Posted by psgels on 31 October 2010 with categories: Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn, OVA Impressions



Now that we’re two hours in, it’s gotten time to start asking in what way Gundam Unicorn sets itself apart from the other Gundam series. Unfortunately, I’m hard-pressed to find that answer…

I guess that the closest that this episode came to standing on its own was the point at which it showed that random Zeon family. It of course already was established that the Zeon aren’t completely evil by the very first Gundam series thirty years ago, but this episode did give a bit more depth to that by showing the people that the Zeon are trying to protect.

But apart from that though… the main problem with Unicorn really is its completely generic story, setting and characters: it’s all just “been there, done that”. There’s yet another boy who through some loophole in the rules gets his hand on the most powerful mobile suit known to man, there is yet another romance with a girl from the enemy (and hey! she’s even a princess this time), there again are strings of mecha battles. It’s all just too safe.

This all could have been forgiven with the right characterization, but… the lead character. I mean, most Gundam leads do fairly well to stand as solid characters, but this guy is completely generic. It’s not really the fact that he’s able to pilot a really powerful mecha: there are tons of other anime who do that. Instead, he just feels so out of place. Here we have a serious story about the war between two big fractions, and right there in the middle there’s this brat who keeps whining because he just discovered that people die in a war. Because of him we had to listen to strings of cheesy morals, instead of focusing on the story.

The same happened to Char here: in Zeta Gundam he was pretty interesting, in the first Gundam he was an excellent villain, but here, he looks like he lost all his charms, relying just on his cool-factor. The action also was something I got bored with. It’s the exact same type of action that we’ve been seeing over and over again. It was indeed solid, but the only thing that set it apart from all of the other Gundams was its airbags and the way in which the lead character vomited in his suit. okay, that’s admirable, but that’s not something you want to advertise yourself with.

Gundam Unicorn is solid, I’m not going to deny that. I did like the parts that didn’t feature the male lead. Minerva thank god shows how to not be annoying as a teenager, and also all of the adults knew exactly in what kind of situation they’re in, and they stand behind their choices. There was this interesting bit of intrigue going on, and at least most of the adults here felt very natural.

But that’s the thing: it’s got such a solid base here, and it doesn’t use it. This is Gundam: it’s got a huge graphics budget here; its direction is very solid and thought out; it’s got all of the ingredients for at least a solid story, grounded in realism. It just feels like it put its ambition in the wrong places.

Of course, it wasn’t bad either. I really hope that this episode was simply building up, so that we can at least get to see something interesting in the final episodes. I first want to see that before I’ll buy that, though. My biggest hope right now resides on that box. If that gets to be more than just another McGuyver, then this could still get interesting.
OVA Episode Rating: 7,75/10

27 Responses

  1. Zero says:

    I agree completely, solid series, but they are playing it too safe(=boring).I never understood this fascination with the young main lead types in anime, that blame the adults for all the stupid shit in the world. It’s freaking 2010, can they not write a damn UC gundam story without these stereotypes? Being 16yrs old myself, I can’t imagine spouting this uniformed nonsense like Banagher does, it’s so unrealistic. Do the writers think young adults in that futuristic stories are too stupid to read/online the news at that age and get themselves informed on major issues?

  2. fool says:

    lol by McGuyver do you mean McGuffin?

    I still think Unicorn has the potential to be the truly great Gundam series I’ve been waiting for.

    I’m disappointed they squandered the Kshatriya fight scene at the start with a quick and sloppy battle. And I’m not too hot on the “forced mental conditioning as a child” cliche they’ve introduced. The episode ultimately was buildup, which was a bit disappointing because of the long wait. I’m hoping Laplace’s box is not like GN particles and Innovators from 00 but I can’t see it being anything else :/

  3. Gooo says:

    The problem with Unicorn is that it is geared towards a totally different audience than the standard modern Gundam show. Its meant to be a more mature nostalgic fest for the 30-something fans of the original Gundam that kind of outgrew the modern “rip-off” Gundams (and as such, never watched them), so they can appreciate the nostalgia and the homages to the original UC Gundams, and especially to the original MSG.

    Which is why the show is such a standard UC show. Its not trying to be different, its actually trying to be the opposite to instill nostalgia.

  4. I’d like to start off by mentioning that I have no experience with the UC timeline worthy of mention.

    So here we go…

    Banagher ultimately serves as the moral high ground in a landscape driven by war. He is needed to shed light on the full end of the spectrum, instead of just one end of it. To explain war you posit it against its counter, peace. This is where war stories such as Gundam shed light on the false dichotomy between war and peace.

    I personally thought Char was very charming, the way he completely reversed the chessboard on the federation during the hostage talks. He manages to keep to himself and is able to place himself into the viewpoint of the person he is talking to, unlike his underling who fits into rage. This act, too, is to shed light on Char’s end of the spectrum by showing the other side of it.

