In 2019, a rift to another dimension suddenly appears in the sky, revealing an upside down alternate world where Japan maintains its militarism and remains in an eternal Showa era. Called “Shinkoku Nippon”, this alternate Japan invades the real Japan with their GARANN giant robots and GENMU gas weapons that make modern weapons ineffective. Turning the conquered Japan into a puppet state called “Genkoku Nippon”, the country is ruled with harsh censorship and the Reiwa era does not come to pass. But a secret society called Arahabaki resists Shinkoku’s occupation with their GARANNDOLL robots powered by “Battery Girls”.
Halimun Muhammad (The Indonesian Anime Times)
Japan getting occupied by giant robots-armed power may not be a new idea for an anime. But for a change of pace, this time the occupying force is not a foreign country, but an alternate version of Japan that maintains Showa era militarism. This alternate Japan calls itself “Shinkoku”, which uses the kanji 真 that can mean “true”. While the Heisei era Japan they conquered gets labeled “Genkoku”, using the kanji 幻 that can mean “phantom” or “illusion”. It’s an intriguing portrayal of what the antagonists perceive ought to be the true, real characteristic of Japan. And through censorship, they enforce their ideal mold of loyal, obedient citizens to the inhabitants of Genkoku.
On the other side, opposing this occupation is a band of “otaku“, whose identity is associated with embracing things that are fictional, the works of imagination that Shinkoku restricts. We see the resistance value the creations of imagination in their own right because the affective response they evoke animates their lives and worlds, as illustrated in the battle in the first episode. The heroine, Rin, is shown to process the situations she is facing through the tropes of robot anime that she is passionate for. Thinking that way does not only provide the structure that enables making actions in the fight, but the robot is also literally powered by her enthusiasm for the genre. The dramatic build up leads to a rousing climax.
And then there is Hosomichi, the main character who finds himself ending up in the cockpit of the robot that Rin powers. He is a youth who has been growing up jaded, burdened by debt and putting up a fake smile to get through his work at the host club in order to pay it off. He has set aside his childhood interest in robot anime, but not really letting them go as he still sets a robot anime theme as his ringtone. His encounter with Rin also inevitably brings up more of that side of him he has set aside as they have to work together to operate the robot in tandem.
The aesthetics of the anime also neatly plays into its theme, with the resistance sporting playful, pop designs while the Shinkoku forces take on the trappings of past Japan in their soldiers, sword-bearing military officer, ninja, and even onmyouji. As discussed in the Otaku and the Struggle for Imagination in Japan (Galbraith, 2019), the image of “otaku” is caught up between the discourse of anime culture as a “cool” national asset that attracts foreign audience and unease with the fans’ desires for fiction that are seen as weird and need to be disciplined. Upon that backdrop, this hot-blooded tale about resisting the policing of imagination by the spectre of Japan’s militaristic past is a fascinating work to examine.
Facts and Figures
|Alternate title(s)||Gyakuten Sekai no Denchi Shoujo: RUMBLE GARANNDOLL
|Source material||Original story by Garandou|
|Cast||Ai Fairouz as Rin Akagi
Aina Suzuki as Yuki Aoba
Aki Toyosaki as Mimi Kagurazaka
Hayato Kaneko as Pocha
Kenichiro Matsuda as Ukai
Rina Hidaka as Hayate Makami
Seiichirou Yamashita as Hosomichi Kudo
Shino Shimoji as Yakumo Kamizuru
Shiori Izawa as Misa Kuroki
Shouta Hayama as Cap
Takahiro Mizushima as Megane
Takamitsu Fukuchi as Anju Munakata
Takuma Terashima as Akatsuki Shinonome
Tomokazu Sugita as Balzac Yamada
Yukiyo Fujii as Musashi Sashigami
??? as Nastassja Tanaka
|Director||Masaomi Ando (Gakkou Gurashi, Astra Lost in Space, Toilet-Bound Hanako-kun, Scum’s Wish)|
|Scenario||Makoto Uezu (Tentai Senshi Sunred, Yuki Yuna is a Hero, Scum’s Wish)|
|Character design||Keiko Kurosawa (Astra Lost in Space, Scum’s Wish) based on original designs by Akio Watanabe (Nurse Witch Komugi, Bakemonogatari)|
|Opening theme||“Fever Dreamer” by Mia REGINA|
|Ending theme||“Reverse-Rebirth” by Aina Suzuki|
|Broadcast date||11 October 2021 (1400GMT/2100WIT/2300JST)|
Screenshots and Trailer
The Indonesian Anime Times