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On planet Zola, the purebred Innocents live inside a sealed dome, unable to survive in the inhospitable environment. The Civilian underclass, who live out in the wilderness, regard the Innocents' rocket launches as "ascensions of light" and do not question their assigned roles as rockmen (bluestone miners), freighters (traders), and sand-rats (desert-dwellers). Civilian Jiron Amos believes his rockman father was murdered and steals the new Walker Machine Xabungle, quarrelling all the way with the pretty land-ship captain Elche. He sets out on the land-ship Iron Gear to learn the truth about his father's death, but the whole planet has another truth to learn. For generations all Zolans have believed that they were descended from colonists from the planet Earth, but they never left the homeworld-Zola is the Earth, devastated by centuries of exploitation.
A more jocular robot show than its contemporaries, Xabungle (i.e., "The Bungler") featured an inept hero and giant robot battles often played for laughs, set against a background that mixes parts of Grey and Nausicaä with Westerns-homages extend as far as having a Clint Eastwood clone among the characters, along with a look-alike of Sunrise's all-time great antihero Char Aznable. A deliberate attempt to break the serious mold of Sunrise robot shows (by Tomino, the man whose name remains synonymous with Gundam), it also predates Patlabor in its depiction of robots as everyday working tools. The story reappeared in 1983 in a feature-length edit, Xabungle Graffiti, screened alongside the two Dougram short movies. The Wild West imagery would return years later in Trigun and Eat-Man.