At RTX Austin 2017, the announcement of gen:LOCK represented the next step for Rooster Teeth and its animation division. Since then, this mecha anime title has grown to unimaginable heights, adding such voice talent as Michael B. Jordan, Dakota Fanning, and David Tennant.
Before we drill into the details, check out the trailer:
At this year’s conference, creator Gray Haddock (RWBY) and consulting writer Evan Narcisse (The Black Panther Returns) exuberantly elaborated on gen:LOCK, their mecha, and their hopes for the anime.
In gen:LOCK, we follow Julian Chase (Michael B. Jordan) and his team as they navigate through a world embattled in war for the past 50 years.
This world is our present day but five decades into the future (with giant robots… of course).
While Rooster Teeth is keeping the designs and functionality of the mecha secret for now, Haddock provided a tiny taste of what to expect. Just as technology evolves throughout the years, the mecha will, too. There’ll be multiple iterations of mecha as they have transformed through the last half-century. In this military, Haddock explained –
All of their mecha are heavily armored, short, and squat, and not that humanoid. They’re basically just walking tanks with cannons where their arms should be.
“The gen:LOCK team shows up and they represent a generational jump in technology,” Haddock says. “They’ve got more human-shaped mecha that can move and fight much more similar to [how] a human being can, just at a four-story-tall scale.”
The story of gen:LOCK is not solely giant robot fights; however, but filled with a rich, diverse cast of characters and how this global war has shaped them.
“It’s going to be a hard 50 years,” says Narcisse. “You’re going to see the consequences of a global conflict [and how] that trickles down to the individual characters in the show…we tried our best to bring cultural specificity into the construction of the characters and have that be a factor in how they respond to each other.”
The show garnered attention for its casting of Michael B. Jordan as Julian Chase and having an anime with an African American lead. But funnily enough, Jordan was the inspiration for the initial design of Chase long before the star even entered into the picture. One inspiration for Haddock is Gene Roddenberry’s original Star Trek and its seamless integration of diversity into its cast. With gen:Lock, he hopes to replicate it.
The particular culture the show follows in season one is a culture that is highly diverse and has gotten to the point where [diversity] doesn’t necessarily need to be something that the average citizenry [would] blink an eye at; the idea of being diverse on any particular subject from ethnicity to gender to sexuality…I think there need to be more stories like that in the world until putting [out] a story like that isn’t a statement.