I recently finished watching Chouja Raideen (often spelled “Reideen”). This show aired on television in 1996 and ran for 38 episodes. The name translates as Raideen the Superior. We can thank Central Anime for making a subtitled version available to us.
Although it’s night-and-day different from the original Raideen show of 1975 it was enjoyable on its own merits. This isn’t a must-see show but I’d give it a thumbs up. 5 young men in Japan discover they’ve been chosen by the God Feathers to merge with the spirits of Raideen warriors of the past. This merging allows them to summon magical flying armor with wings and potent attacks. In their battle against the extra-dimensional Super Devils they discover another group of 5 Raideens and must learn to work together. The armor suits look cool and the action scenes kept me coming back for more.
Around episode 26 the Super Devils mount their main attack against Earth and the struggle is no longer a secret from normal humans. The Raideens are no longer invisible to humans when wearing their armor and must deal with a world devastated by the Super Devils’ attack. The show changes gears from a light and fluffy action show to a more somber story that tries to grapple with responsibility and what motivates people to keep on living in the face of adversity. Although the philosophy shared by the characters is rather simple-minded and clumsy it nonetheless remains an entertaining show.
Chouja Raideen was clearly riding on the coattails of Gundam Wing’s success. Made one year later, it followed Gundam Wing’s formula of having 5 handsome teenage boys as the heroes. Hisho, the main character, even looks suspiciously like Heero from Gundam Wing. Both shows were made by Studio Sunrise. I’m guessing the studio execs were hoping they could clone the success that Gundam Wing was for them.
Various sources claim this show is a remake of or sequal to the venerable Brave Raideen (Yuusha Raideen) but that seems like quite a stretch to me. The 2 shows have very little to do with each other. Brave Raideen is a cornerstone super robot show of the 70’s while Chouja Raideen barely qualifies as a mecha show at all. A giant robot called God Raideen, which looks like an updated Raideen from the original show, is a part of the story but it only makes a few appearances and doesn’t even show up until episode 25. Unlike the original Raideen that was constructed by the long lost people of Mu, this Raideen was built eons ago as a super weapon to end a war with extra-dimensional demons. The heroes of Chouja Raideen never even get inside or pilot God Raideen. Kind of a letdown for a mecha fan like me.
In case you’re wondering, Chouja Raideen isn’t licensed in North America so it’s fine to download it.