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SD Gundam Force, the SD officially standing for "Superior Defender", but also for "Super-Deformed", A term used for a long-running series of Affectionate Parodies, is a CG anime series based on the Gundam metaseries. It ran for two seasons, but ended on a full course.
The city of Neotopia is a peaceful place, where the humans live in harmony with Mobile Citizens, small robots between three and four feet tall that look a lot like Mobile Suits. A young boy named Shute finds himself at ground zero of an invasion by the Dark Axis, an army of evil (and equally tiny) robots who seem determined to turn everything to stone. He is rescued by Captain Gundam, A robot styled after the Gundams of the Universal Century universe (particularly the GP-01). After beating back the invading forces, Captain suddenly shows up at Shute's house in a civilian guise, saying his commander wanted him to get experience with civilians, and he decided to start by being Shute's friend.
During the battles against the Dark Axis, Captain meets with two other warriors from parallel universes: Zero, the Winged Knight, a magic-using warrior from the world of Lacroa, and Bakunetsumaru, A Samurai from the world of Ark.
Practically the definition of a Love It or Hate It series. When it first aired, SDGF was flamed to a crisp by some viewers as a Lighter and Softer perversion of Gundam that ruined the franchise FOREVER. However, quite a few Gundam fans enjoy it because of the flashes of depth lurking beneath the cutesy exterior, ranging from extended Mythology Gags to deeper characterization than one normally expects from a kids' show. Two video games were produced, though the Play Station 2 game is more noteworthy for introducing the dimensional pirates of DaScar, Expies of V Gundam's villainous Zanscare Empire, as well as more Expies of more machines from the primary three worlds involved.
This series contains examples of:
- Adorable Evil Minions: Being a series were most of the characters are Super Deformed, this is a given, zako.
- Alliterative Name: Zapper Zaku, Grappler Gouf, Destroyer Dom...
- Zapper also tends to do this when insulting people, with or without Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness.
- And the Adventure Continues...
- Artifact of Doom: The Demon Sword Epyon.
- Authority Equals Asskicking: Chief Haro showing off his fighting ability in the final battle against General Zeong, which involves deflecting missiles with his head.
- Early on, Captain Gundam had an annoying habit of informing the villains that he was authorized to use weapons in defense of Neotopia. Followed by him smacking them around.
- To say nothing of Commander Sazabi and General Zeong.
- Batman Gambit: Allegedly Zapper Zaku, who pretended to be loyal to the SDG after Commander Sazabi's defeat just to get a chance to destroy General Zeong for mistreating him, his companions and the Zakos.
- Battle Aura: The Gundams get these when performing team attacks. Captain gets a golden aura, Bakunetsumaru has fire, and Zero... has the background turn a weird texture of dark blue.
- Badass Normal: Shute. Despite having NO combat ability aside from just being annoying(to the bad guys), he manages to help out starting with 1) Rescuing Captain and Zero when they were captured, and ending with 2) Effectively destroying Zeong's Soul Drive FROM THE INSIDE, among other things. And that's not even counting all the times he's been threatened at swordpoint/gunpoint by the Big Bads...and he's only ten years old!
- Berserk Button: Bakunetsumaru flies off the handle faster than usual when Zero plants flowers on him.
- Tallgeese doesn't take kindly to his name being made fun of, either.
- Big Bad: Several. We start off with Zapper Zako, then his team mates, then the Commander of those guys, then we get the Man Behind the Man General Zeong...
- Big Eater: Most of, if not all of, the Musha Gundams. Bakunetsumaru makes the Daishogun 200 rice balls as a SNACK.
- Black Speech: General Zeong.
- Power Gives You Wings: Zero Custom, Knight of Silver Wings. Captain with the power of the Superior Dragon on his side.
- But Now I Must Go: The 'Zakurello Gate' and son does this at the end of the series. With the General destroyed, there's nothing stopping them from going back whatever dimension the Dark Axis stole them from.
- Cain and Abel: Professor Gerbera is Captain Gundam's "brother" Madnug post-brainwashing.
- Cerebus Syndrome: The series starts out fairly light hearted, but as it goes on it gets slightly darker and more dramatic.
- The Chessmaster: Several, but Kibaomaru comes into focus as he's an avid shogi player. he even uses a giant board as a plateform in the Dark Axis base.
- Chekhov's Gun: The combonation move Zapper, Grappler and Destroyer come up with, but never get to use? It's what ultimately destroys the General.
- The Chosen One: Not the two main characters, Captain and Shute, actually. Zero was singled out as being the one destined to save his homeland Lacroa from the petrification, which he does...with some help.
