Gundam: G no Reconguista – 07

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I’m loath to try to keep analyzing what went on in this episode, because…I’m not entirely sure what went on in this episode. I can tell you it was a very Gundam-y Gundam-loaf, and that I’ll do the best I can.

Mr. Mask, two weeks removed from his stunning defeat, gathers his men into a huddle, having been given another chance to retrieve the G-Self.

Any questions? …
Any questions NOT related to my mask?

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Bellri’s mother continues to complain about the military buildup going on without her leave, but seems powerless to do anything about it. Then she laughs out loud for NO REASON (unless she was laughing at the hippo head trophy on the wall), boards a vintage space glider, and pretends to not know what she’s doing when she “accidentally” takes off. Turns out it was all an act so that she could looking for her son…I guess? Seems like a vintage glider with no spacesuit isn’t the best way to do that, but whatever.

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Speaking of good ideas, Klim gets Rara into the cockpit of the G-Self, because she likes napping in its palm. Yes, by all means, let’s give the erratic, barely-lucid amnesiac with a fish fixation control over the rare, giant killbot!

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When the Capital Army detects the Megafauna on grainy video — actually an inflatable decoy — Mask’s squadron nears, and Bellri has to pilot a different, less awesome mobile suit, the name of which escapes me because every other word in the dialogue of this show is a proper noun I don’t remember the significance of. “Deploy the Waldensteiners over the Genius outside of the Ceres Strip, before the Chiclids and Walleyes launch!”

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Mr. Genius Klim gets into another fight with Mask, and again, proves he’s hardly a genius when it comes to mobile suit combat. He’s more of a “looks like that annoying kid from Last Exile” genius. Who says things like this:

If you would kindly be shot down!

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Rara’s joyride in the G-Self is short-lived, as she quickly falls into the sea and is about to drown when Bellri snatches her up. I guess that’s better than the G-Self awakening Rara’s memories, having her go berserk and attack her own side.

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Then Bellri goes after Mask and gets G-Self all busted up, and they both yell even though I don’t think there’s an open comms, so they’re really just yelling at themselves in their cramped cockpits, which you’d think would hurt your ears! The battle is broken up by a huge green mecha gunship thingy, leading Aida to deliver this gem of a conversation…with herself:

Father has even had things like that developed? But…It saved our lives.

I do not recommend watching this dubbed in English. Oh, and Bellri’s pretty much over killing his instructor, so Yay!

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And now, your RABUJOI Moment of Zen:

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Gundam: G no Reconguista – 06

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“The ship is too big. If we walk, the episode will be over.”

We get more battles this week, prefaced by long, multi-vehicle journeys through massive space stations, but we don’t get any kind of satisfying explanation for why exactly the Capital Army is committing such massive levels of manpower and equipment and yes, even expanding their arsenal all for the sake of one cadet they’re not even sure is still alive (or whether he defected). Well, besides the fact he’s the protagonist, I mean!

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“You mean I can DVR twelve inane discussions at the same time?”

Bellri’s own mother doesn’t quite understand it, either. She loves her son, but also thinks all this military buildup is a mistake, and “rescuing Bellri” and “restoring honor” aren’t just flimsy motivations; they’re downright ridiculous and reckless. Let’s get down to it, shall we? The Capital Army has been developing all these new toys from the get-go. They’re itching to play with them. They’d probably mobilize even if there was a space cat stuck in a tree.

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YES. FISH. WE GET IT.

Back with the pirates, Noredo and Raraiya are kind of stuck on a treadmill of asking Bellri when they’re going to escape back to the Capital and wondering if Raraiya is becoming lucid. Raraiya, at this point, is poised to become lucid sometime around episode 53. And never has a fish pooping in a glass ball gotten so much attention.

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As for the orbital battle, it’s pretty slick…for Gundam G. There are capital ship evasive maneuvers, dogfights, and the first use of G-Self’s “Reflector”, which absorbs energy from weapons either for deflection or use by G-Self’s weapons. It takes Bellri a while to figure out exactly how to use it.

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But in a nice nod to the fact he’s still ostentibly a Capital cadet, he uses the long leash the pirates have given him to detect the Amerian space fleet, which is moving in stealth as the pirates make a big flashy decoy show for the Caps. The episode shows a lot this week, but it also has its characters constantly spouting too-on-the-nose monologue overstuffed with proper nouns. I don’t have my glossary on me at all times!

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But then, something I’ve seen happen a lot in Gundam takes place: Bellri kills his friend and instructor Dellensen, and doesn’t realize it until he’s already killed him. You’d think with all this technology and weaponry flying around, there’d be some kind, any kind of communications protocol. People identifying themselves before they attack and whatnot. Sure, the heat of the moment and all that, but it still seems like a contrived, highly avoidable tragedy. But like I said, Gundam pulls this all the time.

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This was actually a beautiful little cut to the bridge. I kinda wanna be there

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As a result of his actions, Bellri goes into Depressed Mode, and Noredo can only stay by his side and ride it out. She can’t really ask “Sooo…Can we leave now?”, because, how can Bellri go back to the Capital having killed one of his own comrades, even if it was a misunderstanding? I’d imagine he’s extended his stay somewhat, along with that of Noredo and Raraiya. Which is just fine for people like Aida and Klim, who he impressed this week.

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Speaking of Klim: Here’s your RABUJOI Moment of Zen:

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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 – 04

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Aida pointing out the fact not much happened this week

When the Capital Army Commander hears that Director Zellam, Noredo and Raraiya have been “taken hostage” by the pirates, he uses it an excuse to launch a military attack under the guise of a non-military rescue mission. Not only is the justification and classification flimsy, it violates the “Ag-Tech taboo against the advancement of science.” It would seem the use of advanced warmechs like Caitsiths is to be minimized as much as possible as the world “recovers” from what must have been a destructive, catastrophic war that may well have had beginnings just as modest as a captured official’s son.

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WAT

Where I start to kinda lose Recon in G is this taboo: I mean, if certain levels of technology aren’t allowed, why do the Caitsiths and Rectons and whatnot exist? I mean, shouldn’t building them have been just as taboo? It doesn’t really matter; the condition of the earth is kind of in the background anyway. Taboos aside, Bellri’s own instructor Dellensen leads the Capital Army mission to rescue him and the civvies, resulting in another somewhat awkward battle and the deaths of several men, none of which had to actually happen.

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I will say, that is a nice classic design

While Bell is piloting the G-Self to further examine it on Lt. “Genius” Klim’s orders, Capital arrives, giving the pirates an ultimatum. Bell wants to talk them down, but when the crucial moment to do so arrives, he learns he can only receive, not send, communications. Klim picks a fight, and the needless battle ensues, in which Dellensen loses a good number of pilots. Still, they’re nameless, faceless pilots that we can’t and don’t really care about. The typical Gundam Move of One Side Retreating for the Time Being ensues, and we’re back where we started: with Bell, Noredo and Raraiya as “guests” of Aida and the pirates.

"How long do I have to Mondaysit?"
“How long do I have to Mondaysit?”

Somewhat worryingly, on top of being an episode with a battle that only happened because of a stupid busted radio as the centerpiece, there was little to no character development for anyone. Bell and Aida’s interactions were all business without even a hint of romance, Klim is still a punk who’s constantly calling himself a genius, Noredo is just kind of around, periodically glaring at Aida, and Raraiya continues to be an amnesiac cypher. Is she ever going to be able to talk normally? I hope so. I hope a lot of things happen next week, because the retro sheen is rapidly fading.

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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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