Gunparade March (2003 IMDb)

Categorization

Apocalyptic alternate-history mecha action. Based on a strategy game.

Subject

An alien invasion followed WW2. Fifty years later, near the turn of the millennium, the monstrous enemy has pushed mankind back to just a few spots on the planet, including Japan. A number of youths serve as pilots of the latest mecha there, receiving military briefings in their own classroom.

Commentary

Arguably the most successful Neon Genesis Evangelion (1995) clone alongside Gasaraki (1998). Where Gasaraki strays toward greater seriousness, Gunparade uses simple characters and comedy. The final result is a shining example of anime's occasional ability to syncretize with tolerable contrasts. For example, a little cutie reminiscent of Ground Defense Force Mao-chan (2002) is necessary to the unit because of her supernatural abilities, and the military-industrial process whereby she obtained those abilities is what tragically stunts her mental and physical growth. She's nuanced darkness and comedy in one adorably beribboned package.

References here: “Don't mention the war!”, Muv-Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse (2012).

Japanese production animation mecha series