Mecha and I Have a Complicated Relationship…

With the coming and going of SSSS.Gridman, I’ve realised I have some baggage when it comes to mech shows.

I definitely agree with this quote from Moe Sucks:

…I’ve never actually watched mecha shows because I like mechas. I don’t really care for them at all. They seem impractical. So why do I watch these shows then? Hmm, that’ll probably require more thought and reflection than I have time for in this post.

For starters, it seems like an odd thing to point out for a self-professed lover of heroes, especially superheroes and the like, which have potential for crossover with tokusatsu and thus mecha. It’s also odd for a person who likes to point out how stuff is political, since mecha are normally tied to state and military power, if not to individuals.

In the case of Gridman, I’d probably chalk this down to two factors: 1) not really being exposed to Power Rangers or its tokusatsu ilk (tokusatsu isn’t mecha itself, but it is expected to have mecha) and 2) picking a path through anime that doesn’t really favour mechs. The first one is self-explanatory, but the second one probably isn’t apparent until you look at my anime list.

…well, to really dig into my list, my first mech show which I finished was Star Driver, which was a prime suspect of being called a “magical boy” show even though it’s a mech show, due to all the Galactic Pretty Boy business and the associated transformation. From that, you can already tell Star Driver is basically as campy as all get out, much like what I know of the Power Rangers of old being like. That, combined with Shigeto Koyama’s mech designs, is a pretty hard thing to reconcile with the “standard” mech series. (Notably, this is why I had certain expectations going into Darling in the Franxx…but I haven’t finished that anime yet, so I’m not going to talk about it further.)

Since then, I’ve watched a bunch more shows with the “mech” designation, which are Skelter Heaven, Planet With and Evangelion, all added in the past 2 years. Concrete Revolutio and Samurai Flamenco have a mech or two as well, while I’m an episode behind on Egao no Daika, as is the norm…but I’m almost done with it.

Notably, you’ll find I signed on to Planet With and Egao no Daika for voice actors, Skelter Heaven and Evangelion for their reputations (and the latter’s psychological aspects + weird ending) and Concrete Revolutio and Samurai Flamenco for their “hero” aspects. (Certainly, there are mech shows which I’ve started but haven’t finished, plus there’s some I’ve dropped as well, but being able to finish a show is a much better indication of answering “why not mecha?”.)

Meta context (as a heads-up for the rest of this post): This post has been on the back burner for a while, because I know being critical of a genre I know certain people like is going to piss them off…especially because I’m posting it during Mecha March (for Scott, Lita and possibly others). However, the one who encouraged me to finish it was Irina, so in order to understand why I’m finishing it now, you might want to go to where she inspired me to complete it. Anyways, back to the post…

Outside the statistics, why don’t I have a particular predisposition for mechs?

Well, for one thing, the typical mech show takes a while to get started and tends to need a lot of worldbuilding time. Mech shows that don’t have 2 seasons or more tend to seem less thought-out, with the exception of mech shows that can handle such compression (my main example is Planet With, but Concrete Revolutio demonstrates the same technique). Notably, I have hinted at this during Scott’s Q and A before, but I don’t think I’ve actually been able to extrapolate on my thoughts until now.

Furthermore, mech shows aren’t particularly common, especially in a day and age which prioritises the seasonal model. Feeding back into the previous point, there are certain shows which might need the same type of worldbuilding as mech shows – adventure anime comes to mind – but it’s a lot easier to justify in the first few episodes or half an episode, even, why you’re watching those rather than a mech show, which is important when all you have is 12 – 13 episodes. For established mech series like Gundam or Macross, it’s hard to start when the series’ length is so daunting and most of it is in precarious licensing situations (e.g. some Gundam stuff went down with Daisuki (RIP)), although that’s getting better as more recent mecha shows appear on Crunchyroll.

In addition, there aren’t a lot of “safe” mecha – that is, they’re often original shows and not adaptions of a source material because, let’s face it, mechs are hard to draw. Even Planet With, which has a manga, had the manga and anime run concurrently. (That might be generalising a bit, considering Full Metal Panic had a light novel series and there’s probably at least one mecha series with a pre-existing manga I’m not remembering off the top of my head, but the fact of the matter is I don’t seem to get access or finish mech anime with a pre-existing source material for whatever reason.)

Sidebar: Of course, grab my attention with a hot guy and all my reservations about mecha go out the window. I saw Macross Frontier with my anime club recently and Alto caught my attention for this reason (I’m a complete sucker for dudes with long hair)…but that’s not licensed in any region, let alone mine.

Similarly, I have a screenshot from a double spread of the spinoff manga Macross Delta: Kuroki Tsubasa to Shiro Kishi because there’s a hot blonde guy on the side (addendum: I didn’t know his name until I saw it while looking up images, but his name is Keith), but…same thing.

Well, for hot boys, pictures speak louder than words, so let’s cap this post off with an image of Keith from a cover of Macross Delta: Kuroki Tsubasa to Shiro Kishi(Image source)

So basically, there seem to be a lot of factors that play into why I just don’t gravitate towards mecha. Of course, I’d be willing to rectify this…if my “plan to watch” list weren’t already over 300 entries long, and my “to get back to” list even longer…

So am I alone, or does anyone else think they have the same deal with mecha anime? While we’re at it, are there any hot boys in mecha shows I should know about? 

 

 

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