Monday, March 4, 2019

Spoof of The Hiromi Gargantua

Get it? Spoof of The Hiromi Gargantua? It's a play on War of The Gargantuas! No? Ah, nuts to you!


The long running anime series Mobile Police Patlabor is often cited as a strong example of the 'Realistic Mecha' genre from Japanese fiction.

Realistic Mecha is where giant robots are presented as plausible machinery that could exist and work within the real world while also avoiding the more fantastic clichés of most other giant robot stories such as alien invaders, supernatural power-ups, soulful sentience in the  machines, and giant Godzilla-style enemy monsters.

However, there are several exceptions seen throughout the Patlabor franchise where wacky monsters do appear and cause havoc, betraying the very concept of Realistic Mecha.

Yes, between giant albino alligators, unmanned killing machines, out-of-control Labor robots, deep-sea reptiles, genetically engineered mega-rodents, hideous human-alien hybrids, and gigantic Kappa androids, this otherwise unassuming franchise about police officers piloting 30-foot-tall police-bots in the near-future has a lot of giant monsters popping up.

This continuous trend started with The 450 Million-Year-Old Trap (July 25th, 1988): the third episode in the original direct-to-video series and was an early directorial effort from the now famous director Mamoru Oshii, one of the forgotten grandfathers of Patlabor.

A series of mysterious incidents occur in and around Tokyo Bay, including damaged undersea cables and a parked car being pulled off a pier, leading some to believe that it could be the work of an actual sea monster. Detective Takahiro Matsui of the Metropolitan Tokyo Police Department (a recurring character in the franchise) requests Captain Goto, head of the Police Special Vehicle Section 2 Division 2 (SV2 for short), for help on the strange case. 

Goto and his SV2 Patlabor team help pilot a remote control submersible Labor to search for what caused the incidents. However, the Labor is destroyed during its underwater search, convincing all present that the monster truly does exists.

The SV2 are given orders to kill the monster soon after but not before they stumble upon the giant creature's origins: an life-form birthed from a science experiment gone...a little out-of-hand thanks to a well-meaning but clumsy and shortsighted mad scientist.

Although this sea monster is largely off-camera throughout the episode, its noted that the artificially created being went through various stages of accelerated evolution (presented in a brief montage of resurrected prehistoric animals) until reaching its supposedly final form which makes its rather anti-climactic reveal by the story's end.

As you can tell by now, The 450 Million-Year-Old Trap is a subtly played spoof of Toho Studio's classic run of giant monster movies, complete with a big blue-colored War of The Gargantua homage shown throughout this article.

Now we could call this unnamed guy 'The Blue Gargantua' for obvious reasons but, based on an odd little twist in the tale where this somewhat benign beast shares an unexplained resemblance with SV2's team member Hiromi Yamazaki, the ironically tall man from Okinawa who's soft-spoken and kindhearted, I shall nicknamed this character The Hiromi Gargantua until I'm corrected otherwise with an official moniker.


Marc of Oh No Anime takes you through the life and legacy of one of anime's most under-appreciated franchises, Patlabor (direct video link right below video box).

Here's Glass Reflections' take on the franchise.

And for those of you asking yourselves "What the Hell is a Gargantua?".