Hi, Kaushik here again. This week I’m going to address one of my great passions, which may not have come across if you’ve read my articles. I’m a huge mecha fan. This may be a bit surprising because I almost never write about it (barring some small stuff on Super Robot Wars), but yeah. I’m really into it. I love watching mecha anime and playing the SRW (Super Robot Wars) games, which I would recommend to any fan of the genre. So here today I’m going to do my very own top ten list, of my favorite mecha. I’ll be ranking them based on my personal impressions, how cool I find their attacks, their pilots, and their designs. So without further ado, let’s start with #10!
#10 YF-29 Durandal
Series: Macross Frontier Sayonara no Tsubasa
Pilot: Saotome Alto
Okay, so this guy is a little unit from the Macross series, particularly Macross Frontier. Piloted by Saotome Alto. It had its debut appearance in the second Macross Frontier movie, Sayonara no Tsubasa. As is the gimmick with Macross machines, the Durandal can morph into 3 modes. Fighter, Gerwalk, and Battroid. The fighter is just a plane (though an awesome one!), whereas the Gerwalk is some awkward halfway transition between robot and plane… It’s pretty much a plane with legs. Honestly, I’m not entirely sure what purpose it serves besides a functional intermediary transformation. It looks ugly as all hell. The last form is the Battroid mode, which is essentially a robot. Usually comes equipped with some form of rifle and beam guns. The color scheme is very nice and makes for a great design; as all mecha fans know red is the color of speed! What’s special about the Durandal compared to other units in the Macross-verse are the fold-wave generators inside of it. This has some great impact on enemies in its own series, but what makes it stand out to me is the fact that the Durandal will create these very pretty lights as it flies around. Yes, I know, I’m easily amused. But there you have it! It looks really cool when doing it, too.
#9 Big O
Series: The Big O
Pilot: Roger Smith
The Big O. From the series, The Big O. What can I say? It’s a giant robot powered by what appears to be steam or something I dunno. It’s like the definitive steam punk giant robot, and it looks oh so cool. Of course, it helps that the machine is piloted by essentially Bruce Wayne. Instead of going out as Batman to fight crime, Roger Smith goes out in a giant fucking robot to fight crime. What’s not to hate? In terms of attacks, it shoots lasers from its head and chest. It has Gatling guns on its arms, it shoots anchors (I don’t get it either but who cares) and can generate electric fields from its bodies. Oh, and did I mention it has gigantic piston-powered punches? Piston-powered bunches! How much cooler can you get? As far as its actual design goes, it’s a clunky-looking beast. And damn, that’s exactly what it should look like. While it has some fantastical elements, the Big O is one of the more normal-looking and functioning mechs out there, which is cool. The all-black kind of cast iron look gives it that old-timey charm, for sure. Feels like the 1920s through and through. Definitely one of the cooler big machines out there.
#8 Shin Getter-1
Series: Shin Getter Robo
Pilot: Ryoma Nagare
From the famous series Getter Robo… Well the Shin Getter is from Shin Getter Robo. Piloted by Ryoma, Hayato, and Benkei. This guy oozes cool. In terms of actual design, maybe a little too much (though that’s more than made up by the pilots!) Now, as part of the Getter gimmick, this machine can transform into two other forms, Getter-2 (Hayato) and Getter-3 (Benkei). I’ll only touch on Getter-1 since it’s the coolest and best. Unlike a lot of the robots I have mentioned and will mention, this design is a lot more organic and less mechanical than others. There isn’t a problem with that, but to me it misses a little bit of that mecha charm as a result. Still, it’s a damn cool machine. Shin Getter-1 is supposed to be modeled after a sort of grim reaper, what with scythe and the wings. And who doesn’t like a little bit of grim reaping against mechanical monster hordes? Of course, what makes this a classic is just how cool Ryoma is at the helm of this machine. The leader of the Getter team, this guy is hotblooded like not many other pilots can be. He, his voice, and the Getter-1’s attacks all combine to make this a stellar mech. Can’t have a proper mecha game without some GETTER BEEEAAAAM or a good ol’ fashioned STONEEEER SUUUNSHIIIIIIIIINE, after all.
