Gundam: G no Reconguista – 05

What ISN'T it for, sir? What ISN'T it for?
What ISN’T it for, sir? What ISN’T it for?

There are inevitably going to be some parties who believe Recon in G is nothing but a cynical, half-baked cash grab, exploiting an anniversary as the Capital Army exploits Bellri’s kidnapping to break the taboo, and appealing only to the LCD.

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With these parties, I shall make a deal: I’ll spare you a tortured and ultimately futile attempt to convince you that my opinion of the show is as valid as yours, if you’d kindly refrain from raining on my parade!

What the heck's going on here?
What the heck’s going on here?

Yes, G is safe, and derivative, and often pretty damn stupid, and nothing of particular note ever seems to ever happen, yet I’ve still found the last five episodes charmingly goofy, bawdy fun. It could be because I’ve never subjected myself to old-timey Gundam that my natural aversion to it is low.

I like how the contour lines aren't perfectly crisp, but a little uneven, giving the otherwise modern character designs a retro touch
I like how the contour lines aren’t perfectly crisp, but a little uneven, giving the otherwise modern character designs a retro touch

Seed, Seed Destiny, and 00 are the only other Gundam series I’ve watched in their entirety, and while their first five episodes were far superior to G in character, story, and spectacle, their profound seriousness could wear thin.

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From the laissez-faire uniform code aboard the Megafauna (which is the name of the pirates’ spaceship, not a term for the jungle; now I know!)  to the easygoing interactions of Bell, Noredo and Raraiya, this is a Gundam that not only borrows a lot from the past, but also lets its hair down a little.

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I DON’T KNOW HOW TO RESPOND TO THAT?!

Just take the underwhelming battle that went down between Klim in his Loredo and some new Visor Guy piloting an “Elf Bullock”: Their in-battle banter is so over-the-top and cheesy, I was laughing out loud at the TV. This wasn’t really good, per se, but it was enjoyable. Agreeable. Amusing. Genial.

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That might not even have been the producers’ intent, and I can totally understand why it wouldn’t be enjoyable for some, but all I can tell you is how it affected me. There’s a ludicrous onslaught of characters and slipshod tactics and far too much on-the-nose dialogue and none of that mattered. I bought in.

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It’s fitting, then, that this battle was essentially brought to a close with a big water balloon, which forces SuperCool Visor Guy to flee in terror. Though the mechanic Happa was telegraphing the Hell out of those water balls, I was so preoccupied with the Visor Guy/Klim exchange to realize Bell got his cute little flying cockpit off the ground to break up their fight.

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And believe it or not, some stuff did happen. We learned that whether she likes it or not, as a princess, Aida has to thank people who fight for her, even if they were the enemy of her mentor Cahill. This explains why she’s such a piece of work for most of the episode.

Also, while Bellri is really excited about piloting G-Self and becoming a lieutenant in the Amenian army, Noredo still wants to make sure he’s planning to escape at some point with her and Raraiya. We also spend more down time with Klim, and his formerly paper-thin character’s hard edges soften a bit; a welcome change.

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Good game. Let’s go eat!

As far as she’s concerned, they’re spies behind enemy lines, and the sooner they get home, the better. That’s not necessarily where Bell is right now, but we’ll see. Until then, I like how the trio bunch together to scarf down some well-earned grub, looking every bit the motley family.

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Gundam: G no Reconguista – 03

"Yeah...she does that."
“Yeah…she does that.”

References to past Gundams aside, Recon in G is full of neat little details that show that a lot of love went into the production. The character designs are superbly crisp, and everyone seems to have an extra little spring or flourish in their movements, be they Noredo’s athletic bounds, Aida’s dancerly twirls, or Bellri’s weird lip tick…thing. They’re a lot of little touches that infuse the characters with life.

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That said, as with stubbornly retro shows like Sailor Moon Crystal or to a lesser extent, Majestic Prince, you really need to be in the proper state of mind to enjoy Recon no G on its own particular terms. The characters may be crisp and fluid, but the mechanial design and animation is throwback, which is to say, sometimes choppy and ponderous. The desire to reproduce the feel of the original meant this Gundam probably won’t be as visually impressive in the areas where you would expect it to be, namely in the mecha battles.

