The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

GaoGaiGar

Title: GaoGaiGar aka GaoGaiGar: King of Braves aka Yuusha Ou GaoGaiGar
Genre: Action
Company: Takara/Sunrise
Format: 49 episodes
Dates: 1 Feb 1997 – 31 Jan 1998

Synopsis: In 2003, a mechanical race known as the Zonders made their way to Earth, hoping to mechanize the planet. While this first attempt failed, the organization Gusty Geroid Guard (GGG) was established to stand vigilant if they were ever to return. Two years have past since then, and the mechanical invaders are ready to take their plans into full gear. Now it is up to GGG to crush the Zonders, through the courage of the heroic cyborg Shishio Guy, the help of the mysterious boy Amani Mamoru, and the power of the mighty robot GaoGaiGar.

The Highlights
Synergy: Outstanding.
Personalities: Larger than life.
Repetition: A real hit or miss.
Social/moral commentary: Who needs it?
The opening theme: Gets better every time you hear it.

A common trend in some of the best of modern anime has been a postmodern take on storytelling. This has resulted in some of the most unique and amazing plots and characters out there. But as with any other style, it gets old. In these post-Evangelion days, it’s nice to sometimes return to the straight played anime of yesteryear. Most recently, there has been the bombastic Gurren Lagann. In an earlier contrast to the (now old) controversial classic, there was the courage-fueled epic, GaoGaiGar.

If there is something that this series has that others don’t, it is how everything meshes together so perfectly. The fun animation includes some nice mecha designs with epic transformation sequences, which are accompanied by just as epic music, leading into some out-of-this-world fight scenes, and the list goes on. In fact, everything in GaoGaiGar gets a boost by being over the top. Each of the AIs are huge personalities and the GGG members all go to extreme lengths for even the simplest of actions. I don’t think anyone has ever cracked open safety glass with as much flair as Utsugi Mikoto.

Moments like the aforementioned one come in droves, from the amazing to the annoying. So if you have any intention of watching this series, get used to them early on, you’ll be seeing them a lot. Being as the show’s original intent was as a showcase series, stock footage and monster-of-the-week fights are common, especially in the first half. Much of the action at the beginning comes off as dull and uninspiring. Luckily, this picks up about thirteen episodes in and from there slowly evolves into the anime it is known as today. As for all of the stock footage, there is a fair amount of it that has some surprising rewatch value. This is probably due to all of the hot blood and music. But hey, who’s counting?

As stated earlier, GaoGaiGar started out as a mecha showcase series which keeps everything in it relatively simple. As it goes on there is far more epic flair and edge of your seat battles; however, throughout the 49 episode run one thing remains constant: the themes. The whole anime is all about how courage can turn the bleakest of situations into victory. This is all put into a nutshell with the answer to the question of why Guy will win: because he is the hero. It’s amazing how optimistic everything is throughout, especially with someone as unlikely as Takahashi Ryouske helming the script. There are no journeys into the darkness in mankind’s soul, no sexual subtext, no hatred, no deceit, no talking Jesus allegory lions. And trust me, there were a lot of opportunities for each of these.

For what GaoGaiGar is, it is it at its best. Rather than embracing modern storytelling devices, it takes old conventions and plays them as straight as possible. Between the loud screaming, overdone attacks, and even louder character chemistry, it’s pretty obvious that this anime doesn’t take itself too seriously in any way. The viewer should do the same, to be drawn in by the experience starting at one of the most entertaining (not to mention addictive) anime theme songs out there to Guy shouting out “Hikari ni Narae” at the swing of his Goldion Hammer. Trust me, by the end you’ll be calling out the attacks yourself.

The Rating: 7
7/10

Reviewed by: Kavik Ryx

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