Directed by Yoshitomo Yonetani
Written by Yasushi Hirano
Final episode date 31 January 1998
Director Yoshitomo Yonetani
Genre Adventure, Mecha
Produced by Ryōsuke Takahashi
Music by Kohei Tanaka
First episode date 1 February 1997
Number of episodes 49
|Cast Nobuyuki Hiyama, Tomoe Hanba, Kiyoshi Kobayashi|
Characters Mamoru Amami, Swan White, Mic Sounders the 13th, Guy Shishioh, Mikoto Utsugi
Similar The Brave Express Might Gai, The Brave Fighter of Legend D, Brave Command Dagwon, Brave Police J‑Decker, Matchless Raijin‑Oh
The King of Braves GaoGaiGar (勇者王ガオガイガー, Yūsha Ō Gaogaigā) is an anime television series which began in 1997, created by Sunrise's internal "Studio 7" under the direction of Yoshitomo Yonetani, and the eighth and final in the Yūsha metaseries funded by Takara and produced by Sunrise.
- Licensing in the USA
- Shared continuity with Betterman
- Historical context
- GaoGaiGar in Japanese popular culture
It takes place in 2005 (initially referred to only as "the 21st Century"), two years following an incident where the first identified extraterrestrial intelligence—classified as "EI-01"—crash-landed on Earth and absorbed a large number of machines into itself before disappearing without a trace. Following this incident, the Japanese government created a secret organization to combat potential alien threats: the Gutsy Geoid Guard, or "GGG", based beneath G-Island City in Tokyo Bay. Parasitic alien life-forms known as "Zonderians" have begun to emerge; using the Zonder Metal of which they are made, they can assimilate various kinds of matter to form "Zonders." which use humanoid beings as their hosts.
GGG gains three key resources with which to combat this threat. There is Galeon, a sentient mechanical lion of alien design. There is the alien child Mamoru Amami, whom Galeon had left with human parents eight years earlier. The third asset is human cyborg Guy Shishiō, whose life was saved by Galeon two years earlier and is capable of fusing with him, forming the mechanoid GaiGar. When combined with the GGG-made GaoMachines, GaiGar becomes the Super Mechanoid GaoGaiGar: a mecha capable of defeating Zonders, recovering their cores for Mamoru to "purify" and saving the human host in doing so.
GaoGaiGar is composed of 49 episodes, first aired on Nagoya TV from February 1, 1997 to January 31, 1998. It was followed by a number of works across multiple media (one serialized novel, two short stories, one PlayStation video game, at least two serialized manga and four audio dramas). Most of these works contained plot written by Studio 7 staff, and contributed to its canon long after its airing. Each episode has special effects and composed with CG animation
The show's popularity would soon warrant a new animated work. This resulted in the production of the eight part sequel OVA The King of Braves GaoGaiGar FINAL, released from January 21, 2000 to March 21, 2003. Its story takes place one year following the events of the television series, and incorporates characters and continuity from non-television works. Examples include Renais Kerdif-Shishioh (main character of the aforementioned novel) and Rose Approval (secretary general of the United Nations as seen in the aforementioned PlayStation game).
Licensing in the USA
For many years it was believed, due to licensing disputes involving Sunrise, Takara and Bandai, that GaoGaiGar would not be licensed for an international release. On April 19, 2006, however, Media Blasters announced their licensing of the GaoGaiGar TV series for marketing in the United States. The first volume was released to stores on September 26, 2006. On April 23, 2007, it was reported that the US release of GaoGaiGar would go on hiatus due to the company's focus on a labor-intensive Voltron DVD release. They followed with a statement that the subsequent volumes will be subtitled only, due to poor sales. Overall only 25 out of the 49 episodes were dubbed. The rest of the GaoGaiGar DVD series was released in a box set on August 19, 2008. However, the show is now available as part of a digital subscription package from Daisuki.
Shared continuity with Betterman
In the interval between the respective productions of GaoGaiGar and GaoGaiGar FINAL, Studio 7 had also made the complex, horror-themed show Betterman, which first aired from April 1 to September 30, 1999 on TV Tokyo. This show is composed of 26 episodes and takes place in the same overall universe as GaoGaiGar. Director Yonetani has taken steps to link these two works on a number of occasions.
The first notable sign of a connection is Tsuguo Ushiyama, who appeared briefly in GaoGaiGar, though makes multiple appearances as a friend of Betterman's main protagonist Keita Aono. A line of continuity was also established when the character Papillon Noir (appearing in the novel "Queen of Leo <Leon Reine>" and FINAL) was introduced in a Betterman audio drama following the show's run. Furthermore, in both the third and final episodes of FINAL, Shigeru Akamatsu and his two assistants can be seen (with their backs to the camera), first watching the reports of GGG's "Coup d'état" in the main Akamatsu Industries' warehouse, and again after the end of the vicious storms in the last episode of FINAL (again facing away from the camera).
In the summer of 2005, a 12 episode re-edit of GaoGaiGar FINAL—The King of Braves GaoGaiGar FINAL -Grand Glorious Gathering-—aired on TV Tokyo. This show was dubbed a "reimagining" of FINAL, adding flashbacks from the original television series and minor elements from Betterman to further connect the two series, featuring new voiceovers to accompany reused animation and stills.
The "deluxe" version of the -Grand Glorious Gathering- DVD box set contains a special disc called "Disc Z." One of the features on this disk contains information about a new GaoGaiGar work entitled The King of Braves GaoGaiGar Project Z. This project brings GaoGaiGar in even closer relationship with Betterman by reintroducing the corporation Akamatsu Heavy Industries. They cooperate with GGG to build the "Neuromechanoid" Awakener GaiGo, with GaoGaiGar characters Mamoru Amami and Ikumi Kaidou as its "Head Divers" (pilots). Betterman Lamia is also seen to make at least one appearance. As of July 2007, however, no other information is known about "Project Z", though a GaiGo figure was released in late 2006. It has since been confirmed that Gaogaigar Project Z is now officially cancelled.
In its production, Studio 7 further ensured that there were no actual betrayals in the show; any "betrayal" automatically resolves itself as a secret that had to be kept to the main characters' benefit. This was perhaps partly due to the fact that GaoGaiGar was made as a children's show, and partly as a commentary on the heavy air of distrust and conspiracy occurring in mecha anime.
In the first half of the television series, other, minor themes are introduced, nearly all of them ultimately discarded in favor of the main themes of courage and bravery. The first episode begins on a place called Garbage Island ("gomi no shima", an analogue to Japan's own "Dream Island" or yume no shima found in Tokyo Bay) and speaks about ecology and the environment. Outside of that one episode, this theme is only followed up on briefly, in one other moment of the entire series. Another discarded theme is that of self-betterment: in the first half of the series, the Zonderians mostly make Zonder Robos of stressed-out, discontent "average joe" types—a truck driver who hates traffic, for instance, or a morbidly obese man tired of being picked on. Once Mamoru purifies them, however, their attitudes toward life become less obsessed (and in the case of the obese man, the source of stress is removed), the stress having been exhausted from their system when in Zonder form.
It is also notable that GaoGaiGar's narrator and its "Jikai" (Next Episode) sequences—and the episode titles themselves, in some cases—rely on extreme hyperbole, even lying to the viewer if deemed necessary. This in itself is a Super Robot trend, dating back to Mazinger Z, the original Super Robot show (which itself used hyperbolic episode titles such as "Kouji Kabuto Dies in Lava").