The Most Unique Mech Systems, From Evangelion to Pacific Rim

The average mecha or giant robot functions in a formulaic way: the pilot gets in the robot, takes hold of the controls, and operates the war machine like one might control a tank or any other mobile weapon. However, while some mechas -- like certain Gundams -- require a manual to control, others are a lot stranger, utilizing either psychic controls, emotional bonds or your ability to open up to another human being. Some even operate through the power of music.

Anime mechas are unique in the way they operate and function. Some of the most iconic ones of all time are so unusual and distinct that we often forget just how strange these mecha are. From Evangelion to Pacific Rim, here are some of the strangest mecha units ever constructed.

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Pacific Rim

Kaiju Pacific Rim Jaeger Mecha

On the surface, Pacific Rim, both the film series and anime, seems pretty straightforward: giant robots designed to fight giant monsters. However, piloting a Jaeger by yourself is so strenuous that it can break your body. So, the Rift System was introduced and aimed to lessen the strain by having two people pilot the robot. The Rift System is what makes the Jaegers so unique. It functions by having two pilots who can open up intimately to one another, resulting in a solid connection for piloting the Jaeger.

What makes this process even stranger is that, should one or both the pilots end up tumbling into emotional distress while opening up to another person, the Jaeger might go berserk. It's a machine that requires emotional openness and honesty.



Imagine a machine that uses music and sound to reshape reality. Rahxephon is often dismissed as a clone of Neon Genesis Evangelion, but indicating that the Rahxephon and Dolems are copies of the Evangelions and Angels is a vast oversimplification. Of course, tons of anime are derivative -- after all, Evangelion is derivative of Space Runaway Ideon -- but Rahxephon's mecha are seriously unique. The Dolems, for example, are not mecha that the interdimensional Mu use to fight humanity, but rather clay golems of an otherworldly, alien nature.

Likewise, the Rahxephon are symphonic machines that use melodies and sound as a weapon. It obeys the movements of its pilot -- or instrumentalist -- to "retune" the world, reshaping and warping reality to bring harmony to it all. It's pretty surreal to imagine a machine running not really in synch with thought but more with harmonics and sound, but that's Rahxephon for you. It's surreal.

Mobile Fighter G Gundam

g gundam anime 1995

Gundams typically operate like military machines -- except in Mobile Fighter G Gundam, where the machines are controlled via motion tracking. In G Gundam, a Gundam's movements coordinate with those of their pilots. This makes it so that even horses can operate giant robots. Of course, the downside is that you also feel whatever damage is inflicted on your machine.

The Ultimate Gundam -- also known as the Devil Gundam -- is among the oddest giant robots. It's operated by turning its pilot into a fuel source while continuously evolving. It sprouts nanomachines that can then take over the bodies of those it targets, all while eternally growing with a will of its own.

The Visions of Escaflowne

The Visions of Escaflowne sees a very different sort of mecha brought to life. Regardless of whether they're grounded in realism or not, most mecha anime exists in some futuristic setting. On the other hand, the Escaflowne is comprised of dragon bones and fueled by the heart of a dragon, piloted in an alternate fantasy world known as Gaea.

The Escaflowne is bound spiritually to Van Fanel. While other mechs exist on Gaea, they function more like giant suits of armor, controlled by strange technology that feels like something Leonardo da Vinci might've cooked up. Of course, due to a blood pact, if the Escaflowne is destroyed, then Van will die in turn. The mechas in Escaflowne are a strange hybrid between pre-electricity robotics mixed with fantasy magic.

B't X

B't X feels more like a Saint Seiya copy than a Super Robot series -- which makes sense, considering it was a Shonen title created by Masami Kurumada. In the world of B't X, there is an ancient civilization of mechanized creatures known as B't. The main character Teppei ends up bonding with X -- one of the most powerful B'ts of all time -- by bleeding on it. From there, the two stubborn beings are forced to work together.

B't X is unique in that robots are all sentient, often taking animalistic appearances. X, for example, looks like a winged horse who fights alongside Teppei rather than just for him. As a result, this is less a series about piloting mechs and more about fighting with mechs.

Gurren Lagann

Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann

Gurren Lagann is a franchise that runs on the power of raw, manly spirit. The machines throughout the series operate similarly to how many Super Robots do: magical machinations, new superweapons as the plot demands and the ability to fuse with other robots. However, what becomes more apparent as the series progresses is that the machines are powered by those who pilot them.

Humanity in Gurren Lagann has the power to harness their spirit through their machines, allowing them to become malleable and adaptable to any situation. As a result, the various machines can fuse with just about anything (the moon, ships and other planets). By the end, Simon's robot amasses enough mass to throw galaxies around like throwing stars and assimilate the power of creation itself.

Neon Genesis Evangelion

evangelion berserk

When it comes to bizarre giant robots, none are stranger or more terrible than those in Neon Genesis Evangelion. Each unit is created from the biomatter of the Angels Adam and Lilith -- two creatures who descended from space in moon-sized seeds. As a result, each Evangelion is capable of incredible power and is controlled by a teenage child emotionally bound to the soul contained within each unit. The cockpit/entry plug is inserted into the Eva before it's filled with a strange liquid called LCL. The synchronization between the pilot and Eva must be optimized to operate successfully.

Plenty of dangers are associated with piloting an Evangelion. Should the pilot or Evangelion enter a state of distress, they could enter into a Berserker mode, where the machine rips anything and everything apart. If the synchronization rate between the pilot and Evangelion goes too high, the pilot might melt into their being. And all of this ignores the BEAST mode, where the Evangelion and pilot turn into uncontrollable monstrosities. This isn't even considering events like the Third Impact or the possibility of liquefying humanity into a single entity.

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