Posted by psgels on 13 December 2009 with categories: Anime Reviews



Those who have been reading some of my past mecha series reviews will probably know that I’m not the biggest fan of the Gundam franchise. These series often degenerate in strings of random fights that hardly ever resolve anything, and the storylines are way too often taken over by angsty and emo teenagers (or in Gundam 00’s case: angsty and emo young adults). However, this isn’t the case for Turn A Gundam!

I’m really glad to see that Turn A Gundam, directed by Tomino himself, manages to keep a solid direction and focus throughout the series. Okay, it’s a bit of a flawed direction here and there, but at least the plot is continuously moving. Something very impressive considering the complex, detailed and imaginative world that this series has to work with.

While on one hand, Turn A Gundam doesn’t escape some of the big clichés of the mecha-genre (a teenaged lead-character who just “happens” to find the “superpowered mecha of awesomeness”; “fighting is bad, so I will fight for these ideals!”), it makes up for it with its attention to detail: the cast for this show is huge, but Tomino manages to create lots of different fractions, all with their own ideals and morals. It has a carefully constructed setting, and the attention to detail for each of the mechas, airships, hovercrafts and spaceships is very impressive. I personally loved how at random times, Tomino liked to subtly flesh out random nameless soldiers, as they reported some news right next to a very important queen that everyone looks up to.

The large focus on politics is also one of the highlights of this series. While there are of course plenty of mecha-battles, a major theme of this series can also be found in the continuous peace negotiations, and how things like this that are so seemingly easy and obvious can be hampered by bad luck, just two or three people, or just plain bad planning and coordination.

As the show moves into its second half, it does lose a bit of steam, though. While definitely not bad, the second half of Turn A Gundam is inferior to the first. For that, I blame the series’ major villains: Agrippa has just way too little airtime and therefore makes no impact, while Gym Ghignham is just a plot device who continues to shout cheesy one-sided ideals. The two of them really put an evil side (and subsequently turn the lead characters into somewhat stereotypical good guys) to a series that had such a fine blur in morality, in which nobody really belonged to the good or bad side, and drag this series down.

Because of the lesser second half, I can’t quite call this show top-notch, but there is a lot to like in it nevertheless. Yoko Kanno has really worked her magic on the soundtrack, and the direction is strong under Tomino, with his trademark fast-paced dialogue that will keep the viewer on his toes. I’ll continue to raise eye-brows at teenagers who somehow end up piloting the most important military weapons in a single war, but hey: the rest of this show has enough other stuff to offer.

Storytelling: 8/10
Characters: 8/10
Production-Values: 9/10
Setting: 9/10

12 Responses

  1. Camario says:

    Well, I’m glad you liked this show.

    I agree that the actual villains aren’t the best part of the series, by any means, but I thought adding a couple of truly evil characters to the otherwise mostly gray cast wasn’t unwarranted because it helped provide a common threat which in turn eased the ultimate resolution. Stereotypical? Maybe a little, but not inherently bad.

    Then again, they and Gym in particular also made for a couple of interesting battles if nothing else, so at least that much counts as a positive in my book.

    Of course, the more political focus of the first half was a lot more interesting in terms of both plot and character development, no question about it. Without that first half I definitely wouldn’t have been able to get through watching the second.

  2. DmonHiro says:

    I have it on pretty good authority that the main character was supposed to be a woman. But the stupid Sunrise executives didn’t think that a Gundam show with a female protagonist would sell, and made the director turn her into a man. As a sort of “protest” the main character was made to cross dress as ofter as possible, and have very feminine features.

  3. Camario says:

    @DmonHiro: That’s a very common rumor but, as is standard operating procedure for such things, I haven’t heard anything concrete that backs up it. I suppose it’s gone the way of a glorified game of Telephone by now, even if there ever was an initial hint of truth.

    Anyway, Loran’s cross-dressing was good for humor, aside from the inherent weirdness of the obsession it fed…but he’s more of a naive character than a feminine one the rest of time.

  4. RE says:

    Watch G Gundam

    You’ll be blown away

    I GUARANTEE!!!

    especially since you are Dutch

  5. psgels psgels says:

    RE: I actually tried watching G Gundam a while back, but I only got about 9 episodes in before I gave up. The characters and stories were just too shallow and uninteresting for me, and to just keep watching it to be able to see how badly the creators would butcher the “Nether Gundam” didn’t really seem worth it to me. Does it get significantly better after the first 10 episodes or something?

  6. Shippoyasha says:

    Storytelling to me was just awful considering that the kids acted way too bratty for just about no reason (typical of the director really) and expositions come way too quickly without letting the impact settle.

    Granted, it’s a unique Gundam show and has some amazing production values, but in the end, I question what the purpose of the whole thing was.

    And though I agree that the final villains were a bit too straight edged in their villainy, I actually thought the second half served a bit more purpose to the whole thing, considering that they basically linked up a ton of Gundam canons together. That in itself made the whackjob of a story well. Agreed with the politics being intriguing for the most part, though there just didn’t seem to be a real good payoff for it in the end.

  7. Zetatrain says:

    G-Gundam gets better around episode 12-15 and it becomes hit or miss until ep. 24. This is where the plot starts coming together and the characters do get fleshed out more. So yeah it does get better, imo.

    On a side note, if you’re looking to into another gundam series, check out 0080 War in the Pocket. It is one of the better gundam series and is only 6 episodes long, so it won’t much of a waste of time if you dislike it.

  8. Tan-Tan says:

    I very much enjoy this show. I’m finally at the 45th episode. I say, I don’t understand how I managed to get so far. I’ve remembered only general details – overall at how difficult it is to start negotiations and all that, yet the story kept a firm grip that never bores me.

    There were a few…points that made me raise an eyebrow, but it happens in mecha series I guess – realism and all, especially with the launching of Willgame. Didn’t take them long to pack or get new people.

    I’m amused by the characters. I think that we don’t have to ‘personally’ know them, far enough to enter too much in their private realm. It’s really keen on 3rd person perspective. I can feel that I’m part of what’s going on, not biased even to the main characters.

    Lastly, it seems despite advanced technology, there was no such thing as DNA testing XD

  9. Winston says:

    If you dislike whiny teenagers, then you’d probably dislike whiny kids that cry more. 0080 is a ‘total skip’ if you ask me. I wanted my 6 (?) hours back after watching that tripe.

    G-Gundam is full of racial (sometimes offensively so) stereotypes, while the main Japanese Gundam isn’t “Geisha Gundam” or “Samurai Gundam”; instead – it is a normal looking cool-ish mecha.

    The story for G is very much ‘monster of the week’ followed by a series of battles at the end in which meaningful main characters make sacrifices to only have these very good plot devices blow into the wind (but being shat on) in the coming episodes. I want my money back!

    I enjoyed Turn A Gundam very much. Its fleshed out characters and attention to politics and it’s movement away from mecha make things go boom was nice. But I halted about episode 22 when they devoted what seemed to be too many episodes into pointless nothing. Using the Turn A Gundam as a laundry machine comes to mind —

    I remember the touching ending and I would like to scour up the will to see it once more.

  10. astrocurrent says:

    Try to watch Giant Robot -the day that earth stand still- first. If you like it, then you will like G Gundam. And yes, it will get better after master asia appeares.

  11. Soaringhawk says:

    So what are your favorites from the Gundam series? Your ratings give higher scores to some, but that doesn’t mean that it is the same as your favorite…unless I’m wrong.

  12. Firechick says:

    I hear After War Gundam X is very highly regarded.

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  • 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.

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