Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Combining to Make Bigger Robots! Part 2

As a follow up to my first Giant Robots that Combine to Make Even Bigger Robots! post, I decided to dig a little deeper into some of the giant robots that I glossed over very quickly the first time around. I do not consider myself to be an expert in this subject so please excuse any details I may have left out.



Astro Boy - Combining robots can be found as early as 1963's Astro Boy series. In episode 15, Gangor (a.k.a. Gademu in the manga) consisting of 47 separate androids that combine to form a giant centipede, first shown terrorizing an ocean liner. Normally, they're disguised as "wrestling robots" but commit crimes in their centipede form. The episode ends with a fierce undersea battle, where they're swept up by an tropical storm and Astro Boy destroys each individual piece of Gangor.


In the 2003 remake of the Astro Boy series, Gadem also appears as a sophisticated electromagnet used in bank robberies to reshape gold bars into a giant centipede.


Getter Robo - Often credited as the series that originated many of the tropes associated with giant combining robots, the series featured three jet-like vehicles that combined to form a giant robot. They fought to protect the world from the Dinosaur Empire, a race of reptile-like humanoids that evolved from dinosaurs who hid underground to avoid extinction. The jets (Eagle, Jaguar, and Bear) did not have individual robot forms but created different combinations depending on their formation and which pilot was in control.


Getter 1 (Eagle+Jaguar+Bear) - The most commonly used form since it's the most well-rounded. Equipped with a hand axe (Getter Tomahawk) that cuts through objects like a buzzsaw when thrown and a beam of highly-concentrated energy (Getter Beam) that fires from its stomach, which can destroy many of the Getter's opponents. The Getter-1 is also able to fly and was designed for space travel.

Getter-2 (Jaguar+Bear+Eagle) - The second most used form, has a giant drill for its left hand and a clamp for the right. Best suited for land and underground combat, this Getter is able to tunnel through the ground at incredible speeds and is heat-resistant so it can even move through magma for a short time. The Getter-2 has boosters on its feet, giving it limited flight capabilities, but it doesn't work very well underwater.

Getter-3 (Bear+Eagle+Jaguar) - A tank-like Getter that is geared towards rough terrain and undersea combat, its relies on strength and defense. Getter-3 uses physical attacks (as its pilot, Musashi Tomoe, is well-versed in Judo) or simply squashes enemies underneath it. Also armed with twin missile launchers around its head.


In subsequent versions of the show, different generations of the Getter Robos are built. For example, the Shin Getter Robo is the third-generation of Getter Robos and is the most powerful Getter Machine in existence. With the capacity to store a massive amount of Getter Ray energy, the Shin Getter Robo can be unstable and piloting it may causes immense strain on the pilot. The Shin Getter Robo's appearance is constantly evolving and is considerably larger than its predecessors.

Pic from AmiAmi

Combattler V - The first part of the Robot Romance Trilogy by director Tadao Nagahama, followed by Voltes V and Tōshō Daimos, Combattler V was supposedly the first to portray a somewhat realistic combining mecha. Although, the Combattler and its individual vehicles supposedly has more weapons than any other mecha. The robot's name is a combination of the words "Combine", "Combat", and "Battle" with the V being short for "victory" as well as a referencing the five pilots and five components that make up the Combattler. The five components are:


Battle Jet - Piloted by Hyouma Aoi, known as Glen Hyoma in the Philippines, is described as a "speed freak" and an avid motorcycle rider. The Battle Jet forms the head when combined into Combattler V. Hyouma is the leader and also wears the red uniform, a trope that is still seen today in the Super Sentai/Power Rangers franchises.


Battle Crusher - Piloted by Juuzou Naniwa, known as Jason Juzo in the Philippines, is an Olympic-class marksman. Juuzou wears the blue uniform and the Battle Crusher forms the chest when combined into Combattler V.


Battle Tank - Piloted by Daisaku Nishikawa, known as Bob Nishikawa in the Philippines, is a Judo master who also enjoys sketching. The Battle Tank forms the torso when combined into Combattler V and is the only Battle Machine that cannot fly. Daisaku is dressed in brown. 


Battle Marine - Piloted by Chizuru Nanbara, known as Stephanie Nambarra in the Philippines, the Battle Marine forms the legs when combined into Combattler V. Chizuru is the granddaughter of Dr. Nanbara, the creator of the Combattler V, and is dressed in pink.


