I’m not all that well versed in the Mecha genre. For some reason I haven’t seen many throughout the years, but every single one I have seen, I liked, a lot!!! Please be aware though, that I’m a novice at best and bound to get a few things wrong.
When explaining the Mecha genre to nontakus (does that word exist? Did I just make it up? Should I apologize?) most of us will immediately go to the default: it’s giant robots piloted by dudes with issues. I may have added that latter part. It’s true though! That would probably lead most people to think that these are essential large-scale wartime stories (which is not far from the truth) with the Mechas being an interesting alternative to spaceships or waterships (which I disagree with). Although this interpretation isn’t entirely inaccurate, I think there’s some room for improvement. Mechas are so much more than vehicles and that’s why I want one for Christmas.
In general plot outline and narrative construct, I’ve always felt the Mecha shows were closest to Magical Girl series. A lone “chosen one” protagonist fighting against seemingly insurmountable odds with the help of a huge power reserved only for them. I just described a hero’s journey, didn’t I…like 90% of all fiction… well it’s more than just that. The similarities go way further.
Mecha shows very often attach a lot of importance to the emotional impact of the events, concentrating on personal journeys rather than entire armies. The flashy fights are more background form internal struggles. Shinji wonderin why his daddy doesn’t love him as the world is burning is just like Serena fretting over what the heck Tuxedo Mask’s problem is, while the world burning…. Basically, in both genres their protagonists come with a lot of baggage as well. Also, they usually have a group of close knit friends and… Wait, this still sounds like pretty much every shonen there ever was. Ok, get this: Mecha shows usually have a transformation sequence! Ha HA Mecha = Magical girl! Glad you agree!
Now, I’m not saying the Mecha itself is the Magical Girl, that would be silly. The Mecha is the familiar! You know, Kero, Luna or Kyubey.
In the (like 4) Mecha shows I’ve seen, the pilot has a clear emotional attachment to their Giant Robot. The see it as a protector but also a confident and advisor. There’s something akin to friendship there although obviously, the relationship tends to be a bit one sided. Still, the personal connections made with Mecha tend to be much deeper than those made with the bus you ride to school every morning.
This got me thinking, what exactly are mecha, I terms of their social standing in the grand scheme of things. And this is what I came up with. They’re pets! I mean, think about it. The pilot has a sense of ownership over their mecha and generally, the mechas do what the pilot(s) tell them to, but once in a while, they disobey, and we never know when one will decide to go off. The pilot needs to learn how to properly operate it and all the particular idiosyncrasy of their unit – train it if you will.
These giant robots bring us comfort and a sense of safety but are limited in how much they can truly interact and we’re never sure if they understand anything at all. We could have emotional service mechas with little orange coats that we bring on public transit with us. And in a way we do. If you’ve ever had a tomodachi, you know what I mean.
Now, taking all of this into consideration, a Mecha is the ultimate Christmas gift. It’s all the innocent joy and merriment of a puppy, with the practicality and, for lack of a better word swag, of a brand-new car! (I can only say that in game show host voice).
Long story short – somebody please buy me a mecha. It doesn’t have to be a huge one or anything, I’m pretty small, I can fit into a tiny one. I would like it to have some pink and also transform or glow or something when I activate it. I will give it an adorable name, Power Petunia, and tell it all about my day, each evening.
I’ll make sure to guard against rust and salt damage and take very good care of it, promise. So it’s a deal, right? This is gonna be epic! I can’t wait till Christmas morning!