2035 A.D. The heads of ancient giant idols were excavated all over the world. Using those twelve stones statues, Humanity had barely overcome the threat of extinction called the "Equatorial Winter". But the stone statues had forced Humanity to construct colossal suits of armor as their bodies and demanded that the humans fight each other.
Good series. There's not amazing about it and it flaws in a lot. The plot's nothing innovative after all using the Mecha concept. The thing that shines extraordinarily about Gigantic Formula would be the Music, which was directed by Maestro Hiroyuki Sawano. Absolutely amazing soundtrack, absurdly amazing in my opinion.
- Great art style.
- The cell shading is some of the best I've seen in a tv series.
- A wide variety of mecha designs kept the series interesting.
- Battles between cell-shaded mechas = awesome.
- Plot progression is very slow. It was a struggle to watch more than 2 episodes in one sitting.
- Most of the series was devoted to presenting background stories of various mecha pilots/translators. Unfortunately, the lives of the these pilots and translators were boring. The fact that these flashbacks were presented DURING the mecha battles made things even worse.
This would have been a great series had it
been condensed to fewer episodes. They went through great lengths to familiarize the viewers with the pilots of every single mecha; but there was just too many characters. As a result, I found it hard to sympathize with any of them (with the exception of the Japanese and Chinese crew). Cut the flashbacks in half and add more mecha airtime and this series would've been ten times more entertaining.
In the future, after the "Equatorial Winter", 12 idol heads of 12 Gods called out for humans to make them body and armor with which to fight. Each country that had retrieved an idol answered their call and the UN set up the "Wise World War" for them to fight in. This story follows one boy who is "called" to become tha pilot of a mech a.k.a. Gigantic of Japan which holds a idol head of one of the Gods.
So far, the story has the right amount of combat, drama, and plot to satisfy any mech fan. A definate watch for picky
This review contains spoilers. I'll try to keep from spoiling the final arc too much, however.
If giant robots is your thing, this is not a bad concept. The Greek pantheon appears in modern times scattered to the four corners of the earth (because Reasons™), and demand that the people give them weapons and armor and two humans to operate their new robotic bodies so that they can duel one another in single combat. They call this the "Wisest World War", and while I would've preferred that some world leaders settle their differences in a Roman-style coliseum complete with lions, I suppose this beats nuclear weapons.
robots themselves are a bit more of a reflection of what the production team or the original authors/artists thought each country would build, with a cursory knowledge of each Greek deity; the best example is Minervas XI, which because Game Balance (??) can either be totally armored or be a glass cannon firing an insanely powerful guided shot— I'm not sure if that would fit Athena's strategic style, but it sounds like a stereotypical German weapon in a Japanese mind. Vulcanus I: He's got a giant hammer that... fires missiles? You'd think he would be a decent melee guy (like Cid from FF IV) or like Engineer from TF2. This the least ridiculous thing (but still ridiculous) about the show, but more on that later.
If character drama is your thing, there are about 11 mini dramas in this show in addition to the main drama involving Shingo and Mana, and all of them are actually quite good. The show also doesn't dwell on one drama or another, but summarizes each pilot/translator pair's backstory in about 15 minutes before their battle commences. The "synchronization of consciousness" or whatever "kyoumei kanno" translates to is an interesting plot device and yet a necessary one in order to tell the stories of most of the nations' robot operators.
The remainder of the plot is one prime weaknesses of the show, in addition to poor or extremely rushed planning. I'm not sure what the story was trying to achieve (other than Shingo's growth as a pilot) by having Russia attack, then cancel as soon as their mech is damaged, lather, rinse, and repeat. Fellas, we already know Japan is going to win (the ultimate ikasama or rigged championship), so can Japanese writers kindly dispense with the tired "Yamato spirit wins all" trope? Next, the final arc of the show portrays the Japanese military as weak and ineffective stooges for American interests, willing to commit war crimes to that end. Seriously? I'm no Japanese patriot, but that was a cheap shot—dramatic, but still cheaper than a sale at a dagashi-ya. And the only point of that is to set up a mano e mano showdown with the Susa-no-o completely unarmed. I've seen sloppier writing, but this is pretty bad. It's like they ran into the production deadline for episode 21, got desperate, threw this together after slamming some whiskey down, and said, "Whatever! Let's go with thish!"
