Choujuu Kishin Dancougar
Released Year : April 5, 1985 to December 27, 1985
No of Episodes : 38
Genre : Action,Mecha,Sci-Fi,Shounen
Plot : Emperor Muge Zarbados and his Empire of Death decide that their next conquest will be the faraway planet of Earth. Muge becomes even more fearsome because of Shapiro Keats, a power-hungry Earthling-turned-traitor. It's up to Shinobu, Sara (Shapiro's old girldfriend), Masato, and Ryo of the Jyusenkitai/Cyber Beast Force to pilot the four Jyusenki/Beast Mecha (Eagle Fighter, Land Cougar, Land Liger, and Big Moth [a mammoth mecha]), which can combine into the giant mech Dancougar. (Source: ANN)
Our Review : Notice: This review covers all specials of the franchise, which consist of the main series, a few extra OVAs and a mini series.
STORY SECTION: 4/10 [Same old shit; but with a lot of drama on top for flavor.]
Analysis: General Scenario 1/2, Pacing 1/2, Side Stories/Extra Spices 0/2, Believability/Reasoning/Realism 1/2, Conclusion 1/2
- Aliens attack Earth and a team of teenagers pilots super robots in order to stop them. Where have I heard that one before?
- No side stories. Besides the 4 youths and the megalomaniac renegade, the rest of humanity and the entire alien empire are cardboards that are there simply to be killed without a second thought.
- On the good side, the story does not begin in the usual way. It is a bit more realistic than your average mecha series. We have more than the clichéd professor, who simply invites the youths over to his lab and gives them the robots. It takes about 10 episodes for the team to come together under the same roof; plenty of time for developing their personalities and the main story. The army is involved in everything and every battlefield is based on a real location. Vague strategies and explanations also make the story half-gullible while we get to see plenty of war drama involving civilians and plain people, whose lives are ruined by the war.
- On the bad side, we have the same old bullshit all idealistic series share. How the hell do 4 robots beat an entire interstellar army? Especially when they are made of plain Earth technology (which is of course inferior to the alien) and are not part of some weird godly or superior alien power? And why do the villains keep making the same mistakes? And why are normal civilian rebels carrying rifles a hundred times more effective in battle than veteran soldiers in aircrafts? … Reason committed suicide.
- The first 10 episodes are excused as the gathering of the team. The rest up to the last two, do not. Twenty-six episodes of mostly repeating plot, boring battles and cheesy teen drama is more than enough of an excuse to start skipping entire sections. Don’t worry; besides some forgettable character coloring and the occasional pointless power-ups, there is nothing there. No scenario development at all. The only reason I give it a half score is because of the continuation of the story in the OVAs. It would be far better if they were included in the main series instead of those fillers.
- And then we have the conclusion in the last two episodes … Or maybe not? … NO CONCLUSION! You are supposed to watch the OVAs for that. Producers’ thoughts: “Ha! In your face, silly viewers! Buy more merchandise! Make us richer!”
- The conclusion of the final battle is just a single OVA named “Ushinawareta Mono Tachi e no Chinkonka”, where the leading mecha takes on the remaining bad guys in their stronghold. And still wins, despite the myriads or traps they have laid there, just because the human pilots have the power of love, God, or whatever idealistic nonsense comes to your mind. A quite lame conclusion to an otherwise “interesting but quickly got boring” mecha series. We get 30 minutes of evil aliens playing it hard to get, preparing with all they have, being ready to take the entire universe… and being defeated within one minute with some ridiculous “goodness and love are always stronger than instant regeneration and an army of ghosts up your ass.” I don’t know if that is enough of an excuse for you, but I personally think a single bullet is stronger than any idealistic, romantic or otherwise righteous person in the world. And if might isn’t right, piloting a huge mecha with the power to level entire planets isn’t the proper way to make your point.
- There is another follow up, simply called “God Bless Dancouga”. Another single OVA, where the crew returns to Earth and tries to live a normal life. But several humans are acting quite like dicks and make fun of the people who saved their planet. And there is a sinister plan lurking in the background. It sure was a lot more interesting than the final battle with the alien invaders. The enemy is ungrateful humans instead of generic evil aliens, and the power to defeat them isn’t a huge sword and the power of love, or something. The characters get fleshed out a bit more and the ending offers kind of a true conclusion for the heroes.
- As if that wasn’t enough, after that we get yet another follow up titled “Hakunetsu no Shuushou”. A small series, where the renegade human is still alive and gathers the heroes, who retired and live normal lives, for one last slug fest. Far more interesting than the series and as nice as God Bless Dancouga, and with longer duration to boot. We have a bit more fleshing out and one royal showdown for the franchise. It may seem ridiculous to have the renegade alive again for the sake of a sequel but, hey, it’s just a silly mecha show, bear with the inconsistency.
CHARACTER SECTION: 5/10 [Boy, all this fuss just for that?]
Analysis: Presence 1/2, Personality 1/2, Backdrop 0/2, Development 1/2, Catharsis 2/2
- Nothing much to remember about how they look.
- Stereotypes! At least, they aren’t the usual 5-member team of clished mecha. They are more of a military nature but even that is not much. The team is made of 4 members, because the fifth deserted to the enemy early on; was a surprise! And the woman in the team actually kicks ass and is in love with the renegate instead of the perky leading male; another surprise! The rest of the 98 characters in the series… are not really characters. Just brainless alien generals, patriotic military officers and wimpy civilians. It won’t take more that 5 seconds to forget them… Forget? … Forget whom? … There were more than two characters in the show? … I don’t remember…
- No backdrops. We, the good Earth people. They, the bad aliens. Next!
- Every major character has “highlight episodes” where he or she temporary becomes the center of attention. He or she gets to show off some new weapon or reveal something of his/her past. And then drops back into the stunt section for about 30 episodes. Seriously, only the female member and the renegade male actually develop. The rest don’t change even a shirt! Not to mention the anti-climactic and lame way most of them die. They were talking big and yet kick the bucket in situations that scream, “I am stupid”.
- No catharsis in the series but if you watch the OVAs and the mini series then indeed, they feel like they found their piece of heaven.
ART & SOUND SECTION: 5/10 [Something between the Power Rangers and J.I.Joe.]
Analysis: Not needed, they get the base score in all subsections.
- The mechas are rather detailed and the explotions look nice half the time. Too bad the huge amount of repeating footage and the “yellow circle” explotions overshadow all that. And I’m not so sure if many people dig animal-themed Earth robots and demon-themed alien ones.
- Military bases were given attension in realism, alien bases on the other hand are pathetically simplistic and impractical in arangement.
- Character figures are pretty generic. Female charactrs had way too big eyes and aliens were nothing more than grey-skinned humans. Hooray for originality!
- Voice acting and music themes were decent but not memorable. 80’s J-pop and edgy teens are out of fashion for over a decade.
VALUE & ENJOYMENT SECTION: 2/10 [Generic series #569853265.]
The initial and ending episodes were really good. But the boring in-between episodes and the undeveloped cast of characters made most of the series to feel stupid and pointless. Thank goodness I didn’t miss the extras because at least I got a conclusion there. As for the action part, I lost my interest in “lion or mammoth looking robots that combine into a bigger humanoid mecha” after the first dozen seasons of Power Rangers.
Autobots, transform! … I’m way too old for this shit. Plus, there are hundreds of better series than this one.
Macross and Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann if you fancy classic mecha formulas.
The Vision of Escaflowne, Brigadoon, Neon Genesis Evagelion, Ghost in the Shell, Zegapain, Ergo Proxy, Argento Soma, Betterman, Soul Taker and Rahxephon if you are looking for some substance.