Saturday, November 16, 2013

Mobile Fighter G Gundam Anime Review

Mobile Fighter G Gundam
Kido Butoden Ji Gandamu or Mobile Fighting Legend G Gundam
Bandai Entertainment
Complete Collection - 12 discs
1275 minutes - 49 episodes
$49.98 (2006) Collection Parts 1-2/ea.
$49.98 (2003-2004) Box Sets 1-4/ea.
$19.98 (2002-2003) Vol. 1-12 /ea.
ISBN 669198801570
Japanese/English Audio - Japanese Subtitles
Director -Yasuhiro Imagawa
Studio - Sunrise

Synopsis: The year is Future Century 60 and much of the Earth is a ruined wasteland.  The rich and powerful have left the planet behind in order to live in orbiting space colonies.  Each colony corresponds to an influential nation of the world - Neo America, Neo Japan, and Neo Russia to name a few.  The Gundam Fight was developed to minimize casualties and property damage between nation colonies.  Each nation sends their own Gundam into the fray every four years to determine who will rule until the next fight.  The Earth is the ring as Gundams battle each other across its face causing massive damage.  FC60 sees the 13th Gundam Fight and Domon Kasshu in his Shining Gundam is the fighter for Neo Japan.
The Gundam Fight decides which country rules for the next four years
Domon is a hot-headed yet incredibly skilled martial artist whose natural talents are enhanced when he pilots his Gundam.  He is supported by Rain Mikamura as his talented mechanic and childhood friend.  Domon is obsessed with finding the whereabouts of his brother Kyoji and the renegade Dark Gundam.  Their father was the inventor of the Dark Gundam until Kyoji went rogue and fell to Earth.  Now Domon scours the globe searching for clues to find his missing brother and battling any Gundams who cross his path.  He wishes to free his father who is held in a cryogenic state by Japan's government as punishment for creating the Dark Gundam.
Domon searches for clues to his renegade brother's whereabouts
Each Gundam is equipped with the 'Mobile Trace System' which allows an unprecedented alignment of movement between pilot and machine.  This system allowed martial artists and fighters to rise to the top as Gundam pilots, and even mimics their special attacks.  The most successful Gundam fighters are the ones whose machines have been designed to enhance and emphasize their strengths as combatants.  Domon utilizes a devastating attack called the 'Shining Finger' which can destroy an enemy Gundam's head with one blow.  He is a true martial artist and speaks best through his fighting.
Domon's special finishing attack 'Shining Finger'
Along the way Domon battles some very strong fighters including:
  • Neo America - Gundam Maxter piloted by Chibodee Crocket, the champion boxer who grew up in the slums of New York and made a name for himself as a fighter.  He wants to win the Gundam Fight to inspire the poor and downtrodden in his homeland.  His Gundam resembles a football player, is equipped with two guns resembling a gunslinger's revolvers, the shoulder-pads can attack to the hands as boxing gloves, and a shield which turns into a flying surfboard.  He is supported by four beautiful and skilled women - Shirly, Janet, Cath, and Bunny
  • Neo France - Gundam Rose piloted by George de Sand, a chivalrous gentleman who prizes honor above all else.  He desires to win the Gundam Fight to bring honor to his country and impress Princess Marie Louise.  His Gundam is equipped with a fencing sword and most notably the 'Rose Bits' which are mentally controlled flying weapons with several features.  They can fire small beams, are numerous, and can gather together as a shield.  He is aided by his trusty manservant Raymond.
  • Neo China - Dragon Gundam piloted by Sai Saici, a young martial artist and prodigal of the Shaolin Temple who wishes to restore them by winning the tournament.  He is a typical youngster prone to goofing around, but also a supreme martial artist.  He also likes to cook and has lost out on a normal childhood due to his intense training.  His Gundam has dragon claw arms which can extend, they expel fire, is equipped with many poles which can produce a barrier around opponents, and a pointed braid.  He is helped by two Shaolin monks, Zuisen and Keiun.  
  • Neo Russia - Bolt Gundam piloted by Argo Gulskii, a former space pirate who is locked up in a Siberian prison along with the rest of his crew.  He wishes to win the tournament and free his crew.  His Gundam is highly armored, very strong, and equipped with magnetic balls which detach from the shoulders.  He is watched over by the attractive prison warden, Natasha.  
