In the (then-future) year of 1998, 13-year-old Yuu Tagami travels to New York City to find his late father's scientific associate, a Dr. Tom Wave, who might be able to fill Yuu in on details about his father and his father's research. Dr. Wave is planning an expedition to a place called New Austral Island that emerged from the sea eight years before. The island's existence is being kept secret from the world at large, and Dr. Wave thinks that it might contain evidence of an alien civilization. He plans to take his kid sister Doris with him, and now includes Yuu in his plans as well, but their journey is fraught with attempts by two parties to either kill or capture them. One of these is the Gail Corporation, which administers the island. The other is an apparently independent band of bad guys led by a woman called Lady Lynx. When they finally do get to the island, Yuu finds a blue mechanical giant, known to the locals as Gorg, and befriends it. Gorg- and its wanderings-become the focus of everyone in the show, and may lead to the awakening of things slumbering beneath their feet...
As action/adventure, it's hard to complain about this show, especially when we get to New Austral Island, where the Gail Corporation seems to be able to pit unlimited men and combat equipment against Gorg and its human friends, in an effort to destroy or subdue them. The Gail forces on the island are now led by Rod Balboa, the dashing sort of young villain (he's the grandson of the company head) who is tough, energetic, unflappable, and absolutely certain about the correctness of his decisions even when they are, in fact, dead wrong.
Gorg, for its part, goes where it wants to go, and does what it wants to do, pretty much as it pleases; even Yuu usually can't talk it into doing anything else. (This is often a GOOD thing, as Gorg prevents Yuu from making some bad choices.) Yuu's human support consists of Dr. Wave (who's a coward, alas); Doris (who naturally becomes Yuu's romantic interest); a tough guy called The Skipper who navigates Yuu's group through traps and firefights; and a group of natives from the OLD Austral Island (that part existed before; New Austral is a newly-emerged annex to it.) The latter includes a couple of native kids named Alois and Sara, who are apparently intended as native counterparts to Yuu and Doris. While Yuu (and occasionally Doris) get to ride on (or inside) Gorg, the rest of our entourage literally follows in Gorg's footsteps, riding in an overlarge amphibious tank.
At the bottom of things (literally) is that mysterious civilization, whose caretaker already had a rather jaundiced view of humans, and it'll become MUCH more negative pretty quickly, but that might change again before the end.
As I noted earlier, the storytelling here moves crisply along; there aren't many dull spots. Sometimes to make things happen we DO have the tried-and-true gimmick of members of the party wandering off, alone or in pairs, and thence into the clutches of the bad guys.
I was surprised at how graphically violent the show was for a kid's show in 1984. The Skipper, in particular, is pretty much a one-man army, and you'll SEE the bleeding bullet and knife wounds he inflicts on his opponents. I can't call the show's attitude about women exactly enlightened either. When things get dangerous, Doris' reaction is to keep whining "I'm scared!", and cling to Yuu. A character that was revered through most of the show winds up brutally beating a woman- with bruises and blood graphically depicted- and he finishes up with a little sexual humiliation by tearing off some of her clothing. (This is the only nudity in the show.)
There's also some objectionable stereotyping of persons of African descent as well, but all of THAT is early in the first episode.
A couple of random observations:
You'll be able to identify the "U.S. President" here pretty readily (by the hair) though he was NOT still in office in 1998.
I also noted that the directed-energy weapons used against Gorg by GORG'S OWN "KIND" failed to penetrate Gorg's body, but GORG was able to use those SAME weapons effectively against THEM. Are all the others of Gorg's "kind" just cheap knockoffs, somehow???
Since this is an older show, I was going to get Grampa to comment on it. It seemed especially fitting now, since this is my 200th review for THEM (not counting second ops), and Grampa is, like, 200 years old...
I AM NOT!!!
What did you think about the show, Grampa?
Well, the Gorg theme song wasn't as catchy as the "Speed Racer" theme: "Here he comes, here comes Speed Racer..."
Grampa, KNOCK THAT OFF! What are your feelings about THIS show?
I liked it! In fact, I'm going to make a Gorg costume for Halloween!
Grampa, they'll just think it's a Transformer costume. Nobody remembers this show. Did YOU remember it?
I must have missed it, the first time around.
Or maybe you just forgot?
Young people these days; no respect for elders! I'm NOT THAT OLD! I bet I'll be around for your 300th review too!
Grampa- and this is the absolute truth- I really hope you are!
Me again; I've put Grampa to bed. To sum it up, this show has an ambitious and well-crafted plot, lots of combat action (if that's your thing), and the artwork, while much less polished than typical today, is at least passable. (Remember, it was all hand-drawn in those days.) Several characters, including some of the villains, are actually given quite a bit of nuance. It's mainly the show's sexism and racism (which are pretty typical for the period, unfortunately) that lowered its status in my eyes- well, that, and the fact that, for a show that seems intended for kids, I found its violence a bit too explicit for that age group. Many will undoubtedly find it too much of a "relic" for their tastes. — Allen Moody
Recommended Audience: Bullet and knife wounds I mentioned; I guess the graphic disintegrations completely slipped my mind. Brutal beating of a woman (with upper-body exposure). Rightstuf rates the DVD 13+.
Version(s) Viewed: Streaming on Crunchyroll.
Review Status: Full (26/26)
Giant Gorg © 1984 Sunrise.
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