- Clip Show: Two of them. The first involves a Zany Scheme by the Zakos to get the Gundam Force to divulge their secrets under the guise of a TV interview, and the second is the Force trying to convince Genkimaru to trust them.
- Combination Attack: GUNDAM FORCE, TRIPLE ATTACK!
- Also, FINAL DEADLY SCREAMING CHAOS CATASTROPHE!
- Cool Airship: The Magna Musai, which is later reconfigured into the Gundam Musai.
- Cool Gate: The Zakarello Gate.
- Cool Sword: Zero's Buster Sword, and Bakunetsumaru's katanas, one of which is a piece of Ark's Five Sacred Swords.
- Curb Stomp Battle: Arguably, Captain's battle with Sazabi. Though Captain gradually loses all his equipment (and even an arm) he never changes composure and always seems perfectly fine, while Sazabi gradually freaks out.
- A perfect example from the same fight is when Captain grabs Sazabi's beam sabers with his, albeit charged up via his Soul Drive, bare hands. Before he squeezes hard enough to destroy the beam sabers, Sazabi lampshades this:
Sazabi: What!? With your bare hands!? You can't do that!
- Cyber Cyclops: The Dark Axis. At least the ones that aren't Gundams.
- Dancing Mook Credits: Along with nearly every other main character.
- Dead Little Sister, or Petrified Princess Rele
- Defeat Means Friendship: By the end of the series, Zapper Zaku, Grappler Gouf, Destroyer Dom, and even Cobramaru have defected to the 'Genki Energy Force. Now that I think about it, between of this trope and all the cases of Redemption Equals Death, only the BigBads of the series seem to end up dead.
- Disc One Final Boss: We spend the entire first season under the impression that "The Commander", Sazabi, is the leader of the Dark Axis, but when he's defeated we discover that he's actually subservient to Zeong.
- The Ditz: Sayla. Come on, the girl pretty much just ignored a pitched intergalactic battle to focus on baking a cake! Although you could take her line at the end of the same episode as a sign of Obfuscating Stupidity...
- Egg McGuffin: The Spirit Egg, during the Mystery of Lacroa episodes.
- Everything's Better with Princesses: Zero's undying loyalty for the queen of Lacroa, Princess Rele, is shown during his time in Neotopia when he starts calling Sayla "Princess".
- Everything's Better with Samurai: If Bakumetsumaru wasn't enough... all of Arc!
- Evilly Affable: Tallgeese, who is delightfully hammy and at one point does a little dance and song.
- Exactly What I Aimed At - Zero tosses his sword while locked in a nosediving tackle with Tallgeese, causing a rock suspended overhead to crash down and leaving his enemy to be smashed into the Dark Hole after his friends pull him out of danger.
- Expy: Locations are Expies of something from a standard Gundam timeline.
- Face Heel Turn: Deathscythe
- Fastball Special: Episode 12, Captain and Bakunetsumaru. When you need to get out of an abyss and only one of you has jetpacks...
- Four Man Band: The enemies end up this way at the end of the series.
- Four Is Death: In season one, Commander Sazabi has the Four Doga Commandos acting as his personal Dragons during the Invasion of Neotopia. While Dogas Blue, Purple and Green were each destroyed by a member of the Gundam Force, Doga Grey was personally wiped out by Sazabi himself. In Ark, Kibaomaru has his Kibao Horde, a quartet of Musha Gundams that guard his castle. Those four, however, survive their battles.
- Future Badass: The Bratty Half-Pint Genkimaru grows up to become the Dai-Shogun of Perfect Virtue.
- Gadgeteer Genius: Shute; his inventions include robot-strength superglue, a voice imitator, magnetic rollerblades with jet boosters, and a rocket-powered kite.
- Goldfish Poop Gang: Zapper's gang end up this way by season 2. In the last 26 episodes, they only menace the Gundam Force three times (And one of those times was by accident), and spend the rest of the episodes being bounced around by fate and circumstance.
Bakunetsumaru: (Tiredly) Them, again?
- Hannibal Lecture: Sazabi and Gerbera gives these to Shute and Captain, respectively. Sazabi claims that 'there is only those who rule, and those who are ruled!' while Gerbera's lecture can be summarized as Humans Are Bastards. They are both told to Shut UP, Hannibal;
- Harmless Villain -> Quirky Miniboss Squad: Zako, Grappler, and Dom.
- Helping Hands: General Zeong just might have the LARGEST Helping Hands in fiction.
- Ho Yay: Played for laughs during this.
- Hulk Speak: DOM MAKE THEM GO BOOM!
- Incoming Ham: Mostly Musha Gundams and certain characters from Lacroa. The Dai-Shogun's is particularly epic.
