「貫け、奴よりも速く」 (Uranuke, Yatsu yori mo Hayaku)
“Pierce, Faster Than Him”
It took twenty-six episodes, but we finally got to see the long-awaited Aussenseiter and Dygenguar “Tatsumaki Zankantou” combination attack where “real men ride one another”. It was the perfect follow-up to SRX’s Hyper Tronium Buster Cannon failing to kill something in one-shot like it’s known for, and brought about “Einst Beowulf” emerging from Stern Regisseur’s ashes. I honestly wasn’t sure what to make of that sudden revelation, other than how it provided Axel with the opportunity he was waiting for to finish the fight that started back in the Shadow-Mirror universe. From an anime standpoint, it also tied in the events of the first episode to bring the story full circle, while providing some more depth to Axel’s character by having him fight alongside the Kyousuke of this world.
What happened afterward was nothing short of orgasmic Super Robot Wars overload, with all the robots cranking out their strongest attacks one after another on the copies created by Beowulf, all to the theme of JAM Project’s Ryuusei Lovers. It was like I was watching one of those fan-made SRW MAD movies in anime form, and it was unbelievably awesome for that very reason. Ryouto took his Exbein Boxer and picked up Rio’s AM Gunner and Viletta’s Guarbein to fire the Full Impact Cannon, which I got a kick out of because Viletta slipped in a little bit of Ingram’s “Dead End” phrase before Ryouto shouted “Shoot”. We also got glimpses of Giganscudo Duro’s Giga Unghia, the Fairlions’ Royal Heart Breaker, Grungust’s Keitou Ragouken, Falken and Wurger’s Twin Bird Strike, Astelion AX’s Maneuver RaMVs, a very fan-service-filled version of Valsione’s Cross Smasher, Cybuster’s Cosmo Nova, Vysaga’s Koujinsen, and RyuKoOh’s Hazanken. To any SRW fan who’s familiar with the games, it was nothing but pure mecha ass-kicking action befitting of a finale.
As for the wrap up involving Axel and Kyousuke’s combined effort to stop Einst Beowulf from wiping out mankind and creating his evolved species using himself and Excellen, what really got me was Alfimi sacrificing herself to protect Kyousuke. I actually felt bad for the crazy blue-haired lolita after seeing how dejected she was from Beowulf telling her she’s imperfect as well. The rest is pretty much history with Kyousuke dealing the finishing blow on top of where Axel attacked with Soulgain’s Genbu Goudan. The only thing that kind of went unmentioned was whether Axel survived, which should be the case since Soulgain didn’t explode when Alt Eisen Riese flew in front of its wreckage. The PlayStation 2’s Original Generations version of the story comes into play on various aspects after all, including how Lee Linjun survived the entire series. I still found it odd how Lee was the first to help retrieve Alt and the other damaged units. That bastard. Trying to improve his image a bit at the very end.
Looking back, I’m actually quite happy with the way this adaptation turned out, including the changes at the very end to change things up for those familiar with the games. As someone who played a handful of games before with insufficient Japanese, this show clarified the bits and pieces of story that I did pick up about Banpresto’s original characters, and renewed my interest in the Original Generation games that I never played before. Whether I can get into them now is another matter, but a lot of my enjoyment while watching The Inspector came from being really familiar with a lot of the characters and only semi-familiar with others. It was basically a trip down memory lane that filled in a lot of the holes in my incomplete understanding of the story, so I actually found it somewhat educational as well (SRW-wise).
Speaking from experience, the nostalgia definitely goes a long way as far as entertainment value goes, as it can be pretty confusing if you’re coming in with little to no understanding of what Super Robot Wars even is. As such, I can’t really speak objectively about how good or bad this series is, given the various glossed over subplots that I caught but someone new to the series probably didn’t. Incidentally, that suggests to me that this production was catered towards them, which is typically not a good thing for an anime when it’s supposed to help promote the original source material it’s based on. I commend those who were able to just dive head first into this latest adaptation and find enjoyment making sense of it the best they can, especially those who didn’t watch the prequel Divine Wars. Even I find the enormous cast daunting at times, having difficulty remembering all the characters’ names, which is something I feel works against adapting SRW. Each set of characters has enough story to warrant their own 25-episode series, much like the Gundam characters who show up in the crossover strategy games, so multiply that by at least twenty and you have an extremely bloated story that can’t really be contained in a mere 26 episodes. The epilogue alone touched upon a lot of the things that simply weren’t covered.
Be that as it may, I consider this a good attempt by Asahi Production to piece together an extremely condensed version of Banpresto’s story without terribly trimming down the cast. Production-wise, it was far from the jaw-dropping visuals in Sunrise’s latest Gundam series, which was most apparent during the final stretch when the artwork was all over the place. However, I still feel the quality was a huge step up from Divine Wars and did justice to the long-running franchise. Fans of robot anime shouldn’t have too much difficulty getting into this series, but those considering a series to help get into them best stay away. I’d strongly recommend a Gundam or Macross series to get your feet wet first.