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Old 2008-03-02, 23:05   Link #1
Kaioshin Sama
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What are Your Thoughts On Mecha?

I notice lots of topics like "What is the best romance?" or "What do you think of Slice of Life" or "What is the weakest genre", but there's nothing on this genre. Since everybody is apparently an expert on this genre I felt I should make this topic. That way everyone can give their thoughts on it and I can tell them why they're wrong.

Okay, but seriously, all jokes aside, the purpose of this thread is the exact opposite of that last line. I really wanted to create a topic like this because I think this genre is overlooked and misunderstood in the grand scheme of things, and I'm curious to know what people really think about it. Quite often people only give one or two sentence thoughts when the dicussion shifts to this genre and I'd like to get a real discussion going on it. Be honest and don't hold back, what does the genre do for you? Don't be afraid to state your opinion as in this thread I plan for it to be welcome. All I ask is that people try to make the reasoning their own and not to just borrow from "common knowledge" or what someone else said unless it is merely to help explain their own thoughts or to touch on something they agree or disagree with. Let me get us started then shall I:

For me it is it's versatility that attracts me to it. You can do so many things with the genre, because it is more of a motif and there are no real rules you have to follow. If you want to do something like a romance you can, if you want to do an Isaac Asimov like story you also can. If you want to do a military or political commentary you can. Or if you just want to do a shonen tournament style fight you can. It remains to me one of the most inexhaustable and accessible venues for creativity and intriguing ideas that an author or studio can work with.
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Old 2008-03-02, 23:17   Link #2
qtipbrit
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Well, your ideas on mecha are a bit clouded, as you're thinking of them as a theme, rather than a genre (since mecha really is a theme, and not a genre, same as Magical Girl, swords, etc.)
Mecha can't classify as a genre because the only thing mecha anime have in common are the appearance of mecha. Of course you can have a fighting/tournament style anime, or a romance anime, an adventure, etc. You could easily also have the same thing with Magical Girl characters as well, right?
Having mecha in an anime does not make it a certain way. Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann was a action/comedy/drama, but then again, so was Fullmetal Alchemist. Full Metal Panic! was an action/comedy/romance, but so is Shakugan no Shana (arguably.), Code Geass is an action/thriller/genious-type thing, and so is Death Note.
Action involves fighting, fast-paced scenes, high-tension parts and such; comedy involves stuff that attempts makes you laugh; romance involves touchy feelings and whatnot between its main characters; fantasy incorporates magical or other phenomena and rotates around it; and mecha has robots.
(Fantasy would arguably be a bit of a theme, though series based upon fantasy are generally very different, as it is often much more central to the story than mecha.)

So yeah. Continuing, I would agree that it's often overlooked, but mainly because it's often an acquired taste. If someone grew up watching Gundam, Macross, Neon Genesis Evangelion, etc., then they would probably have less bias against it if they're older.
I personally followed Zoids and Gundam Wing when I was six or seven, but I was mildly reluctant to start watching mecha several years later. Of course, after I watched Full Metal Panic!, I got a bit more used to it, and I now have little to no bias against it, continuing to watch Code Geass, Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann (one of my personal favourites), and other mecha series.

Mmm..
That's just a bit of opinion and self-history.
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Old 2008-03-03, 00:03   Link #3
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There's nothing wrong with mecha except for the fact that I don't like it. I think there are two factors that determines if a series is watchable, not "good", to me. The first is realism, and the second is the "wow" factor. Bleach, Naruto, and other action series isn't very realistic, but if I didn't drop them, then they impressed me in some way, maybe with cool fighting sequences or something. For mecha, I just don't go wow, and that's why I had so much trouble with Eureka seven. If I don't find their "robots" cool, and it's not realistic, then I don't want to watch it, even though I enjoyed it. This is why even though I enjoyed most mecha I see, I don't really want to start another one, since 1) they're not realistic and 2) past mecha series didn't "wow" me.

So what determines if something will "wow" me? This all comes down to tastes. I like swordfighting, and I never really played with robots or like them. This is why I find Shakugan no Shana interesting, while mecha just decent. I guess in a way, ninjas, zanpakutō, and Hiten Mitsurugi-Ryū have some elements of realism in them, but robots just don't to me.

Of course one except is...the currently #9 on my top anime list, because in a very disturbing way, its drama just takes over everything that I don't like.
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Old 2008-03-03, 01:03   Link #4
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I'd have to agree with most of (if not all!) of what qtipbrit92 wrote. The real "defining" characteristic of mecha anime/manga is that it has (usually) giant robots in it that do stuff. Calling it a versatile genre is a bit misleading, because you can say the exact same thing about ninjas or magic girls.