"From as far away as Ark, I sensed the energy of two mighty souls in conflict. Are you the two who seek honor in a trial by combat? Know you then who asks this question of you. It is I, Lord of Swords! The Dai-Shogun of Ark! Warrior of Perfect Virtue!"
- Instant Runes: Zero's Magic. Surprisingly solid, too.
- Inverse Ninja Law: The Zako Soldiers, Pawn Leos, and Zakobusshi make up the backbone of the Dark Axis, and yet they're either incredibly incompetent or incredibly weak when met with opponents nowhere close to even a twentieth of their numbers.
- It's Not You, It's My Enemies: Chief Haro originally tries to keep Captain away from Shute because his inter-dimensional activity could put the boy in danger. They both decide against it after realizing Captain needs Shute as a friend to activate the Soul Drive.
- Impossibly Cool Weapon: It's ironic this Gundam show is always being accused of ruining the franchise, though. Just look at Zapper Zako and Dom.
- Leitmotif: Each division of the Dark Axis gets a theme that plays whenever they cause havoc.
- Lighter and Softer: In comparison to other Gundam series... until it hits the Cerebus Syndrome.
- Love Makes You Evil: See the Face Heel Turn spoiler.
- Rent-A-Zilla: Musha Daishinsho
- Mid-Season Upgrade: Captain Gundam's Hyper upgrade in season 2.
- Mind Rape: The General's specialty.
- The Mole: Rare villain-on-villain version: Zako Red is strongly implied to be nothing more than a dummy body for Sazabi, as seen when Red goes inert after handing Sazabi the Soul Drive and is unceremoniously disposed of.
- Not to mention they have the exact same voice, and Zako Red seems to force his "Zako" tic rather than it being an actual tic
- Mooks: The Zakos Pawn Leos and Zakobusshi.
- Ironically, the subtrope of Mecha-Mooks is subverted. While the Zakos are nearly indistinguishable from each other and act as grunts, none of them are ever portrayed as dying onscreen, and are instead just bashed aside with no harm outside of a concussion and comically missing armor.
- More Dakka: Dom's Gallop trailer is filled with a ridiculous amount of guns that all fire at once on command. Of course, they rarely, if ever, hit something.
- My Hero Zero, the Winged Knight
- My Name is Not Baku: Bakunetsumaru. Guneagle spends the entire end of his debut episode trying to get his name right, and Shute's parents don't have much of an easier time with it at first.
- The Zako soldiers can't get it right either.
- Mythology Gag: Practically built into the premise. Some are more obvious than others, for instance Gerbera's true identity as Captain Gundam's brother is based on the fact that the Gerbera Tetra was based off of the rejected Gundam GP-04 (and in fact, the Gerbera Tetra Kai IS the GP-04 with armor covering the Gundam-y parts), while Captain Gundam and his various upgrades are based on the GP-01 and GP-03.
- The Pawn Leos have a more subtle example in the form of their incredible weakness. Simply tripping breaks the spell that animates them, referencing their original counterparts' shoddy construction.
- Never Say "Die": The English dub tries to hide the fact that Cobramaru attempts seppuku after his defeat in Season 2.
- Averts it earlier during the Ashuramaru episodes.
- No Export for You: The second season has been shown in pretty much every country except America.
- Averted with the Anime Legends release of the complete series.
- Not So Different: Sazabi tries this on Captain near the end of their fight when it's revealed Sazabi has a Soul Drive like Captain's, only filled with darkness, culminating in asking Captain to join the Dark Axis. Captain's response?
Captain: If you want a friend, you'll have to do better than that!
- Not So Harmless: Many of the villains are very comical, but can prove themselves to be very strong. Prime example is Tallgeese, who is comically mocked by Shute when he first appears, but then right afterward curbstomps everyone.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: Shute's father, Mark, appears to be a laid-back guitarist with a penchant for bad hippie music, but is strongly implied to be the leader of the SDG, Chief Haro. May also apply to Sayla; there have been two instances of her experiencing the intergalactic battles from the front seat, but she never lets on that she knows what's happening...
- Also, Zapper, possibly. He claims to have been faking his happy janitor routine...
- Omnicidal Maniac: The General. Possibly the only villain in Gundam history who wants to wipe out the entire multiverse.
- Paper-Thin Disguise: The Zako soldiers. Put a wig and some camera gear on them and they'll pass for reporters...well, at least to Bakunetsumaru.
- Post Script Season: Season 2.
- The Power of Friendship: What Captain needs to activate the Soul Drive, and a major theme of the series.
- Power Trio: Twice.