From left (front row) - Sai Saici, Argo Gulskii, Rain Mikimura, Domon Kashu
Chibodee Crocket, George de Sand, and the Burning/Shining Gundams (back)
The Dark Gundam makes itself known by terrorizing Japan and creating the Dark Army.  Domon is compelled to find it along with his renegade brother, Kyoji.  He encounters his teacher, Master Asia, who won the 12th Gundam Fight piloting the Haow Gundam for Neo Hong Kong.  The relief Domon feels at finding his old master is overshadowed by the revelations of the capabilities of the Dark Gundam.  Will Master Asia support his old student or seek to retain his lofty title 'Undefeated of the East'.  A mysterious group called the Shuffle Alliance surfaces to oppose both the Dark Gundam and the current batch of fighters.  What is their true purpose and intentions for our heroes and who is the King of Hearts?  
Master Asia - Domon's former teacher and returning Gundam Fight champion
Many other nation's Gundams engage in matches and fight for a seat in the final battle royale.  The final tournament site is the seat on Earth of Neo Hong Kong and presided over by the politician Wong Yunfat. These Gundams include:
  • Neo England's Royal Gundam piloted by Gentle Chapman, a three-time winner of the Gundam Fight and normally has impeccable sportsmanship. Now he's an aging fighter attempting to stay in the game by any means necessary
  • Neo Italy's Neros Gundam piloted by Michelo Chariot, a corrupt fighter who attempts to win at any cost and cares little for 
  • Neo Sweden's Nobel Gundam piloted by Allenby Beardsley, a young female fighter.  She harbors secret behind her success
  • Neo Germany's Shadow Gundam piloted by Schwartz Bruder, a mysterious masked fighter who harbors a strong interest in Domon
  • Neo Nepal's Mandala Gundam piloted by Kyral Mekirel, a deadly assassin who kills his opponents before matches
  • Neo Canada's Grizzly Gundam piloted by Andrew Graham, a former space researcher who has an undying hatred for Neo Russia's fighter, Argo Gulskii
Watch out for...Mermaid Gundam!  A Gundam based on a fish.
The tournament continues as Domon gets closer to finding answers about the Dark Gundam and his missing brother. What wedge will be driven between Domon and Rain concerning the origin of the Dark Gundam?  Who are the Four Kings?  What lies in wait for Domon and will he recognize his true friends before it's too late?  Can the 13th Gundam Fight possibly continue under the looming threat of the Dark Gundam?

Gundam Fight all set!  Ready!! Go!!!
Domon chases after the Dark Gundam and his brother, Kyoji
Pros: Lots of really cool looking and unique Gundam designs which are specific to each nation, opening theme songs (there were two) were catchy, Domon and Master Asia are badass fighters - they're a great team, Rain is very attractive and wears a mini-skirt, Dark (aka Devil) Gundam was fairly menacing, Shadow Gundam (Spiegel) was another really neat design and plot twist, plot builds in excitement as the series goes on, lots of little cameos by mobile suits/robots from other series (Wing Gundam, RX-78-2, Gundam F91, and more), the toys for this show were pretty awesome (particularly the gold 'hyper mode' ones)
Why does Neo Germany's pilot, Schwartz Bruder, take an interest in Domon?
Cons: For every cool Gundam design there is a goofy one (Neo Spain turns into a giant bull head?, Mermaid Gundam is...a fish?, and Neo India's Cobra Gundam looks like a cobra, sheesh) not to mention most of the character designs were silly (especially Chibodee's hairstyle!), with all the gimmicks and tournament-style fights this isn't Gundam - it's Dragon Ball!, this version of Gundam is far less mature and 'real-type' than traditional versions, Domon is a thick-headed dolt for most of the series, incredibly simple characters and situations
Domon unlocks the 'Hyper Mode' for his Shining Gundam turning it gold-hued
Mike Tells It Straight: Mobile Fighter G Gundam was a controversial departure from the traditional themes of the Gundam series franchise.  Mobile Suit Gundam originally aired in 1979-80 and was the first 'Real Robot' series which depicted giant robots set against a war-torn background.  It focused on poignant stories and became a sensation based on sales of toy model kits.  Successive Gundam series all followed the same formula to differing degrees of success.  These included Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam, Mobile Suit Gundam 0080: War in the Pocket, Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory, and many others.
