The King of Braves GaoGaiGar (勇者王ガオガイガー Yūsha Ō GaoGaiGā?) is an anime television series series begun in 1997, created by Sunrise's internal "Studio 7" under the direction of Yoshitomo Yonetani, and was the eighth and final in the Yūsha metaseries funded by Takara and produced by Sunrise.
It takes place in 2005 (initially referred to as only "the 21st Century"), two years following an incident where the first identified extraterrestrial intelligence—classified as "EI-01"—crash-landed on Earth and absorbed a large number of machines into itself before disappearing without a trace. Following this incident, the Japanese government created a secret organization to combat potential alien threats: the Gutsy Geoid Guard, or "GGG", based beneath G-Island City in Tokyo Bay. Parasitic alien life-forms known as "Zonderians" have begun to emerge; using the Zonder Metal of which they are made, they can assimilate various kinds of matter to form "Zonders." which use humanoid beings as their hosts.
GGG gains three key resources with which to combat this threat. There is Galeon, a sentient mechanical lion of alien design. There is the alien child Mamoru Amami, whom Galeon had left with human parents eight years earlier. The third asset human cyborg Guy Shishiō, whose life was saved by Galeon two years earlier and is capable of fusing with him, forming the mechanoid GaiGar. When combined with the GGG-made GaoMachines, GaiGar becomes the Super Mechanoid GaoGaiGar: a mecha capable of defeating Zonders, recovering their cores for Mamoru to "purify" and saving the human host in doing so.
GaoGaiGar is composed of 49 episodes, first aired on Nagoya TV from February 1, 1997 to January 31, 1998. It was followed by a number of works across multiple media (one serialized novel, two short stories, one PlayStation video game, at least two serialized manga and four audio dramas). Most of these works contained plot written by Studio 7 staff, and contributed to its canon long after its airing. Each episode has special effects and composed with CG animation
The show's popularity would soon warrant a new animated work. This resulted in the production of the eight part sequel OVA The King of Braves GaoGaiGar FINAL, released from January 21, 2000 to March 21, 2003. Its story takes place one year following the events of the television series, and incorporates characters and continuity from non-television works. Examples include Renais Kerdif-Shishioh (main character of the aforementioned novel) and Rose Approval (secretary general of the United Nations as seen in the aforementioned PlayStation game).
Licensing in the USA
For many years it was believed, due to licensing disputes involving Sunrise, Takara and Bandai, that GaoGaiGar would not be licensed for an international release. On April 19, 2006, however, Media Blasters announced their licensing of the GaoGaiGar TV series for marketing in the United States. The first volume was released to stores on September 26, 2006. On April 23, 2007, it was reported that the US release of GaoGaiGar would go on hiatus due to the company's focus on a labor-intensive Voltron DVD release. They followed with a statement that the subsequent volumes will be subtitled only, due to poor sales. The rest of the GaoGaiGar DVD series was released in a box set on August 19, 2008.
In the interval between the respective productions of GaoGaiGar and GaoGaiGar FINAL, Studio 7 had also made the complex, horror-themed show Betterman, which first aired from April 1 to September 30, 1999 on TV Tokyo. This show is composed of 26 episodes and takes place in the same overall universe as GaoGaiGar. Director Yonetani has taken steps to link these two works on a number of occasions.
The first notable sign of a connection is Tsuguo Ushiyama, who appeared briefly in GaoGaiGar, though makes multiple appearances as a friend of Betterman's main protagonist Keita Aono. A line of continuity was also established when the character Papillon Noir (appearing in the novel "Queen of Leo <Leon Reine>" and FINAL) was introduced in a Betterman audio drama following the show's run. Furthermore, in both the third and final episodes of FINAL, Shigeru Akamatsu and his two assistants can be seen (with their backs to the camera), first watching the reports of GGG's "Coup d'état" in the main Akamatsu Industries' warehouse, and again after the end of the vicious storms in the last episode of FINAL (again facing away from the camera).
In the summer of 2005, a 12 episode re-edit of GaoGaiGar FINAL—The King of Braves GaoGaiGar FINAL -Grand Glorious Gathering-—aired on TV Tokyo. This show was dubbed a "reimagining" of FINAL, adding flashbacks from the original television series and minor elements from Betterman to further connect the two series, featuring new voiceovers to accompany reused animation and stills.
