Have you ever watched one of those Tony Seba transportation lectures and thought to yourself "this is pretty cool, but it would be even cooler as a shounen battle anime"? Because if you have, Gyrozetter has you covered. Back in 2012, the show was meant to advertise Square Enix's new arcade game with a transforming control scheme gimmick, enabling gameplay that switches from an arcade racer into a QTE-based robot arena fighter. Weirdly, even though it was a fairly simplistic game for kids, it featured dozens of licensed real-life cars from various Japanese manufacturers, because apparently that's a product synergy opportunity that makes sense. As one might guess, a game concept mashup like that is probably going to result in a pretty nuts anime version, but what makes this first episode really fun is that it keeps a straight face while going balls out with all the ridiculous shit, and it's exactly the sort of anime nonsense that I live for. I mean, when I think of words that probably shouldn't appear together in any non-insane context, "Prius" and "prophecy" make a pretty good pair.
In Gyrozetter's alt-future the Japanese government started investing heavily in self-driving technology as early as in 2003, and so in the show's present day AI cars are the norm and New Yokohama has become the Silicon Valley of new transportation industry. Curiously, the cars still seem to be running on some kind of internal combustion engines, which immediately dates the show pretty mercilessly. But anyway, our protagonists are a group of kids attending Waymo Hogwarts, where they spend their days learning to drive cars; we are introduced to them in the midst of some hot parallel parking action. Of course, all this driving practice is meant to stealthily train them into mastering the secret robot forms of their cars, but neither the kids nor their parents know this, so it makes me wonder why everybody just goes along with a driving-heavy syllabus in a setting where technology has made driving skill obsolete. But there's no time to dwell on this, as a villain group driving appropriately pitch-black cars invades the campus. They might be satanists, considering they're led by a big bad named Lord Goat. The headmaster of the school summons our lead kid, the high-energy pro-wrestling fan Kakeru, and tells him he's destined to become the first Gyrozetter pilot, and Kakeru doesn't need to be asked twice to get in the robot, kick ass and do the dab. It's all very cliche-soupy, but the matter-of-factly seriousness plays to its strengths. For example, when Kakeru gets his one of a kind hero robot car with a strong jawline, we are treated with a typically derivative launch sequence: heroic music swells, great steel shutters whizz open... and it's non-ironically just a car driving out of a garage. It's shamelessly stupid-awesome, and I can't wait to see more. A fantastic first episode, and another great reminder of why I love anime.