Plot Summary: Thirteen years after their sudden disappearance, an alien race known as the Heterodyne resurface without warning. To combat the Heterodyne, three office workers from the 21st Century Security Corporation operate Dai-Guard - a giant robot no longer regarded as an oversized paperweight. Unfortunately, Dai-Guard is somewhat obsolete and in disrepair. It's a tough job, but salarymen can also save the world.
Ah Daiguard. What to really say? This is less of a mecha anime than more of a comment on the plight of the working stiff dealing with the corporate world. Working for a corporation myself, I see first hand the red tape and paperwork and hoop jumping that seems to involving doing absolutely anything.
If the corporation can make a form for it, you get to fill it in triplicate and woe beunto thee if you write with anything but black pen.
The mech action scenes themselves are simultaneously awesome and hilarious. Daiguard is trying so hard to be a super robot, but it just isn't. But
hey, theres nothing some hot blood and yelling can't fix.
The characters themselves are highly believable and likeable, unless you're not supposed to like them and then they were simplely bastards. There were several scenes that I actually wept during because A. They were touching and B. I'm deep down a softy. But tell no one.
In the end, Enough Super Robot Hot Blood Action with just the right amount of Drama and corporate parody to make this a worthwile romp.
There's one scene in Dai Guard that says it all: While waiting for the Hetrodyne (evil monster) to attack Tokyo the crew is getting bored waiting for the call to action. After several hours of 'hurry up and wait' the pilot of Dai Guard sighs and says "I've been watching giant robot anime all my life and they never mentioned this part."
That one line struck such a cord with me, and sold me on Dai Guard, and Dai Guard immediately became my all time favorite mecha anime the moment it was uttered. XEBEC and director Seiji Mizushima did a wonderful job injecting a lot
of hard core reality into the fantasy genre of mecha anime, and they did it with a lot of humor and a lot of heart.
Hard core reality like all that paper work that needs to be done after a mission, or bickering among the best pilots ruins the mission, or what does the military do when they see an insurance company doing their job with military surplus equipment? (They get jealous... big time.)
Dai Guard was built as a military robot to fight Hetrodynes by the 21st Century Defense Corporation, however when Dai Guard was finished the Hetrodyne threat stopped and the military allowed 21st Century Defense Corporation to keep Dai Guard as a cooperate mascot. 13 years later the Hetrodynes return and only 3 office workers can pilot Dai Guard who is in serious need of maintenance.
Some of the show cracks me up like no other; at first they have to truck Dai Guard across Japan in pieces in a multiple truck convoy, assemble it in the path of the enemy only to have the enemy change course and they have to tear down Dai Guard and load it back on the trucks to the next anticipated battle site. If you've ever been in a mobile military outfit you know how painful that is. But a lot of the show is very touching too, it's not all giant robots and evil monsters, there's a lot of human drama going on and quite often Dai Guard doesn't make an appearance.
I give the story a 10 - it's intriguing, humorous, and very fair; meaning there's no deus ex machina waiting to spring out and ruin the plot. What you see is what you get: there's no super powers, no alien interventions that will change the story, no hidden back plot to spring out at the end and change everything.
The art I gave an 8 - the animation could be smoother, but there's no long still shots with the camera rotating to denote action, there's no inappropriate chibi or super deformation when a character becomes embarrassed, and there's no jiggling... actually no fan service what so ever. Hey! This is a large Japanese corporation, I'm sure they have fan service rules.
The Sound is an 8 - surprisingly good for a mecha anime. Mostly I like the music, and the opening and ending songs are very very catchy.
The Characters are solid 10s, every one of them. The characters are very individual and they always stay true to their nature. There's no sudden epiphany that creates a complete and total personality change in any characters, although several do have an epiphany - they end up handling it like any normal person would. There's a few characters there for humor but they're not clowns. Just about every character is very likable and each for a different reason. Even the characters you detest are detestable for appropriate reasons.
Enjoyment is a solid 10 - every episode was and is a celebration.
Overall - a big 10. On the surface this looks like a silly little anime, but wait a few more moments... if you're not hooked when you see how the crew of Dai Guard win their first battle then anime may just not be your thing.
This is actually my first review here, but I thought Daiguard was a pretty interesting anime to write about, even if it wasn't technically brilliant.
Perhaps an 8 is overstating the value here, as this show nothing spectacular, but does a few things well. Something that I quite appreciate is the treatment of the characters. They start out seeming fairly archetypical, but some realistic portrayal keeps them from becoming two-dimensional. Furthermore, they avoid several cliches, such as the leading female falling for the leading male.
The producers could have made this a very dark show, but despite the circumstances, everything remains somewhat happy-go-lucky. Actually, my initial
impression was that this was a shameless Evangelion clone. This similarity however, is only skin-deep. The monsters may be interchangeable, but the story-telling and tone are completely different, as are the mechanical designs and level of violence. Even for 1999 the design of Daiguard seems a little dated, but this along with the PG action creates a somewhat nostalgic experience.
All the characters a very likable, and have surprising realism. I feel it would have been very easy for each of them to stick to their archetypes, but they all have a little depth and development, except perhaps for Akagi. Maybe I just feel this way because I'm a car nerd, but I think that even Aoyama's blue Impreza was a likable character. Unlike Ibuki's book, it's never introduced, talked about, or even really focused on, but it's always there. They could have given Aoyama something non-descript, easy-to-draw, but they chose this specific model of car, and I feel that adds something to the depth of Aoyama's character.
I think my favorite piece of this puzzle though, is the lesson that anyone can be your ally. Shirota and Saeki, who are both introduced as unbearable assholes, eventually become very likable. Shirota may have even become one of my all time favorite characters. Even Busujima, playing the villian up until the last minute, is mentioned as siding with Shirota in the end.
Overall, Daiguard is a pleasant experience, if not a completely novel one. If you want a mech anime that's more about the people than the fighting, and that leaves you feeling warm inside, watch Daiguard.