A meteor strikes the Earth and is found to emanate a powerful new energy called Beamler, which is used to power a battle robot, GoShogun, and a teleporting fortress, Good Thunder. The Docougar Crime Syndicate, lead by crime lord Neo Neros, try to steal the secret of the energy from the inventor of GoShogun, but he kills himself rather than let them acquire it. His son is targeted by Neo Neros next, but he is taken in by the crew aboard Good Thunder, who travel the world fighting NeoNeros's forces with GoShogun.
Note that this is a review of the original series and is not a reflection of "Macron 1" or any of the other overseas Goshogun adaptations.
Sengoku Majin Goshogun is a very strange and unique case. What we have here is both a clever parody of the mecha craze that thrived in the 70s and the 80s, and a rather entertaining show that is able to stand up on it's own merits despite it's large focus on often subtle humor. At first I didn't realize the series was going to parody the classic mecha genre. Like many, my first exposure to the franchise was through the
Super Robot Taisen games. Eventually it becomes pretty clear though, as the jokes become more and more self aware and the laughs keep coming.
The series follows the "Good Thunder" team's adventures around the world and their efforts to thwart the worldwide crime syndicate known as "Docougar". The organization is led by a mysterious entity usually shrouded in darkness known as Neo Neros, and his three mostly ineffective subordinates. Their goals are simple; the acquisition of Goshogun and it's mysterious power known as "Beamler", money, world domination, stuff like that. The plot thickens a bit towards the end, but for the most part, it's episodic and that's all that's going on. Goshogun has many strengths though, and although it's doesn't quite excel in any area, it's odd charm carries it along very well, making it a stab at the genre that stands away from the rest in it's own way.
The characters aren't extensively fleshed out, but each member of the Good Thunder crew has an episode dedicated to them, and we see why each of them is part of the team and how they were recruited. The pacing is handled well from back-story episode to action focused episode, avoiding the stale nature monster of the week mecha can have. The cast of protagonists is small, but has good chemistry going on. Nothing groundbreaking going on with the characters really, but they get the job done and make for an entertaining bunch, and no one is grating in the least, not even the kid. The villains aren't as fleshed out as the protagonists, but each of them holds their own presence and for me they wound up being one of the most entertaining aspects and added a lot to the humor. The stuck up pretty boy, the angry drug addict, and the brainless fast food entrepreneur made for an interesting trio of henchmen.
From slapstick gags, obvious nods to other anime and mecha shows of the era, references to real life fast food chains and American celebrities, and several downright bizarre moments that make you want to go back to make you saw that right, the comedy of Goshogun ranges quite a bit. From the very first episode there are several whacky moments and that pretty much continues happening. As I mentioned before, a lot of the value in the humor is in it's subtlety. I'm sure there are various things that went over my head too. Then there were things that were funny just for how ludicrous the situation was, as well as not so subtle blatantly humorous moments delivered through visuals or gags alone.
Another thing I went into this show not expecting, great music and incredibly unique battle sequences. The music varies quite a bit, you've got the very catchy OP, funky jazz tracks, a J-pop insert song or two, experimental tracks, eerie ambiance, classical, some standard fare tracks of the era, and of course, "The Blue Danube" is featured as BGM during one of the series' most memorable sequences (SRW fans know what I mean). I liked the OST enough to hunt it down. The battle sequences are both a sign of the era and a step away from it. Battles always begin with the gattai sequence and theme, and feature the titular mecha smashing the opposition to pieces. But occasionally, you just get a really satisfying and unique battle sequence. This is largely due to how diverse and unique the music is, and how badass the Goshogun itself looks in motion with it's massive battle axes and bazookas. Great choreography too. It's strange that battle sequences would be one of the main strengths of a comedy show, but they certainly were for me. The antagonists sometimes team up with the Good Thunder team to oppose a mutual threat as well, something I found pretty cool. But as far as original battle sequences go, it doesn't get much more original for an 80s mecha series to have a large scale space war with "The Blue Danube" echoing throughout the galaxy on an enemy flagship, which happens to be equipped with gigantic speakers, to set the tone.
All in all this was a breath of fresh air and I can easily recommend it to fans of classic mecha anime. I can also say this is one of those shows that could have stood to be a little longer, if not only due to the fact it really never overstayed it's welcome and was constantly entertaining. Although this not so well known series will probably remain in obscurity for the most part, hopefully it gains a few more fans here and there as the years go by. It's a very unique piece of supa robo history that deserves whatever attention it can get.