I was waiting till I finished the original Gundam to publish this list. And when I finished that, then I wanted to wait until I finished Zeta Gundam. However, my patience with Zeta Gundam has run out, and so here I am now, doing the list. I have also incorporated some of my unpublished reviews so some entries do not stop with just one paragraph.
First, the OVAs. I wanted to make a separate post for the OVAs. However, my brain would not cooperate–I got writer’s block. Here they are in reverse order:
8 Armored Trooper Votoms: Pailsen Files – This is Survivor: Mecha Edition.
7 Macross 7 Encore – Milia!
6 Voices of a Distant Star – Makoto Shinkai. ‘Nuff said.
5 Macross Zero – Roy Focker is here. So is Grandma Mao.
4 Mobile Suit Gundam 0080: War in the Pocket – Sad.
3 Top wo Nerae! (Aim for the Top!, 1st OVA only) – Coach!! Wasn’t that a little eerie? XD
2 Mobile Suit Gundam: The 08th MS Team – Much more entertaining than the original MSG with Amuro in it.
1 Macross Plus – Duh. You wouldn’t want to miss the man vs AI dogfight, would ya?
As for best movie, it’s gotta be Macross: Do You Remember Love? I haven’t watched a lot of mecha movies anyway.
10 Mobile Suit Gundam Wing
If there was a boy band around mecha, Heero, Quatre, Duo, Trowa and Wufei would certainly be the premiere members. As my gateway Gundam, I remember watching this way back when I was way younger, and got a little confused with the story (lots of politics). But I never got bothered with that, as I had lower standards then (those were cartoons, right?). It’s mecha, it’s the robots that are important, right? And who wins in the end. And yes, the robots really were cool.
This is like slice-of-life meets mecha. Yes there are parts that bore, but that’s because of the POV change. Usually we see things from a mecha pilot’s point of view, but here we see things from a journalist’s point of view. And the mecha isn’t the type that transforms, or almost always seem to never run out of bullets, or move at godly speed. FLAG’s not flashy, it is how mecha would be at its most realistic.
08 Mobile Suit Gundam SEED
Ahhh! What is this?? Another Gundam series??!!! But dramatics and recaps aside, it was a fairly entertaining show. Here, instead of evolved ‘Newtypes’ in space from the original Gundam series, we have the genetically engineered ‘Coordinators’ in space. Give them the dangerous toys called mecha and walla, Gundam! This show gave us Kira ‘Jesus’ Yamato, and Lacus Clyne, the Gundam version of a Macross songstress. If I’m not mistaken, this was the first Gundam series that had loads of OPs and EDs, and I liked most of them. (Of course there are no aliens, and nobody stops fighting just because of a song.) Most importantly for mecha buffs, yes, there are lots of models galore! And yeah the recaps really annoyed me. Though there’s a special that tells the over-all story in just three episodes, in case you want to check it out and don’t have the patience to sit through 50 eps.
(There was also Gundam SEED Destiny, that sequel,which I actually liked very much except for some annoying things in the show. Of course the ending battle was lame, which really was a big minus point. If there was another show that could need a remake, this would be it.)
07 Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann
Believe in me who believes in you!
It’s quoting time! Hehehe. I didn’t like Gurren Lagann at first, but I’m glad I finished it. It’s a fun show, loaded with testosterone. Silly mechs aside, it has a good story too, with lots of surprises.
One of the main requirements for shows to become favorites are memorable/lovable characters. The mecha designs here may be crappy, a lot of the happenings turn downright hilarious, the music can put you to sleep, but the characters in this show more than make up for it–Turn A has the most endearing characters in a Gundam show. And that is more important than having good animation but utterly forgettable characters.
05 Code Geass – Hangyaku no Lelouch
Yes, my Lord!
If there was any show that is worth watching because of the lead alone, then this is it. Lelouch is the Light Yagami of the mecha world. Unlike most leads, Lelouch sucks at piloting mecha, but is the most brilliant strategist in a mecha series ever (probably). It’s really fun watching him, but of course there is a catch. You have to endure some of the most annoying side characters, and some more in the sequel. Me, I just pretend that I only saw the last episode of the second season.
04 Macross Frontier
Watashi no uta wo kike!
As a Macross fangirl, of course, this had to be in the list. This is only the 3rd Macross TV series, after Macross 7. Macross productions are rare compared to the various Gundam incarnations. What’s so good about this show? Well, actually story-wise it’s not as good as the original Macross. But it has given us Alto-Hime and the Galactic Fairy, Sheryl Nome. And loads of new songs. And new mecha. And hope to Macross fans starved of new sequels. In other words, if you’re a Macross fan, you don’t dare miss this show!
