I will not lie, I am not a fan of mecha. I have never understood the genre. There was a time I used tO think that anything with giant robots in it could not go wrong. Then I watched more anime and in time I came to realize how boring I find most shows in the genre to be.
I read Evangelion, the first manga I ever read actually, and while I was impressed by the story, my overall view of the entire manga isn't very positive. I gave one or two Gundam series a try and even they failed to impress me.
Something about the genre doesn't work for me. But there have been mecha anime that I have watched and liked, the few diamonds that have managed to surprise and even entertainme. Truthfully the fact that I can remember them is praise in itself, because I usually forget series that I do not like.
Anyway, these three are the best mecha anime series that I have ever watched...
CODE GEASS:> I don't know if their is any anime fan out their that hasn't watched Code Geass; there is no denying how brilliant this anime, both as a sci-fi series and as a mecha anime. Actually I
wasn't too sure if Code Geass could be classified as mecha.
But considering just how many scenes involve giant human piloted robots fighting each other, I think I can safely conclude that Code Geass falls squarely in the mecha genre.
THE PLOT: Lelouch is the young prince of the great empire of Britannia. One day he encounters a young girl, saves her from an attack and learns that she is the centuries old witch C.C. Convinced of his bravery, C.C. then grants him the Geass, the power of kings, an optical ability that endows him with the ability to command any that meets his eye.
When the empire attacks and attempts to subjugate the nation of Japan, Lelouch dons a cape, a mask and becomes the masked hero Zero, leader of a small resistance of rebels determined to stop the advance of Britannia.
Not even his closest friends among the rebels have any idea that their fearless and powerful leader is a prince of the nation that is trying to colonize them. Zero must walk a fine line between defeating the Britannia war machine while keeping those members of his own family, royals in the empire, safe.
I think I was lucky to watch this anime so early in my anime watching life. I was able to enjoy the series without having experienced any other sophisticated anime stories and plots to compare it to.
This is the sort of mecha anime that endears itself to me.
I am not saying that mehca series do not have interesting stories but most have a tendency to focus way to much on the mechs.
I get that it is cool to watch giant mechs fight on screen, but I sometimes feel that these shows focus a
little too much on the mechs themselves, spend way too much time explaining how they work and thus slowing each battle down to a crawl, and complicating and convoluting the plot in the long run.
I was impressed by how Code Geass kept the mecha element as more of a by the way than the main point. Giant robots were simply the tools available at the time to do battle. They were not the main focus of the show.
It would take several paragraphs to intricately break down what makes code geass tick. But simply put, the fights between the nightmare frames are awesome, the characters are some of the best you will see anywhere, the Geass powers are unique and the fights are more intelligent than simply brawn.
MUV LUV ALTERNATIVE: TOTAL ECLIPSE:>If I were to not count Code Geass as mecha, then this series would be my favorite mecha series. I can actually discount Code Geass as mecha because
the first time I saw it, I didn't think of it as mecha.
By the time I was watching Muv Luv last year, I was well aware of what mecha was, and despite my apprehension, I was pleasantly surprised to find myself enjoying this show immensely.
Maybe it was the way it was presented, introducing the series through an absolutely action packed five episodes before slowing down into what was none the less intriguing but less action packed activities.
THE PLOT: Aliens invade earth. Humanity, as always, creates giant robots to fight them. But even after holding back the invasion for a few years, they are beginning to lose the war around the world. While the problem of acquiring talented pilots has been solved, world governments simply cannot create mecha powerful enough to contend with the ever increasing viciousness of a the alien horde.
To combat the threat, the UN brings together the best minds in the war, both military and scientific, at a UN base to use their skills to create a new type of mech. With so many diverse minds in one place, these men and women will have to overcome their differences, put selfish nationalistic intentions aside and work together for humanity's sake.
I liked this anime as much for the drama as for the mecha action. This series seems to attempt to suggest that the threat of an alien attack does not necessarily mean that hostilities between nations
Most mecha series seem to suggest that once aliens attack, we all become friends and work together to fight them. That isn't what happens in Muv Luv. We see old rivalries between nations simmering underneath the smiles of unity and friendship.
This show isn't about how the aliens will be defeated. It is about who will get to beat the alien threat back, earn all the credit and use this currency to achieve supremacy over the other nations; and as such their is a lot of sabotage and in fighting.
