Thursday, August 25, 2011

RAAAIIII... DEEEEEN! (and lots of rambling)

In terms of its appearance and other general characteristics, one of my favorite of the first generation of super robots is Raideen.

You know how a lot of anime robots teleport their pilots on board? Raideen seems to be the originator of the idea.

Also note that Raideen is a sapient robot, and periodically shouts portions of his name like some kind of huge Pokémon. (Although his "RAI" usually sounds more like "ROOOOOOY!")

It's interesting to note that one of the directors who worked on Raideen was Yoshiyuki Tomino, who would later work on Mobile Suit Gundam. (The other director would go on to create the yo-yo robot, Combattler V.) I think that in the scene I posted above, you can see a bit of his influence; the direction is very sharp. (Note that, while I'm not a fan of the Gundam metaseries in general, I admire Tomino's craft. Just because I don't necessarily like the stories he tells doesn't mean I can't like his storytelling skills.)

Compared to some of the other super robot series of its rough time period, Raideen was a pretty inventive and weird series. Most super robot series heavily imitated either Mazinger Z or Getter Robo at the time; some imitated both at once; and it should be noted that the Getter Robo anime was more like the Mazinger Z anime than like the Getter Robo manga. Raideen dared to be a little more different.

I can't follow everything from Raideen I've seen, but one thing I've figured out is that this statue thing was the main villain in the first part of the series, and was probably an object the later villains were sealed up in.

What makes this a bit odd and amusing is that, near as I can tell, the statue never talks. It just expresses its displeasure by setting its minions on fire. (One of said minions, Sharkin, would later serve Tomino as the inspiration for one of the most popular Gundam characters, Char Aznable.)

Like most early super robot series, Raideen and his pilot, Akira, were often accompanied by a sidekick robot. Theirs was named... Actually, I don't know what its name is. But I can tell you that it appears to run on a steam engine salvaged from an old locomotive and has a very bright color scheme.

Has this guy ever been a gag unit in a Super Robot Wars game? And if not, why not?

I ask because this robot is somehow incredibly awesome.

Another thing in older super robot series that frequently appeared was a more genuine support vehicle or robot. Raideen's was the Bluegar.

I don't know why it's named that, because it's neither blue nor a gar, but it's pretty cool-it's not every day you see a spaceship/plane that looks like a horseshoe crab.

Many old anime series featured fleets of airborne mook enemies. This series' mook enemy is... this tentacled thingy.

They're rather amusing.

While most old super robot series would stick with monsters/robots of the week as enemies, accompanied by airships and sometimes fighter swarms, at least one episode of Raideen threw in these buzzsaw things.

They'd have been pretty stupid to use at all, except that there was a monster/robot thing that held Raideen down so they could hit him.

The monster itself wasn't that interesting, but while Raideen wrestled with it, there was a nice bit of illustration and animation as he tried to pry it away from himself with his sword arm.

It's a smidgen hard to tell, but Raideen's little sword is going slightly between the monster's teeth (it's not cutting into its head because it's too tough). Something about that just strikes me as a great touch.

The villains later in the series were some ugly guys. That big spiky guy is kind of amusing, but the dude dressed like a pirate is just about perfect. (By which I mean "hilarious.")

Their leader was an enormous guy whose mouth didn't bother moving remotely in time with his speech.

My absolute favorite thing, though, is this monster/robot of the week: A flying elephant with a ninja sticking out of its forehead.

You might wonder what the heck is up with this. I kinda do too, but I love it.

The craziest part is that it started as two guys, and it looked like they were going to fight to the death as a test or something; the ninja threw some giant yellow throwing stars and bisected the elephant right down its centerline; and then the two merged as if it was the most logical thing in the world.

And that apparently gave the new monster the power to do this:

Split in half to attack Raideen by trying to squish him between the halves.

Don't you think it'd work better to have some spikes or something?

Anyway, the plot of this episode involves Akira, who is a descendant of the imaginary continent of Mu, trying to retrieve his mother, whom he believes is in a boat that's been cruising around. (It turns out she got switched with an explosive android double or something. OR SOMETHING.) The fight's pretty rough on Raideen, so he's reduced to following around Elephant Head's Ninja and trying to take the boat back while muttering about his mother like a crazy zombie.

This brilliant tactic gets him a bunch of throwing stars embedded in his chest for his trouble.

The monster drops the boat when Raideen manages to cut its arm off, and when Raideen tries to catch the boat, it explodes. This makes Akira pretty crazy, and the monster tries to capitalize on it with its split-in-half attack. But crazy super robot pilots are the most dangerous kind...

...and the attack doesn't work this time.

So the the monster tries again, this time with spikes. (See?)

Unfortunately for the monster, this time Raideen dodges.


-Signing off, because I'm rambling quite a bit.

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