Friday, October 10, 2008

Super Robot Profiles: Getter Robo

Today's entry is Getter Robo.

Getter Robo is one of the most successful super robots, having appeared in more series than I'm even going to bother mentioning. The etymology of its name is pretty obscure; my best guess is that "get" is a corruption of "gate" (i.e. Gater Robo), as the formation of the robots sort of involves the "opening" and "closing" of "gates" (or at least, that's what the guys shout when the robots separate). Like its predecessor, Mazinger Z, Getter Robo was created by Go Nagai, although unlike most of Go Nagai's series, a co-author is credited as well.

What sets Getter Robo apart from its contemporaries is immediately obvious.

Getter Robo was the first "team" super robot. It had three pilots, and each of those pilots had their own version of the robot that they controlled, and each had their own specialties and strengths (as well as weaknesses) that made the combining mechanic important, indeed, central, to the series.

Another thing that set Getter Robo apart is that one of the robot pilots died at the end of the series. This is notable for two reasons: first, he's still dead. Second, his death has been depicted so inconsistently that it's sometimes seen as a running gag, although it's nearly always a very heroic sort of thing.

In subsequent series, he was replaced by a taller, less fat guy. (No, I can't bring myself to care much about their names at the moment.) Generally, they seem to be almost the same character except for the (relatively minor) differences in appearance-that is, the fat comic relief.

Getter robot G (intro above) was the last Getter Robo for a long time, with the exception of a rather poorly received sorta-not-quite-a-sequel in the early '90s.

However, during the relatively recent revival of popularity of the super robot series as a genre, Getter Robo led the charge of returning older series with Change/Shin Getter Robo-The Last Day/Armageddon.

In the current anime climate in Japan, super robots are as hot as they've been since the late eighties, and Getter Robo's continuing popularity even today reflects that. Like Mazinger Z before it, Getter Robo was a trendsetter.

On a side note, I've frequently seen mention of the dub of Getter Robo, Starvengers. When I was first investigating super robots on the internets some years ago, I recognized Getter Robo as being excessively similar to a set of videos I had watched as a kid called Starformers. (Later research made it clear that these videos had been a dub of Getter Robo G.) The peculiar thing is that I've never found any information on this version. Anywhere. I have no way of knowing if it was related to the Starvengers dub, if perhaps it was dubbed for another country, or what. It's almost as if they never existed.

-Signing off in mild confusion.

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