SRW and Gundam HOTNEWS

The God That is Possibility: Gundam Unicorn 01
February 25, 2010, 11:46 am
Filed under: Gallery, Gundam, Gundam Unicorn | Tags: , , ,

When Gundam was first forced down my throatI first started watching Gundam, I was unilaterally dissatisfied. I have come a long way since, and have seen many of the shows in the franchise and am very much fond of the franchise as a whole. My love and fondness is tested and proven by many of the things that still bug me about the whole thing. Some major, some minor, but the net result is that Gundam never really fulfilled its possibility given the immense library it has.

Not to say it doesn’t have its moments. Such moments can be sublime, as far as I’m concerned. But for the most part there are lots and lots of things that I must work hard to rationalize and apologize for. Without doing so I will fail to enjoy myself watching the shows. It’s beyond mere suspension of disbelief, but I don’t know what to call it.

A lot of it may have to do with the creation, and direction of Tomino Yoshiyuki, but it’s beyond that. The possibility of Gundam is that it is the finest expression of robot anime. It’s that awesome a possibility. For some people, it may be already that. If that is the case then the expectations for robot anime may indeed be so low. I think there is MUCH more to see and do, not just thematically but also in terms of execution of the most exciting aspect of robot anime: combat.

On both counts, in Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn episode 01 the possibility is being realized.

A more particular and thorough post on this episode will follow in the next few days, but for now I am in the mood for long-winded talk on what Gundam means for me, and how Unicorn reveals itself to me as a rich vein of fulfillment. If fan service can be moving and understated all at once, then I’ve experienced it here.

In 0079, 0080, and Z we are presented with variably grim and dark themes revolving around war and violence. The experience can be immersive and surprising, especially how stark and remorseless it gets. While some, heavy-handedness can occur even in non-Tomino works, the darkness in the shows occur to me remarkably weightless — not like without substance, but more like numbing in how far it goes. The meaning of the deaths are left for me to make much of, despite the lecturing and pontificating throughout the shows.

How Gundam Unicorn’s first episode felt, by use of depth of field (the colony looks both claustrophobia-inducing and forbiddingly vast at the same time), and by the musical score, heavy. There’s gravity to the whole experience. I really felt the dreadful onset of an inevitable war. The betrayals and counter-betrayals of organized humanity felt even more meaningful, standing on the shoulders of series upon series where the machinery of (military/political) organizations discount their morals and scruples for victory, however petty.

The high-school age characters, behave in their environments in notes that are the kind of perfect triviality. I don’t have the vocabulary to distinguish it, only that it feels so far from say the first episodes of, Mobile Suit Gundam SeeD, Code Geass, and Macross Frontier. The other examples have this strange and at times contrived levity: offhand mentions of homework, student council duties, test results rankings… In Unicorn you get a lecture (admittedly standard device for exposition) and a field trip setting. This allows for behavioral and relationship conflicts to play out without feeling too ’slice of lifey.’

When the litany of names are called out by the ‘jilted’ would-be love interest, dead classmates all from stray beam weapon fire, it felt like home, only more beautiful than I remembered it. War is hell.

The current head of the Vist Foundation (Cardeas Vist) saw it fit to lecture the captain of the Neo Zeon remnants. It was a thorough lecture that served as a rather effective exposition of the themes of the Universal Century narrative, going through the history of the Federation vs. Zeon conflicts — through 0079 and past Char’s Counterattack. It was interesting, how the captain tried not to look bored, how he gave the chairman his polite attention through the long speech. It made for a calibrating dynamic for me — I needn’t be bored by this, because this impressive man is toughing it out.

I particularly enjoyed how the cards were revealed: they will not open the mysterious ‘Laplace’s Box’ if their ideals are petty or limited to ‘reviving Zeon.’ They are to be given the key, and the key is Gundam, the Unicorn Gundam is presented as the God of Possibility: a creature from a medieval tapestry. It’s delicious fantasy, to have the titular robot exist within the narrative at a highly mythological level.

Possibility itself is held up as a God. More exciting than hope, and more powerful too, possibility is what inspires — what captures our imagination. Possibility is hype. Possibility is anticipation, expectation far from the cusp of fulfillment and yet never lacking of confidence that it will be realized. Possibility is just about the most awesome thing there is — it is in the realm of the future. For all my rhetoric of ‘remembering love’ it is ultimately a love weighed down by the gravity of history. What’s truly exciting is what’s ahead, the eternal becoming.

