Mecha anime is a subspecies of Japanese anime series, that specifically revolves around the use of human-piloted robotic armour in battle. This breaks down further into two different types of mecha; Super Robot and Real Robot. The genre is wide and covers storylines from the comedic to the dramatic, although by nature mecha anime is always larger than life and has plenty of large battles involving the mecha.
The differences between the two subsets of mecha anime are subtle yet noticeable. Super robot series have largely more mystical mecha, and usually have a ‘monster of the week’ format (commonly used in many types of anime). Real robot series depict mecha as tools rather than mystical beings, with the focus more on the pilots of the machines, rather than the machines themselves.
Types of mecha can be broken down further into four categories – sentient, wearable, remote controlled and piloted. Sentient robots have the ability to think and feel, although the source of the sentience can vary. Neon Genesis Evangelion is an example of this type of mecha anime. Wearable robots are controlled by humans in wearable armour, for example in Gensis Climber Mospeada. Remote controlled robots are controlled externally, such as in Tetsujin 28-go, and piloted robots are piloted by humans internally as demonstrated in Maziner Z.
The history of Mecha anime can possibly be traced as far back as 1956, with the manga series Tetsujin 28-go, which was animated in 1963. However the defining series of the genre was Mazinger Z, the first successful Super Robot series. The mecha anime genre was later broken into the two subsets of Super and Real in 1979 by the first Mobile Suit Gundam series. Osamu Tezuka‘s Ambassador Magma series is a point of note in the genre as it had the first transforming robot, which is now a key part of this type of anime. Another important series is Getter Robo, which had the first combining robot, and this is also now a vital part of the genre.
Well-known Mecha Anime series include:
Neon Genesis Evangelion