A 26-episode show created by Yoshikazu "Gundam" Yasuhiko, ostensibly it's that most generic of anime cliches, the 80s giant robot show. And yet it avoids the 'monster of the week' scenarios, the outlandish outer-space settings, the armies of super robots waiting to be sold as 6-inch diecast toys, and all the other trappings of the genre. Instead it's a thoughtful science fiction adventure that cheerfully wanders between wonder, comedy, action, horror, and occasional moments of shock, all wrapped up in great Yas artwork and surprisingly high-quality Nippon Sunrise television animation. It's the anime equivalent of all those Newberry-award winning juvenile SF books you spent library time reading in middle school.
|Yu, Doris, Sarah, Algos, and Gorg|
The adventure starts in a graffiti-splattered New York, where GAIL attempts to silence Dr. Wave by the simple expedient of knocking their entire apartment building down with a wrecking ball. There's a rollicking three-way chase across America involving Greyhound buses and a profitable Vegas side trip. GAIL and Lady Lynx shoot it out in the desert as our heroes escape in a stolen RV. Once across the Pacific, they find Austral Island is divided between GAIL's scientific/military expedition - led by GAIL heir apparant, the flashy young billionaire Rod Balboa - and the islanders, who shoot at everybody and worship their ancient god, Gorg. Between the two groups, the center of Austral Island is home to giant monsters. Separated from Dr. Wave and Doris, Yu and Algos are saved by a indigo-hued metal giant.
|Dr. Wave, Sencho, Alois & Sarah shootin' it out|
|the evil Lady Lynx of the "Cougar Connection"|
|Doris and Dominic|
Watching the show, you're struck by how it makes modern anime shows look cheap in comparison. There aren't any recycled "transformation" scenes. Every episode features new backgrounds and new characters, and there's none of this business where characters talk in silhouette or with their faces turned away so mouth movements don't have to be animated. There aren't any shoddy digital zooms or pans. There's none of the painfully transparent appeals to fetishes - no maids, no harems, no DD+ cups, no Nazi uniforms or elaborate goth outfits - that make up so much of the modern anime market, at least the anime market we see here. Nope, just good old fashioned adventure anime made the old-fashioned way, by hand.
Compared to other shows, GORG didn't inspire a whole lot of merchandise. The show features just two robots, an armored personnel carrier, and some helicopters and tentacle monsters, so there isn't a lot of mecha to work with, toy-wise. A 1/100 scale Gorg toy was produced, as well as a sweet 1/20 scale Jumbo Machinder version. A "Kyapi Kyapi" super-deformed model kit was also released starring cutesey versions of Gorg, Yu, and Rod Balboa. A one-volume, tremendously abridged manga adaption -without Yas artwork -was also published. In Japan the show has been released on VHS, Laserdisc and DVD.
|Gorg Kyapi Kyapi Kit and manga|
|New York's all right, if you like saxophones|
But what comes around goes around, and as the American anime DVD market bubble swelled, so did the fortunes of all anime, even overlooked 80s shows about giant blue robots on Pacific islands. GORG was slated for an American DVD release by Bandai along with another cult classic anime series, the stylish SF robot drama SPT LAYZNER. However, production issues - the lack of suitable masters - put the project on the back burner. It's not likely to be fast-tracked in today's post-anime-bubble market as companies scramble to stay afloat and boutique projects - even those of obvious quality and wide appeal, like Giant Gorg - are once again denied legit American release. One may posit that had the industry released more shows like Gorg, instead of fad-packed fetish dominated shows du jour that in future will only be remembered as bargain-bin filling evidence of a culture in decline, the industry wouldn't be in quite so much trouble now.
Today things come full circle as the winds of change blow the sand of time past the rock of ages, and anime fans once again take matters into their own hands and fansub their favorite series. Diligent investigation by interested parties will no doubt reveal fan-subtitled GIANT GORG available through a variety of sources. In the meantime, the ancient gods slumber dreamlessly in their dark caverns. Will they awake again? None can say.
2016 UPDATE: Discotek Media, one of North America's premier anime localizers, has released Giant Gorg on DVD with English subtitles! Yes, the ancient gods heard our heathen prayers and have answered. We here at Let's Anime encourage all our readers to purchase this DVD set immediately, either through your favorite anime con dealer, your favorite brick and mortar retailer, or for a limited time via a nice discount at Amazon dot com.
|same GORG time, same GORG channel|