Gundam tells the same story over and over: The Earth is threatened by a Malthusian cataclysm. Resources become scarce, nationalism fails in that it fosters conflict. Newtype powers are really about authentic communication without misunderstanding and conflict. Oldtypes fail in that they only see NT powers for its military application — powerful NT = ‘ace pilot.’ Oldtype souls are weighed down by the Earth’s gravity, and are never truly free to embrace the future that is space. There are those who will take these ideals too far, and there will be heroes who will fight them.

Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn is poised to do the same, and some would see this as a failure — how the franchise itself is weighed down by the gravity of its own mass, and refuse to commit to the future (as represented by non-UC/alternate continuity shows). I see differently. I am not content with how the franchise has told the above stories over and over. I think there are many failures, as much as I love the respective shows — I find myself far from satisfied. I love the franchise so much that I want to see the stories fulfill their possibility. Unicorn may just be it!

There is something to be said about perfecting the telling of the story, and the Universal Century is for me, still the best continuity to do it. Is the possibility of perfection better than perfection itself? Not knowing perfection, I think yes. The symbol of the unicorn, is wonderfully fitting. It’s a promise — that this time, funnels make more sense in how they behave in combat; that the show remembers that mobile suits have nuclear engines; there is a Gundam without LOLTOMINO; that a dramatic story can be delivered straight and be taken seriously despite and because there are giant robots in it, no apologies necessary.

For all the little nods this episode gave to the Universal Century’s rich history, it is forward-looking. It posits itself as the fulfillment of the hopes of humanity in coming to space, in leaving the Earth; the possibility of robot anime as an expression of high fantasy, and substantial and fulfilling entertainment.

After 30 years of trying, Gundam might just pull it off. Give me more.

Further Reading

Here is a history via blog posts, of my love affair with Gundam. I think it’s fair to say that I demand more from Gundam as robot anime than from any other show or franchise. This too, is love.

Tsundere for Gundam

Before I knew it, I became a fanboy

I love the Universal Century

Learning to live with LOLTOMINO

While I’m nowhere as critical of the franchise (particularly Mobile Suit Z Gundam) as Ningyo, there’s a lot of good things in his analysis of what Unicorn did well in relation to older Gundam shows (Ningyo 2010/02/21)

Gundam Unicorn ova 1
February 25, 2010, 11:38 am
Filed under: Gundam, Gundam Unicorn | Tags: , , ,

great animation…fuckin beautiful shit. rather talk heavy but it was still entertaining. i piss on the ending tho…just as the protagonist gets his suit its over. as i’ve said in a previous post, i don’t have high hopes for this series…the plot from what i know of it, is fucking stupid. the animation makes it worth watching so far tho…tho i expect as the story progresses into stupidity, as i know it will, i’ll find myself less and less caring about the quality animation lol.

and wtf is with all the alias shit in this story lol. can’t just call her mineva; u gotta pretend she’s some bitch named audrey for awhile…which first off is about as effective a cover as quattro’s sunglasses, u didn’t even change the character design u just aged it. at least puru twelve (pilot of the Kshatriya) looks different than the original two puru’s cuz they gave her a different haircut….then don’t even get me started on full frontal (who has only been mentioned in the anime so far). i knew he would be the real char, it was obvious…so they elected to do something even fuckin stupider and take the required char clone in every series to a whole new level of dumb.

then we have the full psychoframe of the unicorn and its eventual full armor mode…i don’t even wanna start on my rant about lack of piloting skill, and gift-wrapped god-modes again…

this first ova was pretty good tho…talk heavy but entertaining. if ur not a seasoned gundam fan tho its probably confusing as fuck tho, but at this point given the length of the u.c. timeline thats pretty much guranteed. they can’t do exposition on the one year war, gryps conflict, 1st neo-zeon war, and 2nd neo zeon war to set this shit up…the whole first ova would be exposition lol. none the less it probably makes the ep incredibly boring if u dont know the past of u.c.

