-The OG Mech Fantasy-
- Episodes : 49
- Genre : Action, Sci-Fi, Adventure, Drama, Fantasy, Mecha
- Airing Date : February 5, 1983 – January 21, 1984
- Studios : Sunrise
Seisenshi Dunbine Introduction
Shortly before Yoshiyuki Tomino would make a sequel to Mobile Suit Gundam, he was still finding different ways in expanding the mecha genre. With Ideon, he makes a mecha a God, but with Aura Battler Dunbine, he takes a fantasy spin to it. In fact, Dunbine is actually an adaptation to a previous novel of Tomino’s, The Wing of Rean, which originally didn’t feature mechs. At the insistence of BanDai, the show’s sponsor, mechs were included and it gave birth to Aura Battler Dunbine.
So what’s this series about? It’s about how a group of regular humans from all over the Earth mysteriously find themselves trapped in Byston Well, a medieval fantasy world filled with ferries and mechas, or Aura Battlers. The main character is Shou Zama, a young man who just wants to be a motocross racer. All of that changes when he is forced into Byston Well and decides to join a rebellion in order to go back home. There, he meets characters from other nations. Some are his friends, and there are others that become his mortal enemies.
What We Liked About Seisenshi Dunbine
Whether it would be in context to modern or old school mecha anime, how many fantasy oriented mecha anime can a hardcore fan name? Just only a handful, and Dunbine paved way for it. In addition to Dunbine, the only fantasy mecha anime we can think of at the top of our heads are Escaflowne, Go-Lion (which was localized as Voltron) and Magic Knight Rayearth loosely uses these elements. Maybe combining fantasy and mech may seem unnatural, but with the right cast and script, it can work, and Dunbine gets the job done.
1. Amazing Mech Action
If you love action with your mech, then Aura Battler Dunbine has plenty of it. Even in a fantasy setting, viewers can see the real brutalities of combat. People die or suffer from grave injuries. While it doesn’t get as extreme as the ending of the Ideon movie, the anime can be raw and disturbing. We’re not saying it’s for those who love carnage and guts, but it masterfully displays that fighting isn’t all flash, but it’s about survival, and the action knows how to capture that these realities with fantasy.
2. Powerful Soundtrack
The soundtrack does an excellent job of capturing the world of Aura Battle Dunbine. It appropriately uses percussions to capture the pure and curious elements of the fantasy setting, and fanfare brass instruments in displaying the militaristic side of the action. Every now and then, it has a few fast paced disco beats to reflect the period of this anime’s broadcast.
Thanks to the powerful voice of MIQ (or who was known as MIO at the time of this anime’s broadcast), we have some of the best opening and ending themes of the 1980s. The opening theme introduces the audience to the mech/action qualities to this series, while the ending theme reflects more of its fantasy setting. So if you want a balanced soundtrack, Dunbine has it.
1. Weird names
Due to how weird the names are in Dunbine, it can be very difficult to take this anime seriously. Such names include Marvel Frozen (who is supposed to be from Texas), Neal Given, Drake Luft, Bern Bunnings, and Shot Weapon; the list goes on. As opposed to watching it in English, you’re better off watching this in Japanese since it will be more effective in taking these names seriously since these names come across as more exotic from a Japanese perspective.
2. Char clone is forced
Having a rival for the main character is natural for just about any mech anime, and Shou has that with Bern Bunnings. However, when the rival comes back from defeat for the final act, he is shoe horned as a Char clone as the Black Knight. For the rest of the series, he wears a black helmet and black armor. Thanks to the distinctive voice of Shou Hayami and his long platinum hair flowing out of his helmet, there’s no sense of tension or mystique to this approach to the character. He’s just given that identity solely for the sake of making him a Char clone. As a rival and as an individual character, Bern was already fine the way he was, and making him a Char clone really does nothing for him or the plot.
Due to Tomino’s fame with Gundam, it is rather unfortunate that Bandai and Sunrise probably forced him to use Gundam elements in Dunbine. As we stated, the original novels were pure fantasy and never had mechs. Still, he did find a creative way in making the mechs mystically oriented, and found a new way to express the concept of newtypes. Just like Dunbine’s predecessors (Gundam and Ideon), this series excellently tells an anti-war story with its distinct setting. Young people are forced to fight for something they may not believe in at first, but when they find a goal, nothing can stop them. As for its ending, let’s just say it’s a pure example of why Tomino earned the moniker, Minna Goroshi no Tomino, or Kill ‘Em All Tomino.