History of Mecha: The 80s

Panel 6

Friday July 28, 2023 - 3:15 pm to 4:15 pm

Guide Description – Mecha anime’s storied history continues to be told. Join NoS Anime on this journey to highlight the major milestones and series in mecha anime throughout the years. In this second installment, discover how genre division and a booming economy gave rise to a mecha anime golden age. Submission Description – This panel is the second in a series which examines the history of giant robot anime from its origins through the modern day. The series dives into the societal, political, and economic background that encouraged the mecha genre to develop and change throughout the decades. To this end, each iteration of this series begins with two sections vital to setting the appropriate context for the audience. The first section explains the parameters for how our group defines mecha anime. The second section looks at the historical developments in Japan during each panel’s timeframe to provide a background to the environment in which these anime were being produced. This second iteration covers the decade considered by many to be giant robot anime’s golden age. The panel begins with “Mobile Suit Gundam” and looks at the factors behind its rebound into monumental success. From here, the panel examines transitional works such as “Space Runaway Ideon” which toed the line between the real robot/super robot subgenres. The panel then moves into the real robot genre with shows such as “Super Dimensional Fortress Macross” which played into the craze over plastic models but also continued to innovate and take advantage of the booming Japanese economy. The presentation then turns to technological developments via the OVA which served to buoy the mecha genre as its early 1980s boom period dwindled out. The final portion of the panel examines giant robot anime’s decreasing popularity at this time and looks at how major franchises maintained mecha’s foothold in anime before shows such as “Gunbuster” and “Patlabor” turned the tide as the 1980s came to a close. Shows Discussed: Mobile Suit Gundam, Space Runaway Ideon, Space Warrior Baldios, Fang of the Sun Dougram, Combat Mecha Xabungle, Aura Battler Dunbine, Armored Trooper Votoms, Super Dimensional Fortress Macross, Dallos, Blue Comet SPT Layzner, Super Bestial Machine God Dancougar, Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam, Metal Armor Dragonar, Mobile Suit Gundam Char’s Counterattack, Mobile Suit Gundam 0080: War in the Pocket, Aim for the Top! Gunbuster, Patlabor: The Mobile Police. This presentation pre-dates our recording of sources, but a partial list of those used can be found at: https://nosanime.tumblr.com/post/628638278129713152/bibliography-history-of-mecha-the-60s-70s