Ya know I love mecha, giant robots, transforming robos, exo-suits; it’s all such fascinating science fiction to serve as the catalyst for a grand adventure. However I’ve been noticing anime has been awfully hit or miss with the latter there and I’m not really sure what kind of expectations I had going into the Great Dangaioh series.
Great Dangaioh is a 13-episode anime TV series that ran from April 2001 through July 2001 on broadcast television in Japan based loosely on an OVA series called Dangaioh- Hyper Combat Unit that ran from 1987-1989.
Not to worry if you aren’t familiar with the rather obscure Dangaioh- Hyper Combat Unit, the two are barely connected save for some references in the very end of the series.
The whole series came to the US in the form of a DVD release from VIZ that, oddly enough, spans 4 separate volumes. As they seem to be going for only a few bucks each on the net these days, their moneymaking tactic isn’t quite the travesty it could have been.
The story goes something like this: In the near future, an explosion occurs on Futagami Island, leaving but one survivor. This odd event sets into motion a chain of events that will determine the future of the world.
Ten years later, a group known as the Agwarda Organization has created a "Peace Fort" on the ruins of the island. Their leader, Commander Yunamine, has assembled some of the finest scientific and military minds to work on creating and maintaining Dangaioh units, three gigantic robots created with unknown technology to combat all of the threats to world peace.
Although all of the greatest scientific minds in the world have been assembled to lead the Dangaioh project, it’s naturally a trio of moody 15-year-old kids entrusted with the task of piloting the massive robot/ liberator of humanity.
For the most part, Great Dangaioh is a pretty standard fair "giant robot" anime. You’re given all of the usual cues: A team of coed high school students who pilot the robot after class, or whenever giant robots show up thanks to a “D” that appears on their cell phone screens.
You have the aloof leaders of the Peace Fort, who have more secrets than changes of clothes. You have continuous threats that arise in each episode from seemingly out of nowhere only to get smashed by Dangaioh’s might. You get endless sexual innuendos in the form of team members “accidentally” walking in each other changing/ showering and a very annoying little perverted robot. Last but not least, you have the romantic subplot (love triangle in this case) between the three pilots.
While the plot may not make bring anything new to the formula, the action does its best to offset this fact. Great Dangaioh is a robot combat fest that even contains some stock combining sequences that harken back to the great robot series of the early 1980s. There is at least one massive battle per episode, which really makes the 22-minute runtimes pass quickly. Thanks to high quality animation and some really original robot models, the battles are surprisingly decent.
The ending of the series is perhaps the greatest disappointment to be found in the whole affair. Fans of the original Dangaioh- Hyper Combat Unit often complained the ending was terrible and that 2001’s Great Dangaioh was a long-awaited chance to answer some long-standing questions. Rather it appears the show’s creative team decided to start anew for the most part and once again leave viewers scratching their heads at the series’ conclusion. And considering that at the time of this review’s writing, the material is exactly a decade old- there’s a good chance a third re-visitation to the franchise isn’t going to happen!In all if you’ve done the Gundams, Vandread, Evangelion, Rahxephon, Aquarion Gravion, Godannar and so on, Great Dangaioh is an interesting entry into the series with some definite strengths. Just be leery of the ending and the experience is certainly worth the current price of admission.
What did you think of this review?