ANIME & MANGA - Article
12:00 - 17th January 2014, by David West

Iron Giants

The battlefields of anime have often trembled under the heavy tread of powerful mecha like the Endlaves of Guilty Crown (out now from Manga Entertainment). Mecha are now as integral to the cultural identity of anime as magical girls, harem comedies and fanservice. The first major giant robot hero was Tetsujin-28, created by Mitsuteru Yokoyama in 1956. However Tetsujin-28, known in the west as Gigantor, was commanded via a remote control. The first giant robot to be controlled by a pilot riding within the machine itself was Go Nagai's Mazinger Z, who first stomped into action in 1972. Mazinger Z and its numerous sequels laid the groundwork for everything from Neon Genesis Evangelion to the Mobile Suit Gundam franchise, yet unlike many of the series that followed, Mazinger Z was generally upbeat. While there was plenty of action and drama for Mazinger Z's hero Kouji, in general the show made being the pilot of a giant robot look like a pretty awesome job. Kouji fought the good fight, saving the world from the evil Doctor Hell and his horde of monsters.

The first Gundam anime debuted in 1979 and brought with it a less fantastic approach to the giant robot genre. The hulking Mobile Suit Gundams were not flawless marvels of science and engineering like Mazinger Z. Instead, the Mobile Suits were prone to malfunctions, running out of energy or ammunition or just generally being battered into obsolescence in battle. The 1980s brought the arrival of Robotech, in which mankind built huge robots to defend the Earth from hostile alien invaders. In all these shows, the heroes and heroines were typically brave and bold. The next major leap forwards in the mecha genre came from Neon Genesis Evangelion in 1995.

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