SaiMoe is an annual tournament-style competition to determine whom the most moe anime character of the year is. Some people have a lot of fun participating in it each year, while others make their own English-language versions or alternatives like “SaiGAR.” Currently, set-up is going on for SaiMecha, a tournament to determine the most… well, the mecha that can get the most votes, I guess. Find all your info here.
Anyone can contribute nominations while they’re still open, and each person can submit up to fifteen mechs via email to executiveotaku AT gmail DOT COM. This post is to show off my noms in the same vein as ghostlightning and Schneider. These nominations are in alphabetical order by the name of the mech.
There are three general categories of interest for me when it comes to mecha: first and most importantly, their appearance. Second and equally important, their presence in the series. And third but still important, how they move. The third criteria has nothing to do with the functionality of their movement, but more to do with how that movement is animated.
1. Big O from The Big O
“BIG O! SHOWTIME!” Big O has an old-school look with new-school complexity. Clearly, it’s a bulking mass of a giant robot that logically has no reason to exist, yet it’s presented with a stylish flair and detail that instead of looking cartoony and silly, makes it look rugged and cool. I probably never could’ve imagined a robot that molds perfectly into a film noir backdrop, but Big O is a success in that very regard.
Big O is one of the robots whose movement is a big part of why I love it. The weight of its steps are portrayed perfectly, and there’s a palpable sense of the destruction that these robots leave. There are no high-speed, city-wide fights between two Bigs. The best example of Big O’s stable quality is in the first/second episodes when a close-quarters mecha fight takes place on just one city block, but does damage to the surroundings in such a way that still feels highly destructive.
skip to 3:30
2. Escaflowne from Escaflowne
Similar to Big O, Escaflowne is a slower, lumbering mecha, but the particulars of how it moves fascinate me. In the first thirteen episodes of the show (before the fights turned to shit), Escaflowne’s balance is clearly visible. It turns slowly, but thrusts quickly. It steps forward with a slash, and then catches itself by slowing into its next step. It fights like a fencer, but without forgetting that it’s a gigantic robot.
Besides that, wielding a medieval sword without looking stupid is hard for a mech, and pulling off a cape couldn’t be done with one that flies. Escaflowne’s design isn’t my favorite, but it does well to take advantage of the setting.
spoilers for Evangelion 2.22
3. Evangelion Unit 01 from Neon Genesis Evangelion
Hands-down, my favorite mecha of all time, even for its first fight alone. That entire fight I can picture frame-by-frame—its knees buckling before the jump, leaping gracefully in a front flip, its head sinking as it gets skullfucked by Ramiel, and then, of course, going berserk and tearing its AT-field in half, then beating the poor bastard to death.
Unit 01 honestly frightens me. I was pretty terrible with scary movies the first time I saw Evangelion in 2006, and the scenes where it tears Unit 03(?) to pieces and where it fucking devours an angel practically made me shit myself. They still both give me chills. 01’s jaw hanging open, bearing its oddly spaced, rectangular teeth still captivates me more than any other mecha can. And let’s not forget how bitchin’ it looks with orange wings or going into overdrive in 2.22.
MAJOR spoilers for End of Evangelion
4. Evangelion Unit 02 from Neon Genesis Evangelion
Unit 02 isn’t as striking as Unit 01, but it gets the best fights in the series and gets to move in ways that mecha rarely do. Watching it practically dance across aircraft carriers and then literally dance with Unit 01 are unforgettable scenes of highly-crafted technical animation.
But none of it compares to the legendary scene in End of Evangelion, all at once among the greatest fight scenes in anime, IMO the most stunning feat of animation in anime, and a disgustingly beautiful showcase of why the Eva units stand above all in terms of badass. And then there’s 2.22!
MAJOR spoilers for G Gundam
5. God Gundam from Mobile Fighter G Gundam
I love the original RX-78 design—and almost put that mech on my list—but it just doesn’t have enough qualities beyond appearance to be endearing to me. God Gundam follows the alt-universe Gundam tendency to kinda-sorta look like the RX-78, but among the look-alikes is my favorite design. Its red and white wings are certainly my favorite Gundam “backpack.”
Of course, God Gundam would be nothing were it not for having legendary attacks, performed amazingly by Domon Kasshu with credit to his seiyuu, Seki Tomokazu (though even in the dub, these attacks had the best incantations ever. TAKE THIS! MY LOVE, MY ANGER, AND ALL OF MY SORROW!). Face the Eastern sun and scream your heart out with me now! BAAAAAAAAKUNETSU! GODDO FINGAAAAAAA!!!!