Personally, I've always been a bit of a sucker for sci-fi, so I'll usually give any mecha series a shot. That being said, whether I like it or not has very little do with the presence (or lack thereof) of mecha. I liked Full Metal Panic! because of the characters and how it deftly mixed action/comedy/romance. I liked Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann because it was just so incredibly over-the-top and was a "less talking, more doing" show. The fact that giant robots did stuff is sort of incidental. Sousuke Sagara doesn't have to pilot a giant robot to be a great character and a foil for Kaname, and Simon, Kamina & Co. didn't need the giant robots to be awesome.

Mecha is just a lens through which you can view a story, and it's one of many.
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Old 2008-03-03, 01:08   Link #5
james0246
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When most non-mecha fans watch a mecha anime they probablt think one of two things, "This is too childish." and "What toys are going to come from this series." The first thought is probably due to the over-acting that is often found in many non-realistic Giant or non-Giant Mecha shows. Even critically acclaimed shows such as Big O, Dai-Guard, or Evangelion often have scenes in which the characters seem to be overly constipated and would often yell and scream their emotions while riding their giant mecha. There are various other aspects that seem somewhat 'childish' in comparison to the more down to earth slice-of-life or romance stories.

The second thought is often a detractory to any viewing of any show. If your first conscious thought of a show is what toys will be made from it, I doubt you could then take the show seriously if all you can thik about is what the production company is trying to sell you (it takes you out of the story and distances you from the characters).
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Old 2008-03-03, 01:29   Link #6
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I never really cared for more "old-school/pure" mecha like Mazinkaiser, watched one episode and it put me off of mecha (and anime) for a long time.

That said, I like the more "modern" mecha that uses that theme as a vehicle for character driven drama. Some examples would be the recent Gundams and Code Geass, along with Evangelion. While the mecha is some nice eye candy, the real substance is what happens outside the battlefield and inside the cockpit.
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Old 2008-03-03, 04:24   Link #7
Ichihara Asako
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I like mecha, as a general rule of thumb, but there are a few mecha series I've really disliked. But the same can be said for every genre.

I loved Macross when I was younger, the romantic and musical aspect was somewhat interesting to me compared to the raw destruction and stuff that series like Gundam offered. Then, I strongly dislike Eva, and E7, even though both are very popular in the genre. This isn't about the series though, so I won't get in to all the whys of each.

Things like FMP amuse me, I like the lead chars, and the comedy and what romance there is. It did something a bit different with the genre, which I enjoyed a lot. Then there's some unsung series, Soukou no Strain and Gigantic Formula, which were also somewhat unique; I enjoyed them for that too.

I guess what it comes down to, is I don't care about genres as long as the story is interesting and there's some facet that keeps me watching (unique designs, good characterisation, stunning art, etc). In general I'd say I'm a mecha fan, but I'm not obsessive over it. There's lots I haven't seen, and some I just don't like. Same goes for everything, really.
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Old 2008-03-03, 04:32   Link #8
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What does mecha do for me ? Nothing, really. And i can say hat about every other "genre" you might encounter. Just like many other things it is just a "decoration" to the story; a vehicle the author chose to help in portraying his story. A story can be good, bad, amazing or awful - the elements that make up the mix don't matter much to me, its the end result that interests me. If its a well told and interesting story then i am not going to care much what makes up the substance. Then again it shouldn't be that surprising, considering i have very broad tastes when it comes to anime. Unless we are talking about sports anime or yaoi/yuri themed shows, i am open to all genres and enjoy everything for laid back slice of life shows to action packed mecha. Its just a device for storytelling for me, no more, no less.
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Old 2008-03-03, 06:23   Link #9
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I has fun while watching Grendizer, Macross, FMP and TTGL. No way to deny that.

But I has qualms with the mecha genre when it comes down to several things:

First would be the action and its implications in matters of pain, life and death. Aroduc put it very well so I gonna quote it

Quote:

Seriously, I will never understand the attraction of giant robots wailing on eachother. Even when your series is about magical giant swords, the fights are real. When somebody gets hit, you can empathize. When somebody gets kicked in the junk, you wince. When somebody gets their arm pulled off their shoulder, you feel it. When the same thing happens to giant robots… you cheer maybe? Unless it’s the good robot being attacked, in which you watch it triumph despite a giant gaping hole in itself. It cheapens any and all attempts at drama around the battles and makes everything feel so very very contrived. Maybe tearing the arm off hurt the pilot, maybe it did nothing. Maybe the entire thing was cut in half, exploded, and then launched into the sun, but the pilot’s still fine. Why? Because the writers say so.
When it comes to action, I litterally has chills down my spine over Kakyoin's and Polnareff's efforts to outsmart J.Gail, or when Hisoka has shown Castro why he let him sever his arm.

