FEATURE: Cruising the Crunchy-Catalog: “Giant Gorg”

What’s “Cruising the Crunchy-Catalog”?


If you’re going on an anime journey, it pays to have a tour guide. “Cruising the Crunchy-Catalog” is here to help. Each week we provide additional information and cultural context to help undecided fans determine whether or not they’d like to take a trip to exotic and unknown anime destinations.



What’s Giant Gorg?


Giant Gorg is an original TV anime from 1984 with character designs and direction by Yoshikazu Yasuhiko (Venus Wars, Crusher Joe the Movie) and animation by Sunrise. Crunchyroll describes the series as follows:



Yuu Tagami was never close with his father. Yet after the old man’s accidental death, Yuu finds himself on a plane to New York City, following instructions written in a letter from his late father. New York is as strange as it gets for the boy from Japan, but stranger still is Dr. Wave, the man he’s supposed to meet. Dr. Wave shares an obsession with the deceased concerning the mysterious New Austral Island.”



Set in the far flung future year of 1998, Giant Gorg follows Yuu Tagami, Dr. Wave, and a motley crew of adventurers as they journey to the mysterious New Austral Island, a highly volcanic island in the Pacific that doesn’t appear on any maps. Along the way, Yuu runs afoul of GAIL, a ruthless multi-national corporation bent on monopolizing the secrets of New Austral Island, and he befriends a gentle-tempered giant robot that the natives call “God’s Messenger”, Gorg.



In a nutshell, Giang Gorg is a jungle adventure story crossed with a super robot anime, with scheming villains and ancient aliens thrown in for good measure.


A Star-studded Cast.


If the art-style in Giang Gorg looks familiar, that’s because Yoshikazu Yasuhiko is not only an anime director, but also a prolific illustrator and manga artist.



Yasuhiko provided character designs for Yoshiyuki Tomino’s Mobile Suit Gundam TV series and illustrations for the accompanying novels. Yasuhiko also illustrated Haruka Takachiho’s Dirty Pair novels, and he wrote and illustrated the Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin manga. He also serves as the chief director of the Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin anime OAV series.



Sharp-eared fans may also recognize Mayumi Tanaka (who plays Monkey D. Luffy in One Piece) as the voice of series protagonist Yuu Tagami and Shūichi Ikeda (who plays Char Aznable in Mobile Suit Gundam) as the voice of dangerous dilettante Rod Balboa.



Superb Special Effects Animation.


One of Giant Gorg‘s greatest strengths is the manner in which it relays cinematic carnage. Explosions, volcanic eruptions, and giant robot rampages are all lovingly rendered by hand, and the animators at Sunrise do a wonderful job of maintaining a sense of scale and scope. The sound effects mixing is also particularly effective at conveying the raw power of both man-made weaponry and natural disasters in Giant Gorg.



The Hard Knock Life of a Henchman.


For a cartoon ostensibly aimed at children, Giant Gorg can be shockingly violent. The minions of GAIL and Lady Lynx’s gang in particular suffer dire consequences for their villainy, with the bad guys routinely being blown up, vaporized, or shot right between the eyes.



Similarly, the heroes can be both the victims and the perpetrators of violence, including an incident in Episode 22 that is particularly unsettling. The closest comparison I can make is to Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water, another adventure anime aimed at kids that possesses a surprisingly dark tone.



References and Allusions.


Giant Gorg is filled with nods to famous figures in history and pop culture. The story-line shows strong parallels to the 1933 film King Kong, although it manages to side-step many of the criticisms of that work with its diverse cast and post-colonial themes. The end title cards encouraging viewers to tune in again next week at the “same GORG time, same GORG channel” is a reference to the 1966 Batman TV series, which featured a similar conclusion.



Similarly, one of GAIL’s scientists is named Haeckel, an allusion to German biologist and philosopher Ernst Haeckel, while the full name of the armored carrier piloted by the heroes is the “Carrier Beagle”, which is likely a reference to the HMS Beagle, the ship on which Charles Darwin made his famous voyage.



Crunchyroll currently streams Giant Gorg in the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the United States Minor Outlying Islands. The series is available in Japanese with English subtitles. Giant Gorg was originally announced for home video release in 2001 by Bandai Entertainment, but this release never materialized before Bandai Entertainment went out of business. The series is now available on Region 1 DVD from Discotek Media.



Considered by many mecha fans to be a classic of the genre, Giant Gorg uses an early adolescent protagonist to explore grown-up themes, such as the horrors of war and the tragedy of exploitation. If you’re in the mood for an old-fashioned, globe-trotting adventure story with dark undertones and excellent craftsmanship within the constraints of TV anime’s limited animation style, consider giving Giant Gorg a try.



Is there a series in Crunchyroll’s catalog that you think needs some more love and attention? Please send in your suggestions via e-mail to [email protected] or post a Tweet to @gooberzilla. Your pick could inspire the next installment of “Cruising the Crunchy-Catalog”!


Paul Chapman is the host of The Greatest Movie EVER! Podcast and GME! Anime Fun Time.