「赤い衝撃」 (Akai Shougeki)
Having only really played through some of the Classic and Alpha SRW games, I had to do a fair bit of research into the Original Generations timeline to get a good grasp of what’s going on in this adaptation. It served as a good refresher to fully appreciate the story, which new viewers diving into this sequel will likely be overwhelmed by to start. Still, this is the best-looking SRW anime adaptation to date, so fans of mecha in general should find enjoyment from this one. The most confusing thing to new viewers will be the nearly six-minute long opening fight between what looks like a deranged version of one of the main protagonists on the ATX Team, Kyousuke Nanbu (Morikawa Toshiyuki). Despite how much that appears to be a cold open to the series, it’s actually a fight in an alternate universe from the one that this series takes place in. It’s often referred to as the Shadow-Mirror universe due to the existence of a military faction with that name, which Axel Almar (Canna Nobutoshi) who’s seen lingering around to fight Kyousuke is a member of. This particular scene is meant to depict the rivalry between Axel and Kyousuke, a.k.a. “Beowulf”, and serves as a prologue to the Original Generation 2 Game Boy Advance game. At the end of the fight, Axel jumps dimensions into the Original Generation universe, where the rest of the story is set to take place.
Seen throughout the various SRW games going all the way back to the classic timeline (i.e. SRW 2-4, EX, F, F Final), the concept of time travel and leaping dimensions isn’t anything new. Those who are somewhat familiar with the games will already have a good idea of what happened in the opening scene, whereas those jumping into the SRW franchise for the very first time will probably be scratching their heads. Now as to whether or not that takes away from your enjoyment of the series is going to vary from person to person. For those unfamiliar with the games, it’s worth noting that each one from Super Robot Wars 4 onwards started featuring Banpresto original characters that you pick to be your main protagonist. The storyline these characters take vary depending on whether you choose them as your main character, since the one(s) you didn’t would often show up as a rival. In the Original Generation timeline that this series takes place in, Banpresto has given each of those characters a canonical story to follow, so one of the coolest aspects is seeing some of the would-be protagonists as antagonists in the series (or at least starting out as such). Axel is one prime example of that, since he was the male lead in Super Robot Wars Advance, whereas Lamia Loveless (Shimizu Kaori) was the female one, who’s seen working in mysterious ways with the arrival of her Angelg super robot at the end of the episode.
In terms of scope, Banpresto has A LOT of characters they’ve created over the course of their long-running franchise of games, so having a good chunk of them here in some form is both a treat and a bit overwhelming. This means that almost all the characters who have been shown to have some importance without any formal introduction will indeed have one, plus there’s a whole slew of others that have yet to be seen. The SRX Team consisting of Ryuusei Date (Miki Shinichirou), Raidiese F. Branstein (Okiayu Ryoutarou), Kobayashi Aya (Touma Yumi), and Kobayashi Mai (Orikasa Ai) who are seen with the huge super robot in the opening have yet to make their appearances, though Ryuusei is seen getting killed by Kyousuke in the Shadow-Mirror universe for unsaid reasons. That’s on top of Kyousuke, Excellen Browning (Mizutani Yuuko), and Brooklyn “Bullet” Luckfield (Sugita Tomokazu) from the ATX Team seen kicking ass here. However, the real thing that will throw new viewers in for a whirl are the names of the various mechs, better known as Personal Troopers (PT) in the case of the real robots (i.e. the ones that look like mobile suits). The vast majority of them have names that stem from German, as is the case with Kyousuke’s Alt Eisen, Excellen’s Weiss Ritter, and Bullet’s
Huckebein Mk II Wildschwein M.
Becoming fully-versed in the world of SRW won’t happen overnight, but that shouldn’t discourage anyone who’s interested in mecha anime to check this one out. After all, this is the culmination of nearly two decades of games that brought together the series like Mazinger Z, Getter Robo, Dancougar, Combattler V, Raideen, L-Gaim, Gundam, and Macross, and was inspired by the best that they all have to offer. If you’re completely new to SRW, it’s probably best to simply focus on the story that’s progressing for the time being, where the Earth Federation has reformed under their new leader Brian Midcrid (Hayami Shou). It’s six months after Earth forces drove off the the alien invasion by the Ze Balmary Empire — better known as the “Aerogaters” — whom they tried to negotiate with afterward. However, the anti-government organization Divine Crusaders (DC) led by Bian Zoldark destroyed the Aerogaters delegation, as part of their radical ways of strengthening Earth’s defenses against aliens. Now, the remnants of the DC are still proving to be a thorn in the side of the Earth Federation, who has made the existence of alien threats known to the world in an attempt to further unify and strengthen their global defenses. From this point on, expect a lot of new individuals to get intertwined in the struggle, plus a lot of betrayals, cloning, and brainwashing. SRW always loved to play with the latter two plot devices since they’re homage to the Gundam series. Oh yeah, there are a lot of very attractive girls among Banpresto’s original characters, many of which don’t even wear airtight pilot suits. Because you know, we want to see sexy pilots showing skin even when they’re piloting mechs. See the ending sequence for the full treatment.
Visually, Asahi Production’s work here already looks a lot better than Pokemon animation specialists Oriental Light and Magic’s (OLM) work in the prequel Divine Wars. The opening and ending themes are befittingly performed by JAM Project and Misato Aki whom they often collaborate with, as they’re the ones who performed all the songs in the games. Some of the coolest music is actually heard in the show itself, since they use the characters’ themes in various cases. The two GBA games, Super Robot Wars OG1 and OG2, actually made their way to North American shores in 2006 (published by Atlus), but the real treat to SRW fans was the remaking of the two games on PlayStation 2 under the title Super Robot Wars OG Original Generations in 2007 to commemorate the series’ 15-year anniversary. If you’ve never seen the super-deformed turn-based strategy game in action and are considering getting into this series now, check out the almost 11-minute long promotional video for the PS2 remake below. Also included is the video game version of the opening scene between Axel’s Soulgain and “Beowulf’s” Gespenst MK III (which looks identical to the Alt Eisen but is blue to begin with). Watching these videos makes me want to go back and play some of the titles I didn’t, particularly the most recent Super Robot Wars Z released last year.