A giant robot lion, a cyborg, an alien and various robot warriors join forces to battle evil alien robot monsters in GaoGaiGar.
If the giant transforming robots seem a bit familiar, it might be because GaoGaiGar was created by Takara. Those are the same people who made Transformers.
GaoGaiGar throws a little bit of everything in. Some of the robots transform. The robots can also merge with other robots to create bigger robots.
And the main robot combines the head of a robot lion — a bit similar to Voltron — with a bullet train, drills and a stealth bomber.
EnRyuu, one of the other robots, turns into a firetruck — just like some versions of Optimus Prime.
This is also the eighth giant robot series in Takara’s Brave franchise (the full title is King of Braves GaoGaiGar). GaoGaiGar sees far by standing on the shoulders of other giant robot shows, so to speak.
And of course, some would say that later giant robot shows, such as Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, stand on GaoGaiGar’s shoulders as well.
The series takes place in 2005. Oddly enough, this is less than a decade after the series ran on Japanese television, but a lot of technological advances seem to have taken place.
The first episode begins with a scene that seems a bit reminiscent of Superman’s origin story, but that might be just a Western bias. Momotaro was also an orphan baby of mysterious origin.
In this case, the baby is an alien, who was brought to a human couple. Instead of a baby-sized space capsule, the alien baby is delivered by a giant robot lion — which is a bit cooler than the Superman or Momotaro version. The humans name the baby Mamoru Amami.
Several years later, a group of schoolkids is visiting a garbage island to learn about trash and recycling. (Ironically, one of the many pieces of garbage that the kids find is a toy robot — perhaps one of Takara’s.)
One of the boys accidentally awakens a giant alien robot of some sort. All of the kids end up in danger. The Self Defense Force can’t do much, as the children are caught in the middle of all of this.
Luckily, there’s a secret organization monitoring the situation — the Gutsy Geoid Guard (also known as the Gutsy Galaxy Guard). The GGG members get the signal, and they leap into action. Soon the GGG’s giant robot and cyborg are on the way to rescue the children, protect Tokyo, and save the day.
The evil aliens are called Zonderians, who crash-landed on Earth a couple of years ago.
They are parasitic creatures. They can use something called Zonder Metal to assimilate matter and form Zonders.
The GGG was formed to fight the Zonders and the Zonderians.
Oh, and the little boy alien Mamoru is the same kid who woke up the giant alien. He joins the fight against the Zonders. He discovers that he has the power to purify Zonder cores.
The GGG has a lot of heroes.
Guy Shishioh is a cyborg, who wears a lot of battle armor. He can fuse with the giant robot lion, Galeon, to form GaiGar. GaiGar is a humanoid robot.
GaiGar combines with Liner Gao, a bullet train; Stealth Gao, a B-2 bomber; and Drill Gao, a drill tank, to form the giant GaoGaiGar.
There are also several other transforming robots, mostly with “dragon” in their names. None of them look like dragons; it’s just cool sounding.
These bots would probably be the main heroes on some other show, such as Transformers. Here they’re just secondary characters.
Hyoryuu (HyoRyu) and Enryuu (EnRyu) are Ice Dragon and Fire Dragon, who transform into a crane and a firetruck. They merge to Chouryuujin (ChoRyuJin), the Super Dragon God.
Fuuryuu (Wind Dragon) and Rairyuu (Thunder Dragon) can transform into a cement mixer and a dump truck. They combine to form Gekiryuujin (Assault Dragon God).
These robots can dock with other “dragon” robots to form Genryuujin (Mystian Dragon God) and Gouryuujin (Strong Dragon God).
Goldymarg is GaoGaiGar’s right-hand man, literally. He keeps GaoGaiGar’s Goldion Hammer. When GaoGaiGar needs the hammer, Goldymarg transforms into the Marg Hand.
He can transform into the GoldyTank, and the hammer’s handle becomes the barrel of the tank’s cannon.
There is also Volfogg, a stealth robot. He is a ninja with cloaking abilities.
He can combine with GunDober and GunGlue to form Big Volfogg. Volfogg can also transform into a police car. GunDober and GunGlue are a police motorcycle (sometimes a hovercraft) and police helicopter respectively.
Of course, all of the robots, and their vehicular alt modes, are designed to appeal to the intended core target audience. This is a G-rated action-adventure shonen series by Takara, a toy company.
