A Viewer’s Guide to RobiHachi: Episode 8
This episode guide may include plot and/or character reveals.
Japanese Title: メカるが勝ち
English Title: Heads I’m Tin, Tails You Lose
Characters: Robby Yarge, Hatchi Kita, Ikku/JPS-19, Hizakuriger, Yang, Allo, Gras, Hoshirō*, Count Mecha*, Prince Chamechameka*, King Chamechameka*, Zatsu*, Chimu*
*Indicates the first appearance in the series.
Summary: Enticed by the planet’s famous grilled clams, Robby and Hatchi elect to visit Mulberry 7. Ikku accidentally lands instead on Mulberry 8, where they notice nearly all the city’s residents are robots. Life here is governed by the rule, “If you are not a mecha, you are not a person.” Robby and Hatchi use Hizakuriger to blend in.
Yang, Allo, and Gras also arrive, and after being mistreated by a robot, the furious Yang builds a Mecha-Man suit. He uses it to defeat another robot, prompting Count Mecha to hire him as a bodyguard. The count explains to Yang that fighting is a noble sport, enabling robots to prove their worth and evolve into superior beings.
Robby and Hatchi fly Hizakuriger to a beach and meet a young man named Hoshirō. He explains that human slaves do all the work on Mulberry 8. Robots exist only to fight battles, which under the rules of the “Tao of Mecha” are restricted to hand-to-hand combat using traditional weapons.
King Chamechameka shows up and impressed with his intimidating appearance, hires Hizakuriger to fight in his army. At the king’s palace, Robby, Hatchi, and Ikku discover their lodging consists of an empty hangar. Seeking a toilet and food, they run into Hoshirō, who brings them to his home for dinner. Appalled at the humans’ poor living conditions, Robby suggests they start a rebellion against the robots.
Early the next morning, King Chamechameka and Count Mecha mobilize their armies at Se-Mecha-Hara. Despite their sensors being jammed by a dense cloud of Minovsky particles, the robots charge into battle.
Robby and Hatchi open Hizakuriger’s front hatch and use their human eyes to see through the fog. They rack up several close-combat victories before Yang spots Robby. Just as he is about to pluck Robby from Hizakuriger’s hatch, Yang’s Mecha-Man suit is thrown clear by an enormous explosion. Hoshirō and the humans have staged an uprising using missiles, tanks, and guns.
While Robby, Hatchi, and Ikku use this chance to continue their journey, Yang stays behind and helps the humans destroy the hated robots.
See “Getting Started” for background information on the anime, which is based on an Edo Period fiction series called Tōkaidōchū Hizakurige.
Mulberry 7 is a parody of Tōkaidō post-station 42, Kuwana. Kuwa means “mulberry” and nana means “7”. As in RobiHachi, the regional food specialty of Kuwana is clams.
Inside Yang’s ship, a red sign showing the Chinese character fú 福 (good fortune) is hung upside down. The Chinese word dào can mean “upside-down” or “to arrive.” Thus, the upside-down sign is read “Good fortune will arrive.”
Yang’s Mecha-Man suit resembles a kurotamago (black egg). Kurotamago-styled aliens appear in episode 5.
The episode includes several Gundam references; director Shinji Takamatsu worked on the Mobile Suit Gundam Wing series. The character names Zatsu and Chimu are parodies of the mobile suit designs Zaku and GM (pronounced Jimu). Among the weapons mentioned are Minovsky particles and beam sabers.
The episode includes references to two jidaigeki (historical period) films directed by Akira Kurosawa and starring Toshirō Mifune. Yang is hired as a yōjimbō (“bodyguard”) to fight in an upcoming battle, which is a parody of the film Yōjimbō. The titular film character is a mysterious rōnin (“freelance swordsman”) who gets involved in a turf war between two rival gangs.
King Chamechameka asks his name, to which Hizakuriger replies, “You may call me Hizakuri Sanjūrō (30-year-old chestnut).” This is a parody of the film Sanjūrō, a sequel to Yōjimbō. When asked his name, the rōnin looks around the nearby garden and dryly ad libs, “Tsubaki Sanjūrō.” (30-year-old camellia)
When Robby and Hatchi talk about pretending to be artificial life forms called fatima, they are referencing Five Star Stories. Fatima are genetically engineered female humanoids who are stronger, smarter, and hardier than humans.
Silkworm pupae, called kaiko in Japanese, are a popular South Korean snack food.
The battle at Se-Mecha-Hara is a parody of the historic Battle of Sekigahara (1600). The rolling hills of Se-Mecha-Hara reflect the real Sekigahara landscape, a valley surrounded by foothills.
The pink war horn is a reference to the historical item made from a large conch shell.
The sensor-jamming cloud of Minovsky particles simulates the heavy fog that impaired visibility at the start of the historic Battle of Sekigahara.
Hatchi asking, “What is it to be human, anyway?” is a parody of a pop song called Croquette, which begins with the same line.
Yang uses his tiny-but-mighty Mecha-Man and war hammer to fell the giant Hizakriger. This seems to be a reference to the folktale Issunbōshi about a young man only an inch tall. After defeating a giant ogre, he uses a magical mallet to grow to normal size.
Hoshirō and the humans defeating the robots with modern weaponry is a nod to the historic Boshin War. The Shogun’s traditional samurai armies were soundly defeated by Imperial reformists, who used modern weaponry and military tactics, and deployed mixed troops of samurai, townspeople, and farmers fighting together as a unit.