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Kaioshin Sama 2011-10-27 16:25

Views On Mecha Anime
 
No doubt some know that I'm a huge mecha fan and I'd even admit to being something of a mecha fanboy. It's the anime genre I grew up with the most and the kind I still find myself most in my comfort zone when viewing, but that doesn't seem to be the case for many. I'd argue from reading comments and posts in mecha series threads over the last 6-8 years that its still one of the most misunderstood and most frequently criticised genres around and that people seem to view mecha shows as nothing more than cynical soulless toy commercials.

However perhaps this is merely the result of the cryptic thought processes and reasons behind peoples reaction to mecha shows on this forum and elsewhere. Thats why i thought is create this thread to discuss views on mecha shows in this forum and try to get to the bottom of the matter for good. I'll be back later to fill in my views, but for now people can have the floor.

C.A. 2011-10-27 16:39

The mecha genre is not just about robots fighting each other, it is about robots being the extension of the human will. The mecha is the medium for the characters to spread their message.

The Evangelion Units, Nirvash, Gaogaigar, Aquarion, Gunbuster, Ideon, King Gainer, Gurren Lagann, 00 Riser etc., all of them are mediums for the pilot to channel their will. Be it love and courage, determination, understanding, the mecha is there to help the characters make their point and spread the message.

GreatTeacherKen 2011-10-27 17:08

I guess my opinion would be somewhere in between the I love giant robots and I'm OK with mechs. I generally think giant robots are pretty cool, but when I watch an anime or read a manga, the mechs generally aren't the first thing I look at. I'm more concerned with things like plot and characterization and how those mechs are used within the story.

Put it this way, just because a series has a somewhat cool mech in it doesn't mean that I'll automatically give it points.

HurricaneHige 2011-10-27 17:16

I'm alright with Mecha, but moreso than the mecha itself I have to see a good story. Something like Stardriver had terrible mecha design, but I still watched it expecting a decent story out of BONES. Instead, I got a terrible anime, and it's not because I didn't like the mecha design.

I grew up during the whole "combining robots" phase of anime, where there was a ton of power rangers-like robots, some even spawn out of school buildings, and i used to love them a lot. Maybe I grew out of those anime, but I am more incline to think scriptwriters just suck more and more in creating a half-decent story to go with those robots.

Sister Princess 2011-10-27 19:37

I think super robot genre and real robot genre need to separated. People tend to like realistic military mecha than giant robots these days.

I'm more into the fact that majority of seiyuus appeared in Gundam series ended up easier to remember than not in Gundam series at all.

Decagon 2011-10-27 19:45

Maybe it would help to distinguish between series that use mecha as a scifi representation of technological progress versus series that are based around the trials and tribulations of mecha pilots--ie, mecha as machines, and mecha as partners.

And, the poll doesn't seem to distinguish between giant robot and mecha...

Endless Soul 2011-10-27 19:47

Macross is and always be my first anime love.

kitten320 2011-10-27 19:49

I voted for the last one but my view on mecha is not that bad. I just didn't find another suitable option.
I personally don't like Mecha, it usually turns me away from the anime. The genre seems to be over used and sometimes it's taken to ridiculouse mesures. I don't want to start any fights here but Gurren Lagan is one of those examples, there is no way I will ever buy that a small head can transform into a giant space ship! Maybe if anime wasn't full of stupidity, I would have looked at it differently. Yes, the show does cover some seriouse topics but once things start to get out of the border, all seriouse themes get lost.

Another reason of not liking mecha is because it is not much fun watching their fights... mecha always crush everything and only other mecha is able to stop it and I'm not big fan of constantly flying rockets. I always prefered cold weapon to gun so it might be one of the reasons.

However, there are exceptions and if show has high praise, I will check it. And if I will see something interesting, I'll keep watching without really carrying about mecha because story is able to cover all the mecha minuses.

Notable exceptions are Full Metal Panic and Code Geass.

creb 2011-10-27 19:55

Well, I want to say I've outgrown mecha to some extent, except I still very much enjoy older mecha shows, so I'm pretty sure even with the nostalgia glasses on, it's more a case of meca has changed over the years.

First, I have to clarify that I was never a fan of the more classic mecha like Reideen, where it was thin on plot and big on robots beating up things. So, I'm not sure I'm really a pure mecha fan as this eliminates a whole host of classic and modern mecha from my appreciation list. I mean, I'm more than willing to turn my brain off and just enjoy shows mindlessly, but mindless beatem' ups tend not to hold my interest much. There needs to be other hooks in the absence of plot, whether it's beautiful women, lots of comedy, etc.

I've always been more of a plot-oriented mecha fan, and while my initial reaction is that we don't get much plot or character driven mecha these days, I admit it's easy to fall victim to nostalgia glasses. When I think back on the golden plot/character driven mecha, like Giant Robo (lol @ its remake), the UC Gundams (well, wasn't a fan of ZZ, but all the rest), Turn A Gundam (as an experimental steampunk mecha show), Aura Battle Dunbine, Ideon, Patlabor, Macross/Robotech etc, I have to remind myself that these shows didn't all come out at the same time, so I shouldn't begrudge modern mecha shows being so infrequent when it comes to plot.