Domon holds Allenby after the two finish a devastating battle
By the 1990s the Gundam franchise had been relying on the same themes for over a decade.  A new series was developed which was heavily influenced by the desire to sell [a lot of] new toys and latch onto the current successes of fighting/tournament genre anime series (primarily the very successful Dragon Ball Z and Street Fighter video game franchise).  The series departed from the 'Real Robot' genre, left behind the human perspective on the turmoils of war, and focused on a multi-national tournament.  The director was seasoned veteran Yasuhiro Imagawa, most famous at the time for storyboarding these epic 1980s series: Aura Battler Dunbine and Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam.  He resurrected the Giant Robo franchise with an OVA version directly prior to making this series.
The Dark (Devil) Gundam looms overhead and possesses the power
of regeneration along with many other dangerous abilities 
This series had the full backing of Bandai and was crafted primarily to sell toys, but director Imagawa's creative dedication instilled the work with its own voice.  Some amazing mechanical designs came out of this show - the Dark (Devil) Gundam, Master Gundam, Burning (God) Gundam, Shining Gundam, and Shadow Gundam were incredible.  The toys produced from this show were really fun and I picked up the entire domestic release of the action figures (from the Mobile Suit In Action aka MSIA line originally released in Japan)   These were Gundam designs unfettered by the confines of 'Real Robot' or even the laws of physics. Just pure cool and silliness.
G Gundam toys! (from left) - Shadow Gundam, Rising Gundam (front), Walter
Gundam (back and holding Berserker Nobel Gundam), Burning (God) Gundam,
Dark (Devil) Gundam, and Dark (Death) Army (Beast configuration)
The audience for the show was definitely not the die-hard Gundam fans from the 1980s who were steadily maturing in age.  They protested the loudest when this series was released.  Instead the producers and toy makers wanted to create a show for younger viewers essentially to refresh the fan-base.  It's action-packed with a fairly simple plot and some character drama.  The characters are straight-forward and the plot progression is mostly formulaic (introduction to the main fighters and then the final tournament).  Domon relies on ever-increasing power from new techniques to win each fight.
The 'Hyper Mode' toys were crazy and look gold-plated.  From left -
Gundam Maxter, Gundam Rose, Shining Gundam, Burning Gundam,
Bolt Gundam, and Dragon Gundam
I found the standout points of this series to be the relationships between certain characters.  Domon and Master Asia's student/teacher past was great to see.  The relief Domon feels when he sees Master again is great and you can tell the pair of fighters are truly unstoppable together.  Domon and Rain's relationship was just as good, but far more difficult to genuinely portray for the creators.  Rain truly cares for Domon who is fueled by this intense mission of revenge.  He usually dismisses her advice and treats her unkindly.  I disliked him quite a bit at the beginning of the show.  Even the relationship between Domon and his renegade brother Kyoji ended up being worthwhile.
Domon summons the 'Burning Finger' in his new Burning (God) Gundam
G Gundam is one of those love-hate anime.  You either love it or hate it with equal fervor.  It's a long series at 49 episodes and quite a commitment to watch in its entirety.  The series is easily split into two parts: 1) Domon's pursuit of Kyoji and the Dark Gundam and 2) the tournament saga and final battle.  It's over-the-top and the plot is geared for younger viewers, but the mecha designs and toys were great.  It was the first alternate-reality (outside of the Universal Century timeline) series which spawned a score of others (most notably Gundam Wing).  I liked the personal relationships and progressive buildup of the plot, but at times it felt pretty darn corny.  Despite the silliness I still enjoyed the series and have sat through it twice, but the recent second viewing was much less positive (I blame it on getting old).  It's such a departure from your typical Gundam show and aligns itself to the 'Super Robot' shows of the past, but crossed with a tournament series.  Younger viewers (or those young at heart) will love the giant-robot-smashing action and special moves (hyper mode was pretty neat), but sophisticated Gundam fans will likely hate it.
The new Shuffle Alliance - Gundam Rose/George de Sand (top left), Dragon
Gundam/Sai Saici (bottom left), Burning Gundam/Domon Kasshu/Rain
Mikimura (center), Bolt Gundam/Argo Gulskii (top right), and Gundam
Maxter/Chibodee Crocket (bottom right)
TO BUY and Recommendations: