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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Gundam: G no Reconguista – 01

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Whoa…set down your Rubik’s Cube and pass the Tab: were it not for the sharp picture and occasional CG, I’d have thought I’d just cracked open a really old anime. I don’t really mean that in a bad way, it’s just I feel like effort was put into giving this a decidedly retro tone. Everything’s bright and shiny and nearly everyone’s super-cheerful and seems to have an extra bounce (or tick) in their step. The orchestral music is also of a time, but utterly appropriate to the material.

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Our unfortunately-named protagonist is Bellri, who is as of the beginning is graduating from what looks like piloting school with a class entirely composed of other guys. The girls break in and put on a cheerleading show for them. A couple girls even get slapped for no good reason. Even the gender roles are throwback! As for Bellri, well, he’s kind of a cocky twerp. He’s capable and envied and he knows it and revels in it. And nobody calls him out, so I guess this is just how he is.

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Just when I thought Th’Boys were going to have a successful training exercise and return home where The Gals have been slaving over the stove (like they should, don’t ya know) all day to whip up a celebratory feast, a Space Pirate arrives in something very Gundamesque, and doggone it, she’s a girl. Now we’re talking! Only her mobile suit “doesn’t work properly”, and she gets captured by Bellri & Co, but not before, shall we say, a leisurely skirmish.

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Despite her claims to the contrary, the pirate girl (Aida)’s suit seems to respond to Bellri just fine, and he quickly sets about appropriating it. All the while, a mysterious girl of few words who was plucked out of the sky by a patrol is already in custody, and after sighing Aida’s mobile suit won’t stop screaming “G! G!”

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Like Hannah’s current Sailor Moon Crystal odyssey, this new Gundam looks like a long-term commitment, one I’m not sure I’m quite ready to get into, but its first episode was fun, breezy, uncomplicated entertainment. Whether it continues its light tone or starts to get darker as lip-lickin’ Bellri’s troubles mount, and despite its somewhat dated sensibilities I’m charmed enough to keep going for now. I mean, c’mon…it’s a new Gundam!

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Toaru Majutsu no Index: Endymion no Kiseki

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On the streets of Academy City, Touma and Index meet Meigo Arisa, a street singer/songwriter with mysterious miracle-like powers. She wins an audition to become the “spokes-idol” for Endymion, a space elevator nearing completion. Touma protects Arisa as she’s pursued by both the church – who believe her to be a saint, and Ladylee Tangleroad, the CEO of the company that built the elevator who has been cursed with eternal life. She sends her employee, the militaristic music-deaf Shutaura Sequenzia to retirev Arisa seeking to use Arisa and the elevator to create a magical device that will end her life – destroying half the world in the process.

When Shutaura learns of Ladylee’s true plans she turns against her. With the help of his many friends, acquaintances, and one-time enemies, Touma and Index launch into orbit to reach the top of the elevator, where Arisa performs before a massive crowd. As the parties on the ground disable Endymion, Index disrupts Ladylee’s spell, while Touma convinces Shutaura not to kill Arisa, punching her in the process. It turns out Arisa was the manifestation of Shutaura’s own wish when she was aboard the doomed space plane piloted by her father. Arisa merges with Shutaura, who regains as Ladylee’s spell is destroyed, ending the crisis. Life returns to normal.

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First things first: woe betide ye who attempt to watch this film as a newbie to the Index/Railgun franchise. Aside from having no idea why a normal guy like Touma keeps shrugging off multiple blows and severe burns to his body, and has a tiny bitey nun for a roommate, all of the dozens of cameos in the film will go right over their heads. We ourselves have a certain soft spot for the franchise, and so were eager to see what they could do with a feature-length film. The results were very ambitious, and we came away from the viewing feeling it succeeded insofar as it adapted the spirit of the show – magic vs. science – and was a most entertaining romp, complete with robot fights, mecha/car chases, and space battles, all taking place in gorgeous settings.

We also dug the idea of dual heroines in Arisa and Shutaura. Looking back there were plenty of clues that they were pretty much the same person split in two: music was Arisa’s life, but Shutaura’s ears couldn’t even discern it; Arisa remembers nothing prior to three years ago; they both possess halves of the same blue bracelet. Arisa’s meteoric rise to fame reminded us of Ranka Lee’s similar arc in Macross Frontier, a series we kept thinking of due to the similar space opera-y milieu the film adopts in the second half. The film looked and sounded great, we had a lot of fun watching it. Had it run in a theater near us, we would have definitely felt we got our money’s worth.

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Rating: 8 
(Great)