Mecha fans are some of the most diehard among the anime crowd. If it doesn't have gears, lasers, and a three story sword then it's just not worth a damn. Well, ok, so maybe that's a little extreme but with so many shows out there the genre is oversaturated with one run of the mill entry after another. New shows are fine and dandy but every once in a while it's nice to travel back in time and check out a show from Japan's past.
GaoGaiGar is one of those series that came out roughly ten years ago in the glory days of anime. Big bad monsters, dashing heroes, huge suits of armor, and lots of explosions and yelling cover this show like green on grass. The story behind GaoGaiGar begins eight years ago on a cold winter night. The Amami's are visited by a giant robotic lion (Galeorea) during a snowstorm commute and have a baby dropped at their feet. They named the child Mamoru and raised him as their own. Sure this origin is nearly a parallel to Superman's but that's really where the comparisons stop.
I suppose you don't need me to spell it out for you but Mamoru isn't exactly a red-blooded human. His connection to the giant lion pretty much makes certain of that fact. Add to that his abilities to fly and eradicate elements of the Zonder (alien parasite type thing) with a wave of his hand and you have rock solid proof. With these abilities he teems up with GGG which is kind of a super-technological team that protects Earth and battles the Zonder at every turn. GaoGaiGar is a show filled with tons of robot on robot (or big alien) action, fan service, and an eclectic style. In other words it's more fun than a mecha fan should be allowed to have.
In the last volume Mamoru began working with GGG and cam to know the cyborg Gai pretty well. The two teamed up to fight off some monstrous Zonder and throughout it all the scientists of GGG were trying to figure out the mystery surrounding the alien entity. This is the kind of show that offers a lot of episodic content and at this point, beyond the introduction of villains, there really is nothing to latch on to other than style. One episode does tend to bleed into the next so the third volume picks up right where the second left off.
Gai's father Leo is still perplexed by the Zonder but makes an effort to have a life outside of the underwater facility. He goes to see another scientist who has created the world's largest electromagnetic canon. Which such aspirations he couldn't possible be a bad guy, could he? In predictable fashion we soon discover that he is indeed influenced by the Zonder and threatens to kill Leo and Swan (his busty assistant). Fortunately for them Gai, HyoRyu, and EnRyu arrive to save the day.
In the process of fighting they almost lost but thankfully the secret ninja robot Volfogg showed up in the nick of time to save the day. Due to their poor performance Gai and the gang get some practice time in during the next episode and frankly nothing happened other than a recap of sorts by the GGG and Zonder. Things get a tad more interesting in the next episode when Mamoru goes to the water park with his family and Hana. The Zonder have turned their attention to the boy since they perceive him as being the biggest threat. Naturally an unwitting host turns into a monster and it's up to GGG to come to the rescue!
During the final two episodes the Zonder continue to pursue Mamoru. In fact they attack his school field trip while they're riding in a cable car. This was one of the most unique Zonder to date because he operated weaponry remotely and posed a real threat for Volfogg and Gai. I really like the development and introduction they gave Volfogg in this volume. After all, who doesn't like ninja robots?
It's amazing to me that this show wasn't released on DVD sooner In many ways this was exactly what I was looking for to fit my over-the-top robot on monster craving. It has so many things that made the genre a mainstay in the world of anime and even though many of these have become cliché it's still very enjoyable. The characters are interesting and the plot has a good amount of intrigue as well so this is a show to keep an eye on.
With a production date from ten years ago GaoGaiGar is definitely aged compared to anime that was produced recently. The picture contains a lot of grain, speckle, softness and faded colors so it's safe to say that not much was done to clean the show up. Even so, the wild animation and design makes up for some of the technical inadequacies of the transfer. This turns out to be a decent looking, yet matured, show that still works in today's market.
The audio for GaoGaiGar is presented with English and Japanese 2.0 stereo tracks. Filled with screams and explosions this is a loud show despite the limited soundstage. Things have a decent balance even though the volume can pitch a little bit at times and there isn't much diversity. The dubbing quality for both language tracks is decent as well but after watching all five episodes with both tracks I'd have to say that the Japanese selection was the best. English subtitles are included of course.
There are some trailers, textless animations, and a design/sketch gallery included on the DVD. It's not much to get excited about but for a ten year old show I wasn't expecting there to be a lot of content anyway.
GaoGaiGar has been turning into the show that I wanted in my collection. It has just enough action and character development to mark itself as an entertaining giant robot anime. If you enjoyed Godannar this is a series that you'll definitely want to put on your shelf. The adventures of Gai and Mamoru are iconic and inspired. If robots aren't your thing then you probably won't really get into what's going on here but if you consider yourself a gearhead you can't go wrong. This volume proved to be just as enjoyable as the prior two so those of you that have been keeping up with the show will be pleased.