Wednesday, July 11, 2018

My Life in Fandom: Return of the GERWALK

The 1980s were a golden time for giant robot fans. While the number of Super Robot shows decreased, the rise of the Real Robot subgenre that debuted in 1979 with Mobile Suit Gundam exploded in earnest with Super Dimension Fortress Macross in 1982. That series's signature mecha, the VF-1 Valkyrie, is famous for being a Real Robot with three modes: Fighter, GERWALK, Battroid. That middle word is in all-caps because it's an acronymn, and the Macross franchise isn't the only mecha property to use it.

"GERWALK" means: ...Ground Effective Reinforcement of Winged Armament with Locomotive Knee-joint. The GERWALK form allows flight, VTOL (vertical take off and landing) and walking on the ground., and this quality came out in full force in the studio's second "Super Dimension" series: Super Dimension Century Orguss

Orguss heavily features GERWALK mecha designs, as noted at GEARS Online's collection of imagery from the series and its concept artwork. Though not mentioned explicitly, there is one big reason for why GERWALK style mecha are so prominent in this setting: they are cheap as hell to construct.

Why? Because GERWALK is one step away from BattleTech's paradigm of Mech-as-Walking-Tank; put a cockpit and an engine in a box, bolt on a pair of legs, and GO! There is no need even for the expedient of allowing the legs to fold back and make the mech have a Fighter mode- something Macross did with the Zentran Reguld Battle Pod. The Crusher Joe movie (one of BattleTech's image sources) also had such a mech.

But the concept didn't stop with Orguss. While the name went away, the idea matured a little more with the production of Aku Daisakusen Srungle While the title mech, a true transformable super robot, only uses that mode part of the time the pilots at its controls use GERWALK mecha ("Trekkers") when outside of the hero unit. The enemies, naturally, have their own; it's the last time GERWALK style mecha get so prominent a display for a long time after that show's conclusion.

Not that they'll ever be gone for long. I'm not the only one to notice how cheap and easy GERWALK mecha are, which makes them ideal mook mecha across the board. It's what I'm doing with my own Star Knight Saga, and I'm not skimping on the easy transition to flight mode.

Hell, even Uncle George noticed back in the days with the AT-ST and the AT-PT (the latter for the prequels, and one of the more interesting personal-scale mechanical designs). So yeah, I'm giving GERWALK its due- and that includes the word itself (and what it stands for); I'm adding this to the setting bible, including its real--Real World--origins. I'm writing my stories in part as loving homage, so why not give some overlooked ideas some time to shine?

If you're looking forward to seeing the GERWALK return, then watch out for my IndieGoGo campaign to crowdfund Star Knight's first entry, coming soon.

6 comments:

  1. Video references:

    Macross OP 1: https://youtu.be/I4aQQBLokNo
    Orguss OP 1; https://youtu.be/YByEqzHIFl8
    Srungle OP 1: https://youtu.be/qK_pDGzJubo

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  2. Bradford,

    so your mechas will be transformable plane type robots? I'm looking forward to the concept art!

    My mechas are bipedal humanoid type that can fly in space and in a planet.
    I have difficulty visualizing the mechanics and esthetics of a transformable robot plane. So I'll keep it simple.

    I still want to see your take :)

    xavier

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    Replies
    1. Some mecha will be transformable. Some will combine. Some will do both.

      But I'm not doing all of that at once. This book will have humanoid and GERWALK mecha, but that's as far as I go. Got to introduce this sort of thing in digestible chunks.

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  3. Bradford,

    Thanks for the update. Combine? You mean something like the Power rangers? That's an awfully cool idea!

    I get your point. It's a story not an encyclopedia so there's no need to introduce all the mechas at once.

    I really enjoy when you share your stories and outline. It's helping me crystallize much more clearly my own mecha story. It's also very interesting to see your influences. These give your story of the Gate a lot of depth and coherence that's captures the imagination even if some elements don't appeal to me. I still look forward as to how the story will unfold.


    As for me, reading your story has given me the confidence to use my influences to take the not Gundam in a different direction. I hope that the story will be as entertaining and enjoyable as yours. And the fun thing is that I'm not writing it in English to give myself an additional challenge.

    Thanks again for the inspiration and the indirect push to capture enjoyment in storytelling.

    xavier

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    Replies
    1. Yes, like the Power Rangers. You'll find them far more common in Super Robot shows and comics than in Real Robot ones.

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    2. Bradford,

      Thanks. I look forward to their descriptions

      xavier

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