2011? Let’s thinking positive! And spread robot love! Also, I forget if it was you who was a Zeke h8er, but please don’t kill me, ExecutiveOtaku, lol.
Unfortunately, I doubt Nono is a valid nomination. So let’s go with what’s left.
Buster Machine Dix-Neuf. To me, there’s really something to what Diebuster did to the first Buster Machine we’re given sight of, and that’s in its seeming ability to emote. I don’t know about you, but there’s something really sweet about this huge, cloaked giant who feels every bit the calmer foil to its much more vocal, and aggressive pilot. Plus, he’s a great example of how a French number will make a robot weaker. Gainax managed to pull off this Super with a lot of cool style and pizzazz. But at the end of the day, it’s all in the eyes. Heroman would’ve been great for the same reason, if it weren’t such a flop of a show.
GN-001 Gundam Exia. I think most people can agree that Gundam 00’s first season was a decent show, and that the second season was pretty bad, while the movie after is overall just awful (but awful enough to be hilarious, though perhaps only with some help from ggkthx). Still, I think the highpoint of season 2 was when they had Setsuna still fighting on in his wrecked Gundam Exia, with the most unattractive repairs that is no doubt the only thing to be afforded to an outlaw. And that gave Exia a very, very badass look. That was something you didn’t find in that clinical, pixie-dust show very often, where everything looks pretty, even as they’re being diced or blown up. Of course, even the damaged Exia looks ridiculously good, all things considered. But really, from the outset, the design concept of the Exia is one that appeals to me. How do we make the anti-thesis of the ridiculous crap at the end of SEED Destiny, full of Dragoon Units and Kira sitting there shooting huge lasers that kill everything? How about, we make this Gundam. And then give it swords. But one sword isn’t enough. Not even 6 is enough. It needs seven. And not a tacky samurai sword, or something retarded like the ANTI-BATTLE SHIP sword. Just a nice, clean, functional pair of blade, and several of the usual beam ones.
And again, with the overall simple look, how can you really hate the Exia? Plus, Sunrise did actually make the surprisingly good decision of having Exia be there for the finale of season 2, over the significantly less interesting 00 Raiser. They just made the mistake of involving Jupiter afterwards….
Big O. Honestly, I still have mixed feelings about the anime, and how it ended. But going past all those reservations, is just the strength of the Big O’s design itself. You may note that I’m kind of fond of big, black, bulky supers. That’s not wrong in the least, either. And there’s a magic behind seeing that steampunk-ish, huge bot blast through other guys with punches loaded with ammunition. It certainly helps that the show has such a charismatic cast, though. There’s also something really attractive about a large, hulking mech, slowly and clumsily moving as it smashes stuff. That sort of mechanical choreography, to me, is one of the coolest things you can do.
SVMS-01 Union Flag. When a man goes to the drawing board to start drafting a Gundam, there’s a lot of work that’s arguably already done for him. The Gundam formula is so iconic, it’s very difficult to take large strides away from it, especially in a major entry. At the very least, for the titular Gundam of the protagonist. The situation is quite different for the legacy of the “rival suit”. While the legacy of the MS-06 Zaku II arguably is as much of a shadow that hangs over them as the RX-78-2 Gundam, especially the mighty construct of the almost universally shared “mono-eye”, thanks to the original Gundam being transitional (still had super-robot-y elements in its show formulation), the archetypical rival pilot Char Aznable swapped through quite an enormous number of suits. This has given the future generations of rival pilot, such as Graham Aker, much more opportunity to have something novel and interesting.
Which brings us to the Union Flag. Though technically not the suit he’d ultimately ride into the climatic battle against Exia at the end of the series, what he would pilot is pretty much the Flag riced up. But more importantly, this suit has quite a few striking features, though a number of them are shared with its mirror competitor, the AEU-09 AEU Enact. First, both are strikingly gangly and slim, which not only distinguishes them greatly from 3rd competitor MSJ-06II Tieren, but most non-Gundam suit designs in general, in the Gundam franchise. Gundam as a franchise enjoys bulk, as a general rule. This may be an artifact of the softer, roundness of the original designs, or perhaps it is simply because it makes them look more threatening, as is the case of the super-fat suits such as the O.
Not only are the Flag and Enact gangly though, they’re also very angular on top of that. This is doubly strange, since even if you look at the Gundam, while some may get fairly slim, they’re usually very round and smoothed, even on the more angular designs. And on this front, the Flag was much more ambitious than the Enact was. Whereas the Enact still has some roundness to it (particularly on the shoulders and head piece), the Flag is just relentless angles. To me, this is probably what ultimately holds the Enact back, while the Flag succeeds. Of course, the memorable and emotional story of Graham and his flight squad, and Billy, certainly helped burn the Flag into the collective fan consciousness a lot more permanently than the Enact, which found itself brushed aside as it found itself constantly being made the butt of a gag, and being made into a joke, thanks to Patrick’s role in the larger picture (but no one can argue about the quality of AEU’s engineering team in engineering mechs with a high pilot life expectancy).
