Posted by psgels on 11 May 2008 with categories: Anime Reviews


One thing I like about watching a classic anime is to recognize the different anime that would pay homage to it in later years. Hayao Miyazaki’s Laputa: Castle in the Sky is another example of this. Mobile Suit Gundam (0079) brought the mecha-genre away from the cheesy giant robot-shows of Go Nagai to a more serious and realistic side, and traces of its influence can still be seen in today’s anime. Haro from Gundam 00 actually turns out to be one such example, and the three kids in Eureka7 have also been taken from the original Gundam.

After watching this series, I finally understand a bit why the post Universal Century-Gundam series are so shunned by the UC-fanboys, and at the same time I came to appreciate a series like Gundam 00 a whole lot more, but more on that below. The battles in Mobile Suit Gundam are indeed extremely realistic, and there’s one key element that made this possible: the great focus on logistics. With this, military bases suddenly don’t have limitless supplies anymore, and the fact that this series is mostly about just one battleship, instead of an entire fleet makes this one war-series that features some intense battles. It also never loses steam: every episode has at least one battle that fits in the story, rather than filling the audience’s need of action. And this intense attention to detail indeed seems to be missing in the other Gundam series I’ve seen so far (Gundam Wing and 00)

The second great strength of this series is the amount of attention it gives to the enemy forces. It’s not like they develop every single enemy soldier into a likable character, but this series gives a terrific overview of all the different kinds of enemies that you can run into the battlefield. All have their own priorities and agendas, ranging from low-ranked soldiers to high officials, none of them is ignored.

Still, the thing is that this series hasn’t been perfect. Based on the stories of the fans of UC, I expected Mobile Suit Gundam to be something like the epitome of realism, but this doesn’t turn out to be true, as it has a lot of points where it could have done better. The most obvious being of course Amuro, the lead hero. The guy just looks at a manual, and within three days he’s able to pilot a complex mobile suit like an expert and he also turns into a master tactician. Something that would take ordinary soldiers years of training. The reason this series gives for these abilities later on in the series is rather weak. If you want to god-mode your characters, you’ve got some good explanation to do, and the thing about Newtypes feels just like a lazy excuse to let a teenaged boy be the centre of attention.

Probably because of this, Mobile Suit Gundam also has a really weird difficulty-curve. In regular anime, the different enemies get tougher and harder to defeat as the series goes on, but here it’s just the opposite: during the first half, the enemies are all really tough and hard to beat. They come with interesting tactics and don’t let themselves get killed that easily. Then the second half hits and even though the enemies seem to get their hands on a more advanced mobile suit with every single episode, they also become a lot more stupid. At one point, they just become sitting ducks for Amuro to hit. I was rather disappointed by that, to be honest. When you realize that the enemies aren’t a threat anymore, the series does lose a bit of its tension. I think this is also the reason why the ending screwed up so badly.

Don’t get me wrong: Mobile Suit Gundam is a great series, but these flaws do remain. Of course, the following paragraph will be just speculation as I haven’t seen Zeta nor Victory Gundam, but I suspect that these two, despite whatever greatnesses they may hold, weren’t completely perfect either. The thing is that every Gundam-series seems to have its own strengths and weaknesses, and there’s no way you can be perfect at everything at such a large-scale series. Mobile Suit Gundam focused more on low-scale battles with a focus on logistics, while Gundam Wing on the other hand focused more at philosophy and large-scale politics. If you keep expecting the same thing as the originals, then you indeed will be disappointed.

That’s also what I find so interesting about Gundam 00, as only now I realize that it was partially an attempt to flesh out the areas in which Mobile Suit Gundam didn’t do so well. While the original series had a clear good and evil side with the Earth Federation and Zeon, Gundam 00 never depicts anyone as truly good or evil. Gundam 00 also never bothered to god-mode its characters, and instead only focused on upgrading its technology, and the closest things that resemble Newtypes have actually been explained well and don’t stand out too much. There also wasn’t really an explanation behind the huge level of technology of the White Base and Gundam on Mobile Suit Gundam, and Gundam 00 managed to find a pretty good explanation of a plot that took 200 years to prepare.

On the other hand, Mobile Suit Gundam shows more how the different battles affect the mentality of the pilots, it’s cast of characters is more dynamic. It also doesn’t have any characters that sit in their rooms for episodes after each other being emo, and whenever a character’s angsting, you’ll know that in the next episode that person will have already progressed past this angsting-stage. In this way, you can see that these two series complement each other pretty nicely. What you miss in Mobile Suit Gundam, you can find in Gundam 00 and vice versa.

