Super Robot Wars (スーパーロボット大戦, Sūpā Robotto Taisen?, or Super Robot Taisen, abbreviated as SRW or SRT) is a series of tactical role-playing video games produced by the Japanese gaming company, Banpresto, a division of Bandai, for various video game consoles and video game handheld consoles. The games' main feature is the use of mecha units from multiple Japanese anime and manga titles, mixing them together in a battle simulation and adding a complex plot involving some of their respective storylines, characters, and backgrounds. Another feature is a simple menu interface that can be understood by the gamer, even if he or she does not know how to read Japanese.
The very first game in the franchise was released for the Nintendo Game Boy in 1991. The first animated mecha series featured on the game (and the ones usually present in all the series' games) are Mazinger Z, Getter Robo, and the earliest incarnations of Mobile Suit Gundam. The first two, both creations of famous Japanese manga artist, Go Nagai, and his production company, Dynamic Productions, are representatives of the super robot type of units, while Gundam, realized by animator Yoshiyuki Tomino, represents the real robot units. It is a tradition for a Super Robot Wars game to include a Mazinger, Getter and a Universal Century Gundam series, forming what fans call the "Holy Trinity", but as of July 2007, only the Mazinger franchise has appeared in every non-original incarnation of Super Robot Wars.
As more games were released, more characters, units and storylines were added to these games, both from existing mecha series and/or original units designed by Banpresto, exclusively for the games. As the number of series involved in the games increased, the stories have become increasingly complex.
Some series that have been featured, including Neon Genesis Evangelion and Gundam, are well-known worldwide, whereas others, such as Heavy Metal L-Gaim and Raideen, have little to no fame at all outside of Japan. Because much of the appeal of any Super Robot Wars title resides in the player's knowledge of and familiarity with the various series involved, the games are most successful and have their biggest fanbase in Japan. There is, however, a small but loyal fanbase for the games, internationally. It was widely believed that the series would never see release outside of Japan, largely due to potentially complicated rights and licensing issues (a problem that also affects other games, such as Jump Superstars). Because of this, fan translations of some of the games have been made.
On March 3, 2006, Atlus USA released two Original Generation titles for the Nintendo Game Boy Advance in North America.
(スーパーロボット, Sūpā Robotto?) is a term used in manga and anime to describe a giant robot or mecha, with an arsenal of fantastic super-powered weapons, are extremely resistant to damage unless the plot calls for it, sometimes transformable or combined from two or more robots and/or vehicles usually piloted by young, daring heroes, and often shrouded by mystical or legendary origins. This is distinct from a Real Robot, which is a mecha portrayed as a relatively common item, used by military organizations in the same manner as tanks or aircraft.
Super Robot ConceptEdit
The idea of a robot controlled by a young hero was first used in 1956 with Iron Man 28 or Tetsujin 28-go (dubbed and released in the US as Gigantor), by manga artist Mitsuteru Yokoyama, which featured a giant robot piloted by remote-control by a young boy named Shotaro Kaneda, who used it to fight against evil. However, the first anime to use the phrase Super Robot and the one that set the standards for the genre was Mazinger Z, created by Go Nagai and making its debut in manga publications and TV in 1972. The main difference between Mazinger Z and previous robots was that the hero, Kouji Kabuto, would pilot the robot from the inside in the same manner as one would drive a car. This anime show was hugely popular and spanned numerous sequels and imitations during the 1970s, and revival shows later during the 80s and 90s.
The Super Robot anime shows are usually named after the title robot (Mazinger Z, Getter Robo, Combattler V, etc), and tend to use a "monster of the week" format in that the villains introduce a single antagonist at the beginning of the episode that the heroes usually defeat by its end. While some have levelled criticisms at the super robot shows for having this format, it must be noted that a vast number of series, both Japanese and abroad, engage in exactly the same plot structure, introducing minor antagonists while slightly developing the main struggle between the chief protagonists and the major villains. In the 70s, with a common episode count around 50 (or often, 52) episodes for many series, more if especially popular, a more minor chief conflict would be resolved at the end of the first 'season', around episode 26, with another developing directly afterwards and leading, in the final episodes of the series, to the ultimate confrontation with the chiefest of antagonists. This remains a trend in anime and, despite what casual critics of super robot shows might claim, is not unique to the super robot genre.
