Five years ago Tsuwabaki Daiya lost his father in a storm, or that’s the official reason. The truth is that Daiya’s father was kidnapped by alien monsters during a battle between them and a giant metal dragon. No one believes Daiya’s story, but he is vindicated when both the monsters and the giant metal dragon appear in his town. The monsters are an invasion force from Darius, a secret dimension within the earth. The only force standing in their way is the Daikyu-Maryu, its valiant crew, and the the giant of fire Gaiking, for whom Daiya is the destined pilot. Daiya goes to Darius to find his father and protect the Earth from the evil machinations of the Darius Emperor.
Gaiking is an incredibly good show, filled with excellent drama and great characters. The reason for this is that Gaiking knows that it is a super robot show, and uses that formula to create the best super robot show possible. It doesn’t try to do things differently or create something unique like Gurren-Lagann; it knows it doesn’t have to to be good. First there’s Gaiking truly expansive cast of characters, all of which get fleshed out in someway, so by the end of the series you feel like you know each one of the intimately. The characters really get a chance to shine because Gaiking is such a well plotted series. Even when looking at the supposed filler episode, as a whole the show never wastes any time, whether it be for dramatic encounters or quite character moments. Even small characters from the beginning that you forget about get a chance to come back memorably at the end.
Since Gaiking is a solid super robot show much of its time is taken up by fighting, and fortunately there are a ton of great fights. The fighting feels very fresh and inventive to me. Daiya doesn’t use the same finishing move every time, but often needs to improvise. New abilities are introduced when they’re really needed and never show up more often than they need to be. I want to particularly single out the second fight between Daiya and Nouza. Now that’s what I call a good fight. No speedlines, just pure movement and action, very much akin to Gurren-Lagann episode 27.
Proist is the most vile, insane, evil bitch in any anime ever. Words cannot express how much I hated her throughout the show, though I guess feeling that strong about a character is a hallmark of a good villian.
The one flaw Gaiking can be said to have is its animation. It’s never that the animation is bad exactly, it’s just for probably the first fifteen episodes it’s easy to see that there’s not a lot of money in the budget. However, these concerns disappear with the second half of the series, with some episodes looking absolutely gorgeous. Fortunately, despite the animation problems, Gaiking always comes through for when the animation really needs to be good ie. fighting and the occasional fanservice.
Damn good OP, too.
Gaiking is the kind of show that rewards patient viewing. The first ten episodes give you time to know the characters, and after that it’s a whirlwind of drama and action. It really says something about a show when it got me to watch twenty episodes in one day. Let me tell you that doesn’t happen often. In some ways I know I’m talking on deaf ears, as the only people who will seriously give Gaiking a chance are mecha fans already. That won’t stop me from saying that Gaiking is one of the anime gems of this decade. It’s not different for difference’s sake, but does what anime is supposed to do: tell a great story, and at that Gaiking excels. Just ignore the sometimes lackluster animation and incredibly wacky attack names. I have no idea why Gaiking’s main attack that shoots out a fireball is called Hydro Blazer. Only the Japanese can come up with that.