Normally my reviews are geared towards readers that haven’t seen the anime in question yet, but in this case, I had too many thoughts I wanted to share. I tried to avoid spoilers as much as possible, but apologies if I ended up spoiling something. Despite its age, Mobile Suit Gundam is worth your time if you like war-stories. As it turns out, every war-anime is different and focuses at something different. Simoun had the religious influence, and showed what really happens if your technology is miles above that of your enemy; Heroic Age had space-battles of the highest possible epic-scale; series as Toward the Terra focused more on their characters and Flag was all about realism. I must say, that it’s a really diverse genre that you can’t possibly stuff into just one series.

14 Responses

  1. R says:

    Whatever you do, don’t watch double-zeta (Gundam ZZ). While Zeta Gundam took itself seriously (sometimes too seriously), double zeta (in the first part) tries to be a comedy aimed at little kids. I’m told that double zeta improves later, but I couldn’t endure the bad episodes to find out.

    If you’re watching UC Gundam series, I highly recommend the OVAs: the 8th MS team, war in the pocket, and to some extent, stardust memories.

  2. leongsh says:

    You need to watch Legend of the Galactic Heroes – all 110 episodes of the main series – for a truly epic and probably the most comprehensive war anime available.

  3. There’s a legitimate reason why the enemies later on start to become less of a threat. For one, Amuro’s newtype powers start to awaken, and for another, Zeon had already lost most of it’s aces in the ground war and before the final push of Operation Star One and were fielding fresh graduates in the Gelgoogs and Dom’s we start to see show up near the end.

    There’s a lot more going on then you think including Mobile Suits that were supposed to have been introduced for the final battle at A Baoa Qu, but never made it to rollout because the war ended to soon.

    The technology of the White Base and Mobile Suits in U.C is also explained quite well too. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Universal_Century_technology

    One last thing, MSG does have scenes of Amuro angsting early on and it lasts for quite a while as far as the series goes. Like at least 1/2 of the series until he smartens up once and for all. Gundam 00 is actually probably the least angsty of all the Gundam series where it stands other than maybe ZZ or X.

  4. a dog says:

    I second the suggestion for Legend of the Galactic Heroes.

  5. Tert says:

    If I may add, Turn A Gundam (for all its unconventional mech designs, though I thought that they were unique) is another good Gundam series apart from 0079. Its characters are fleshed out nicely and its not a ‘point and shoot at lame-duck grunts’ Gundam. The battles are actually interesting because strategy is involved. It takes a few episodes to take off but after that its solid gold :D

    If you want realism, 08th MS Team has got to be the most realistic Gundam I’ve seen. It has a strong cast and a compelling story-line to boot. There are no overpowered items like Dragoons or chest cannon particle beams.

    tl;dr Watch Turn A Gundam and the 08th MS Team. Its worth your time.

  6. zaki says:

    I introduce japan TV Anime for from 1963 to 1973.
    Please link to this site

  7. Archer says:

    this is quite a surprise,one anime i did not expect you to watch but i am glad you did

    i also watched it like a month or so ago but i watched the 3 movies that summarize the story from this series and i might have missed some things(maybe more) but overall i liked it and i also started to love the UC time just like many others;i liked the rivalry between Char and Amuro and i can say that i found Char to be a lot more interesting than the rest and is maybe my favorite character

    also i don’t think you spoiled anything,overall i like this review but sometimes it is good to spoil,to go into more detail so you can have amore interesting discussion but maybe for those who did not watch this series they will be grateful and give it a chance or at least watch the movies as i did :D

    i also agree with the people who say that 08th MS team is the most realistic Gundam so you might watch it since it only has 12 ep and i also am going to watch Z gundam since it is suppose to be very good

  8. lmfs says:

    And you can’t forget the movie “MSG: Char’s Counterattack” which provides such an epic ending to the whole Amuro vs Char rivalry.

  9. Gustavo says:

    Good review. As a UC lover, I really cant say you did bad in giving 85 for MSG 0079, as it really isnt that great. But, please, watch the sequel, Zeta Gundam. This is the true shining gundam for me and for many fans around the world.

    And about the newtype thing: do you know the oriental religions, such as budhism, xintuism etc? Well, resuming, it was said that many samurai masters were able to feel the enemie’s presence and intentions (aka KAI). It was the true meaning of becoming one with the universe. Read about many masters, as Miyamoto Musashi, Morihei Ueshiba, and you will see the great number of possibilities.

    When something aproaches me, I can feel it inside my head. Its a uneaseness, even with my eyes closed.

    I think thats why I liked so much the newtype idea: an evolution to the new enviroment, the space.

    Watch the sequel, Zeta Gundam. To me, MSG 0079 is not even close to the beauty of Zeta. And open yourself to the great universe of the human energy (aka KI, CHI, Chakra etc)

  10. Neflyte49 says:

    Zeta Gundam its a better anime than Gundam. More “realistic” and a girl killing anime. Watch it and post your review :D

  11. i like Gundam wings Zero

  12. Frostymourne says:

    I have to agree with most people here to 08th MS team is one of the most enjoyable gundam series for realistic war mecha lovers like me. I cant seem to find any other Gundam series close to 08th MS team.

