「迷い猫、乗った」 (Mayoi Neko, Notta)
“Stray Cat, Rode In”
Unlike Ichiban Ushiro no Daimaou this week, Mayoi Neko makes it clear they’re straying from the norm with a Grand Braver super robot episode. If the gigantic robots weren’t indicative enough, then the screams of “Gattai!” should help stress that notion. While this was undoubtedly more random than the previous episode with the Stray Cats Association’s promotional video, I enjoyed it to death simply because it was an impeccable portrayal of a lot of super robot stereotypes. This of course includes your gigantic combining robots, your trademark professor and sidekick in their little support aircraft, alien invaders looking to take over the Earth, and the enemy character turned unsuspecting ally whose alien robot somehow combines with our heroes’. It was clearly intended as a comedic take on the super robot genre, but the fact that they did it in a fairly serious tone made it so cool. There was actually no joking around within the Grand Braver episode itself, so it was actually pretty cool when the Grand Fusion combination was upgraded to the Great Grand Fusion.
At the same time, it was pretty awesome to hear the “GO! Grand Braver” theme song bust out at that point. This may be a parody episode, but AIC really spared no expense in terms of animation quality and the new opening and ending sequences (shounen-like karaoke and all). To top it off, they also got JAM Project’s Fukuyama Yoshiki singing the opening song, who’s well-known for all his Nekki Basara performances in Macross 7 and is no stranger to singing super robot theme songs. In short, this was a super robot parody done right and was actually so good and quirky that I wanted to see the next episode following the defeat of the Machine Duke (Utsumi Kenji) and the appearance of the Machine Emperor. If you’re a fan of the older super robot series such as Getter Robo, Gaiking, Reideen, Combattler V, Voltes V, Dancouga, or GaoGaiGar, then you should immediately feel at home here. Seeing as it brought out all the nuances that the super robot mecha genre has established over the years, I found it all pretty nostalgic too.
Studio aside, seiyuus never fail to impress me with the way they can instantly switch into a completely different role and make their performances totally believable, much like they did here. They even had the guys doubling up as both the robot protagonists and the ultimate enemies at the end. As the enemy character hesitantly turned ally, Tamura Yukari’s performance as Hazuki turned out to be the one I enjoyed the most. In addition to being the source of the extra character development that gave the whole parody a plot to work around, she ended up being the one to turn the tides by bringing her Big Battler around with sheer willpower alone. So yeah, not only did this delivery in the mecha fan-service department, but it also featured a faithful mecha story to boot. Great stuff. Overall, this episode was loads of fun to watch, primarily because it was a parody yet did everything so damn well. As a fan of older super robot series, I really loved this episode even though it had nothing to do with the actual story in the series.