The robots are controlled by sitting in a chair inside the robot and putting your hand inside two orbs fixed at the ends of the chair arms. If I remember correctly, the robots had a bit of autonomous abilities too.
Is it Yamato Takeru (1994)?
In the anime, all the giant alien robots are called "Demon Air War Gods" or "Dark Sky Warriors" in Japanese. These robots are bio-mechanized with their own personalities, feelings, and unique powers. All the pilots of these fantastic machines are actually kidnapped children that were trained to be obedient, skillful, and murderous agents of their dark priestess. Though robotic in form, they are made through bio-mechanical incubation and have the ability to evolve over time to take even more powerful forms. All "Demon Air War Gods" recharge through special bacta-like pods which repairs and recharges their energies, but because they are also living machines they can eat as well. All their internal cockpits have crystal orbs which act as an interface with their pilot and also respond to human emotions to react accordingly to the pilots feelings.
The reason I think it might be this is because a very similar question was asked on Reddit in this thread. One poster suggested Yamato Takeru as the answer, which the original asker agreed with.