Welcome to Mecha general, the new place to discuss anything related to this subgenre of Science Fiction after the great off-topic purge of 2015. In this post I’ll be taking you through the what, how and why, including a very extensive list of animated shows and a couple of rules.
Mecha is short for Mechanical. The Mecha genre therefor consists of anything that is mechanical. In its broadest definition, this includes both mechanical and biological engineering (examples being Iron Man and Guyver: The bioboosted Armor). In a somewhat smaller definition, Mecha refers to media that focusses on ‘Giant Robots’. The origin of the genre lays in the use of robots (or rather mechs) as either protagonists or plot devices in story to be told. Due to the nature of these robots, Mecha can be considered a subgenre of Science Fiction. The best way to demonstrate this is by looking at the question: can a mech like this be real? The obvious answer (for now) is no. Another way to demonstrate the 'subgenre' status of the Mecha Genre is via the example of Mecha elements in Star Wars (Imperial Walkers and the use of droids). While Star Wars is considered one of the prime examples of science fiction (specifically as an example of a space opera), it is also considered part of the Mecha genre thanks to the Imperial Walkers and droids. One could argue that since Starships and Starfighters are also mechanical/engineered, they too belong in the Mecha genre (especially when the focus is on the mechanics of the craft and even more so if it transforms into a mecha. Think Macross). In short, while the Mecha genre is very specific (use of giant robots) its elements are all over Science Fiction.
I’d like to point out I used the term ‘robots’ loosely. Robots are autonomous entities. C3P0 and R2-D2 are robots and so are the Transformers. Anything that is being piloted by one or more pilots (often humans) is a Mecha. This distinction is however mostly used in English based communities. The Japanese are known to devide the Mecha genre in ‘Real Robot’ and ‘Super Robot’ shows, a devide most prominently featured in a game called Super Robot Wars. In this case real robot refers to the use of mechs as military equipment or weapons. Their height is limited and the use of weapons is determined by what the mech carries and or is supplied with. Most famous in this category is Mobile Suit Gundam (1979), which is considered the reason people started to use the term ‘real robot’. Super Robot is referring to mechs about the size of a skyscraper, with build in attacks/weapons. Most famous in this category is Mazinger Z (1974), often considered the grandfather of the entire genre. The typical super Robot is in a sense, more akin to a super hero than an actual fighting machine. Over the years however this distinction has gotten deluded with various shows crossing the boundary or using elements of both in the same show. Upon discussing these features it also became clear that the distinction is hard to justify in the first place. While Gundam is supposed to be Real Robot, how 'real' is having a samurai head to begin with? A lot of English communities have therefor disbanded (or are trying to disband) this distinction of categories.
Lastly, I’d like to discuss the types of media the genre is featured in. The Mecha Genre is and has been flourishing in Japanese Animation (anime) and Comics (manga). Considering the history of the genre this is not a strange thing. However western TV shows (including cartoons) and comics have often featured mecha too. Most famously now is Iron Man. And while the developers of Titanfall don’t want to hear it, their Titans are Mechs too. The Mecha genre therefor has found its way to most modern forms of (mainstream) entertainment (TV/Film/Games/Comics).
Firstly the Halo franchise is another prime example of science fiction with Mecha plastered all over it. Power Armor/Exosuits everywhere, tanks, jeeps, Spaceships, Starfighters and in some cases: actual mechs. I find it a safe assumption that some of you love the genre, without even knowing it. It is afterall, science fiction.
Secondly, despite its elements being everywhere, the Mecha genre has very few places on the internet to be discussed. This is my effort to spread the love a little more and discuss the genre with both likeminded people and people who are interested.
Thirdly, we already had a small fanbase going here and we were in the middle of a discussion.
Pick a show and start watching (see below)! The majority of Mecha related stuff pre-2000 is hard to get hold off. Sometimes we get lucky, like with the new Bluray deals Sunrise made with American Companies (who will be releasing Mobile Suit Gundam and Turn – A Gundam). Other times you’ll have to get creative, especially with old manga/comics. The newer shows can be seen on Youtube, Crunchyroll (via Funimation) and/or on DVD/Bluray. Most of the new (well selling) manga get US releases (which means they are also available in Europe). Good examples of these are Gundam: The Origin and Knights of Sidonia.
Index of Mecha Shows [credits to anonymous]
Comprehensive guide to the Gundam Franchise [credits to anonymous]
I included the comprehensive guide to the Gundam Franchise since A: I had it and B: it’s one of the more famous franchises. There are more franchise guides out there, including various recommendation guides. Of course Bakelit/Redacted/Whateveraliashehasnow, other members and I will gladly recommend shows/books/games. If theres need for more guides to franchises I’ll post them here.
List of Anime for Starters (contributed by Bakelit/Mobious)
The majority of Mecha fiction is animated. For this reason, this list is relevant.
- No Shitposting!;
- This topic can be used to discuss anything related to the Mecha Subgenre, including: movies, tv shows (animated and live action), games, comics(manga) and various hobbies related to the genre (like building specific model kits);
- When discussing the content of a show, use spoilers!;
- When discussing actual science related to the genre, use as many sources as you can;
- This topic can be used to ask for recommendations;
- You are allowed to give recommendations and discuss how and why this recommendation applies to the demand of the person asking for it;
- Power level debates between franchises are useless in this subgenre and therefor forbidden. You are allowed to discuss the strengths and weakness of mechs within the setting of its franchise;