So I talked with Anime News Network's Answerman about the lack of combining mecha

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Posted 12/15/18 , edited 12/15/18
He had this to say:


Combining mecha was a kids' toy fad from the 80s that is now thought of as retro. As toys are no longer the main reason why mecha anime exists, there's no reason to incorporate the trope.


In other words, combining mecha in anime and tokusatsu were mostly created to just sell toys. And because the majority of mecha anime we keep getting instead are dark and epic war dramas aimed at a seinen audience, that with the exception of plastic model kits, there is no reason to sell mecha as toys anymore, and that includes combining mecha.

Which sucks, because in my opinion, combining mecha are f***ing awesome, and the majority of combining mecha we keep getting, instead, are love letters to the trope rather than mecha in their own rights, e.g. GaoGaiGar, GUN X SWORD's El Dora V, Aquarion, and Gurren Lagann. Nowadays, if I wanted a team of mecha, I was literally better off going to either (a) a small team of non-combining mecha specializing in different weapons and armor, e.g. melee, ranged, heavy siege, light scouting, support, or (b) a mass-produced army of general purpose mecha backed up by a home base support staff to build and mass-produce them.
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Posted 12/15/18 , edited 12/15/18
Have you watched SSSS. Gridman? if Gridman is a mecha then he combines with other parts to form different styles. https://www.crunchyroll.com/ssssgridman
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Posted 12/16/18 , edited 12/16/18
Well actually I think his explanation is kind of dumb. Selling toys isn't the only reason combining mecha were created- it was cool to look at, the kind of computer animated effects we have now didn't exist back then to make them work in live-action; so animation was their natural home... and when one show becomes a big success in television you know everyone tries to copy it. So of course they would sell toys if the anime was a success since there's more money in it, but mecha toys aren't the only types that would have sold. You can make toys out of any kind of vehicle or character, so toy-making did not necessitate combining-mecha designs.

Combining mechs are just not in style anymore. Swords & sorcery with cute girls is in style now. Not just in animation either! With the kind of capabilities in CGI there is so much more than can be done to make great mech designs, but it's not what the majority of the audience wants anymore. Fads come and go.
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Posted 12/16/18 , edited 12/16/18
It was brief but I don't think he's wrong. Aerial docking, or any kind of "they must connect to bring out their real power but always start out separate for some reason" strains credulity on basic physics. Transforming mecha is only slightly less ridiculous-seeming.

To play with a gattai robot you buy mecha sold separately, or fork over a large sum for a multi-pack set. G.I. Joe, also a toy ad, was basically the traditional little green army men blended with an early Pokemon concept of collecting them all.

There's a balancing act of how much the audience is expected to suspend disbelief, gattai mecha as anything other than parody right now is pushing just a bit too far. Even the (only?) representative this season Gridman doesn't make a big production out of the gattai. It gets shown for coolness -- or skipped -- and then on to the fighting.
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Posted 26 days ago , edited 25 days ago
I'm fairly certain the first gattai mecha came about as a cool idea, precluding merchandising thought. I think Nagai Go-sensei came up with Mazinger Z before thinking of all the merchandizing possibilities. Mazinger wasn't quite gattai mecha, but it was one of first piloted mecha that had also had the pilot have to fly separate module and dock into the main robot. The idea did evolve into a marketing juggernaut and shows aimed at younger audience.
As others have said, things come and go. Also, the stuff we see here tends to be aimed at a bit more mature audience. there still are some tokusatsu and hero shows in Japan aimed at kids, but they don't go over too well with older audiences so we don't see them in our market overseas much. Have you actually gone back to watch shows you used to love when you were a kid? Hard to watch.

Like OP said, shows you see now with gattai mecha are mostl;y homages, which Gridman is. Without the underlying plot that has bubbled up, Gridman would have been pretty boring for current audiences.


And merchandizing now has gotten more diverse. I don't know what the actual dollar figures are, but now you've got multitudes of triple digit bishoujo figures that no kid could afford.
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