Getter Robo: Armageddon Anime Review
Shin (Chenji!!) Gettaa Robo "Sekai Saigo no Hi"
New (Change!!) Getter Robo - The Last Day of the World
US Release By
Giant Robot Action
13 25-minute episodes
1998-08-25 - 1999-05-25
The original Getter Robo team lies in ruin. Getter Robo inventor Professor Saotome is dead, apparently murdered by the team's leader Ryouma. Second in command Hayato is missing. Saotome's daughter Michiru was killed in a Getter combining accident, and his son hasn't spoken a word since witnessing his father's murder.
In the midst of all this chaos the alien invaders who were defeated only a few years ago at great cost are back. And to make things worse, an army of evil Getter Robo Gs appears, intent on destroying the world, lead by the new Shin Getter Robo... piloted by none other than Professor Saotome himself, who has mysteriously come back to life. Only one thing can stop this double invasion: the original Getter Robo. And only one man has the skill to pilot it: the crazed and convicted criminal Ryouma!
First off, if you are not a fan of classic giant robot anime (i.e. voice activated, physically impossible, insanely huge humanoid robots that do battle in episode after episode of paper-thin plot) or can't stomach it, then leave now. The rest of you stay for one of the wildest rides to come in a long, long time.
If you know anything at all about giant robot anime then you've heard the name Go Nagai. Before he became the master of ultra violent anime with lots of nude girls he is known as today, Nagai was better known for his giant robot mangas (and anime that soon followed). His classic Mazinger Z is regarded as the first of the genre known to mechaphiles as the Super Robots: giant humanoid machines of war that are non-sentient (unlike the earlier Astro Boy and Astro Ganga), piloted by people riding inside them (as opposed to being remote controlled a la Gigantor), and have multitudes of weapons that are seemingly activated by the pilot shouting out its name at the top of his lungs (who can forget the classic: "Rocketto Paaanch!!"). Nagai's imagination continued to produce other super robot animes--UFO Robot Grendizer, Steel Jeeg and endless Mazinger variations. Then there was Getter Robo, probably the first ever combiner giant robot. Second only to the behemoth that is the Mazinger franchise, Getter Robo has endured as one of Nagai's most beloved mecha creations.
I should mention now that you need zilch experience in the Getter Robo universe to enjoy Armageddon. All you need to know is that there are three aircraft, piloted by three angry young people who shout a lot, and they combine into three different giant robots, each used for a different kind of battlefield. The connection between all the Getter Robo animes (all of Go Nagai's anime, really) is minimal at best. Which is why Getter Robo old-timers will be somewhat surprised that people who are supposed to have died are alive and well, and the characters are extremely different than their previous incarnations in Getter Robo and Getter Robo G.
Getter Robo Armageddon is dark. Very dark. Like most newer Go Nagai anime Armageddon is closer to its manga roots than the sanitized TV series that it spawned. Ryouma is a (very) angry maniac, Hayato is a dark and mysterious manipulator with questionable methods, and Professor Saotome is pure insanity in human form. And that's only part of the cast. To make things even more interesting, the first few episodes of the series are directed by Yasuhiro Imagawa, who directed Giant Robo (among other things); he gives the series his trademark edginess. Then a few episodes into the OAV (and one cataclysmic event later) the series changes gears (and directors) and the new generation of Getter pilots takes over. Younger, but still quite angry in their own way. They shout a lot too.
This change of directions is most apparent in the plot. What little there is is very confusing. Even at the end of the series you are left wondering about the characters' motives, and you get the feeling that you must've missed a few episodes here and there. Then again, if plot is what you're looking for you should've stopped reading this review a long time ago. Still, a coherent plot would've been nice. You can't have everything in life I suppose.
The rest of the series, however, is pure, classic giant robot anime bliss. The action is fast and furious. With lots of giant mechanoids and aliens bashing each other into pulp. Lots of outrageous attacks and weapons. Lots of scenery and celestial objects being destroyed in cool ways. Lots of fast switching between modes as the various Getter Robos face off against each other. And lots of closeups of pilots shouting things like "Gettaaaaa Tomahaaaawk!!"
