Thursday, May 20, 2010
Anime review: Mobile Fighter G Gundam
Following my introduction to Gundam with 08th MS Team, Cartoon Network aired Mobile Fighter G Gundam on their Toonami programming block. Some viewers felt that the series was too ridiculous in comparison to other Gundam works, both in regards to the plot and characters. However different it was from 08th MS Team and Gundam Wing, I enjoyed G Gundam, though I wasn’t exactly sold on the series right from the start.
G Gundam follows Domon Kasshu as he competes in the thirteenth Gundam fight on behalf of Neo-Japan for governance of the colonies. Piloting the Shining Gundam, Domon makes his way through each round by travelling around the globe and challenging competitors from various nations. Though not as much of a caring and understanding lead character as Amuro Ray, Domon channels his emotions most often in battle, utilizing his rage and frustration (or as he words it: “my love, my anger, and all of my sorrow!”) to activate Shining Gundam’s strongest attack known as the Shining Finger. Domon can come off to viewers as being cocky on more than one occasion, but he is quite the capable pilot.
Aside from Domon, the show gradually incorporates a host of other Gundam pilots as major characters. George de Sand, Chibodee Crocket, Sai Saici, and Argo Gulskii represent their respective countries of Neo-France, Neo-America, Neo-China, and Neo-Russia. Master Asia begins as Domon’s mentor, but later becomes one of his greatest enemies, joining the Dark Army of the Devil Gundam (aka Dark Gundam). Each new opponent that Domon encounters utilizes a distinctly different battle tactic, and as such the fight sequences in G Gundam rarely feel repetitive. While the show tries to sell these fights as the main focus, there are plenty of occasions where Domon and Rain Mikamura spend time exploring the locales and dealing with the trouble that sometimes follows them there. As such, viewers are given a great number of chances to learn more about the pilots. The characters, save for a few exceptions, don’t see much change over the course of the series.
While the major characters are, for the most part, enjoyable (though perhaps a bit stereotypical), most of the other combatants receive a fairly minimal inclusion in the show and viewers are therefore unable to really get much of a feel for who they are. This can be good or bad, depending on how one takes to it, as it keeps the story more focused but also limits the number of characters explored. Joining late into the series are the two recurring characters of Allenby Beardsley of Neo-Sweden and Schwartz Bruder of Neo-Germany. Both characters stick to a basic formula, with the former included to try and cause some drama in the developing relationship between Domon and Rain. Schwartz Bruder, cold and serious as he may be, proves important for the focus of the second half of the show and reveals a great deal of information to Domon regarding the Dark Army and the Devil Gundam.
The art style is full of vibrant colors, though the environments are fairly detailed and follow a significantly darker style to accommodate for the shift in the series’ mood during the second half. The soundtrack is heavy on brass, drums, and electric guitar and it follows a similar formula to those of other anime series released in the early to mid-1990s. It actually sounds pretty impressive and overall is one of the stronger and more fitting soundtracks to any Gundam series. G Gundam was one of the earlier series dubbed and the voice actors range from doing a decent job to coming off as bored and uninspired. The Japanese voice actors, on the other hand, seem to have taken the series as a less serious project than other Gundam works, as they carry out lines in an over-dramatized manner. With that in mind, I can’t really say that the Japanese voice actors did a real good job with this anime, though many would argue they did a better job than the English voice actors.
Unlike 1995’s Gundam Wing, the series sticks with the same mobile suits throughout the fifty episodes, with the exception of Shining Gundam’s replacement with Burning Gundam (aka God Gundam) and Master Asia’s Kowloon Gundam traded out for Master Gundam. The lead mobile suits of Shining, Rose, Maxter, Dragon, and Bolt Gundam are stylized to fit the mood of the show, but stick pretty close to the traditional Gundam design scheme. Other combatant's mobile suits such as Nether Gundam and Mermaid Gundam show the creativity exercised with the series, although seem rather ridiculous and impractical.
The characters may not be the most deep and the plot far from the serious tone of most Universal Century Gundam series. The series is pure entertainment, somewhere along the lines of incorporating Dragon Ball Z-style action into a Gundam series. Some people will dislike its lack of a political focus and others may think some of the mobile suit designs are simply outrageous. A large number of viewers will probably find the ending disjointed and a failed attempt to change to a more serious and tense storyline. As a 1996 release, G Gundam hasn’t aged quite as well as brethren series like Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory, but it is still a Gundam series and as such is a higher caliber than many other mecha anime series.
My rating: 7.5 (out of 10)