10 Ladies Who Defined Mecha Excellence… 80s Edition (Part 1)

Hey you pilot that giant robot like a girl! Once considered a “man’s job”, like several other jobs, the occupation of being a mecha pilot has over the years shown that skill and finesse are not confined to one’s gender. “Anything you can do I can do better, I can do anything better than you, No you can’t… oh hell yes I CAN!”

Let us now pay tribute to a selection of ladies who are some of the best giant robot pilots EVER! And yeah, it’s an all 80s cast… as usual… you know me, no matter what year it is, to me it can still be 1987, or 1982, or 85, 89, 86… etc. etc. A small note, this will be a listing of pilots I know from shows I have seen. This means in the future I can create additional entries once I become aware of even more talented pilots. For this round I pick…


Marvel Frozen
Aura Battler Dunbine

ME_Marvel

Ginger haired and cool tempered, Marvel would join Neal Givens resistance group against the tyrannical Drake Luft quickly after her arrival into Byston Well from her native Texas. Beginning with the Dana-O’Shea/Danny O’Shea she would eventually pilot the prestigious Dunbine herself in the closing chapters of Aura Battler Dunbine.


Milia Fallyna Jenius/Miriya Parina Sterling
Super Dimension Fortress Macross/Robotech

ME_Milia

Claiming to be the best pilot of all the Zentraedi, or Meltrandi depending on which version of the story you are watching, Milia/Miriya backs up her bravado with ultimate skill. In a twist of fate there exists a member of Earth’s forces who not only bested her on the battlefield, but also her heart as well. Can love conquer all? It does in Macross!


Remy Shimada
GoShogun

ME_Remy

Pilot of the Queen Rose, Remy is the balancing counterpart between her two male GoShogun teammates. As a former spy who also has had her share of heartbreak with love, Remy is a survivor of a multitude of past tragedies. Admired by all the boys for her charm and beauty, she shows she is more than this by being the head pilot of the combined TriThree mech.


Fyana (Proto-One)
Armored Trooper Votoms

ME_Fyana

Produced to be the perfect soldier, a cold blooded killer, Fyana is the complete opposite in many ways. Once laying eyes on protagonist Chirico Cuvie she would both fall in love and preserve her humanity and common sense in the process. As an AT pilot, she is a near equal to Chirico and is highly sought after by many renegade commanders.


Patty Ellington/Ginger
Armored Fleet Diarugger XV/Voltron

ME_Patty

Piloting the sleek red jet like mech, the Falcon VT Fighter, that sits on Dairugger’s/Voltron’s chest, Patty/Ginger is valuable member of the Aki/Air Team.


Pai Thunder
Dangaioh

ME_Pai

The short tempered loose cannon member of Dangaioh, Pai is blessed with super strength as well precise piloting skills. She is the last of the member of the Dangaioh quartet to join up, but by her personality she is often the first one to speak her opinion. Just don’t make her mad!


Noa Izumi
Mobile Police Patlabor

ME_Noa

The ultimate story of a mecha otaku who made their dreams come true. Noa earned her place on the Tokyo Police Department being granted the pleasure of piloting the state of the art AV-98 Ingram for Special Vehicles Section 2. A sentimental girl, she nicknamed her Ingram after her beloved dog, Alphonse.


Noriko Takaya
Aim for the Top! Gunbuster

ME_Noriko

Ever the admirer of her heroic father, Noriko too wants to be a part of . She is very much a novice in every regard when it comes to being a pilot and she often looks up to her senpai, Kazumi Amano, as a guiding light. Though she may be not very skilled and green in many ways, there exists a coach who can see the latent potential waiting to be developed in her.


Princess Fala/Princess Allura
Beast King GoLion/Voltron

ME_Fala

The princess of the kingdom not only gets to live happily ever after, but she also gets to pilot a giant blue lion robot as well. Stepping in to replace a fallen comrade, Fala/Allura showed that her compassion and grace was also backed by bravery as she fulfills her royal duties by being an example of a member of royalty who will defend her kingdom with her life.