    Gundam Unicorn stays true to what Gundam is all about and that is something that has been missing with several of the newer iterations. It might be a retelling of the same stretch, but it might just be the best iteration of it, said so by other people.

    For me, Gundam Unicorn is my incentive to start actively learning about one of the pillars of anime. I have the Gundam movie trilogy and Gundam Zeta on my to-watch list. And I might watch Gundam ZZ just for ”fun”.

  5. fool says:

    @Numbers and space

    It’s my opinion that the actual Gundam TV series has much better pacing than the movie trilogy, and is in turn more enjoyable. I’d be curious as to what you think about Zeta in the future. I went into it with high hopes and I came out a little disgusted. I’m gearing up to try ZZ soon. If ZZ’s only real problem is “kiddy-ness” I honestly wouldn’t mind.

  6. Daggeraxe says:

    Love the soundtrack. I could listen to it all day.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v25MaXwopNI

  7. Zetatrain says:

    Well after several months episode 2 is here and I have to say I was very satisfied. I agree mostly with what you said with a few exceptions. While Banagher’s morals my seem a bit chessy, its at the same time understandable. He doesn’t share the ideals of either side and in an instant he watched nearly all his friends die in a war that had nothing to do with them. As for being shaken up by killing someone, well he did grow up in a very peaceful place that was practically untouched by war so its no surprise that he was a shaken up a bit after killing someone. Banagher may not be breaking any new grounds as a gundam character, but I think so far he’s been well written, for the most part, and has the potential to grow. Full Frontal was interesting and my opinion of him is pretty much that of Numbers and Space’s comment above me. I felt the action was very solid and enjoyable and the only gripe I had was that the first battle was too short but that’s a minor flaw for me. If Unicorn Gundam is going to be vastly different than other gundam series you better hope that the novels are like that since this is an adaption. The problem is that this is for UC fans so don’t get your hopes too high.

  8. Zetatrain says:

    Well after several months episode 2 is here and I have to say I was very satisfied. I agree mostly with what you said with a few exceptions. While Banagher’s morals my seem a bit chessy, its at the same time understandable. He doesn’t share the ideals of either side and in an instant he watched nearly all his friends die in a war that had nothing to do with them. As for being shaken up by killing someone, well he did grow up in a very peaceful place that was practically untouched by war so its no surprise that he was a shaken up a bit after killing someone. Banagher may not be breaking any new grounds as a gundam character, but I think so far he’s been well written, for the most part, and has the potential to grow. Full Frontal was interesting and my opinion of him is pretty much that of Numbers and Space’s comment above me. I felt the action was very solid and enjoyable and the only gripe I had was that the first battle was too short but that’s a minor flaw for me. If Unicorn Gundam is going to be vastly different than other gundam series you better hope that the novels are like that since this is an adaption. The problem is that this is for UC fans so don’t get your hopes too high.

  9. Zetatrain says:

    Well after several months episode 2 is here and I have to say I was very satisfied. I agree mostly with what you said with a few exceptions. While Banagher’s morals my seem a bit chessy, its at the same time understandable. He doesn’t share the ideals of either side and in an instant he watched nearly all his friends die in a war that had nothing to do with them. As for being shaken up by killing someone, well he did grow up in a very peaceful place that was practically untouched by war so its no surprise that he was a shaken up a bit after killing someone. Banagher may not be breaking any new grounds as a gundam character, but I think so far he’s been well written, for the most part, and has the potential to grow. Full Frontal was interesting and my opinion of him is pretty much that of Numbers and Space’s comment above me. I felt the action was very solid and enjoyable and the only gripe I had was that the first battle was too short but that’s a minor flaw for me. If Unicorn Gundam is going to be vastly different than other gundam series you better hope that the novels are like that since this is an adaption. The problem is that this is for UC fans so don’t get your hopes too high.

  10. Zetatrain says:

    whoops sorry for the triple post

  11. Loba says:

    The laplace’s box contains….a macdonald’s value meal that has not decomposed for years! No seriously!

    I haven’t watched the old UC gundams before but all in all, I would still say I enjoyed it.

  12. ggg says:

    pgsels doesn’t know shit about Gundam or anime.
    Basquash 80/100 Unicorn 77,5/100? Really? Either you have shit taste or you are just trying to be edgy.
    Wtf Disgaea 81/100?
    You are a fucktard.

  13. Zi says:

    I’m going to have to agree with Gooo on this one. Unicorn is something of a fanservice to all the older fans.
    When thought of as a mainstream Gundam show like the AU series, you run in to even more cliches than the usual batch that bandai sends out.
    But, that is the point of the show. A back to the beginning UC series with a crazy budget.

  14. anon says:

    yep pgsels doesn’t know shit about non kiddy anime. Read some ghostlightning.

