Otaku USA Magazine
Yes, America — Grendizer Really Is That Popular

The cast of UFO Robo Grendizer

If you’re a hardcore mecha anime fan, you’ve probably heard of UFO Robo Grendizer. You may even have seen some. But depending on where you’re from, you may not realize just how popular it actually is. For some of us, for example, the idea of it getting a video game is a bit out of left field. For others, it’s a no-brainer.

So what’s the big deal about this robot and its UFO carrying case? Well, we’ll tell you.


Part of the Mazinger Universe

Mazinger and Grendizer

When Go Nagai’s Mazinger Z came to an end, it wasn’t looking good for our heroes. Then, fortunately, Tetsuya Tsurugi and Great Mazinger flew in to save the day. A bit deus ex machina? Yes; but it also introduced the second series in the saga. Much like Great, Grendizer is a part of Mazinger’s universe. Koji Kabuto is even part of the series!

Initually, Koji doesn’t get along well with our new hero, Daisuke Umon. But when he learns Daisuke’s big secret, everything changes.


Themes of Knighthood… and Aliens

Duke Fleed

See, Daisuke Umon isn’t his real name. The hero of UFO Robo Grendizer is actually named Duke Fleed, and he’s the crown prince of a ruined planet. Escaping to earth in a robot based on Fleed’s war god, he takes up residence at a nearby ranch.

So far, Go Nagai‘s protagonists had had two major things in common. For one thing, they were all humans from Earth. For another, they were of pretty standard backgrounds (albeit related to brilliant scientists). Duke Fleed changed things up by being not only an alien, but a noble. We’d say it’s no wonder he butted heads with Koji, but Koji would fight a wet paper bag if it moved a bit funny. So we’ll just say they had intriguing differences.


Middle Eastern and European Popularity

Grendizer and its crossover cast

Grendizer occasionally gets written off as being Mazinger Z‘s least popular baby brother. But really, that’s more a matter of where you’re from. If you’re in the U.S., your only exposure is likely to be via Force Five or cheeky games of Super Robot Wars. But in parts of Europe, it’s a part of anime history. Italy dubbed the series as Goldrake; and in France, titled Goldorak, it was the first-ever telecast anime. There’s even a gorgeous new Goldorak comicalization.

Fans in the Middle East love it, too. Its popularity has even been tied to the political climate during its boom, which made heroes of justice especially popular and accessible.

We’ll have to wait ’til 2023 for the Grendizer game. But ’til then, we have plenty of chances to verse (or re-verse) ourselves in the mecha anime classic.

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.