And yet, they saved their best shenanigans for the Americans. Keep in mind, this show aired in the mid-to-late 2000s, so a dangerously corrupt megalomaniacal President wasn't a thing at the time. In this show the Americans coerce the Germans and Italians to fire cheap shots into the British/French combat zone and eliminate them (along with somehow coercing the Japanese into throwing their fight and likely killing Mana in the process). There's one world leader at that time I would definitely pin such a scheme on, and it ain't Bush or even Cheney. No, this sort of thing reeks more of radioactive polonium, if you get my drift. That's not all, the show almost bends over backwards to avoid pissing off China—"OK, sure, you attacked us, but we're friends now!" Real-life China would be like "Oh really? Well then, we'll just take Okinawa, because really, you don't need it..."
And did anyone tell the production crew that the Star Wars (SDI) initiative failed because you would need the energy equivalent of a thermonuclear bomb to fire an orbital laser powerful enough to disable an ICBM? No? They played Command and Conquer Generals instead?
I know hiring English speakers is Hard, but given a choice between cutting a ton of scenes and keeping horribly broken English performances, I'd pick the former. The translation of some of the military jargon is all right, but it's clear that these translators probably never saw a script for an American sci-fi drama, because the phrasing decisions are laughably silly. "How horrid" or "That's Japanese". So Ray is a girl from the 1940s, her grandparents' naming choices are rather... questionable (Zion? Who names their kid Zion??), and the guy aping Doug MacArthur is brain-dead. And for some reason a USAF colonel thinks in perfect Japanese, down to the warrior philosophy and ethos. Of the soldiers I've encountered, most consider Japan to be a cool place, but no one went full samurai like Zion did in dialogue.
Visually... The character designs are interesting, but it's like when the schedule really started to get tough, they couldn't find decent animators for the characters. Most of the time after the first couple of episodes, Shingo looked like any other anime character, and yet the opening animation continued to repeat that glassy-eyed shot of him. The unorthodox designs often proved difficult to animate largely because some facial expressions don't lend themselves to some "minmal" animation tricks like only animating the mouth (while the face and jaw are stationary) Personally I thought the designs made the characters look like porcelain dolls, and it didn't help that they used that "porcelain doll" expression as the final shot of the opening animation for 19 episodes. From episode 20 onward the opening animation is finally updated to what the creators probably wanted it to look like, and I much prefer this sequence as it's more colorful, the shots are timed with the music, and the final frame doesn't make Shingo look like a mannequin.
The ending credit animation was clearly done by another studio, possibly at a time when the character designs were still in flux. During the broadcast, I was thinking, "Who the hell are these characters?? Is this an artistic thing?", and it was only after the second playthrough when I realized that was Mana, Masahito, and Kana. Now that's pretty bad QC.
If it weren't for the fantastic (probably synth) orchestral soundtrack by Hiroyuki Sawano, I might have dropped the show around episode 6. Sawano is also the composer for the soundtrack of Gundam Unicorn, and one of the "heroic" themes is a stylistic predecessor to the theme of the Unicorn Gundam. Another track that stood out to me is a march that begins with the timpani followed by the strings in a marcato beat and eventually drawing in the entire orchestra, using chords that reminded me of the famous melody from Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet. Shingo's theme is also very good, swelling just before Susa-no-o opens a can of whoop ass.
To sum up, interesting concept, good mechs, good character drama, epic soundtrack, distracting visuals and almost irritating set pieces, particularly the "Americans".