And finally, probably the greatest design element that’s shared by the pair of suits, is the head. I’m particular to the Flag’s personally, but the most striking part is available in both, and this is the marriage of the classic GM face plate (the wide plate of glass-like blue) and the iconic Zaku II mono-eye, and the subtle design mechanic of the Gundam “helmet”. Beneath a “helmet” that is quite like a Gundam’s “helmet” (if you look closely at a Gundam head, even if most of it is continuous white, there’s usually a line going down each side of the “face”, that sort of emphasizes the face, while separating the rest of the head to look like a “helmet”, along with the antenna), you have a “face” that is distinguished from the rest of the head by color, much like the GM faceplate. And yet. above this “face”, and right under the sharp, handsome “cap” of the “helmet”, is the visor like mono-eye. On top of that, the Flag and Enact encorporate a wonderful, glowing “scar” on the side of the face, as some sort of accent to have glow, to replace the traditional cue of having the mono-eye move/flash, or having the GM faceplate blink.
Lol, I’d say more, but this is getting a bit long. Regardless, the Flag is a very cool suit, and one of the many things 00 did right amongst the much larger number of things wrong.
Overman Dominator. That youtube video pretty much summarizes everything amazing I find about the Dominator. It’s literally this ugly egg that has no real, defined shape. It’s the ultimate swiss army knife, that an imaginative person can manipulate into gaining any sort of property necessary at the moment. And man, does Cynthia Lane put into motion some interesting ideas. To me, it’s by far the most visually interesting Overman available in the show, and is treat enough to be worth watching King Gainer for it alone, just to see it in action a few times. At least, that’s my fanboy-y appraisal of it. It’s awesome whenever the Dominator is available for use in an ACE game. It’s like the opposite of the spectrum of supers, from Big O, being a totally smooth, minimal thing that moves precisely and nimbly. And I can definitely approve of that.
AMX-109 Kapool/Capule. Featuring the classic mono-eye design, the Kapool packs a lot of other things that makes it a magical mech. Aside from being able to practically fold up and turn into a hilarious ball, it really does a great job of simultaneously keeping the Zaku II tradition alive, while still being different enough to stand beside all of the strange, fantastically designed (by Gundam standards) mecha that populated Turn A Gundam, making it a very good call on the staff’s part, to choose it as one of the designs to dredge back up. Being piloted by the lovely Sochie Heim in a retro aviator get up is just a frothy bonus. It manages to occupy that middle area between the old Zaku I and Zaku II designs featured in Turn A from previous series and the new, unusually designed suits of the Moonrace. Plus, the mobile armor mode looks fucking badass. And did I mention Corin Nander’s variant had a rocket punch? Yeah.
Demonbane. The Demonbane franchise is probably not something most mecha fans really respect. That’s not particularly surprising, considering its visual novel roots, and it’s bad anime adaptation. And the source material is only going to finish being translated and ship this very month (or so JAST USA claims, lol). However, it’s this very same bot that regularly ranks as I think, second place, for most powerful single entity across all anime, manga, and video game media. Which isn’t a surprise, really. Since it just cuts through dimensions and seals away Gods for the heck of it, and is bigger than the universe, so the universe it was in broke, and then broke other universes by touching them, by being so big. Just for the sheer audacity of the idea, I’m pretty fond of the thing, lol. Mind you, that power level’s only the Elder God version of Demonbane. If you’re looking for a truly ridiculous mecha, don’t settle for any less!
XMA-01 Rafflesia. One has to wonder what was going on in the minds of the creators when they decided they’d make a gigantic robot flower and stick 125 tentacle weapons in it just for laughs. Unlike funnels and bits, there is something I can appreciate about a bunch of mind-controlled tentacles that have chainsaws at the end of them. Like, really, what?
Rafale Revive. Aside from owing its namesake to one of the classiest fighter jet designs out there, the Rafale Revive is essentially everything you want from a girl: class (solid weapons in a show plagued with energy weapons), from France, and flexibility (uses exchangeable hand-held guns/weaponry that can be materialized in and out according to situation, rather than most of the other IS’s, which have a specialized, fixed main weapon of engagement). I’m not sure I’d really call it one of the best “mecha” ever, but since Executive gave the blessing, and I’m feeling awful about the sheer amount of Gundam filling up these slots, why not? Easily the only IS worth paying attention to in the show itself. The only thing about the Rafale Revive that you wouldn’t want on a girl is that big, stabby point. Fortunately, pilebunkers are something you very much want on mecha.
