Here’s a question we want you to ponder for a minute. How would you really feel if you were given a giant mech that was the size of buildings and had so much destructive force almost nothing could stop it? It might sound amazing to many of you otaku out there but have you ever thought of the consequences of using a giant killing machine? You’d literally be a walking being of destruction, smashing and destroying anything you crossed paths with. The reality of piloting a giant robot seems to be kind of terrifying…yet the psychology behind is truly exciting.
That’s why we here at Honey’s Anime love psychological themes in mecha anime. Many hate Shinji Ikari from Neon Genesis Evangelion or Amuro Ray from the original Mobile Suit Gundam but we look at them as quite realistic. Both characters are teens who are forced to bear a heavy cross, forced to pilot a massive lethal robot to save the world. The psychology behind these shows is intriguing and it’s why we truly believe the world needs more psychological mecha!
Saviors or Killers…
In many mecha series, the main hero/heroine is given a robot that usually changes the world in some way. These robot pilots now must kill other pilots all for their own beliefs and justifications. There is a dark thought process hidden in most mecha anime but the rabbit hole only goes deeper when you examine anime with a focus on psychological themes.
Let’s examine two very psychological anime; Neon Genesis Evangelion and Code Geass. Both series have very different wars/battlefields but both series have psychological themes. In Code Geass, Lelouch Lamperouge/Lelouch vi Britannia goes from smart high school student to rebellion leader thanks to his power—the Geass—and changes the world by manipulating people into doing his bidding and unleashing terror on his enemies. Meanwhile, Shinji Ikari from Neon Genesis Evangelion is forced to be an Eva Pilot by his strict father despite his fear of using a giant killing machine. Both “heroes” can be seen in various ways but, what would you consider these pilots? Are they saviors of the world or killers who must take lives/harm others in the pursuit of winning the future?
This deep question is really only ever seen in psychological mecha series because most other mecha don’t really dabble in real themes. Infinite Stratos focuses on hot anime waifu/oppai, Gurren Lagann ends up being extremely outlandish, and then you have Full Metal Panic which switches between serious, romance-driven, and comedic. The beauty of psychological mecha is it gives a higher level of immersion and makes you question if having a giant robot makes you a hero or a destructive menace.
What Is Psychological Mecha, Really?
Let’s go back to Code Geass for one moment. If you go on MAL or other anime sites you won’t see Code Geass listed as a psychological mecha. Yet, we define it as such because it dives into mental thought processes that make you question numerous ideologies and concepts. Is killing justifiable when you’re saving a life? Are you allowed to overtake the world because your thoughts are so grandiose? Can you justify destroying homes to stop a giant kaiju? Psychological anime is defined by asking these questions and making us question everything awesome about giant mechs.
The Depth of the Mind
As cool as it is to see giant mechs flying through the skies—like Eureka Seven—or romance blossom between pilots like in the Aquarion franchise, dark-minded mecha series just hit harder by infiltrating the only safe space, the mind. Attacking the mind by having mecha series that shatter your preconceived ideas of how cool it would be piloting a mech are just incredible and terrifying. Need further proof of a truly dark series that goes into your mind and never leaves? Let’s turn our attention to Bokurano which is easily one of the darkest mecha ever made.
Bokurano—without entering spoiler territory—focuses on children who are selected to be pilots but aren’t told what will happen after “winning” each fight they are thrown into. The minute audiences began to witness the scary reality in Bokurano was when the show became a testament to why psychological mecha is just so tantalizingly good! Gone are the ideals of how cool it would be to have your giant robot; instead, now you realize that giant robots can be scarier than anything else!
As cool as watching explosions and giant robots duking it out can be, dwelling on the problems with being a mecha pilot and watching anime characters endure the pains of “saving the world” is equally as engaging. Piloting a massive robot sounds cool but often we don’t realize the truth behind having our very own skyscraper-sized murder machine…
Psychological anime is addicting, it makes you wonder and dwell on mental questions rarely asked in most anime. That’s why psychological mecha is even greater as it breaks through the tropes of most mecha for a surreal experience. Do you agree, though, that we need more psychological mecha? Let us know your opinions in the comments below! For even more thought-provoking articles, keep stuck to our constantly thinking hive here at Honey’s Anime!