Battle Craft - Piloted by Kosuke Kita, known as Kevin Kosuke in the Philippines, the Battle Craft form the feet when combined into Combattler V. Kosuke is dressed in green and is a child genius and inventor.


Voltes V - The second part of the Robot Romance Trilogy, this series was preceded by Combattler V and followed by Tōshō Daimos (later released here in the US as a film titled Starbirds). While it never really took off here in the States, Voltes V (That's pronounced Voltes Five) was extremely popular in the Philippines where it has embedded itself into Filipino popular culture being banned by the President during a time of Martial Law. I can't really speak from personal experience but here are a couple articles that look at the significant cultural and political impact of this series:

http://goboiano.com/original/2571-how-a-mecha-anime-became-part-of-the-history-of-the-philippines

http://ghostlightning.wordpress.com/2008/11/05/only-in-the-philippines-a-love-affair-with-a-combining-super-robot/


The plot is about aliens attacking the world with their "beast machines" and defeating most of the world's armies before being stopped by Voltes V, a super robot composed of the five "Voltes Machines".


Volt Cruiser - Piloted by Ken'ichi Gō (Steve Armstrong/Prince Allen), an ace pilot and the eldest of the three Gō brothers, the Volt Cruiser forms the head when combined into Voltes V. Ken'ichi wears the red uniform.


Volt Bomber - Piloted by Ippei Mine (Mark Gordon), a rodeo champion who was orphaned after his mother died trying to protect him from a pack of wolves, the Volt Bomber forms the arms when combined into Voltes V. Ippei wears a blue uniform.


Volt Panzer - Piloted by Daijirō Gō (Robert "Big Bert" Armstrong), a master of martial arts with the naginata as his weapon of choice, the Volt Panzer forms the Body/Chest when combined into Voltes V. Daijirō wore a dark green uniform.


Volt Frigate - Piloted by Hiyoshi Gō ("Little" John Armstrong), the youngest of the Gō brothers and a genius inventor (I guess he "does machines" like Donatello), the Volt Frigate formed the legs when combined into Voltes V. Hiyoshi wore a light green uniform and was a handyman who did repairs out in the field.


Volt Lander - Piloted by Megumi Oka (Jamie Robinson), a kunoichi (female ninja) and the 18th heir of the Kōga-ryū ninja, the Volt Lander forms the feet when combined into Voltes V. Megumi wore a yellow uniform with pink accents and was the voice of reason in the team.


Armored Fleet Dairugger XV/Vehicle Voltron - In my first post, I briefly mention that Voltron: Defender of the Universe was the first show to really introduce me to combining robots. The show was adapted from a Japanese anime called Beast King GoLion, which isn't the third season of the anime as I mistakenly referred to it in my first post, but is actually known as Voltron III because it was set furthest from Earth's side of the universe.


The second season of Voltron, was adapted from Armored Fleet Dairugger XV, which was an entirely separate and unrelated show in Japan. This season was regarded as Voltron I because it's set closest to Earth and is also referred to as Vehicle Voltron. Consisting of 15 different vehicles that were divided into three teams of five, each team gathering info or fighting in their area of expertise. The vehicles within each team could combine to form larger machines:

The Strato Fighter (Air Team)
The Aqua Fighter (Sea Team)
The Turbo Terrain Fighter (Land Team)

Then all 15 vehicles could combine to form Voltron when necessary. The second season is about a fleet of explorers that are sent out to find new planet to colonize after Earth has become overpopulated. In doing so, they draw the attention of the Drule Empire, who wants to claim any new planets for themselves. Some fans prefer "Vehicle Voltron" for its more realistic and somewhat harder Sci-Fi premise, but I only remember Lion Force Voltron. My sister used to compared Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers to Voltron due to the similarities but what we never realized was that Toei is the company behind both the original Japanese shows.

Pics from CollectionDX

During the late 90's, they made a sequel set a few years after the Lion Force series called Voltron: The Third Dimension with a computer-animation style was similar to that of Beast Wars: Transformers. In the second season, they gain the ability to turn into "Stealth Voltron" seen in the picture above.