Jeanne Fránçaix/Dana Sterling
Super Dimension Calvary Southern Cross/Robotech

ME_Jeanne

Proving to be more than just a ditzy teenager, Jeanne/Dana, who loves fashion and has a care free attitude, shows much skill and prowess as the leader of the 15th Tactical Armored Corps aboard her ATAC. A genius in the heat of battle, she has earned much respect from her male comrades, as well as jealousy from female rivals… she who buys the dress first, WINS!

DressIWin

to be continued…

#185 : Aura Battler Dunbine

“Fortunate are those who remember the tales of Byston Well… ,” to quote the text that began many of the opening episodes for the 1983 mecha series Aura Battler Dunbine. Most fortunate are those that learn the lessons from the hardship of war, the downfall of power for selfish gain and the balancing act of dealing with emotional turbulence. Based on an adaptation of a concept from Gundam director Yoshiyuki Tomino that has been reinterpreted several times (Garzey’s Wing, Wings of Rean), Aura Battler Dunbine is a show that one never forgets.

ABD_1Often times I end up in tears when watching certain anime. I often expect this from really great work that brings you into the story. This can either be from something very sentimental between characters, or more often, the death of someone dear to the cast and plot of the show. During the last two episodes of Dunbine, I cried… very hard. The brutality of the war and watching one by one heroes and even sometimes antagonists go down was as painful as many of the largest loses of my life. Dunbine may be Tomino’s most brutal series in terms of his “Kill ’em all” trademark? I would say even more so than the likes of Ideon and Zeta Gundam, two series I truly love. Yet Dunbine is not all dark and gloom, there is a lot of light and at times comedy, but it’s the finale that often defines how a series feels for me in the end.

ABD_2The medieval European influence of Byston Well’s environment was a different take on the usual far future, outer space and/or alien invasion themes so prevalent to traditional mecha anime. Mixed with a form of fantasy laden technology and pagan mythological wonder, Dunbine would include insect like mecha designs (Aura Battlers), psychic powers and even fairy like characters that have a number of translated variations in English. This is a world where individuals like you and me are transported via the Aura Road to Byston Well from Upper Earth to play out in a struggle between power hungry despots, moral crusaders and nature priestesses that control the balance of Byston Well in their hands. A hopeful motorcycle enthusiast, Sho/Show Zama, is one of these select few who lands in Byston Well and learns quickly of the power games and ambitions of one local lord Drake Luft. Sho/Show eventually defects with his acquired Dunbine (his Aura Battler) to the opposing side and eventually earns the trust, as well as admiration of another Upper Earth exile, Miss Marvel Frozen, one of the best female mech pilots of all time. And to top things off Sho/Show acquires a sidekick (maybe cheerleader is a better term?), one of the Ferario (the fairies I mentioned earlier), Cham Huau, one of my favorite characters from Dunbine.

ABD_3Byston Well and the concepts of aura power could relate heavily to our subconscious, both individual and collective. Byston Well was noted for being a place between sea and shore, a land where our souls come to rest after death, or perhaps even before birth. A world of dreams that in one aspect is outside our human existence, yet also running concurrently with it. The use of aura power reminds me of Ideon’s Ide power and Gundam’s newtype abilities. These are latent powers that are within us, where a select few learn to channel them, or awaken to them, like a Gundam newtype. Or perhaps it is the collective energies of our emotions, either peaceful, or destructive that shapes how we correspond with the universe much like Ideon’s Ide. Aura power also makes me think of the concepts: ‘thoughts create things’ and ‘the words we speak create our reality and actions’. Out of the subconscious comes forth our conscious reality.

ABD_4Currently I have watched Dunbine in total twice and I will say like many of Tominos’s shows, it is best to have multiple viewings to gain as much perspective as possible. Tomino can tell a good story, but he does not always give the information in an expected manner. Lastly I can’t dismiss the character designs of Tomonori Kogawa as perhaps my favorite from his vast resume (Ideon, Southern Cross, Cool Cool Bye, Xabungle as examples). As part of a unique trilogy of mecha series created by Sunrise in 1983, including Armored Trooper Votoms and Galactic Drifter Vifam, Aura Battler Dunbine is mecha anime at it’s best featuring a world of fantasy with reality, joy with hardship and spiritual power with technology.

… and let’s not forget Dunbine has some of the most bizarre names ever to be featured in anime. How would you feel to be named Shot Weapon?