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There was a film I had on VCR when I was a kid that must have been from around the 1980s or 1990s. I watched it dozens of times and it had some very large robots that I vaguely think could have been controlled by humans like mechs (I could be wrong).

I remember it had some dark elements to it, including a scene in an abandoned city with skyscrapers and skeletons inside them with the massive robots going past. I also remember a scene, possibly towards the end, in a desert-like setting with a cliff that a robot fell off.

I don't remember the robots being particularly humanoid. In fact, I vaguely remember one being almost spherical, possibly with one eye and possibly red in colour... It's weird how I can remember the scenes mentioned above, but not other useful details. I think the style was a Japanese anime type.

I'm struggling, but I'll add more as I remember it! Apologies if this is vague, but it's bugging me and I've done a lot of digging to no avail. Any help is appreciated; apologies for the vagueness.

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  • Was it necessarily a movie, or could it have been a series? In which country were you? Some movies or series have been released in some countries but not others, it may help. See also en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_mecha_anime for a possible list (though as it doesn't have pictures it's going to be a lot of clicking...). For some reason the "almost spherical" makes me think of Grendizer UMA01 though this is a stretch...
    – jcaron
    Nov 10, 2020 at 1:49
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    Giant robots: check. Desert: Check. Spherical one eyed robots (one of which is red): check. Came out in 1985: Check. Leda, the fantastic adventure of Yohko. See if this rings any bells: youtube.com/watch?v=DTRhQY6pi6I
    – jo1storm
    Nov 10, 2020 at 7:02
  • Sounds vaguely like The Big O, but I think it was later. Nov 11, 2020 at 3:37
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    i was in the UK, it could have been a series but it would have been a full series on VHS, i just think it was a movie - it's really annoying me, it left an impression clearly but its on the fringes of my memory. I'd recognise it as soon as i saw it that's for sure. These are great suggestions again but unfortunately not the one i'm after Nov 11, 2020 at 16:43
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    @jo1storm Wow! That's almost every 80's anime trope compressed into a single 2:30 trailer! I'm afraid I had to laugh for about half of that. Especially when the fantasy epic mecha transformed. Nov 11, 2020 at 22:22

7 Answers 7

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Could it be Robot Carnival?

The one segment, Nightmare, has various robots walking through a city: various robots walking through a city There is at one point a round chicken-like robot in the segment. Another section of the movie (A Tale of Two Robots) involves people controlling giant robots.

And at the end, there is a giant 'robot' that collapses on top of a mountain range: collapsed robotic structure on top of mountain

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    this is a really good suggestion but unfortunately isn't the one i'm looking for, there is a chance it's not anime but rather an american animated movie or part of a series. i know i had it on VHS i just vaguely remember it looking a bit anime in style. Nov 11, 2020 at 11:26
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It's possible that this is Transformers: The Movie (1986). Although the robots are mostly somewhat humanoid, it does fit the style and time frame, and it does have some somewhat dark elements. The robots aren't controlled by humans (and mostly there aren't many human characters), but there are some humans that ride inside the robots.

What makes me think of this specifically is that Unicron is depicted as a giant spherical robot with a single red eye.

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    thanks for the suggestion, i do remember this classic however so it's definitely not this. I think you've gone on the right lines though as there is a chance it's not japanese anime but just a similar style im thinking of. Nov 11, 2020 at 11:27
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It could be Miyazaki's Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind. While the giant robot scenes didn't have much screen time, the images were quite memorable. At the end the last of the giant robots basically disintegrates while leaning over a ridge/cliff in the desert and firing a last shot from a massive beam weapon.

Enter image description here

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    Thanks for your response Ethan, and the screen shot - unfortunately this isn't it although i might check it out! The robots i don't remember being so humanoid - i'm starting to think it was quite a niche movie despite it being my first experience of that kind of cartoon and atmosphere Nov 9, 2020 at 18:09
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I saw this show up on my feed and immediately thought of Neon Genesis Evangelion, which most definitely has dark elements to it. While I don't necessarily think it's an exact match, 20+ years since you last saw the movie could muddle memories in such a way that this could possibly be it, though the release of the VHS tape may be a bit after your timeline.

Let's start with the obvious: very large robots; check: enter image description here

An early scene in the series takes place in an abandoned city: enter image description here

Part of the buildup is the first enemy we see is slowly lumbering through the city as well: enter image description here

One of the enemies, Leliel is a large, sphere, and although it doesn't have a red eye, it's markings could be mistaken as one: enter image description here

One of the final scenes takes place on a beach, and yes, this is the exact opposite of a desert, but maybe it could be mistaken as such after a couple of decades: enter image description here

Finally, the anime series was muddled together as a Movie called Neon Genesis Evangelion - Death & Rebirth, and was released on VHS, though it was released in 2002 on that format. Again, I'm not entirely convinced it's what you remember, but there are enough similarities I figured I'd throw it out there just in case.

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    damn this is very close, the art style isn't the same and there were definitely skeletons in the buildings. it wasn't a beach at the end it was like a desert with a cliff. but thanks for the contribution, i'm getting alot of anime recommendations here! Nov 13, 2020 at 9:53
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    Leliel isn't a large sphere. That's its shadow.
    – Valorum
    Apr 18, 2021 at 20:58
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Is this perhaps Castle in the Sky? It sounds very similar. The story is(as far as I can remember )that a girl is actually a relative of a generation that lived on an island in the sky. That island has very many treasures and people try to open the doors to the island. However, this girl is protected by robots which makes the story very interesting. Really good anime.

Image of a film scene

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    Nothing of what you describe matches what OP writes. Why do you think this is the correct match? When is it made? Does it have skeletons?
    – pipe
    Nov 10, 2020 at 20:25
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    don't worry pipe it has an abandoned city on the floating island, there are skeletons on that island, the robots could be controlled by the family members or descendants of the family and it was streamed in 1986. Before I forget, the robots had one "real" eye that got red if and when they were controlled. Nov 11, 2020 at 6:00
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    another good suggestion but unfortunately isn't the one i'm looking for, there is a chance it's not anime but rather an american animated movie or part of a series. i know i had it on VHS i just vaguely remember it looking a bit anime in style. Nov 11, 2020 at 11:28
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Was it The World of the Talisman? I was searching for a similar sounding film as well as we had it On VHS as kids.

Aqualoid was a prosperous planet, but an attack from a mysterious life force, the Inorganics, transforms it into a post-apocalyptic shell of its former self. When Nam finds a mysterious sword, he is suddenly the object of a planet-wide chase. With the Inorganics closing in, will Nam and his friends discover the secret of the sword and save their world? Or will they destroy Aqualoid in favor of a new Birth?

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    Could you edit your answer to expand on why you think it might be The World of the Talisman, specifying any corresponding plot points? Apr 18, 2021 at 20:59
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    when i google The World Of The Talisman there is a large red robot going down a city street that feels a bit like some of the robots i remember, but other parts of the show don't seem anything like what im picturing - thank you for the suggestion though May 7, 2021 at 19:09
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VOLTRON!?!?

I came across this question when I was reminiscing about a very similar thing:

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    Hi, welcome to SF&F. Can you identify the specific scenes the question asks about? Note that the question said the robots weren't humanoid? Can you show us a scene with a spherical robot with a red eye?
    – DavidW
    May 1, 2021 at 2:10
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    Hi Adam, it's not Voltron as the tone seemed much darker, i'm familiar with Voltron anyway - thank you for the suggestion though! May 7, 2021 at 19:10
  • Can you replace the video? It's gone...
    – Laurel
    Oct 31, 2021 at 22:42

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