Getting Getter Robo
Go Nagai’s Mazinger is well remembered after its 1970s debut but nearly as popular is Getter Robo. While Mazinger was the first piloted robot in anime, Getter Robo was the first combiner. Starting in April 1974 and running until May 1975, Getter Robo was immediately followed by Getter Robo G which finished in March 1976. The two shows total 90 episodes and followed the format established by Mazinger. That format is new villains, some new characters and new robots for the heroes.
I have very little time to watch anime these days but I make exceptions for the really influential shows. Getter Robo, like Mazinger, was so popular there are many sequels and spin offs both in manga and anime. Shin Getter Robo (1998), called Getter Robo: Armageddon in North America, was the first time I got to see anything from the Getter Robo franchise. I had wanted to see the original for years and the fansubbers finally completed the original series.
Go Nagai mecha shows are a lot of fun but the typical 70s super robot structure can wear on modern sensibilities after a few episodes go by. Each episode is a new threat that ends in a fight. Little changes over time. Many aspects of the real world are left out to simplify things for both the writers and the young audience. For example, the government of Japan doesn’t appear in the show. The fact that a research institute has developed weapons more powerful than the military doesn’t even merit a visit from a government employee. Enemy robots could attack at any time and enemy assassins infiltrate the town around the research institute but the pilots still go to high school each day.
I was floored when I saw the 100 Devil Empire had a general named Hiddler who looked and dressed exactly like Adolph Hitler. That wouldn’t fly today.
The theme running through the show was the importance of cooperation and teamwork. This isn’t so rare in 1970s Japanese TV shows but it got especial emphasis here as the robot that saves the day is a combiner. Three fighter craft must maneuver with perfect timing to dock in combat situations. The first show, Getter Robo, portrayed the pilots’ clashing personalities slowly coming together into a well-oiled machine quite well. Getter Robo G switched out one pilot for a new one but didn’t handle things with the same skill. Benkei (named & modeled after the warrior monk who hung out with Minamoto Yoshitsune) was pretty self-centered and clashed with Ryoma and Hayato. After a few episodes the clashes evaporated but he never learned anything or changed.
Don’t let my criticisms dissuade you. The show is a lot of fun and had a big influence on mecha anime for years go come. Watching the 90 episodes at a rate of 2 to 4 per day had me ready to stop by the end but I’m still ready to look for Raideen’s 50 episodes.
Posted by Tachyon @ 7:43 pm