The "deluxe" version of the -Grand Glorious Gathering- DVD box set contains a special disc called "Disc Z." One of the features on this disk contains information about a new GaoGaiGar work entitled The King of Braves GaoGaiGar Project Z. This project brings GaoGaiGar in even closer relationship with Betterman by reintroducing the corporation Akamatsu Heavy Industries. They cooperate with GGG to build the "Neuromechanoid" Awakener GaiGo, with GaoGaiGar characters Mamoru Amami and Ikumi Kaidou as its "Head Divers" (pilots). Betterman Lamia is also seen to make at least one appearance. As of July 2007, however, no other information is known about "Project Z", though a GaiGo figure was released in late 2006. It has since been confirmed that Gaogaigar Project Z is now officially canceled.
There are two main characters in GaoGaiGar. The first is the adopted alien child Mamoru Amami, who as an infant was left with foster parents by Galeon; he possesses the mysterious power of Purification, able to cleanse an individual of Zonder Metal. The second is the cyborg Guy Shishioh, an astronaut whose life was saved by Galeon and his technology when EI-01 first attacked Earth; he is able to combine with Galeon and the GGG-built GaoMachines to become GaoGaiGar. Other characters include Mikoto Utsugi, Guy's love interest and GGG support operator; Kohtaroh Taiga, the charismatic chief of GGG and president of the Space Development Corporation that runs G-Island City; Leo Shishioh, Guy's father, and GGG's chief scientist and inventor; Swan White, an American GGG operator and Leo's assistant; Geki Hyuuma, the hot-headed, musclebound tactical advisor; Kosuke Entouji, GGG's disheveled, dandruff-ridden computer expert with an IQ of 300; Hana Hatsuno, Mamoru's childhood friend; and Ikumi Kaidou, Mamoru's enigmatic classmate. Most of the protagonists live or work directly in Tokyo or G-Island City itself.
As with most of the Brave series, there are also intelligent transforming robots who complement the human characters. In this show, they are constructed by GGG and their affiliated organizations with personalities based on highly advanced "Super-AI" Artificial Intelligence technology obtained from Galeon's databanks. They include HyoRyu and EnRyu, a pair of 'twin brother' robots with vastly different personalities; their military-trained Chinese counterparts FuuRyu and RaiRyu; the intrepid ninja police car Volfogg; the stubborn Goldymarg, whose AI is based on Geki Hyuuma's personality; and the American-made Mic Sounders the 13th, a rock music-playing robot who can use several types of special waves to restore the energy of allies or destroy the enemy.
The television series is based largely around GGG's fight against the Zonderians, alien beings tasked with the goal of infecting all of Earth with their Zonder Metal. The Machine World Four Heavenly Kings are notably more intelligent than the Zonder created by the humans fused with Zonder Metal.
Penchinon is an odd-looking man with one huge yellow eye and another similarly oversized bug-eye with the picture of an anchor, and oversized chattering teeth. Dressed in a simple sailor's outfit, he always has a huge grin on his face. His Zonderian form is a large boat, with feet, hands and a paddle wheel. His yellow eye takes prominent place in the fore of the boat.
Pizza's eyes are always hidden behind his baseball cap and long, upswept hair, making his beaklike nose his most prominent feature; his Zonderian form is quite birdlike, complete with beak helmet/facemask and clawed feet. Obsessed with speed, Pizza is faster than his "rival" Guy by far; only when Guy activates his Hyper Mode does he come close to matching Pizza's velocity.
Polonaise appears as a heavyset gentleman, dressed in a conductor's uniform but with his hair growing down all the way to the floor. His eyes remain perpetually covered in sunglasses and his pipe stays ever-present in hand. In Zonderian form, his head and hair are replaced by a hybrid locomotive engine & caterpillar. Otherwise, he looks much the same.
Primada appears to be a pale ballerina-type woman with flowing orange hair; her Zonderian form is reminiscent of a motorcycle, complete with tires, rear-view mirrors and headlights.
These four Zonderians are headquartered beneath Tokyo Tower and take their orders from the enigmatic Pasder, who appears as just a giant purple head, formed of metal tubes and piping.
Following the Zonderian's defeat, their superiors, the 31 Machine Primevals, appear to finish the job their servants could not complete. In their first appearance, three Primevals easily defeat GaoGaiGar and even destroy GGG's underwater base. Each Primeval represents a particular body part, and has some special ability linked to that organ.
Other antagonists in succeeding GaoGaiGar works include the criminal terrorist organization BioNet, and the 11 Planetary Masters of Sol.
