Don't you just hate spoilers? I do, too. That's why I always try to include warnings. However, I sometimes ramble a bit too much here or there and maybe a few (or many) key plot points slip without me giving proper notice. So I'd like to include a blanket spoiler warning for the weary internet travelers of the world: Here There Be Spoilers. You've been warned.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Mobile Fighter G Gundam (Kidō Butōden Jī Gandamu) Part II

I didn't really do a lot of reviewing or deep analysis in "Part I" of my entries relating to Mobile Fighter G Gundam. That wasn't because I was trying to sound lazy or anything like that; I was just enjoying watching the series and since I was only halfway through the series I didn't feel like spoiling things too much for myself. It had been so long since I had last watched the series that I couldn't remember how it ended or even if I had actually watched all of it before. So I wanted to keep myself as ignorant as possible of the events up ahead.

It turns out that I had actually finished the series about twelve years ago because I remembered bits and pieces as I made my way through each episode, but the further I advanced through the series the more it felt like I was watching it for the first time even though I really wasn't. I always think that's kind of a blessing when that happens because you don't have to worry about how "something will hold up." Maybe if I had watched this series for the first time only six years ago instead of twelve my reception to this series wouldn't have been as warm this time around.

Time is funny that way, I guess. So is maturation. I think in a lot of ways I was more mature when I was twelve then I was when I was sixteen. 

Anyway, let's start dishing out what makes this series really tick. 

Mobile Fighter G Gundam consists of 49 23 minute episodes separated into two fairly distinct seasons. The first season depicts are hero Domon Kasshu as a man on a mission to find his brother Kyoji. Domon is from the space colony of Neo Japan and he is on earth because he is Neo Japan's representing Gundam Fighter in the upcoming Gundam Fight. Winning the Gundam Fight is important for Neo Japan because it will give Neo Japan the right to rule the universe for four years, but it is even more important for Domon because it will also free Domon's father from the cryogenic sleep the Neo Japanese government put him in. 

Now the question is why is Domon's father is a cryogenic sleep? And what does Domon's missing brother have to do with this?

The answer lies in the mysterious and potentially deadly gundam, the Devil Gundam. The Devil Gundam was created by Kyoji and Domon's father, but its abilities were seen as dangerous and the Neo Japanese government tried to seize it. During the process Domon's mother was killed by crossfire and Kyoji managed to escape to earth by himself in the Devil Gundam, leaving his father to be interrogated and then ultimately put to sleep for his crimes. 
Kyoji and the Devil Gundam are the primary bad guys of the first season even though they are rarely given any screen time until the final battle in Shinjuku. But even then Kyoji himself is almost a nonexistent figure throughout most of the series and it isn't until the appearance of the masked character Schwarz Bruder (German for Black Brother) in episode sixteen that you kinda wonder if Kyoji is really the bad guy after all. 

Because, well, let's face facts: Anyone who didn't know that Schwarz was really Domon's brother in disguise... Well, come on. I know this series was primarily aimed at kids, but even when I was twelve I knew that Schwarz and Kyoji were one and the same. I wasn't quite sure how or why at the time, but it was excruciatingly obvious then and so much more so now. 

I've always thought it was funny how none of the characters recognized him for who he was, but they could easily recognize Rain in that one episode where she became a member Schwarz's Gundam crew and had to wear a silly mask too. Another note about those silly masks is that the director of the show thought it would be funny if all of the people from Neo Germany wore masks, but he chose not to pursue that idea because he wasn't sure how real-life Germans would appreciate the idea. 

The first season culminates in the first all-out battle between Domon and the Devil Gundam. Domon's master Master Asia (also known as the Undefeated of the East) joins in on the fun as a servant of the Devil Gundam as well. 

The battle is certainly a fun one, but certainly not the final one because there are still about 25 episodes left in the series. 

I thought it was kind of funny, how five minutes after defeating Master Asia and the Devil Gundam in the Guiana Highlands, Master Asia magically reappears at the Gundam Fight Finals and everyone is surprised. 

Of course, Master Asia and the Devil Gundam reappear. You think that new villains would suddenly be created for the second half of this absurdly goofy series? Heck no.

During the second half of the series we meet the character Allenby Beardsley. The introduction of her character also begins the closest this series gets to a "love triangle" type of thing. In typical fashion, Domon is the dense male protagonist, Rain Mikamura is the under-appreciated childhood friend, and Allenby is the troubled Gundam Fighter who finds comfort in helping Domon. While not certainly a love story as good as Toradora!, Mobile Fighter G Gundam is at least capable of some feels.

Those feels certainly strike big time when Kyoji/Schwarz Bruder make the ultimate sacrifice, though. It's a moment that would make even the mightiest of shounen heroes proud.

This is quickly followed up by the very emotional defeat of Master Asia in episode 45. So you get a back-to-back feels trip.

While Master Asia was never a favorite character of mine (it was established at episode 14 or so what a douchebag he really was), his ending is very classy. Cheesy, but classy. If Chuck Norris ever had to die in an anime then I think Chuck Norris would be happy to bow out in such a way.

So in many aspects I think Mobile Fighter G Gundam is an perfect example of the action genre. By that, I mean that this series is the embodiment of all things cliched, but the very fact that it is intended to be a cliche adds to its charm. When someone dies it's a larger than life spectacle. The more badass they are the more of a spectacle it is.

That being said, Master Asia's death isn't completely spectacle. There is a slight bit of restraint shown or at least as close to restraint as an anime like this can come to.

However, one odd thing about Master Asia in the second half of the anime is how he mysteriously gets sick and develops a cough at inopportune times. No explanation is given as to why he is suddenly sick when he seemed perfectly fine during the earlier episodes. I guess this is just yet another one of those things you take in stride as you watch. Just don't think about it too much.

Of course, even this silly show had to be edited so it could get Stateside approval. I know it sounds absurd, but there was a time when you could find Gundam toys in Walmart and back in 2002 the English version changed a few of the Gundam names because Walmart thought some of the Gundam names were too offensive. Or something like that. Domon's God Gundam was changed to Burning Gundam. Kyoji's Devil Gundam was renamed Dark Gundam. Hell, basically all of the Gundams were renamed because Americans probably didn't approve of the ethical stereotypes or religious imagery. Go figure that one. I thought they were funny. Not that there was really anything religious about the anime to begin with. It's all just another example of people being whiny-ass people.

Of course, now Mobile Fighter G Gundam can't even be found in stores and that makes the changes made for the English dub seem even sillier now.

Anyway, the climax of the anime is very rewarding. Episode 49 makes all of the previous episodes with all of the standalone battles, cheesy one liners, bizarre introductions by a character never even directly mentioned in the story, and all of the hokey moral fodder seem worth it.

We get the ending we deserve and that this anime deserves all at once.

Although the name of the "ultimate move" that Domon and Rain perform together to defeat the Devil Gundam is silly.

This is nothing new, though. In fact, it's even a bit welcome because it's a sign that the anime stayed true to its roots the entire time.

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