- SD Force
- Ego: Captain
- Superego: Zero
- Id: Bakunetsumaru
- Dark Axis
- Ego: Zaku
- Superego: Gouf
- Id: Dom
- SD Force
- Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right: Captain came very close to saying this to Cheif Haro in episode 2, when he told him he wanted to hang out with Shute. But he chickened out at the last moment.
- Psycho Rangers: The Dark Axis trio are generally considered opposites of the main three Gundams (Captain/Zapper, Zero/Grappler, Bakunetsumaru/Destroyer), but it isn't until episode 30 that Genkimaru becomes, temporarily, their equivalent of Shute.
- Rebellious Princess: Rele. She's a bit of a brat at first and eager to spend time with the Gundam Force, especially Shute.
- Redemption Equals Death: At first subverted with Bakunetsumaru's friend, Kujakumaru/Ashuramaru, who turns against him because he refuses to follow this trope. Later played straight when Bakunetsumaru is forced to kill him. And depending on whether you're watching the anime or reading the manga, Gerbera/Madnug at the end.
- Red Eyes, Take Warning: The Dark Axis... who can't be taken literally for all of Season 1.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: With the proper colors:
- Bakunetsumaru the hotheaded samurai, and Zero, the levelheaded knight. Zero has the longer fuse of the two, but he spends off time picking on Bakunetsumaru.
- Zapper Zaku, the blustering bulky red robot, and Grappler Gouf, the smooth talking sleeker design.
- Ridiculously Cute Critter / Small Annoying Creature: Fenn. One second he's all snuggly and cute, the next second he's ruining your hard culinary work or breathing fire in your face.
- Royals Who Actually Do Something: Princess Rele, upon being de-petrified, decides that she will not just sit on the sidelines, and uses her magic to aid the Gundam Force to great effect.
- Secret Identity: Captain's 'civilian' mode. Zero and Bakunetsumaru don't have any, but the Mayor Hand Waves it by saying they're actors. They no longer need the identities after the Big Zam brings down Blanc Base, and the Gundam Force's existence is revealed. It's also strongly implied that Chief Haro is really Shute's father, Mark.
- Shout-Out: "I love the smell of concrete in the morning."
- Show Within a Show: The Zako Zako Hour.
- Later on, the Pawn Leos try this with the Pawn Pawn Hour in one episode, and Zakobusshi take over this role when the cast lands in Ark.
- Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: "Cynicism"? What's that?
- The Spock - Captain, especially in the earlier episodes. His lack of comprehension for facets of humanity others take for granted also makes him The Comically Serious
- Stable Time Loop: Madnug/Gerbera is the victim of one of these, depending on whether or not the SDGF thought one life was worth changing the timeline for. Then again the vision of the future Shute saw thanks to the Superior Dragon may have been real.
- Summon Magic / Summoning Ritual: Tallgeese with the Griffon, and later Zero with the Feather Dragon.
- Supporting Leader: Captain Gundam
- Surrounded by Idiots: Commander Sazabi, or Grappler depending on the mission.
- Synchronized Swarming: The Bagu-Bagu do this.
- Taken for Granite: The Bagu-Bagu turn organic matter to stone.
- Princess Rele suffers this.
- Teen Genius: Bell Wood and Shute.
- Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Zapper, Grappler and Destroyer.
- Terrible Trio: Zapper, Grappler, and Destroyer become one of these.
- That's All Folks: The ending of the final episode.
- Took a Level In Badass: Shute gets an upgraded arsenal in the second season, with a booster backpack and a glue shooter included.
- Unfortunate Names: Tallgeese, which is kind of odd considering the names the rest of the Dark Axis run around with. So much so that Shute can't resist pointing and laughing when he introduces himself.
- Does //not// help that his armor has what seems to be a rooster comb on the top of it...
- Verbal Tic: The Zakos, zako! The Pawn Leos also seem to say 'Pawn' at times, and the Zakarello Gate usually throws in guttural 'rello's to his sentences.
- In Ark, the Zakobusshi say Busshi.
- Wave Motion Gun: The cannons on the Magna Musai.
- You Got Spunk: And just so happens that Tallgeese absolutely loathes spunk!
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: The Commander threatens this trope on Zapper's group, ultimately deciding to stop relying on them as the first season goes on, calling for reinforcements from Dark Axis forces in Ark and Lacroa. Their very last mission results in the three of them getting trapped under Blanc Base. In the second season, Kibaomaru gets fed up with Cobramaru's failures and just discharges him, and in an inversion of this trope, refuses to let him have an honorable death.
- Zen Survivor: the Dai-Shogun of Perfect Virtue.