The mecha themselves, as with much seen in the Brave series, were created by prolific mechanical designer Kunio Okawara. GaoGaiGar itself is a powerfully-built machine formed from GaiGar (Guy fused with Galeon) and the GaoMachines. These are LinerGao, modeled after a shinkansen-type high-speed train; StealthGao, modeled after a stealth bomber; and DrillGao, a drill tank. Its right hand represents destruction (in the form of the Broken Magnum attack), and its left, protection (Protect Shade). Its final attack, Hell and Heaven, combines these powers to rip the core out of a Zonder Robo, destroying it without harming the Zonder core itself. GaoGaiGar later obtains auxiliary "tools" built by GGG, not the least of which is an even more powerful finishing blow in the form of the Goldion Hammer, a gravity shockwave-generating tool larger than GaoGaiGar itself.
GaoGaiGar is succeeded in later works by GaoFighGar, Genesic GaoGaiGar and GaoGaiGo.
In the second half of the 1990s, Neon Genesis Evangelion had shaken the foundations of animated science fiction in Japan with its dark, hard-edged, and psychologically complex themes. Its popularity likewise gave birth to a trend of "mature" shows with equally dark and complex themes, such as Gasaraki and RahXephon. Other trends resulting from Evangelion were likewise not limited to thematics: Brave Command Dagwon (GaoGaiGar 's predecessor in the Brave Series) had itself attempted to use the angular, abstract "Angel" style in its multiple types of invading aliens. In the midst of these trends, GaoGaiGar represented an almost extremist return to the light-hearted, hot-blooded Super Robot form of mecha anime that was the purview of the 1960s and 1970s, introducing a vast number of "nods" to those old trends and concepts, taking for example the over-the-top "Final Fusion" combination sequence.
In contrast to Evangelion, the major themes of GaoGaiGar and its successor works are simply positioned. Courage and bravery are shown to overcome any obstacle and conquer all odds. (Chief of GGG Kohtaroh Taiga sets the tone for the rest of the series in the very first episode by boasting that "a courageous heart can make anything possible!")
In its production, Studio 7 further ensured that there were no actual betrayals in the show; any "betrayal" automatically resolves itself as a secret that had to be kept to the main characters' benefit. This was perhaps partly due to the fact that GaoGaiGar was made as a children's show, and partly as a commentary on the heavy air of distrust and conspiracy occurring in mecha anime since Evangelion.
In the first half of the television series, other, minor themes are introduced, nearly all of them ultimately discarded in favor of the main themes of courage and bravery. The first episode begins on a place called Garbage Island ("gomi no shima", an analogue to Japan's own "Dream Island" or yume no shima found in Tokyo Bay) and speaks about ecology and the environment. Outside of that one episode, this theme is only followed up on briefly, in one other moment of the entire series. Another discarded theme is that of self-betterment: in the first half of the series, the Zonderians mostly make Zonder Robos of stressed-out, discontent "average joe" types—a truck driver who hates traffic, for instance, or a morbidly obese man tired of being picked on. Once Mamoru purifies them, however, their attitudes toward life become less obsessed (and in the case of the obese man, the source of stress is removed), the stress having been exhausted from their system when in Zonder form.
It is also notable that GaoGaiGar's narrator and its "Jikai" (Next Episode) sequences—and the episode titles themselves, in some cases—rely on extreme hyperbole, even lying to the viewer if deemed necessary. This in itself is a Super Robot trend, dating back to Mazinger Z, the original Super Robot show (which itself used hyperbolic episode titles such as "Kouji Kabuto Dies in Lava").
Series influences and references
- Guy's transformation sequence may have been inspired by many famous Henshin heroes like Kamen Rider and Science Ninja Team Gatchaman.
- GaoGaiGar's Broken Magnum and Broken Phantom attacks have the behavior of a "Rocket Punch", where the robot's arm up to the elbow is fired at the enemy in similar fashion to that of a missile. This sort of attack is a staple of many early Super Robot shows, dating back to the first one of its kind, Mazinger Z, where the name "Rocket Punch" originated.
- GaoGaiGar's Protect Shade and Protect Wall defenses are reminiscent of similar moves (albeit usually two-handed) by Ultraman and other Ultras.
- The title of the very first episode of the series ("Yuusha-Oh Tanjou!", or "The King of Braves is Born!") may possibly be a reference to the title of the first episode of Mazinger Z ("Kyoui no Robot Tanjou", or "Birth of the Robot of Wonder").
