Posted by psgels on 24 June 2008 with categories: Anime Reviews

Spring 2007 was a big year for the epic mecha-series. There were plenty of huge-scale battles between mechas, space-ships and other sorts of futuristic technology, ranging from amazing (Toward the Terra, Bokura no), to the entertaining (Gurren Lagann, Heroic Age) to the downright cheesy (Kiss Dum). Among them was a series with a premise that could give Code Geass a run for its money in terms of political incorrectness:

Far into the future, twelve of the major countries enter a battle royale: every one has one overpowered mecha, and the goal is to be the last one standing, and be the country to rule the world. Whoop-dee-doo… guess which two countries will end up being the only two left? This series is way too full of nationalistic messages like “Japan rocks!”. This of course isn’t really the message that an international medium like anime should have.

Credit has to be given for the creators in their attempt to solve the language barrier in such an international series, but even that turns into a disaster once the characters start talking horrible Engrish. So indeed, in the final episodes, the creators just turn to universal translators in order to solve this problem. Eventually, they give up completely and make supposed English people talk Japanese without any reason whatsoever.

The saving grace for this series, however, is its characterization. Gigantic Formula would have been a total train-wreck if it wasn’t for the characters. Every single pilot of the mecha of each different country gets sufficient attention and development, in a way that surprisingly goes beyond all stereotypes. Every pilot has his or her own problems, and the creators do a really good job of making the viewer empathize with them, despite the ridiculous premise of the story. My personal favourite was the episode about the Venezuelans. At that point, I was actually willing to call this series a success…

Unfortunately, these thoughts got completely bashed into the ground by the ending. To be blunt: the final climax of this series is utter crap. Even compared to other series with disappointing endings, this ending was just bad. It forsakes nearly everything that the series has built up for, it descends into a boring cheese-fest with overmoralistic views that were most likely pasted together at the last minute. I guess I should have known that there was no way to get a satisfying climax out of such a premise as this…

I’m not sure who to recommend this series to. It’s obviously got a number of good points, especially around the middle when the nationalistic messages weren’t so god damn obvious, but at the same time it’s got an equal amount of bad or downright painful points. Even if you want cheese, you can better check out Kiss Dum. I guess that this is one for the mecha-fans, because it does have mecha-designs, coming from 14 different famous mecha-designers.

7 Responses

  1. Avatar Denizen says:

    Oh hey, so you eventually saw this.

    I have to say I actually quite liked it, despite the obvious flaws it had. Plus the Engrish is hilarious.
    Not great, but I wouldn’t say it is bad either. Just a very weird concept that didn’t turn out so well.

  2. Avatar Hunter-Wolf says:

    G-Gundam had a similar premise … while it was cheesy at times it was still lots of fun to watch …. oh .. and its ending was quite cheesy too XD

    • Avatar Olicon says:

      I think G-Gundam was at least made to be about action. Gigantic Formula (GF) is…just holy crap bad.

      I like that they tried to give each character some story, but holy hell, they were so bland and over-dramatic. Well, some of them were ok and fitting for the premise (with exception of the main characters, who were idiots), but the delivery was done so crudely. Everything were done with either straight up dialog, or straight exposition. Series like Haruhi, or say Abenobashi (the ones that are based around characters) are done so much better, with subtle hints to the character’s mindset being shown in the graphics, the scene exposition, etc. Heck, Haruhi’s episode ordering to me was a very, very smart way to show just how selfish of a person she is. GF misses all opportunity to be creative and really convey feelings like that, and instead chose the crudest, least effective way to do it. They didn’t even go for “show, don’t tell”, they just straight up “tell”.

      I do like the robot designs though. Those were very nifty.

  3. Avatar Choux says:

    Well, the graphics look quite nice and the premise does sound interesting. Too bad about the ending though. It seems that a well made ending for a good series is just soo hard to find.

  4. Avatar afsd says:

    ah… so you did suffer through this…

  5. Avatar miden says:

    the series was pretty fun to watch and pretty decent til the ending…

  6. Avatar issa-sa says:

    I’d recommend the first episode to anyone who’s willing to have a good laugh. And to anyone who doesn’t believe that there’s actually a show about the UN endorsing a mecha war to save the planet. That’s as far as I lasted, though I have to say that the laugh I had certainly gave Code Geass a run for its money :P

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