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Living here in Jersey,
Fighting villains from afar,
You gotta find first gear
In your giant robot car!

You dig giant robots!
I dig giant robots!
We dig giant robots!
Chicks dig giant robots!
-Theme song to Megas XLR

Created by George Krstic and Jody Schaeffer (who previously worked on MTV's Downtown) and described by the website Animation Insider as "a show with nothing but 'guy stuff'", Megas XLR is the latest original animated series from the Cartoon Network, currently showing on their renovated Toonami block. Dripping with anime influences, action, and a slight air of self ridicule, Megas combines giant robots, aliens, cars, and other things guys love, then turns the entire pastiche on its ear.


The pilot episode "Test Drive" (an extended version of Lowbrow, the original short that inspired the show) starts out like a typical anime. In a future in which humanity has been all but wiped out by a war with the Glorft, your typical race of evil conquerors from space, the Earthlings have been working on a secret weapon: a converted Glorft super robot known as Megas (an acronym for "Mecha Earth Guard Attack System"). Kiva Anru, the chief engineer of the Megas project and the show's token strong female, attempts to send Megas back in time to a point where it could turn the tide of the war. However, an attack by the Glorft results in Megas accidentally being sent back much further than the two years Kiva intended, all the way back to the early days of the 20th century...

"Look, Red, I'm no hero. I'm just a guy from Jersey, alright?" - Coop, reluctant hero of Megas XLR

Meanwhile, in our time, the robot is found decaying in a junkyard in Jersey City, New Jersey (where it's been since the thirties) by Coop, a beefy gearhead/slacker/video game fanatic who proceeds to make his own customizations on Megas, including a Ford Mustang for a head and a flaming paint job. While in the process of showing it off to his best friend and fellow slacker, the far skinner and slightly more cynical Jamie, Kiva shows up from the future to reclaim her robot. Much to her chagrin, not only does Coop beat her and her two battle drones using Megas, but she can't figure out the souped-up robot's new controls. What's worse, a band of Glorft (lead by an arrogant Glorft commander, Warmaster Gorrath) show up to get their hands on Megas. Fortunately, Coop manages to school them all with the robot's impressive arsenal and his own professional wrestling-inspired combat style, although he does end up leveling the city in the process. Unfortunately for Coop and Jamie (who would rather just cause random mayhem and impress chicks with the robot), Kiva then decides to recruit them to the cause of keeping Megas safe and using it to fight off the Glorft and the various other menaces to the safety of Earth that seem to crop up. And the rest writes itself.

The series is best described as an action-comedy. Coop and Jamie are just average joes in an extraordinary situation, and react like the ordinary guys they are. Megas XLR is also liberally sprinkled with pop culture references. In the first two episodes, I spotted references to Space Cruiser Yamato, Transformers: The Movie, and Dance Dance Revolution, and a few jabs at MTV, in the form of thinly-disguised analog PopTV (no doubt Krstic and Schaeffer are still bitter about the cancellation of Downtown). If you like anime and/or giant robots causing serious property damage, you'll probably love this show.

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