  15. fool says:

    lol ghostlightning’s a hack

    though i am vastly impressed by his ability to substantiate his totally ridiculous posts

  16. anon says:

    Maybe but he has good taste and a better prose than pgsels.

  17. hoiut says:

    Looks like a lot of die-hard Gundam fans got their feelings hurt here, haha.

    Guys, as a standalone, it’s not all that incredible. It’s a simple and nostalgic core built upon complex 30-years worth of UC politics. The fights were well animated and looked pretty good, yes.

    But really now…

  18. Da5id says:

    Whenever someone doesn’t like psgels’ opinion on a show, all his supporters say they’re butthurt fans. Could it be possible that he may or may not be as great a blogger as you think?

    Also, how exactly is vomiting in your helmet admirable? Someone please explain that to me. I’d love to hear a plausible response.

  19. Zetatrain says:

    @Da5id

    I believe what psgels meant was that the vomiting, along with the G-suit, was one of the few new things that he/she saw in the episode. Psgel’s main gripe so far is that Unicorn isn’t pushing the boundaries of the Gundam franchise and so far this is true. Unicorn is, like many have said, fan service for the U.C. fans who have waited a long time for return to the UC timeline, however, IMO, that does not mean the OVA is without substance. Just because the OVA is treading across familiar territory does not mean it cannot craft a solid story; its all in the execution. So far I think Unicorn has been well written and only time will tell what the pay off will be.

    For those of you who say that psgels does not now anything about Gundam, keep in mind that psgel has reviewed most of the stuff from the U.C. And before someone accuses me of being a blind fan of psgels, I have stated that I disagree with psgels on some points and I’m siding more with ghostlightning’s review of episode 2.

  20. Da5id says:

    @Zetatrain

    Exactly. I hadn’t even seen any UC stuff (or at least payed attention to any of it) prior to seeing the first Unicorn OVA, and I thought it was phenomenal. Not only because of the history behind it, but because of the animation and even story. And if you came to a Gundam series with a new protagonist, I don’t know why you’d expect the beginning to happen any other way. Besides, this is just going by what the original novel said right?

    And I never said I didn’t think he knew anything about Gundam. But giving Basquash more points for being “original” is a little messed up.

    And for those of you who are wondering “GOD DA5ID ARE YOU STILL PICKING ON PSGELS? WHY WON’T YOU GET A LIFE ALREADY GEEZ.”

    …that’s a good question.

  21. anonymouser says:

    But Unicorn is pushing the boundaries of UC Gundam. It’s Gundam at its finest so far without any of the big flaws that the UC series had.

    And fuck pgsels and his opinions. Rating Gundam 0083 under 80/100 is just trying to be edgy.

  22. Zetatrain says:

    @annoymouser

    What I mean is that most the themes,character types, etc. in Unicorn, regardless of quality, have shown up in other gundam series. Don’t get me wrong, the quality of Unicorn so far is some of the best I’ve seen in a long time in the gundam franchise.

  23. a non a mouse says:

    PSgels has a strange and often confusing way of judging and perceiving anime that seems to operate on a lot of predeterminations and doesn’t really give much insight into what the episodes he’s reviewing are all about. His methods and criteria for review often seem to shift wildly depending on the show being discussed, which might lead to the perceived inconsistency in his attempts to score anime against others.

    I agree with the sentiment that people are likely going to get more value out of reading ghostlightning’s take on the episode. ghostlightning doesn’t attempt to pigeonhole his articles and opinions into score-based conclusions like I often get the impression PSGels is doing, nor does he judge shows based on unclear and often unfocused sets of criteria. Instead ghostlightning does what I wish more bloggers would do and skips the whole review nonsense by instead going for the fomenting discussion approach.

    In other words there’s less time spent worrying about what Gundam Unicorn does different from other shows or whatever PSgels was on about for this article and more time spent actually talking about what happened in the episode and what can be derived from it. Very enjoyable alternative to this rather strange review.

    http://ghostlightning.wordpress.com/2010/11/11/the-colonization-of-space-that-wasnt-gundams-universal-century-as-editorialized-by-mobile-suit-gundam-unicorn-02/

    Here’s his follow-up to the one posted above.

  24. Banagherlinks says:

    What a bunch of idiots the ones who get bored to this is not a true uc fan come’on uc stories are suppose to follow a single timeline so it can never be compared to alternate series that is full of shittiness and rip-off ness and by the way gundam uc is based on a novel so stop talking about stupid nostalgia thing. Check the date when it was released and stop calling yourself a gundam fan if youre not in it then stop watching it. =P

  25. Banagherlinks says:

    Stop judging the book only by it’s cover if you got bored to episode 1 then watch 3 the ghost of laplace anyways any idiot will say that he only watches gundam just for battle scenes dude youre comprehension level needs an improvement the ones who get bored are the ones who don’t give a shit to understand the story =P

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