Like many people of my age who started watching anime with Toonami, I have never heard about GoShogun. I mean, this is a super robot anime from the early 1980’s. Those aren’t really the talk of the town anymore except in certain anime circles. Circles that I am barely a part of myself. The reason I watched this at all was a combination of Righstuff’s sales and the way the show was described on their website. It was a cheap blind buy for something that may only interest a few people, myself included. Was buying and watching it worth it you may ask? Hell yes. I had a blast watching GoShogun. Partially because of its insane and ridiculous nature and partially because most of the characters are fun and interesting. I don’t think the box on this show really sells the show as much as it could. At least, not completely because it got me to watch it, right?
GoShogun centers around a world where that has already been taken over. On the surface, everything may seem normal, but deep underneath that a group called Docooga controls everything. I don’t just mean offices, businesses, and countries, but also amusement parks, fast food chains, national parks, and I could keep going. The plot itself starts with the death of the father of our main protagonist, Doctor Sanada. After a science convention where Doctor Sanada discusses the concept of Beamler energy, which is important to the show, he is chased down and captured by Docooga forces. Instead of working for Docouga, he commits suicide with a bomb. Kind of a dark start, right? Well Immediately afterward, Docooga targets his son Kenta Sanada. Fortunately, Kenta is taken in by an older, bald, and mysterious man named Captain Sabarath with his small crew of three misfits from society, who pilot the GoShogun, and Kenta’s robot mother/teacher named OVA. All those people ride on the white spaceship the Good Thunder. In the beginning of the show, the Good Thunder teleports around the world from place to place and deals with Docooga in a large variety of locations and scenarios. It’s just a lot of fun.
Before I dig into characters, I wanted to dig in on a few things. I think this show was created around the time that the original Mobile Suit Gundam has taken its hold on the mecha genre. I have watched a few older super robot shows from the 1970’s, like Gai King, and GoShogun is a lot more grounded then those. For one, the Goshogun never transforms or does anything beyond the boundary of believability. Maybe the Good Thunder and GoShogun are operated by a mystical space energy called Beamler, but the only thing that GoShogun does with it is to have weapons teleported to it through Good Thunder’s main computer and shooting an energy shock wave from time to time. That’s it. GoShogun has also made me question the origin of something like the “the gainax” ending too. A couple of character reveals and plot reveals seemed to have been pulled out of nowhere during the show’s last few episodes too. Eh, maybe I am being a little too picky about this. Oh well, onto the regularly scheduled character broadcast.
The strongest aspect of this show for me were the characters. GoShogun features a small cast of very well-developed and unique ones. The appearance of Kenta of the Good Thunder shows how different they are compared to the three generals on the Docooga side. On the Good Thunder crew, we have Remy, the attractive former French spy who is intelligent, energetic, and very independent, Killy, the tough and street-smart gangster from the Bronx, and Shingo, the stoic, stiff, but level-headed leader from Japan. They are a family unit that is solidified with how they take Kenta under their wing from time to time during each episode. There is some flirting that goes on between Remy and the other two during combat scenes, but that is shown to be talk that distracts them from the exhausting bouts of combat. This is a crew that is stuck on a ship for years just for the sake of fighting one organization, of course there is going to be stress. Such a great cast of characters. I only wish that Shingo had more focus on him, because we don’t get to know him as much as the other two but that is ok.
On the other end of the pool, we have our three Docooga generals. There is Bundle, the beauty obsessed male, Kutnal, the pirate looking one with an eye patch and has to take blood pressure medicine a lot, and Kernagul, the stupid gray looking human who likes beating up a robot when he gets angry, can’t even stand each other. They almost never work together and when they do, the generals never coordinate with each other at all. Because of this fact, I can’t help but call them as useful as Team Rocket in effectiveness against GoShogun and Good Thunder. That being said, I can’t help but love these three morons. I like the fact that Bundle plays classical music during battle scenes, I like the fact that Kernagul and his wife own a fast food chain, and I love the fact that Kutnal has a company that sells his own brand of tranquilizers that he uses himself for his own reasons. These three are trash, but beautiful trash.
