King of the Braves: GAOGAIGAR

Volume One: Heir to the Throne

Synopsis:  The story follows a boy named Mamoru, who was delivered to his human parents as a baby by a Mech called Galeon (Lion Mecha), who came from the stars. As an eight year old, he encounters the top secret Japanese government organization called 3G. 3G was created to protect humanity from extra terrestrial life forms and employs a cyborg named Gai Shishio, who is able to merge with the Galeon and transform it into a robot form. The robot form can merge with other forms (a bullet train, a drill machine and a fighter craft) to become Gaogaigar, a super robot. A mysterious alien force (called the Zonders, collectively) is merging humans with inanimate machines and causing them to become dangerous weapons that threaten all of humanity. Only Gai and the Gaogaigar can stop them! Mamoru is able to take the defeated Human-Zonder and use his amazing powers to restore their humanity, making him an invaluable asset to 3G.

Comments:  This series is part of several Brave cartoons released in Japan (the final series from 1997). The Brave line was a cousin line to the Transformers in Japan in the 90s (which means they had the same designers at Takara basically. The toy concepts never mingled however).
    The series seems to be aimed at a kid or teen audience, as it alternates between really good elements as well as really dumb ones. We have things like a bad theme song (literally singing "Gao-Gao-Gao-Gaogaigar!"), stock footage and repetitive story telling. We also have good elements like cool mech designs, pretty decent animation and a potentially intriguing back story.
    The first three episodes reminded me more of Voltron then Transformers, to be honest. In each of them, we have the robot threat, the hero merging up all the way to his super duper mode and then kicking butt. In each episode, he uses the same technique to kill the bad guy robot. Fortunately, by episode four they decided to deviate from the formula slightly. And in episode five, we get Transformers! (Seriously, they have two fire engine style robots get created that can transform and ultimately merge together--although the merging didn't happen in episode five, just in the preview for episode six).
    All in all, this is a decent series. It's animation is not spectacular (compared with Gundam Wing or Escaflowne) but decent and the writing is decent (just don't expect too much of it). Worth checking out if you're a TF fan that can't get enough and want to sample something a little different but not exceptional either.

Technical Details:
- Contains the first five episodes of the King of the Braves series.
- The first volume of the eighth series of the Brave series. There are five more volumes of this series (to-date). There is also a new release of the first DVD (a green jacketed version) although I am not certain of what the difference is (likely more features and 5.1 sound).
- English and Japanese soundtracks (Japanese with english sub-titles). Soundtrack in Dolby 2.0.
- 1:33:1 aspect ratio. (Full screen. Widescreen not available).