The Oni, foul demons from long ago, have begun their war on humanity. In order to combat these ancient beasts, Professor Saotome learns how to harness “getter energy” to create a weapon capable of fighting back. Now, it is up to Ryouma, Hayato and Benkei to pilot Saotome’s ultimate fighting machine. The three men form the one heart that is… Getter Robo!
summary by Ender
Highs: Demented action sequences; interesting plot ideas; sleek mecha designs
Lows: Demented characters; story cannot sustain itself
Manliness seems to be the name of the game for Shin Getter Robo 2004. I cannot remember the last anime I have seen recently that has featured more bloody meat and potatoes than this series. Any other day and I’d say that in itself is a satisfying meal. But this latest revamp of the now 30-year old story seems to be missing the spice necessary for a perfect meal.
Again, the majority of Nagai Go-related anime pool their efforts in the realm of sex, violence, or maybe a combination of the two. Shin Getter relies almost exclusively on having the lead characters find various ways to exenterate anything that gets in their way. Be it a horde of man-sized monsters getting their faces slashed or a hundred-foot tall monster getting a face-to-face encounter with a drill, blood and guts dances to the delight of action junkies. The violence does seem to come off at the expense of some much-needed character expansion. Gaogaigar and Mazinkaiser had similar over-the-top, passionate, young heroes, but they were at least likable warriors with noble hearts. Ryouma, Hayato, and Benkei, on the other hand, seem to sneer where other heroes smile–giving them the appearances of a pack of demonic hyenas. Hayato, in particular, is impossible to root for as he kills unchecked, yet is still allowed to pilot Getter-2. The excuse here is that the trio is anti-heroic, but from the audience’s perspective we are forced to accept them, but never grow to appreciate them.
With all this concentration on red-blooded savagery, it’s a wonder how the animators were able to throw a somewhat interesting –in giant robot standards anyway– plot. It’s a surprise to see a mecha series jump back and forth between an anachronistic Heian Era and a post-apocalyptic future, all the while beating up Oni along the way. Sure it’s silly, but it provides just enough freshness to the tired-and-true “robot vs. Godzilla-reject” formula. However, the plot is not good enough to hold on for 13 episodes. The story does not seem to last as long as it should, and much of the jumping around actually slows the series down. After a while, the team dynamic and time-jumping seems all but jettisoned to concentrate on an uninteresting “Ryouma must get stronger” plot, and this in turn leads to a completely dissatisfying ending. Had this series been half the length, I would almost guarantee a higher rating.
I have to give brief credit for the mecha designs. For once, the Getter machines resemble formidable robot destroyers and less like chunky superheroes. In particular, Getter-3 doesn’t resemble a metallic bundt cake as it has in almost every incarnation of the series. The super heroic aspect is still there, but so is the ultra-violence; these machines were meant to be destructive, and the carnage they inflict is pleasing.
There seems to have been some method to Shin Getter Robo’s madness, but maybe there’s just too much madness to see the method. Ultimately, this series works like a long, convoluted martial arts film: a pleasant, violent waste of an afternoon, but you’ll need something bigger and better for the evening.