In 2017, Japan finds itself under attack from a Heterodyne; a mysterious monster so powerful that only the most dangerous and destructive of explosives is able to stop it. Fearing that the beast is the first of many such monsters, the army channels its resources into building an effective countermeasure- a giant robot named Dai-Guard.
Flash forward twelve years, however, and Dai-Guard’s fate has not exactly been the one its creators envisioned. When the Heterodyne never returned, the robot ended up in the care of 21st Century’s Public Relations Division, and has since become little more than a marketing gimmick. All that changes, however, when the Heterodyne finally make a repeat appearance, forcing the three young officers who were trained to pilot Dai-Guard to jump in and start fight back. Unfortunately, saving the world just isn’t as easy as it looks, especially when you have to deal with damage forms, expense accounts and a thrifty board of directors.
It has actually been a while since I last watched Dai-Guard, but after uploading it to the Episode Guides section, I felt a renewed desire to write about it. On the surface, Dai-Guard looks like yet another standard mecha series, but in fact, that is exactly the idea; rather than aiming for any sort of originality, this is a tongue in cheek homage to all those giant robot shows of yore. Of course, that is exactly where the series’ appeal lies- how many other series worry about damage claims and insurance reports when their giant robot destroys half a city?
Of course, ripping off older shows is something of a double edged sword; for every time that such a series can extract a knowing chuckle, there are an equal number of times when it just feels like yet another retread of the same material. Admittedly, Dai-Guard does have its dull moments where it feels like little more than a Giant Robo-Eva-lite, but for the most part it manages an enjoyable mix of light entertainment and character drama.
Like its sister series Nadesico, Dai-Guard is blessed with an unusually large cast, comprising the entirety of PR Division 2, other company members, the board of directors and army representatives. With most of the spotlight and character moments focusing on the three people who actually pilot Dai-Guard, the rest of the cast are fairly one-dimensional personalities, but whilst you are unlikely to care greatly about them (or even remember their names), they are at least an entertaining group.
Visually, Dai-Guard is more functional than aesthetically pleasing; the robot himself is based on giant robots from the Mazinger era, whilst characters remain clean yet ultimately simplistic. The music is most likely to have you turning the volume down, but if listened to enough times it becomes bearable.
Although it is hardly a stand out series, when it comes to light entertainment that doesn’t take itself or the mecha genre too seriously, Dai-Guard is a good choice. And after all, who can resist a series that has the tagline “office workers, saving the world”?