Number of Episodes: 26
Genre: Adventure / Science Fiction / Mecha
Date of Review: November 23, 2016
After Yuu Tagami’s father unexpectedly dies, he has left his son with a cryptic message: meet Dr. Wave in New York City, and go with him to investigate the mysterious New Austral Island. Yuu soon joins forces with the scientist and others, and together, the team will attempt to uncover the island’s secrets before the forces of the sinister corporation GAIL. Meanwhile, who — or what — is Gorg?
Let’s get one thing out of the way first: I purchased the Giant Gorg DVD set on a whim, based on a few reviews in Otaku USA magazine and the like. It was inexpensive, it’s got a giant robot (right there in the title!), and it was animated by Sunrise, famed purveyors of my beloved Mobile Suit Gundam series. So going into this practically blind…was it worth it to take the plunge?
Holy shit, yes. Giant Gorg is a fantastic show from start to finish, and let me tell you all about it. First off, the eponymous robot doesn’t even show up until a few episodes in, and his existence isn’t even hinted at until then; all we know up to that point is that there’s a weird island, and some bad guys are after Yuu and company. The mysteries are slowly revealed over the course of the series, all mixed in with tense action, memorable characters, and more. The action and adventure are even lightened up with doses of comedy, usually at the expense of the clumsy Dr. Wave, the reigning champion of the Anime Woody Allen Lookalike Contest.
Yuu is a great protagonist, and his cohorts are diverse and interesting, from Dr. Wave’s plucky sister Doris to the action hero Skipper to the native siblings Alois and Sara. Of course, a series can be made or broken by its villains, and Giant Gorg‘s got some good ones. Rod Balboa is our GAIL overseer on the island, cleverly given many shades of gray. Lady Lynx is femme fatale straight out of a film noir, complete with a Veronica Lake peekaboo hairstyle. And then there’s the various GAIL underlings and others to help flesh out the antagonists.
Let’s get back to the main draw of the series, that big blue robot. Gorg’s design evokes both classical statuary and medieval armor, and his “voice” is incredibly unique. He appears to be slow and plodding, which is technically more realistic than the usual massive mecha that zip around at high speed. But don’t let that fool you into thinking that’s a weakness, as any action scene with Gorg is memorable. How can you not cheer when Gorg saves Yuu’s life from a robot squid by cracking its shell apart? Or shooting tanks with a custom rifle, then bludgeoning the rest to scrap once the gun ran out of ammo? Or when he’s tearing off the wing of a plane in midair, then whipping it boomerang-style to take out another plane? Need I go on?
However, Giant Gorg is not your typical mecha action show where there’s fast and furious fights at all times. Plenty of episodes go by without a single major battle, and sometimes Gorg is just walking around or doing nothing at all. (In fact, the reason why the massive robot is lumbering towards an unknown destination is a huge part of the overall plot.) Also surprising is that Gorg rarely uses weapons; on the few occasions that he does, they’re never his own.
The art style in Giant Gorg is very much in the mold of classic early- to mid-1980s anime, but the design is nice and clean, with exaggerated expressions only used for comedic effect. The whole thing is wrapped in a suitably moody score, with appropriate highs and lows as the action dictates. Finally, the series’ creators absolutely mastered the art of the cliffhanger, with the end of each episode imploring viewers to “Tune in to the next: the same Gorg time, the same Gorg channel.”
If Giant Gorg had aired in the US when I was a kid, I would’ve been absolutely glued to the set. (Of course, it didn’t air here, due to characters getting shot and a very brief bit of nudity. Nothing extreme, but parental units would’ve still lost their shit. I guess Japanese kids were trusted to handle a lot more than we could.) At any rate, the series is the most solidly entertaining adventure anime I have ever seen. It’s a fun and engaging story from start to finish, perfectly paced, and rounded out with awesome action and great characters. Giant Gorg is the very definition of a hidden gem, and you need to add it to your library immediately!