Posted on 29 March 2011 with categories: Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn, OVA Impressions



The adults in Gundam Unicorn… are actually portrayed really well. Their maturity works quite well. And like I said before: the execution here is incredibly solid and if this wasn’t bound by Gundam cliches, I definitely would have liked it even more than I am now. There are plenty of characters here who take themselves seriously, are intelligent and make for a great war drama.

What annoys me about Gundam Unicorn is something that annoys me about a lot of other Gundams as well. They’re certain ideas and tropes that just continue to run throughout all kinds of Gundam Series that I just can’t get behind, and seeing those repeated over and over… I have to admit that those are killing my enjoyment of this series a bit.

To take this episode:
– The main character is the vehicle for a lot of “war is bad” drama.He inherently believes that killing is evil… and yet he flies around in a giant killing machine.
– There also is that mentality of “oh, us adults are old and fail. Let us sacrifice ourselves so that the youth can shine” that I just can’t get behind, even though the adults are portrayed as far more useful and reliable.
– Then it also suddenly brought up the skilled minor bad guy who does nothing but frantic yelling. Especially Gundam 00 abused this one heavily.
– Oh, and let’s not forget the lead character unlocking his hidden powers once he sees one of his friends killed. Realistic warfare? Hah.

Nevertheless, this all could have been much, much worse. You can see that Char actually is aware of all these tropes around the lead characters, and has constructed a pretty solid plan around them with much more details than you usually see. Meanwhile, while the main character isn’t the best advertisement for “war is bad”, his romantic interest is actually trying to resolve conflicts using diplomacy as the “Relena” of this series. That’s one cliche that I don’t have any qualms about: it’s good to have a voice of reason in Gundam series: someone who doesn’t constantly think about fighting.

Also, I have yet to see my to biggest annoyances of the Gundam franchise: the endless yelling and angsting, and the long strings of monotone battles that they tend to devolve in. If Gundam Unicorn can actually avoid these in its second half, then it can really get quite good. However, this episode already contained a hint to the former (that guy who just kept yelling). As for the second annoyance, though: those usually are the result of this series remaining too long in space, where there really isn’t much to do apparently. The end of this episode showed the characters descending to earth.

A descending scene that was really good, by the way. The song behind it was ridiculously cheesy, but somehow the direction made it all work all the characters finally taking a break between all the fighting in order to actually get through the atmosphere safely. That’s good build-up here, to end the episode with a completely different mood.
OVA Episode Rating: 8/10

Posted 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

Posted on 21 February 2010 with categories: Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn



2010 is going to be a major year for OVAs, so you can expect me to blog a lot of ’em. I’ve mostly been looking forward to Gundam Unicorn because of its director, Kazuhiro Furuhashi of Chevalier, Real Drive and Hunter X Hunter fame, among many others. Overall, I’m impressed: there are a number of cliches in this show, but there’s also a lot of promise. And in this episode, the impressive outweighed the unimpressive parts.

So yeah, I hoped that it wouldn’t be the case, but alas: the lead characters are a bunch of teenagers. But to be honest, teenagers have never been the deciding factor for whether a Gundam Series is going to be good or not. While Zeta Gundam’s latter half indeed derailed because of the constant focus on angsty teenagers, the original Mobile Suit Gundam also had a lot of them and yet I consider that one among the best Gundams I’ve seen. Same for Turn A Gundam, which also had a teenager piloting an overpowered mecha. Gundam 00’s second season on the other hand barely had any teenagers, and yet it did have plenty of emo characters and its plot never really went anywhere for me. I guess that it all depends on the execution, and that’s where Unicorn shined in this episode.

Even for Sunrise, the animation here is great. The motion is incredibly fluid and the soundtrack fits very well. I really liked the action in this episode: it was intense and yet didn’t drag on. On top of that, the dialogue also is detailed. If the creators can keep this up, then I’ll be satisfied.

The lead character is a newtype, but I’ve seen much less likable Gundam leads. This guy is impulsive, but he’s not so ridiculously trying to be cool. He reminds me of a less whiny Kamille. Right now, I do hope that the creators are not going to increase his angst as the episodes go on. In this episode, the teenaged angst was still at a healthy level: they lost a lot of loved ones, so it’s natural for them to freak out, and they didn’t get in the way of the plot as they did so. The “war is bad” messages are again back in full force, but it’s all going to depend on how the creators are going to use the rest of these episodes whether or not this show is going to be a success.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

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