That said, it's been slim pickings lately. Now, we have things like Stardriver, which I swear gets an award for the most well animated pile of empty calories ever created. If it wasn't for Macross Frontier, Eureka Seven (and, in all honesty, it took a very good overarching story for me to stomach Renton), and Xam'd, it'd seem like a dark past decade of mecha...to me, at least, and Macross Frontier is really borderline as to whether I consider it a mecha show. Lest I come across as overly critical, I had no real issues with Gundam Seed or 00, though I refuse to say anything good about Gundam Seed Destiny outside of lamenting that Athrun Zala is quite possibly the most under-appreciated Gundam character of all time.

It occurs to me that after I wrote all this that it's less the mecha genre I identify with and more the sci-fi genre, hence my disdain for many of the more brainless mecha out there. As such, I probably should revoke any pretensions of being a card-carrying mecha lover. :p I admit, when I was a young child, being a huge Voltron fan though, so I can certainly understand why some enjoy those shows. :D

As for the general criticism that tends to be leveled at mecha shows, I honestly don't think the genre gets any more flak than any other genre. It may seem like things have heated up over the last decade, but that's more the move of social consciousness to the internet, where anonymity can drive many of us to be more critical than we are in 'real life'.

I don't mind people being critical, as long as they don't repeat themselves ad nauseam (ie: 10+ pages of saying "I hate this show" in a given show's thread here on these boards). I mean, there are about five posters in the Guilty Crown thread who keep writing posts longer than what I've just written here detailing how they love/hate the show, which is fine, until they keep repeating themselves as they talk past each other to the point that if you were to look at the last twenty or so pages, these people dominate 95% of the conversation; a conversation that can be summed up as "I hate Guilty Crown" "I don't think you should hate Guilty Crown". I feel like it's Thanksgiving dinner with the folks listening to the family go back and forth endlessly about the economy and politics. It's all so pointless after the first 30 seconds. :p Stating your opinion once is enough.

I also am not terribly patient for those who criticize a show without having watched it, nor even done basic research into its premise. Otherwise, after reading any individual posters "I hate" post in a given show's thread, I generally just let the rest of their posts written in the same vein go in one ear and out the other. Life's too short to re-hash negative opinions in a constant, never-ending back and forth on an internet message board. :heh:

TL;DR Don't take it all so seriously and don't let yourself get sucked into a back and forth. Don't let those who consistently state the same negative opinion over and over again get you down, and concentrate on the things you enjoy, because if you end up posting more about how bad or not bad a show is more than once, then you're really no better than those negative nancies who are only filled with hate as an outlet for whatever is going on in real life that is stressing them out. :heh:

Edit: I voted the first option, but that's more due to a lack of the option "I love Mecha if it's plot/character driven!" :D

Reckoner 2011-10-27 20:34

The mecha isn't so important itself to me. It's the plot and characterization that matter to me the most, but that pretty much goes for anything I watch so mecha is no different.

Whether it mecha, swords, guns, or no action at all, these concepts by themselves just don't actually make the series alone.

My favorite show of all time, NGE, is a mecha for example, but having mecha action wasn't a decisive factor at all by any means.

Archon_Wing 2011-10-27 20:45

I have pretty much the same thought as Reckoner; like him one of my favorite anime is NGE which is a mecha anime, but I didn't like it strictly for that. You really can make a story out of anything as long as you give a damn about it.

It's the people inside and around the mecha that matter the most. Genre and archetypes are only a beginning, not an end.

Pocari_Sweat 2011-10-27 20:48

Voted option 3. Mecha has little impact on whether I like a show or not by itself, but it seems to be that some of the time "pure-mecha" shows have poorer characterization and plot than plot-based shows that happen to have mecha in them.

Kirarakim 2011-10-27 20:50

I am not a mecha fan per say but I have nothing against the genre. I also think I like the Giant Robo shows more than the more realistic mecha shows: So my top 3 of the genre would be (in abbreviated alphabetical order)
  • Escaflowne
  • Gunbuster
  • Gurren Lagann

I adore all these shows but as someone else said it's more for the characters & story than the mecha itself. Although the Escaflowne is probably my favorite actual mecha because I love how it can transform into a dragon.

Oh and I voted for option 2!

Kaioshin Sama 2011-10-27 22:22

Quote:

Originally Posted by C.A. (Post 3827989)
The mecha genre is not just about robots fighting each other, it is about robots being the extension of the human will. The mecha is the medium for the characters to spread their message.

The Evangelion Units, Nirvash, Gaogaigar, Aquarion, Gunbuster, Ideon, King Gainer, Gurren Lagann, 00 Riser etc., all of them are mediums for the pilot to channel their will. Be it love and courage, determination, understanding, the mecha is there to help the characters make their point and spread the message.

