‘Getter Robot’ sequel gets revamped with CGI

©Go Nagai-Ken Ishikawa/ DynamicPlanning-Shin Saotome Labo
Getter Arc, the giant robot in “Getter Robot Arc,” is depicted using computer graphics.

Since first hitting the airwaves in 1974, “Getter Robot,” a pioneering television anime series featuring a giant combining robot, has been loved by people of all ages. The series’ latest addition, “Getter Robot Arc,” has been airing on various channels such as Tokyo MX since July 4. It is the anime’s first new series in 17 years and is the first to depict the story’s machines using computer graphics. “Getter Robot Arc” is sure to be an exciting visual feast that maintains the series’ dramatic intensity.

“Getter Robot” was created by Go Nagai and started out as a manga drawn by Ken Ishikawa. It was also simultaneously produced as a TV anime. The story originally revolved around three young men, including protagonist Ryoma Nagare, and the three machines they operate, which combine to form a giant robot. They take up the fight against a dinosaur empire planning to conquer and dominate Earth.

Back then, the concept of a robot made up of combined smaller components was a novel one and was featured in subsequent sequel series, such as “Getter Robot G,” “Getter Robot Go” and “Shin Getter Robot,” all the way through to the early 2000s.

The protagonist of the latest series is Takuma Nagare, the son of the original series’ lead. Following clues on his quest for revenge against his mother’s killer, he heads to the Saotome Research Lab along with his good friend Baku Yamagishi. Together, they come across Hayato Jin, the director of the institute and one of the three protagonists from the original “Getter Robot.” His search for a pilot for the robot Getter Arc is what kicks the story in motion.

Director Jun Kawagoe, 63, also worked on the previous entry into the series, “New Getter Robot” (2004).

“In ‘Getter [Robot’ series], the robot itself is depicted as a character through which the story unfolds. The anime faithfully recreates its manga counterpart while taking care of some of the manga’s loose plots points,” Kawagoe explained.

For the first time in the series’ run, scenes that feature the titular machine and the Saotome Lab were created through the use of CGI as opposed to it being hand-drawn. “[The scene in which the machines combine to form the robot] was especially difficult because, unlike hand-drawn pictures, CG images aren’t very flexible,” Kawagoe said of the hard work his team put in. Despite the difficulty, however, the digitized animation proved highly effective.

“The way in which light is expressed in some scenes has advanced. We were also able to make the way the fortress moved and the launch of machines look very cool,” he said proudly.

Due to Ishikawa’s untimely passing, the story in the manga version remains unfinished.

“It’s such a grandiose tale. I hope fans will enjoy seeing how the main characters — Takuma, Baku and Kamui along with Hayato — make their way toward the ending,” Kawagoe said.

“Getter Robot Arc” is broadcast on Tokyo MX, AT-X, BS SKY PerfectTV! and BS11.

‘Robots represent dreams’

Yuma Uchida

Yuma Uchida lends his voice talents to lead character, Takuma Nagare. A self-proclaimed fan of the giant robot anime genre, Uchida said that he was happy to be a part of a series with an over 40-year-long history. He was also surprised at the response he received when it became known that he would be taking part in the latest series’ production.

“Robots represent dreams,” Uchida said. “Stories that feature a protagonist hopping into a giant robot and fighting the enemy in some desolate land have always been exciting for me. There are many faithful [robot anime] fans in my generation, too. The powerful energy in those works attracts many people regardless of age and time.”

Takuma is a short-tempered man with a strong physique, a rough tongue and a gleam in his eye.

“At first I thought he was a villain,” Uchida said, laughing. “He is a passionate man who’s considerate of other’s feelings. While he can be rebellious, he fights out of kindness. He’s also never at a loss for words. I find his unyielding spirit very inspiring.”

Because Takuma screams in quite a few scenes, Uchida has to push himself to the limit in each recording session. While portraying this character, the actor is also keenly aware of Takuma’s pride in being the son of Ryoma Nagare, the original series’ lead.

The art style, music and some of the dialogue in “Getter Robot Arc” are reminiscent of the series in its early days.

“If I think too much about the older series, then my acting becomes too by the book,” Uchida said. “While I do take the tradition of this part seriously, I also hope that our performances will make the viewers feel that they’re watching a contemporary anime.”

To organically create the sense of the main trio being together, Uchida is joined by the voice actors for Baku and Kamui, who pilot machines alongside Takuma, in every recording session.

“Getter has intensity, an energy that can blow away [the viewers’] troubles. I think it’ll become a source of courage for people today. While we inherit good things about the series, I hope to impart a sort of energy that will push us toward a bright new future,” he said.