Re: Gundam: An Introduction
Outline Part One or "How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Tomino"
So there was this dude who hated humanity called Yoshiyuki Tomino. He'd gotten his directorial training by Tezuka (which is likely why he hates humanity come to think of it), and his practical experience working with Nagahama. He seemed to like making shows with big robots, and he seemed to like killing characters as much as possible (if it's a violent ep of Voltes V, it's likely one of his). When he first got to truly direct something, he made a show that taught kids all around Japan just how horrifying repelling alien invaders is. He then made a James Bond parody with alarmingly well thought-out sci-fi ideas about losing your humanity.
He didn't like the limits that sponsours had put on robot shows (and indeed, a lot of cartoons), so he decided to make a sci-fi story about a war between humans, where robots are just a tool of war. The chief sponsour, Clover, didn't like this as it meant they couldn't sell crazy die-cast toys. Thus, through Tomino continually locking horns and being forced to come to compromises, Mobile Suit Gundam was born. The show was actually cancelled towards the end of its run, as Clover had had enough and Sunrise was running low on money. This turned out to be a good idea, as it sped the charge towards the conclusion up and made the final stretch of the show one of the best.
A couple of years later, this company called Bandai watched it. They made model kits for a living, and figured that the whole war machine idea might work well for model kits. They gave Sunrise some money, told Tomino to condense the show into three movies for a theatrical release, and started repeats. The added press, and people actually watching the show this time resulted in the beginning of a great deal of income for Bandai, and a life of continual rage for Tomino.
So, just how is the show?
If you want to compare Mobile Suit Gundam to anything, I'd say compare it to the original Star Trek. Its animation is woefully dated. Its writing is somewhat stiff. It has moments of immense camp. Yet, despite all this there's some damn nifty ideas. Theorising that continual living in space would enhance brains is outlandish, but kind of makes sense. Making up a branch of fake physics to try and justify your robots being used in warfare is cool. The world has some interesting political dynamics. Indeed, the main thing that draws people into Gundam is the fact that it hjas an interesting concept for a world, and it explores it in various ways. Ways that usually involve teenagers finding robots and becoming psychics.
Gundam started to gain popularity, and the idea of more militaristic robots started to take a hold, as 80s anime moved into more serious territory. The success of shows such as Fang of the Sun Dougram and Armored Trooper VOTOMS put Ryousuke Takahashi on the map, and Tomino continued to dabble in series that dance around the edge of gritty realism in favour of throwing around ideas. Still, it was Gundam that had kicked it off, and it was Gundam that was really building a fanbase. So, despite Tomino's distinct dislike of sequels, he eventually created Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam.
Zeta's when things get much more serious. More angst, more physical violence, and far more genuine assholes. The sho's a huge departure from the original in execution, and starts to really ramp up Tomino's disdain for how wasteful mankind can be, and really starts throwing down one of his favourite messages: the evils of stagnation and old age. In some ways its pacing is even odder, but again it's still a good watch.
However, given that the world is still pretty screwed at the end, and how much attention Zeta received (Newtype Magazine started as a Gundam fanzine part-way through Zeta's airing), a sequel was inevitable. Thus, the mess that is ZZ Gundam was born. Much like how he followed up Ideon with Xabungle, or Zambot 3 with Daitarn 3, ZZ is (at least initially) a comedy. Unsurprisingly, it's a rather jarring move and will doubtlessly cause aggravation.
Partway through production, Tomino received permission to make a movie after ZZ. Since a lot of money would be riding on it, Tomino pulled a bunch of the ideas for the second half of ZZ out, jumped ship on the show and ran away to make the movie, putting less experienced directors and writers in charge. Thus, the second half of ZZ is basically the second half of Heavy Metal L-gaim ...but with NEWTYPES. Things fall apart here, and the ending has some pretty infuriating moments. However, you still need the context of ZZ if you want to understand motivations for a certain blonde-haired manchild in Char's Counterattack.
CCA is amazing. It has a plain but well made visual style, and some damn good music (as have all the shows mentioned up until now, incidentally). What really makes it so amazing is the writing. It is some of the driest dialogue you will ever hear. Again, there are some cool ideas explored, and the whole film is basically two small-scale battles. But the writing is comedic gold. If you need something to riff on with mates and you've worn out your last copy of Yor: Hunter From the Future, this film is the way to go.
Although I don’t know about the directions at 4:51.
It’s commonly known when you look north in Japan East is to your left. Please don’t try to correct that sentence. It lasts only for a second but I wouldn’t expect a mistake like that.