Super Giant Robot Brothers! is a bombastic and ridiculous reimagining of giant monsters movies of my childhood where giant robots slice up Kaiju who destroyed tiny cities beneath their feet.
But it is so much more. Shamelessly plundering sci-fi genre tropes it remixes the best dialogue between two robots and the Humans who are supposedly reliant on their defense. It’s Pacific Rim, except you aren’t sure you shouldn’t be rooting for the Kaiju.
Two Giant Robots
One made by a three year old and presumably her parents (Shiny) and one made by a thirteen year old, without her parents (Thunder). Shiny is everything you would expect from a robot made by a three year old super-genius. Brightly-colored, extreme personality, hidden weapons and strange powers no one remembers installing into the robot.
I ask how could this have happened? Who could have created this technology without remembering it was there? Shiny is lost along with our genius’ parents.
Fast-forward ten years. Child prodigy is still making robots, still fighting Kaiju and still mocked by news anchors across the city. Shiny has been replaced with Thunder. Sleek, snazzy, responsibly-colored, a tool of the military led by a power-crazed Colonel Creed and Doctor Alex Rose, with her multiple degrees and apparent complete control over the city.
Each episode exceeds expectations and escalates the adventure index. We start off in a Japanese manga themed story which slowly evolves, tacking on genre tropes one after another, stylishly destroying the city and its inhabitants with their battles against the Kaiju and often each other. (Keep an eye on how many civilians die and in how many ways they die, while being saved…)
The two robots have the best dialogue whenever they interact. Thunder’s straight man deliveries makes this show work.
“This is suboptimal.”
“Robots do not dream!”
“We’re robots. We can’t BE brothers.”
You could enjoy this escalating bombastic madness just fine until you ask just a few more questions…
My Imagination Takes a Dark Turn
Where did all the Kaiju come from? I mean these things appear like clockwork in EVERY episode. Sometimes they destroy a little bit of the city, other times, it seems like half or more is covered in devastation.
Who rebuilds the cities? Why do the Kaiju wait until the cities are rebuilt before attacking again?
How do they rebuild them so fast? Why would anyone live somewhere attacked multiple times an episode by giant monsters. One episode had 12 Kaiju back to back!
What if Alex Rose, the central protagonist, really was a super-genius? So smart she made her own virtual reality where she controlled the passage of time.
What if the city wasn’t real?
What if all of it was a simulation?
What if Alex Rose was a protagonist in a mental simulation of her own design where she was the leader of a secret supercity, in control of two giant Kaiju fighting robots with artificially-aware personalities, defending the world against wave after wave of never-ending Kaiju?
Sounds like a game when you say it like that… Then everything in this series makes sense.
Best ‘Worst Thing’ in Quite Some Time
Let me explain. I avoided this series when it first came out because I thought it was for kids. Written for kids, drawn for kids with what I assumed would be child-friendly comedy. A bout of insomnia made me take a look. The first half of the first episode made me think I was right.
Until I wasn’t. I’m at episode five, so I will see it through. Did I mention the alien invaders secretly trying to gather one or both of the robots for their own insidious plot?
Either this is a virtual reality where a genius develops powerful superweapons for a government program while under the guise of a video game
We are witness to a terrifying landscape where monsters destroy everything around them day after day and a shell-shocked populace teeters on the edge of Kaiju-induced madness…
Don’t Take Anything You See Seriously …
Don’t take it seriously and you may enjoy yourself. The voice cast certain appeared to have enjoyed themselves with this series of adventurous romps through my childhood sci-fi memories.
Delbert Hunt as the lunatic Colonel Creed, who is always seeking to maximize the conflict, increase the destructive potential of every battle and secretly longs to drop, The Big One.
Jared Ward portrays the pilot of The Big One, which is presumably a nuclear weapon of devastating capacity. Alas, the pilot of The Big One is routinely and comedically disappointed. His commentary is often scathing.
Marisa Davila as Dr. Alex Rose, plucky, adventurous, and completely oblivious to the destruction her robots cause even as they fight for truth, justice and occasionally the lives of Humans trod underfoot as they are being saved. A worthy tribute to child heroes of my favorite anime series growing up.
Eric Lopez has a great time as the truthful, bubbly and completely irreverent (and apparently indestructible) giant robot, Shiny. I wonder how much of Shiny’s conversation was ad-libbed because some of the things this robot says are simply too good to have been scripted.
My favorite episode is when Shiny gets an upgrade from the comedic antics of Ren Hanami’s Dr. Magita Rpse, a previously disgraced scientist whose penchant for making illegal, but highly effective Kaiju killing weapons cannot be denied.
The star of this ensemble remains the giant robot, Thunder, played by Chris Diamantopoulos whose deadpan delivery of Thunder’s commentary on Shiny’s failure as a giant robot are by far the best thing about this show. Watching Thunder develop as a personality in light of the return of his older, shorter, not a brother because he’s a robot, Shiny, is part of the fun of this dark adventure story.
Is It Good?
As a run through my childhood’s favorite movies, the dozens of Godzilla movies, the anime giant robot stories, the alien invader tales such as Alien and Star Blazers, this series denies no effort to look under a genre rock and find a nugget to exploit. If you are in the know, if you can recognize these secrets, then this series will definitely surprise you.
If you don’t know any of these genre nuggets, it still passes as an above average giant robot story where two artificially-intelligent robots battle to protect a strange city in the middle of nowhere from constant alien invasion, much like a video game, but presumably not.
But Is It GOOD?
It is the best, worst thing, I have seen in years. I laughed despite myself. Once I realized what I was watching, a parody and homage to monster movies of my youth, yeah, I decided it was better than I thought it would be.
I think I could even handle another season if they were so inclined. I doubt it will happen because of the selective nature of media. But if a Shiny and Thunder robot toy set were to come out, I might be convinced that I should have one or three.
Yes, it’s good. Better if you know what you are looking at. Super Giant Robot Brothers! is on Netflix, until someone realizes how good it is, and takes it off.
7 of 10 – Worth the effort if you like rude and irreverent subversions of giant robot, kaiju and science fiction genre tropes.
Thaddeus Howze is an award-winning writer, editor, podcaster and activist creating speculative fiction, scientific, political and cultural commentary from his office in Hayward, California.
Thaddeus’ speculative fiction has appeared in numerous anthologies and literary journals. He has published two books, ‘Hayward’s Reach’ (2011), a collection of short stories and ‘Broken Glass’ (2013) an urban fantasy novella starring his favorite paranormal investigator, Clifford Engram.