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The show, I believe makes up for that a little by having such nice-looking characters and locales, as if to emphasize that this is a show looking forward as well as back. Again, my experience with super-early UC Gundam consists solely on Franklin’s reviews, but I can definitely imagine the dialogue in Recon no G being similarly inspired by its past. This episode has no problem with including large amounts of exposition in casual conversations. It toes a fine line between endearing and clunky, and I imagine for some, it crosses that line too often.

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Take Klim Nick, All bluster and braggadocio, a heel straight out of the eighties. What other sci-fi anime would get away with corny lines like his “I am a genius!”? Still, for me, it’s a lot of fun, especially when the ride in his Montero gets bumpier and he runs into some soldiers who are actually trying. Even more amusing, as Nick nears Capital Tower, he buzzes the wilderness, proving an absolute menace to sleeping leopards, giant snakes, boars, macaws…even dolphins! They’re all well-drawn, too. You won’t see silly sequences like that in Sidonia (though it does feature a bear-woman.)

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“Hands off, bub!”

As for what actually happened this week, well…that’s where we get back to klunkiness, because both the General and Director (Bellri’s mom) of the Capital Army’s Research Division kinda just let Aida sashay into the hangar, activate her G-Self, and fly away with Raraiya, Noredo, and Bell. It would be one thing if Bell’s mom intended for her son to infiltrate the Ameria-affiliated pirates, but she expresses surprise when she hears he’s aboard G-Self. The Capital Army didn’t look particularly competent here.

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But never mind; when does the military industrial complex work perfectly in Gundam? More importantly, Bell, Noredo, and Raraiya are now essentially Aida’s “guest”, where before she was one of theirs, putting at least those first two out of their comfort zone. Raraiya is still an enigma, though I’m sure she’ll end up being important piece soon enough, while we’ve got the requisite love triangle fully established, heading to pirate headquarters. Dated as its milieu may be so far, I’m still excited to see what adventures await.

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Those of you who aren’t buying what Recon in G is selling, I urge you not to heed Bellri’s insistence you “Watch, even if you don’t want to watch!” But if you’re into it like me, stick around. I will be.

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Gundam: G no Reconguista – 02

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Now I know why we got two episodes at once this week: the first episode lacked any kind of hard conflict, which is addressed quickly here as the Space Pirates come in force for their captured colleague Aida. It happens in the middle of some kind of goofy shindig for the upper crust, and this time people die.

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Isolated as they were as the in-uniform cheerleading squad of their school, we didn’t get the full picture on the girls until this episode. Though you could say all Noredo and Manny (a neat pairing of Kotobuki Minako and Takagaki Ayahi) do is chase their would-be boyfriends Bell and Luin around while putting their charge Raraiya in danger, you can’t deny they’re able to keep up with the Capital cadets, and Noredo’s a good shot.

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The show seems to make a big deal of the fact the haunted mansion-esque building where Aida is being held has some common sense-defying architecture, but they do end up grabbing Aida and rushing to Hangar 25 where her suit “G-Self” awaits. Again, to Aida’s shock, Bell gets it started without any trouble, and as she hangs on to dear life to the fuselage, he fights off the raiders.

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When Aida’s ally and beloved mentor Colonel Cahill determines a hostile has commandeered the G-Self, he takes it upon himself to destroy it. But in the moment he realizes Aida (whom he calls “my lady”) is there, he pauses his charge, and Bell shoots him through the cockpit, killing him…semi-accidentally? It all happened so fast, really.

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AIda is…not happy about this. Noredo is not happy about Aida slapping and clutching her beloved Bell, who seems to have a thing for Aida. Bell can’t really be blamed for kiling Cahill as Cahill seemed ready to kill him. Raraiya is still…er, inscrutable? Things were quite bucolic in the first episode, but now everything is quite a bit messier.

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