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Dai-Guard

Japanese animated tv series (1999-2000). Original title Chikyū Bōei Kigyō Dai Gādo. Xebec. Directed by Seiji Mizushima. Written by Fumihiko Shimo. Voice cast includes Akiko Hiramatsu, Shin-ichiro Miki, Kentaro Ito, Kenichi Ono and Mayumi Shintani. 26 23-minute episodes. Colour.

In 2018 Japan is attacked by a Heterodyne, a giant Monster that is defeated by OE weaponry (a nuclear bomb in all but name). To avoid using such weapons again the army commissions the 21st Century Defence Security Corporation to create Dai-Guard, a giant Mecha ... however, no more Heterodynes appear; so the Robot becomes the Corporation's mascot, appearing as a children's attraction at their exhibitions.

Then, in 2030 near one such exhibition, a new Heterodyne appears. Shunsuke Akagi (Ito), Ibuki Momoi (Hiramatsu) and Keiichiro Aoyama (Miki) of the Corporation's public relations team pilot Dai-Guard and battle with the monster, to the semi-encouraging cries of their colleagues: "Run away if it gets dangerous!" The monster is eventually destroyed, but the army resent the trio's intervention and the Corporation's Board of Directors are worried about the budgetary and paperwork issues ("Ready the Emergency Publicity Engagement Request Applications!"). Dai-Guard fights more Heterodynes, causing much collateral damage and incurring sizeable maintenance costs – though the Corporation does notice the value of its stock rises when Dai-Guard is used.

The Heterodynes are the result of a "dimensional quake" caused by electromagnetic waves created when the tectonic plates off Japan's coast collide – we learn that "quantum existence" is also involved (see Imaginary Science; Physics) – and that such quakes will be occurring with increasing frequency. Though the army now want Dai-Guard under their control, legally it is the Corporation's property, so they second Shirou Shirota (Ono) to the Corporation as a tactical advisor; initially there is a clash of personalities but eventually he becomes a supporter of the piloting trio.

Shunsuke is a hothead who takes his job seriously (when told to take a vacation: "There are no vacations from defending justice!"); Ibuki wishes to avenge her beloved father who was killed when investigating the original Heterodyne; and Keiichiro does not really want to be involved as he has a sick mother to care for. Also important is Rika Domeki (Shintani), the Corporation's seventeen-year-old Scientist who identifies the Heterodynes' weakness. Rika upsets Ibuki by pointing out that her scientist father studied the first Heterodyne not to nobly aid humanity but because its existence confirmed his theories of parallel Dimensions; but Ibuki does reconcile with her stepfather, a doctor who helps those injured by the Heterodynes, coming to recognize him as a true hero.

There are pro and anti Dai-Guard factions within the Corporation: the President is supportive, but he is sacked by the Directors, followed by Shunsuke, Ibuki and Keiichiro's replacement. Their substitutes are not up to scratch, so they and the President are soon reinstated. In the end a botched attack by the army causes a Heterodyne to expand at a rate that will cover the Earth in a month: Rika discovers its weak point, but – not wanting civilians to solve a problem they made – the army prepare to use OE weaponry. Fortunately Shirou and others defy their superiors and the series ends with Dai-Guard saving the day.

Dai-Guard is an Anime with office workers as heroes; as well as the mecha's three pilots, we get to know the rest of the Corporation's public relations team. This is an amusing show whose humour contrasts the mundanity of paperwork and budgeting with the drama of a mecha battling monsters: the latter element being a McGuffin rather than the show's raison d'etre, existing to trigger the character interactions and business/army internal politics. [SP]

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Entry from The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (2011-current) edited by John Clute and David Langford.
Accessed 01:16 am on 27 June 2022.
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