The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Godannar

Title: Godannar aka Shinkon Gattai Godannar
Genre: Drama
Company: Oriental Light and Magic
Format: 26 episodes
Dates: 1 Oct 2003 – 24 Dec 2003 and 5 Apr 2004 – 27 Jun 2004

Synopsis: Five years before the story begins, robot pilot Saruwatari Goh met Aoi Anna while saving her from the alien Mimesis. When Anna is older, she and Goh marry; however, on their wedding day, the Mimesis attack again, and Goh ventures out to battle them. While escaping, Anna finds a top secret robot and uses it to fight the Mimesis, much to Goh’s surprise. Now Goh and Anna team their robots to form the mighty Godannar and battle the aliens.

The Highlights
Relationships: Chock full of them and in a wide variety of circumstances, though there is notably one same-sex relationship.
Cheesiness: Godannar exists to emulate the nostalgia-tinted view of super robot series, so there is a heaping helping of cheese.
Modern values: There is occasionally an interesting undercurrent of old values clashing with today’s views.
Fanservice: Tons of it and in ridiculous proportions, so to speak.

Godannar is an incredibly silly series. On the surface it is all giant robots, disgusting aliens, square-jawed men, and impossibly busty women blasting menacing creatures. One of the best descriptions I’ve read of this show is that it isn’t exactly like the super robot series of old; rather, it’s more like if those series were truly as amazing as people remember from their childhoods. Much of Godannar is as one would expect: A silly mecha romp where hot blood and the power of love and friendship are the real weapons that will win the war against the Mimesis. However, despite the anime’s ridiculous nature, there are some interesting things bubbling around that make the experience that much more enjoyable.

The show’s main focus is the relationship between Anna and Goh. I was initially weirded out by the pairing: Goh, 29, marries Anna when she is a 17-year-old high schooler, which strikes me as a bit skeevy. To be fair, Anna is no young trophy wife; in fact, she is a headstrong high school girl, which is probably part of the point of a hot blooded action series, though doubtless there are other, less savory, reasons for making her so. The early episodes show Goh and Anna’s relationship as one with lots of affection, but also many elements of generational clashing. Goh is reluctant to let Anna pilot a robot, because he believes it is his duty to protect her. Anna, however, refuses this role. She was saved by Goh as a youth and has witnessed firsthand the great things people can do when they help and protect others. Anna wishes to fight alongside Goh as an equal.

Women play a strong role in Godannar. Several of the robot teams are female-male pairings, with one all-female team and notably no male-male teams to be found. The women are rarely patronized, and if they are, they do a good job of showing why they shouldn’t be. At the same time, they’re not perfect super soldiers; they have distinct personalities, desires, and faults. Godannar deserves credit for making even characters who grab the spotlight for one episode interesting and sympathetic. The stories rarely rely on standard damsel in distress plots; rather, many of the conflicts stem from characters trying to reach out, understand and love one another.

That is what makes Godannar compelling beyond absurd fanservice and robots beating the crap out of aliens. Every character has a voice. In a weird way, despite the planet being under such duress, Godannar presents a bright future because the men and women largely conduct themselves as equals. The type of masculinity and femininity that divides men and women into traditional roles is obsolete when everyone’s lives are on the line. That’s what Goh represents: He is someone struck firmly in old ways and attitudes who must accept that not only is the world changing, but also that it’s not such a bad thing to change along with it. A person with more knowledge than me could probably argue that this extends to robot anime itself, and that Godannar is a response to the changing times.

Godannar, alas, is not perfect. Much of the first season comes off as if it is spinning its wheels and is content to do nothing in particular. Goh and Anna’s relationship carries the early portion of the series after the silly veneer wears thin for a while. It isn’t until the end of the first season and the beginning of the second that the show kicks into gear and becomes truly worth watching. The Mimesis are also never that interesting as villains or really intimidating enough to convince the viewer they have a chance to prevail. They do have a surprising effect on humans that seems as if it is a commentary on robot anime (but to reveal this would be a spoiler), though this is their sole interesting contribution to the show.

That said, Godannar is a fun ride that is a hell of a lot more interesting than I expected. Some of the elements are a bit much, particularly the fanservice, but the show is often so dopey about it that I couldn’t hold that against the anime too much. Godnnar isn’t a show that will convert non-robot fans, but for someone with a standing interest in mecha, it definitely deserves a shot.

The Rating: 6
4/10

Reviewed by: Shinmaru

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