As you are all aware, I’ve been in the middle of a big mecha anime kick for a while. After Gundam Build Fighters paved the way and I cruised through Knights of Sidonia like a madman, I’ve been spending most of my free anime watching time burning through what is probably anime’s most hallowed genre—that of the giant robot. So, in this week’s Aniwords, I spend a bit of time retracing my steps to this point (“someone tell me how I got here // from the city to this frontier”) and musing a bit on the overall experience of expanding the boxes of interest in which we dwell. Hope you guys enjoy it!
9 thoughts on “Aniwords – I’m Driving a Giant Robot, & I Can’t Make it Stop”
Thanks to my big sister, shoujo/josei works is one box (like, literally; she had a box of them) that I’m most grateful to for being introduced to since early age. If it’s not for her, I’d probably would’ve been stuck with only testosterone-fueled media and ignored any other stuff ostensibly “for female demographic.” As it is, I count a bunch of shoujousei (e.g. Glass Mask, RoV, Chihayafuru, Sakamichi no Apollon) as some of my lifetime favorites, and now eagerly anticipate an upcoming josei adaptation (Showa Rakugo!) that looks incredibly promising.
There’s really a huge incentive for animango fans to diversify our selection and try out new things beyond the “Essentials” list, since the medium is so much more diverse than it’s often given credit for. I do notice though that some people seem to be put off from certain genre/box because of preconception and/or distaste at the more elitist part of the fandom, which is a shame. For mecha genre, I’ve known several people who automatically assume there’s too much of machismo/military nonsense in any given show for them to handle~
Oh, whoa, that’s actually… really cool. In my opinion, good shoujo/josei stuff is something really to be appreciated—I think it often crosses gendered boundaries with more ease than shounen stuff, and often just is told in a different way from stories we’re used to. And you know I’ve got some shoujosei stuff among the shows I really loved, so we’re in together on that!
Mecha/Giant Robot was of course the very first box I started playing with, between Voltron/Transformers/Robotech and later Escaflowne/Evangelion. I actually don’t watch that much of it anymore, but when a good show like a Code Geass or IBO comes along I’m happy to tune in.
The box that I really grew into in the way you described was actually magical girl. Back in the 90s I refused to watch Sailor Moon because that was “little girl stuff,” and even when I had to concede that Utena was a terrific show I was still able to justify that it wasn’t really a magical girl since it was so much doing its own thing even as it borrowed liberally from the genre. I can’t really point to any single key event that changed my opinion of magical girl, or when it tipped over into becoming one of if not my most favorite genres. It was more just a gradual accumulation of watching more of them over the years and coming to realize that there were themes and plotlines and story ideas in these shows that I could still appreciate even as an adult man, from the journeys of self-discovery of Sakura and Nanoha to the cybertech angle of Corrector Yui (a show that to my frustration has never been translated into English beyond episode 18, not even by fansubbers) to the dark twists of My-Hime and Madoka.
Yup, this seems to be the way things really end up going, usually! You don’t really notice or realize it, but you take a few influences here and a few influences there, and then suddenly you find yourself really falling into a genre. I think I’m slowly moving that way myself with mahou shoujo, but I’m not quiiiiite there yet. ^_^
Build Fighters was what got me started on mechas too, same as how UBW got me addicted to the inner workings of Nasuverse.
I marathoned Build Fighters, and caught up with Try just as it reached episode 20. I can say without a doubt that the original was my favorite, though- watching Try made me feel how I imagine a Dragon Ball fan would watching the Majin Buu saga.
Captain Earth… That show didn’t end too well for me. Kinda lost interest around the 19th episode, and it didn’t really step up from there. I still need to watch the finale, actually… Need to finish TTGL as well. I gave up at episode 2… that’s pretty sad, huh?
Yeah, Build Fighters‘ first series was something splendid. I haven’t even gone back to watch Try yet, sort of out of the fear that it wouldn’t turn out all that well.
Captain Earth definitely isn’t all that great, but I’m having enough fun with it to continue on!
In the early times of me watching anime I would not have considered touching a mecha show but then my interest in Mamoru Oshii got me to watch Patlabor. And of course there is Evangelion which I watched later because I perceived it as “required watching”. Turns out I really liked both, shattering my prejudices towards mecha. Since then quite a few more mecha shows have been added to the list. It truly is amazing how one’s tates evolve, sometimes completely contrary to your expectations or intentions.
Sorry if this is late but just came across this. I’ve been greatly enjoying your posts (both here and on Crunchyroll) for half a year now but this one’s really made me stop and think. My box was history manga with supernatural elements (Rurouni Kenshin, Inuyasha, Yu-Gi-Oh) and I basically shunned shojo. But as you said, friends, circumstances, disappointments, chances have led me to recently grow out of my box. Sadly, other than the original Gundum, mecha has never been an interest of mine but I think I’ll revisit it. Taking chances has given me One Piece, Ouran Host Clube, Kamisama Kiss, Pretear, Library Wars, and Assassination Classroom after all.
Thank you so much for your thoughtful posts that always cause me to think deeper about what has become such a huge part of my life.
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It’s never too late to send me nice comments like this! Thanks for taking the time to track down this old post and leave one such. I’m really glad to hear you’ve been enjoying the post, particularly this one. Taking chances is such a cool thing, and I think it’s super important for being able to make it so that anime isn’t just something you engage in for a little bit and forget about—but find things in it that’ll keep you going for a long time.
Of course, that’s not to say you should never give up watching anime, but you’ll have a richer, most rewarding experience if you take a few chances! 🙂