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"Super Robot Wars": Hot-Blooded Mecha Goodness

by on January 4, 2008

I’ve never actually played any of the Super Robot Wars games, and I’m not familiar with the original Banpresto-created characters, so I have to admit that I wondered just how compromised my viewing experience of the Super Robot Wars: Original Generation OVA would be. Thankfully, I ultimately came out of it successfully entertained. But, as I initially expected, I also ended up being pretty confused at some points as well.

Sidestepping the legal-minefield that traps the majority of Super Robot Wars stories, Original Generation, as its name suggests, features only original characters and mecha (including star of its own show, Cybuster, named Cybaster here) developed by Banpresto to augment the SRW games. Given that these OVAs were clearly made for the SRW-playing audience, this means that none of the characters are given formal introductions. Also (more importantly) the games come with is a fairly large amount of backstory whose presence in the OVA would considerably help newbies get a better understanding of all these characters and their world. Without those games as a storytelling foundation, it’s naturally quite hard to keep up with all the characters’ backstories and references to past events. Thoughtfully anticipating such potential for mass confusion, Honneamise have at least included notes on the characters and their mecha in a supplementary booklet that will prove to be quite useful for anyone else who, like me, doesn’t have a decent handle on the SRW world.

So what about the series itself? It’s ultimately a very entertaining throwback to the days of true, hot-blooded mecha action, and thankfully it skips the modern conceit that deems fanservice mandatory. The story taken as a whole isn’t too convoluted, but repeat viewings after assimilating the supplementary information might help. It mostly takes itself seriously, but it also isn’t afraid to have a balancing sense of fun with some of the more lighthearted characters—again, harkening back to mecha shows of the past that found a happy medium between pretentiousness and silliness. As stated above, there is a rather large cast of characters, but the core action is kept to a manageable amount of them. This does mean that other intriguing supporting characters get the short end of characterization, but what are you going to do with a three-episode OVA?

The animation itself is of the excellent quality that is to be expected of the more collector-oriented OVA market, and in an interesting stylistic choice, it is only the mass-produced Bartoll’s that are rendered in cel-based CGI, with the Super Robots appropriately rendered with higher-quality cel-type animation.

As with the majority of Honneamise’s collector-targeted releases, the overall presentation and packaging is impeccable, but there is no English dub. I had no problem with the subtitle presentation in general, except in a couple of instances when background chatter was also subtitled at the top of the screen in a fairly distracting fashion. It would have been nice to have an additional track that omitted those bits.

The second disc in this two-disc special edition includes more notes on the SRW backstory (someone along the line was clearly very concerned about this!), as well as an impressive fifty-minutes-plus of interviews with the majority of the voice actors for the main cast.

All in all, there’s certainly enough here to make me anticipate Honneamise’s upcoming Super Robot Wars: Divine Wars series, if only to get a handle on the rest of the cast, but for sheer classic-styled mecha action, I can’t think of any other recent R1 releases that fit the bill so perfectly.

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