The number one requirement for a Gundam series to be valid, in my completely biased personal opinion, is for the Gundam to be referred to by someone as, you know, a Gundam. Right now, in Gundam: G no Reconguista, it’s a G-Self. If nobody out and says “Gundam” within the next couple of episodes, I’m dropping it.
Dubious joking aside…
This First Impressions review will cover the first two episodes of Gundam: G, considering it had a two-episode premiere.
In short: I have no idea how I feel about this show. It simultaneously feels awesome and like a massive letdown. I’ll try to elaborate on why.
For starters, Gundam: G does not feel like a new 2014 anime. It feels like someone accidentally left it on the shelf back in the 80s and only rediscovered and decided to air it now. I am certain this feeling is intentional; this anime is clearly appealing to the older generation of Gundam fans.
(slight conflict: the “mission statement,” so to speak, for this anime clearly stated that it’s attempting to appeal to new fans of the Gundam franchise and not the older generation. I don’t buy it.)
Everything feels nostalgic rather than new and exciting. If there was a Gundam series I felt most harnessed the vibe of the original Mobile Suit Gundam, this would be it. The art style, though neat and tidy, looks older and is mostly hand-drawn. The sound effects are classic. The background music screams 80s cartoon. The character designs are different. The outfits are 80s-inspired. The mechs are chunky. The dialogue is super cheesy, often forced, and rarely flows well. Completely unexplained technobabble makes me feel as though I’m sitting down to watch a Gundam series for the first time.
It’s simultaneously wonderful and terrible.
“Oldschool,” that’s the word I was looking for. This show is totally oldschool.
The show takes place is the so-called Regild Century, apparently the successor to Universal Century. Considering the year is R.C. 1014, I would think that Universal Century concluded over 1000 years ago, which totally doesn’t work with their technology. At the very least, they haven’t really progressed much. What happened to the BIT systems and, really, to the combat mechs as a whole? All the military seems to have are maintenance mechs and fancier-yet-still-obsolete Zaku-like mobs. They also have a single orbital elevator (about time), and what’s this about a religion that worships the darn thing?
The biggest problem I have with this show so far is the characters. More specifically, I currently have beef with all of them.
- The protagonist, Bellri Zenam, is a ditzy, air-headed, yet genius prodigy dude in the military who skipped two grades
- That’s, like, Super Sonico except a guy and in a Gundam
- He totally starts with a cheerleader harem
- Head cheerleader, Pink Wonder #1 and obvious bearer of unrequited love is Noredo Nug
- Noredo. Nug. Not even kidding
- She’s basically Frau Bow (alright, maybe Gundam has always had dumb names)
- Raraiya Monday is amnesiac ditzy moe-bait
- Possible antagonist, Pink Wonder #2 and terrible tsundere-in-the-making who sucks at piloting the Gundam is Aida Surgan
- Antagonist? Protagonist? WE JUST DON’T KNOW
- (does anyone else even matter…?)
But I don’t know, maybe it’s just because the delivery is awkward. Maybe by the end I’ll like Bellri as much as I like Kira Yamato and Setsuna F Seiei. Or maybe he’ll be another Heero Yuy.
I do like the mechs, though. I like that it’s not just another season of recolored Zakus and a generic first Gundam with a different paint job. I like the clunky maintenance suits, even if I don’t like the fact that they’re actually piloting maintenance suits. I like the military’s mechs a lot as well.
Actually, the G-Self sort of reminds me of the Wing…
The painfully obvious CG cranes in the first episode bothered me a bit, as did the mediocre background art and the fact that basically every background character in some frames is a standstill, but it’s whatever. Might just take some breaking in, some getting used to. I mean, look at how much Ars Nova improved over the course of its season.
One thing I realized is that this Gundam was not made for me. As I noted before, I believe it’s made for the older generation, while the production staff claims it’s for a brand-new generation. I myself am neither; I was introduced to the Gundam franchise via Seed. Gundam 00 is still my favorite Gundam series. I’ve seen Wing, I’ve seen AGE. But though I’ve seen (and greatly enjoyed) the original Mobile Suit Gundam, because of my age and the timing I never really got into the Universal Century shows.
So, the fact that this is a new show with new characters and a (supposedly) new plot made in the style and memory of the really old shows is cool, and I like it for that. But it doesn’t feel awesome. It doesn’t feel epic. Frankly, I view this show exactly how I view other older shows: with plenty of both nostalgia and eye-rolling.
It’s a Gundam show, so in the end I can’t really say no. I want to love it, I really really want to love it. We’ll see if things begin to grow on me; I certainly hope they do. Maybe this will finally inspire me to go watch Zeta.