6. Gundam Deathscythe Hell from Mobile Suit Gundam Wing
While Duo Maxwell is commonly considered one of the redeeming qualities of Gundam Wing, it still feels funny to nominate from it, especially when I haven’t watched almost any of it. However, I liked giant robots long before I actually gave a shit about the shows they were in, and even though G Gundam is what properly pulled me into the franchise, Deathscythe was my first love.
Hardly surprising, since it’s a mech that any thirteen year-old would love. It’s black, evil-looking, has gigantic bat wings, and carries a huge fucking green scythe. Does it matter to me that liking it probably says all kinds of unsavory things about me? No. I’ve always been a big dumb gothy kid who likes dark-looking stuff, even if it makes no sense at all on a giant robot.
7. Gurren-Lagann from Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann
I think ghostlightning said it all by embedding that video, so I’ve done the same.
spoilers for Top wo Nerae
8. Gunbuster from Top wo Nerae!
Honestly, I don’t care enough about Gunbuster that I should’ve nominated it, but I wanted to reach fifteen and ExecutiveOtaku already counted my noms from my comment on ghostlightning’s post, so I’m stuck with it. The appeal of Gunbuster is obvious—for one, it’s fucking unthinkably huge, and for another, it stands with ARMS CROSSED.
9. Melan Blue from Brigadoon
There are a lot of mecha known for being semi-sentient or having a distinct personality. Without quite crossing into the full-on speaking territory of the Tachikoma, Melan Blue probably has the most personality of the mecha I’ve seen, being treated as a living creature. He certainly has one hell of a face.
My favorite thing about Melan Blue’s design is that he’s thin and pointy. Pointy only works with thin IMO, and I don’t like bulky mechs anyway, so this design is right up my alley. Melan Blue is highly agile and maneuverable, which makes his fights all the more entertaining.
spoilers for Overman King Gainer
10. Overman King Gainer from Overman King Gainer
This one entirely comes down to design and weapons—Gainer is just that fucking cool-looking. It’s a robot with dreadlocks for Chrissake! I half-expect it to start break-dancing at any given moment. As for its weapon, one of the show’s characters but it best: “that chainsaw is also a gun!”
MAJOR spoilers for RahXephon
11. RahXephon from RahXephon
Part of me doesn’t like, or maybe doesn’t want to like the design of RahXephon. I’ve always found RahXephon’s choice of ultra-fancy, angelic designs to be a tad pretentious, but I also don’t dislike that the designers had the balls to make something that would look pretentious because otherwise, who else would? I guess my points for RahXephon mostly go to uniqueness.
12. Tachikoma from Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex
I’m not a fan of GitS SAC, having dropped it eight episodes into the first season after falling asleep during half of them, but by far my favorite part of the show was the Tachikomas. These are mechs that’ve had an immense amount of thought put into making them as rational and useful as possible and then been given the most likable personalities of anyone in the series.
A scene I recall adoring is in the second episode when a giant Tachikoma is wrecking havoc on the city, and the other Tachikoma have to work to stop it. One of the Tachikoma is horribly maimed, which made me gasp in horror, but then it talks to Motoko and tells her how excited it is that it got wrecked because now it can get better new parts. I found that nothing short of heartwarming.
13. Turn A Gundam from Turn A Gundam
I think it took me all of two seconds after seeing Turn A Gundam to decide that it was my favorite Gundam ever. Why? BECAUSE IT HAS A FUCKING MOUSTACHE, WHY ELSE?! Besides that, Turn A Gundam has personality in all these strange ways. It sometimes just turns itself on and acts strangely courteous while doing so, like it’s clearly the greatest gentleman in the room (maybe that’s why it has a moustache?)
14. Nirvash TypeZero from Eureka Seven
I almost didn’t nominate the Nirvash because I have a bone to pick with its design. It bothers me how the mechs in Eureka Seven have enormous chunky torsos, while the rest of their bodies are slim. I get that there has to be a cockpit somewhere on the surfing mech, but it seems like it’d make more sense for the rider to have a more immersive cockpit, considering the level of control it takes to make a mech fucking surf.
Still, I love the concept, and Nirvash is yet another mech with a personality. It reacts directly to Eureka’s condition, which is interesting, and its transformation in the last episode is spectacular.
15. VF-1S from Super Dimensional Fortress Macross
Last but far from least is the coolest of the cool when it comes to classics. I love veritable fighters and the idea of transforming between a jet and a mech, as well as being able to go in-between. The Skull Leader is simply the coolest one, flaunting the badass yellow and black stripes and skull-and-crossbones emblem.
That about does it for me. Send your nominations to the address above or post them in the comments here or on ghostlightning’s post and ExecutiveOtaku will tally them up for you.