Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Time To Build Our Own Mecha, Boys

Brian Niemeier wrote a post at his blog today commenting on a Gigguk video documenting the decline of mecha anime as a genre.

He's not wrong. Neither is Gigguk.

Left unsaid is this: fixing the issues is on us. We have to step up to fix the problem, and that means "culturally appropriating" the HELL out of this genre. Just as we've now got #StarWarsNotStarWars going on, it's time for #GundamNotGundam (or whatever your show of choice is) and that means it's on the indie world to write the stories (with proper pacing and other elements noted as too-often lacking) that blow up good and hard into the next mecha anime revival wave (something not seen for over a decade).

While it's not all wrack and ruin, it's clearly not as good as things once were and the institution lacks the ability to renew itself at this time due to entirely external influences holding down any good will from more than a few established franchises. The same tells of an ailing culture are in play here, most importantly being the persistence of retrenchant dominant franchises and other established IP while original works are more miss than hit.

Despite their missteps, both the Gundam and Macross franchises remains #1 and #2 in the category overall. Gundam wrapped up Iron-Blooded Orphans not that long ago (and its English dub run concludes in a month in North America TV), has had nothing but praise for both Thunderbolt and Origin (One-Year War retreads), and another Build Fighters is due soon. Macross Delta did well enough, and now we're looking at some anniversary works being talked about, but the #2 franchise has hit a lull and that's worrisome. We just had a new Mazinger Z feature film released globally, and the other famous giant robot franchises remain regular presences in the Super Robot Wars series of games.

Meanwhile, folks watching Darling in the FranXX (sic) complain about the plot, characters, etc. on the regular in the weekly Reddit threads.

The new shows feel a lot like the anime versions of a Fantasy Heartbreaker tabletop RPG. They have a gimmick, but otherwise build around a feel from one of the dominant franchises, so you're looking at "Like Gundam, but (x)." and that sometimes isn't enough. (The Super Robot era of the 70s had this problem something bad, which is why the original Mobile Suit Gundam was such a welcome change.)

But we don't need to wait for Japan to unfuck itself. We can do this ourselves now, starting with the writing and publishing of the novels a lot of anime (of all genres) use as source material. From there it's not that far to move into independent manga production, or into making our own audio productions. Only the actual anime production itself remains a Bridge Too Far for most of us at this time, and that will resolve itself as the tools become cheaper to acquire and the skills easier to learn and master. (We already have a few examples of short anime productions that hit, such as Voices of a Distant Star from over 15 years ago. It can be done.)

And I'm already on it. You folks are welcome to join the party.


  1. I think we're seeing an American mecha trend right now. Tau Ceti Agenda, Cartwright's Cavaliers, Terran Armor Corps, Mechs vs. Dinosaurs, etc.. And Brian's been teasing #GundamNotGundam for a while. Some of these are even getting comics.

    That said, we need more.

  2. Hear, hear and wells said! Like Nate mentioned, I've thrown my hat in the ring. Can't wait to see what you've got up your sleeve, Bradford.

  3. If you do it well enough, Japan will take notice and adapt accordingly. They've always done so before.

    I'm all for more mecha done well and I think there are many others waiting for it as well.

  4. It really goes along with your previous calls for forks. We are still in desperate need for forks of Star Wars and Star Trek (Galaxy's Edge and Orville not withstanding), and I'd add we still need forks of stuff like Doctor Who and Transfomers. It wouldn't hurt to add mecha stuff to the list.

    It does seem to be several indie MilSF mecha things doing quite well. I wonder if super robots could work in prose form. It might be a hard sell, but they fit perfectly in the lines of old school heroics and might do well in something pulp inspired.

    I was working on an Arthurian Chivalraic super robot story, but had to send it back to the drawing board. It was one of those awkward writer moments discovering your Galactic Christendom world building. Such is the roller coaster of writing.

    Anyways yeah, this is great call to arms.

  5. Bradford,

    I asked this at Brian's site. Where can I find your Gaactic Christendom?

    1. At the Study. I comment on my setting in between serial story posts a lot.

    2. Bradford

      Thanks! Could I have the link? I'll google it 8n the meantime.
      Thanks again


    3. And it's fascinating world building.

    4. Xavier: Look at the "Other Blogs" tab. Link it there.

  6. Bradford
    Thanks very much! Can I leave a comment at the Study as well?


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