Rodrick Su (rsu@tigana.com)
Tue, 1 Feb 2000 22:07:45 -0800


> -----Original Message-----
> From: Chien Ting Chin
> Sent: Sunday, January 30, 2000 11:56 AM
>
> -Z- is correct to note that Go Nagai deserves much credit for opening the
> Real Robot genre. Without Mazinger Z (1972) there would have been no
> Mobile Suit Gundam, without Mobile Suit Gundam, there would have been no
> Macross and Evangelion EVA.
>
> So I side with the second type of the Japanese opinions, 0079 is at the
> same time the last of the Super Robot and the first of the Real Robots.
>
> Personally, I think a missing component from the discussion is the
> "Monster of the Week" syndrome of many mecha shows (in fact most TV
> anime). Before 0079, most mecha shows open with 2-4 episodes to introduce
> the robot and associated characters (always including a bearded scientist-
> inventor, a young buck/hero/pilot and a girl who's a vague love interest)
> and vilains. Then come 40 odd episodes of "MotW", which goes like this:
> there's a personal conflict within the good guys, often featuring the girl
> or the scientist, the head vilain created a new monster which trash the
> city, the robot come out to fight the monster, the monster almost gets the
> best of the robot, but both disengage and go home. [commercial break] The
> personal conflict develops, the vilain plan more diabolic plots. The
> monster is dispatched again, the robot come out again, come really close
> to getting beat by the monster, but the hero comes through, cut the
> monster up with the trade make special move of the robot. Somewhere in
> there, the personal conflict gets resolved and the hero learns a lesson.
> Hands in hand, the good guys admire a beautiful sunset as the announcer
> proclaims "The Evil will never prevail over the Just!" [the audience (me)
> jump and down and cheer]. <ahhh...> Finally there are 1-4 episodes of
> finale that finish up the head vilains and wrap up the story.
>
> It sounds pretty cheesy but it was tremendously successful. The kids (we)
> took comfort in knowing exactly what will happen and at the same time get
> a heart attack every week when the monster (almost) beat the good guy.
> Bottomline line is you get only 30 mins of kids' time every week, you have
> to deliver a bit of everything in those 30 mins.

Gee. And lets analyze the most Super Robotish Gundam, Mobile Fighter G
Gundam, which actually follows the Super Robot formula, except it managed to
twist those rule as well. Yes, there is a bearded scientist (Our hero's
father), but except for flashback and the final 2 episodes, he is completely
out of the picture. The show spends exactly 5 episodes to introduce our
Hero and the other 4 member of his eventual team. Since you are going to
get a new Gundam every week, this very much qualified as the MoTW, except
for the trashing the city bit. During the Trial of the Eleven Months, where
Gundam wanders around and fight other Gundams at randam, and especially
during the round robin fight in Hong Kong of the second half of the show,
the first half of the show is devoted to our hero outside of his Mobile
Fighter interacting with his possible opponent, and the second half of the
story line concentrating on the fight. If more people can just put Gundam
out of their mind, G Gundam is probably the best executed story-wised of all
of the 3 alternative timeline.

>
> The major achievement in my mind is that Tomino challenged both the
> financial backers (Sunrise/Bandai) and the kids to a deeper story. While
> providing the kids (and the bankers) with some mecha action every week,
> the main attraction of the show was split between action and dramatic
> development. And you know what? Breaking the formula backfired
> big time.
> The rating was low and the series was cut short. It was only when the
> show come back in daily (instead of weekly) viewing that the kids began to
> appreciate it.

Well, it was a stretch to ask viewers to keep sequential and complex
storyline from week to week in a MoTW type show, which Mecha were generally
considered as. Sure, there are super complicated storyline like Captain
Harlock and shojou shows like Rose of Versailles, but when viewed daily, the
storyline is much easier to pick up. Which is why I believe Gundam Wing, in
it's current frequency of broadcast is a good way for American kids to
watch.

> Of course, 0079 wasn't really the last of the Super Robots. In many ways,
> Z and ZZ were even more Super Robotish than 0079. And don't try to tell
> me EVA-01 is not a superhero mech.

Yeah, Zeta sort of got Monster of the Week, with new prototype introduced
every couple of episodes and not returning again. ZZ is even bigger
offender. One of the trademark of the Super Robot show is to identified in
text the name of the Monster of the Week. Other than G Gundam, ZZ is the
only Gundam show to actually identified an enemy this way. It really
surprised me when they introduced Bau, with its name in Kanji and model
number listed on the screen.

Of all of the Real Robot shows of the '80s, the only one I saw are Macross
and AT Votoms. Macross does have some MoTW elements, but Votoms is
completely devoid of any MoTW. Both show does have the mission of the week
feel...

[ Rodrick Su [ ]
[ rsu@tigana.com [ Life is a work in progress ]

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