Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ (AKA Double Zeta)

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Week 8 of our Hot Summer Flashbacks Series brings us to Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ, a 47-episode TV series launched in 1986. Double Zeta, as it is affectionately known by no one because no one could possibly be affectionate about this show, is set in UC 0088 and is a direct sequel to Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam.

I’m at least 60 hours into my Gundam binge and there isn’t much to say: MSGZZ has the lowest production values of any Gundam I’ve reviewed so far (parts of the animation are so choppy you can’t tell what is going on at all) and it continues MSZG’s tradition of over-designed (yet overly similar) character design, atrocious 80’s dialogue, and, worst of all, the entire cast is made up of teenagers.

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In so far as the Universal Century is concerned, not much happens in MSGZZ. No characters from it are referenced in future Gundams and the only event that matters (Khann’s death) is presented completely differently in Gundam Unicorn, which I still don’t understand…

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Is MSGZZ worth watching then? Yes!…If you want to watch eye-bleedingly terrible everything?

The animation is choppy; budget. The story is mostly told for laughs, but isn’t funny. The cast is made up mostly of random teenagers who are maniacal kleptomaniacs. The first villain is a dandy with no real interest or ability to fight. MSGZZ is just a mess and impossible to get into.

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If you are looking for anything good to say about Double Zeta, you can at least say it gets a little better in it’s last few episodes. Characters come together and action, what little there is, keeps going… but OUCH! This show takes too long to get there with too many silly hammy moments.

3_ogk

Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam: The Drinking Game

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Few of our readers know this, but RABUJOI gets its name from a color-coded line of novelty beverages (Does not! -Ed.) RABUJOI 10, which is in a Dark Blue can, has been described as a divine mixture of chocolate and cherry, so light that it evaporates the second it hits the drinker’s tongue, leaving only a tantalizing kiss of flavor while RABUJOI Nahm’ba One! is rumored to contain spilled water from the Fukushima reactor mixed with vintage Tab cola. (Too Soon, Frank… -Ed.)

By contrast, RABUJOI 4’s Fizzy Mustard with a hint of pickle is not so bad. (yet not very good either!) So it is fitting that we pair it with this, a drinking game and primal way to survive the 20+ hours of the not-very-good Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam!

Read on…but beware!

1. Did a female character sacrifices herself so that an ally may fight on? Take a shot!

1a. Did a captain of a battleship sacrificed his entire crew for the sacrificing character no less than 10 minutes earlier? Take one shot per character seen on the bridge!

2. Did someone smack Kamille for being a jackass? Take a shot!

3. Did Kamille fall in love with another Cyber Newtype and choose to protect her despite signs she was bananas crazy and/or obviously out to kill him? Take a shot!

3a. Did Kamille ultimately kill her ‘tragically’? Take a shot!

4. Did Jerid lose another fight? Take a shot!

4a. Did Jerid, a trained adult soldier in his, get beaten in hand to hand combat by an untrained teenager? Take two additional shots!

4b. Was Jerid on crutches, still unhealed from the last fight? Take another shot!

Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam

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Week six of our Hot Summer Flashbacks series brings us up to Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam, a 50 episode TV series set in UC 0087 and released in 1985. I’m not going to lie: I had a hard time getting into Zeta’s 80’s sense of…style. Zeta’s also kinda terrible on every level but let’s no jump ahead of ourselves…

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In a nutshell, Zeta is the direct sequel of the original Mobile Suit Gundam and depicts the dysfunctional world that arises after Zeon falls and the Federation gains total control of Earth and the near earth colonies. It’s a grim tale and one we who grew up post 9/11 can relate to: in the name of hunting down terrorism and protecting earth, the Federation deploys the Titans, who leave ethics behind and regularly brutalizes the colonies (and federation officers) who step out of line. In this regard, Zeta is an interesting, forward looking piece of commentary.

Unfortunately, Zeta is also a fumbling mess. In addition to an all new cast of characters (see: mostly Gundam stereotypes) and the characters retroactively introduced in the OAVs I’ve reviewed in the previous weeks, Zeta gives each surviving character from the original series a cameo, if not a major place on the cast. Simply, there are too many characters to keep track of or care about. More importantly, as many of the cast are re-hashed versions of the original cast, I found it very difficult to care about any of the new characters. (let alone not hate them out right)

It’s also worth nothing that Zeta is an idiotically designed show, where characters are both over designed and their mobile suits are difficult to distinguish…

MechcomparisonLeft: Bad Guys. Right: Good Guys. Good luck keeping track of that during a battle

MSZG gets its name from Zeta Gundam, a Macross-style transformable mobile suit introduced mid-way through the series. If you want to skip Zeta, the fact that Mobile Suits can transform is the third most important concept introduced to the UC timeline… and that’s not saying much.

