Your Bad Anime Night Needs

Your Bad Anime Night Needs: Gundam Superior Defender

SD Gundam Force 001 - 20130930What is it?

Superior Defender is a 52-episode series set in the Gundam universe. The show is set in the distant future, in a city known as Neotopia. In this city, humans and robots live together in perfect harmony, and peace reigns above all. The happy times come to an end one day, though, when evil extra-dimensional force Dark Axis invades Neotopia. The Neotopian government received advance knowledge of Dark Axis’s invasion, and established the Super Dimensional Guard. The Super Dimensional Guard’s mission is tasked with combating the forces of Dark Axis, while keeping their deeds hidden from the public.

So much for that mission.

A lad named Shute gets entangled in the very first battle between the Dark Axis and Super Dimensional Guard champion Captain Gundam. Yes, Captain Gundam. No, that’s not an exaggeration. It’s captain. Freaking. Gundam. Anyway, Shute quickly becomes friends with Captain Gundam, and activates the captain’s “Soul Drive”. The Soul Drive is a unique power source powered by friendship, that is key to unlocking the true power of Captain Gundam, and the one thing that can destroy the Dark Axis.

No, Really. What the heck is it?

The SD series isn’t a stranger to the Gundam franchise. Since the show’s inception, SD Gundam have starred in video games, and received various merchandise from figures to trading cards.

The first SD Gundam animation was Mobile Suit SD Gundam, which actually hit in 1988. Through 2003, there would be no fewer than twelve SD Gundam animation works. For the most part, these were parody pieces – cute, joke-filled shows that poked fun at the often heavy storylines of the mainline franchise. Other installments included music videos and festival pieces. They never took themselves seriously, and fans tended to enjoy them for what they were.

Superior Defender was the first attempt at turning the SD Gundam franchise into a full-blown series. It’s a mash-up of three previous SD titles: SD Command Chronicles, Musha Gundam, and Knight Gundam. Unlike the usual Gundam fare, though, Superior Defender is a show that was pitched almost exclusively at the younger child set. It fails pretty spectacularly at this task, with a laughably bad plot, one-dimensional characters, and some of the least satisfying mecha combat to ever grace the anime world.

Superior Defender was so bad, that it quickly became the least-watched Gundam show to ever run in Japan. The English adaptation features a horrifically bad dub, which seems to elevate the show to an almost Plan 9 From Outer Space level of ironic comedy.


And you want me to watch this WHY?

Frankly speaking, Superior Defender is one of the best shows one can use to dash people’s hopes. This author’s first experience with this was at Otakon 2003, when the show was officially announced. Bandai rep Jerry Chu got the crowd riled up, playing the Gundam card early in the panel. When it came time for the announce, he screened the first five minutes of Superior Defender. Well, the first three. The show was booed so loudly, and so violently that they cut it short. For the rest of the panel, whenever Chu would utter the words “Superior Defender” (and he did quite often), the room would erupt in a mix of laughter and boos.

When played up correctly, this is a show that can, and will bring out the reactions from the crowd. People will boo, jokes will be thrown about, and the very mention of Superior Defender will get people talking. And, if one can get the hopes of the group high enough beforehand, it will, almost without fail, inspire the Otakon 2003 reaction.

When and how long should I screen this for?

The best time to show this is after a long, slow burn of hype building. Tell the crowd that the night will be capped off by a “Gundam Classic”, and keep bringing it up every few episodes. About mid-way through the night, announce the coming of the Gundam, and pop this in. The crowd won’t know how to react.

It’s best to screen the show until the groans and the boos kick up. Once the crowd is riled up, it’s recommended that presenters screen a mainline Gundam title, to wash the horrible taste out of viewers’ mouths.


About the author

Samantha Ferreira

Samantha Ferreira is Anime Herald’s founder and editor-in-chief. A Rhode Island native, Samantha has been an anime fan since 1992, and an active member of the anime press since 2002, when she began working as a reviewer for Anime Dream. She launched Anime Herald in 2010, and continues to oversee its operations to this day. Outside of journalism, Samantha actively studies the history of the North American anime fandom and industry, with a particular focus on the 2000s anime boom and bust. She’s a huge fan of all things Sakura Wars, and maintains series fansite Combat Revue Review when she has free time available. When not in the Anime Herald Discord, Samantha can typically be found on Bluesky.

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