the action of course is fuckin awesome due to the animation mainly. tho i would have liked to see the unicorn get to do more in the first ova…i also don’t like him immediately going to ntd mode, again i’m not a fan of instant god-mode. i mean if amuro can stop a meteor the size of a state with his mind with a cock-pit only psychoframe an entire suit being a psychoframe should let this fuck shoot mind bullets or some shit. he already made a psychic shield blocking a good ten beam shots (i didn’t count its a guess so don’t be an asshole who corrects the count) while transforming to ntd…which a psychic beam barrier in u.c. is old news but i mean REALLY first fight he’s doing it? at least kamille didn’t do it till the very end of Z.

i also have to mention i’m surprised and impressed that bangher can fight…like fist fight. usually u take a pilot out the suit he ain’t got shit, hence char’s idea to get amuro into a fencing duel in a baou qu. now don’t get me wrong char and amuro  could both handle themselves outside their suits cuz the beat the shit out of each other out of their suits at least twice i remember…but bangher actually had some real martials moves, thats a rarity. sure kamille knew karate (which is a shit art but thats a whole nother blog lol) but we never saw him use it. so an actually bad ass out of his suit is rarely shown in gundam…hell only one i can think of really is ali from 00.

moral of the story good ep, main suit is obviously overpowered and it hasn’t even done anything yet lol, bangher is surprisingly a good fighter, the plot is fine now but will quickly derail into stupidity. so watch enjoy the animation, and be glad the story isn’t dumb yet.

Strike Rouge & Freedom Gundam Model Kit

Mobile Suit Gundam MS IGLOO

Mobile Suit Gundam MS IGLOO (機動戦士ガンダム MS IGLOO?) is a series of CGI feature short films of the popular Gundam meta-series. The series’ storyline takes place during the One Year War of the Universal Century. Two series have been released under the original title: The Hidden One Year War, which was exclusively shown at Bandai Museum in Matsudo, Japan but has seen a limited release on DVD, and Apocalypse 0079, an OVA series released on DVD starting in April, 2006. The director of MS IGLOO is Takashi Imanishi (previously directed Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory), and Yutaka Izubuchi is the supervisor.

A sequel series, Mobile Suit Gundam MS IGLOO 2: The Gravity Front, was released on October, 2008.


Mobile Suit Gundam MS IGLOO

Taking place during the One Year War in the year U.C. 0079, MS IGLOO follows the missions of the crew of a former civilian cargo ship Jotunheim (named after the land of the giants in Norse mythology), which has been commissioned to become an experimental support ship by the Principality of Zeon to test various prototype weapons for combat use. However, the crews also served as witnesses to the cruelty of the war, as well as Zeon’s path from initial successes to the eventual fate of defeat. What distinguished this show from others is that the main character of the series, Engineer Lieutenant Oliver May, is not a mobile suit pilot, but a technical officer who monitors and reports the weapons testing.

This show is the first to depict some events early in the One Year War that have not been shown in a Gundam anime previously, including Operation British (before the colony hits Earth), the Battle of Loum and the Earth Drop Operations. It also features some of the biggest mecha designer names in the industry, including Yutaka Izubuchi and Hajime Katoki.

Although it is the first Universal Century Gundam series since Mobile Suit Gundam: The 08th MS Team, which was last released in 1999, MS IGLOO had been a relatively low-key project compared with contemporary Gundam series such as Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny. The Hidden One Year War has only seen a limited DVD release, though it has been available for rental in Japanese stores starting 2006. Apocalypse 0079 by contrast was given a mass release, and as a result it managed to reach a few Top 5 Anime DVD charts.

Mobile Suit Gundam MS IGLOO 2: Gravity Front

Mobile Suit Gundam MS IGLOO 2: The Gravity Front (機動戦士ガンダム MS IGLOO 2 重力戦線, Kidō Senshi Gandamu MS IGLOO 2 Juuryoku-sensen?) was announced on March 25, 2008. The series would consist of three 30-minute episodes and have its setting based on Earth and from Earth Federation’s point of view. The 3D CGI will be in high definition, higher in quality than what was seen in the previous productions. The production staff is largely unchanged, though the mecha designers behind the design works in this series are Yutaka Izubuchi, Kimitoshi Yamane, Takuhito Kusanagi, Shinji Aramaki and Fumihiro Katagai. The super high-detail designs will appear in the U.C. Hardgraph line and be used as is in the animation.

The 1st episode “Shoot at that Death!” was officially released on October 24, 2008. The 2nd episode “King of the Land, Forward!” was released on January 23, 2009. The 3rd episode “Odessa, Iron Storm!” was released on April 24, 2009.