The second most important concept is that Minerva Zabi, the infant daughter of one of Zeon’s original brutal lords, has survived and grown up on Axis, a colony hidden in the asteroid belt. (and referenced heavily in the Stardust Memory OAVs) Essentially, this means that we’ll see at least 3 parties vying for political power from now on: Federation, Neutral, and neo-Zeon.

minervaMinerva Zabi, heiress of Zeon and Khann, one of the many not exactly villains of Zeta. It’s not explained why anyone follows a child who has no idea what is going on nor how to fight a war because… Zeta!

As we saw in Stardust Memory, this fractured political structure can be interesting. Unfortunately, Zeta presents it as a convoluted mess. There are certainly clear evil doers, but what their motives are is entirely unclear. Further, characters shift loyalty for bizarre reasons pertaining to ’80s Japanese concepts of Woman’s hearts, betrayal and other foggy things. It’s just awful and I wanted to strangle everyone on the cast, good or evil, constantly.

Worse, the actual recurring villains are so incompetent at what they are doing that it’s hard to care. What tension will rise when Jerid, the evil Titan pilot, has been shot down for the 10th time, beaten up for the 5th time, and generally done nothing more than get his allies killed and has no motivations beyond ‘shoot down the Gundam’? it’s waffle house drama. totally vapid.

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Beyond politics, the single most important concept added to the UC by Zeta is its expansion on New Types. Specifically, the Federation’s attempts to create artificial newtypes, aka cyber-newtypes, a group of emotionally unhinged teenagers who can pilot… bigger gundams but are totally crazy and unreliable. Cyber Newtypes are bonkers crazy, almost always attracted to Zeta’s main character in some way, and die in laughable-if-it-weren’t-tragic-ways.

In another nutshell, they are only important because they appear in future Gundam series and represent humanity’s fear of true newtypes. There’s also newtype-style magic, with characters knowing what other characters are doing, or where they are, and in the end the protagonist uses new type power to win the final boss fight but none of that is very interesting, well done, or important.

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So you noticed I have’t talked much about Zeta’s protagonist, haven’t you? Kamille Bidan, a twerpy anti-war super newtype may-as-well-be-a-clone-of-Amuro doesn’t have much going for him. He’s obnoxious, good ad everything, sexist and indecisive. Thank goodness he’s not so good as to win the final boss fight without falling into a coma because I wanted him to die from the very beginning of the show.

Also, Char is a main character. Except he wears sun glasses always and pretends to be someone else most of the time and he doesn’t really do anything. Weird right?

p5Oddly, the ‘star’ icon on the Titans’ helmets gets reused in Zeta’s sequel Double Zeta by the good guys… not sure why?

In closing, Zeta Gundam is pretty much terrible. characters pop jarringly from place to place with no transition, but regularly take two minutes to launch their mobile suits from the ship. Almost everyone dies in unsatisfying, drawn out ways and the end of the series is a total let down of magic saves the day with no explanation as to what happens after the final battle.

If you don’t care about back stories for future Gundam series, skip this one. There’s nothing worth watching here. Nothing at all.

4_ogk

Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory

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Week five of Hot Summer Flashbacks drags us back to the early 90’s with Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory, a 13 episode OAV set in (you guessed it!) UC 0083. For context, MSGSM is a ret-con of sorts, and attempts to show us what exactly happened between the original Mobile Suit Gundam and the first sequel: Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam. Thankfully, MSGSM does this job quite well and, while I wouldn’t recommend giving it a watch without prior Gundam experience, it’s definitely worth your time if you liked the 08th MS Team OAV that precedes it.

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On the surface, Stardust is the tale of vengeful Zeon survivors from the final battle of the One Year War run off with a nuke-loaded experimental Gundam and it’s up to a young test pilot and a rag tag force of heroes to stop them before a mega catastrophe can happen. However, since Stardust has to explain the mess that is Gundam Zeta (spoilers), it is also the story of multi-faction politics, characters who admire the ‘double cross’ and the collapse of the Federation’s moral high ground.