So, we have a sleek and speedy bullet train, and a bat-winged bomber jet. We also have a drill tank. Drills have been a major part of giant robot shows for ages.
The crane, dump truck and cement mixer are construction vehicles — not to mention they equal three out of the six Constructicons.
The human members of GGG are pretty interesting as well.
There’s Koutaro Taigo, the president of the Space Development Corporation and a leader of the team. He’s a big, square-jawed blonde ham. He wears a big cape when doing superhero stuff.
Leo Shishioh is the father of Guy Shishioh. He’s a scientist who looks like a good guy version of Dr. Wily from Mega Man. He rolls around GGG HQ on rocket skates. Leo designs gadgets for the team.
Liger Shishioh is Leo’s brother. He’s an engineer with a punk Mohawk haircut.
Mikoto Utsugi is Guy’s girlfriend. She stays in mission control. Later on, we learn that she has a dark secret with the Zonders.
GaoGaiGar is part of Takara’s Brave franchise. The previous seven are Brave Exkaiser, The Brave Fighter of Sun Fighbird, The Brave Fighter of Legend Da-Garn, the Brave Express Might Gaine, Brave Police J-Decker, The Brave of Gold Goldran and Brave Command Dagwon.
Note: Officially, there is no “t” in Fighbird.
GaoGaiGar started out with an anime. The King of Braves GaoGaiGar ran from 1997 to 1998. It had 49 episodes.
This was followed by an OVA series, The King of Braves GaoGaiGar Final. Eight episodes of the OVA came out between 2000 to 2003.
Final is a sequel to the original series. The GGG has defeated the Zonder and their allies. The alien Mamoru has left, taking Galeon with him to the Trinary Solar System.
The GGG is searching for mysterious machines called Q-Parts. They get help from the French organization Chasseur, and their cyborg, Renais Cardiff Shishioh. Renais is Guy’s cousin.
The OVA features several new robots, including GaoFighGar. When Galeon leaves Earth, a new replacement robot, Phantom Gao, is designed. Phantom Gao combines with Guy to make GaoFar.
GaoFar combines with new versions of StealthGao, LinerGao and DrillGao to make GaoFighGar. LinerGao II is a rocket instead of a train, but StealthGao III and DrillGao II are similar to the older versions. (A new StealthGao II had been made earlier.)
GaoFighGar is a replacement for the original GaoGaiGar.
There is also a new villain, BioNet. BioNet has been stealing Q-Parts. Renais is a former member of BioNet.
A third new villain shows up, called the Eleven Masters of Sol, or simply the Sol Masters. They have abducted Mamoru. There are Mamoru clones and other bad guys to fight.
Final introduces a new GaoGaiGar, the Genesic GaoGaiGar — the God of Destruction.
The Genesic GaoGaiGar is made up of Genesic GaiGar, ProtectGao, SpiralGao, BrokenGao, StraightGao and GadgetGao. The new Gaos are animal-themed robots.
GadgetGao is a condor. StraightGao and SpiralGao are moles. Spiral is male, and Straight is female.
BrokenGao is a shark. ProtectGao is a dolphin.
Genesic GaiGar is a combination of Galeon with Evoluder Guy, the new version of the original cyborg Guy.
The OVA was followed by GaoGaiGar Final: Grand Glorious Gathering. This new TV anime series ran in 2005. It takes GaoGaiGar Final and spreads it across 12 episodes.
The series uses footage from the original GaoGaiGar series, and adds new footage.
Some of the new material links GaoGaiGar with Betterman, a GaoGaiGar spin-off anime series.
A light novel, King of Destruction: GaoGaiGar VS Betterman, was released in 2016. A manga version of the same name was created in 2018.
Soul of Chogokin
Naturally, being a Takara giant robot series, GaoGaiGar has a lot of toys and transforming robots based on characters from the show.
An interesting example is the Bandai Soul of Chogokin (SOC) version. Since 1997, Bandai has made SOC “collectors edition” toys based on dozens of mecha and giant robots from various different shows.
GX-68 is GaoGaiGar, while GX-69 is Goldymarg.
The GX-68 GaoGaiGar action figure is available at Amazon. (At the time of writing, it cost $384.99.)
The 10-inch, two-pound robot can be transformed into its various parts — lion, stealth bomber, bullet train, and drill tank.