In the year 2005, a race of alien monsters called Zonders emerge from underground and launch a series of attacks on the city of Tokyo. The only defense against these creatures is the secret agency known as the Gutsy Geoid Guard (or 3G) and their ultimate weapon, the awesome giant robot GaoGaiGar. GaoGaiGar's pilot, Guy Shishio, is a former astronaut who was nearly killed two years before when the Zonders first crashed to earth. Guy's life was spared when a mysterious robot lion called Galeon pulled him from the burning shuttle and brought him to Earth. Guy's father, Leo, then used Galeon's technology to rebuild his shattered son as a cyborg, in the hopes that he could stop the aliens when they appear. Now, with Galeon as its core, GaoGaiGar fights to protect Earth. He is aided by a team of transforming robots and by a young boy named Mamoru, who has the power to purify the Zonders' cores, and seems to be connected to the mysterious Galeon.
GaoGaiGar is the kind of show that makes you want to climb out of your bed on Saturday mornings and plop down in front of your PC or TV with a bowl of cereal. It's nostalgic in a lot of ways, but brings a lot of new things to the table. While it could easily be classified as a typical "monster of the week' show, with gimmicky enemies, moral lessons (in the first episode, you almost expect to be lectured about recycling) and clever plans by the good guys ending in an explosive finishing move, it manages to break from the formula at the halfway
point, and delve into serious territory. And by serious, I mean awesome. Like the newest gartastic super robot hit, Gurren Lagann, GGG grows from what you'd expect to see in a series with cyborgs and talking, transforming robots (giant toy ads) into something...epic-- and I use this word very deliberately.
The over-the-top characters play a big part in this. Guy Shishio is a badass without even trying. He's a man's man, who'll never give up, no matter how difficult the odds. While this kind of character is a staple for super robot shows, Guy takes hot-blooded to new levels with his ridiculous screaming, speeches, and Zonder-breaking. He's a static character, but he's so likable that you don't really mind. I don't usually faun over voice actors, but Nobuyuki Hiyama (you'll know him as Viral from TTGL and Link from the Zelda games) does an excellent job. His yells and dramatic speeches have real weight behind them-they'll blow you away. Guy's English voice, Michael Sinterhisnameistoocomplicatedtospell does a very commendable job filling out Guy's shoes-I'd send him a bottle of throat spray if I could.
The rest of the human characters are relatively stock as well, but none of them are forgettable-especially Taiga, the Commander of the Gutsy Geroid Guard's Japanese branch. You owe it to yourself to watch this show, if only to see his dramatic pointing. Really, that guy can point. Despite the male-oriented nature of the show, there are plenty of strong female characters who play their part in the GGG epic, and aren't just fanservice, either. Guy's girlfriend and technical support also plays a role that you won't expect. One of the few characters that gets some decent development is the magical boy protagonist Mamoru-a refugee from an alien civilization that is the key to victory on more than one occasion. I can hear you groaning already, but trust me-you'll learn to love him more than you ever thought you would.
Like Transformers before it, the robot members of the GGG (you're going to see that letter a lot, so get used to it) are characters as well. They're sentient, and have distinct (and cheesy) personalities, from the ninja police car intelligence agent Volfogg (yes, this is an amazing combination, and unlike vodka and soy milk, it will not give you a headache) to the American-made rock-and-roll bard-class bot Mic Sounders XIII. Even though they're stock characters and, well, robots, you end up feeling for them.
The titular robot, while not sentient itself (or is it), has a character all its own. In the beginning of the show, GaoGaiGar moves like a creaky, slapped together bucket of bolts-it's been hastily built to defend the earth from the approaching threat from space, and it shows. The signature combination sequence barely works, and the finishing move, Hell and Heaven, damages GaoGaiGar and is slowly killing its pilot. Even until the end, GaoGaiGar cannot handily defeat any enemy without the help of the other members of the team, and the clever way the writers find a way for it to win despite its limitations serve as a handy way to break up the monotony that usually plagues shows like this.
The silly-looking design aesthetic that permeates GGG (the robot) and the show doesn't detract from how brutal it can be. GaoGaiGar breaks its enemies in the most literal fashion every episode. Even with the over-the-top antics, the show separates itself from other super robot shows, and the other Yuusha/Brave series by grounding it with a sense of plausibility and strict continuity that you don't see in a lot of anime. One look at the gorgeously animated stock transformation sequence is proof of the ridiculous attention to detail in GaoGaiGar. While most super robots are known for their "unpossible" transformations, GaoGaiGar is covered in tiny vents, treads, panels and blinking lights that you'll only catch for a glimpse. Even the inside was completely drawn out in the concept art, and you can see the mechanical designs (even for a pink VW van!), along with fictional specifications in the eyecatches. All of this comes to a frothy, delicious head with the few plot twists and "keys to victory" scattered through the series. When you see some of them, you'll gasp, and want to go back and look for them in every episode. It gets even more ridiculous when a seemingly useless and innocuous prop becomes the key to victory in the spectacular OVA GaoGaiGar Final! (Seriously, you'll shit a brick.)
