Anime has taught us that teenagers are always the best giant robot pilots, but do they need to be crazy? Because it sure seems like a lot of insane people manage to get in the cockpits of Gundam, EVA Units, and the like. Here are a dozen maniacs who shouldn’t be trusted with scissors, let alone giant robots.
1) Shinji Ikari, Evangelion
Why not begin with the obvious? His mother dead, abandoned by his dad, practically never shown affection — Shinji was a mess well before his father commanded him to pilot EVA Unit-01 and save the last remnant of humanity from the divine powers trying to wipe it out. Frankly, sobbing hysterically and muttering “I mustn’t run away” while giant Angels murder remaining civilians is probably the best response you could expect Shinji to have. Reminder: In End of Evangelion, Shinji jerks off over Asuka’s comatose body; while this technically has nothing to do with his giant piloting skills, I do think it’s a pretty clear sign he should probably be disqualified from the Evangelion program.
2) Duo Maxwell, Gundam Wing
This fan-favourite Gundam series is probably best known for all five of its main heroes being violent lunatics. Let’s start with Duo, the most well-adjusted Gundam pilot on the show. He’s cheerful and friendly in a way his four compatriots are not. He’s caring and even has a sense of humour. And yet once in battle, he starts screaming that he is literally the “God of Death.” That is absolutely not someone you want to give a giant robot wielding a giant electro-scythe to.
3) Stella Louissier, Gundam Seed Destiny
At the best of times, the 16-year-old Stella has the mind of, say, a happy, not particularly savvy four-year-old child. I say this is the best of times because this is when she isn’t killing people indiscriminately. See, the reason Stella is the pilot of the Destroy Gundam is because she turns into an incredible fighter when she feels she’s in danger of dying. This is more insane than you realise; because Stella isn’t mature enough to recognise danger on her own, her teammates/fellow soldiers have to explain to her she’s in danger of dying. And then Stella is so petrified of death — and boy, that’s something you want in your elite soldiers — that if she think she’s in too much danger, she starts hallucinating and killing friends and foes alike.
4) Gai Daigoji, Nadesico
Here’s the first sign that Gai probably shouldn’t be operating an Aestavais robot — Gai isn’t his real name. It’s actually Jiro Yamada. Gai is the name of a character on the (fictional) giant robot anime Gekiganger, which “Gai” is completely obsessed with, to the point that he may well think it’s real. At any rate, Gai sure acts like it’s real, pretending he’s starring in Gekiganger when engaging in real fights — well past the point of endangering his fellow pilots.
5) Heero Yuy, Gundam Wing
The protagonist of Gundam Wing may be actually be considered a good soldier: he’s smart, ruthless, and willing to sacrifice himself if necessary to complete his mission. Unfortunately, he’s also a complete psychopath, maniacally laughing to himself as he slaughters his enemies, killing paramedics who try to help him then, after being invited to a birthday party for the most popular girl in school, whispering gently in her ear, “I’ll kill you.” And this was literally just in the first episode.
6) Asuka Sohryu Langley, Evangelion
Asuka isn’t as obviously broken as Shinji is, at least not at first. She’s smart, capable, perhaps too aggressive and mean-spirited, but supremely capable next to Shinji. However, her psyche is just as fragile, thanks to seeing her mother’s suicide as a child. Now determined to prove her life has worth, she completely falls to pieces at anything less than total success. While she doesn’t cry like Shinji, she does run away and hide in a bathtub in the country for a while, so let’s not pretend she’s really any more together than her fellow EVA pilot.
7) Four Murasame, Zeta Gundam
Four Murasame pilots the Psycho Gundam. This is not a coincidence. She’s an artificially enhanced “Cyber Newtype,” which required a great deal of memory erasing, medical experiments, and brain damage. Now she has blinding headaches, fits of pure insanity and a random desire to kill everyone she sees. Admittedly, if you’ve created a giant robot called the Psycho Gundam, Four is presumably exactly the type of person you’d want piloting it, but I think we can state quite empirically that she probably shouldn’t be in charge of any bipedal weapons of mass destructions.
8) Quatre Raberba Winner, Gundam Wing
When Gundam Wing begins, Quatre is the only main character who seems completely kind, polite, unaggressive and completely well-adjusted. So why is he on this list? Because unlike Duo, who merely calls himself the God of Death, when Quatre snapped he snapped hard — after watching his family die, he decides the best way to achieve peace in outer space is to kill every living being in it. He does a shockingly good job before the other Wing pilots manage to calm him down.
9) Nina Einstein, Code Geass
More of a scientist than a normal giant robot pilot, that doesn’t stop Ms. Einstein from getting into the Knightmare Frame named Ganymede after the death of her beloved friend Euphemia and arming it with a giant nuclear bomb called the F.L.E.I.J.A., which had the capability of killing 25 million people in Tokyo (Nina is also kind of racist). She fires it. On a fluke, it doesn’t go off. So… yeah.
10) Trowa Barton, Gundam Wing
If Heero yuy is a psychopath — and boy, he sure is — then Trowa is the sociopath. He exhibits no emotions and no regret about people’s death, including the original pilot of the Heavyarms Gundam, as well as a bunch of Earth-bound pacifists killed during one of his missions. Most chillingly, when he lands on Earth and needs to hide out among the civilian populace, he decides to be a circus clown. You know that ain’t right. FYI, if you’re looking for the fifth member of the Gundam Wing team, Wu Fei, he’s not on here. He’s aggressive, a touch emotionally unbalanced, not particularly bright, and occasionally screams at wolves to leave him alone, but compared to the others he’s a model of sanity.
11) Alex Rosewater, The Big O
What if Lex Luthor had a giant robot, but were really dumb? This Big O villain is something approximating the answer. Although already in control of Paradigm City, he wants to be more in control, which he basically equates to 1) piloting the giant Big Duo robot and 2) killing people who don’t deserve to live in his city, so that’s great. And his fondness for genocide is actually part of his plan before piloting the Big Duo drives him completely insane.
12) Nena Trinity, Gundam 00
Although she looks like one of a thousand cute, genial anime girls, Nena is basically anime’s answer to the Joker — she kills randomly, without regret or remorse, based on her own, twisted logic. She loves hurting people, she has no allegiances, and her only goal seems to be sadism and chaos. And someone gave her a goddamned Gundam. Great.