If there’s one thing that can compete with knights for my undying love, it’s GIANT ROBOTS. So welcome, peeps! Time for my penultimate “How was I born?” episode! On today’s menu is Giant Robo: The Day the Earth Stood Still.
So what’s going on here? Giant Robo is an anime miniseries, airing originally from 1992 to 1998, comprising six episodes that tell a single story. The plot? It goes something like this.
Kusama Daisaku is a preteen kid. His father created the WORLD’S MOST POWERFUL ROBOT… the eponymous JAIANTO ROBO. Now, Daisaku teams up with an international police organisation, the Experts of Justice, who battle the nefarious BF Group, who are bent on world domination!
Our heroes, the Experts of Justice, are comprised of Chinese magicians, superheroes, blue Amazon ladies who turn into horses, immortal private investigators, and the aforementioned JAIANTO ROBO who can only be controlled by Daisaku. Their opponents, the BF Group, are made up of sorcerers, ninjas, and an assload of gigantic robots that shoot lazers and throw rocket punches. Also, they create a floating Death Star that will destroy everything, unless the Experts of Justice, with Daisaku, can stop it!
Throw in, for good measure, teleporting Chinese chicks, mad scientists, nuclear accident analogies, and a dude who will DESTROY THE DEATH STAR WITH A SINGLE PUNCH. (And Alberto. There’s a guy called Alberto. He’s the best.) And this is neither a comedy nor a parody. It’s all played straight.
Soo… yeah. You think I’m pulling this out of my ass? Nope.
Apparently some Japanese guy was a prolific manga artist, and he wrote a lot of comics. Some were about giant robots, some were about Chinese heroes. Some were about something else.
Then another guy comes in and decides, “Yo, this guy is great! I’m making an anime that combines everything he ever did!”
That’s Giant Robo: The Day the Earth Stood Still. Seriously, it has everything. It has wildly mis-matched everything. There’s retro-futuristic robots and lazers rubbing shoulders with medieval Chinese boys whose drums cause soundwaves powerful enough to destroy ninjas. And they all just coexist like it’s cool.
Ya know, I was kinda taught to believe that fiction should be consistent. Like, when you do world-building, you should make sure the pieces fit together. And I’m kinda awed at how Giant Robo blows that clear out of the water. For me, that’s big.
Like, there are rules… and then you can disregard the rules if you know what you’re doing. (And you’ve got eggs of steel.)
Those are the rules we’re taught. There are more insidious rules too, rules that we’ve internalised and so don’t even realise they’re there. They’re rules that whisper into our ears. They tell us to be “proper”. They say, “That’s not what real writers should do.” Or, “That’s childish and stupid.” Or, “That’s okay, I guess, but you should tone it down a bit.”
Giant Robo sorta blows those rules out too, with their insidious whispers. Giant Robo does what it wants, because it’s honest to its wants and it doesn’t give a damn.
There’s something that the wonderful and all-wise Vilja-Tuulia Huotarinen wrote once that’s stuck with me forever. I paraphrase, but it was something like, we’ve all got our own poetics in us. Our own language in which we write. And shame be damned, that language is ours, no matter how gross, fantastic, outlandish, weird, shy, rude, or disgusting it might be. It is our language. It is what we write in.
Giant Robo, its giant robots and ninjas, is what happens when that language is interpreted to its fullest. It’s not “immature” nor is it “over-the-top”.
It is its own truth.