After watching all seven volumes of ADV's robot and fan service laden series Godannar I had that sweet metallic taste in my mouth. I needed more mecha in my life and in my collection. Luckily there's plenty out there and quite the backlog of series that have come out over the years. GaoGaiGar for instance is an anime that came out nearly ten years ago and after watching the first volume I think it is safe to say that this was one of the influences for Godannar.
Well, I shouldn't say that this show specifically was an inspiration for Godannar because most of these ideals are specific to the mecha genre. Big bad monsters, dashing heroes leaping into huge suits of armor, and lots of screaming and fighting are nothing new. A lot of the similarities between the two shows come down to these concepts and a little bit of the art work; which is surprisingly comparable. Granted the similarities pretty much end there because there's no nudity or flagrant T&A flashing every which way in GaoGaiGar.
The story behind this show begins eight years ago on a cold winter night. As hard as it was driving through the snow the Amami's (Isamu and Ai) were having a discussion about wanting a child, kind of like the Kents did. Low and behold an alien baby drops from the sky. He doesn't just fall from the sky though; instead he's delivered in mouth by a giant robotic lion (Galeorea). Questions aside the Amami's take in the child and name him Mamoru with aspirations to raise him as their own.
In present day Tokyo Mamoru is now eight years old and on a school trip to a garbage scow; and here I was thinking that time my school took us to a fishery was bad. At any rate Mamoru has a strange feeling wash over him and in that instant Garbage Island turns into a giant monster. He and his classmates find themselves in even more of a pickle when the boat that they were on becomes lodged in the creature's behind. Fortunately for the kids beneath the sea a militaristic group is making preparations for an assault against the monster.
A red-headed guy named Gai (or Guy, he's referenced as both) shows up flying all over the place and doing some insane over-the-top anime moves. Things get more insane once that metallic lion flies onto the scene as well even though he's quickly stopped by the garbage heap's microwave and refrigerator cannons. Once Gai and Galeorea join forces though the tide changes somewhat and they get more powerful. The fight carries on into Tokyo and once the dust settles all that's left of the monster is a purple rock. Guy is about to crush it when Mamoru sprouts wings and flies onto the scene to prevent him from doing so. It is revealed that the rock is actually a human and as Mamoru shoots off into the night we are left with a ton of questions.
Once Gai gets back to headquarters and undergoes repairs (he's a cyborg you see) we get more of a glimpse at the eclectic villains of the series. Filled with flashing lights and wild movement this scene gave me a headache and made me glad that I don't suffer from epilepsy. At any rate there's more going on here than meets the eye and as we learn about the human that was a purple rock it would seem that the biggest enemy of all is humanity's dark desires. This man who lost everything lived on Garbage Island and was discovered by the villain. He was given everything he could ever want though and was turned into the robot that terrorized the city.
Another victim of desire steps forward in the second episode though this guy is a cage wrestler looking to be the strongest man alive. Once the battle is over the same thing happens again. Mamoru drops down out of the sky with his green hair and turns the purple rock turns back into the wrestler guy.
While each of these episodes offers its own story there is quite an amount of continuity between all five adventures. The tale gets much more interesting once Mamoru is taken to the GGG's base and meets up with Galeorea. Even though GaoGaiGar came out back in 1997 this was my first viewing of it. 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 may be 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.
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.
When I came to GaoGaiGar I was looking for a fast paced and intriguing robot action affair. Luckily that's just what I got since this volume delivered in just about every regard. You can definitely sign me up for future volumes if they maintain the quality that was presented here. If you're in a spot like I was or if you just want to watch a show that pays homage to classics in the genre then definitely check this out. If robots aren't your thing then, well, it's safe to say that you can just move on to something else.