Reviewby Carl Kimlinger, Mar 30th 2008
Super Robot Wars OG Divine Wars
On the icy plains of Antarctica, Federation leaders have invited delegates from the Aerogators to peace talks, but just when it seems that the reasons for developing anti-alien giant robots might become moot, Shu takes to the field in Granzon and utterly demolishes both sides. War with the Aerogators now assured, Zoldark declares the formation of the Divine Crusaders, a state-of-the-art army purported to be the last line of defense against the technologically superior invaders. However, Zoldark's first move is to attack the Federation. The colonies join in the fray, taking advantage of the struggle to begin their own war of conquest. Already stinging from the humiliating defeat in Antarctica, hot-blooded mecha fan cum pilot Ryu is swept up in the ensuing mecha maelstrom, further disheartened by his inability to halt the atrocities before his very eyes. Perhaps he needs a new robot to lift his spirits.
Any summation of Super Robot Wars' plot not only comes across as needlessly complicated, but also fails entirely to do the series justice. And with good reason: plot is utterly beside the point.
The series is a pastiche of every mecha series known to man, its complexity arising not from intricacy, but from the inevitable crowding that comes with horning the clichés from dozens of series into a single story. But don't go thinking that it's lazy: maintaining SRW's density of recycled characters, plot developments, and dialogue is no easy task. In order to encompass the entire range of clichés afforded by the mecha genre, it must not only rip off Gundam and its many clones (e.g. the Federation/colony split) but also the hundreds of super-robot anime that preceded it (e.g. the generic alien invaders), and the more breathtakingly huge the cast, the more likely it is that some originality will accidentally slip into one of them, and yet the series manages miraculously to make each and every one a shining gem of derivation. Bravo!
But Super Robot Wars is less a story than it is a paean to the vast and varied world of animated robo-destruction. The same free-fingered borrowing that results in mad-scientist villains named Zoldark and faceless aliens called Aerogators (isn't that a basketball team in Florida or something?) also allows for a smörgåsbord of mecha demolition. In a patchwork world of mecha clichés, anything goes once the mecha collide: robots pull energy orbs from their chests and hurl them at spaceships, slice through enemies with glowing horns, and go at it with blades, guns, fists and rocket-powered swords. It's thoroughly preposterous, terribly juvenile, and undeniably cool. Memorable images—a halo of debris floating past a victorious robot, a spaceship with its nose sheared off as if bitten by giant mouth—punctuate the chaotic battles, and Oriental Light and Magic breaks out some top-notch 3D CG for the sparkling balls of purple electricity and slow-motion mecha dismemberment. The score's thunderous mix of orchestras, organs, choirs, and electric guitars is so bombastic that it comes dangerously close to unintentional humor, yet somehow manages to be absolutely awesome. Even the pilots' intricate uniforms are cool, though it certainly doesn't hurt that the cast—especially the color-coordinated female cast—is uniformly attractive. Sure the series is a pastiche, but it's a pastiche that hits on everything that can make mecha series big, brainless fun.
The television series trades some of the OAV's unadulterated robo-porn for character introductions and world-building explanations, which makes it marginally less confusing, but it still obviously expects its audience to have a certain level of familiarity with its world. The series has a few too many political factions and about two dozen too many characters to be entirely comprehensible, but once the limbs start flying and ships start exploding, who cares whether any of it makes sense? As the title suggests, in Super Robot Wars, the robots are the stars, not the people or the setting. For every wound the terrible writing inflicts on your intellect (there should be a study somewhere on the effect that pilots harping on teamwork has on the IQ) there's bound to be a smackdown or nifty mecha design somewhere to make you think that maybe, just maybe, being stupid ain't so bad.
Overall (sub) : B-
Story : D
Animation : B+
Art : B+
Music : A-
+ The battle at the South Pole, the battle at the space colonies, or any other battle for that matter.
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