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…

#160 : Mobile Police Patlabor (OVA series)

PatOVA_1PATLABOR! Veni Vidi Vici… and then… retirement. Yes there have been reboots of more recent for Patlabor, but in essence like Space Battleship Yamato, or even the Beatles… well maybe the Stone Roses as we are talking the late 1980s here, Patlabor would have it’s time in the sun with the original ‘band line-up‘ in tact for only a minute period of time. A manga, TV series, two films (I am not going to count WXIII as a third) and a follow-up OVA would be born from a little seven episode OVA created by a partnership in 1988. What happens when super talented folks in the anime industry unite for a project? They make a classic. … now then, can we get the old band back together?

patova_2One of the greatest mecha shows that is also a comedy, a drama, a showcase for parody and a cop show all rolled into one nice neat seven episode package. Very tidy and an example of bringing together talented minds to make something original and special. The main creative group behind Patlabor, known as Headgear, consisted of manga artist Masami Yuki, mechanical designer Yutaka Izubuchi, writer Kazunori Itō, character designer Akemi Takada and director Mamoru Oshii. I leave it to you to look up their resumes. The direct to video OVA had proven itself as an affective medium to distribute anime for almost half a decade and the diversity of projects showcased that this was a free for all medium. When Patlabor was released in 1988, it was positioned at a good place and time. Independent and smaller focused projects were abundant and ranged from well done productions to experimental eccentricities to the laughably bad. Yet as fans we love them all! 1988 would kick up the notch with several releases that elevated the OVA into a format that became a viable art form including Patlabor, Gunbuster and the behemoth Legend of the Galactic Heroes.

PatOVA_3Patlabor as a mecha show speaks to those who were fans of giant robot animation as children and still are even as adults… myself included. Watch the opening credits and feel all that enthusiasm from both past and present collide… “nothing’s impossible.” The aspect of going to work and fulfilling a role in society is something many of us understand well and is a main contributor to the storyline of Patlabor. The cast of Special Vehicles Section 2 are not super heroes, nor space pilots, they are your average everyday police officers… who pilot, or work with mechs while solving a case. The whole concept of mecha in Patlabor is perhaps the most extreme portrayal of giant robots as standard everyday equipment. a real “Real Robot”… no pun intended. Yet the mascot like patrol labors, the Ingrams, are not the be all end all of this show.

PatOVA_4The true stars are the cast and what a mixed bag indeed: an aloof, but genius captain; an enthusiastic tomboy who names her Ingram after her dog; a cynical rich kid; a gun crazed lunatic; a nerdy husband, a gentile giant and an American transfer round out the crew of SV2. The dynamics between each personality is what fuels Patlabor. The episodes are a mixed bag of ideas, some of which come out of left field. You get your introductory episode, a bomb defusing episode, a Godzilla inspired episode, a summer camp murder mystery episode and even a two parter that vaguely reminds me of a prototype for the future film Patlabor 2: The Movie. References galore pop up time and again, but in clever and funny ways that makes the comedy of Patlabor pure gold. One example that left me laughing… “What do you think your piloting? Great Mazinger? Dangaioh?”

Who would have thought that this little project would grow into a massive success? And the beauty of it all is that as Patlabor grew it seemed to have gotten better… perhaps because we get hungry for more adventure of the SV2. Traditional mecha anime, piloted robots, by this time had waned in popularity on TV in terms of younger fans except for a few exceptions. All of us seasoned fans, perhaps a little bent on nostalgia, welcomed the initial Patlabor OVA that filled a need to those of us who may have grown and taken on additional roles into society, but are at heart are still enthusiastic fans of animation. We all may have jobs now, even our heroes, but were still at the root of it all the same. Now, time to go to work!