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Daisaku Kusama from Giant Robo OVA (1992-98)
Source: TV
Layers: 3
No sketches available
Cel Number: A7.1, A7, B6
Standard size

No Background

Added 2/21/2015
Updated 2/21/2015
The protagonist and leader of the Experts of Justice is clearly in the middle of a confrontation with the series baddies, the BF Group. He’s racing to the left (notice the airbrushing) and shouting directions into his wristwatch/walkie-talkie that communicates with Giant Robo, the mecha defending the world against the forces of evil. Sequence numbers: A7.1 (airbrushing), A7 (Daisaku), B6 (mouth layer).


This cel came to me from Princess Nadia as part of the 2014 Anime-Beta “Secret Santa” anime art exchange. It is from a series that was unfamiliar to me (thanks to my overall interest in fantasy/shoujo series), but it obviously is one that has attracted a lot of attention.

Giant Robo appeared as a series of seven OVA releases from 1992 to 1998. It was conceived as a homage to the works of the manga pioneer Mitsuteru Yokoyama (1934-2004), whose Tetsujin 28-go was one of the early hits of the 1950s. His Giant Robo manga had appeared in 1967-68, but had not previously been adapted to anime.

Director Yasuhiro Imagawa (who had done storyboards for the Zeta series of Mobile Suit Gundam [1984-85]) conceived the idea of using the plot to create a “retro” anime, combining an engineering design style from the early 20th century with futuristic hypertechnical elements. Toei, however, owned the rights to the manga, having previously produced a tokusatsu (live-action) series based on it. So Imagawa decided to retain Daisaku Kusama and Giant Robo as the main characters but write an entirely new storyline that paid homage to Yokoyama’s other mangas by including characters from his entire canon.

The art direction was unusual, as it used two character designers, one drawn from video gaming, and the other from anime. The gaming character designer was Toshiyuki Kubooka, best known for creating the Lunarseries (1992+) and The Idolm@ster (2005+). Kubooka had also served as character designer for Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water. The anime character designer (and chief animation director) was Akihiko Yamashita, then at the beginning of an illustrious career. He later joined Studio Ghibli and did character design for Howl’s Moving Castle, Tales from Earthsea, and, most recently, The Secret World of Arrietty.

The series protagonist, Daisaku Kusama, is nicknamed “the kid,” and in fact looks a bit like Astro Boy. However, he was voiced by a major adult male seiyuu, none other than Kappei Yamaguchi (Inuyasha in Inuyasha, the demonic Claude Noin in Kamakaze Kaitou Jeanne, Ranma-kun in Ranma ½, etc., etc., etc.).

The series did not sell well in Japan, which held up production of the final episodes, but it was much more successful in America, where it continues to show a preponderance of “very good” to “masterpiece” rankings from ANN viewers. Princess Nadia comments, “It's a great fun action comedy series with wonderful characters and ridiculously complicated plots. Dramatic and farcical and very well produced!”

On ANN, reviewer Mike Crandol agrees that the plot is “amazingly camp, and that's part of the fun, but it's all so well crafted and passionately portrayed in the end you can't help but take it seriously.” He concludes that Giant Robo is an “epic masterwork” that “takes the best of the old and mixes it with the best of the new to create the definitive giant robot story.”

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