FSS compared to the Real Robot genre...

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Mr March
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FSS compared to the Real Robot genre...

Post by Mr March » Wed Jan 09, 2008 7:18 pm

I'm having an interesting discussion on another board about the Five Star Stories and the mecha of the real robot genre. Basically, we have been comparing the relative strengths of the mecha in the real robot genre (Macross, Gundam, Patlabor, Evangelion) to The Five Star Stories and it's clear the Mortar Headds would stomp them all, even my poor, beloved Macross (SAY IT AIN'T SO!). The relative difference in power level are just so vastly in favor of the Motar Headds it's just silly :)

So it got me thinking; is there any other mecha from the real robot genre that can compete with the Mortar Headds and Headdliner/Fatima's of Five Star Stories? Or do the Mortar Headds sit at the top of the real robot genre food chain?

Keep in mind that "super robots" are excluded from this discussion, since they are not part of the real robot genre. So there shall be no comparisons to uber-god robots like Shin Getter Robo, Mazinkaiser, Ideon, Genesic GaoGaiGar, Gurren Lagann, Gunbuster, et cetera.

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Post by Grebo Guru » Wed Jan 09, 2008 11:19 pm

I find it difficult to categorize Motor Heads (I know, I know, Mortar Headds) as "Real Robots"... They're kinda more like "fantasy robots," which is a fairly exclusive clique.

Indeed, the categorization of robots in general is tricky. Super Robots is pretty clear, "Real Robots" covers a really broad range, and then there are living robots like Transformers, and there are also the aforementioned "fantasy robots" and the "extra-real robots" (AKA "mechs") of American mindset (those from Battletech and such, as pioneered by Macross' destroids). And then there's Gundam, which is pretty much a genre all its own, which straddles the super/real boundary.

Anyway. I'm on the fence about calling Mortar Headds "Real Robots"... I could be persuaded to go in either direction.

As for Real Robots which could hold their own against Mortar Headds? Well, hm. That's a tough one. Dunbine MIGHT qualify, but you'd need a pilot with truly monstrous Aura power. I'm not coming up with much else, unless you include Evangelion -- which I wouldn't. But I notice you do. Wassup with that?

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Post by Mr March » Thu Jan 10, 2008 2:08 am

Hi Ben! Good to see you around again.

I'm much less hesitant to classify Mortar Headds as real robots. The robots of FSS may belong to a rare Medieval-motif set within a high-fantasy-esque world but the Mortar Headds are presented (at least initially) as scientifically explained (unlike, say, Escaflowne, which is all magic). In FSS Nagano even goes so far as to explain how the joints of his robots move! As mighty as they are, the Mortar Headds are not one-of-kind (in a broad sense) but mass produced, presented as military vehicles, given real-world statistics, rely upon real-world principles to function and are subject to all realistic limitations such as fuel/ammunition/maintenance/upgrades, et cetera.

IMO, the only major factor working against the inclusion of Mortar Headds in the real robot genre is to argue their capabilities approach those of the super robot. But really, that's simply because FSS takes place in a much farther future (comparatively speaking) than the other NEAR-FUTURE real robot shows (like Gundam, Macross, Patlabor).

Macross, Gundam, Patlabor, Gasaraki, Flag, VOTOMS, Full Metal Panic, Ghost In The Shell, and such are solidly rooted in the real robot genre. Even so, it's important to remember that even Gundam, Macross and Patlabor use more than a few ridiculous science fiction concepts that would qualify as magic (minovsky particles in Gundam, OverTechnology in Macross, etc).

I will concede that assigning Neon Genesis Evangelion to the real robot genre is subjective. In many ways, the Evangelions are as much super robot as they are real robot, not just in their appearance but in the way they are presented. But then again, they do use real weapons, they have the limitations of fuel/ammunition and blah, blah, blah. But they are not consistent and even their height is notoriously subjective from one episode to the next.

Genre aside, there's no way the Evangelions match a Mortar Headd in my opinion. In fact, the few real figures given in the NGE show (such as the megawatt ratings given) lead me to believe one good Macross Valkyrie armed with a Reaction Warhead would be enough to splatter any Evangelion (AT field or not). Going back to FSS, some of the strongest Mortar Headds are planet buster level and no Evangelion even comes close to that kind of capability. Not to mention pilot ability, another benchmark the Headdliners and Fatimas rule simply because they are genetically super human and react an entire order of magnitude faster than any human.

