Warning: Contains spoilers for Fafner.
In Fafner, mild-mannered kid Mamoru dons a super robot mask and transforms into Goubain, hero of justice. Using a defensive unit, he performs the dangerous task of facing down the enemy as his allies flank and destroy it. One day, he decides to leave his Goubain helmet to a scared backup pilot, sorties out, and dies. That’s the long and short of it.
The character of Goubain is completely shameless. He ignores orders, yells out attack names, and has a massive hero complex. But that’s only in effect whenever Mamoru is wearing his ridiculous helmet. It’s not really clear if he’s suffering from bipolar disorder, or if the helmet itself is the problem, but I still find it mightily hilarious. Mamoru doesn’t remember his exploits while in his Goubain persona, and shockingly discovers the immense stress that piloting a Fafner provides after jumping into the cockpit without his helmet.
Ironically, the Goubain manga is drawn by Mamoru’s father, who’s kept it a secret from his child. When Mamoru learns about it from the old lady who sees to the publishing, he learns how his father wanted to help cultivate an atmosphere of peace for kids like him, and started drawing manga. At first, he only copied from existing works, but time passed and he got really good until Goubain transformed into his own creation. After Mamoru’s death, his father mourns at home, refusing to go to work (his day job is chief mechanic of the Fafner units, which makes him a god among /m/en), and indirectly causes his wife and crew to die in the following episode.
Yeah, it’s very depressing. So is this another jab at the super robot fandom by XEBEC? Probably not, as Fafner’s humor content is few and far between. Mamoru was a total freak (and his friends weren’t above making fun of him for it), but his death was crushing–literally and figuratively. He died in the midst of protecting everyone, as his name implied.
It comes as no surprise that Mamoru’s one of my favorite characters (aside from Maya and Kanon), thanks to his tragic story.