The music is nothing short of a triumph. There's an amazing leitmotif going throughout, from the "Final Fusion" gattai scene to the GGG's theme, and of course, Mic Sounder's amazing power up songs. You'll be humming them on the way to work or school.
All of the pieces of the show coalesce into something both familiar and wonderful. You know a series is worth watching when you wonder what you ever did before you'd seen it, and GGG is one of the rare anime titles that I'd put up on that lofty pedestal. It's a true labor of love, filled with fanservice for every stripe. Like the show itself, the message of courage and perseverance might seem cheesy at first, but it not only grows on you, but envelops you, in a way that few other shows can.
It's must see for super robot fans, and I'd encourage everyone to buy the DVDs. If you know me well, you know that I don't like paying for anime. Fuck Luffy, I'm the true Pirate King. If you see an anime DVD on my shelf, then you know I think it's not only worth the money, but one worth celebrating. It's probably the highest praise I can give any series.
Any effort this grand deserves to be compensated for. I highly recommend it.
I bet you can't name too many other entries in the Brave franchise, of which GGG is a part. (Others include Might Gaine, J-Decker and Fighbird, if you're interested.)
But even so, the King of Braves has achieved almost cult status - getting riffed on in Gun X Sword, featured in multiple Super Robot Wars games and so on. And with good reason. It's a brilliantly fun show that's more than the sum of its parts.
Sure the first 20 or so episodes are so-so formulaic super robot fare which could easily be any other show from the 70s onwards, but that's part of the charm in
my opinion. The characters are slight but fun - you've got a spread of kids from the comedy rich girl and rich boy to the cute damsel in distress and the fat one. You've got the heroic super robot team with an all action hero, a mad scientist, a hot girl, and the President. You've got your support robots of varying degrees of usefulness.
And you've got the main characters, Guy and Mamoru. They're good fun, get some good plot development by the second half of the show and ultimately get their happy ending.
The enemies are well-designed and inventive, with ordinary household objects and industrial equipment transformed into hideous, insane cybernetic monstrosities via a method that could make a good horror movie or Dr Who plot. How many shows have their heroes fighting the LHC one week, a space shuttle in another and a steam train in another, ending up in an epic battle against a cyborg ballerina and a Cthulhu-esque mountain of living metal? It sure beats some of the more uninspired designs featured in Go Nagai or Nagahama shows (while Voltes V and Daimos are good for their own reasons, it's not monster design.)
However, it's after the midpoint of the show that it really kicks off and the ante is upped. A standard mid-season upgrade reveal is handled well and in an exciting way, and the action gets ever-crazier right up to the climactic battle in space.
Stick with GGG if you're flagging after the umpteenth one-use gimmick weapon (seriously, the Pliers were awful, even I'll admit that) or kid-focussed episode. Remember it was originally shown weekly - try watching it that way rather than marathoning it. Get some high-sugar soft drinks, regress to childhood and sing along with the OP - it might make it more enjoyable, I don't know. Once it finds its stride it's an exciting action adventure show with some brilliantly excessive mechs.
Also look out for the, of all things, cameo from Scirocco's ship. It is in there.
King of the Braves GaoGaiGar most definitely earns its title of King. This show is everything right with a super robot anime. GaoGaiGar has a fun story, colorful cast of humans and robots and it's loud, blood boiling, in-your-face action that makes you want to yell attack names along with the show. So with all that said, lets get to review. FINAL FUSION, APPROVED.
The story is a basic Super Robot anime. It revolves around the members of Gusty Geoid Guard, Or GGG for short, as they deal with attacks from the Zonders, who are an alien machine race. The first 25 episodes are pretty
standard monster of week, which mostly serve as a way to slowly introduce new characters and weapons for GGG. Please be aware that this show was meant to sell toys. After that though, the series begins to grow and the real plot begins to unfold, and that is where it really shines.
The Art is very well done for a show done in the late 90's. It has well defined lines and bright vivid colors which create very crisp visuals. Everything in this show has its own identity and nothing blurs together.
