Space Runaway Ideon

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
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Space Runaway Ideon (aka Densetsu Kyojin Ideon, Legendary Giant God Ideon) was the project that Yoshiyuki Tomino worked on directly after Mobile Suit Gundam. As with its sister series it had its run cut short, it was planned for 43 episodes but got pulled after 39. The last 4 episodes were made into the movie Be Invoked. Due to its angsty and bizarre ending, it is often cited as close inspiration for Neon Genesis Evangelion. Heck, it's probably best known today as the absolute heavyweight champion of the Kill'Em All trope.

So, for those of you who seek a comprehensive plot summary of the series, here is one. A group of Terran colonists on a remote planet find a Cool Starship and three bulky starfighters that combine into a Super Robot. The ship and the robot contain the so-called Ide, a source of infinite energy, which a militaristic alien-but-actually-human civilization of Buff Clan is after. This results in a rather monotonous Strategy Of The Week as Buff Clan (unsuccessfully) employs increasingly more devastating technologies and renowned military commanders to bring down the Solo ship and get their hands on Ideon. Along the way, many folks die and the Solo ship screws up their relationships with other Terran colonies and the Earth itself, all of whom now want Ide for themselves. Towards the end of the series, every known army in the universe gangs up against the Solo crew. It also becomes apparent that Ideon has a will of its own and that it is displeased with the humans' wars and infighting. Enough so to completely wipe all of them out. That's where the series abruptly cuts. In The Movie, Buff Clan stages the final assault on the Solo ship and Ideon, this time with a planet-destroying Wave Motion Gun. And succeeds. Ideon explodes and destroys what's left of Buff Clan army, since even before that, it generates a swarm of meteors that wreck Earth and Buff Clan homeplanet (destruction of other Terran colonies is Handwaved), so all sentient beings on both planets are destroyed. Cue the Mind Screwing scene with the characters' spirits being somehow reborn on a higher plane of existence.

Compared to its immediate spiritual predecessor, Mobile Suit Gundam, Ideon is a step back from Real Robot to Super Robot (the trend was discontinued with Zeta Gundam in the 80s) and as a result, features rather formulaic combat engagements. These usually follow the pattern of Buff Clan (later, Earth, too) presenting their newest strategy/technology/commander, engaging Ideon (which may or may not be in combined form at the time), and getting their asses handed to them in every single episode. The grand scale of the battles commonly seen in various Gundams is unattainable with a single robot and a Cool Starship, so don't look for it here. Another notable feature is the shameless Plot Armor of major antagonists, as it is not uncommon to see them escape with ease while Ideon takes out their Redshirt Army. To be fair, however, the show isn't that bad, just a little monotonous and difficult to sit through. Be Invoked, on the other hand, is a must for every anime fan out there. Otherwise, you miss out big time on how Kill'Em All was done back in the days...

Yoshiyuki Tomino apparently wants to make a remake of it. Complete with the death scenes.

Tropes used in Space Runaway Ideon include: