Type: Premise Cliché, Plot Device, Low tier Deus Ex Machina in some situations
What made it popular: Gundam and Macross
Cliché Level: Low (Amongst all anime) High (In the mecha genre)
Where can you find it: A common tool of Mecha Anime
Description: The hero of the story is enjoying an usual day in his city, when all of a sudden lights flash across the horizon, the ground shakes with tremors and an ear splitting noise can be heard coming from all directions….. The city was under attack, the sound of artillery, bombs and firearms paint the landscape in a moment. Our hero’s home is reduced to rubble and fire in a matter of seconds. All hope seems lost when the enemy forces move in, shooting anyone who gets in their way. Then as our hero is trying to escape the seemingly certain death, he finds a large object covered by an equally huge sheet. He manages to pull the sheet down and it reveals a mecha, with its cockpit open. Seeing no other option, our hero climbs inside and actives the machine despite having no prior training or understanding of this state of the art weapon. Our hero then immediately takes this mecha to bring the fight to the invaders, and successfully repels all of the enemy forces by himself. A miracle has occurred and city and its people are saved as a result.
Why it’s bad: This is arguably one of the most prevalent mecha clichés in existence, and one that has accompanied the genre from its birth to the current day. This cliché obviously refers to how many mecha anime protagonists seemingly coincidentally find a conveniently unguarded and open Mecha, just laying around. These mecha 90% of the also just happen to be the next new super weapon, that is better and stronger than all previous Mecha to exist, to the point that other machines might as well be peashooters as they have no way of harming this new one whatsoever, which is why this can also be counted as a Deus Ex Machina in extreme situations. This is usually a lazy way to solve a conflict and to give our hero a strong power, despite him usually not being more than a brat/teenager. In a realistic scenario, a random teenager obviously wouldn’t have the means to actually operate a complex machine with their student background, so shows usually try to explain this by either making the protagonist some kind of secretly engineered super pilot (Gundam Seed, Valrave) or by making the mecha mimic the movements of the pilot and thus making it laughably easy to control. And if its actually just a regular dude, then the message is obviously that anyone can be a hero, even YOU. So it can also serve as a method of self insertion and wish fulfillment.