Oh, this is what makes a super robot go from good to fantastic. GaoGaiGar has some of the best sounds and OST in any anime I have watched; and I have heard stuff from aldnoah.zero and Attack On Titan. Every sound from Golion's roar to the G stone charging up is uniquely its own. I especially liked the sound they use for the machine noises when robots are combining. GaoGiaGar also has a great OST. Evey character has his or her theme song to go with them; the most memorable being GaoGaiGar Final Fusion theme. The voice work in GaoGaiGar is top notch with Hiyama Nobuyuki voicing Guy. I just loved hearing him yell out, "HIKARI NI NARA!!"
With every Super Robot anime the selling point is the robots and GaoGaiGar delivers it in tenfolds. The hero of this story is a cyborg named Guy who is a man's man boiling to the brim with courage and bravery who is also a symbol of hope to everyone else. Guy is also accompanied by fellow brave robots, the twin rescue brothers HyoRyu, who claim collective and his hothead brother EnRyu who is a shoot first ask questions kind of person. There is also the Ninja Police Intelligence Officer Volfogg. On the human side the most predominate would be Mamoru. Hes a kid with the unlikely ability to purify the Zondar cores. There are many more but you get the idea, its a colorful cast of robots and people that you can't help but love.
Overall, I really did enjoy GaoGaiGar. It delivers on everything that a Super Robot Show should. Yeah, there are faults. Namely, it takes time to build up to its main plot point. If you can't stand monster of the week formula, it probably won't do much for you, but if you enjoy over-the-top crazy robot fights with yelling and more courage than you can handle, this is the show for you.
Gutsy Geoid Guard, Mobilize!
I went into GaoGaiGar with extremely hign expectations. This series is praised nonstop for being the greatest super robot show ever made. I constantly heard that the series had some of the manliest characters, coolest mecha and one best endings in all of super robot anime.
When I first began to watch the show I was pretty dissapointed. The early episodes of this series aren't exactly bad, but they sure are mediocore. The biggest problem in GaoGaiGar is the pacing. The first 25 episodes are barely worth watching, they're meant to introduce the cast characters I'm sure, but story wise not much happens. Its really formuliac
stuff, kinda like you'd expect out of a 70's super robot show. Each episode follows the same grind of a monster appearing, GaoGaiGar swoops in to save the day and uses a new move.
I wouldn't blame anyone for missing out these episodes all together. You won't miss anything, and after episode 25 the story becomes much more fast paced and interesing. Still, the series never quite shakes this monster of the week formula, and if that isn't your thing GaoGaiGar probably isn't for you, unless you have a whole lot of dedication.
I was initially put off by the designs in this series. The character designs are very basic, especially the many annoying kid characters, who all look like they've stumbled into the wrong show. The mecha designs are something you'll either love or hate. Their done by Kunio Okawara, who's well known for doing the designs for most of the Brave series. His designs aren't anything new, very blocky, and have more of a resemblence to Transformers than the works of Go Nagai like most SR shows have. The titular GaoGaiGar has a nice design, but the rest, especially the villains, were a bit basic for my tastes.
The animation itself isn't terrible, the best of it ussually saved for those truly epic scenes every now and then, but there is an overeliance of re-used animation. Towards the end of the series I was becoming really bored of seeing the same damn attacks over and over again! I realise that this is common in mecha, but there have been plenty of SR shows which didn't rely on stock footage nearly as heavily as this series.
They're isn't much to write home about in this department. The OP itself is brilliant, but other than that it was pretty bland. Still I can't say anything harmed my senses.
The biggest annoyance in this categorie were the child characters. They were supposed to be cute, but Mamoru and his friends often come off as more annoying than that. By the end of the series these characters do mature a bit, but they still got way too much screentime throughout the series.
The rest of the cast was pretty mixed. The protaganists are nothing you wouldn't expect out of a super robot series, and neither are the villains. I only wish they'd spent more time fleshing out some of the more interesting members of GGG, rather than just Guy and Mamoru all the time. Towards the end of the series I found myself appreciating some of the characters more, but over all it was a pretty bland cast.
Obviously, I went into GaoGaiGar with high expectations and was dissapointed. Its not the worst Super Robot show, but its by no means the best. There are moments greatness in this series. The last ten episodes especially are filled with everything I could want out of a series like this, tension, outlandish battles, manly speaches and heroic sacrafice.
But that doesn't make up for the huge amounts of filler in this show, and the blandness of some of the characters and mecha. Its a fairly enjoyable series, worthy of its place in the super robot pantheon, just be sure to realise that it might not be worth ALL the praise it gets.
The best way to watch this show is in small chunks, on a saturday morning, turning your brain off and just enjoying the many manly screams of