Antagonists tended to come from either outer space or ancient civilizations, with common elements being a monstrous appearance or an entirely strange, occasionally even beautiful, one. Many foes employed robot or cyborg henchmen, whom they often sent against the heroes in their robot. The goals of these antagonists varied, although many were megalomaniacal or outright genocidal in their ambitions.
In the 1980's the Real Robot genre spawned by the Gundam films and the popular Space Battleship Yamato-style space opera films enjoyed a comparatively brief dominance upon trends of the mecha anime in Japan, and new Super Robot shows were less frequent for a time as space opera and militaristic mecha became popular. However, in the 1990's a renaissance in the Super Robot genre occurred, due at least in part to the economic problems of Japan which led many TV stations to rerun numerous series popular in the 70s. Of course this included classic super robot series, which renewed the public's interest in them and spawned rejuvenation of the Yuusha series. All these may have had some influence upon subsequent anime series and OVAs like Giant Robo which combined the basic concept of Super Robot shows with storylines rife with attempts at profundity and occasionally philosophical or political messages.
Many remakes and updates of old Super Robot shows, such as Getter Robo Armageddon, Tetsujin-28, and Mazinkaiser and others were produced, sometimes using complex plots while others remained with simple "Good vs. Evil" stories. Super robot shows were not the only ones to receive this attention however, as so many classic series enjoyed a resurgence in popularity due to the reruns leading to a new generation of fans now directly familiar with the material.
Inevitably, there are some types of mecha that are difficult to classify as either a real robot or a super robot. Some of these include the Aura Battlers from Aura Battler Dunbine or the Evangelion units from Neon Genesis Evangelion, which follow the general motif of real robots, but their origin and abilities are more like the typical super robot. The Mortar Headds from Five Star Stories are unique artifacts, treated like individual works of art by the fictional society present in the story, and their power often borderlines on super robot. However, their intricate engineering and the motif of their weaponry is often scientifically explained by series creator Mamoru Nagano which makes them very real robot-esque in other ways.
Mecha which employ both Super Robot and Real Robot principles are referred to as Hybrid Robots; since the production of Evangelion, this approach has gained some popularity and developed into its own niche, as evidenced by shows such as Brain Powerd, RahXephon, Overman King Gainer and Zegapain. Nevertheless, several pure Super Robot series have been produced in modern times, such as GaoGaiGar, Gravion and Godannar. The 2007 anime Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann is notable for featuring 1970s-inspired Super Robot protagonists (Spirals) in conflict with Evangelion-inspired Hybrid Robot antagonists (Anti-Spirals) in the second half of the series.
If examined in depth, the differences between Super Robot and Real Robot series may at times seem purely academic or moot at best. Some critics have voiced the opinion that the only difference between the two is that Real Robot shows are supposedly less exciting and the characters supposedly less heroic; conversely critics of the Super Robot shows have cited unrealistic designs and silly situations. Others have voiced the opinion that the Super Robot is a symbol or embodiment of Righteousness, Justice, Courage, Friendship and Love while Real Robots are merely a weapon or tool; thus the defeat of a main character in Super Robot genre usually has a much more disastrous effect compared to those that occur in the Real Robot genre. The topic remains a lively subject of debate between fans of the two camps.
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List of Super Robot shows Edit
Other examples of the Super Robot genre from different eras are:
- Koutetsu Jeeg (Steel Jeeg)
- Yuusha Raideen (Brave Raideen)
- Getter Robo G (Known in the US as Starvengers)
- UFO Robo Grendizer (Known in the US as Grandizer, known in some European countries as Goldorak or Goldrake)
- Creator: Go Nagai
- Daiku Maryu Gaiking (Great Sky Demon Dragon Gaiking)
- Creator: Akio Sugino
- Gowapper 5 Godam
- Creator: Hisayuki Toriyumi
- Choudenji Robo Combattler V (Super Electromagnetic Robot Combattler V)
- Creator: Tadao Nagahama
- Gloizer X
- Creator: Hiroshi Taisenji
- Blocker Gundan IV Machine Blaster
- Creator: Masami Anno
- Magne Robo Gakeen
- Creator: Tomoyoshi Katsumada
- UFO Warrior Dai Apolon
- Creator: Tatsuo Ono
- Daiku Maryu Gaiking (Great Sky Demon Dragon Gaiking)
- Wakusei Robo Danguard Ace (Planet Robot Danguard Ace)
- Creator: Leiji Matsumoto
- Gasshin Sentai Mechander Robo
- Creator: Yoshitaka Nitta
- Choudenji Machine Voltes V (Super Electromagnetic Machine Voltes V)
- Creator: Tadao Nagahama
- Chogattai Majutsu Robo Gingaizer (Super Combining Magical Power Robo Gingaizer)
- Chojin Sentai Balatack (Superman Squadron Balatack)
- Muteki Chojin Zanbot 3 (Invincible Superman Zambot 3)
- Creator: Yoshiyuki Tomino
- Wakusei Robo Danguard Ace (Planet Robot Danguard Ace)
Real Robot (リアルロボット, Riaru Robotto?) is a term first seen in the Super Robot Wars series of video games, to describe robots or mecha that are treated as realistic tools/weapons rather than as heroic semi-characters, or Super Robots.
