The List
7 Wildly Impractical Giant Robot Designs

by Lynzee Loveridge,

Big robots routinely mean big business, maintaining a place in anime fandom thanks in no small part to Gundam creator Yoshiyuki Tomino and staples like Voltron, Macross, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Eureka 7, Escaflowne, and Patlabor. While many series remain nostalgic pillars for the genre, there are so many mecha anime out there that not all of their ideas can be winners. Creators are tasked with churning out new designs that are supposed to be distinctive, cool, and feasible for whatever the robot is supposed to accomplish. Fans can overlook things like a giant humanoid robot that rides a surfboard if everything is handled well enough, but after nearly 50 years of mecha designs, there's bound to be a few head-scratchers in the mix.

Gurren Lagann Gonna go ahead and just get Gurren Lagann out of the way. The show's titular mecha definitely qualifies in the weird design department, but the overall tone of the show makes it clear the staff are in on the joke. The mecha's full form is a pretty standard humanoid with a touch of samurai armor, but it's the giant grinning head in its torso that sets it apart, bearing both fangs and sunglasses. The mouth can also open up to reveal another head, which is where the pilot sits.

UFO Senshi Daiapolon In the 1970s, the manga Shōnen King was optioned to be adapted into anime by Studio Live, but the staff also decided to rework the concept for TV. The decade was already full of giant robots vying for kids' attention, so the team went out on a limb and mixed the show up with American football. This sport did not have anywhere near the following in Japan as it did in America, but that's how UFO Senshi Daiapolon become a helmet-wearing mecha piloted by kids in football jerseys.

Groizer X Groizer X looks like an overstuffed pheasant to me. It's over-sized and slow, even in flight form. Go Nagai worked on the series in between his responsibilities for his better-known Mazinger franchise, but somehow this aerial combat anime managed to get off the ground anyway. It stars Joe and Rita, Groizer X's pilots who wear really unfortunate helmets as they battle an alien invasion. The problem is that I'm not entirely convinced Groizer X should be able to fly, rocket boosters notwithstanding.

Mermaid Gundam (but basically all of G Gundam) Let's face it, mistakes were made here. In the episodes focusing on international giant robot combat, each "Neo" country has a robot based on their traditional dress or landmarks. Denmark has a mermaid (thanks Hans Christian Andersen), Holland has a windmill, America has the second football mecha on this list, Kenya has a fighter that plays up Zulu stereotypes, and Mexico's is called Tequila Gundam. And I'd be remiss not to mention Matador Gundam, the giant bull.

Star Driver I give Star Driver credit for choosing a decidedly different aesthetic than the usual blocky robots. The series instead opts for a musketeer feel, reflected in Takuto's lean robot who wields a glowing sword. It all gets a little campy when you realize its entire design imitates human clothing, all the way to the three-point feathered cap. Red vents near its "neck" fold over like a high collar, accentuated shoulders mimic epaulets, the arms stop in flared sleeves, and it even has curled toe boots.

Galilei Donna We've had football players, mermaids, and flamboyant fencers, but we're still missing an all-purpose mecha goldfish. The robot Galileo is operated by Grande Rosso, an artificial intelligence that is also a goldfish. The robot can change into a variety of forms for either standard flight or airborne altercations, and it also has googly bulging fish eyes (although they look angrier when in battle). The overall look aims to be whimsical and cute, but I'm not 100% sure that the staff nailed that appeal.

Mecha Ryo-Ohki (Tenchi in Tokyo) Tenchi in Tokyo has its defenders, but as someone who was always a Ryoko fangirl from the OVAs and Universe, mecha Ryo-Ohki was just the straw that broke the camel's back for me. For the uninitiated, the different Tenchi iterations largely exist unto themselves with Tenchi in Tokyo being the third reboot. Ryo-Ohki previously existed as a mascot character turned organic spaceship specifically for Ryoko. Then in waltzes the third season, and the staff decided to pair the two cute things together, so Ryo-Ohki became a pink rabbit robot battle suit for Sasami instead.






Which original Sunrise anime is most deserving of a sequel?

The old poll: Which fighting game is most deserving of a sequel? The results were:

  1. Soul Calibur
  2. Super Smash Bros.
  3. Persona 4 The Ultimate in Mayonaka Arena
  4. JoJo's Bizarre Adventure (Capcom)
  5. Vampires (Dark Stalkers franchise)
  6. Fate/unlimited codes
  7. Bloody Roar
  8. MELTY BLOOD
  9. Skullgirls
  10. Rival Schools: United by Fate
  11. CAPCOM VS. SNK
  12. Tatsunoko VS Capcom
  13. Samurai Shodown
  14. Fatal Fury
  15. Virtual On
  16. Virtua Fighter
  17. Fist of the North Star
  18. Sengoku BASARA X
  19. Battle Arena Toshinden
  20. Streets of Rage

When she isn't compiling lists of tropes, topics, and characters, Lynzee works as the Managing Interest Editor for Anime News Network and posts pictures of her sons on Twitter @ANN_Lynzee.

discuss this in the forum (44 posts) |
bookmark/share with:

The List homepage / archives