These days it feels like writing an episode summary is a political act, and writing about old anime is always a slightly charged business, so when the Mighty Benefactor who is subtitling Dougram took the time to do a first-draft set of subtitles for the first episode of Panzer World Galient, I thought I might as well combine the two activities.
The opening narration places Galient‘s story within the wider set of rises and falls that ‘all living things insatiably repeat’, which reminds me rather of the medieval concept of the Wheel of Fortune. Then we’re shown a darkened city, dominated by a very practical-looking castle. It transpires that the queen has just given birth to a son, news which causes much rejoicing of the bell-ringing, cheering and beacon-firing variety. The new child’s moustached father names him ‘Jordy’.
Suddenly, robotic legs tramp across the screen, spouting fire, and the city is assaulted by giant mecha centaurs.
GIANT MECHA CENTAURS
THAT FIRE BEAMS FROM THEIR STOMACHS
They’re accompanied by masked and hooded soldiers riding horned bird-lizards and wielding long-barrelled beam weapons. An exciting siege sequence ensues, with the defenders shooting catapults, dropping portcullises &c &c.
Meanwhile, in the royal suite, the King tasks a burly retainer, Azbes, with preserving Jordy and the Queen, while he himself manages the defence. Azbes gets his charges out of the city, but then they’re attacked and the Queen is captured.
Azbes escapes riding a bird-lizard, and his pursuers are destroyed by beams from a bright light in the sky. A giant, tracked fortress like the one in VOTOMS: Big Battle rolls into the conquered city, and we’re introduced to the man who is presumably the villain of the piece. He’s certainly drawn like a villain:
Then there’s a timeskip. The narrator pops up again, and we realise that it’s actually Azbes. He explains that he’s raised Jordy as his own child, while travelling the planet in search of ‘Galient, the Iron Giant’, who is believed to appear when evil threatens.
Jordy asks about his mother while they rest in a cave, and we cut to Mardal’s giant, searchlight-festooned techno-fortress-factory where she’s been preserved alive in some kind of green glass-like substance so that he can practice his villainous laugh on her.
If you ask me, that’s stylish villainy. Anyone can kill the hero’s mother, but it takes a certain kind of imagination to turn her into an art exhibit. This revelation also fills a couple of shots in the opening sequence, and their accompanying lyrics, with considerably more meaning.
We return to what is presumably the story’s present day. Two girls have travelled too far from home, and are threatened by Mardal’s soldiers. Luckily for them, Jordy and Azbes turn up and a brief but energetic swordfight-cum-chase-sequence begins.
Here Jordy’s about to swing himself round under his mount’s neck. His horsemanship, or perhaps ‘bird-lizardmanship’, is top-notch.
With the soldiers dispatched, Azbes and Jordy accompany their new friends – the younger one is called ‘Chururu’, at least according to this translator – to a place called White Valley, where the episode ends.
* * *
There you have it: the first episode of Panzer World Galient. I don’t know why ‘Galient’ was chosen as a name, and I’m going to think of it as a combination of ‘gallant’ and ‘valiant’ for now. This is what Takahashi went on to direct, with some of the same team, after Armoured Trooper VOTOMS, which explains why Chururu’s mouth looks like Coconna’s, and why the Galient makes a very familiar sound when it skates towards us in the opening sequence.
Galient is, unusually, set in a fantasy world. I don’t know nearly as much as I should about ’80s anime, so I can’t say whether Galient was the first mecha anime to do this, or even the first ‘real’ mecha anime to do this. Actually, since (as the pen-and-paper RPG points out) most of the technology in VOTOMS is present-day stuff, Galient‘s giant mecha centaurs with beam weapons may have represented a move away from the understated mecha action aesthetics in ATV and Dougram. Whatever the facts of the matter, it’s certainly an piquant blend (Escaflowne, anyone?), and the first episode left me itching to see the Galient itself in action.
That in itself is a good point: the title mecha didn’t appear in the first episode, apart from the odd teasing glimpse in the opening and in the eyecatches. While there is, of course, no rule against a late mecha introduction in a show that’s only twenty-six episodes long, this does make me wonder if the writers thought that they might be able to get the show running for a few seasons longer.
