they make Southern Cross watchable?"
  • Space Thunder Kids shows us all why having a plot is important. Battle scenes are all well and good, but they have to be meaningful. Don't just use Stuff Blowing Up to pad a thin script. Also, Plagiarism is bad.
  • BattleTech's animated cartoon was an attempt to take a popular video game and tabletop wargame franchise and bring it to television. Unfortunately, an astounding lack of research and clumsily rendered animations led to mediocre results at best. Be mindful of your setting and prior fan expectations if you're going to do an Animated Adaptation or similar derivative work.
  • Gundam: Reconguista in G spent so much time layering complications and additional factions into the setting that it forgot to tell the story. By the time all the players got on the board, there were only about three or four episodes left.
  • Aldnoah.Zero has a somewhat interesting setup (Real Robots vs Super Robots, except the protagonists are the one using the inferior mecha), but blew it by having a bland Mary Tzu as its lead.
  • DARLING in the FRANXX demonstrates the pitfalls of not having a plan the whole way through nor unity of the animators and writers on your staff. Moreover, if you're planning to include tons of throwbacks to classic mecha shows, be sure you're not just using your influences as a crutch for world-building and storytelling.