Mecha anime and manga
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Mecha anime and manga, known in Japan as robot anime (ロボットアニメ robotto anime) and robot manga (ロボット漫画 robotto manga), are anime and manga that feature robots (mecha) in battle. The genre is broken down into two subcategories, "super robot" is one category in which the anime or manga includes a super sized totally non plausible robot. The second category is "real robot", wherein the robots used are explainable by real world physics. Mecha series cover a wide variety of genres from comedy to drama, and has expanded into other media, such as video game adaptations. Mecha has also contributed to the popularity of scale model robots.
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The genre started with Mitsuteru Yokoyama's 1956 manga Tetsujin 28-go (which was later animated in 1963 and also released abroad as Gigantor). Its inclusion is debatable however, as the robot was controlled by remote instead of a cockpit in the machine. Not long after that the genre was largely defined by author Go Nagai, into something considerably more fantastical. Mazinger Z, his most famous creation, was not only the first successful Super Robot anime series, but also the pioneer of the genre staples like weapons that were activated by the hero calling out their names ("Rocket Punch!") though an earlier mecha series, specifically Toei's Giant Robo (tokusatsu) also had this feature of the mecha's attacks being shouted out. It was also a pioneer in metal die-cast toy such as the Chogokin series in Japan and the Shogun Warriors in the U.S., that were (and still are) very popular with children and collectors. Getter Robo, for its part, was the first combining robot, something that became a frequent design theme and was aggressively imitated in similar mecha shows. In 1976 Brave Raideen aired, in which the titular robot was given mystical properties as opposed to its sci-fi predecessors and it had one of the first true transforming toys as opposed to the impossible morphing done by Getter Robo and Osamu Tezuka's Ambassador Magma, which was the first transforming robot.
The mecha anime genre (as well as Japanese kaiju films) received a Western homage with the 2013 film Pacific Rim directed by Guillermo del Toro. Similarly the genre was inspirational for the 1998 first-person shooter Shogo: Mobile Armor Division developed by Monolith Productions.
These are mecha that have the ability to be self-aware, think, and sometimes feel emotion. The source of sentience varies from aliens, such as the titular characters of American-produced and Japanese-animated series,The Transformers (1984), to artificial intelligence, such as the robots of Brave Police J-Decker (1994) to magic, such as Da-Garn of The Brave Fighter of Legend Da-Garn (1992). The first series that featured a sentient giant robot, also the first mecha anime in color, was Astroganger (1972).
This refers to mecha that are powered exoskeletons rather than piloted as vehicles, such as in Genesis Climber MOSPEADA (1983), Bubblegum Crisis (1987) and Active Raid (2016); merge with the mecha, such as in The King of Braves GaoGaiGar (1997); combine with the robots, such as in Transformers: Super-God Masterforce (1988); or become mechanical themselves, such as in Brave Command Dagwon (1996).
This ubiquitous subgenre features mecha piloted internally as vehicles. The first series to feature such mecha was Go Nagai's Mazinger Z. In a 2009 interview, Go Nagai claimed the idea came to mind when he was stuck in traffic jam and wished his car could sprout arms and legs to walk over the cars in front. Other examples include Mobile Suit Gundam (1979) and The Super Dimension Fortress Macross (1982). There are series that have piloted mecha that are also in the sentient category, usually because of an AI system to assist and care for the pilot, as featured in Blue Comet SPT Layzner (1985) and Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet (2013), or because the mecha is also an organic creature, as featured in Neon Genesis Evangelion (1995).
Assembling and painting mecha scale model kits is a popular pastime among mecha enthusiasts. Like other models such as cars or airplanes, more advanced kits require much more intricate assembly. Lego mecha construction can present unique engineering challenges; the balancing act between a high range of motion, good structural stability, and aesthetic appeal can be difficult to manage. In 2006, the Lego Group released their own somewhat manga-inspired mecha line with the Lego Exo-Force series.
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