Series: Mazinkaiser OVA
Pilot: Kouji Kabuto
I’m sure all the mecha purists will hate me for preferring the Mazinkaiser to the Mazinger Z since it’s less of a classic. Likewise for the Shin Getter instead of the original Getter or even Getter Dragon. But hey, I like what I like. And I like the Mazinkaiser! Particularly with the Kaiser Scrander. Gotta have that flight capabilities. This guy, originally created for Super Robot Wars, got an anime debut in the OVA series Mazinkaiser. It’s essentially a super upgraded Mazinger Z. It’s got the old Rocket Punch (a good deal stronger now!), some eye lasers, some breast fire, some rust tornados. You know, the Mazinger Z staples. Of course, the Mazinkaiser is a little cooler because it can now fly (thanks to the Kaiser Scrander) and can use those wings as a sort of boomerang. No, I don’t get how it works, but it’s awesome. It also has a sword that is… Pulled out of its chest. Always cool. And finally, you’ve got the Kaiser Nova. Which is an explosion of light, and it wrecks things. Since the Mazinger is essentially powered by Photon Energy, this is a fitting “strongest attack”. In terms of design, it just oozes cool. It’s big, strong, tough, and is full of sharp points that look like it will wreck you in every which way. I’ll be honest, the first time I saw the Mazinger Z and Mazinkaiser, I thought it had a sombrero and naturally assumed it was a Mexican robot. While I’ve easily been disavowed of that notion, a little bit of that sticks with me today and just serves to make it cooler. Don’t ask why.
#6 Nu Gundam
Series: Mobile Suit Gundam Char’s Counterattack
Pilot: Amuro Ray
The first Gundam on the list (but not the last, of course)! Of course, Gundam is the most popular series insofar as mecha is concerned, and I’d be remiss in missing at least one of them from any top ten list. This guy is Amuro Ray’s suit used in the movie Char’s Counterattack, and it’s a damn good machine. I love the black and white and yellow color scheme it has. It looks unique compared to the standard red, white, and blue color scheme gundams usually have (for a decidedly Japanese show, Gundams are surprisingly American in color scheme) and I totally dig it. It’s pretty much built for Amuro to pilot and takes full advantage of his Newtype abilities via these weapons called Funnels, which are essentially remote gun turrets Amuro controls with his mind. They’ve since become a staple in Gundam, but Amuro always did it the best. Definitely a cool machine, but I would be lying if I didn’t say half of the reason it’s here is because of the dynamic kill animation it had in Super Robot Wars Z2. Too cool, really.
#5 Guren MkII
Series: Code Geass
Pilot: Kouzuki Kallen
Oh yeah, everyone loves to hate on Code Geass. R2 is a trainwreck, etc., etc. Now, plot aside, I love the Guren MkII and its affiliated follow-up designs. The final of which is the SEITEN or 8 elements something. It’s a long complicated name that makes little to no sense but it’s just damn cool. It has one of the coolest weapons I’ve ever seen on a mech, a radiation arm. Basically, the mech shoots an arm at you (connected via a wire) and the arm latches onto your face. It proceeds to dump some crazy radiation on your machine, deforming and eventually just blowing it up. It’s beyond cool and I’m glad they stuck with it as the weapon of choice as the Guren continued to be upgraded. Of course, sometimes the results of the upgrades bordered on the ridiculous, like the Guren being able to create and maintain discs of radiation to throw at the opponent. But anyway, back to the machine. Now the KMFs from Geass are absolutely tiny by mecha standards. It’s actually kind of cute how small they are. I love this machine’s red design, with the motorcycle seat cockpit. Definitely very cool. One other notable thing is that this machine has a female pilot, who, despite being somewhat objectified by the fact that she’s a woman in Code Geass, is actually just one really awesome pilot regardless of sex. You don’t see that enough in mecha. Usually female pilots are female pilots. rather than just pilots. So I another point in the Guren’s favor!
Series: Super Robot Wars Original Generation
Pilot: Ingram Pliskin
This is probably the most generic and weak unit of the list. Also, the pilot of this suit kind of varies since it made its debut in a video game where you could stick pretty much anyone in the unit. This guy more or less gets by on design principles alone. It looks so cool. I love the grayish blue color scheme, and as the forerunner to the Huckebein series, it has that slight Gundam look that is great in small doses. In SRW Original Generation, units are given weapons to equip, so in that respect the Wildschwein doesn’t have much by way of special weapons, except one, and it’s awesome. It’s the Disc Slicer. Basically, the disc on its arm gets all laser-y and slices things up. Other than that it doesn’t have much uniqueness by way of weapon, but the Disc Slicer is definitely a cool weapon on its own. There’s not much else to say about this unit since it doesn’t really have as storied a history as some of the other units I’m covering, but the fact that it reached #4 just shows you how cool I think it is.
