With the current season approaching but not quite reached its end, I've been rather bereft of any anime to review. So instead I've decided to review something from a few years back; Masami Obari's Gravion.
Now before we begin, I'd like to state that when I mention Gravion, I refer to both Gravion and Gravion Zwei. Gravion was a 13 episode series that basically ended with no real conclusion, and Gravion Zwei was a 12 episode direct sequel that finished the story.
Anyway, for those of you too lazy to read this review, I'm gonna say this right now; Gravion is one of my favourite animes of all time. There. That should give you a pretty good idea of how the rest of this review is going to play out.
Space monsters attack Earth and a bunch of kids have to pilot a giant robot to defeat them. Also, all the kids live in a giant castle staffed by maids, owned by the enigmatic pedophile Sandman, who also owns Gravion, the giant robot. That's pretty much it.
There are some side stories, such as main character Eiji's search for his missing sister, but for the most part, the story takes a backseat to the giant robot battles.
The characters are one of the areas where Gravion really shines. They are by no means deep or unique, in fact, all but a few of them are recycled anime stereotypes.
Despite this, they remain surprisingly likable; Eiji is easily one of the most relatable male protagonists I've seen in an anime, Luna is surprisingly funny despite being a standard tsundere, Sandman essentially steals the spotlight whenever he appears with his hammy lines and even walking fanservice Mizuki has a surprising amount of characterization.
The main character; a hot headed kid searching for his missing sister who sneaks into Sandman's castle, where she was last seen. Has a tendency to get raped by loli maids, but to his credit, he doesn't enjoy it in the slightest, thus lending credence to his insistence that he is not a pedophile. Also, despite being the main character, he is not the main pilot of Gravion; a first in combining giant robot anime. Instead, he pilots the comparatively useless right leg.
The main pilot of Gravion, Toga has been raised his entire life for the sole purpose of fighting the Zeravire aliens. Because of this, Toga has exceptionally fighting skills, but is also a massive dumbshit and socially retarded. For some bizarre reason, the girls all have a thing for retards and are seriously wet for Toga. Is horny for Eiji.
The main female character and token tsundere, Luna is a rather unique example of her achetype as she's basically completely tsun towards Eiji and completely dere towards Toga. Pilots Gravion's left hand, which includes steering Gravion's rocket punch attack, which is the coolest job ever in the history of anime. Is horny for Toga.
Luna lost her nipples in a tragic chaffing accident.
It is a scientifically proven fact that clothing hampers giant robot piloting.
One of the many, many, maids working in Sandman's castle and the pilot of Gravion's right arm. Cowardly, clumsy and essentially useless. Is horny for Toga.
The pilot of Gravion's left, and far more awesome leg who also serves as the show's primary fanservice chick. Has boobs the size of Eina's head. Despite her fanservice nature, she's also one of the smartest characters on the show, and has considerable skills as a hacker. Is pretty much the only adult woman Sandman associates himself with for most the show. Makes a rather disturbing cameo appearance in the hentai anime, Angel Blade Punish. Is possibly horny for Toga.
A quite and reserved young girl who pilots Gravion's chest plate. Aims and fires the Gravity Crescent, one of Gravion's more powerful attacks. Has a pet ferret, cause ferrets are cute. Is horny for Toga.
An enigmatic billionaire who owns a castle, Gravion, and employs an army of underage maids. Despite his rampant kiddylust, is easily the best character in the show thanks to his sheer over the topness. Takes a massive leap in awesomeness later in the series and levels up from a pedophile who lives in a castle with underage girls to a pimp in a white suit who wins the heart of the hottest adult woman in the cast.
Sandman's personal assistant/bitch who wears a silly mask. Sadly never gets naked at any point in the series. Is horny for Sandman.
The Operator Maids
A trio of maids of form the mission control for Gravion. They fangirl incessently over Sandman. They may, or may not be underage.
Gravion likes its status reports in moans.
...yeah. I don't know what the hell is going on either.
The girl to the right is an operator maid. She's meant to be the straight laced one. Well, as straight laced as you can get in this show anyway.
The head mechanic maid...yeah, you heard me right; she's a mechanic maid.
The Loli Maids
A trio of ten year olds whose sole purpose in life seems to be raping Eiji. It's not pretty.
There you go you disgusting pedophiles, two naked lolis for you to wank to. Let it be known that Snark is fair to all, even to revolting childscrewers.
This was not a high point in young Eiji's life.
Faye Xin Lu
The commander of the G-Soldiers, a rival organization whose purpose is to supplant Gravion as the defenders of Earth. Has a mysterious past with Toga. May or may not be horny for Toga.
The titular mech itself. Is formed by combining the Gran Kaiser, a smaller robot with five Gran Diva vehicles, each piloted by one of the pilots.
Sadly, this is not one of Gravion's strong points. It's not ugly so to speak, but it's rather obvious that Gravion was made on a budget, with quite a bit of stock footage and several obvious cost cutting techniques used throughout the episode.
That said however, the characters look pretty enough, and Gravion, whilst not the most visually distinctive giant robot out there, is well designed and looks great on screen.
A special mention must also be given to Gravion's combination sequence, which is easily one of the best I've seen in any super robot show;
Put simply; Gravion is a show that knows exactly what it is and has no pretensions of being anything more. The story is simplistic and the characters likable but generic. Despite this, it remains a very enjoyable show that knows not to take itself too seriously, which results in some genuinely funny moments that poke fun at many established super robot tropes.
The soundtrack is particularly deserving of praise; featuring two openings and two insert songs that comprise some of JAM Projects' best works, it elevates some of Gravion's most memorable scenes to a level that would have been impossible in the hands of lesser musicians.
However, Gravion is not perfect; as mentioned before, the story is very light and the characters are derivative, which would surely put a damper on the enjoyment for some.
Generally, I hesitate greatly to say that a show is for fans of the genre, because it sounds very much like a feeble excuse for the failings of a show. Gravion however, is a case which I believes warrants that description.
This is very much a show by super robot fans for super robot fans. It's well aware of the tropes of the genre, and gleefully pokes fun at them, and yet revels in them all the same. Gravion is Masami Obari's love letter to super robots, and like most love letters, non-recipients will find little of value.