In a future yet to be, the third energy revolution is ushered in by the invention of the Shizuma Drive, and with it, mankind celebrates a new era of prosperity. But within the shadows of this bright new world, two great powers clash…
So begins one of the greatest anime ever produced – Giant Robo: The Day The Earth Stood Still. A lushly produced and reimagined version of one of the classics of the "giant robot" subgenre, Giant Robo manages to go above and beyond its origin while remaining true to its roots.
The basic setup for this seven-part story is simple: after a great tragedy at Bashtarille killed most of those involved in the research, the brilliant scientist Dr. Shizuma manages to complete the work and give to the world the Shizuma Drive, a source of limitless, clean energy scalable to any size or application. This and associated inventions have made the world a seeming paradise, marred only by the existence of the nefarious Big Fire organization which seeks to gain control of the entire world.
But all is not as it seems…
Giant Robo takes place in a magnificent pulp-science world, with great sky-ships, super-science based on tubes and crackling Jacob's-Ladder gadgets around every corner, dark and dramatic villains contesting with two-fisted heroes… and a plot that starts out looking straight as an arrow and then turns into one of the most startling and surprising stories I've ever seen, with one plot twist after another changing your entire perception of the story in each successive chapter.
Through it all, the focus is on Daisaku Kusama, the young boy who controls the eponymous Giant Robo, an Egyptian-themed colossus Daisaku inherited from his father, its creator. Robo itself hides more than one secret, and despite an immobile face often seems to be more than mere machine. Daisaku must make many choices – who to trust, when to act, and how – in his journey to solve the nested maze of riddles that surround the Big Fire organization, its opposite number the International Police, and the friends and enemies he encounters along the way.
Giant Robo: The Day The Earth Stood Still is a purely beautiful piece of work. The animation is crisp, clean, imaginative, and beautifully done; the plot and world are as baroque yet awesome as the giant robotic war machines that dominate the stage; and the accompanying music is nothing short of a masterpiece, some of the finest music ever made for any show, animated or otherwise. Just the opening never fails to send a chill down my spine.
Within this 1930s-style superfuture, the adventures are filled with heroism and tragedy – superhuman warriors with all-too-human hearts, secrets and betrayals that lead to all characters coming face-to-face with themselves in ways they had not expected, and noble stands and sacrifices to bring a tear to the viewers' eye.
Just the depicted super-science future was enough to hook me, of course. It was like seeing a Doc Smith future animated, all giant bus-bars and giant glowing tubes and huge power generators, crossed with the pulp sensitivities of Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers; how could I NOT like it? But Giant Robo: The Day The Earth Stood Still went far beyond the mere imagery, giving depth of story that I couldn't have imagined when I started watching the first episode.
I am quite deliberately avoiding too many specifics; part of the greatness of Giant Robo is watching it for the first time with no idea of what is to come, getting hit with one "what the HELL?" revelation after another… and then watching it a second time to see how it all really does come together.
My wife and I first watched this way back when it first came out – one… episode… at… a… time, with the final episodes being so terribly delayed that for a while it seemed that we might NEVER FIND OUT HOW IT ENDED.
Fortunately, that did not happen. Take advantage of your good fortune – buy or rent this classic of anime today, and you can watch all seven episodes WITHOUT waiting.