Easily the most surprising and standout anime in the Winter 2024 season, Bang Brave Bang Bravern has me laughing out loud every week with its wacky, save the world mecha hijinks.

Bang Braven, I guess that’s what I’ll call it, is different in tone from a serious Gundam or Macross, and while self-aware, it’s also not an SSSS.Gridman style show, either. Even though it’s dealing with largely real-world military forces (well, until it doesn’t) the show I think it feels closest to is actually Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann. I doubt this will have a tournament arc like Gurren Lagann did, but they share a similar sort of energy, excitement, and humor.

Sometime around the modern day, American and Japanese forces are having a joint military exercise around Hawaii. Everything from aircraft carriers to ground forces to American Titanostrider mechs and Japanese equivalents are simulating a joint attack on a fortified beachhead.

And then, aliens attack.

Even our best soldiers and most powerful machines are all but useless against the shielded alien mechs that descend from space and soon blanket the entire world similar to Independence Day. The situation looks all but lost for our heroes in Hawaii, but then, at the last moment, a red, blue, and white talking mech saves the day and takes in one of the Japanese mecha pilots as its pilot.

This new mech is named Bravern. Bravern is loud. Bravern is bombastic. Bravern encourages his new pilot, Isami Ao, yell out the names of super attacks along with him. With Bravern’s help, the surviving joint forces are able to push back the aliens around Hawaii. And then things get even crazier.

Unlike most other mecha shows, where the gundams, or similar mechs, are just stationary machines without their pilots, Bravern himself remains very much a character after the battle ends. Though Bravern’s head is multiple the size of an entire human, he participates in strategy meetings. He leads the joint forces in exercise routines that include runs and pushups for the humans and their machines. He leads training courses on, complete with an overhead projector, showing the joint forces how to overwhelm the enemy’s shields. Bravern is such a fun character he pretty drives the show much like Kamina did for Gurren Lagann.

That doesn’t mean we don’t have other good characters. Pilot Isami Ao has so far been a reluctant pilot of the brash Bravern. There is some bond between them that hasn’t been fully explored yet. There’s also Lewis Smith, one of the American pilots who wishes he could operate Bravern, but Bravern will not let him for some reason. Again, something about that bond between Bravern and Isami. Maybe some sort of past battles they shared in space that Isami has since forgotten about? Minor characters include the joint forces commander. And the airborne command and control operators who direct our heroes into battle.

Whatever secrets the show is holding on to for now, it is just hilarious and a joy to watch. And not just for the humor that makes it good. This week’s episode had a touching moment where a bunch of the soldiers and technicians Isami helped save in the opening battle got to thank him and buy him drinks. Lewis Smith is having to deal with not being the superhero pilot after being rejected by Bravern. We also got a glimpse of the allied forces’ first counterattack location, and it was kinda gut wrenching to see these soldiers and technicians in shock over the battering their homelands have taken.

The show is not going to instantly appeal to everyone. It is fairly silly and tongue in cheek despite some of its more serious, straightforward military trappings. But for anyone willing to have a bit of knowing fun thrown into their serious military mecha show, there’s nothing in recent memory that can top this.

Also, the ending credits of each episode. Neither words nor a single image can do them justice. Just… wow.