After watching this week’s installment of Gundam, Zane came into the office with his hands in the air, as if to surrender. “There’s not even anything of note to make fun of here. At this point it’s just kind of sad,” he said, telling me if he wanted a review I’d have to do it myself.
So here I am, reluctantly closing the RABUJOI book on Gundam: G no Reconguista after nineteen straight episodes of lovely visuals, some clever sci-fi procedural action, and slice-of-life unfortunately combined with impenetrable storytelling and an abject lack of emotional connection on all fronts.
There’s a clear retro flavor to the way everyone talks and relates to each other, and I’m sure there’s an audience that enjoys that kind of thing, but to me, it just feels like a lot of the material was written for a bad radio serial fifty years ago, and is now being re-used with updated animation, and it’s just never felt right.
The show shows us all these lives, but never lets us into their heads, and even when they speak their thoughts out loud, the words feel hollow and inconsequential. The music attempts to create lightheartedness or drama that simply hasn’t been earned by the story, or even attempted to be earned.
Gundam G-Recon often feels like an animated documentary, which has cameras and mics in everyone’s faces, but nobody explaining what’s going on or why. We are neutral observers, and the stuff being observed is utterly incapable of truly moving us. It’s content to march along to the beat of its own drummer, and you either get in step or walk away.
That’s mostly because events and introductions often feel random and tacked on for no other reason to make the story and the character dynamics more complex, but no amount of complexity—or kooky group of mercenaries from the Venus Globe—can fix the show’s underlying flaws.
This is not a terrible show. It’s clearly created by people in love with this universe; its large-scale issues and smaller minutiae alike. It also makes some salient points about space travel, battle, maintenance, and national pride. Its visuals and character and mechanical design are top-notch; and its soundtrack is usually stellar.
But all those factors merely contribute to my respect for this work. They have yet to garner my love, and without love or any other kind of strong emotional investment (beyond that with the franchise itself based on previous, better works), the cons overshadow the pros. And if I don’t love it after nineteen episodes, I shouldn’t be reviewing it. It’s not RABUJOI way, nor is it fair to you the readers.
Farewell Gundam, until the next series.