Shizuka IshigamiIbuki KidoHideyuki HoriAzusa Tadokoro
Daimidaler the Sound Robot
Also known as: Daimadaler: Prince vs. Penguin Empire, Kenzen Robo Daimidaler
Episode 1 also reviewed here: Anime 1st episodes 2014: D
Medium: TV, series
Year: 2014
Director: Tetsuya Yanagisawa
Original creator: Asaki Nakama
Actor: Nobunaga Shimazaki, Yoko Hikasa, Ao Takahashi, Aya Suzaki, Ayaka Ohashi, Azusa Tadokoro, Hideyuki Hori, Ibuki Kido, Jun Fukushima, Kentarou Itou, Makoto Yasumura, Natsuki Hanae, Ryota Takeuchi, Shintaro Asanuma, Shizuka Ishigami, Taishi Murata, Takehito Koyasu, Yuichi Nakamura
Keywords: mecha, SF, anime, boobs
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Format: 12 episodes (24 minutes) + 6 OVA mini-episodes (3 minutes)
Website category: Anime 2014
Review date: 16 February 2015
Daimidaler is a giant robot show in which the robots are pervert-powered. To use your robot's special attack, you'll probably have to make a "special attack" on your co-pilot. The show also has gleefully gratuitous nudity and borderline hentai played for laughs.
Occasionally even I found it distasteful. (I must have missed a memo regarding the strict teacher with unusual ideas on how to encourage her students. It didn't seem to fit, somehow, although fortunately she's a very minor character.) I'd struggle to object if you called this show desperately juvenile. It's one of Japan's many, many ecchi anime, which is a genre that spends most of its time on a spectrum from "pointless" to "unwatchable".
It's also brilliant, if you don't mind spending a little time on an uncomfortable borderline or two.
I can understand the responses of people who say, for instance, that "Daimidaler the Sound Robot is really really really really really really really really stupid." They're wrong, though. To start with, it's a Go Nagai homage. Go Nagai invented entire genres and more specifically, as far as Daimidaler's concerned, the Giant Robot show with Mazinger Z. However people tend to focus on his perverted output, e.g. Harenchi Gakuen, Cutey Honey, Kekko Kamen and too many others to count.
Daimidaler's bringing those two things together. It's a proper giant robot show, steeped in the genre's traditions. It has:
(a) an awesome theme song, roared out with retro hot-blooded passion as if the 1970s never ended.
(b) a lead character (Kouichi Madanbashi) who doesn't just behave like those fired-up 1970s Go Nagai heroes, but even looks like them. The show's swiped one of Go Nagai's standard character designs.
(c) the three scientists who build and maintain Daimidaler being a sexed-up parody of their equivalents in Mazinger Z.
Is it parody or homage? Both, of course. (This material couldn't have been a true Go Nagai homage without also being a parody.) It's a Giant Robot anime to its last Hi-ERo particle, but its robot-building organisation is called Beauty Salon Prince and their enemies are penguins. Plus, of course, the ecchi. On its own, the sexual angle would have merely given us yet another dodgy anime. However it becomes funny when melded with the Giant Robot genre and then keeps getting funnier the more it's pumped up to eleven. Excess becomes the point of the exercise. A perverted protagonist is an idea that I'd call intrinsically unfunny, but it becomes comedy gold when he gets recruited as a Daimidaler pilot and put through Pervert Training. The organisation's boss is merciless in his evaluation of Kouichi, to which our hero responds with the fervour of a martial artist eager to spend hours standing under waterfalls in mountains in the winter. "Please teach me your ways, Administrator! What must I do?"
The voice actors' contribution is huge, of course. Nobunaga Shimazaki as Kouichi is the embodiment of the Hot-Blooded Hero, except with a mission to grope women. Meanwhile Takehito Koyasu as the Administrator is every bit as intense in everything he does, but also ruthless and cold-blooded. He can make ordinary lines funny just with his single-minded delivery.
Time for a language lesson!
MIDARA (adj-na,n) obscene, indecent, lewd, bawdy, loose, improper, dirty
DAI (prefix) big
ERO (adj-na,n,adj-no) erotic; eroticism;
KENZEN (adj-na,n) health, soundness, wholesome
CHINPO, CHINPOKO, CHINKO, CHINCHIN, etc. (n) all words for penis. Note their common root.
CHIN (pn, adj-no) first person pronoun used by: (a) royalty, and (b) Likantz Seaberry in Daimidaler the Sound Robot. I can't think why.
Thus the name Daimidaler roughly means "mega-obscenity", which makes the theme music funny when it's roaring MIDARA MIDARA MIDARA. (The variation in Anglicised spelling is insignificant.) Furthermore, the "sound robot" bit of the title doesn't mean sonic weaponry, but instead that mega-obscenity is wholesome and healthy. There's a challenge in that, which is raised from subtext to text in the show's last few episodes when the government sides with the alien invaders against Daimidaler because it's trying to keep Japan "sound".