So it bring me to the "Action shonen tournament style", "Political and military commentary" or "the romance". To me, it is a matter of what I've seen before and if what I want to see in this show is going to left me speechless or craving for more.

First, action shonen tournament,

As much as I loath Naruto, I admit that most of the fights in the tournament arc were very well done (Temari vs Shikamaru comes in mind), the underworld tournament in Yuyu Hakusho is a classic to be read (especially when you feel for Kuwabara who has nothing special compared to Yusuke, Kurama and Hiei, and watch him grow in term of spirit and combat feats). And there are also the emotional implications during those fights.
And while being technically not a shonen, Gunnm's Motorball arc was awesome because of the superb presence of Jashugan.

Second, political and military commentary.

Sorry, but I have yet to find something in any anime genre that have done it and wowed me. Western medias wins in that department, hand down. No political genre stories has wowed me as much as Frankenheimer's "Seven Days in May". May I suggest to watch "State of Play" too? And as for military, sorry but I dont feel like doing a long list of war movies. If you are going to suggest me Code Geass, I have watched it, and it is nothing to write home about. Especially in the light of the Euphemia fiasco.

Finally, romance.

No thanks, I'll stick to Orange Road, Nodame Cantabile and Honey & Clover; and I"s.

So to me, it is mostly a matter of "I have seen that before, and it was done just better".
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Old 2008-03-03, 06:50   Link #10
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There's versatility in lot of genres. With comedy you can go batshit insane like Zetsubou sensei, poignant drama like H&C and Nodame Cantabile, or more episodic slice of life moments like Azumanga or Lucky Star. Or something like Ouran, or a humorous shounen adventure like One Piece. It isn't bound by any rules except it should be funny. Likewise, Mecha is bound by one rule and that is having robots. If you like bunch of robots piloted by teenagers kicking ass, Mecha is for you.

As for me, I don't care if my anime is mecha or slice-of-life as long as they're good. I enjoyed Evangelion for evas and angels, but also for the same reason I enjoyed some animes found in other genres, such as Cyberpunk and Thriller.
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Old 2008-03-03, 07:12   Link #11
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In my opinion, mechas represent another "you" just like we saw in super robot and real robot genres. Great combination of men and machines.
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Old 2008-03-03, 09:24   Link #12
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Kaioshin_Sama's arguments look pretty defensive to me. He's not saying mecha is great because it has mecha. He's saying, no, no it's not about the mecha, it's just that it is so versatile that it can be anything. So is this actually still an argument in support of mecha anime?

Let's accept for a second and for the sake of discussion that mecha anime is really so versatile. What does that mean? It means that you can always find something that appeals to you. Great. At the same time it means that there is a lot of stuff that does not appeal to you. Not so great. You can't praise a whole genre (theme, category, whatever) based on the cherries you picked.

And you can of course apply this argumentation to any genre.

I also don't see the point in going for one genre if I want another. If you want romance the usual strategy is to look under "romance" and see what appeals to you, and not under "mecha" until you find something that is also "romance". And if you want to watch romance, you normally don't want to see a giant robot walking across the screen every episode except if you watch that anime also for that giant robot or if you consider the story to be good enough to ignore the mecha aspects.

Normally, people will watch mecha for the mecha. Admit it and go on. The mecha are put into the script for a reason, and at a prominent place, otherwise it wouldn't be a mecha anime. When Sunrise puts a big robot wielding a truck-sized laser gun into the trailer what do you think the message is? Is it "Hey, this is a cool anime because it has a big robot wielding a truck-sized laser gun. Buy it."? Or is it "Actually, just ignore that big robot, we actually don't know why it's there but we have ... uh ... political commentary." Mecha are put into the anime becuase the target group wants to see big machinery making *click*, *srrr*, *stomp*, transform and unite.

Now, how versatile is mecha anime really? Kaioshin_Sama's says it is, which is a position easily to defend, because there are 1000 mecha anime out there, and if somebody says "mecha anime is like this or that" he can easily come up with a counter example. Which doesn't mean much of course as long as the rule does still apply for the other 999.

I will still give it a try. Let's start which the obvious. Mecha anime has mecha (*badum-tish*). The mecha play an important role in the anime, otherwise they most likely weren't there at all, or at least the anime couldn't be classified as a mecha anime anymore. Mecha are war machines that means the anime typically deals with them fighting a kind of war.