Taking everything we know of Mortar Headds in FSS as a whole, I can't come up with a competitor. Even pulling ace pilots from every show I know doesn't help, since the Headdliners and Fatimas benefit from such a super human advantage over all of them, even the Newtypes from Gundam. This is why I posed my question.

How is Aura Battler Dubine as far as capabilities? You mentioned something like an "aura" but what can they do with it? More pointedly, can any Aura Battler bust a planet? Cause that's ultimately the benchmark they have to beat :)

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Post by Kuruni » Mon Jan 14, 2008 5:48 am

To me, the term is more of how character threat their mech rather than mech power. just look at our greeting text :D .

Quote from Wikipedia's Super Robot article.
Others have voiced the opinion that the Super Robot is a symbol or embodiment of Rightousness, Justice, Courage, Friendship and Love while Real Robots are merely a weapon or tool; thus the defeat of a main character in Super Robot genre usually has a much more disastrous effect compared to those that occur in the Real Robot genre.
Note the last sentence, when Super Robot's lose, bad guys will roam on Earth freely, spreading chaos and suffering. Such thing won't occur in real robot genre. Basically, this work for me most of time. Though I hestitate to take Ideon as RR (well, at least Buff Clan's Heavy Mecha is clearly RR).
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Post by Nu Soard Graphite » Mon Jan 14, 2008 3:35 pm

I personally classify Mortar Headds on the low-end of the Super Robot scale. Certainly within the context of their own Universe, they are treated as "Real Robots", but they are simply far too powerful to really be classified as such.

In addition, the fact that Headdliners (who are "superheroes" in their own right) can use their superpowered martial arts while riding in a MH goes a long way toward placing the Mortar Headd firmly within the Super Robot category.

I don't consider Mortar Headds Fantasy Robots at all. While they exist within a Science/Fantasy (or rather Space Opera) style universe, they themselves are not magic in any way shape or form. All of the Fantasy Mecha that fit within that category are usually magically powered (Escaflowne, Aura Battlers, the mecha from Maze)

So after further thought I would personally place the MH between the Real Robot and Super Robot scales, though much closer to the Super Robot side of the scale based on their capabilities.
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Post by Mr March » Mon Jan 14, 2008 5:11 pm

As I stated above, I agree an arguement could be raised to consider the Mortar Headds as super robots based on capability. For me personally, I don't subscribe to it, but I do understand it as a mitigating factor.

To use an analogy, there's plenty of science fiction out there (mostly literature) featuring protagonist civilizations that are tens of thousands of years more advanced than so called "advanced societies" we see in contemporary sci-fi entertainment (like the stuff on television, such as Stargate SG-1). However, even though the powers of these protagonist super-societies that appear in some written sci-fi may be great, it doesn't mean these stories cease to be science fiction and become fantasy. The works of Iain M. Banks Culture novels is a perfect example of an uber society with near magically powerful machines, yet the books are actually far more hard science fiction than anything even approaching fantasy.

I think such an analogy applies to FSS and the Mortar Headds. Powerful though they may be, the Mortar Headds and FSS are clearly written with a nod to explainable science. Even the so called "gods" like Amatersu are reduced by Nagano in his post-script into explainable phenomena based on plausible science. With that in mind, I personally don't see much reason to exclude Mortar Headds as real robots simply because they are exceptionally powerful examples of the genre. In my mind, the Mortar Headd's great power level alone is not enough to justify reclassifying FSS as a super robot genre. But ultimately, that's just my opinion.

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Post by Temjin » Wed Jan 16, 2008 5:08 am

Makes a lot of sense with what everyone said, but a bit over killed with those terms. Robot just simply robot, no more or less you know.

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Post by Mr March » Wed Jan 16, 2008 3:38 pm

I understand. But the whole discussion is fan wank at best, so it's best to keep it in perspective :)

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Post by Tachyon » Wed Jan 16, 2008 5:09 pm

Yeah, mortar headds are certainly hard to place in the mecha sub-genres we commonly discuss. To be fair, most mecha end up being somewhere between super robots and realistic robots. The scopedog (Votoms) is one few people would dispute being a realistic robot and Daitarn 3 is one few people would dispute being a super robot. The Gunbuster, RX-78-2 Gundam and so many others end up being somewhere inbetween.

The mortar headds have careful thought put into their internal workings and run according to certain internally consistent rules. However, some components of the technology inside them is so advanced and the fact that a pilot's "personal power" directly translates to the mortar headd's capabilities makes it move towards the super robot side of the equation.

