The content below is entirely editable.
We could use some help on this page. Hit the edit button to get started.
In 1945, World War II was abruptly ended by the arrival of invading alien entities called Phantom Beasts. In the ensuing years, the Phantom Beasts occupy most of the world, until by 1999 one of the last lines of defense is on Japan's southern island of Kyushu. Severe losses on the human side led in 1978 to the reduction of the draft age to 16 and its expansion to include females. Now, in 1999, the teenage soldiers' main weapon against the Phantom Beasts is the HWT (Humanoid War Tank), a single-seater robot that can grapple with the oversized aliens in the hope of destroying their vulnerable brain-spot. In death, the Phantom Beasts unleash poisonous residue that renders the surrounding area uninhabitable and threatens to kill any pilots unable to make it out of the war zone in time.
Like Sakura Wars, Gunparade is based on a historically revisionist game for the PlayStation, although this one won an award at the 2001 Japanese national science fiction convention-the first game to do so. It is, perhaps, worth mentioning that if one really wanted to allegorize the defense of Japan in 1945 from evil invaders (that's us), Gunbuster did it far better and did so before most of Gunparade's intended audience were born, but that, of course, is how people can get away with it. Unit 5121 has four Shikon units, and the concentration on the everyday lives and relationships of its pilots and their backup crew bears a strong resemblance to that depicted in Patlabor. Nowhere is this more obvious than in the sudden arrival of Mai Shibamura, a cool, ruthlessly efficient transfer who is the sole survivor of a frontline unit which 5121 has been assigned to replace. Mixing elements of Patlabor's Kanuka with Asuka from Evangelion, Mai is a privileged rich girl whose father worked on the original HWT project, inexplicably forced to fight on the front alongside our point-of-view protagonist Atsushi, with whom she must practice to ensure that her moves are properly "synchronized."
Story editor Fumihiko Takayama, a native of the unit's hometown of Kumamoto and a veteran of many Gundam episodes, was on hand to ensure mechanical "authenticity," although making such a big deal about how the robots work might seem facetious considering the Japanese education system's obstructive policy on telling students what really happened in WW II. The show's Japanese subtitle might proclaim that it is a "new anthem," but really this is the same old song we've heard before in Kishin Corps and Deep Blue Fleet. However, Gunparade is an irresistible addition to the alternate universe subgenre in Japanese science fiction, if only for little touches like Wicked Wizard, wartime propaganda dressed up as a fairy tale, with which the child pilots are indoctrinated. There are also allegories of more modern conflicts in the style of Gasaraki and Heat Guy J, particularly with cutaways to life away from the frontline, in which citizens enjoy relative levels of comfort and luxury, while their children sacrifice themselves to hold off a seemingly unstoppable menace-literally, since infants are required as operators for the PBE bombs that are the best weapons against the Phantom Beasts. With the first season leaving the plot unresolved, a sequel involving a new cast, Gunparade Orchestra, followed in fall 2005.