More often than not, this war is not a war in the classical sense but consisting of single fights against other mecha or otherwise gigantic enemies. Nevertheless something very important is at stake which can be defendend that way. We typically have a limited number of pilots, or only one, often piloting their own individual mecha. More often than not, the pilots are too young for their role. It is hard to construct a convincing framework for all this and it's often not even attempted.

Then we have the more classical war situations, something that was more common in the past (although I think the scenario above was always the more frequent) where the mecha simply replace the infantry, sometimes to an extent which makes me wonder why they don't use normal infantry in the first place. Well, acutally it doesn't make me wonder of course, the reason is simply that the target audience wants robots. See above. Plausibilty (the little plausibilty a mecha as weapon has in the first place) often falls victim to attempted "epicness".

OK. I stop here. It has already become too long.
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Old 2008-03-03, 09:28   Link #13
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Mecha...I like them as of now. I watched Macross 7 in my childhood, and I remember loving the transformation and fighting involving the mechas. Then after, I just didn't really care for anime mecha series, although I really liked looking at the mechas themselves - I hated Gundam Seed/Destiny, but I like their mechas. But after watching Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, it got my blood rolling for more mecha, more awesomeness with giant anime robots. And so I watched Code Geass (I found the fighting somewhat like Seed/Destiny ), but Gundam 00 pretty much is a great series now.

Oh, I find the mechas in Macross fucking cool - in the way that they're potentially creatable. I saw the first ep of Macross Frontier, holy shit, the mechs were pretty damn awesome.
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Old 2008-03-03, 09:57   Link #14
Westlo
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I love mecha but I grew up with it thanks to watching Robotech and Tranzor Z otherwise known as Macross and Mazinger Z which are two of the most influential mecha series period. When SBS aired Neon Genesis Evangelion on tv in prime time in Australia (8.30pm Saturday and halfway through the series they also aired it from the start at 8.30pm Monday) I got back into anime because it and also stuff like Akira, Ninja Scroll, GITS Movie & Macross Plus.

Than I got into fan sub at the start of the decade and I got to watch great stuff like The Vision of Escaflowne and Gundam 08th MS Team. RahXephon in 2002 became my #1 anime title and it hasn't lost that spot since so obviously I'm a mecha fan right?

But how do I see mecha? Is it like Kaoishin or is it like qtipbrit92? Maybe when I was younger I felt like Kaoishin but as my tastes and range expand I now see mecha the same as qtipbrit92. I no longer see mecha as a genre but as just a theme for a show. My 3 favorite early mecha titles I saw are completely different in genre really. Macross is a space opera with a love triangle, Evangelion a character development/psychological piece and Vision of Escaflowne is just a great fantasy romance. I put Escaflowne in the same basket as El Hazard, instead of someone gaining super strength they pilot a mecha instead.
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Old 2008-03-03, 10:28   Link #15
Kirarakim
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I am not really a mecha fan. Okay there are some prominent mecha series that I loved (Gunbuster, Escaflowne, Gurren Lagann) but it was not the mecha apsect of these series that made me a fan.

While I wouldn't say this about the above series, there are some series that I am not even sure why they have mecha such as Code Geass and Full Metal Panic. Honestly I think these series would be just as good without the mecha.

So it's not that I dislike an anime series because it has mecha I am just not very interested in giant robots. I think if you are going to say you are a mecha fan than it is the giant robot aspect that you are interested in.

To say that you like mecha because it has romance, comedy, drama, etc does not make you a mecha fan because a lot of series have these elements. Why would you specifically watch mecha anime for this?
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Old 2008-03-03, 11:39   Link #16
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I like science fiction and also military themed dramas which in the anime medium happens to include alot of mecha based shows. I tend to prefer my military/action/scifi stories be on the more "realistic" side of things and while mecha are themselves very unrealistic and would never be used in combat, I find myself amused and intrigued by alot of the shows that atleast make somewhat of an effort to make the mecha "appear" to be realistic with shows like Macross, Full Metal Panic, the UC Gundam and Gundam 00, Patlabor, etc.

However, while the mecha from such shows are usually cool looking to watch in their battles, its more so the indepth feel and look to the universes and their characters and drama that draws me to the shows more than the mecha themselves.

I find myself preferring the more "realistic" mecha shows over the more "super robot" styled series. However, I do happen to love Gurren Lagann for its amusing characters and over-the-top hotblooded antics.