The mecha battles are fun, especially since most of this series is about training and trying out new mechs.
Like I said, if I view Code Geass as something other than mecha, then Muv Luv is the best anime I have ever seen in the mecha genre.
SOUSEI NO AQUARION:> I first watched Aquerion last year. I remember I was doing this horrible job...okay it wasn't actually horrible but I found it insufferable. I was a data clerk for two months and
despite it being my first job, I couldn't stand it.
Sitting there all day, typing away hour after hour, I always began to lose it after three or four hours of never ending typing.
It was on a random day that I stumbled upon Aquarion. The fact that it was in English meant that I could watch it while working, and it more than kept me busy through out the six or seven hours of typing, which is probably why I have such a positive view of it.
THE PLOT: Two thousand years ago, shadow angles, creatures with advanced technology and powers invaded earth from their home of Atlandia, with the aim of harvesting humans using giant creatures known as harvest beasts for their prana, a life force that they need for their sustenance as well as to feed the tree of life.
Using giant machines known as Cherubim soldiers, piloted by shadow angels, to protect the harvest beasts, they wreaked havoc on earth. The humans were helpless against their onslaught, that is until Apollonius, a shadow angel, fell in love with Saliane, a human warrior and changed sides.
Using the legendary mech Aquarion, Apollonius brought the shadow invasion activities to an end and sealed them within their home world. A few years before the present day, a catastrophic occurrence rocked the earth and brought the shadow angels out of their slumber, allowing them free reign to harvest humans.
With the help of one Gen Fudou, DEAVA was created, using the vectors, the fighter planes extracted from Atlandia and believed to possess the essence of Aquarion, to fight the invasion. Only special humans with the ability control powers called elements can wield the three vectors.
It is on a random trip into the city by the three chosen pilots, two of whom are believed to be the reincarnation of Apollo and Saliene, that the trio encounter Apollo, a 13 year old monkey like boy that not only survives a harvest beast attack but displays elemental powers.
Apollo, to the chagrin of his future team mates not only proves his worth as a pilot, but displays unequivocal proof that he is the true reincarnation of Apollionus by combining the three vectors and summoning the legendary solar Aquarion for the first time in 12 millennia.
Now the battle begins in earnest as those that called Apollonius friend among the angels seek to reunite him with Atlandia and his comrades while that much more determined to destroy the race that took him from them.
This show was earnestly entertaining, with most episodes revolving around large fights with newly introduced cherubim; actually the reason I liked this series might have had something to do with the fact that it reminded me a lot of power rangers but less cheesy.
We have a bunch of teens with special powers who pilot personal jets and on occasion will combine them to form a super robot. The only difference here is that there were several different types of Aquarionrobots that could be formed depending on which pilot took the head. The powers of the formed Aquarion also varied based on the element of the pilot at the head.
The story itself focused around the conflicts between the pilots, at least the conflict that Apollo creates when it is determined that the agile ape like child could be Apollonius. Really this series was more about the new enemies that would come into play in each episode.
We had different team members struggling with different challenges and by the end of the episode,
defeating the enemy would come down to defeating their own demons. It sounds cheesy but it was cool to watch, especially since to defeat an opponent, the team, or the Aquarion robot formed would harness a new power, like a fist that could stretch all the way to the moon (not as dumb as it sounds).
It was a silly little show but no one can deny that it was entertaining. I will not say the same for its sequel, Aquarion Evol, which tried to inject way too much drama and depth into a rather shallow and simplistic story. It didn't work for me and I got bored; which is what always struck me about the original Aquarion. I could never be bored with its stories. Whenever I was feeling lethargic and not particularly interested in watching anything particular, I would jump to Aquarion (that or Star gate Atlantis, I loved that show)
Anyway these are the three most impressive mecha series I have ever watched. They have not changed my mind about mecha. Rather I am simply admitting that despite the less that interesting series I have come across in the genre, there is one or two series out their that stand apart.
NOTABLE MENTION: ROBOTECH: I will admit, I was marginally fascinated by robotech. I first watched the show eight or nine years back and, despite how old the graphics looked, I was glad to be watching some anime. The mecha fights were not very interesting now that I think about it, but the story was interesting, especially the second robotech series.
I also enjoyed the movie I watched two or three years back, though I am not sure how it connects to the original story.