Saturday, April 9, 2005

Mobile Suit Gundam 0079

Genre: Action / Mecha
Parental Guidance Recommended
Credits: 1979 Hajime Yatate, Yoshiyuki Tomino, Sotsu Agency, Sunrise Inc., Bandai Entertainment. Screenshots by GPlus

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Shunichi Sakurai's Description:
The year is Universal Century 0079. Humans are living on Earth and in space colonies around it, with the Earth Federation government ruling over all. However the Principality of Zeon, from a group of colonies farthest from the Earth, decides to revolt and fight for independence using its newfound military might from its robots, called mobile suits. Thus begins the One Year War, and it is here where the Federation spaceship White Base begins its trial of fire...

(42 Episodes)

Probably one of the best Gundam series >>> by Shunichi Sakurai
In its great way, this single-handedly ushered in a new era of mecha. Prior to 1979, robot anime were more or less cut from the same cloth. They all had super powerful weapons, invincible characters and quite overemphasized the protagonists. It took this work of Hajime Yatate and Yoshiyuki Tomino for "real robot" anime to be born—and Gundam was the very first of its genre. From this 42-episode TV series came forth a dynasty of at least 10 others, a handful of OAV series and two movies over the next 25 years.

MSG introduces us to a science-fiction future war setting, not unlike Star Trek. Unlike robot anime of yore, the mobile suits are mostly commonplace and are hardly unique. They are treated not as invincible heroes but simply as tools and machines for war. Even the star of the series, the RX-78-2 Gundam prototype mobile suit, may enjoy some early advantages over Zeon's Zaku IIs, but it too is subject to damage and obsolescence—just like in real wars. The focus is therefore shifted to where it is ultimately more interesting: in the politics and human drama of the opposing forces.

The series follows the service of the EFSF ship White Base, and its motley crew mostly made up of juveniles and civilians. Main protagonist and Gundam pilot Amuro Ray is a young sniveling inventor with an impulsive nature and a whiny attitude. Young officer and acting captain Bright Noa is forced into unfamiliar territory, never expecting having to become leader of a ship full of non-military personnel. Needless to say a significant chunk of the series is dedicated to getting the White Base crew to work as a team, in order to survive in the hostile environs it is ordered to journey through.

Wars are fought with no clear sense of right or wrong and MSG illustrates this point very clearly. The Federation and Zeon simply fight for their beliefs, yet these beliefs aren't necessarily shared by all, such as Zeon ace and famous antagonist Char Aznable. Char willingly fights for Zeon but has his own agenda to follow...

Because this anime was aired in 1979, MSG's spastic animation understandably isn't in the realm of slickness populated by Gundam Wing or Evangelion. It does get the job done, though, and can arguably look better than some subsequent Gundam series. I personally found the music very appealing: military-inspired score with a late-1970s disco vibe to it. The memorable characters however are what drive this anime, and this is where MSG excels greatly—even faring better than most of the newer Gundam TV series. Before this series, major characters never died midway. Consider that as a mild spoiler of just one of the character trends this series introduced into the anime universe.

Sure, it's more than 25 years old, but if you're a fan of mecha you owe it to yourself not to miss this. This series gave mecha anime a soul.

Individual Rating: Art/Animation 6; Story 10; Characters 10; Sounds 8

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