Out of all the shows to end my full weeks of Mecha March, I think that Dai-Guard is one of the best ones to end it on. GaoGaiGar is a good set up piece for the future with its super robot strength and it’s gar. Dai-Guard is just a fantastic counter balance that is far more grounded in its nature while still maintaining that gar in a different way. How? By being a true look at super robot shows in isolation. Perhaps this is an actual deconstruction of super robot shows. GASP. It’s also a really good series as well that I enjoyed week to week during my seasonal non seasonal watches last year. Dai-Guard defines what the sole essence of Mecha March 2021 was about, Unity. Now that I think about it, I don’t think there was a single bad series that I watched for Mecha March this year. Incredible. That just means it’s been a solid time and I hope you all enjoyed it.
Dai-Guard spoilers! I am way too excited not to spoil lots of things in this post.
Dai-Guard is a show that takes place in the soon to be coming future. The backstory, taking place in 2018, is when a creature called the Heterodyne appeared. The hetereodynes are giant monsters which attacked Japan resulting in untold amounts of damage in cities leading to the deaths of who knows how many lives. The only thing that could kill it was an OE weapon, this world’s equivalent of a nuke. To stop the launching of another OE Weapon in the future, the 21st Century Defense Security Organization built the Dai-Guard, a giant robot meant to fight the next Heterodyne that appears. Too bad that hasn’t happened for a while leading to the giant robot being a statue and a laughing stock for a decade and more when the time came.
In 2030 AD, the Heterodyne attacks once again. No one believed it when they saw it during a 21st Century Defense Security Organization celebration event, but the military came out to fight it and could do nothing to it. The last resort? The bored of his job Akagi Shunsuke ready for robot action, the very strict but hot blooded Ibuki Momoi who begrudgingly jumped, and the very calm seeming womanizer seeming Keiichiro Aoyama who was there jumping into the robot to save the day. Did it work? They didn’t know at first, but it did. While the Dai-Guard was damaged, they managed to defeat the Heterodyne. The rest of the series is what happens after the Dai-Guard moved for the first time ever. Not just in 12 years, but ever. Akagi woke up some complicated things and everyone in the Japanese government and this company had to deal with them.
One of the largest aspects in diving into the nature of funding a giant robot in this show. It is not powered only by guts and determination, which Akagi has endless vaults of. It’s run by a larger company that wants profit. Yay capitalism… The Dai-Guard is expensive from how it needs to be maintained, how weapons need to be reset and repaired, and who knows what else. How do you get profit from this venture? What about capturing a heterodyne and studying it for science? Science can be profitable, right? Too bad there are pilots in the things who are already sacrificing their lives in this venture having a more difficult time surviving in an attempt to keep one alive for a bit. Attempt, because it ended up failing. There have been some board director changes in 20th Century as a result of all of this craziness.
There is also the growing nature of the heterodyne attack with the use of the Dai-Guard also puts a lot of the military’s actions as well. Heterodynes that are discovered to be natural beings in this world, but the military doesn’t want them anyway. That leads to a lot of military interventions or interferences. First it was the military assistant named Shirota first inserted into the Dai-Guard crew for a sequence into strategy. Then there was the military’s attempt to take away the Dai-Guard, to them finally building the Kokubogar to rival it, and finally having the Major from his continued losses which resulted into him becoming salty and taking some drastic measures to bolster his own ego without the consideration for anything else round him. He lacks that sense of humanity that would allow him to accept failure and it is him that leads to the finale that the Dai-Guard crew has to clean up. Great. Fun times.
The wholesomeness of this story is driven by Akagi himself. You know, the mid 20’s worker for 20th Century who took a class on piloting a giant robot once. He is the plot and the main motivating factor for everyone as expected. He is the injected humanity in a situation where there wasn’t beforehand. At first, Akagi is only seen as a hot-blooded super robot pilot character in this setting, but he has more depth than that. He also cares deeply about the citizens of Tokyo. Not just to protect them all, but giving all of them a place to return to once the evacuations are over. That fact shook so many people, but inside and outside of a pilot chair, he works hard to keep the citizens alive and have their lives maintained. Those moments outside of the cockpit where he was replaced for a short time and worked to evacuate everyone are the best moments of Dai-Guard for me. I really like Akagi, so I really like Dai-Guard as a result. It’s impossible to dislike him or this show at all.
Ibuki herself is my absolute favorite character in this show, no questions asked. She is a 20-year-old that ended up in the radar spot of the Dai-Guard, she wears the same piloting outfit as the other two pilots, and has the most interesting story considering that her life revolved around the Heterodyne itself. She lost her dad with its first appearance and her long-standing complicated relationship with her step dad is the corner of her story. It’s very relatable stuff. Also, she has plenty of hot-blooded, insane moments herself that endured me more to her. The last member of the Dai-Guard trio is Aoyama and he is surprising a big softy for someone who is merely looked at as a womanizer at first. As it turns out he’s nothing but a momma’s boy and his mom is in the hospital for surgery. He is the calmest person in charge of the energy of the robot and there is no other person fits better then him. When in sync, the three of them are an undefeatable force. Sometimes that doesn’t happen and that’s just the nature of working with other people.
All of which results in this office of the 20th Century Defense Security Organization itself. Not just Akagi, Ibuki, and Aoyama, but everyone else. This is a wonderful group of characters that provide a lot of comedy in their own way, like normal office shenanigins, help characterize the pilots, but they also bounce off each other in a lot of ways. The show doesn’t give them the focus it needs because this is a busy show with lots of ideas and plots going on at the same time. Yet despite that fact, this office is great. Chiaki is adorable with her little crush on Aoyama and Ooyama is an office worker that has a growing bond with Akagi because Akagi can be a nice and heartwarming guy when he’s given the chance. Not to mention Tanigawa and Irie with their office gossip behind the scenes and the Manger Oosugi who somehow has to push this circus of a team together into something functional despite his easy-going nature. There are other great characters beside them like Rika who is the 17-year-old genius behind Dai-Guard’s advancements and Shirota who is pushed away from his cold nature to rely on the Dai-Guard crew’s working processes. A very fun crew of good people with lots of humor.
The weakest part of Dai-Guard are the visuals themselves. Yeah, Xebec made Dai-Guard in the early 2000’s when cell animation was just replaced with digital animation and you can tell they haven’t mastered digital coloring yet. This show just doesn’t look good at all until the finale. Even then though, ugh. There is a lot of flat and ugly colors, repeated character designs somewhat, a well design city that doesn’t sit right due to colors, and a giant robot that is very indicative of the show with a super robot design with real robot mechanics where the colors just don’t work as well as they should. Same with the Heterodyne designs as well because there is a lot of cool designs. It is easy there tell that there was a lot of good thoughtful direction in this show along with the really good designs too, but it takes a bit to get used to how the colors are right in your face without any subtly to them. The animation itself is really solid and has some very hype moments that convey how strange and unusual Akagi’s motivations are when piloting the Dai-Guard. Him ripping the arm off and throwing it for a rocket punch is iconic.
Dai-Guard is a great time. It speaks to the heart, it speaks to the soul, and it also speaks to the funny bone in the best ways possible. Maybe I am giving too many solid awards for Mecha March, but I can’t help but give this show a solid award as well. It deserves it. It speaks to the mind and the heart of how mecha shows, super or otherwise, have lots of good people in them that fight for the rights of citizens to have the right to live happily and the monsters that appear are more than just monsters, but figments of nature itself. Not to mention some really good robot action as well led by very fun and interesting characters. It’s really good and can’t recommend it enough honestly. So, what if the visuals aren’t up to par? The ride is incredible. A more then easy recommendation.