Last edited by Icehawk; 2008-03-03 at 12:02.
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Old 2008-03-03, 12:00   Link #17
The Chaos
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The Mecha Genre Not That Bad ...But Not All of it Is Good..
I Liked Code Geass And Some Of Gundam Series ..
But Not My First Top Genre..I Try Stay Away From it >.<
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Old 2008-03-03, 12:11   Link #18
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Let me be honest my thoughts on mecha are indiffrent. But I cant write them off there have indeed been some really good mechas .Its not my thing though but I do indeed have problems with generation of mecha fans spurned from GSD
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Old 2008-03-03, 13:44   Link #19
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I find myself disliking most mecha anime - that being said, I like two: Evangelion and Macross Plus. The reason why is pretty simple: neither of those anime center around mecha. This is the biggest weakness of the genre in my opinion. Macross Plus was great in my eyes because the mecha's where a far secondary aspect of the anime when compared to the character interaction - hell, the plot revolved around something completely detached from Evangelion to begin with.

So then I look to Evangelion. It's obviously and infamously an anime known for (among other things) the deconstruction of the mecha genre. I love it for all of the non-mecha aspects - character analysis, political overtones and the such (sure, Eva has its flaws, but I'm trying to come up with specific examples).

In either instance, I like the anime despite the mecha, not because of it. At this point, mecha really shouldn't be considered a "genre" in my eyes as much as an element of the anime. After all, if "mecha" anime can be romance, shonen, comedy, etc... why not just give the respective anime the genre of "romance," "shonen," "comedy," etc.? I tend to hate most mecha not because of the mecha, but because they are (in my eyes) bad anime. It's not the fault of the mecha, and conversely it's rarely due to a mecha that a show becomes phenomenal. Consequently, I find it hard to consider mecha a genre in my head.
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Old 2008-03-03, 13:44   Link #20
Kaioshin Sama
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Slice of Life View Post
Kaioshin_Sama's arguments look pretty defensive to me. He's not saying mecha is great because it has mecha. He's saying, no, no it's not about the mecha, it's just that it is so versatile that it can be anything. So is this actually still an argument in support of mecha anime?

Let's accept for a second and for the sake of discussion that mecha anime is really so versatile. What does that mean? It means that you can always find something that appeals to you. Great. At the same time it means that there is a lot of stuff that does not appeal to you. Not so great. You can't praise a whole genre (theme, category, whatever) based on the cherries you picked.

And you can of course apply this argumentation to any genre.

I also don't see the point in going for one genre if I want another. If you want romance the usual strategy is to look under "romance" and see what appeals to you, and not under "mecha" until you find something that is also "romance". And if you want to watch romance, you normally don't want to see a giant robot walking across the screen every episode except if you watch that anime also for that giant robot or if you consider the story to be good enough to ignore the mecha aspects.

Normally, people will watch mecha for the mecha. Admit it and go on. The mecha are put into the script for a reason, and at a prominent place, otherwise it wouldn't be a mecha anime. When Sunrise puts a big robot wielding a truck-sized laser gun into the trailer what do you think the message is? Is it "Hey, this is a cool anime because it has a big robot wielding a truck-sized laser gun. Buy it."? Or is it "Actually, just ignore that big robot, we actually don't know why it's there but we have ... uh ... political commentary." Mecha are put into the anime becuase the target group wants to see big machinery making *click*, *srrr*, *stomp*, transform and unite.

Now, how versatile is mecha anime really? Kaioshin_Sama's says it is, which is a position easily to defend, because there are 1000 mecha anime out there, and if somebody says "mecha anime is like this or that" he can easily come up with a counter example. Which doesn't mean much of course as long as the rule does still apply for the other 999.

I will still give it a try. Let's start which the obvious. Mecha anime has mecha (*badum-tish*). The mecha play an important role in the anime, otherwise they most likely weren't there at all, or at least the anime couldn't be classified as a mecha anime anymore. Mecha are war machines that means the anime typically deals with them fighting a kind of war.

More often than not, this war is not a war in the classical sense but consisting of single fights against other mecha or otherwise gigantic enemies. Nevertheless something very important is at stake which can be defendend that way. We typically have a limited number of pilots, or only one, often piloting their own individual mecha. More often than not, the pilots are too young for their role. It is hard to construct a convincing framework for all this and it's often not even attempted.

Then we have the more classical war situations, something that was more common in the past (although I think the scenario above was always the more frequent) where the mecha simply replace the infantry, sometimes to an extent which makes me wonder why they don't use normal infantry in the first place. Well, acutally it doesn't make me wonder of course, the reason is simply that the target audience wants robots. See above. Plausibilty (the little plausibilty a mecha as weapon has in the first place) often falls victim to attempted "epicness".

OK. I stop here. It has already become too long.
Sorry, could you elaborate on that, I don't really follow at all.
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