Hey there, fans! As this is Robot Month here at Fandomania, I’m going to take this opportunity to talk about a huge part of anime, manga and Japanese culture in general: MECHA!
THAT’S RIGHT! Everyone’s favorite collateral-damage causing, laser-beam blasting, monster-bashing, over-sized metal machines of the Rising Sun, and the various franchises they hail from, are on parade this month! However, to those uninitiated, a short introduction should be in order. In this series, in as a chronological order as I can possibly make it, are introductions and opening sequences from the various landmark anime and manga series that have made their mark in the industry! Of course I will not be able to hit all of the mecha anime in these segments, but I will try to include the more popular ones so that n00bs to the genre can get a feel for the it!
Let’s start with one of the more classic stuff, way, WAY back in the age when pop culture began to really get into swing, the 1970s, when Go Nagai first introduced to the world the giant robot known as Mazinger Z! When this series came started airing in Japan on December 1974, it became a hit, and opened the flood gates for several other robot anime that would soon inundate the market, including the various sequels that would spawn from the original. That self-same flood would come over to the United States in 1985, where the series was, of course, heavily edited to fit the television standards of the time, including changing the names of the characters, and had its title changed to Tranzor Z.
The US version rode on the popularity of the show Star Blazers, the equally Americanized version of Space Battleship Yamato, and essentially gave the kids of that generations the inklings of the power of cartoons that came from Japan, which would soon blossom later on. Both countries now had a new niche to fill, in both the entertainment and toy industries, and both American and Japanese animation had a new genre to use!
Mazinger Z would herald the likes of Voltron and the Transformers series in the United States, and the beginnings of the Super Sentai series (soon to become the Power Rangers series in the US) and the root of the Gundam series in Japan! Essentially, Mazinger Z was the grandfather of genre itself, and I would go as far as to say that the show also invented several if not all of the classic Mecha tropes (rocket punches, eye beams, screaming the names of attacks, etc.) that are still in use today!
So there you have it, fans: the first installment of several that will make up the rest of this month’s tribute to mecha! See you next week, when I bust out a few more series that made their mark on the genre.