The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

New Getter Robo

Title: New Getter Robo aka Shin Getter Robo
Genre: Action/Drama
Companies: Brains Base
Format: 13 OVA
Dates: 9 Apr 2004 – 10 Sep 2004

Synopsis: Demonic creatures, the Oni, are threatening mankind. Scientist Dr. Saotome has built robots to combat the Oni using the mysterious Getter Rays. To pilot these robots, Dr. Saotome enlists hot-blooded martial artist Nagare Ryoma, crazed terrorist Jin Hayato and the monk Mushashibo Benkei. By combining their powers and robots, the Getter Team forms the super robot Getter Robo, strong enough to crush the Oni menace.

The Highlights
Violence: Bloody, crazed and ridiculous.
Getter Team: Pretty cool, though the OVA leans a bit heavy on Ryoma by the end.
Mindscrew: This OVA gets crazy weird in the second half.

Getter Robo is a mecha franchise that is one of the most important in its genre (it was the first to posit the idea of multiple machines combining into one super robot), and also one with several different series and OVAs to its name. Where to begin for a newcomer to the franchise like myself? Strangely enough, the most recent OVA in the series, New Getter Robo, also serves as a solid introduction to the madness of Getter Robo by re-telling the basic story and taking it in insane directions.

What is at once notable about this OVA is that it keeps a “retro” art style but in modern (for 2004) trappings. The character designs and thick, black outlines are throwbacks to the era from which Getter Robo originated, but it’s also easy to spot the digital techniques anime had integrated in the early 2000s. It doesn’t always look perfect, but it’s a solid melding of what anime grew away from and what it moved toward. It does help that the use of digital animation and coloring had improved some by this time; I can’t think of any specific moments in New Getter Robo where I thought the visuals looked straight-up bad.

What is also immediately apparent in New Getter Robo is that it’s outrageously violent. One of the early scenes involves Ryoma grabbing an axe and laying waste to all manner of Oni. Blood sprays everywhere. Limbs fly all around. There are decapitations here and there. Of course, the violence gets only wilder and crazier from there. It makes sense, because two of the three Getter pilots — Ryoma and Hayato — are crazed psychopaths. Ryoma seems to live from one bloodbath to the next, while Hayato is a temple of barely restrained madness. He’s introduced as a terrorist, but really, terrorism is more likely a convenient excuse for Hayato to unleash his insanity. The two take utter glee in curb stomping Oni whenever possible. That isn’t to say, however, that Benkei never takes part in the ultraviolence. He does. Benkei possesses a more sympathetic reason for engaging in violence against the Oni: he has a grudge against them for killing those he loves most. Whatever the cause, buckets of Oni blood are spilled throughout the OVA.

That is the base appeal of New Getter Robo. The plot does get a bit more complicated in the final third; there’s a mindscrew episode in particular that sets the stage for the OVA’s stretch run and turns much of the story on its head. Then again, that might not be entirely accurate. Even before then, the plot is well on its way to madness. I won’t mention some of the crazier stuff since I don’t want to spoil that for anyone, but let’s just say it comes off like the creators got bored of the normal routine and decided to go somewhere completely different. It does work to freshen things up, I’ll give it that much.

No matter how complicated the story gets, though, this is the main question: how, exactly, will the Getter pilots destroy more Oni? New Getter Robo delights in having them crazily destroy as many demons as possible and is not ashamed of that straightforward appeal. There is no room for nuance here, for personal growth. Everyone exists within the throes of madness or hatred. Even Dr. Saotome’s daughter, Michiru, who I understand is normally one of the more reasonable characters, is quite insane in her own way. To march forward in this universe and want one’s existence to continue, a certain amount of insanity is probably required. The characters exist to be larger-than-life figures, destined to spill blood for eternity, for their own amusement and the audience’s.

Not gonna lie: New Getter Robo is quite crude. But, damn it, it’s fun, as well. The violence is so ridiculous that it rises above (or, perhaps, rises below, as Mel Brooks was fond of saying) matters of taste. It’s not pretending to be anything more than it is, which is a crazed bloodbath of demonic destruction. Hey, I like to think, but I also like super robots ripping demons apart. It’s pretty cool.

The Rating: 7

Reviewed by: Shinmaru

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