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Review: Is “Daimidaler” Giant Robot Action or Offensive Sexual Culture?

by on April 27, 2016
 

DaimidalerTurning lust and love into power and energy would allow the Internet to power itself and the rest of the world, but for the warriors of Daimidaler, it’s the only thing allowing them to power their giant robots against the forces of evil. In this case, the evil forces are an inter-dimensional penguin army bent on conquering the world. Daimidaler: Prince VS Penguin Empire is, in theory, a mecha combat show where the twist is that the heroes and villains are not fighting over land, freedom, or domination, but “love particles.” In a world where giant robot battles take place in the background of rounding first base, are you really a hero if you have to grope women?

Daimidaler (pronounced “dime-a-dollar”) likes to put up the pretense that it’s a hot-blooded mecha show and/or a celebration of the genre. It is the definition of “burning justice” when each episode starts with a riotous theme song by Masaaki Endo (one of the founders of JAM Project, a band dedicated mostly to cartoon and live-action superhero shows who’s music has even made it into the American version of Power Rangers) about turning love “Hi-Ero” particles in victory in battle. The actual design for Daimidaler might be a little lacking — the robot is decidedly unbalanced, with one massive arm “balanced” by another that’s just a twig, and has a face that makes Charlie Brown look menacing. However, the main character, Koichi, fits cleanly into the archetype of any number of giant-robot leads. Every line is yelled, every hair is spiked, and every action is violent and immediate.

He’s also taken off the show within a handful of episodes.

This swerve is not the only one that Daimidaler throws at the viewer. Within the first episode, we see how the robots are powered by the insane lust and eroticism that arises from sexual acts when Koichi hops into the cockpit with Kyoko, the rational member of their duality, and proceeds to grab, squeeze, tweak, and tossle her body. Naturally, the giant robot’s power shoots up through the roof, and they win the day. Daimidaler is not the first mech series to inject rampant sexuality in the atmosphere. Shows like Gravion and Godannar added sexy costumes, awkward situations, and a bit of romance, but stuck solidly to genre conventions when it came to their plots. By the first commercial break of Daimidaler, we get scintillating pictures of the female cast in various states of undress, with no particular hiding of topless nudity (throughout the series, lower nudity remains covered or hidden, but this is definitely a show that earns the commentary’s discussion of “how to draw a nipple”).

DaimidalerAt the heart of the series is nothing but a love of sexuality and perversion puns. It’s for the best that the members of the villainous Penguin Empire have no mouths movements to match up for the English-language script, giving the dub writers and actors a significant amount of leeway in what they say. Lines like “unlike Superman, we’ll take this fight to an abandoned area” really only make sense to an American audience critical of Man of Steel’s devastation of Metropolis. Characters can and will say anything that you wouldn’t expect from a Japanese action series, let alone one focused on mecha action. The Penguin commandos will yell “ow, my nards!” after a particularly low-blow, and make constant references to their “front tails,” the massively-phallic extensions coming from their crotches. Not all the humor stems from the English-dub (and by default, you’d have to knock the dub a few points down for inaccuracy if that’s important to you), as the show still manages to make it a plot point that the Penguin Empire has a bad, outdated, Flash-designed web site for their nefarious purposes.

Is there a good story under the nudity and sex jokes? It’s hard to gauge, as there are some severe missteps. Within a few episodes, Koichi and Kyoko are replaced as the main pilots by Kiriko and Shoma, two love-addled high school students that find a quality hand-holding to be as erotic as the violent shirt-ripping of the previous crew. While intentional and commented upon, their ever-present “pure teenage love” is rather annoying. Even if their focus is only for a few episodes, that can add up to one-third of the whole series when the series is so short. Most of the cast is decidedly one-note and all the villains are generic, except for the lead human on their team, Ritz. She’s a plucky and excitable young girl who dresses like a stage magician and honestly appears to enjoy the sexually-depraved acts of the series, which very rapidly becomes one of the most off-putting elements of Daimidaler.

DaimidalerOne element in Daimidaler that’s similar to Heaven’s Lost Property is that the main sexual object (theoretically a character) is emotionally/socially/mentally-stunted. Any sort of sexual interaction (thankfully limited, but still present) is with what could only be considered a non-consenting party. By the same token, an overwhelming amount of the sexual humor in the series comes from the fact that it’s male characters attempting to grope, fondle, and turn the female characters into objects for their sexual gratification. It’s brought up in the commentary tracks, and it’s something that the series does shamelessly. The humor’s there, but there’s no counterbalance; there’s not a pair of pilots that features the woman jamming her hand down the man’s pants or such. This is not to say that gender balance in this brand of humor would be better or should be encouraged, but at least it would be fairer. But let’s be clear: this is flagrantly sexist crap, admittedly in a niche show from Japan that’s unlikely to do much damage to society as a whole. Still, depending on your knowledge and taste of international gender roles and media, it might be a deal-breaker by itself.

Another problem for the series is the weak designs and animation. Characters like the three doctors that help back-up Daimidaler are nothing but tropes; the older lady with glasses and fancy lingerie, the bunny girl, and the young one that wears a school swimsuit. CG is used for cars and other bits of machinery, but it’s weak. Daimidaler’s designs are particularly-weak. It’d be much easier to buy into the giant robot aspects of the series if the titular giant robot had any sort of style and flair. Maybe it’s intentional, since a generic robot design allows for greater focus on the dialogue and sexual humor, but it’s just not an appealing mecha.

DaimidalerThe two-disc set has what can be expected from Funimation on a full-series release; Japanese commercials and promotional videos, the textless opening and closing, and the US trailer are all included, and an assortment of other trailers are to be expected. Two commentaries give a notable amount of insight into the dubbing process, which is thankfully more than the standard commentary offers. The cast brings up how they would come up with lines that they could only do because of the freedom that a lack of mouth-movements allowed. There are six OVA episodes, thankfully dubbed (not a consistency with Funimation’s extras) that hold no pretense on moving along the plot, focus squarely on the outright nudity and sexuality the series strives for.

Daimidaler succeeds in its mission–not to defeat the Penguin Empire, but to provide a steady stream of sex and perversion in the guise of giant robot action. It may be a bit distasteful and offensive, but there will be a few lines that you’ll chuckle at. It won’t be a memorable ride, but it’s a fun one that’s over all-too-soon and forgotten even quicker.

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