For a kid character, Kenta is more interesting then one would think. Yes, he is annoying at the beginning of the show for a lot of various reasons including getting the crew into trouble due to his curiousity, but the show felt like it knew this would happen. The members of the Good Thunder crew were annoyed with him too, but just like them I learned to accept him as a member of the Good Thunder family. Especially when the GoShogun crew starts training him so he can take up some of the slack and possibly defend himself when he needs to. One of the main story elements for GoShogun is a tale of Kenta growing up after all. Kenta is a brown-haired computer genius that loves machines more then people sometimes. He hates seeing their destruction in the war between Good Thunder and Docooga, but Kenta eventually learns to accept it. He is a good kid, but my problem is that Kenta becomes a plot device at the end of the show. The connection between Kenta growing up and the evolution of Beamer energy seemed kind of forced, but then there are some hints that GoShogun was heading in this direction anyway. Maybe it wasn’t forced after all.
One unattachable part of Kenta’s existence is his orange, robot teacher O.V.A. or OVA. While she was only programmed to teach Kenta and discipline Kenta when he refuses to learn, OVA became so much more then her programming allowed her to be. She became Kenta’s and the Good Thunder’s mother figure. This became even more clear when OVA started cooking for everyone. Such a great character that deserved more attention.
I can’t really comment on NeoNeros and Captain Sabarath, because they both remain in mystery roles until the last episode. That well remain that way in this post as well.
I feel like a lot of know what I am going to say here. GoShogun is a show from the early 80’s and it looks like a show from the early 80’s. While the character designs are great and show off each person’s personalities extremely well and some of the backgrounds that are used over and over again are very detailed and cool to look at, everything else is kind of bland and barely detailed. They are designed to give you a sense of the area may be like or where they are all at, especially if it’s a specific area like Paris, but that’s about it. Very minimalistic.
The animation is the same way. Just like magical girl transformation scenes, the three fighters dropping into GoShogun or the three fighters forming the weaker Tri-3 are well animated, but they are sequences that are used over and over again throughout the series, so they better be well animated. GoShogun fighting newer robots may provide new avenues of animation and art work, but it’s always minimalistic. Enough to show you what is going on, but not enough to build up enough hype or add extra flair. The same for scenes of the three fighters blowing up enemy fighters. Always the same sequences. It’s hard to think that they could ever be in any danger because of this fact. Once again, everything is minimalistic, but enough to get the message across.
Other things of note:
If there is something that I love about this show, it’s the fact that Kenta isn’t the pilot of the GoShogun. In any other series, Kenta, as the kid protagonist, would be the one piloting or taking over the lead spot it. In GoShogun, we are treated to having three interesting adult pilots instead. What a breath of fresh air that is. That doesn’t mean that Kenta isn’t important or doesn’t pilot the robot at times, because he does when some pilots are injured, but that makes a world of difference when it comes to separating this show from the rest of the herd.
I doubt what I have to say will shake other people’s mind or get people to watch it, but I know I enjoyed the hell out of it. Watching this show made me see why this didn’t get as much attention as something like the original Gundam. It’s not anything ground breaking at all and feels like a mid-step in the evolution of the Mech genre. Still, even with that fact, it’s a gem that needs a little more attention then it’s getting. Even if writing this post only let’s you know that this show exists, that’s enough for me. Despite its inherent flaws and the ending that seemed like it came out of nowhere, I’m glad I watched this show and that’s all that matters, right?
Anybody read for more? Next week Mecha March continues with Cybuster and more mecha discussions.
Thanks for reading everyone. If you like what I do and want to help out, please buy me a Ko-Fi. Please don’t feel like that you have to though. The choice is up to you. Don’t break the bank on me.