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Our hero is Kou Uraki, a 19 year old test pilot and mecha-phile. I use the term ‘hero’ lightly here because Kou’s motivation bounce between revenge, hate, mecha lust, girl lust and momentum more than a meaningful sense of duty or hope in a better future. I didn’t find much to like about his regular scowl, selfishness but what really spays Kou as a central character is his total lack of agency in the plot. He’s just a pilot, and not that good a pilot if I’m being honest, and his powerful Gundam is powerless against the politics going on around it.

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By comparison, Anavel Gato is far more compelling. At first he seems like a ho-hum villain with an ax to grind with the Federation. As we get to know him, and see the string of bureaucratic and/or evil Federation admirals up to no good, he won my sympathy in a way original Gundam’s Char never did. Gato also gave us a smile for shouting at Kou for being inept, and then again for shouting at Kou for earnestly thanking an enemy for lessons as if Gato were just another instructor. In short, where Kou is our proxy for feeling like an angry teenager in the Universal Century, Gato is out proxy for feeling trapped by politics and wanting to take meaningful steps to fix things.

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Unfortunately, no Gundam would be complete without an extraneous maybe-love interest female character shoved in and, while Nina Purpleton isn’t completely awful, I didn’t like her much either. Like Kou, she’s emotionally all over the map. Worse, the abrupt nature of her moods makes her complex loyalty chart less interesting and less meaningful to us.

For goodness sake! Nina is a civilian engineering stuck on a Federation battle ship, responsible for testing Gundams for a private military manufacturing company based on the moon, which is selling tech to both the Federation and Zeon in an attempt to stay neutral, and she has a hate/love relationship with the Federation pilot who flies her Gundams AND a long lost love interest in a Zeon pilot who has stolen them. This should be interesting as hell but it’s not!

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On the up side, Stardust pulls some neat twists and explains the political mess that follows in Gundam Zeta far better than Gundam Zeta does. Right or wrong, the Federation is a totalitarian fist willing to work with villains and sacrifice its own to solidify its power. Right or wrong, Zeon is the space-born’s only hope for independence and Axis (a semi-neutral post Zeon colony in the asteroid belt) is going to pick up Zeon’s torch. Right or wrong, People are willing to shift alliances to save the ones the love or even just save their own skins.

It’s also a good looking show with a solid render quality. Be it pin ups above the pilots bunks, or trash in the corner, Stardust pays close attention to the details.

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On the down side, Stardust has THE WORST MUSIC OF ALL GUNDAM EVER, I hated the protagonist and really most of the Federation cast (the pilots are bizarrely girl crazy, antagonistic and mostly just background fill), and the romantic pacing was jerky.

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In closing, I give the show credit for making its super power Gundams less powerful than the political change in the end. I also enjoyed that the story took its time to unfold and didn’t spell everything out. Still, given how many characters appear in the show, and what the show is ultimately about, I would have preferred the POV being told entirely from Zeon’s point of view. Hell, they have their own internal struggles, villains and heroes without having to focus on the bland bunch of jerk-teens we see in the federation.

8_ogk

 

MAL Score: 7.56

Mobile Suit Gundam IGLOO

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This week’s Hot Summer Flashback is Mobile Suit Gundam IGLOO, the most recent companion tale to the One Year War. Unfortunately, IGLOO is not only jarringly out of aesthetic step with the greater Gundam line (it’s fully rendered CG) but it’s also poorly written. In some way’s the terrible dialog is fitting for a show that looks like the pre-rendered sequences from a PS2-era RPG, as evidenced by this little gem:

Officer A: “Captain they missed us because of the particles” 

Captain: “So! Particles…They missed us due to the particles we scattered” 

In short, even if we didn’t already know the outcome of the One Year War and hadn’t already seen it from 3 other points of view, IGLOO offers nothing to warrant watching it again. Let alone enough reason to watch IGLOO’s 2-sequel OAV series…

4_ogk

Mobile Suit Gundam 0080: War in the Pocket

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The third entry in 2014’s Summer Hot Flashbacks is Mobile Suit Gundam 0080 War in the Pocket, which is set on Side 6 during the final act of the one year war and tells the tale of a comparatively small conflict. And it tells it quite well.

Side 6, the neutral colony featured in original Gundam’s relatively bland no-good fiancé plot, turns out to be not so neutral after all and is developing a new Gundam frame for the Federation. As always, Zeon knows this and has sent a special forces crew to blow everything up. (Seriously, Federation R&D must have taken all of Federation Security’s budget because Gundam development secrecy is a joke!)

