We here at Otaku USA absolutely love anime robots. (Or maybe it’s the fact that we have a giant robot nerd on staff. Either way.) From military-grade Real Robots to planet-splitting supers, we’re here for all of them. Even the ones that aren’t technically mecha.
As anime explores different stories and settings, it bends the definitely of “giant robots” in a lot of directions. Here are a handful that, while they fit under the “mecha” heading, are different under the hood.
God Mazinger Is a Statue
We’ve lost count of how many different Mazinger Z reimaginings there are. Usually, the title mech stays pretty consistent: a robot with a familiar silhouette, with a cockpit in its funny little crown. But among the more out-there versions is God Mazinger: an anime robot who’s actually a statue.
This isekai reimagining of Go Nagai’s classic came out simultaneously as an anime, manga, and novel series. In all versions, the robot of the hour was actually a magical statue. Like a robot, the pilot (Yamato Hino) operated it from the inside. So, effectively, it served the same purpose. But this bad boy is a depiction of its setting’s creator deity, rather than a lab-built superweapon.
EVAs Are Terrifying Titans
This is the one most people already know, but it always bears repeating because it’s freaky. Neon Genesis Evangelion, despite being a giant robot anime thematically, contains no robots. The EVAs are giant humanoid cyborgs, with some nice robot armor over top so you don’t have to think about it. But feel free to think about it — the fact that kids are getting wedged into the spinal cords of massive clone-beasts made just for them specifically.
It feels appropriate, though. Just as Evangelion is a very personal psychological piece wearing a giant robot anime skin, the EVAs themselves are very organic under their armor. You’ll really feel the impact of that when you hear one of them roar… a terrifyingly human noise.
Ideon is… oh no.
Yoshiyuki “Kill ’em All” Tomino holds onto his nickname for a reason. But if you’re looking for where that reputation started, Space Runaway Ideon is the place. The series’s finale film Be Invoked kills off — 40-year-old spoilers — literally everyone in the universe. And that’s thanks to the show’s title robot really wanting that to happen.
The Ideon is a real piece of work. Technically a machine on the outside, it houses Ide: an infinite fuel source that everyone wants to get their hands on. But Ide is actually an ancient godlike being made up of the souls of an entire civilization, and it’s not well pleased with how warlike the current civilization has become. The solution? Wipe ’em all out, obviously.
What are some of your favorite non-robotic robots?