Otaku USA Magazine
Not All Anime Robots Get to Live in Superhero Mode

Bullbuster is the latest series to show that not all anime robots get to go superhero mode every day

When we think of anime robots, we tend to think of bright colors, intense action, and rocket punches. Or, if you’re a Real Robot fan, tense political intrigue and tactical prowess. But sometimes, neither of those is the case. For some mecha, you’ve gotta put in at the day job first and foremost.

Take this trio of anime series that, in whole or in part, have slightly more mundane activities at their core. Even if they’re not out fighting the Dinosaur Empire, they’re still heroes in our hearts.




At first glance, Dai-Guard may look exactly the types of anime robots we’re not here to talk about today. But while the series sports mechanical design by Takeshi Takakura (Evangelion 3.0+1.0, Macross Frontier, and many more), the series is muhc more down-to-earth than its brethren. Yes, Dai-Guard fights space monsters. But that’s not all the team is up against.

See, right as the government was preparing to cancel the apocalypse, the apocalypse cancelled itself. Without monsters to fight, the useless robot became a mascot of sorts… until beings called Heterodyne attack in 2030. Now, the robot’s unequipped keepers must protect Japan from this new threat. In the meantime, they’ll need to avoid red tape, funding issues, and a military who want the robot for themselves.




What if anime robots were just a way of life? For one thing, that would be awesome. For another, that’s kind of what Patlabor is about. The media mix project posits a world that includes “labors,” mecha used as heavy machinery. The title robots, “patlabors,” are the robot equivalent of police patrol cars.

While there are absolutely robot battles, this sci-fi series is much more about an attempt at living a normal life. The baddies our heroes fight are heavily-armored humans. But there’s still a lot of fun and heart to be had.



Bullbuster is the latest series to show that not all anime robots get to go superhero mode every day

Hot and fresh this season is Bullbuster, with anime robots galore… except they look largely like construction equipment. And as much as hot-blooded new employee Tetsurou might wish it otherwise, he’s a cog in the corporate machine. Yes, he’s using a mecha to fight strange beings… but every yen and man-hour is going to be counted.

As Tetsurou struggles to balance his childhood dream with his workday reality, the employees of Namidome push back against their constraints. There are people who need protecting, after all. And sometimes that takes more hot blood than it does number-crunching.

Want to fight strange beings in Tokyo? Check out the Kickstarter for this upcoming tabletop game!

Kara Dennison

Kara Dennison is a writer, editor, and presenter with bylines at Crunchyroll, Sci-Fi Magazine, Sartorial Geek, and many others. Beyond the world of anime, she's a writer for Doctor Who expanded universe series including Iris Wildthyme and the City of the Saved, as well as an editor for the critically-acclaimed Black Archive series.