Pretty Good, Quite Fun: Chousoku Henkei Gyrozetter

Chousoku Henkei Gyrozetter is about a world where everyone can drive, including 8 year olds. Cars can also turn into robots called Gyrozetters. This technology comes from a prophetic tablet known as the “Rosettagraphy” which also contains a list of “chosen drivers,” kids with the attitude and will to drive the most “wicked cool” Gyrozetters in order to fight evil or corrupt fuel companies or whatever.

If it wasn’t clear from my summary, I think Gyrozetter is an odd show, but what I think is really strange is how typical it is without veering towards tedious or amazing or even average. Its mostly episodic format gives off “standard kids’ anime” vibes in spades, but it neither comes off as a refreshing take on the formula nor so rote as to be unentertaining. I find it difficult to talk about if only because I definitely enjoyed the show in a way which would have me looking forward to more, but it doesn’t feel quite special. People say that the hardest shows to talk about are the ones that are utterly mediocre, but when it’s “better than average, though not great,” a show like Gyrozetter poses its own review challenge. The robots/cars are fairly well-designed, the characters are fun and expressive, and both the episodic elements and the overarching plot work well enough together. I think the best I can do though is to talk about some aspects of Gyrozetter which I found fairly notable.

First, is the endings which are pretty much Precure-style dance sequences but done with giant robots. It’s eye-catching if anything.

Second, even though it’s a kids’ show it spends a lot of effort on attractive ladies. Apparently in some interview the director or producer said something along the lines of wanting to make the show “erotic” but I don’t know how seriously to take that.

Third, the villains are an appealing part of the show, and though they start off fairly serious they get increasingly Team Rocket-ey as the series progresses. Curiously, as this is happening the plot is also getting more dramatic so there’s this almost schizophrenic feel to Gyrozetter which isn’t offputting but gave me pause every so often.

Fourth, it’s a boys’ show which develops the relationship between the main character Todoroki Kakeru, who’s very much of the Ash Ketchum-type (or Satoshi if you prefer) and his would-be girlfriend Inaba Rinne to a surprising extent. He’s 10, she’s 12 (or somewhere along those lines), and it’s actually really close to if Pokemon had spent more time overtly pushing Ash x Misty as a thing instead of just giving the vaguest of hints. Maybe that’s what’s oddly refreshing about the show even though it’s so formulaic.

Fifth, Mic Man Seki, who is literally voice actor Seki Tomokazu. His job is to hype up everything ever, and he certainly does a good job of it.

Sixth, the Valentine’s Day episode.

Gyrozetter is a bit different from other giant robot anime because it’s not based on a toyline or pushing sales to nostalgic older fans, but comes from an arcade game where you’re supposed to drive around for a while collecting powerups and then transform into a robot for a 3-on-3 battle. Apparently the anime didn’t do well, and I wonder if it was partly because the show’s format (children of destiny use their car robots to save the world!) was too different from the actual game, and I did notice that towards the end they tried to actively foreground the arcade gameplay in the actual anime. However, it seems like the arcade game itself wasn’t terribly popular and is going away, so maybe there’s plenty of blame to go around.

From what I’ve been told (by Kawaiikochan author Dave), the arcade machine is the embodiment of rad as the giant cockpit-like arcade machine will literally transform into a battle mode as you shift gameplay modes and do so in the flashiest way possible. I have to wonder if maybe the game was too much, as a lot of the popular arcade games for kids seem to be the super automated games where characters dance or fight on autopilot based on a special card you use.

In terms of favorites, the best robot design in my opinion Rinne’s second Gyrozetter, Dolphine. Its curved design makes for a pleasing sillhouette and its figure skating gimmick reflects Rinne’s own interests (her dream is to be an Olympic skater) in an interesting fashion. I can’t pick a favorite character but I was fond of Kotoha the bridge bunny (the one in green and glasses), Haruka, who is shown in the shot of the villains above, and the secretary character Kouno Saki.

If I stretched even further, I think I could say some things about how the show addresses the concept of destiny through the later developments concerning the Rosettagraphy, but I’ve said a lot more about a show I find to be “not bad” than I was expecting. With that, I’ll just end with some final screenshots.

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5 thoughts on “Pretty Good, Quite Fun: Chousoku Henkei Gyrozetter

  1. Haha, I think I saw that game last time I went to Japan, in the food court of the department store near my hotel. I just assumed it was 2 different games on one machine XD. The driving looked a bit like Need for Speed, only with that ‘cheap knockoff game’ vibe (the tracks went through cuttings and tunnels a lot, to save on having to model lots of distant scenery) and the fighting looked like Tekken games, only with robots and a few buildings that could be destroyed

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  2. I might as well chime in with my Gyrozetter game experience. Both parts of the game, the racing and the RPG battle, are very much scaled-down easy kids’ games. The racing is bumper-car Need for Speed where the game handles the throttle for you and you’re only supposed to concentrate on driving into items. The battles are small-scale RPG fights where you choose from a very simple menu. There’s a “game” here but skill only goes so far, and I’m sure as you keep going that rare cards with higher numbers win the day.

    The really amazing thing was the transforming cabinet, where the steering wheel folds into the machine and the control panel folds out into robot controls. They’re discontinuing the arcade game due to lack of interest (yeah it’s pretty dull, even for a kids’ game) but if you’re ever in Japan play it just one time, to see the effect.

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  3. Unfortunately, Makhazol hasn’t done any progress regarding the fansubs for months now, so the progress is still stuck at episode 30.

    Oh, and fun fact: Shinji Takamatsu, the director for the anime adaptation, had previously worked on a few entries in the Brave Series.

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