a.k.a. King of Braves: GaoGaiGar
a.k.a. Yuusha-Ou GaoGaiGar
Following an accident in space in the early 21st century, the earth is quietly infiltrated by a force known to be called “Zonders”. The Zonder force lays dormant, gathering strength, and making plans for their assault on the Earth. What stands in their way is the world’s strongest cyborg: Shishio Guy. Aiding Guy in the Earth’s battle is a mysterious space technology that allows him to combine and control the powerful giant robot: GaoGaiGar!
summary by Kei
Highs: Infectious music, Great character and Mech designs.
Lows: Pacing problems at the start, Re-used cels.
The final (and most popular) chapter of the Brave Saga is none other than the courage-filled super mecha series GaoGaiGar. In my history of anime watching, I have missed on some excellent mecha titles in the past. After hearing about it, I was excited and eager to investigate this series. GaoGaiGar‘s popularity can be described as a cult following at best, and it is easy to see why. Even in Japan the televised series had poor ratings, only to be trumped by amazing DVD sales.
You can tell just from the first episode that this is a hybrid of 90’s edge and style mixed with 70’s and 80’s design influences in both characters and mecha alike. It becomes very clear that the creators were fans of the works of Ishinomori Shotaro; there is even one character that is practically a homage to Cyborg 002 from Ishinomori’s Cyborg 009 series. Most of all, it is a throwback to the time where the main character was a true hero. You will not find the weak-willed, nervous, or pensive mecha pilot archetype in this series. What you will find is a lot of hot-blooded screaming of ideals and attacks, where courage alone can turn the darkest of chances into reality. The characters themselves are fun to watch, especially the various A.I. programs of some of the mecha in the series. Most of all, we get to see another fantastic performance from Hiyama Nobuyuki. After watching the series, I could not imagine another seiyuu doing the voice of Guy.
While I did enjoy the shows premise and goal, it is blindingly clear that they could have carried it out a different way. The first main arc of the story is bogged down by a monster of the week formula, and riddled with re-used cels. There is even an entire episode early on that is nothing but recycled cels. I would prefer not seeing an episode at all, than to see an episode that I had essentially already seen before. It’s nothing but build-up at the start of the series, and those with less patience than me would have given up within the first four episodes. This is a shame, because the show really rewards those who stick to the end; this very same show that started with a monster of the week formula eventually turns into something far more epic and involving.
GaoGaiGar is a series where, if it had been executed properly, could have gone from cult sensation to world wide mecha favorite. Courage can fix a lot of things, but it cannot solely make up for all the reused cels in the series. Oh, I forgot to mention, just listen to the opening theme once. It may sound annoying at first, but I guarantee you’ll be humming it for days afterward.
GaoGaiGar can be downloaded legally in the United States HERE.