- A few themes of GaiGarGar tie into the popular mangaka Masami Kurumada. The names of GaoGaiGar's Broken Magnum and Broken Phantom attacks are references to the "Galactica Magnum" and "Galactica Phantom" attacks used Kurumada's boxing manga Ring ni kakero. Likewise, Cyborg Guy's Ultimate Armour and the ID Suits visually resemble Cloths from Saint Seiya, another Kurumada work.
- The character Ayame's PHS (cellular phone) has a shape similar to that of the Ultra Eye transformation item used in the Ultraman series Ultra Seven. When opening it, Ayame makes a similar pose as Dan Maboroshi did when using the Ultra Eye. (Some materials even refer to the phone as the "Ayame Eye.") As it is referred to as "Ayame's PHS" in the pre-commercial cut, it may be a custom design.
- Soldato J's character (hair, elongated nose, love of the sky) is partially based on that of Jet Link (Cyborg 002) from the manga Cyborg 009 (he is even referred to in an Episode 40 flashback as "number J-002"). Similar to Jet, J displays the ability to accelerate beyond what the eye can see, however briefly. The two characters also share the same ideas about the sky and flight. Soldato is Italian for soldier.
- Hana Matsuno reveals Mamoru's identity as an alien to their friends in the last episode in an almost identical manner as Annu revealing Dan Maboroshi's in the last episode of Ultra Seven.
- The design of the Zonder Robo EI-14 (As seen in Episode 14) bears a resemblance to that of the MS-06 Zaku II Mobile Suit (of Mobile Suit Gundam fame).
- Cyborg Guy's Hyper Mode sequence bears some resemblance to Juushin Liger's transformation (specifically, his swinging his hair around).
Influences from previous Brave series
- GaoGaiGar's chest bears the shape of a lion's head (actually the head of Galeon); this part of its design is similar to the lion face on the chestplates of Exkaiser, King Exkaiser and Great Exkaiser in Brave Exkaiser. This particular design element dates back to 1979's Future Robo Daltanius, and is an interesting staple of old-school giant robots.
- The Vehicle Machine pairs (HyoRyu and EnRyu, FuRyu and RaiRyu) can perform Symmetrical Docking, combining to form a lengthwise half of a larger robot. This is similar in concept to Blue Raker and Green Raker's combination to form Ultra Raker in Brave Exkaiser.
- The relationship that Volfogg has with Mamoru Amami (closer to a parent than just a bodyguard) is similar to that between Exkaiser and Kouta in Brave Exkaiser.
- The dual main character dynamic (one "adult male" and one male child) was first seen in The Brave Fighter of Sun Fighbird (wherein an alien entity possessing an android was paired with a boy). In fact, at some point in pre-production, Cyborg Guy was apparently meant to be an android - drawings of this form exist.
- While performing Fusion with Galeon, Cyborg Guy does a roll in midair; in The Brave Fighter of Sun Fighbird, Katori Yuutarou does the same move while "interfacing" with Fire Jet.
- GaoGaiGar's shoulders and upper arms are formed from LinerGao, a shinkansen-type bullet train. Might Gaine's arms in The Brave Express Might Gaine were formed in a similar manner.
- Volfogg's basic concept ("police car ninja robot") is also seen in the Brave Police J-Decker robot Shadowmaru. (However, before the "ninja" part was decided on, his basic design was closer to Da-Garn from The Brave Fighter of Legend Da-Garn; this carried over to Big Volfogg as well, with a large star where Da-Garn's distinctive sirens would be.)
- The voice actor of the Green Planet alien Cain is GaoGaiGar Sound Director Kouichi Chiba, who has also been the Sound Director at Sunrise for every preceding entry in the Brave Series. Sources also state that Mikoto Utsugi's parents (as seen briefly in Episode 45) are modeled after Chiba and his wife.
GaoGaiGar in Japanese popular culture
- Transformers: Galaxy Force (Transformers: Cybertron in the US) contains many visual references to GaoGaiGar's stock "Final Fusion" and "Hammer Connect" sequences, most notably in the sequences where Liger Jack (Leo Breaker) and Sonic Bomber (Wing Saber) "Link Up" with Galaxy Convoy (Optimus Prime). Galaxy Convoy's chest and shoulders also bear physical resemblance to ChoRyuJin, as does Omega Supreme from Transformers: Super Link (Transformers: Energon in the US). In the US series Transformers Animated, Safeguard's combination sequence is homeage to the sequence of RyuJin combinations.