It can also refer to a genre of Japanese animation. Tomino Yoshiyuki's Mobile Suit Gundam series is the quintessential example of the real robot genre and is largely considered the first series to introduce the real robot genre. It established the concepts behind "real robots" that set it apart from previous robot anime, such as:
- The robot is used as an industrial machine with arms/manipulators and is manufactured by military and commercial enterprises of various nations.
- The concept of industrial production and commercial manufacturing processes appeared for the first time in the history of robot shows, introducing manufacturing language like "mass-production (MP)", "prototype" and "test-type".
- While classic super robots typically use special attacks activated by voice commands, real robots more commonly make use of manually operated scaled-up/advanced versions of human weapons, such as lasers/particle beams, guns, shield and swords.
- Real robots use mostly ranged weapons that require ammunition.
- Real robots require periodic maintenance and are often prone to malfunction and break down, like real machines.
- Real robots do not have regenerating/limitless fuel or power supplies.
Other series, such as Patlabor, explore non-military uses for real robots, like law enforcement and construction.
Japanese examples include Macross, Genesis Climber Mospeada, Front Mission, Armored Trooper VOTOMS, Nadesico, Southern Cross, Full Metal Panic, the Patlabor movies and, of course, the aforementioned Gundam series. Western examples include games such as Heavy Gear and Battletech, and the novel Starship Troopers, which is more related to powered exoskeleton than giant robots but gave motif to the very first real robot show, Mobile Suit Gundam.
What Japanese speakers refer to as real robots are popularly referred to by English-speaking fans as mecha, a re-borrowing of a Japanese abbreviation for the English term "mechanical". In Japanese, "mecha" refers to all robotic and non-robotic mechanical objects, including real robots, super robots, and everyday objects such as cars and toasters.
Inevitably, there are some types of mecha that are difficult to classify as either a real robot or a super robot. Some of these include the Aura Battlers from Aura Battler Dunbine or the Evangelion units from Neon Genesis Evangelion, which follow the general motif of real robots, but their origin and abilities are more like the typical super robot. The Mortar Heads from Five Star Stories are unique artifacts, treated like individual works of art by the fictional society present in the story, and their power often borderlines on super robot. However, their intricate engineering and the motif of their weaponry is often scientifically explained by series creator Mamoru Nagano which makes them very real robot-esque in other ways.
As this mixing of both genres is becoming increasingly popular in anime, it is often difficult to classify mecha as either real or super, although they often tend to lean more in one direction than the other. Even Gundam shows this tendency; while the mecha designs are based in the real robot genre, the characters in the show typically have unique robots designed specifically for them, and the shows often feature characters with psychic powers or superhuman abilities; the latter are both common in super robot anime, though the degree to which Gundam leans to either side of the spectrum varies considerably between installments.
Battle Armor is a term used in anime to decribe heroes who transform into powerful warriors or use special armors to fight against their enemies. In Super Robot Taisen, the term basically refers to Space Knight Tekkaman Blade and Detonator Orgun. These series were included in Super Robot Taisen Judgement and Super Robot Taisen W despite not being robot animes. However, they were considered mechanical enough to take part in a Super Robot Wars game.
- Banpresto's official SRW site
- Atlus' announcement of SRW OG in America
- Super Robot Taisen: Original Generation from Nintendo.com
- Super Robot Wars Original Generations official webpage
- The Gate of Magus : A fansite dedicated to the original characters and mecha of Banpresto
- Super Robot Wars at Gears Online
- Super Robot Wars Wikipedia
- Real RObot Wars Wikipedia