As for the first episode’s story itself, I imagine the main objection to it is just how clichéd it is. I read a lot of fantasy novels during my early adolescence, and this (apart from the GIANT MECHA CENTAURS) is very like them. At this point one would normally say something about originality being overrated and possibly impossible; I would add that we could do with a return to a more medieval respect for people who replay the ideas of past authorities. I think I have a pocket tirade on ignorance about the past which I could deploy here, but I’m sure it would bore you, and in any case I just said that ‘I don’t know nearly as much as I should about ’80s anime’, which rather undermines my own authority.
Ah, well. I, for one, am quite happy to watch Jordy carve an utterly conventional path to vengeance and kingship, should any more delicious Galient get subtitled.
How did you manage to see Galient?
Depending on when production began I would most likely say that Galient was inspired by Aura Battler Dunbine, Tomino’s famousefantasy-themed anime, featuring insect-style mecha instead of centaur-style mecha. Dunbine ran from Feb. 1983 to Jan 1984, so it’s not too much of a stretch to say Takahashi may have been influenced. I don’t know if there were any super robot anime that followed this formula, though.
First ep of Galaxy Express 999 the hero’s mother is hunted down and killed so she can be stuffed and put on the wall for display. This is a 1978 show so that meme has been around for awhile!
>GIANT MECHA CENTAURS THAT FIRE BEAMS FROM THEIR STOMACHS
I think I understand now why /m/ has Ryousuke Takahashi /m/ondays. He is awesome made flesh and dwelling among us.
I haven’t seen any of his works, though. Is Pailsen Files an okay introduction to his work, or will I need to watch Votoms TV first?
@Schneider: I’d start with Votoms.
@ Kaioshin Sama: I have scruples about linking do downloads here, so I’ve emailed you.
@ Demian: Ah, Dunbine. I should’ve thought of that, as I’ve seen the first episode – but I didn’t, so there you go. I would be very surprised if there wasn’t a link there, to be honest, given how Dougram plays with the first Gundam.
@ animekritik: Hah! I think Jordy’s mum is still alive under the glass, rather than stuffed, but it sounds similar otherwise. 999 sounds surprisingly traumatic.
@ schneider: As Kaioshin says, you may be better off starting with the original, but most of PF will be comprehensible without much background knowledge – I wouldn’t say you actually need to watch the original to appreciate it.
You know, I don’t remember that from 999. Of course, I don’t think I saw the tv series. O_o
There’s no reason that wouldn’t work, I suppose, so long as the goat didn’t kick with the hind legs… which, I see, are disturbingly free, and not restrained AT ALL.
RE: OP image. I first thought of The Ring, and then Heroes (granted, my contribution to our Halloween party was to put the actual Ring video on a vcd and loop it, until it creeped out one of my roommates and he stopped it). Did you have something else in mind?
I thought I was reading an Escaflowne post, but of course I am wrong.
@ Cuchlann: So Azbes has the right idea, but might need an assistant to take care of the back of the goat? [And if that isn’t an odd sentence . . .] Hmm.
What I had in mind was the first shot of MSG‘s opening; they both begin by zooming in on a planet outlined by light, with the title appearing over it. In MSG‘s OP the light seems (I’ve never bothered to investigate) like it might be from WMD, while Galient‘s light is, I think, just a star behind the planet. MSG‘s light is a process, and Galient is static. MSG is treated as the establishment of the genre that is Galient‘s given.
It’s an amusing thought. No doubt it doesn’t rule out Heroes and The Ring.
@ The Sojourner: I suppose it’s only tangentially related to Escaflowne.
Have to agree with Sojouner, the Escaflowne resemblence is striking, especially with the whole “kingdom getting destroyed and royalty sent into exile within the first few hours” but I suppose that might be because Escaflowne seems to be the only fantasy mecha series in recent memory… and I can’t think of any recent series with centaur mecha.
@ Vendredi: I think the destroyed-kingdom-and-exiled-royalty thing is a very, very long-lasting fantasy trope, so it’s not too surprising to see it in Escaflowne. Though Galient may have been an influence – who knows?
If you want more centaur mecha, the QT-Arms in the currently-airing Sora o Kakeru Shoujo have a centaur-esque ground mode . . .