Oh, and our heroes' Daimidaler-fuelling superpower comes from Hi-ERo particles. Obviously.
I love this show. It can be a struggle at times to keep watching Kouichi, but I love the way it glories in its ridiculousness. "In the blink of an eye, Beauty Salon Prince had become a large secret society that led the world." "Actually, I don't understand why a bunch of penguins fight in giant mechs." One of my favourites is the "mysterious thermal power source" in ep.11, which just about killed me. The show's daft and sleazy, but that's the point. That's what its plot, themes and jokes are built around. Avoid the heavily censored versions broadcast on TV Kanagawa and other networks, by the way. Watch the original uncensored version, as seen on AT-X or the DVD releases.
Then we have the show's antagonists, the Penguin Empire. They're man-shaped penguins, complete with gigantic crotch growths that AREN'T PENISES AT ALL but instead are "front tails". Uh-huh. Right. The penguin-worshipping and big-boobed Likantz Seaberry has a "God Scrub" technique that involves hand-washing those, um, front tails. Anyway, the penguins are pathetic and pornography-crazed villains. They're endearingly polite and environmentally aware, while their emperor is a far better employer than Beauty Salon Prince's Administrator. "We'll pay for it properly." They're funny and lovable. They're massive perverts. They're also, basically, us. They're from a parallel Earth and it would be interesting (but a spoiler) to go into all the ways in which the show's blurring the lines between hero and villain, or human and penguin. I will mention the Emperor-Likantz backstory in ep.9, though, because I'm particularly fond of that.
I also like the show's plot. It has a story, which furthermore is a good one. There's another Go Nagai trait that this show's aware of, which is to unleash an apocalypse and brutally kill the entire cast. Daimidaler doesn't quite go that far, but being a protagonist in this anime is not safe. It's possible for a distraught Daimidaler pilot to overload on Hi-ERo, which will be fatal for them and for anyone else in roughly a mile-wide blast radius. (This even has SF side-effects.)
The show's also more equal-opportunities than it looks. Dick jokes outnumber boob jokes, while it's actually the girls who get most of the emotional and character development. Kouichi gets some growth as a person (albeit from a low base), but the anime actually has a decent stab at exploring the feelings of his assigned gropee, Kyoko. Being Kouichi's co-pilot is her job. She knows its importance. She's also human. Her attitudes towards Kouichi aren't straightforward, especially when he turns out to have his own kind of loyalty. Oh, and there's also her relationship with Henry, aka. Penguin Commando Six.
More significant still, I think, is the fact that two of the three Daimidaler pilots we see are female. I don't see anything particularly meaningful in the show's exploration of Likantz's sexuality, which is penguin-centric, but the lovey-dovey couple of Kiriko and Shoma are interesting. They're virgins. They're nervous and easily thrown, while their nascent sexuality is tangled up with their other feelings. Kiriko's a powerful generator of Hi-ERo particles, but it won't work for her unless it's Shoma and even that hasn't got as far as first base. That said, I don't think the show's digging as deep as it could have or being entirely convincing in its portrayal of female teenage sexuality, but it's still a dramatic change of pace for the show and making it more interesting by exploring different dynamics (i.e. female protagonists and committed relationships in what had previously been a lech-a-rama).
It's also funny. Kiriko and Shoma's superpower is being cringeworthy in public. This regularly makes the Administrator want to kill them.
One downside, though, is some overly generic character designs for the girls. Too many of them look similar. When Kiriko showed up, I was trying to work out if she'd been in previous episodes and if I was meant to recognise her. The show even lampshades Humbolt looking like Ritz.
In short, massively underrated. It's full of ecchi and fanservice, but that's a good thing because it's (a) integral to the story and its themes, and (b) funny. The more outrageous and blatant it gets, in fact, the funnier. The last episode ends with an angry, eloquent defence of obscenity as Daimidaler defends the world from those who'd "push their ideals on others", although to be honest I think suffers a bit from the shallowness of its arguments. What it's saying is coherent and a reasonably strong defence, but there's quite a bit further one can take that discussion and for me it's being a bit simplistic. I still liked it, though. It's nice to see. "Lust is the hope for tomorrow!" Mind you, I think the show's preaching to the choir, since I don't think they'll be getting much disagreement there from anyone who's watched all the episodes of Daimidaler.
I like the characters (even Kouichi) and I was surprised by the story. It has power. Battles can be emotionally meaningful. It's crude and lurid nonsense, but it's very proud of that fact and is actively celebrating it. It made me laugh. I really rate this show, actually.
"This girl polished all our front tails by herself!"