MSN-02 Zeong. For one of the suits piloted Char, it never feels like it ever gets enough credit. Perhaps it’s just my nostalgia though, but the Zeong is one of my favourites, everything from the hilarious detachable head, to the almost-rocket punch, wire-guided finger lasers. Really, of all the mobile suits that Char ever got into, the Zeong was the one that actually made the most of an impression. And thanks to it, Char will always be remembered by me as more of a purple comet than a Red one, really. Plus, it was back when psy-commu was tolerable and tasteful, haha.
Avu Kammu. This is more of an educational nomination, than one I expect to have a fighting chance. After all, this is probably the only nomination these guys will get in the whole competition. Avu Kammu is the name of the mecha-like bio-machines that pop up towards the end of Utawarerumono, a visual novel by Leaf/Aquasoft, that got a decently successful anime adaptation in 2006. Now, let’s clear one thing up. Isn’t Utawarerumono some low-fantasy anime featuring an amnesiac with a mask and his animal ears + tail harem of concubines as he becomes the Sage King Ruler of the land? Yes and yes. Utawarerumono pitches itself as a low-fantasy war story, and though it’s spoilers, since it’s a 5 year old show, I’ll just say it. Towards the end, the setting is revealed to be a post-apocalyptic earth, where the environment has been so savaged that human habitation of it naturally became impossible. Apparently, scientists had bio-engineered people with adaptations to be able to survive this new environment. Somehow, some animal ears and a tail was apparently enough to do this.
Regardless, acting as the vanguard of this fantasy-scifi flip, are the Avu Kammu, biomechs used by an antagonistic nation of basically bunny-eared Jews, who finally lash out and decide to conquer and unite the land after having its citizenry savaged by what are essentially antisemites. Their design isn’t the most compelling one, and they work in a fairly simple manner, but have the same sort of clumsy charm as the Big O. Put into a setting where the strongest weapon you have at your disposal is a few ballistae and bows and arrows, they’re a big force to be reckoned with, and stretched the ingenuity of the Sage King General Ruler Hakuoro to deal with. There’s just something wonderful about the clash of completely different technological levels, even if a little magic is thrown in here and there.
MRC-F20 SUMO. Turn A, thanks to the peculiar choice in mech designer, featured a lot of divergent designs. Of them, the SUMO is probably the most pleasant to look at, though I’m sure there are many who would disagree. The wonderful use of spheres as the fundamental shape in the design, along with the harmonious lines, is well implemented, especially at the joint connecting the forearm with the reararm, not to mention the shoulder pads. It even has fabulous high heels. Overall, it creates a really sort of “complete”, fulfilling feel to the entire thing. And overall, it has the feel of a suit that had been designed with an exceedingly high amount of attention, as to be expected of a design that had been intended for a main character suit. How much more rancorous would the response to Turn A have been, had they been shown this (presumably with the silver color scheme, or perhaps even a more Gundam color scheme) and had been told it was a Gundam?
King Go-saurer. From the Eldran series, I think the romantic points of this beast are obvious. There isn’t actually that much to differentiate it from the other entries into that series, except that this one features dinosaurs. And while I cannot speak for others, I believe a boys childhood should rightfully only consists of 2 things: giant robots and dinosaurs. And the Go-saurer is the beautiful marriage of both, on top of being one of the compelling Eldran mecha, which are stored in parts in a school, sortied by an entire class of children. It manages to capture that wonderful, battleship-esque appeal of having a large group of people controlling a larger whole, that the SDF-1 Macross really dazzles me with, in a much smaller package more easily understood by children. And unlike the other mecha of its line, the Go-saurer is actually merged as a part of the school. This crops up as an issue with how sturdy a mecha made out of a school can actually be, but who cares? Your fucking school just transformed into robot dinosaurs, which then transform and combine into a fucking giant robot. Then it uses the freaking power of dinosaurs to summon a sword from the earth to shank your machine monster enemy. This is what a real childhood is made of.
MSN-06S Sinanju. Well, it’s no secret by now that I’m a fan of enemy suits in Gundam. And right now, if there is a height to quality enemy suit design in UC, it’s in Unicorn Gundam’s Sinanju. Having the benefit of a modern color palette, the Sinanju has a very rich palette of darker crimson, which results in a much sharper look that the more faded-red/pink that the older UC designs just didn’t have the benefit of. That’s hardly all though. The Sinanju accentuates these with a large amount of gold trimmings, Neo-Zeon emblems, and generous slates of black at just all the right places. Finish it off with accents of white, and the very minute cyan mono-eye, and you have a color scheme arranged in Heaven. Add upon that the myriad of small, mechanical details that populate the suit’s entire being, that could be nothing but a nightmare to animate (really, it’s little wonder why the show is an OVA–the Unicorn Gundam is also just designed to be a nightmare to animate), all you’re left with is a suit design that just hits you, hard.