Series: Super Robot Wars Alpha 3
Pilot: Kanou Touma
My second and last SRW mech, the DaiRaiOh. This thing is a beast and radiates cool. Touma is a fantastic hot blooded pilot and really brings out the potential of this machine. What makes the DaiRaiOh a little special in the attacks department is the fact that it focuses mainly on kicks and leg attacks as a main method of offense. So most of its attacks (barring one, as I recall) utilize its legs to inflict some major devastation on the enemy. Definitely unique and a very cool way to attack the enemy. Besides that, this thing has a kick ass design. It’s black and gold, has one eye covered (unless you do the Jinrai!) and even gets a bad ass scarf. Too cool, seriously. This guy made his debut in SRW Alpha 3, and considering the size and scope of that game, the DaiRaiOh is an absolute monster to manage to keep up there. You’ve got crazy land battles, crazy underground battles, crazy deep space battles… The list just keeps going. When your partners are the likes of Ideon and the SRX, you know you’re messing with the big boys.
Pilot: Takaya Noriko & Amano Kazumi
One of my favorite units of all time, the Gunbuster. This thing is a massive beast of a machine, at about 250 feet tall. It has some crazy cool attacks, some grounded in science and plausibility, and some grounded in awesome and kick ass. I generally favor the latter. Like the Guren MkII before it, this is also piloted by a female. And again, more than a “female pilot”, Noriko is really just another pilot. A great hot blooded awesome pilot. The Gunbuster has a cool design, with a solid color scheme. It looks simultaneously really mechanical yet still kind of human. Considering the standard pose of the machine (like in the picture), I always get the feeling that it looks upon its enemies with condescension. And really, wouldn’t you, if you were the Gunbuster? Sometimes I imagine the Gunbuster saying “I pity the fool” to its enemies. It’s totally out of character and the machine doesn’t even talk, but that’s just the impression I get from it. Anyway, I’d hate to miss out one of the coolest part of the Gunbuster. The Super Inazuma Kick, its greatest attack and one of the greatest attacks in mecha history, in my opinion. This thing is referenced all over the place and as a machine, the Gunbuster is legend.
#1 Destiny Gundam
Series: Gundam SEED Destiny
Pilot: Shinn Asuka
Oh man will I get flak for this one. I’m sure most people that watch any amount of mecha anime absolutely loathe Gundam SEED Destiny. And, in my defense, I thought it was a fairly poor series in terms of character development, plot choices, and animation. Still, I have always praised the mecha design in Gundam SEED Destiny, and will continue to do so. The Destiny Gundam is my favorite mech ever, and while there are certain problems with it (more or less stemming from the ultra-lame pilot) it is such a cool machine. I’ve always been a sucker for the whole Wings of Light nonsense found on so many machines nowadays. I mentioned it a bit for the Durandal, but it’s also on such units as the Turn A Gundam and the V2 AB Gundam. Despite all that, the Destiny is my favorite iteration of that kind of system. This thing, like most Gundams, is kind of armed to the teeth. As always, it has the CIWS (close-in weapon system) in the head, which are just weak gatling guns. It also has the standard beam rifle, but it is notably missing a beam saber. Instead, it uses a badass giant sword called the Arondight, which is essentially an anti-ship sword. First cool point.
Besides that, it has a long-range high-power cannon and is generally outfitted with a beam rifle for range purposes. It has some beam boomerangs which are a bit of an oddball weapon, but still kind of cool. Lastly, and possibly my favorite, are the beam cannons in the palms of the machine. They’re not used very often but they’re ultra cool when utilized and just a bit of a unique weapon for the Destiny.I will say that as far as Gundams go, the color scheme is a little bland and same-y. Not that that’s bad as much as it’s not unique. It’s just that standard red white and blue. But damn, I can’t get enough of those wings. It uses a Voiture Lumiere propulsion system, which essentially means some wings of light come out the back and make it go zoom zoom super fast. I just love me some Destiny Gundam, even if the show is ass and the pilot is lame.
Honorable Mentions: I’m sure there are too many to name, but I’d like to throw out the Sol Gravion, the Aquarion, the Daitarn 3, the type theEND, the Alteisen and Weissritter, the Hyperlion, the Disastranagant, and just way too many other units to name. If you can name it, I probably think it’s at least kind of a little bit cool.
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