Mobile Suit Gundam Evolve
February 11, 2010, 11:56 am
Filed under: Gundam, Gundam Evolve | Tags: , , ,

Gundam Evolve (ガンダムEVOLVE?), also known as Mobile Suit Gundam Evolve, is a series of short films set in the different timelines of the Gundam series. Originally there were only five Evolve episodes, produced from 2001 to 2003, Bandai started to create new Evolve episodes in 2004. While the first few episodes took place in the Universal Century, the new clips also show Gundams from the other timelines.

The clips often show alternative scenes, side-stories or omakes for fans. The clips feature a mix of animation media which go from traditional cels to 3-D CG rendering to even cell-shaded 2-D animation. The target is to show the Gundams and other mobile suits in high-quality CGI. Currently 15 episodes has been released in three separate volumes, namely Gundam Evolve ../+ (“Plus”), Gundam Evolve ../Ω (“Omega”) and Gundam Evolve ../Α (“Alpha”). Each volume consists of 5 episodes.

The logo features a battered Core Fighter floating upside down, as seen on the final episode of the original Mobile Suit Gundam series.

Gundam the Ride: A Baoa Qu
February 11, 2010, 11:51 am
Filed under: Gundam, Gundam the Ride: A Baoa Qu | Tags: , , ,

“Gundam the Ride: A Baoa Qu” was an amusement park attraction at the Fuji-Q Highland Amusement Park located in Fujiyoshida, Yamanashi, Japan.

Gundam the Ride, which opened to the public on July 20, 2000, was based on Mobile Suit Gundam. Set during the final chaotic Battle of A Baoa Qu on December 31, Universal Century 0079, Gundam the Ride places its riders in the place of civilian passengers onboard an Escape Launch Shuttle about to leave the battleship Suruga en route to Side 6. Of course once the Escape Launch leaves the Suruga it is immediately caught up in the tumult of war and must be escorted to safety by two GM pilots, Earth Federation Forces aces and members of the notorious “Jack the Halloween” Team, Jack Bayard and Adam Stingray.

The animation of Gundam the Ride used mostly computer graphics to create the large and engrossing space battles and mobile suits. However, all instances where a human character appears on screen while talking to the riders were created by hand-drawn cel animation, similar to the style current Gundam video games are done in. All of the character designs for Gundam the Ride were done by Mikimoto Haruhiko.

Like most themed rides Gundam the Ride had its own themed gift shop, called Gundam Mania, which was staffed by people dressed as Gundam characters. At the time of its opening Gundam Mania was the largest Gundam shop ever built, although it no longer holds that position. This gift shop sells vast amounts of Gundam-related merchandise, including t-shirts, model kits, videos and DVDs, various toys, and Gundam-themed snacks, as well as some unique merchandise which is produced exclusively for Gundam the Ride.

The Halloween team, as well as the Escape Launch, make a cameo appearance in the video game “Encounters in Space” while the player (playing as Amuro Ray in his Gundam) is making his way through the Dolos.

The ride closed on January 8, 2007, replaced by a new attraction named “Gundam Crisis” which features a full size 1:1 Gundam after July, 2007.

Mobile Suit Gundam: The 08th MS Team
February 11, 2010, 11:48 am
Filed under: Gundam, Gundam: The 08th MS Team | Tags: , ,

The anime series Mobile Suit Gundam: The 08th MS Team (機動戦士ガンダム 第08MS小隊, Kidō Senshi Gandamu Dai Zerohachi Emu Esu Shōtai?) is a twelve-episode Gundam OVA series that takes place during the One Year War, and depicts the point of view of the common soldier rather than that of the Newtype aces. The series takes place concurrently with the original Mobile Suit Gundam, therefore, in terms of the timeline, 08th MS Team begins after the start of Mobile Suit Gundam and ends before the television series culminates. The release of the OVA began in 1996 and ended in 1999. A twelfth epilogue episode, called “Last Resort”, was released a few months after the series ended, and featured a more surreal plotline than the rest of the series.

