When it comes to Shinkon Gattai Godannar, everyone’s first impression is this:
Followed by this:
And they’re definitely right in that Godannar contains both, but unfortunately those are the only things they notice, and will often-times write the series off as trash. I’m here to tell you, however, that while those two elements featured above are ever-present, to the point that you’ll be seeing them invariably in every episode, what you see isn’t necessarily what you get. I want to try and set the record straight, even though I’m well aware that it is in many ways a futile effort and that Godannar is just about the most difficult show to convince people to watch who aren’t enticed by Exhibits A and B.
If it sounds like I’m being defensive, it’s because I am. It’s just that I know how difficult its shell can be to penetrate, and I’m tired of people writing the show off as some vapid exercise in fanservice. Don’t get me wrong, the girls in this show are hot, with character designs by Kimura Takahiro of Gaogaigar, Betterman, and Code Geass fame, but they only scratch the surface of what’s really there.
Aoi Anna is a 17 year old girl who is the target of affection of every guy at her school. She’s beautiful, buxom, has a great personality, and is a match for anyone when it comes to physical competition. But while many girls her age are dating, Anna already has a fiancee. And while many teenagers are only beginning to consider their future, Annas already has a goal: to become a giant robot pilot. Her husband meanwhile is Saruwatari Gou, a man widely respected as the greatest robot pilot ever known.
Gou, however, is not a hot-blooded, gung-ho, never-say-die teenager, but rather a 30+ battle-scarred veteran able to temper his ferocious passion in battle with experience and foresight. He once lost the love of his life, a casualty of his life’s duty as the world’s greatest pilot, and has sworn to never let it happen again. With the aid of giant robot teams from all over the world, Anna and Gou must defend humanity by piloting the mighty robot “Godannar” while also living together as a newlywed couple.
Godannar is a very atypical giant robot anime, something which becomes more and more apparent as the show goes on. For example, the enemy in Godannar is a race of grotesque creatures of unknown origins known as the “Mimetic Beasts,” and that is all you ever learn about them. They are not Dr. Hell or Zeon or the Vajra, they do not have a mysterious past to delve into or personalities to hate. Instead, the real function of the Mimetic Beasts is to act as a backdrop for the characters to develop their relationships and grow.
While the show features robots prominently, its real focus is on characters and romance and on the relationships and bonds that develop between comrades-in-arms, instead of the conflict, politics, and the character development through antagonism that you usually see in giant robot shows, real or super. It is a more personal look at the men and women who defend the planet by jumping in steel golems and punching aliens.
Yes, if you watch Godannar you’ll be getting a faceful of cameltoe on a regular basis, but if you think the show is going to be about a guy who walks into girls changing and then gets punched through the roof, then I am glad to correct your mistake. Unlike what you might expect out of a typical fanservice anime, the men and women of Godannar barely bat an eyelash at the skintight suits and giant breasts which populate every scene, as if such scenery is merely commonplace in the world of the future. Instead, the only female characters to whom the men of Godannar react to are the ones they care for the most, which only reinforces the true theme of the series: love.
And through it all, particularly with the sexual aspect of the character designs, what may be most surprising of all is how strong the female characters are in Godannar. Not only are they on equal terms with their male counterparts, being every bit as capable on the battlefield as the guys, but they are also full of confidence, intelligence, and compassion, and never are they forced into the role of the damsel. There are no Aphrodai A’s to rescue, and for that matter no Boss Borots to bumble along to reinforce the idea of how strong Mazinger Z is. Each character and each robot pulls their weight in the heat of battle, and every relationship is equal, even if they may at first appear otherwise.
Godannar can be a difficult show to approach and to get past that initial impression of boobs and metal, but if you want to see a show with very good characterization and relationship development which also plays with the common tropes of anime to create a stronger story overall, then I think you should check it out. I know that the series is not for everyone, and for those who are not as familiar with super robots the clever subversion of the genre which occurs in Godannar may be lost or a non-issue, but I think many more people would enjoy the series than are willing to give it a chance.