Giant Robo and the Beautiful Night

A new essay has arrived! I finished Giant Robo a little while back, but it took me some time to really hammer down a piece on it. I’m happy with the result, though, and certainly happy with the show. Giant Robo is a titanic, triumphant series, a glorious melodrama that revels in old-fashioned adventure and giant robot storytelling while crafting a narrative pretty much anyone could appreciate. It’s both soulful and beautiful, full of riveting characters and gorgeous visual compositions. It’s a masterpiece, basically – you may not be the biggest fan of its style of storytelling, but it is essentially a perfect version of what it is trying to be.

My piece is up now over at ANN, so please check it out, and I hope you enjoy it!

Giant Robo and the Beautiful Night

I also wrote notes that got more and more thorough as I made my way through the series. You can check those out below!

Giant Robo

Episode One

Oh my god, the music and visuals are SO GOOD. HOLY SHIT does this show have great shot framing and sound design

It seems like “humanity’s hubris in invention” is big

Episode Two

“I’ll avenge my comrade, and teach you the pain I felt when you took my right eye!” I love how the show assumes a pulp scifi lore behind everything

“Chujo the Silent” all the characters have wonderful battle names

The threat of nuclear energy hangs over this series

Reliance on this new energy source keeps betraying everyone. Complaceny in assuming the security of their energy

The enemy feels bitter that the world forgot the sacrifice of the first Shizuma Drive

“We didn’t learn from the mistakes of the past. We just pinned our hopes in the Shizuma Drive”

“Yes, Professor, Robo’s power source is nuclear.”

“What a beautiful night. Yet people always forget the dirty incidents of the past.”

Episode Three

“You are our source of power and our source of peace”

“Everywhere the sphere has passed has been paying for its absolute dependence on the Shizuma Drive”

Thus “the day the earth stood still”. Because the sphere halts everything

And yet this “stillness” is contrasted against a rush towards progress that the show also has ambiguous feelings towards

“Why does Robo have to be nuclear-powered?”

“Are you just going to remain silent, Father?” he says to the robot

So living up to fathers again. And Ginrei lost her father at his age, twelve

So Giant Robo was once a BF group robot

Ah, Vogler is Ginrei’s father

Episode Four

“Aren’t you the one always saying that the battle really begins when you realize your own potential?”

“Don’t be depressed. Everyone makes mistakes from time to time. What’s important is what you do afterwards.” Everyone is a father to Daisaku, in this, his coming of age

“Robo isn’t something you command. It’s someone you fight with side by side.”

Ginrei can teleport, but it sucks her life force. Great powers destroying us

Ginrei’s father is Vogler, Daisaku’s father made Giant Robo for the BF group. We’re all escaping fathers and having surrogate fathers sacrifice themselves for us

Episode Five

Title: The Truth of Bashtarle (Gone Are the Days of Youth)

And that title segues directly into an explosion like a nuclear blast. Fathers, nukes, ambiguous technology, a dangerous legacy. All tied together, all slotted into this “coming of age”

The ship has crashed in the frigid mountains of China! This story sure knows the value of good locations

“There’s no more time… and there’s so much I need to make up for.” Sinning fathers, creating weapons and violent legacies passed on to sons

“Using this, you have to save the world!” They expect so much of their sons, but give them so little direction. Just enough

“Is it possible to achieve happiness without sacrifice?”

“Give that back to us!” “No! I promised my father!”

And yet, the show still loves its mechanical toys, its weapons of violence. There’s an uneasy fascination there

The look on Daisaku’s face when Robo starts to win

“Can happiness be achieved without sacrifice? Can a new era be reached without misfortune?” His father states, flickering in the flames of the nuclear robot giant robo’s power. Could we have reached this future any other way?

“That day was the last day I was able to be a child”

“You’re fine as you are, keep believing in your father. Don’t doubt yourself for a moment, you’ll only regret it.”

The show revolves around a pair of siblings, each struggling to live in the shadow of their father’s legacy, but each choosing to honor that legacy in opposite ways


“That was the expression I had the first time I killed someone. Although I hadn’t realized it, I’d killed my own father – a member of the BF group.” God damn. It’s all one thing. “Big Fire” is just the all-consuming violence of the past. Big Father, basically

“So that you don’t grow up to be an adult like me!”

“We must go through with our revenge against those who cast our father in the role of destroyer of the world!”