In the end, I can't place them in either catagory (realistic robots vs. super robots) with any confidence. I tend to think of them as being a class of their own. But then, that's what makes me a Five Star Stories fan. FSS has its own world with its own rules. It doesn't closely conform to any other mecha anime/manga I know. It almost creates its own sub-genre.
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Post by Mr March » Wed Jan 16, 2008 7:03 pm

I'm not so worried about the capabilities of the Mortar Headd making them appear more super robot-ish. To me, it's only the difference between setting; FSS as far-future versus Macross/Gundam/Patlabor/etc as near-future. A greater degree of technological capability can only be expected in a far-future setting.

Yes, certain technology in FSS may appear magical, but from a literary stance, is there any difference between a Ezlaser Engine and a Drag Energist (Escaflowne)? Not really, as both are power sources that don't exist yet they both functional in an identical manner within each story. The one real difference is presentation. To my mind, FSS is sci-fi more than anything else and the MHs are presented more as real robots. That's how I reconcile it, but that's just me.

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Post by Spaceseeker51 » Fri Jan 18, 2008 8:21 pm

Mortar Hedds (MH) practically fall into the Arthur C. Clarke (or was it Heinlein?) concept that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, with the barest of nods given to conventional weaponry. Categorizing FSS MH in the "Real Robot" category is similar to comparing the F-22 to the Sopwith Camel. About the only "Real Robots" I can think of being in the same category would be one of the uniques from "Heavy Metal L-Gaim" (FSS's predecessor - although I think they fall under Super Robots), aaaannndddd the Evangelions. At this point, the discussion drops into a fictional defense vs. fictional offense / Enterprise vs. Death Star type of argument.

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Post by Mr March » Sat Jan 19, 2008 12:55 am

That analogy isn't even anywhere near relevant. Arguments of power aside, the MHs are still human piloted giant robots. In fact, ignoring the vast differences in power magnitudes between an MH and say, a Valkyrie from Macross, the technologies of the two robots are fundamentally identical in any meaningful sense (one might even argue the Valkyrie's transformation capabilities make it superior from a strictly mechanical benchmark). Just because a MH is more powerful than a Valkyrie that doesn't make the Valkyrie a tricycle. :roll:

Also, this is not a ridiculous Star Wars/Star Trek versus debate. Unlike those franchises, the real robot anime shows actually utilize real scientific units in their fiction, real units which can be compared between unrelated shows. If one show powers their robot with 1 gigawatt while another uses 1 petawatt, that's a directly scalable comparison that leaves no room to wiggle. And anyone with a modest level of education doesn't need a power rating in front of their face to realize a moon sized station that pops planets in less than a second is going to produce many, many times more power than starship that cannot come close to performing the same feat.

Also, I think this discussion of classification has obscured the point of the thread, which was asking if any other real robots could compare to the Mortar Headds in strength. If one is unable to even consider the MH as real robots, then the alternative is to compare MHs to super robots. At that point, any discussion becomes meaningless, since the most powerful of super robots are obliterating universes, which is far beyond any MH.

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Post by Nu Soard Graphite » Mon Jan 21, 2008 2:39 am

Mr March wrote:
Also, I think this discussion of classification has obscured the point of the thread, which was asking if any other real robots could compare to the Mortar Headds in strength. If one is unable to even consider the MH as real robots, then the alternative is to compare MHs to super robots. At that point, any discussion becomes meaningless, since the most powerful of super robots are obliterating universes, which is far beyond any MH.
for now. Nagano has yet to take his tale to its (il)logical conclusion. And we have yet to see how powerful the M.M.T's of Taika are...(though I highly doubt if destroying the universe is going to be a part of their abilities.
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Post by Mr March » Mon Jan 21, 2008 4:08 pm

I suppose that's true. But just going off what I know, I'm hoping that some silly deus ex machina doesn't come along and throw the whole setting into ruin. No devouring of stars or insta-planet devices :)

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Post by TSP » Mon Jan 21, 2008 5:53 pm

You seem to forget one thing. More horse power + Fatima makes the MH a lot quicker in response and maneuvers. Don't forget that Nagano draws the battles in slow motion cause else he had to draw a whole fight scene in one box/panel (Note: A.T's fight in the desert). Some MH fights only last a few seconds while battles with Aura Battlers or Heavy Metals are shown in real time.

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