Super Sentai/Power Rangers - Perhaps the best example of combining robots is the Super Sentai series, a long-running Japanese show that's been around since the mid-70's. The first two shows in the series, Himitsu Sentai Goranger and J.A.K.Q. Dengekitai, had vehicles but they didn't form a giant robot. It wasn't until 1978, when Toei produced a live-action tokusatsu adaptation of Marvel's Spider-Man that the formula of piloting a giant robot to fight a giant monster was introduced.


The third series, Battle Fever J, is the first to actually feature a mecha (adopting Toei's Spider-Man formula) but it wasn't even a combining robot. The Battle Fever Robo was contained inside a submarine-like carrier that split apart to launch the giant robot.


Taiyo Sentai Sun Vulcan, the fifth series in the franchise, was the first to feature a combining robot. Even then, it was only a combination of two parts that launched from the jaws of an enormous flying fortress called the Jaguar Vulcan. This was also the first robot that was able to "talk" by screaming it's attack technique.

Goggle Robo

The sixth series, Dai Sentai Goggle V, is worth mentioning because it featured the first three-part combining mecha with two members piloting the carrier vehicle called Goggle Caesar. This would foreshadow each member piloting an individual mecha. 


Not until Hikari Sentai Maskman, the eleventh series, did we see each member get a personal vehicle that combined together to form one giant robot called Great Five. This season was also the first to introduce a sixth member, who only appeared for one episode.


The 16th series in the franchise, Kyōryū Sentai Zyuranger, would become the first season of Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers when re-edited for Western audiences. Since then, we've had over 20 years worth of Power Rangers with various themes (and corresponding "megazords") ranging from dinosaurs to animals, cars, trains, even samurai and ninjas.


Although, it doesn't end there. Each season has a combining robot (Megazord) that matched the season's theme but often times, they would get a secondary robot as well. Sometimes these secondary robots could form an alternate combination (above left) or even a second standalone Megazord. Beginning with the season that would ultimately become Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, we saw a seventh "carrier zord" that could combine with all previous zords to form an Ultrazord (above right) which would be prevalent in various seasons thereafter.


The phrase Super Gattai refers to robos made up of a combination of other giant robos. The word Gattai means to merge two separate entities into one. There have been a multitude of robots combining to form even larger robots throughout both Super Sentai and Power Rangers' long history and with each new season comes many new combination.


Transformers - In my first post, I briefly touched on the original animated series from the 80's, Beast Wars from the 90's, and Michael Bay's live-action movies. The Transformers continuity is obviously a little complicated due to the various incarnations over the years. Between the TV shows, comics, and movies, you'd have to be a pretty hardcore fan to be familiar with all the characters.

I'm far from an expert on this topic, so I'm just going to scratch the surface lightly here and focus on the combiners from the Generation One (G1) continuity. The entire franchise is based on robots transforming into various things like vehicles, dinosaurs, insects, animals, etc. As if the premise alone wasn't the coolest thing ever, some of these robots can even combine together. (Cleverly referred to as "combiners")


Devastator - One of the popular combiners in the franchise, Devastator has also appeared in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. Normally composed of six Constructicons:
Although sometimes it's components can change and in at least one continuity he was made up of five robots instead of six. Devastator has typically appeared as a rather mindless wrecking machine. Despite being immensely powerful, his thoughts and actions are limited only to what all his components can agree on. Which typically means going on a rampage and causing as much.... well, devastation as possible.

Apparently, the Constructicons didn't originally have the ability to combine. Megatron gave them that ability after brainwashing them and turning them into Decepticons. (Heel turn!)


Menasor - Meant to be the ultimate Decepticon weapon, Menasor's mental instability makes him highly unpredictable. The five Stunticons are led by Motormaster, described as a cold and brutal tyrant, but are each psychotic and dangerous in their own right. Menasor is comprised of:
When combined, the Stunticons' hatred of their leader Motormaster prevents them from successfully working as a team. Therefore Menasor's psyche is fractured, causing him to lash out at everything in a violent rage.


Bruticus - A successful combination of the Combaticons, named because their alternate forms are military vehicles, are known for their proficiency in combat and working together as a smooth unit. Bruticus is among the strongest of all Transformers, despite supposedly not being very intelligent. The five components are:
After several unsuccessful coups, Starscream was banished from the Decepticons but created his own rogue faction (the Combaticons) out of old World War II vehicles. The Autobots actually teamed up with the Decepticons to stop Bruticus but the Autobots were fooled into thinking Bruticus was destroyed when he was actually reprogrammed to be loyal to Megatron.