Not least of all, the Sinanju does not violate the most sacred tenant of a great rival ace mobile suit: that it is a simple, barebones, ultra-high performance suit. Because a real ace doesn’t need silly tricks like funnels or bits. All he needs is a working gun, a good saber, and a foot to kick you with.
Evangelion Unit 03. I make this nomination amongst a lot of adjacent nominations for the 01, but for me, the 03 has a special significance. And to explain it in short, I’ll just say that I watched Evangelion, pretty much from beginning to end, for the first time, when I was around, say, 5 to 6, maybe some of 7. So, as you’d expect, a lot of the finer things about the show slipped by me at the time, but the unadulterated robot action was nonetheless exciting for my young self. Still, as a reckless little kid, some guy who wears hair clips like Shinji wasn’t really my style at the time, since I’d inevitably compare him with other shounen protagonists who BELIEVE IN THEMSELVES, etc. Enter Toji Suzuhara and the episode featuring the EVA-03/Bardiel. Well, there’s not much else that really needs explaining. It just left a very permanent impression on me, and even at that age, I still had the level of sentiment to decide that I’d salute the wonderful man for his passing. Of course, the only way I knew how was to buy an action figure of the EVA-03, ironically enough.
For robots I WOULD have nominated, if it weren’t for the restriction on mecha that only exist in anime. ;A; If it turns out one of these guys are actually legit though, I’ll happily take a redo.
XM-X1 (F-97) Crossbone Gundam X-1. The first Gundam introduced in what could be said to be the continuation of Gundam F91, it hails in with the very cool Anti-Beam Coating Mantle. Which, I must insist is one of its best features. On top of that, it pulls off that X better than the GX-9000 ever did, haha. The pirate motif is a bit silly (but hey, the whole manga was a bit silly), but like the F91 before it, the Crossbone X-1 really represented a smooth step back from the technologic complexity and miasma that the ZZ and CCA entries represent, with the abundant use of funnels and bits, and newtypes everywhere. Of course, with Tomino writing Crossbone, Newtypes had a place in the plot, but if I remember correct, Seabook is hardly one himself (only the dorky kids and loli fanservice machines–oh Tomino and his naked lolis). Much like what Unicorn is doing now, Crossbone’s another throwback to simpler times, when the titular Gundam (if you’re willing to ignore the X-3) is just a simple machine, possessed of a beam saber and beam rifle. And that’s a very attractive simplicity. Hell, it even has that totally obsolete feature, the core fighter.
Nine-Ball. Enemy suits that are AI controlled aren’t completely unheard of, and are in fact, possibly quite common. However, I don’t think any have ever really managed the same sort of infamy that Nine-Ball does, possibly because of its role as a video game enemy, rather than in a more passive medium. Whether it’s the Seraph variant or not, the legacy of Nine-Ball is incredible. Without saying much more, I can’t conceive of SaiMecha being SaiMecha, without Nine-Ball’s appearance. So I’m super double sad.
SDF-1 Macross. If my recent enthusiasm for Nekketsu Saikyo Go-saurer of the Eldran series attests to anything, it’s my absolute love for robots that are piloted and managed by a multitude of people in tandem. Not only does it change the very nature of how the drama of a conflict plays out, you can incorporate the great dramatic devices that battleship contests are allowed to use. Hell, I’m not really sure if the SDF-1 is a valid choice, but if Ideon is valid, why not? (edit: so apparently it isn’t lol, damn). For my favourite series of all time, a lot of the actual pilot mechs in Macross actually aren’t of great appeal to me, unlike many of my peers. Instead, it really has to do with the wonderful drama that happens on the titular battleship-mecha hybrid, and the city held within it. There’s very few things that get more exciting than the Daedalus attack. Forget Roy and Hikaru, move over for Captain Global and the Pinpoint Barrier bunnies.
MSA-0011 S Gundam. Gundam Sentinel is one of those really great entries into Gundam that will never really evolve beyond being a cult hit, since it’s just a short novel. But as another unit with an AI, this time an assisting one to the incompetent pilot Ryo Roots, in a story that’s generally considered grittier and more realistic, as far as Gundam goes, the S Gundam is like the opposite direction to take after Z Gundam, that ZZ represents. Though arguably still retardedly powerful in the same way (it’s beam cannon has some ridiculous power specs), it still comes off feeling way less absurd, even with the INCOMS which are like, bits but less OP. The plot of ALICE and Ryo is one that’s easy to get behind.
RMS-142 Xeku Zwei. The partner mech to the S Gundam. Literally a spiritual successor to the Kampfer, except with even more of everything. A suit that can logically only perform well in space or low-gravity. Just a natural monster, packed full of propulsion and weapons. What else could you want? Being also from Gundam Sentinel, it’s unfortunately unqualified.