Forget any thoughts of subtlety, delicate characterisation or stories charting the mysteries of the soul...this is archaic giant robot anime that has no truck with any such thing. An anime where men are men, robots are always greater than 40 meters tall and there's a continuous stream of alien invaders needing a good beating. Somewhat hard to review though.
Um....no idea what so ever, here's my best guess though.
Apparently the world is under attack by alien hordes with impressively bad taste and fashion sense. Well equipped with flying saucers, death rays and giant mechanical monsters nothing can stop them. Heck, even their inability to think or shoot straight doesn't seem to be enough to slow them down. An unsuspecting earth lies helpless at their feet.
Little do they expect the existence of brave and fearless defenders. One is a bona-fide alien himself, from a race who failed to defeat the invaders, and has fortunately brought along his own starship and giant mecha to help out. Backing him up are Earth's high tech defenders in their secret, but strangely obvious, base. Although the most help is from a young earth friend of his, a hero in training, who seems to have been lent a small flying saucer to help him on his way.
Why is the synopsis so vague? well, the most obvious reason is that the tape I got didn't have any story set up at all, getting straight into the mecha action. And given the rather exotic labelling on the tape I can't tell if this is intentional or I just got a tape from deep into the series. Then again it seems that this show was edited together with four other giant robot anime to make `Force Five' for the western market. Which means it is possible that the story got edited out all together.
Speaking of which I really must share the pain of the opening of this tape. I'm not sure whether it was intended to be just an advert for the other tapes in the series, or possibly some odd sort of introduction, but it was diabolical. Combining really shocking, ancient computer graphics, digital sounds and crappy edits into an assembly that would have even the strongest man begging for mercy. Low resolution, low color and low taste combine to make me glad that some things have improved a lot over time.
So once you stop getting 80's flash backs what is left? Well, for the most part the answer is really traditional giant mecha action. Perhaps it starts on pan-handle's cowboy ranch where normal life is preceding. However the aliens have a plan to take over the world which generally depends on a giant robotic monster. After a little bit of personal dramatics the leads get involved in the story, there's a bit of mecha wrestling or flying saucer dog fighting and then Grandizer (the mecha) saves the day. Although he has to work through all his attack moves, with signature names, before the aliens will admit defeat. It's pretty simplistic and almost naive by todays standards. The product of a time when the audience was more easily amused, and as such really difficult to review by todays standards.
However I think I can sort of see what the essence of these shows is. It is somewhat of an error to make fun of the show for having incredibly poor technical design, or dodgy action sequences, that's not the point. It really is an animated battle between toys. I don't want to attribute it to merchandising but more to the `fun' of being able to imagine and enact fantasy without the restraints of logic. Grandizer is like a big durable toy with all sorts of moving bits, special attacks and transforms. The aliens existing mostly so he can fight, fall and do his spiffy attacks. He's never permanently damaged, worried about ammo or the complete lack of logic behind his flying saucer form since these are all restrictions on the `fun'. Imagine the `logic' of a child playing with toy soldiers or a wrestling match and you have a model for where the `energy' of this sort of show comes from.
Even given this analysis, however, this one seems like a fairly simple example of the genre. As such, if you have no interest in anime history or the giant robot genre then this could be pretty hard to get excited about. Certainly most of the character, and humor, content is pretty basic. And of course the design and effects work is hardly competitive with more modern representatives of the genre.
The animation itself is interesting but, rather obviously, dated. The first thing worth noticing is that the creators like colors, lots of them and with the brightness turned right up. Some of the backgrounds are extremely loud and lurid, although this extends to all objects to some extent. It's also obvious that they are trying to push the complexity of the linework up, thus Grandizer is a complex object (albeit silly), characters have detailed features and there's lots of detail when aliens shred or explode. With this comes an inevitable trade off in the smoothness of motion and a dependence on repeated animation sequences. It ends up making the show feel even more `plastic' and artificial than anything else. The voices are decent but occasionally sound a touch embarrassed, what little music I recall was quite forgettable.
No reviews from my regular sources. I really wish there was a review site on the web by a true early anime / giant mecha fan. Might be getting a little bit specialized though.