In the seventies, robots were huge. In the intervening years, boobs have become bigger and bigger. It’s not as if Godannar is the first series to combine the seventies mecha aesthetic with the skimpy clothing and outsize proportions of the modern age, but it’s a particularly … exemplary … example of the form.
Godannar is a series that it’s very easy to be in two minds about, in that it combines something that I love (organisational intrigue and conspiracy) with something that I am suspicious of at best (endless objectification of teenaged girls who make bad decisions). It’s a strange series, and I hope it goes somewhere. Like Princess Tutu, it is two thirteen episode series disguised as a single 26 episode series.
In the future, the world is recovering from the attack of the mimetic beasts. For reasons unexplored in this first series, sixteen year old school girl Aoi Anna marries twenty-nine year old robot pilot Saruwatari Goh. Their union falls coincidentally on the same day that the beasts make their return after a five year absence.
Due to amazing circumstance, Anna ends up piloting the Neo Okusauer and becomes a robot pilot, too – eventually combining her model with Goh’s Dannar to form the heartbreaker, Goddanar.
It’s hard to ignore the sheer boob content of Godannar, and this is of course deliberate. The fan service is overdone from the beginning, with Anna almost immediately bathing with her mother, who is both the leader of the Japan branch of the beast fighters and a woman who keeps her phone in her ample cleavage.
All of the men get practical uniforms that expose no skin. All of the women have their bodies shoved into impossible suits that show as much tits, ass and leg as they can get away with. Camel toe is also a popular option, with one particular angle seeming pornographic to my eyes. Despite the distinctly unequal clothing and the inconsistency of Anna’s cup size, the show is generally aesthetically pleasing, meeting both the requirements of seventies nostalgia and early 2000s gloss. The music is pure giant robot and one could not ask for more than that. Eventually the events of the show almost allow the fan service to take a back seat, but this is physically impossible – the boobs are always there, a ghostly pall cast over robotic intrigue.
The relationship between Anna and Goh is anaemic. In the first thirteen episodes, we’re not really given a reason for them to be together. Anna herself seems far too immature to be in a bonded relationship, and it’s clear that there’s no sexual element to proceedings despite all of the bouncing going on.
Anna is one of those annoying characters who pratfalls her way into being seen naked, then gets angry at the unwitting voyeur. If one is going to lash out at one’s husband if he sees one naked … Perhaps one should have reconsidered marriage.
The relationship is spiced by mystery and intrigue from a third party, which is the only thing that makes the marriage work in any capacity. The loosely applied “love triangle” is of a kind that I can’t recall having seen in the past – but I’m rooting against the pairing that the writers want to be correct.
I’m prepared to be pleasantly surprised.
A worse relationship than the central one, however, is the endlessly creepy one between the brother and sister team of Knight and Ellis. Knight is a womaniser so that he can sublimate his blatant sexual feelings for his younger sister. This is presented as both obvious and in no way controversial. Knight’s attraction to his sister is unhealthy and he is visibly pained by this, but no one seems to notice or care. They’re just like “Yep, well, he’s a tireless womaniser, let’s just ignore his longing glances at his scantily clad sister.”
These are guest characters, at least in this half, but they’re not exactly welcome.
Other support acts include the team of the freshly orphaned loli* Lou and the vengeful Ken – who pilots a robot with two earrings and a cape, and only becomes important towards the end. The seeds for second half drama have sown here and they show the most promise of them all. It’s all rather standard, but this is definitely an instance where standard works. If you have to have a father/daughter working for justice from the wrong angle, that’s okay: it’s better than a man marrying a high school girl and wondering why their relationship isn’t perfect.
The only other real character misstep is killing one of them off and pretending that she mattered at all to the audience. Her primary role had been as a g-string delivery service and a cold professional. If she had been given anything approaching meaningful screen time, I could have brought myself to share in the characters’ grief. Maybe this death will pay off in the latter half, but it’s really difficult to call that. Not every character can be created equal, true, but writers should consider the impact that they want their characters to have and write them accordingly. Insignificant members of the mechanical crew have more depth and sparkle than this one.
Outside of the mixed quality characters, the actual story is fairly strong. There are some benefits of being a 26 episode series split into thirteen episode halves: six episodes is halfway into the series, so stakes are already raised. Time is not wasted. We are rewarded with a dramatic and exciting midway conclusion, giving the proceedings a definite sense of structure – and at the end of it all you get a preview for part two that encapsulates all of the exciting things yet to come.
There is a legitimate sense of intrigue present from the end of the first episode because there are, of course, back room shenanigans – giant robots practically invite them, particularly in the wake if Evangelion – and there’s all sorts of little hints dropped here and there. It would be nice if the characters could be used more to facilitate the story rather than obstruct and hinder it, but there’s enough here to make me want to watch the second half (not that ignoring it is an option).
There are many mysteries yet to be solved in the second series of Godannar, given that the first saw fit not to tell us anything much, and I look forward to discovering the truth.
*A term mercifully not en vogue in the seventies mecha boom, for certain.