The series taking such a long time to be released (Last Resort was released a full three and a half years after the series began) was largely due to the sudden death of director Takeyuki Kanda in July 1996. The series was later completed by a new director, GONZO’s Umanosuke Iida. The first eleven episodes of 08th MS Team were shown on Cartoon Network in 2001. “Last Resort” was never shown on television because Cartoon Network allegedly did not want to show an episode that revolved around children being drafted into the military. However, all twelve episodes are on the DVD release.[1][2]

Plot summary

The series is set in Universal Century year 0079 in the jungles of Southeast Asia. The Earth Federation and the Principality of Zeon are fighting a brutal guerrilla war for control of the area and its resources. Zeon’s best hope for victory in the region rests with an experimental mobile armor and its pilot, Aina Sahalin. Meanwhile the Earth Federal Army, which has been fighting the Zeon in the region, receive reinforcements in the form of Ensign Shiro Amada, newly named commander of the 08th MS Team. Aina and Shiro know each other from a mutual rescue in space, but when Shiro discovers that Aina is in fact the pilot of the Zeon mobile armor he is arrested for treason. The Federation offers Shiro one chance at redemption: He must take the 08th MS Team deep into Zeon held territory to find Zeon’s hidden base. With the Zeon backed into a corner, and the Federation dependent on Shiro and his team for victory, the star crossed lovers must decide where their true allegiances lie: with each other, or with their respective sides.

Mobile Suit Victory Gundam
February 11, 2010, 11:44 am
Filed under: Gundam, Victory Gundam | Tags: , , , ,

Mobile Suit Victory Gundam, known in Japan as Mobile Suit V Gundam (機動戦士Vガンダム, Kidō Senshi Vikutori Gandamu?), is a 1993 Japanese science fiction anime television series. It consists of 51 episodes, and was directed by Gundam creator Yoshiyuki Tomino. The series was first broadcast on TV Asahi (and it’s ANN stations) and later by the anime satellite television network, Animax, across Japan and later its respective networks worldwide, including Hong Kong, Southeast Asia, East Asia, and other regions.

Plot summary

Victory Gundam is set in UC 0153, and succeeds the Federation and Crossbone Vanguard conflict of Gundam F-91.

The greatly weakened Earth Federation comes under attack by the forces of the spaceborn Zanscare Empire; only the AEUG-like League Militaire stands in their way. The mass-produced Victory Gundam is the League Militaire’s secret weapon against the invading BESPA.

Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory

Stardust Memory TitleMobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory (機動戦士ガンダム0083 STARDUST MEMORY, Kidō Senshi Gandamu 0083 Stardust Memory?) is a 13-episode anime OVA series set in the Gundam universe. The first volume containing two 30-minute episodes was released in Japan on May 23, 1991. Subsequent volumes, containing one 30-minute episode each, followed every one or two months; the final volume went on sale on September 24, 1992. The series was directed by Mitsuko Kase (Episodes 1–7) and Takashi Imanishi (Eps 8–13). The characters were designed by Toshihiro Kawamoto. Gundam 0083 is licensed in North America by Bandai Entertainment and is available on VHS and DVD.

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Mobile Suit Gundam 0080: War in the Pocket

Mobile Suit Gundam 0080: War in the Pocket (機動戦士ガンダム0080 ポケットの中の戦争 Kidō Senshi Gandamu 0080 Poketto no Naka no Sensō?) is a 1989 Japanese science fiction original video animation series, the first such series in the Gundam franchise. It is also the first time anyone other than creator Yoshiyuki Tomino was given a chance to direct a Gundam story. Released in 1989, it serves to commemorate Gundam‘s ten-year anniversary. As suggested by its subtitle, “War in the Pocket,” it is a small, personal story; a side story focusing on the experiences of a ten-year-old boy during the One Year War.

Gundam 0080 also began an enduring tradition of retroactive redesigns. Yutaka Izubuchi updated the original Mobile Suit Gundam‘s dated mechanical designs and costumes, and since then every new creative team has offered its own take on the classic Gundam props.

Not being penned by Tomino, Gundam 0080 also marked a significant departure from the constant background theme of Newtypes featured in the Universal Century Gundam universe, since the original Mobile Suit Gundam up until Char’s Counterattack. The absence of this theme raised the series’ appeal towards audiences without special liking of Gundam and Tomino’s work[1] and would continue in many following Gundam stories narrating about ordinary soldiers and people in these conflicts.

The character designer for this series was Haruhiko Mikimoto (Macross franchise, Megazone 23, Gunbuster).

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