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 8, 2014

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

Domon Kasshu: The hero of the story, typically thick-headed
like many Shounen heroes. 
The Mobile Suit Gundam franchise is a hallmark of not only the mecha genre of anime, but also of Japanese entertainment itself. There's a reason they built a 59 foot statue dedicated to 1979's original Mobile Suit Gundam. Of course, there have been many spin offs, sequels, and OVAs furthering the story of those trademark mechas. There's Mobile Suit Gundam Wing, Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam, Mobile Suit Gundam 0080: War in the Pocket, and even Super Deformed Gundam. That's far from all of them, but it's certainly enough to get your feet wet.

Not all of the Gundam spin offs are made equal, but more often than not they feature many similarities that make them strictly Gundam material in more than just name. With the exception of SD Gundam (with its own multiple spin offs) and Mobile Fighter G Gundam, the Gundam franchise is typically dark in tone and rich with political intrigue. While fights in the mecha genre are always encouraged and even essential, they are not the "story." The fights are typically an attraction rather than the main course. 

Nastasha Zabigov: I didn't realize how hot this scene was
when I was twelve. 
At least, that's the way I remember it. It's been a while since I watched many of the Gundam shows and with so many of them being out of print and costing a fortune, it is tough to refresh my memory. There's also the fear of ending up spending a fortune for a bootleg that I have to worry about, too. 

Of course, all hope is not lost. Sites like Daisuki (streaming both on their site and on YouTube as well), Rightstuf, and even Amazon (if you are careful) are trying to keep the flame alive. Even if it's only through the release of graphic novels. I suggest that folks who are fans contribute to the cause and buy Gundam material (legal, non-bootleg releases) when they can find them. 

I have done my part for the moment by purchasing the entire series of Mobile Fighter G Gundam. I don't want to tell you how much I paid for it. 

It's been twelve years since I've seen the series and man, does it ever feel like no time has passed at all by the time that disc hits play and Flying in the Sky starts playing. I've definitely been here before. What is different this time around is that I am watching it in Japanese with the subtitles on, but that nostalgia feeling is still there is spades. 

You want cheesy? You got it! Fist bump, yeah!
I enjoyed the first 24 episodes just as much as I did the first time around. 

However, I am a bit more critical of the series now. I suppose that's only natural since I was twelve the last time I saw this series and this was the type of thing that appealed to me then. But I'm 23 now and I can recognize brainless popcorn fodder for what it is. Mobile Fighter G Gundam is most assuredly brainless and the plot is so pencil thin that you can tell that the director and writers were basically making things up as they went. The director even says so in the notes included on the DVDs. His mindset was basically keep it fun and no one will care. 

They are plot holes so huge that you could fit one of Michael Bay's Transformers movies inside of them. 

The Space Colonies look absurdly bad. There is almost nothing remotely technologically advanced-looking as a flat piece of land in space with a Statue of Liberty on it, is there? Or even worse... a giant sombrero? 
Name this space colony...

The fights, characters, and dialog are so insanely cheesy at times that you have to wonder if you are really watching a Gundam series or a parody of a Shounen anime where the characters use mechas that look like Gundams. 

Even some of the gundams themselves are borderline racist in terms of design and name. You can probably guess what countries the Pharaoh Gundam, the Viking Gundam, the Dragon Gundam, and the Tequila Gundam all originate from. It's ridiculously obvious and silly. 

There were times where I was watching where I felt like I needed to watch something with a bit more substance and realism so I started watching Team America: World Police instead. 

But you know what? Mobile Fighter G Gundam is still one of the best anime I've ever seen. It's just so over the top that you can't help but be won over by its charm or hate it intensely. And I don't hate it. 

Master Asia, Domon Kasshu's master. Apparently, martial
arts mastery means you can fight with giant robots without
needing an actual robot yourself.
The fights are generally really good. Cheesy as hell, but very good. And the primary story, when focused on, is certainly interesting enough to carry this madness along. 

Another really cool thing I discovered was that the same guy who voiced Jiraiya in the sub of Naruto and Naruto Shippuden also voiced Chibodee Crocket, the fighter for Neo America. 

Anyway, this is about as in depth as I'll go for the first part. In my next review I'll spoil the shit out of this series. For now though, I'm just having fun and celebrating the 20th anniversary of the anime that is Mobile Fighter G Gundam in my own special way. 

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