The animation, being a newer OAV, is a nice departure from the tight-budgeted animation style of the days of yore, yet it still radiates retro. The character designs are pure old school Go Nagai. The robots, especially the original Getter Robo, have that primitive stove-pipes-for-arms look to them with none of the sleek styling of newer mechas like Gundam and Evangelion. And they also do plenty of posing that would seem cheesy and out of place in a newer anime, but you really can't have a super robot show without all that cheese, so get used to it. The action sequences (that's what we're here for, right?) in particular are well animated and feel very kinetic; you'll want to watch them again and again. Getter Robo fans will also note plenty of homages to the older incarnations.
The music stays true to the classic roots as well. The opening theme for the first part is a military march with angry (everything is angry in this anime) lyrics sung by none other than classic giant robot crooner Ichiro Mizuki, who did the opening songs for Mazinger Z and Combattler V amongst many, many others. The other opening is sung by another (newer) icon of anime music, Hironobu Kageyama of Dragon Ball Z fame. The rest of the music and closing themes have that distinctive '70s/'80s feel that won't fail to open the nostalgia faucet on full blast for many fans of the era.
And the Japanese cast delivers, successfully conveying plenty of heart through their constant screaming and shouting (which is what they do the most). In an interview, Ryouma's voice actor (relative newcomer Hideo Ishikawa) said that he was shouting so much, his throat started to bleed. Continuing the trend of homages to the old animes, Ryouma's original voice actor, the legendary Akira Kamiya, makes a cameo as the narrator. The English dub cast, however, falls somewhat flat. They're competent mind you, but their shouting lacks the power and zeal of their Japanese counterparts (have I stressed how important shouting is in this anime yet?).
Bottom line, if not for a weird, quirky plot (full of holes too) this anime would be pretty much perfect. It captures the nostalgic feel of the old giant robot shows perfectly and gives it a modern edge. If you're a fan of the genre, or just want a pretty mindless and furious action romp and don't mind the lack of plot, then definitely check out Getter Robo: Armageddon. Or, if you have a friend who is still watching '70s/'80s mecha shows, buy it for him/her--the look of complete and utter bliss on their face as they watch it will be more than worth the price of admission.
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Notes and Trivia
Other English titles used for the series include "Shin Getter Robo: Armageddon," "New! Getter Robo: Armageddon," and "Getta Robo: Armageddon." It's also easy to confuse this series with "New Getter Robo" (no Armageddon), a different show available in English from Geneon.
If you're particularly interested in the various titles, it's worth noting that the "Change!!" inserted into the Japanese title is a further source of confusion; as it's written on the Japanese videos, the title appears to be "Change!! Getter Robo," with "change" intended as an alternate way of reading "shin" (真), the character for "new." On Bandai's official Japanese site they use both what appears to be "New Getter Robo" and a version with a parenthetical inserted, "New (Change!!) Getter Robo."
US DVD Review
ADV's DVDs feature a very good video transfer and vibrant colors. Extras include some interviews with the English cast, and notes by the original Japanese crew.
This is not your family-friendly giant robot show of the good old days.
Violence: 3 - This Go Nagai we're talking about here, though it's quite tame compared to his other newer animes.
Nudity: 2 - Only a couple of brief nude scenes.
Sex/Mature Themes: 0 - Very minimal--the cast are too busy shouting and killing monsters and other giant robots.
Language: 1 - Nothing out of the ordinary.
Staff & Cast
Original Japanese Cast
Ryoma Nagare: Hideo Ishikawa
Hayato Jin: Naoya Uchida
Kei: Narumi Hidaka
Benkei: Shozo Iizuka
Go: Tomokazu Seki
Gai: Yasunori Matsumoto
Cohen: Daisuke Gouri
Stinger: Masashi Hirose
Professor Saotome: Mugihito
Musashi: Shinpachi Tsuji
Professor Shikishima: Yasuaki Suzuki
Narrator: Akira Kamiya
Formerly available in North America from ADV on bilingual DVD on four individual bilingual DVDs and as a 4-disc "Power Pack" set of the full series. Be careful not to confuse it with "New Getter Robo" from Geneon--they're not the same.
The DVDs are currently out of print, but Amazon has plenty of cheap used copies available at last check: Getter Robo Armageddon - Power Pack