Heroman feels like a return to an old idea, and probably not in the way you’re thinking.
When we think giant robots, we usually think of robots being piloted from within or being some kind of sentient being, but Heroman is neither (at least, not as of Episode 2). Instead, he’s an entity separate from the human, controlled through a remote device. Sound familiar? It’s the same premise as that progenitor of giant robot anime heroes, Tetsujin 28.
But as I implied, the giant robot moved away from having its hero exist separate from it, and that’s been the trend ever since. While there were attempts to bring back this idea on occasion, I think the reason it failed to succeed was that it just didn’t seem as exciting or as practical as having a cockpit. After all, I’m sure just about anyone who watches any incarnation of Tetsujin 28 will wonder why they don’t just target the completely vulnerable human controlling it. The answer, of course, is that Shoutarou would stab you in the neck and set you on fire because that’s how Shoutarou rolls (no, really), but the basic idea is that it just makes more sense on a variety of levels to in the protective bosom of your mecha. At least, that’s how I see the evolution of that general trend in giant robots.
But then when you think about it, the idea of the remote-controlled giant robot is surprisingly similar to a genre which supplanted mecha in popularity, profitability, and marketability: the monster battle anime, of which Pokemon is by far the most famous. And in time, this turned into not only monsters but mechanical creatures as well.
So we’ve gone from a remote-controlled giant robot to piloted robots to kids battling using monsters to kids battling using mechanical devices, and now with Heroman, a remote-controlled robot servant fighting alongside his owner, it’s like we’ve come full circle.
As an aside, does anyone else get the feeling that this post is a product of me having recently finished Tetsujin 28 combined with me getting back into Pokemon? Yeah, I thought so.