    I just dont understand why are there more gundam series portraying invincible gundams which can take out squadrons of mobile suits these days. Its just total bullcrap, espescially gundam wing, its one of the most horrible yet popular gundam series. 5 gundams can actually take out an entire nation’s army, extremely unrealistic battles which does not involve strategies but just plain trigger happy shooting. As a conscript in my country, i feel that the series is just an insult to the military yet its a war anime..

    They should continue to produce good series like 08th MS team. Where the characters are not portrayed as gods but as real soldiers in the military.

  13. Ratatosk says:

    Bearing in mind that this came out a couple of years after the first Star Wars film and has several obvious influences (giant lightsabers anyone?), at least the whole Newtypes thing always made more sense than the Force..
    and it might be by accident, but I still think Amuro Ray comes across as uncomfortably real compared to all the other main character mecha pilots out there.

    Zeta Gundam is definitely worth watching and has a higher animation budget than this, and an ending that Im surprised that they got away with as a bonus. Gundam ZZ has some horrifically brilliant moments in the 2nd half of the series, but the bad comedy approach ruins it; I sat through that one mainly in the hope of finding out what happened to various characters from the first 2 series, but seriously, it’s not worth it; just watch the Colony Drop on Youtube and skip straight to the Char movie.

  14. Firechick says:

    Psgels, I think you’d really like After War Gundam X. It has a bit of a more realistic feel than the other Gundam series, and even calls out the whole Newtype concept and lampshades how the characters want them to be saviors of the world when they’re really not. I think you should give it a try sometime. You may like it.

Leave a Reply

Shoutbox

Name:
Email:
For:  
Mail will not be published
  • AidanAK47
    (Monday, Mar 2. 2015 01:29 AM)
    Late to this one but
    @BrendanVGC, that’s kinda tough. See there is a huge amount of very different manga that fall under the category “Seinien” You would kinda need to give us a more focused genre to work with here. Like horror, action etc.
    And pretty sure death note is shounen.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, Mar 1. 2015 07:35 AM)
    Damon I am more used to seeing in a drama or comedy role I reckon rather than an action hero.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, Mar 1. 2015 07:24 AM)
    Eric Bana is so underated =<
    I want to see more of the man on film.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, Mar 1. 2015 05:52 AM)
    The story would’ve been much more anchored and believable if the social imbalance wasn’t portrayed so heavy-handedly. It makes no sense for every house in Elysium to have a healing-bed that completely restores you and they dint bother to put a single one on Earth to keep the working class happy and healthy. I mean, c’mon now.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, Mar 1. 2015 05:49 AM)
    Yeah the action sequences were the best parts of Elysium. I don’t k ow, I just don’t feel Matt Damon in these roles anymore and I hope they stayed with Eric Bana like the rumors were hinting; that probably would’ve made it a more personal story.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, Mar 1. 2015 04:55 AM)
    Its been too long since I saw district 9 to have an accurate opinion on it.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, Mar 1. 2015 04:54 AM)
    I can remember giving higher points to elysium when I saw it first because I really needed/wanted to see an R rated action movie. But apart from Sharlto Copley as the villain it was in hindsight fairly miscast, the ending was quite poor and the script could have been improved on, I liked the robots/action scenes however.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, Mar 1. 2015 04:20 AM)
    I have a feeling that the movie’s gonna suck tho. District 9 was good, Elysium was a mess and Chappie looks like a Short Circuit ripoff with nothing new to add. I have respect for Blomkamp since he started as an animator and probably has respect for the medium and a good eye for aesthetics, by he’s doing progressively more conventional stuff as his career goes on.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, Mar 1. 2015 01:41 AM)
    Ha, so I wasn’t wrong when I came across that film Chappie and thinking that the robot resembled Briareos from appleseed, the director’s a fan of Masume Shirow’s work apparently.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, Mar 1. 2015 12:16 AM)
    @Brendan: That completely hinges on your personal taste, but Vagabond is one of the best Chanbara ones around, with superb art, fast pacing and entertaining storyline. Berserk should go without saying as it’s a codifier for many Seinen conventions, but Vinland Saga is another great series which is in similar vein. Biomega and Drifters are also worth a look.

