While at this point we have an understanding of the concept of a “weak” protagonists in giant robot anime thanks to characters like Ikari Shinji from Evangelion, rarely are main robots allowed to exude an image of weakness and vulnerability as well. If we even look at Shinji himself, while he’s known for being passive and lacking in will, the actual EVA-01 looks monstrous and acts even more terrifyingly.
In most cases when there is a “weak mecha,” it ends up being a joke character’s ride, whether that’s Boss Borot from Mazinger Z or Kerot from Combattler V. In terms of actual main-focus giant robots, the closest this concept gets its maybe Dai-Guard the almost-literal “budget robot,” or perhaps the perpetually incomplete Guntsuku-1 from Robotics;Notes. Maybe the Scope Dog from VOTOMS counts because it’s so disposable, but like Dai-Guard it still at least looks strong.
Of course it only makes sense that mecha tend to be on the powerful side; they’re giant mechanical humanoids after all. It’s just something I’m starting to consider a potential limitation of the genre and an interesting space to explore.
On the most recent Speakeasy Podcast, the Reverse Thieves discussed spinoffs/re-imaginings/sequels of series we love, with the caveat that they had to have definite endings, and asked listeners to come up with their own examples. It was actually a difficult question for me at first because what would have been my top two choices, Genshiken and Eureka Seven, are now currently enjoying sequels themselves. Obviously fortunate for me, but still a monkey wrench into the question at hand.
Then I remembered another idea I had some years ago: an anime starring Boss, the bumbling side character from Mazinger Z and his eponymous mecha, the Boss Borot. Sure, we got Shin Mazinger with its more charitable portrayal of Boss wherein he showed some competence and a fair amount of courage, but he was still ultimately on the sidelines. What I would like instead is a show where Boss and his Borot are in the spotlight, and a villain appears that he has to deal with more or less all by himself.
The way I picture it, the villain would be this diabolical mastermind who would always envision the mysterious pilot of that “round menace” to be some genius tactician who can read five moves ahead, when in fact Boss probably defeated him accidentally. It would be a relationship similar to Inspector Gadget and Dr. Claw, or if we want to just stick to anime examples, Boss would be like Yurika from Nadesico or Captain Tylor (though I’ve never actually seen The Irresponsible Captain Tylor so I’m hesitant to make that comparison only on what I know from listening to others).
I’m not really sure if there should be a Penny to provide competent support, though. Maybe his henchmen Nuke and Mucha would be help enough.
In any case, I even thought of the main hook for the opening theme.