Predaking - Unique among combiners for being a perfect combination of each components' physical abilities and personalities. They are of one mind and body, highly intelligent, and driven by their animalistic love of the hunt. They are made up of five Predacons:
"As a weapon he is without equal; as a warrior he is without restraint. He can lift one million tons without straining a circuit. When Predaking is on your trail, all hope is lost."


Abominus - More so than any of the other combiners, Abominus is pure mindless fury. Unable to follow even the simplest commands, they just point him in a particular direction and cut him loose. More animal than warrior, he often fights alongside his beastly brother-in-arms Predaking. Formed from the five Terrorcons:
Abominus is the counterpart to the Technobots that Grimlock built, which can combine into Computron. Whereas Computron overthinks every decision he makes, Abominus doesn't think at all.


Superion - The first of the Autobot combiners, Superion is an imperfect combination. In the case of the Decepticons, where combining made them mentally unstable, Superion just supresses all aspects of his personality except for his dedication to destroying the Decepticons. He is composed of the five Aerialbots:
Due to the suppression of his personality, he is unable to maintain a social connection with his fellow Autobots. Superion is single-minded in his pursuit of the Decepticons, in particular his rival Menasor.


Defensor - One of the most mentally well-adjusted of the combiners, Defensor exists specifically to safeguard human life. Despite failed attempts at personal interaction and friendly exchanges with humans, the giant robot feels an emotional attachment to humankind, like a parent would towards their child. Composed of the five Protectobots:
Defensor is often considered to be the counterpart to Bruticus because the Protectobots are rescue vehicles and the Combaticons are military vehicles. Living up to his name, Defensor's most notable ability is projecting a force field within 50 feet of his person.


Computron - Unlike most combiners, where the process weakens their mental state, this combiner's computation capacity is near infinite. Created by Grimlock from remnants of Unicron's head, Computron is composed of the five Technobots:
Before making any decision, Computron first analyzes the opinions of every individual Technobot. This makes him a little slower on the battlefield but he always makes the best decisions.


In 2015, Habro introduced a new line of toys, comics, and other merchandise under the banner of Combiner Wars, which focuses on Scramble City-style combiners from G1. At San Diego Comic Con, it was announced that Machinima would host a new animated series based on the Combiner Wars brand.


Gurren Lagann - While not a full on parody, Gurren Lagann is more of a love letter to mecha anime. Silly, fun, and utter ridiculous at times, the anime told the story of mankind forced underground by a tyrant known as the Spiral King. One day, peace in a subterranean city is disturbed when a giant mecha (known as Gunmen) crashes through the ceiling and wreaks havoc on the underground civilization. A digger named Simon pilots a small mecha he found while digging tunnels, that they name Lagann, to defeat the larger mecha. On the surface, he discovers more Gunmen, piloted by a cross-species of humans and animals called Beastmen.

Lagann

Simon's best friend/father figure, Kamina, commandeers a Gunman of his own and the two spark a revolution against the Beastmen of the surface. When piloted by humans, the Gunmen are powered by "fighting spirit" which is basically a combination of courage, determination, and pure willpower. In an absolutely hilarious scene, Kamina tries to emulate a two-headed Gunman by forcefully jamming Lagann through the top of his own Gunman. By a stroke of pure luck, this actually activates a combining sequence that results in them forming Gurren Lagann.


Gurren Lagann's weapons are all drill-themed, from forming giant drills to firing smaller drill missiles. Later in the series, they discover they have the ability to commandeer vehicles and sometimes assimilate other Gunmen. During an aerial assault launched by the Beastmen, Gurren Lagann uses its drills to attach a flying Gunman onto its back and gains the ability to fly as a result.


From there the combinations, of both Gurren Lagann and enemy Gunmen, become exponentially larger to the point of absolute absurdity. By the end, they form Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann (pictured at the top) who is large enough to throw spiral galaxies as though they were shuriken. Despite the humor and the silly tone, the show is really less of a parody and more of a love letter to Super Robot genre. The writer even says in an interview that he was influenced by the Getter Robo. Highly recommended for fans!

Did I miss your favorite combining robot? Sound off in the comments below!