Actually this more or less highlights my view on mecha as well. I see it as a means to an end more than the end itself. Basically when I see a show has mecha in it I almost kind of expect an intricate and complex storyline, interesting and diverse characters and factions, and some sort of message to be conveyed in the end. It also helps when there's some cool action sequences on the way, but that's more of a secondary appeal for me. Also I'm kind of just a fan of mecha design in general. I'm one of those guys that grew up playing strategy games and reading about the history and evolution of armoured combat from old books my Grandpa left me and have also sort of developed an eye for intricate mechanical design that comes purely from the imagination alone. It's fun stuff for me really, especially when it comes to actually building model kits. :D

Master_Yoma 2011-10-27 22:30

Well im not a big mecha fun but I do like to watch them

asaqe 2011-10-27 22:40

The problem I see with mecha anime these day is that it cannot escape the void that is trying to create an antiseptic series with heroes who were always altrustic and steadfast (to various varieties). What mecha anime needs is a lead who relfected upon the current generation. A man or a teen who weak, petty and self-destructive and didn't relate to it's crowd audience. This was why nBSG was so popular, a story about flawed heroes, a grim reality of being the last of their kind in an barren uncaring universe.

This I have pushed for gundam for quite a bit.

Eater of All 2011-10-27 23:54

Mecha has no impact on how I view a show. In that sense, mecha is like moe.

Yes, I just went there.

To be clear, mecha and moe are of course very different things and appeal to very different interests. However, they both aren't genres in themselves, more like just elements. Their inclusion or lack thereof don't make or break a show; it's how they're used and the stuff (plot, characters, execution, etc.) that utilizes them that matters most. Just because a show with mecha (or moe) sucks does not mean mecha (or moe) by itself sucks. It makes just as little sense as calling a dagger evil, or good for that matter.

Decagon 2011-10-28 00:01

Quote:

Originally Posted by Kaioshin Sama (Post 3828469)
Actually this more or less highlights my view on mecha as well. I see it as a means to an end more than the end itself. Basically when I see a show has mecha in it I almost kind of expect an intricate and complex storyline, interesting and diverse characters and factions, and some sort of message to be conveyed in the end. It also helps when there's some cool action sequences on the way, but that's more of a secondary appeal for me.

I'd be of the opinion that this is more indicative of Japanese cultural influences in general rather than something unique to mecha anime and, to be perfectly honest, you can find those qualities in most hot-blooded shonen action titles. If I were to say anymore, it'd sound like I was just parroting the video I'm linking. There was a good Extra Credits episode on this a while back which really rolls with CA's point--here--just watch it through, as it contrasts the development of empowerment in Japanese gaming to the more ubiquitous guy with a gun in US game development.

Tempester 2011-10-28 00:33

Quote:

Originally Posted by Reckoner (Post 3828330)
The mecha isn't so important itself to me. It's the plot and characterization that matter to me the most, but that pretty much goes for anything I watch so mecha is no different.

Whether it mecha, swords, guns, or no action at all, these concepts by themselves just don't actually make the series alone.

This. I'm pretty much with Reckoner on this.

The use of mecha comes down to appropriateness. Are the identities of some characters supposed to be kept secret for part of the plot (Bokurano, Gundam 00)? Then mecha provide a nice 'disguise' when the writer thinks masks, suits, and capes aren't enough. Are there very powerful or gigantic enemies to face (Macross, Evangelion)? The use of mecha might seem more appropriate than sentai warriors, although this also depends on the writer. And of course, the roles of the mecha themselves can be deeply integrated into story turns and twists.

I'd say that the appropriateness of mecha elements is high in Evangelion and low in Code Geass.

Bri 2011-10-28 08:08

In the first place I enjoy mecha in itself for its imagination and visual appeal. In that sense I am a mecha fan. Animation is particularly suited to show off mechanical design that would be (near) impossible or to expensive to create with live action. For me its similar to enjoying a industrial design like a concept car or architecture.

As pointed out earlier by Eater of all, mecha, like moe, is a theme and not a genre. It primarily affects the visual element of a show. It's a non starter but who doesn't like good characterisation and/or storytelling?

That said, in the last decade the rise of the one cour format, the character focus of and narative breakdown in late night anime have made mecha a safe heaven for storytelling. Two or more cour formats more common in (high budget) mecha shows gives more time to develop a plot. Machines and conflict provide raw material to build a story around. While anime on daily life tend to emphasize social interaction.

Unfortunately this difference gets often abused in discussions like those on "serious vs shallow anime", elitism, character focus, moe and the fallicious A/B type otaku argument. Imo it creates misconceptions and can induce a siege mentality in other anime fans that turns them off mecha.

Mecha is very varried and unfortunately there is also quite a bit of intolerance towards mecha that targets not only traditional fanbase but also other audiences like kids, women or otaku. I have to admit that I catch myself occasionally falling for this one as the imo forced inclusion of highschool settings or fetish characters are pet hates of mine, while they do help the shows popularity. Still seeing the amount of abuse for example Gundam Age got before anything was shown for simply being aimed at a younger audience (like most of the older TV series) made my head shake.


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