They’re Like Robots, Except Giant!

Much like my attempt at compiling “Non-Japanese” magical girl shows, I’ve recently started a Youtube playlist consisting of “Non-Japanese” giant robot shows. My definition of “Non-Japanese” here is somewhat lenient, as I’ve also included anime which were heavily adapted for foreign audiences, as well as shows animated in Japan for foreign audiences. Something like Voltron which was based on Golion and Dairugger XV but then got additional episodes made due to the popularity of Voltron counts as both. Parodies are okay as well, as evidenced by The X-Treme Adventures of Brandon and Mallory.

I’m taking suggestions, so if anyone knows any series/movies/whatever besides the ones I have already, please chime in. Please keep in mind that they must be lean more towards the “robot” side and less towards the “powered suit” side, though I understand that such a line is blurry at best. To give you an idea of where the line is, I do not consider The Centurions or Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors to be giant robot series. Dino-Riders is on the fence, but if you can convince me that a T-Rex in advanced techno armor is not that different from an Evangelion, then I might include it as well. But most likely not.

Not Plagiarism: Robot Taekwon V

“Robot Taekwon V” is a cartoon that captivated children’s imaginations in the 1970s, and had numerous sequels and remakes through the years. Recently, it was remastered for its 30th anniversary thanks to a lucky discovery of an undamaged print. If you’ve never heard of the Japanese anime Taekwon V, don’t be alarmed.

Because it’s Korean.

Looking at Taekwon V itself, “Mazinger Z” is probably the first thing that pops into your head. The resemblance is unmistakable, and it could easily fit into Nagai Go’s Giant Robot Pantheon. I’ve seen people online, mostly aggressive Japanese posters, decrying Taekwon V as a rip-off, a sign of plagiarism and uncreativity. The director Kim Cheong-gi has gone on the record stating the obvious influence that Mazinger Z had on his design. At the time, Mazinger Z was very popular in Korea and Kim wanted to created a Korean Super Robot so that kids would appreciate Korean culture. The likely scenario is that at the time he thought Mazinger Z was what all super robots should look like, so it’s no wonder that they look similar. That isn’t the reason why I say it’s not plagiarism though.

Taekwon V fights using its namesake, Taekwondo, and its animation reflects this fact. Mazinger Z and in fact every other super robot has never used Taekwondo. While Taekwon V resembles Mazinger Z heavily, its poses, mannerisms, and actions set it apart. Taekwon V is able to follow the movements of its pilot, a Taekwondo champion himself, two years before Daimos. It even has unique attacks, most notably its Rocket Chop (I don’t know the actual name for this), where Taekwon V makes a horizontal, back-handed chopping motion while simultaneously launching its hand to give it some added destructive momentum.

If it looks like a duck, but doesn’t walk like a duck, and it quacks in Korean, then it is Taekwon V.

By the way, this reasoning does not necessarily apply to other Korean Giant Robot shows. I’m looking at you, Space Gundam V.