10 Ladies Who Defined Mecha Excellence… 80s Edition (Part 2)

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 second round I pick…


Sara Yuki
Dancougar

ME_Sara

The Cyber Beast team’s only female member and pilot of the Land Cougar. Haunted by the love for her ex who defected early on to the enemy, Sara is perhaps the most complex character in all of Dancougar. Also has some of the best 80s hair in my opinion!


Haruka Kaga/Lisa
Armored Fleet Diarugger XV/Voltron

ME_Haruka

Piloting one of the submarine like mechs, the Aquatic Space Explorations Prober, that is Dairugger’s/Voltron’s right thigh, Haruka/Lisa is a valuable member of the Keats/Sea Team.


Kazumi Amano
Aim For the Top! Gunbuster

ME_Kazumi

The idol of the academy and the most talented senior admired by everyone who looks to be the obvious shoo-in for the Gunbuster project. The coach thinks so as well and decides to pair her up with a novice freshman, which at first seems a little ironic.


Iczer-1 & Nagisa
Fight! Iczer-One

ME_Izcer1_Nagisa

Meet the renegade Cthulhu who has more interest in saving the Earth and it’s people instead of invasion and conquering and her partner, a fairly typical high school girl. Much like a call to action, it is Iczer-1 who brings the hero out of the timid Nagisa.


Houquet et Rose/Rook Bartley
Genesis Climber Mospeada/Robotech

ME_Houquet

A streetwise girl on a motorcycle who is part of a rag tag group of rebels trying to get to Reflex Point, the home base of the invading alien race the Inbit/Invid. Just be careful during the journey when you bump into your own hometown and see an old boyfriend and your mom.


Ikuuru
Dragon’s Heaven

ME_Iruuku

The things you find in a desert on a random day… A wandering nomadic girl happens to find a fossil of a warrior mech, Shaian, and quickly becomes great friends with the sentient wonder. Soon they fight Shaian’s old rival together and live happily ever after. How cute!


Mia Alice
Dangaioh

ME_Mia

Mia was the first Dangaioh pilot to wake up and be put to the test of demonstrating her skills. She is the most quiet and gentile member of the Dangaioh team, but also the most capable of demonstrating leadership. Her superpower is that of moving energy which can act as a shield.


Galaria (Garalia) Nyamhee
Aura Battler Dunbine

ME_Galaria

A talented and promising native Byston Well pilot who seems to always have a grudge on her shoulder. She is a strong feminist who believes that because of her gender she is always being overlooked for promotion… or perhaps part of it is her personal frustration?


Mary Angel/Marie Crystal
Super Dimension Calvary Southern Cross/Robotech

ME_Mary

The tough as nails ace pilot for the Tactical Armored Space Corps whose no nonsense attitude and approach gives her a reputation of being an ice queen. Yet beneath the exterior she is very vulnerable and never lets that get in the way of her duty… except for that one time.


Athena Henderson
Super Dimension Century Orguss

ME_Athena

The emerging young ace pilot for Chiram Army who finds a rival in the supposed Singularity, or as the English dub called him, the Differentiated Idioblast? The only catch is the fact that this man that she hates so much is her long lost father… wait, what! NO!! This can’t be true, NO!!!

MyFather

to be continued…

#88 : Dragon’s Heaven

DH_11980s OVAs… everyone and anyone had an opportunity to create one so long as you had an idea. Similar to the burgeoning Alternative Rock scene that was starting to take hold in the west, Japan’s animation market gave opportunities for designers and animators to take up the directors chair. As an example, if M.D. Geist is one expression of a mecha designer given free reign to create a little project where that individual has total control, then Dragon’s Heaven is the alternative. For the case of M.D. Geist, Koichi Ohata created what is perhaps the greatest worst schlock-fest anime with an anti-hero villian as our protagonist. And as for Dragon’s Heaven, Makoto Kobayashi would create something a little more tender and… special.

DH_2Special?… so Dragon’s Heaven, what makes you so appealing? The first five or so minutes begin with live action footage of a stop motion model of a mech, which details the back story of a post war world before coming into full cel animation to show we are now in the present. How odd to begin our ‘cartoon’ this way, but it works; almost like a low budget Jim Henson styled intro from say the Dark Crystal. The main animated section continues afterward for a half hour and details how a sentient robot, Shaian, wakes up after a long slumber to become reunited with a new pilot. This pilot is a young girl, Ikuru, who happens to stumble upon this dinosaur, or perhaps dragon?, of a robot. Together they save the world from Shaian’s former adversary and live happily ever after. Afterwards there is about ten more minutes of live action which documents the creation of the beginning of the OVA.

DH_3Dragon’s Heaven is cute and cliche, but its one of those heart warming stories that needs to be in mecha more often. You know the type of show where your best friend is a giant robot and the both of you do everything together and watch out for each other. Not unlike a sweeter Gigantor/Tetsujin 28, Giant Robo or Giant Gorg. Dragon’s Heaven reminds me of the thesis project I would have killed to have made when I was in school. Not that I studied animation, but just the fact of the simplicity of the piece and how it was presented is very attractive. Flat bright colors and a sparse esthetic to the backgrounds add to the lo-fi atmosphere. Somehow this kind of feels a little familiar? It was only looking through Makoto Kobayashi’s resume online that it hit me. Of course, face palming myself… Birth. Oh how I love that OVA as well! So that was Kobayashi’s mecha designs on Birth… you learn something everyday. That being said, Dragon’s Heaven is a close distant cousin to Birth by way of Kobayashi? I approve.

DH_4Many anime often end up being called buried treasure, but Dragon’s Heaven is the truest definition. Made by AIC, this one gets lost in between the bigger and more epic Gall Force and Bubblegum Crisis series. Released in 1988, Dragon’s Heaven had competition from high budget giant OVA productions like Gunbuster and Patlabor. This little one had to come up against many a giant back in the day and yet Dragon’s Heaven still lives on because of word of mouth. I am proud to be one of the few to continue this legacy. Dragon’s Heaven… it’s that little old anime from 1988 that you can’t help but love.