03 Neon Genesis Evangelion
Watashi wa nani? Watashi wa dare?
– Quote from my favorite NGE character, Rei Ayanami
This is the series that I have had the hardest time trying to put in words how I feel about it. Despite the fact that I seem to dislike parts of it, the appeal still remains. Never mind that Shinji is my most disliked character in a mecha show ever. What makes Evangelion stand out is its unique, psychological approach. It’s not a festivity with space battles or air battles and other flashy things. Another one of the plus points of the show is that the Eva’s design is somewhat believable–the flexibility, the power constraints, etc. (Well, except for the synchronized dancing Evas part. I think that was just too much.) It’s good to see that the Eva has it’s limits, unlike seemingly invincible mechs a la Gundam. The Angels’ designs are weird too, like the ‘Drilling Angel’. Of course, that is part of the appeal, lest they become like the generic giant enemy of the week fare of less inspired mecha shows.
I like the way that NGE deviates from standard mecha fare, and yet sometimes it feels like it still adheres to some formula. The most unique thing I can think of about NGE is how the mysteries just seems to make you really wonder what the whole truth is about the Evangelion and the people behind it. On the other hand, sometimes the fanservice just doesn’t make the series better for me(especially with Asuka). Maybe it’s because I’m a girl. Duh. Lastly, I think the show fell apart later on, with those infamous last 2 episodes. (And you’d have to watch End of Evangelion for some closure.)
02 Eureka Seven
I am surprised why this is not widely popular. It’s got good music (really awesome OPs and EDs), nicely drawn mechs, awesome battles, memorable characters, and a good story. It deserves to be a classic. It’s got the mecha on surfboards! I remember the first time I watched it, I liked the mystery of Eureka Seven from the start. Yes there are annoying brats, but don’t be turned off. The lead annoying brat gets less annoying later on, so no worries there. If you can tolerate the annoying brat/s, you’ll find the story engaging. ‘Dead’ father who’s a scientist? Check. Mysteriously missing elder sister? Check. Major, major conspiracy/mystery? Check. Mysterious villains? Check. A fairly large cast? Check. Comedy? Check. Drama? Check. Aliens? Check. Hot chicks? Check? Okay that’s for guys to decide.
Kidding aside, the mechs are not the sole focus so there’s not much need to sit through senseless fights. E7 doesn’t drag for a 50-ep series. Also, I like it how they don’t reveal that much until the later episodes. It really made me want to watch more.
01 SDF Macross
Kyun kyun, kyun, watashi no kare wa pailoto!
When I first got a glimpse of the show in English, I had always been fascinated by it–even though it was named Robotech. (Though I am glad that I did not finish it.) When I watched SDF Macross several years later, my skepticism for the original turned into full-blown ‘love’. It was like a trip back in time, back to when I was a kid staring with anticipation at the TV whenever that opening sequence played. Young ones today might be turned off by its aged animation, but back then it was the best ‘cartoon’ that I’d seen.
With Macross, there was almost never a dull moment. (Well except for one ep.) Not only were the transforming valkyries cool, I liked most of the characters very much. It was always amusing, the interaction between Ichijo and Misa. Focker was the ladies’ man, Max was the genius pilot, Milia was the enemy ace pilot, and of course who will ever forget Minmay the singer
(everybody’s favorite bimbo).
To conclude, combining mecha, love triangles, and music is Macross’ legacy. For that, I think any serious mecha fan should watch it at least once. (And you get to chuckle more when you read this.)
There are other shows that deserve to be mentioned. My first list was a top 5, but now it ballooned into a top 11. Those other shows are:
Sousei no Aquarion – Ah, those ‘hot’ gattai scenes have got to be memorable. Not to mention that immortal song…Ichi man nen to ni sen nen mae kara aishiteruuuuuu
Zegapain – Not very popular, but still worth a watch if you’ve run out of the popular shows to watch.
Full Metal Panic! – When I watched this on TV, I was intrigued by it. However the jokes regarding Sagara are not that funny to me, unfortunately.
RahXephon – What was this all about then? A head-scratcher like Evangelion, but not that impressive. In the far future when I have as much time as I have now, I might rewatch this again. But for now, I have to get these backlog posts published or I go insane! =p
Escaflowne – I like the mecha but, zzzzzz I’m not very fond of the lead.
Mobile Suit Gundam – How is this show not in the list? With the exception of Char, I found all the other characters boring, unfortunately. The UC timeline OVAs resonated with me more than MSG, or even Zeta Gundam.
Notes: Pics and videos shamelessly taken from the Internet. Some of the pics are old files, and I have totally forgotten where I got them. Sorry. But the beautiful SDF Macross pic I got from miotd.com.