A classic only in the sense that it perfectly follows all the commandments of the giant robot genre. Yep, it's another huge mecha protecting the world from evil aliens and their disposable battle fleets. It's neither laughably bad or good enough to treasure, leaving a largely forgettable experience.
According to the Anime Encyclopedia this show is constructed from bits and pieces of two series, Skrungle and Goshogun, mercilessly hacked together. Another web site also mentions that the battles are made less interesting by the fact that most of the expected sound-effects have vanished.
A young boy named Nathan is having a pretty bad day. His mother died a year ago and his scientific genius father has just given his life to save his secrets falling into the hands of a powerful and devious alien invasion force. Furthermore they're about to kill Nathan himself when he is rescued by a mysterious man. This man is a scientist who was working on the same project and promised Nathan's father he would look after him should anything happen, which it clearly is. And the project was none other than constructing Earths only defence against the invaders.
From one hidden research base emerges one mobile base with the powerful ability to teleport, and thus evade the powerful enemy forces. And from the mobile base emerges a giant robot, of the combining variety, powerful enough to meet the enemy on the field of battle and emerge victorious. Can the team and their powerful mecha stand up to the devious plans and seemingly endless fleets of the aliens? And what role will Nathan play in this battle he is now a part of?
More importantly, who cares? This is such a typical giant robot anime it makes my eyes water. Sure, if this were the originator of the genre I'd be a lot more forgiving, but as far as I know this one is just following the formula. Indeed it is almost impressive how closely it follows the classical model for such things.
To be more specific the good guys include the young kid with his tutor, guardian and comedy relief robot. The somber and deep voiced scientist is the coldly efficient leader. Although he doesn't get much help from the three pilots, one cool male, one heroic male and a fiery but compassionate female who seem to be so excitable that following orders is a bit of a challenge. There's also an AI, but that's mostly to explain why a huge battle base has no other crew than this sad assembly.
Then again the aliens have their own problems. Their immense alien war fleets appear to have been constructed by the lower bidder, seemingly being little more than target practice for the enemy. Their shadowy leader, whose trying to do the evil overlord bit, also has to cope with his rather exotic crew. There's one pirate looking guy (complete with Irish accent), one girly bishounen type (complete with rose), a thug and a mad scientist. It must be awfully difficult to get good help if this is the best he can do. Oh yeah, and the rest of the fleet seems to be entirely robotic.
And then there's the robot. It begins as three individual fighter planes. These can join, in a quite unbelievable fashion, to form a mecha. They can also dock with a larger mecha and pilot that. The `three levels' of power seems to be almost obligatory. Needless to say you'll also get to see the docking process more than once. The robot spends a lot of time punching jet fighters out of the sky, but can also eject seemingly limitless weapons from which ever part of the body seems convenient.
I'm being a bit harsh here. It's not that bad, it's just that it is much easier to make fun of it than to look for the `good' bits. The action that was meant to be the bulk of the show is quite repetitive and really of interest only to giant mecha fans. The characters are fairly shallow and the stories allow only a small amount of character work in any case. It simply doesn't have enough positives to make up for the formulaic feel and the fact that it has dated over time.
The animation is quite watchable but not particularly impressive. Low frame counts, dodgy technical design and lots of cost-cutting. Repeated moves, endless explosion sequences and fleet vaporizing mega-weapons keep it from being too exciting. It's not too smooth either and most seriously the mecha simply doesn't look that cool. The characters look alright and some of the environments are moderately interesting. Sadly the adaption has tried to jazz it up by adding some pop music, even to the extent of linking it into the script. While "Beat it" and "Axel F" were popular songs of the time they're pretty poor choices for background music as well as feeling really dated now. The voices are actually quite decent, giving more character than the script would suggest.
Finally a massive `brick to the head' award to the video editors. Either desperate to spice up the series or seriously over impressed by the new toys of the time there's all sorts of fancy `video wipes'. These are sprinkled throughout the show with gay abandon, including during the middle of combat sequences, and are incredibly tacky and irritating. I hope the person who did them is really embarrassed about it now.
None of my regular sources have a review for this title. Wow, how can they bear to have missed such a momentous anime experience.