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The main characters are Al, a spunky kid and military enthusiast, Bernie, a young optimistic Zeon pilot and Christina, a federation test pilot.

I know! I know! Before you run screaming to the hills because this is another Gundam featuring a twerpy little kid that saves the day: DON’T!

War in the Pocket is a coming of age tale with Al’s loss of innocence at it’s core. Al never flies a Gundam and doesn’t save anyone. In fact, the final scene ends with him, sobbing, broken at the beginning of school year ceremony, surrounded by the still-children he used to consider friends.

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Bernie too is a solid, well presented character. From nieve young pilot to grim soul survivor of his squad, Bernie both uses Al’s enthusiasm to Zeon’s advantage and cares for him, knowing full well Zeon plans to nuke Side 6 if he fails. Before the final battle he even leaves a video confession of Zeon’s war crimes in hopes that Al will one day understand.

It’s all quite good and even floats a Romeo & Juliet side plot between Bernie and Christina. In any other Gundam this could have been a poorly paced central theme but here, the love is just a potential and, since they never learn each other’s identity, the tragedy is just for Al and the viewer. By the end, the survivor is happy and clueless, which further crushes Al’s spirit.

Perhaps the casts likable, happy personalities and lack of over the top relationship drama makes WitP stand out most. Sure, every Gundam pulls on the viewer’s sympathies by pitting nice character on opposing sides, but only WitP does it without melodrama.

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WitP is a good looking show. Maybe not as well rendered or stylish as 08th MS team or the Stardust OAVs, and the scope of the conflict is very small — often not featuring mech combat at all. It has plenty of details though, and spending time on a few mobile suits instead of an endless flood of new types, we get some neat looks.

My favorite moments come in the final OAV, when Bernie and Al are scavenging parts for a broken Zoku. We really get to see repairs, guts of the suit, and a process that’s glossed over in the other series.

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In closing, War in the Pocket drives home the idea that everyone could be friends if they could get over duty and the extrinsic forces of war and opposing ideologies that the characters don’t even care about. Its also a digestible, self contained show and the ideal place to go if you want to experience Gundam, without a massive investment.

10_ogk

Mobile Suit Gundam 0080: The 08th Mobile Suit Team

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Mobile Suit Gundam 0080: the 08th Mobile Suit Team is a 12 ep OAV side story that takes place during the 3rd act of the original Gundam series. The story is set in South America’s jungles, following the defeat of Zeon’s earth-side forces in the middle east. The focus is on Gundams and lesser mobile suits as every day military weapons, used by every day soldiers. There are no New Types and no space battles (after the introductory episode). Just solid military action.

Is it good? Yes! Really good!

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 Sniper Gundam with massive cooling tubes. Standard Gundams with gigantic parachute packs.

Shiro Amada is our hero this time and, thankfully, he breaks the Gundam mold. Shiro is a seasoned Federation officer leading a small mobile suit unit around the jungle in search of a Zeon base. Along the way, Shiro befriends guerillas and kills more Zeon troops than he would like. His emotional journey gets rockier along the way and he quickly discovers Aina Saharin, a female Zeon pilot he saved early in his career, is piloting an experimental mega weapon that he will ultimately have to defeat.

08th looks good. Really good! The mechanical design takes the goofy over the top style of original Gundam and makes it more complex, dirty and believably lived-in. Even Guntank, the stupid tank-treaded suit gets an official nod. (a trio are used to shell a Zeon base but are considered fragile and difficult to defend due to their sluggish mobility) I loved seeing such a silly design reworked to make sense in the war’s context — truly, it retroactively lends the original even more credibility.

More importantly, I can’t stress how important it is that 08th MS ignores the New Type plot thread and focuses on real people, fighting real wars without magical intuition and psychedelic dialogs. I found it much easier to empathize with REAL people in stressful situations and do not miss the ‘psychic POV’ that cropped up (and slowed down) battles towards the end of original Gundam.

I enjoyed how likable almost everyone is on both sides too. As before, we cared about nearly everyone, regardless of faction, and appreciated how evil and responsibility could be the same thing under different contexts. In 08th, the likability factor is even more pronounced — so much so that even the show’s characters don’t want to kill each other too.

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Unfortunately, not everything in 08th MS smells like roses. As in many Gundam tales, the romance feels abrupt. This is understandable but lobbing an ‘I want to live my life with you forever’ speech the second time the heroes meet made us wince. The Zeon arch villain is unnecessarily evil too. (Its never even explained why he kills his own scientists at the end) So thank goodness he’s just a cripple! Ugh!

