Super Robot Wars 30 and the Two Chizurus

I love the way the Super Robot Wars series combines plots together, and one example is the “connection” between the two Chizurus featured in Super Robot Wars 30.

One of the anime series in Super Robot Wars 30 is the 2000s-era anime Gun x Sword, and among the cast is a veteran robot crew called El Dora Team, who are portrayed as old-fashioned relics of a bygone era who find the spirit to fight again instead of sitting on the sidelines and waxing nostalgic. They’re essentially meant to be 1970s robot anime characters (with a bit of Mexican and spaghetti-Western flair) thrust into a modern context.

One of those 70s elements is they once had a female teammate named Chizuru, possibly as a nod to Nanbara Chizuru, the girl member from Super Electromagnetic Robo Combattler V. However, both Gun x Sword and Combattler V are in Super Robot Wars 30, and the setting is such that El Dora Team are still the old timers and the Battle Team are the upstarts. As a result, they flipped the script and made the Combattler V Chizuru the younger one who reminds the grandpas about their dearly departed friend.

This swapping of ages and influences is a clever maneuver to allow both sets of characters to retain their identities and physical ages within the story. But it also reminds me of someone: Elvis Presley.

Elvis famously wore flashy jumpsuits with collars and sometimes capes, and there’s speculation that he didn’t do it out of the blue. Growing up, he was a big fan of the Fawcett superhero Captain Marvel Jr., and the similarities between the character and Elvis has led to fans of both wondering if Elvis took elements of his famous aesthetic from the comic character. The story doesn’t end there, though.

Over the years, DC had acquired the license to the Captain Marvel (aka Shazam) characters. In one of their many later reboots, they placed Captain Marvel Jr. into their setting as a modern teenager, so rather than being a child of the 1930s, he was now a product of the 1990s. But in a similar twist to how the two Chizurus are connected in SRW30, it was now Captain Marvel Jr. who was the Elvis fan.

It’s a funny kind of geekery that I appreciate, and it reminds me why it’s fun to be a fan.

Weak Mecha

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.

Mitsuya Yuuji Throughout Combattler V: A “Lesson” in Voice Acting

At Otakon 2010, voice acting veteran Mitsuya Yuuji (or Yuji Mitsuya) was a goldmine of valuable information about the industry and the art of voice acting, using his own experience as a complete seiyuu rookie on Choudenji Robo Combattler V as an example During the panel, he mentioned that an interesting exercise is to compare a voice actor’s performance in the first episode to their performance in the final episode.

Taking that suggestion to heart and expanding on it a little further, I’ve compiled a clip of Mitsuya’s voice acting progression from the beginning to end of Combattler V‘s 54 episodes. Not every episode is shown here, but it still gives a good indication of how much effort he put into improving.

Early on, you can hear that he’s clearly an amateur and not entirely sure what to do with the role. He also sounds much deeper, having not yet hit upon the right voice for the main hero Hyouma. You can also hear him experimenting with all sorts of ways to say Combattler V’s name, stretching this syllable, shortening that one and so on. Towards the middle around when the story starts to really ramp up, he puts a lot more intensity into his performance. Then, in the second half you’ll notice that he’s starting to find a “standard” of sorts on how to shout, “Combattler….V!” until it pretty much solidifies, for better or worse.

Remember that this was Mitsuya’s debut role, and here you can really see his growth as a voice actor. It’s no wonder he’d go on to form his own voice acting school.

At his panel, Mitsuya placed great emphasis on the fact that a lot of male voice actors these days try too hard to maintain the “coolness” of their characters and don’t put their all into their performances, citing that this probably has to do with the fact that not nearly as many voice actors these days come from a theatre background (if any at all). It’s interesting then to think about how Mitsuya’s own theatrical experience still had to be molded to fit voice acting.

As a bonus, take a look at his performance in 2000’s Super Robot Wars Alpha, where he has to perform the same line as in the above video roughly 25 years later. Skip to 0:46 to hear it (or watch the whole video, it’s cool). Amazingly, his voice appears to have gone up with age.

V! V! V!

Puberty is a funny thing when you’re a fan.

In some instances, a female character can enter the mind of a young boy just by virtue of being the most prominent female in his favorite show, and then stay with him as he awakens sexually. Of course it doesn’t happen to every fan, and I’d be remiss to not include female fans who carry the torch for their male childhood crushes (or varying combinations between these two areas), but as a guy who likes girls I want to focus on that area. Feel free to chime in with your own thoughts given your own sexuality.

The first examples I can think of are Sayaka from Mazinger Z and Chizuru from Combattler V. While they are obviously not applicable to me seeing as I did not grow up with either show, in Japan and Italy and other parts of the world where these shows found popularity you have a lot of devoted male fans who will sexualize them and possibly draw fanart of them, to the extent that someone unfamiliar with these series might scratch their heads, or perhaps get the wrong impression of them when they see fanart of Chizuru in an outfit that’s quite a bit tighter than canon suggests. This is not a knock on either Sayaka or Chizuru. I can easily see guys liking them for legitimate reasons, and they’re even portrayed as attractive within the contexts of their shows (e.g. shower scenes), but I think there’s more to it than that.

An even better example might be video game characters. I’m not talking about your RPG characters who get loads of development, or games that have come out more recently and have the benefit of powerful graphics to improve character design and rendering, but those old, let’s say pre-90’s video games which barely had stories to go with them. While Samus Aran has had a lot of development over the years, guys were finding her hot since the NES era. Obviously her stripping to her skivvies in the ending sequence plays a role in this, but I think what pushes that over the edge is that you play as her for so long that you get attached to her. Again, familiarity.

Of course this doesn’t happen with every fan, but being a fan makes this more likely, I think. To preserve the memories of their favorite “stories” from childhood and bring those memories with them through to their teenage years and possibly their adult life, isn’t that the kind of thing a fan does?

And then my thoughts lead towards “moe.” Modern moe shows of course don’t have that advantage of familiarity, but when I think about it, liking a video game character because of the two or three things you know about them and liking a moe girl who is a collection of moe traits aren’t that far off. So I wonder if moe in the marketing sense of the word is trying to tap into that same nostalgia reservoir, only through more “efficient” means.

I’m not here to judge what characters you like for whatever reason, but to simply put down my thoughts on the way the fan mind works, particularly for when you start thinking girls (or guys) are awfully nice-looking.

On another note, I realize my past three post titles have all been song lyrics. Yeah I don’t know either.

Oldie but Goodie

And for those of you who’ve already seen it, you should know I was the one who originally posted that screenshot on the internet.