I don’t often talk about Anime. I go through so much during a given year that I don’t find the time to talk about any one of them in particular. But in the past few weeks I’ve answered a few questions about Anime for someone who’s a complete novice, and it made me think of all those great series I’ve watched in the past years that have stuck with me, and I thought, “Wouldn’t it be nice to write something about them?” So here we are.
If you decide to give any of these a chance, I just have one rule/request: DON’T EVER WATCH IT WITH DUB, ALWAYS SUBS! If you don’t follow this rule, we’ll have some stern words!
Today’s list is a Mecha Anime extravaganza!
Kakumeiki Valvrave: This is a relatively new Mecha series, starting in 2013 and ending earlier this year. Valvrave follows the student of a neutral colony in the middle of a war. The colony houses a school, its students and faculty. Unknown to most is that the colony is in fact a covert development lab for the Valvraves, mysterious giant robots with strange powers that transform their pilots into immortal monsters. Tokishima Haruto climbs into the cockpit of the first of the Valvraves and becomes something new. He still looks human, but sometimes he snaps and tries to eat someone. His bite also gives him the ability to switch bodies with his victim. Joining him is L-Elf, a scheming manipulative cold hearted bastard, and a fantastic set of supporting characters.
This series combines kickass music, with impressive visuals and exciting combat and strong topics like racial issues, post-traumatic stress disorder, child soldiers, humanity and even rape. It went for two seasons, and part of what makes it so good is that no one is safe and major characters get killed quite often.
Kidou Senshi Gundam Wing: The series that made me a Gundam fan. I remember watching this series in Spanish before I watched it again and its movie in Japanese. The plot is similar to the old-school Universal Century Gundams (coming in a future issue), with the Earth Federation having the space colonies under its thumb. To retaliate/rebel, five Gundams drop to Earth from five colonies, each with their own missions and independent from each other. In fact, the pilots don’t know or trust each other at first. Their missions include sabotage, espionage and just plain destruction.
With a colorful cast and fantastic mech and a strong plot, it’s one of the last few old-school hand drawn mecha anime. Of all the Gundam series, it’s probably the easiest to get into if you’re not a big mecha fan, as plot, characters and drama have a greater focus than the mechs.
Its sequel, and official ending, Gundam Wing: Endless Waltz is one of the best anime films I have ever seen.
Heroic Age: The Mecha anime everyone can like. I have a friend who hates mecha but loved Heroic Age. In HA’s setting, there was once a Golden Tribe, a civilization unlike any other. Before going away and vanishing forever, they left a message to the remaining tribes: “Come and find us!” The tribes are: The Silver Tribe, all silver-haired and unfeeling. They don’t value their emotions and instead have one designated member of their people who takes on the burden of their feelings, absorbing them into herself. The Bronze Tribe, a race of insectoids that destroyed Earth and are under the Silver Tribe’s control. Finally, the Iron Tribe, humanity.
Each tribe has its Guardians, called Nodos, members of the Heroic Tribe, a race of giant monsters punished by the Golden Tribe for causing havoc in the universe and made to serve the other tribes. The protagonist, Age, is a small boy holding the power of a Heroic Tribe member, Bellcross. Each of the Nodos has a series of Labours, conditions that form their contracts to the different tribes.
The story mixes space opera drama with Greek Mythology–especially the myth of Hercules, with the princess’ name being Deinira and Age having 12 labours as part of his contract–and pulse pounding, adrenaline fueled action scenes. From their ship being called Argonaut to characters having Greek Myth counterparts, this is a show that keeps you glued to your seat from start to finish. Characters evolve, mature and things change, something that is rare in entertainment in general.
Majestic Prince: Don’t let the name confuse you, this is a hardcore mecha anime. Set in a future where humanity is under siege from an alien race, the show follows Team Rabbits, the Loser Five; five genetically engineered child soldiers famous for royally screwing up. They are given control of a new generation of mechs called ASHMB, powered by the “Julia System,” which increases or decreases effectiveness in combat depending on its synchronization to the pilot and their survival instincts.
The organization they work for is called MJP, and after their successes against the aliens, repelling an attack on a space station, something no one had ever done before, the internet goes crazy and dubs them the MaJestic Princes. The series mixes human and alien drama, and characters are extremely well developed. There’s plenty of lightheartedness to compensate the serious moments and the fighting scenes are incredible.
Star Driver: This one is just weird…Set in an island in the middle of nowhere (in Japan), where mysterious giant mannequins called Cybodies exist. There’s a seal on the island set by its four shrine maidens that prevents the Cybodies from moving except on a special dimension called Zero Time, a place frozen in time as you might guess. The Glittering Crux Brigade is an organisation seeking to break the seal on Zero Time, so they may pilot the Cybodies in normal time and presumably conquer the world.
To stop them is Takuto, a guy so insane he swam to the island from mainland Japan. He’s the pilot of the Cybody Tauburn, and according to the organisation, he’s the Ginga Bishonen, the Galactic Pretty-boy, the greatest threat to their plans.
It’s an awesome show and quite enjoyable, but it’s one of those you need to see for yourself to understand, because explaining it is just too hard.
Code Geass: Set in an alternate future where the Empire of Brittania has conquered most of the world, turning former countries into “Areas.” Before the start of the series, they conquer Japan and name it Area Eleven. Japanese who joined their conquerors became Honorary Brittanians while those who didn’t were sent to Ghettos, to live in squalor.
The series stars Lelouche Lamperouge, a Brittanian student Area Eleven’s Ashford Academy. He hates the Empire of Britannia for what they did to him and his sister and from childhood vows to crush them. While out on the street with a friends, they’re caught in the middle of a terrorist attack, and while trying to deal with the situation he enters into a contract with the mysterious green-haired C.C., who gives him The Power of Kings, Geass. With it, his eye turns red and a V-shaped crest appears on it and anyone he looks in the eye with it must obey his commands. From then on he takes the identity of Zero and reforms the different Japanese rebellion groups under him while they fight the oppression of the Britannian Empire.
This is hands down one of the best anime I have ever seen, mixing political intrigue and personal drama with intense action and a layered plot. Characters are extremely interesting and Lelouch is a fantastic anti-hero. There are twists and turns in every episode and the story is genius. Best of all, it’s Sunrise, the people behind Gundam, with character design from CLAMP!
Eureka 7: The world is covered in something called the Scub Coral, which releases a strage particle in the air called Trapar, which people use to pretty much Surf in the Sky. Yes, that’s right. The main mechas in this series have a built in surfboard to surf on Trapar.
The series stars the Eponymous Eureka, a mysterious girl with Green hair piloting the Nirvash, a white and red mecha. Joining her is Renton Thurston, a regular kid by every measure of the word. Together they join the crew of the Gekko, a band of rebels against the government while at the same time professional trapar surfers with their own magazine.
This is a series with some of the best character development in anime in general. From Renton and Eureka to every supporting character, everyone grows and changes over time, and they feel human, like real people you could meet down the road. Add romance to that, and the mystery of who and what Eureka and the Scub Coral are, and you get a lot of fun.