Vogler actually didn’t want to do the experiment with any percentage of error. But history was not kind to him

The black and white of Bashtarle. Bashtarle is “history” condensed into one awful moment

“What is there to fear in the face of truth?”

And now we’re getting back to the images from the second episode. History can be rewritten

The world is waiting for the fruits of their research. Vogler sacrifices himself for the future

Vogler made the samples, that counter the Shizuma drive. “You must stop Shizuma”

“All of mankind closed its eyes to the truth, everyone is equally guilty”

Episode Six

The Magnificent Ten are wary

“Why do Ginrei and Robo have to be treated like this?” “This is all for the benefit of you and Ginrei.” Parents knowing what’s best, but not actually knowing what’s best

Vogler’s complicated legacy – what do his last words mean? How do we act in his shadow? Was he hero or villain?

“Ginrei can defeat it, because Ginrei is Vogler’s daughter!” Are we instruments of legacy or individuals

“What kind of world will we scientists be able to leave for you?” The scientists bet too much on the future, the next generation is trapped by the past

“Much always has to be sacrificed. Only when disaster strikes do we fear, panic, and regret.” Vogler is ultimately optimistic about the march of progress, in spite of tragedy

“But we are at our limits. If something worse should happen, there will be no going back.” Also true. With nuclear power, there is no room for error

The Magnificent Ten are defeated! And what’s this, Big Fire himself?!?

“Your father’s last will and testament is absolute, right?”

They return to Bashtarle. “Changing its name and trying to cleanse the past is useless!” Vogler’s son is all about “accepting the truth of the past”

“What sacrifice would be too great?”

More fathers sacrificing themselves for Daisaku

“If, like you said, sacrificing Ginrei is the adult thing to do… then I don’t want to be an adult at all”

And he’s talking to the character who’s basically the icon of sacrifice, someone who keeps dying for the cause

God, so many of these images are so fucking iconic

Episode Seven

“Grand Finale: Fading is the Beautiful Illusory Night”

Wow. What a fucking dramatic opening

Ginrei no longer hesitates to use her power. “Because I believe in my father.” Confidence in the past, at last

“Can happiness be attained without sacrifice? That answer… I think you can find it.”

This show’s premier visual trick is its masterful use of shadow and negative space. Just a wonder

Koshin slaps Daisaku in the face

Again, someone else attempting to present a stern parental figure to make Daisaku grow up

The harsh truth – Ginrei is doomed

Another shot of a character heading down one of these long tunnels to total light. The visual motif/thematic integration is very solid and coherent, because this show is very specifically about concepts that can be presented visually

“Is Giant Robo just a toy for a boy to play with? We’ll force him to use it in the correct manner!”

“I’m sure my father didn’t want Robo used in this way!”

“He said to me, ‘is sacrifice really necessary?’ And I still don’t have an answer for that.”

“Watch me and see what it is to fulfill the last wish of your own father!”

“Father! Can you see it? This beautiful night!”

“Is this the sacrifice needed for happiness? The misfortune needed to reach a new era?”

“You will see the folly of your ways and die inside that false symbol of peace!”

“I don’t believe that Ginrei’s father would wish for all this to happen!”

“I don’t know what the truth is. I don’t know if sacrifice is needed to find happiness. I can’t come up with an answer for that! But Father… I’m going to do what I can! I’m going to fight the best I can! So… so… watch over me, Father! Until I can find the true answer for myself!”

“My master said, ‘to seek out the truth gives it meaning and value!’” Damn. That’s a beautiful saying

And now Koshin is supporting him. Beautiful

“You’re all with me!” Daisaku lifted up by ghosts of his parental figures

Alberto drains the energy shield, because he wants the final fight to be decided between the BF group and the Experts of Justice. Brilliant

Oh my god. He killed Ginrei

The villain has been consumed by revenge. In acting out what he believes to be his father’s dying wish, he’s lost all sense of his own value, and is happy to die

“What is that light?” The combined three samples actually create a light, of course. Our light in the darkness

“Besides, it is all in the past.” The doctor only wanted to better perfect his drive, to make sure people were safe. People have interpreted his legacy terribly, but he had the best of intentions

“Why tell me all of this now? Why couldn’t you have told me what you wanted me to do?” The children have to find their own path towards the future

“Having been left with such a terrifying thing… what would you have done?” The question Giant Robo asks of all us

“The future we seek is always shining bright.”

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