Its a testament on how well rounded everyone else is in the show, and how believably the show handles the total collapse of Zeon’s forces on earth — from emotional and logistical states of scattered troops on the run, to generals abandoning their humanity to win the day. The urgency and the grim sense of defeat is very effective.

9_ogk

Hot Summer Flashbacks: Mobile Suit Gundam

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When I started watching Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn in March 2010, I enjoyed its sharp visuals and rich sci-fi action. Unfortunately, having only seen a small and disconnected number of entries in the franchise before hand, I lacked context and found Unicorn a bit “been-there, done-that.”

Now, with the release of Gundam Unicorn’s final chapter, itself the current final chapter to the Mobile Suit Gundam original universe, I’m taking the summer to look back on this, one of anime’s biggest, longest running franchises, in its entirety, in narrative order, with one review per week, per series.

Will I learn to appreciate Gundam more (like our beloved Macross) or will I still find it flat, underwhelming and dated? Only time and 185 episodes will tell.

Mobile Suit Gundam Universal Century Timeline

Note: I chose not to watch either the Gundam F91 movie or the Victory Gundam TV series because they take place 27 years after Gundam Unicorn and have very little to do with the Universal Century story line. At least, not enough for me to want to watch 51 more episodes…

Mobile Suit Gundam

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The original Mobile Suit Gundam aired way back in 1979, kicking off the franchise with 43 half-hour episodes, which were eventually re-edited into 3 compilation movies. While the compilation movies are considered superior by Gundam’s creator (they feature fewer extraneous plot lines and omit a few egregious toy-centric mech designs) I chose to view all twenty-one hours of righteously retro animation in its entirety.

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Set in Universal Century (UC) 0079, MSG follows White Base, the Earth Federation’s mothership for human-shape combat vehicles (mobile suits), and its crew in their year-long fight to end humanity’s first war in space. White Base’s adversary is Zeon, a group of Nazi-like space colonies under the control of the despotic Zabi Royal Family, which is ostensibly fighting for the rights of space-noids (humans born in space) and autonomy from the Federation government. Even though many Federation officers are portrayed as jerks, the politics are pretty clear: Zeon is a murderous bunch and clearly the bad guys.

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While both sides use a hodgepodge of retro-futuristic technology, Zeon developed mobile suits first and has way more of them. The Federation’s only hope is Gundam, a red white and blue samurai-looking mobile suit with a space-fighter built right inside of it. With its light saber, energy rifle and armored shield and lesser mech allies Guncannon and Guntank, Gundam faces off against an endless parade of Zeon mobile suits, each progressively more powerful and goofier looking than the last. (Note: Guntank and the goofiest mechs were largely stripped from the compilation movies)

Gundam’s explanation for why mobile suits are the best weapon is actually rather interesting. With the discovery of radar jamming Markov particles, which are the byproduct of firing energy weapons and exploding reactors, computerized tracking and targeting objects in space is a thing of the past. Since mobile suits are relatively small and don’t rely on easy-to-spot high speed engines like fighters, they are ideal for sneaking up on a target and being hard to hit. Strap on a big gun and, even with a limited amount of ammo, most full scale battleships are toast.

However, since mobile suits have limited flight range and no means to keep their pilots alive for extended periods of time, I found the rock/potato/flamethrower game of defending the mother ship—while hunting down the opponent’s carrier—fairly sensible.

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Our story begins on Side 6, a relatively distant colony and home of the Federation’s secret mobile suit development program. Unfortunately, the program has been discovered by Zeon and most of the colonists and military personnel don’t survive the attack.

Our hero, Amuro Ray, is one of the survivors. Amuro is just your average teenage civilian robotics engineer with OCD (he can’t even be bothered to stop tinkering with electronics during evacuation alarms) who’s father is coincidentally the chief engineer of Gundam. Amuro is generally unlikable, being a carefully balanced mixture of selfishness, dull wit and sexism, and his destiny to jump into Gundam and save the day is obvious from the get go.

