Otaku USA Magazine
Some Awkward Ways Anime Heroes Have Piloted Their Giant Robot

Giant robots have changed a lot over the years, including where you ride

The typical anime giant robot didn’t have a cockpit until 1972, when Mazinger Z normalized having mecha pilots actually in the machine. Since then, we’ve seen lots of very cool setups for pilots. And a few… less so.

While some get heroic control panels or one-to-one hookups, others are less fortunate. Here’s a small selection of cockpits (and the lack thereof) that we’re not sure we’d be able to handle. We’re sure we’ve missed a few, though, so be sure to tell us your picks.


Just hanging on to the face

Giant Robo

Mitsuteru Yokoyama pioneered the giant robot in manga and anime with Tetsujin #28 (a.k.a. Gigantor). Another of his series, Giant Robo, got an epic OVA series in the 90s. The series mashed up elements of a lot of Yokoyama’s other titles… including the lack of mecha cockpit.

Brave youngster Daisaku is in the middle of the action, but not inside the mech. Nope, he’s hanging on for dear life from the side of Giant Robo’s face, thanks to a set of rungs. Admittedly it’s pretty badass to see someone else do. But not something we ourselves would feel comfortable attempting.


Behind an open grating

Boss Borot and Aphrodite A of Mazinger Z

Mazinger Z wasn’t the only giant robot in his self-titled series. There were several others, including the missile-firing Aphrodite A and the hefty Boss Borot. Built under duress, Boss Borot is a junker piloted by school bully Boss and his cohorts Nuke and Mucha.

Being a junker means Boss Borot has a lot of issues… one being that its cockpit, while spacious, is also wide open. More than once, the trio have dealt with the unprotected room getting flooded or otherwise compromised. At least there’s a nice cross breeze?


… uh.


Yes, all right, DARLING in the FRANXX was always destined to be on this list. We all reacted pretty much the same just to discovering how the characters would be… uh… docking? In their cockpits. Imagine being the pilots finding this out for themselves.

Is it as dangerous as open-air piloting? No, of course not. Are the robots effective in battle? They sure seem to be. But even our pilots aren’t as accustomed to the idea as the viewers are. In fairness, the world of DARLING in the FRANXX has a lot of other things weird about it when it comes to couples in proximity… or the existence of couples in general.

All things considered, we’d feel much more secure if our giant robot had a no-frills interior with straightforward control. But what would you prefer?

Kara Dennison

Kara Dennison is a writer, editor, and presenter with bylines at Crunchyroll, Sci-Fi Magazine, Sartorial Geek, and many others. She is a contributor to the celebrated Black Archive line, with many other books, short stories, and critical works to her name.