So, I've been lurking in the corners of the mecha fandom for years, occasionally poking out my head with some small review here or there. But I decided no more! I'm gonna start putting stuff out there for everyone to see, and to start, I'm gonna lay my cards on the table with my five favorite mecha from anime and manga. So! Without further ado let's get this list started!
5. Junchoon (The Five Star Stories)
Ask any of my friends, and they'll tell you that The Five Star Stories is probably my favorite manga ever, hands down. I can go for hours on the intricate plot lines, the art, the characters, and just the setting. Everything about this series oozes how much effort Mamorou Nagano puts into crafting this epic piece of story telling. It's an amazing mix of fantasy and sci-fi, if only it weren't so rare to acquire any volumes. That said, Junchoon, with a silent 'ch', was one of the central plot points for the early volumes. A mech designed by the king of a small planet as a test bed to replace the ageing and out of date machines it was fielding against much more technologically advanced invaders. And this is where the themes of destiny, magic, and duty that so often come to the fore in FSS gets embodied in this unit. Not only does our main hero of the series end up working on Junchoon and making it a force to be reckoned with, but his wife's sister takes her place as the Junchoon's partner before both fall into hibernation until they're needed to free the galaxy from the tyrannical rule of an evil emperor. All the mecha in Five Star Stories look like giant suits of armor, but the Junchoon not only looks different enough to stand out, but the pay off we get for the plot line this very unit kicks off cements it as a cornerstone of the series.
4. YF-21 Sturmvogel (Macross Plus)
Long ago, in the distant past of the 90s I, for the first time saw, a small series by the name of Macross Plus. Everything about it was awesome, the music, the characters, the plot, and of course, the mecha. But while the star of Macross Plus is undoubtedly Isamu Dyson and the experimental YF-19, which would go on to be the signature unit of the larger TV series Macross 7, my favorite has always been its co-star and rival unit. The YF-21 piloted by Guld Goa Bowman. The 21's unorthodox piloting mechanism, and more zentraedi inspired design set it apart from the usual slew of Valkyrie fighters in Macross canon, and in the end serves as an awesome counterpart to its sister unit. Like most of the other fighters in the larger franchise we get to see the YF-21 unleash a hellstorm of missiles, changing between a fighter, a humanoid form, and its hybrid gerwalk, and also some of the most beautifully detailed dogfights I've yet to see rivalled in a number of later series. If it weren't for the 21 and its pilot proving to be a comparable match to our hero, we'd never even get to see how truly awesome Isamu was. Cheers for the underdog says I.
3. ARX-7 Arbalest (Full Metal Panic!)
So here we've got an awesome example of a mech that has a nice mix of real world feasibility, with the extra bit of sci-fi to make it intriguing. The Arbalest is the prototype for a new generation of Arm Slaves with an unstable 'Lambda Driver' system that can give the unit super powers...when it works. So I won't get into too many spoilers here on just how they get it working, but I'll say this, the Arbalest moves like a soldier, and the reliance on more conventional weapons and tactics that soldiers use, just scaled up, leaves room for some interesting battles throughout the franchise... when its pilot isn't getting into crazy hi-jinx pretending to be a normal high school student.
2. Jehuty (Zone of the Enders)
Let me make one thing clear, unlike what I hear from many other people, who say they only got Zone of The Enders because of the Metal Gear Solid 2 demo and nothing else, I shake my head. I saw the initial ideas that went into the game and at a time when the internet was still growing into what it is today, got as much information as I could from magazines on this project. At a time when I was looking for a game where I could take control of a mech and experience the battles I had seen in anime, this folks, this was the game I had been waiting for. The demo was the sweet bonus. And with a sleek design like Jehuty at the fore of the series it clearly influenced the way many designers thought about animating combat robots, especially those meant to operate in space. Infused with the powerful element known as Metatron, Jehuty is capable of bending space to store equipment, using an arm mounted blade that can sheer through almost anything, to eventually moving faster than the eye can see. Also, yes, its cockpit is a bit literal, but I guess that just adds to the charm of the design. So, what could I put as my favorite mecha? what could possibly top everything else? Well...
1. RX-124 Gundam TR-6 Woundwort Ex (Advance of Zeta: Flag of the Titans)
We start with obscure, and end with obscure, somehow I should have seen this coming. Gundam has always been one of my favorite franchises, but over the years I find myself drawn to the side stories, the novels, the manga, and the alternate universes that populate its extensive library. Advance of Zeta followed the exploits of a team of test pilots under the Titans. The Woundwort ends up being the culmination of experiments at Mobile Suit technologies and can be outfitted for a number of different mission profiles. Honestly this Mobile Suit in particular is just one of the many gorgeous designs in this little set of side stories, and I only feel more in love with it thanks to the release of last years SD Gundam G Generation Overworld, in which the Woundwort Ex finally appeared as an unlockable unit. Featuring some of the best animations in the game to go along with an appearance that can be beautiful and fearsome all at the same time. Is it too much for me to wish this thing gets a proper anime appearance? Maybe a movie? Ah well...guess I'll keep wishing. So there you have it, my Top Five Mecha, I'm sure there'll be those naysayers, but I'm curious to know what some of you out there think.
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