As unoriginal and unlikable as Amuro is, Gundam offers us a few refreshing notes. I most appreciated that Amuro has zero interest in Fra Bo, his childhood friend and fellow refugee-turned-soldier. Any other high school mech drama would have thrown a groan-worthy string of will they / wont they plots, and maybe even a hot spring. Sure, Amuro eventually gets a love interest, Lala, but it’s more a subject designed to make him question why he’s fighting than anything else. (Lala is a bonkers, psychic Zeon ace pilot AND already in love with Amuro’s antagonist…)

I also appreciated how ambiguous Gundam is over the loss of Amuro’s father. We see him sucked into space (wearing a space suit) during the opening battle but Amuro doesn’t witness it and never really brings it up. The father shows up much later in the show and it does bother Amuro that he’s gone crazy (from oxygen deprivation) but the drama is limited to a single episode.

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Speaking of villains, Gundam’s antagonist is one of the more puzzling characters. Char is Zeon’s super ace pilot with a passion for the color red (he wears a striking red uniform, shiny metal hat and pink mask and often flies a red mobile suit). He is secretly the heir of the previous Zeon dynasty and out for revenge but that comes and goes and he spends most of the series aimlessly chasing White Base and locking light sabers with Amuro. Char should be interesting but I found him inconsistent and convoluted. (especially when he puts his revenge on hold to work for the Zabi family, tirades at Amuro for an episode, then immediately betrays the Zabi again)

Thankfully, Char is more eye-rolling than outright unlikable and I genuinely enjoyed watching his decision-making get junior officer after junior office bumped off in the name of figuring out how to take down Gundam.

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Speaking of people biting the bullet, Gundam’s formula is simple, efficient and predictable. The story is told over several multi-episode chapters, each opening with a new villain, a new Zeon mobile suit type and/or a new ally and addition to White Base’s mobile suit pool and closing with the death of that villain/ally.

Interestingly, we often see events unfold from the perspective of recurring “Villains of the Week.” This second point is important, as it makes great effort to portray many players in Zeon as likable and the ‘in another world we could have been friends’ cliche goes a long way to offset the otherwise one-note evil of Zeon.

As a general rule, if you weren’t in White Base’s original crew, you’re not gonna make it. From background characters to recurring guests, ally and enemy alike: you’re going to die and it’s usually in a hilariously melodramatic way. Thankfully, few of these deaths take the classic ‘last words of the hero at his death bed’ approach. More often then not, they will simply get smashed flat. It’s grindy, but not unwatchably so.

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Gundam has three acts: Travel to Earth, Fight Across Earth, and the Final Conflict leading to Zeon’s asteroid fortress. The final act also introduces the concept of New Types, which are humans who have evolved a greater sense of awareness in space. The New Type plot toes the line of being out of place in the sci-fi setting, but it works okay. (Amuro suggests everyone on White Base is probably a New Type, given the number of absurd battles they’ve survived on instinct and luck alone) The idea is solid, if not poorly-executed, and (SPOILERS!) the New Type plot thread carries over across most of the future series.

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Despite being dated, Gundam’s art style has charm. Its The Jetsons meets Battlestar Galactica sensibilities are unique and the color choices often make it easy to follow who’s doing what and what side they are on. Furthermore, Gundam portrays a tolerably nuanced reality and knows when to leave details ambiguous.

In one example, at the end of the middle act, the fiancee of a previously fallen villain comes after Gundam with a handful of experience-less soldiers, no mobile suits of her own…and a big ballroom gown. After fainting and falling to her death (a nasty face-plant right in front of Amuro) the crew is completely stumped as to who she was and why she came after them in the first place. Her tragedy is completely without context for them and with a perplexed shrug; they bury her near the wreckage and move on.

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Sadly, as Gundam was funded to sell toys, some of the Mobile Suit designs are absolutely silly. From beaver-looking underwater suits to the bizarre Mega-fighters that Gundam rides inside of, there are plenty of nonsensical sights.

Likewise, the melodrama induced eye-rolling more than once. Between Amuro’s sexism and teen angst, Char’s inconsistent motivation and the Zabi family’s over-the-top Space Nazi antics, dialogue could get pretty cringe-worthy. (I’ll say nothing about the three little kids who laugh and play around the ship until the very end) Characters also tend to change their minds quickly for the purpose of the plot.

In closing, if you have any interest in the franchise—or the genre it spawned—the original Mobile Suit Gundam is a great place to start. Not only does it contextualize future installments, it has guts. And to me, that counts for a lot.

7_ogk
MAL Score: 7.95

Note: one of my favorite moments came in the first episode where Amuro cracks open a three ring binder and learns how to pilot Gundam during the opening battle. Three Ring Binders are the future!