One of my greatest influences are Japanese robot cartoons. They are called 'mecha anime'.
The grandfather of mecha anime is Go Nagai who did the very first one - Mazinger Z. He is what Osamu Tezuka is to anime in general.
Go Nagai also did Great Mazinger, Getter Robo, Cutey Honey, Devilman and Devilman Lady. Yes, not Devil Lady, but Devilman Lady. He is a sick bastard, with a fixation on rape fantasies. Go Nagai also did Violence Jack - one of the most violent manga/animes of all time.
It was postulated that mecha anime was done in part to placate Japanese children whenever there are earthquakes and tsunamis in Japan. The adults can simply say that there are giant robots fighting outside, instead of explaning tectonic plates and such.
The design of robots/mecha has evolved over the years. Starting with 'giant robots as sentient, ancient forces' such as Raideen, Mazinger and Getter Robo - Getter Robo incidentally is the FIRST combining robot in anime - to the Japanese armnor-inspired Gundam series.
The first batch is called 'super robots' with their impossible dimensions and power, while Gundams and the ones inspired by Haruhiko 'HAL' Mikimoto's Super Dimensional Fortress Macross, Super Dimensional Cavalry Southern Cross and Genesis Climber Mospeada (which incidentally make up the Robotech series) are 'real robots'.
'Real robots' because they have some explanation as to their power sources and design.
For Gundams, it was the advent of Minovsky particles - the next step in nuclear energy. Minovsky drives, psychoframes, I-Fields and the like all have the same genesis.
While the previous designs of mecha/robots were masculine, later designs were more feminine.
This was influenced heavily by Neon Genesis Evangelion with the anime auteur Hideaki Anno and his studio Gainax.
The robots, Evas, are more living beings than machine. And the pilots are more like children in wombs than actual military men.
Dual, a series which is more a re-imagining fan fiction of Evangelion than an original work, even has the giant robots in high heels.
I don't know what would be the next step for mechas.
I just hope that one day I will be able to pilot a giant robot as big as the galaxy and start destroying the universe.