- The stock "Final Fusion" sequence is extremely iconic of the show, making it worthy of a great many fan parodies (though reaction to these parodies by other fans is greatly mixed). One recent fan-parody video (by the group MAD) intersperses soundtrack and footage of the Impulse Gundam combination sequence from Gundam SEED Destiny with that of GaoFighGar's Final Fusion sequence from GaoGaiGar FINAL. Most of these videos ironically do not use GaoGaiGar's sequence audio, but rather GaoFighGar's from Episode 4 of FINAL, as it is the only version where the sound effects synced with exactly one rendition of the music track.
- In Yu-Gi-Oh! GX, the character Sho Marufuji (Syrus Truesdale) plays a Fusion monster "Super Vehicroid Stealth Union", a monster that is a fusion of a drill rig, a bullet train, a stealth fighter and a semi truck, and is a clear tribute to GaoGaiGar. And in addition, a Duel Monster spirit Kaibaman bears resemblance and homage to Soldato J.
- The character Subaru Nakajima of the Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS anime possesses a number of nods to GaoGaiGar, some of them incredibly blatant. Her henshin sequence in the show includes at least two direct visual references to GaoGaiGar in that she is surrounded by a tornado of green fog prior to transformation and that a jewel slides into place on her device Mach Caliber in the exact same manner, and with the exact same dimensions, as the crown G-Stone in GaoGaiGar's Final Fusion. If the video is switched around in some locations, the sequence matches the sound effects as well. (Original Final Fusion video here, brief clip of the henshin in question (with Final Fusion music mixed into the background as comparison) here. Warning, second link may not be work safe.) The character has exhibited at least two abilities that are strikingly similar to GaoGaiGar's Broken Magnum and Protect Shade respectively. Certain members of the fan community, namely the Otakuism blog, thus refer to Subaru as "GaoGaiGar-tan".
- Given the timing of the show's release and design of the "nose" and paintjob of LinerGao, it seems extremely likely that LinerGao is meant to specifically be a modified 500 Series Shinkansen, which was put into regular service roughly a month after the first episode of GaoGaiGar aired.
- The series also appear in Harobots, from being one of Sunrise's series. This series' units can act as 'wild' units or as the player's units.
- Recently, a parody of GaoGaiGar is featured in Hayate no Gotoku. A character named Cyborg Butler appears in the 38th episode, has the same hairstyle like Guy (though fans noted that his face looked more like Viral of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann) as well as his voice actor Nobuyuki Hiyama (also voices Viral and Guy). He is also prone to yell dramatically or shout Gagagagagaga while running. His attacks are all parodies of Drill Knee, Broken Magnum, Hell And Heaven and Goldion Hammer (he even shouts Hikari ni Nare!!! like Guy while doing it). Before he uses the Goldion Hammer parody, his superior tells him that the move is approved (just like Taiga approving Goldion Hammer for use). In his last moments, he also makes a statement regarding of courage. The link between Guy's and Viral's visual styles as well as the over-the-top yelling and attacks that the seiyū are known for might indicate that it was more of a parody of Nobuyuki Hiyama himself rather than any one of his portrayed characters.
- In the recent Super Robot Wars Original Generation Gaiden, Kai Kitamura's Gespenst Mk II M Custom's signature move is the Jet Phantom, an upgrade from the Jet Magnum.
- In the new series Kimi ga Aruji de Shitsuji ga Ore de, in the episode 8, the character Kojūrō Takeda (voiced by Guy's voice actor, Nobuyuki Hiyama) beats up the main character Ren Uesugi (voiced by Tomokazu Seki of G Gundam fame), in the same vein of Guy beating up Palpareppa in GaoGaiGar FINAL, all while preaching the virtue of love towards one's master (instead of courage). He later charges towards Ren by yelling HIKARI NI NARE!!! after Ren shouts Bakunetsu God Finger!!!.
- Mechanoid (GaoGaiGar)
- List of protagonists in The King of Braves GaoGaiGar
- List of antagonists in The King of Braves GaoGaiGar
- The King of Braves GaoGaiGar glossary
- List of The King of Braves GaoGaiGar media
- "Brave Goukin GaoFighter". (November 2006) Newtype USA. p. 126.
- The King of Braves GaoGaiGar (NBN)
- GaoGaiGar: King of Braves (anime) at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia
- The GaoGaiGar-Betterman Wiki at Wikia
Brave Command Dagwon
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None (The Saint of Braves Baan Gaan was planned, but cancelled)