1 · 2 · 3 · 4 · 5 · »

Featured Posts

Durarara!!X2 – 07

I think the problem with this episode was evident right from the opening scene. I had to do a double take when seeing a very poorly drawn Simon. I even questioned whether it was a new character entirely. But no, the animation budget took a nosedive. Or the guy who was to do the inbetweens […]

Death Parade – 07

Why is the girl from the last episode still around? This episode brought up three rules about arbiters. The third rule, about arbiters not having emotions, Is odd to me. For the arbiters we have been introduced to are very emotional. They state that Decim was given human emotions yet he is the least emotional […]

Durarara!!X2 – 06

Turns out that assassination attempt got Celty to see her life flash before her eyes. I suppose taking a tumble off a moving motorcycle is a fatal thing. But well in the last arc we saw two people survive getting blown away at about the length of a football field. So I cannot say I […]

Death Parade – 06

Death Parade in a risky move has taken things in a new direction. A daring adventurous move that no one expected. And it is…absolutely terrible. Death Parade, what happened? Did no one read over the script and do a shaft head tilt in wonder? Was there not an Animator who said “Excuse me sir. But […]

Durarara!!X2 – 05

We have yet another new character entering the show. A motorcycle gang leader who has a massive fondness for woman. Personally I am not a fan of him. His brand of female overprotective crazy just seems like a downgrade from the shows already huge cast of crazies. He looks like a character whose introduction serves […]

Death Parade – 05

If asked about how I think of death parade so far, my answer would have to be divided. On one hand the premise is rife with potential and it does have moments where it rises above the bar. But it also seems confused as to what it wants to be. We have death games between […]

Durarara!!X2 – 04

The current story arc ends abruptly and unexpectedly. I am rather surprised that it came here. From how this was portrayed it felt this would be a longer arc than it turned out to be. So with its end I must think back and wonder. What exactly did this arc accomplish? We got introduced to […]

Death Parade – 04

Now this is more like it. An arcade game between two strangers with dark pasts. Excellent. But both did have a similar problem. That being they are both people who couldn’t see past themselves. It’s nice to see people react differently to the game. Here we have the two of them mistaking it for a […]

Durarara!!X2 – 03

If its one thing you to can credit Narita for it that just when you think he cannot possibly make a stranger character, he then does. So the monster that Shizu smashed into the air in the last moment gets their story told and I am sure there are not many who would have guessed […]

Latest Reviews

Clipboard06

Nerawareta Gakuen Review – 84/100

Let me talk a bit about Ryousuke Nakamura. For a long time, this guy was my hero. He started off as an assistant director to Monster, in my opinion a big reason why that series got such a ridiculously solid adaptation, and then in 2008 he came with the groundbreaking Mouryou no Hako. No TV-series […]

Clipboard03

Kick Heart

Okay, so I didn’t want to exit 2013 without having seen Masaaki Yuasa’s Kick Heart. It’s only twelve minutes anyway, and I consider him to be one of the best anime directors out there. The story here is pretty silly and mostly serves as a backdrop, so I mostly want to talk about the nature […]

Clipboard01

Kyousogiga Review – 90/100

Everyone’s taste is different, and that’s a wonderful thing because that allows us to have so many different forms of media that all aim toward their own niche. My blog is obviously written from the perspective of my own taste, and even when a show doesn’t cater to it (which is nearly always), I love […]

Clipboard04

Ore no Nounai Sentakushi ga, Gakuen Lovecome o Zenryoku de Jama Shiteiru Review – 80/100

Noucome! You do not want to know how long I have been waiting for a series like this. More than half a decade, at the very least. Finally a series comes along and puts the incredibly overused harem genre in its place. And it actually does it well. Thank you! So to elaborate: the harem […]

Clipboard01

Pokemon: The Origin Review – 75/100

Normally I try to avoid spoilers with these reviews, but screw it, it’s Pokemon. Pokemon The Origin is a bomb of nostalgia. If you haven’t played Pokemon Red, Blue or Green, then you will not enjoy this one slight bit. This really is made as pure undilluted fanservice for the fans of the first games. […]

Clipboard08

Tamayura – More Aggressive Review – 75/100

I’m not going to dedicate a post for my impression for the final three episodes of this series. It was just too boring to write much about. I guess that that gives a pretty accurate indication of what I think about this series. Right at the start of Tamayura’s second season, I asked one question: […]

Clipboard04

Silver Spoon Review – 86/100

When Noitamina started airing two series per season, it was amazing. It’s a timeslot that on average tends to be aimed at a much older audience than usual, and having two series with the same mentality definitely helped to bring more diversity to anime overall. Unfortunately it’s a schedule that could not be kept up […]

Clipboard07

Yondemasuyo, Azazel-San Z Review – 82,5/100

Reviewing a comedy sequel usually is quite simple: in most cases it just drops the bomb and runs out of inspiration, and in rare cases it actually manages to stay hilarious. The tricky thing with these kinds of series is that you need to remain funny, and you need to have the inspiration for that. […]

Clipboard05

Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet Review – 81/100

Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet tells the storyline of a planet that is completely submerged, with only giant ships residing on the surface, while one of those ships gets visited by this guy and his AI-mecha from this very technologically advanced civilization. Yes, this show is about world building. What this show managed to do […]