How do you create the ultimate anime? Buy the best director and the best writer and give them infinite time and infinite money? Seems like that’d be obvious, right? Obvious, but wrong.
Leaving aside auxiliary questions like how one can actually judge who the best director and best writer are, there’s a much more fundamental problem with that idea. It’s an thought I often find expressed in critical circles, that the best successes come simply from good talents being able to do what they really want, free of any constraints. It’s the ideal of creative freedom unchained and free to race around the world with gumption and gusto.
The problem with this idea is that it’s too much yang and not enough yin, and it neglects the fact that a lot of the most creative ideas of our time have only come about because people didn’t have the materials or editorial approval to try their first choice and ended up doing something totally new. And how the choice that spends the most money isn’t always the choice that’s best for a particular show. Creative constraint is the polar opposite of creative freedom, but almost as vital in the production of powerful anime.
There are a lot of mecha anime out there, and while I haven’t seen too many of them, I tend to really enjoy the self-aware mecha shows that take unique takes on the implications of the genre; stuff like Dai-Guard, where the focus is a hot-blooded protagonist dealing with various impracticalities of the genre, or Fist Planet, where the mech pilot just clowns around to pass the time in his dull job, or Gad Guard, which is all about the downsides of having a robot minion that does whatever you want.
One day, I had heard a certain 90s mecha by the name of Gasaraki mentioned in this context enough times that I had to give it a look. Suffice to say it’s a lot less in the style of Ishikawa Ken (Getter Robo) and a lot more in the style of Kaiji Kawaguchi (Zipang, A Spirit of the Sun), a gripping political thriller.