Tuesday 4 March 2014

Anime REVIEW: Mobile Fighter G Gundam

The cast of Mobile Fighter G Gundam

I'll be honest - despite proclaiming myself as a big anime/mecha fan my knowledge of the Mobile Suit Gundam franchise is minimal. I watched Gundam Wing a fair few years ago, but I've mostly remained uninterested until Gundam Build Fighters came into my life late last year and changed everything (but more on that in a future review). So after much pestering, I was persuaded to give Mobile Fighter G Gundam a try - a standalone series that I'd heard a lot of good things about despite not being all that talked about. I was interested to say the least.

In this alternate universe to the main Gundam timeline, humanity has mostly left the planet Earth to live on colonies in space. To avoid wars and political struggles, each nation has agreed to participate every four years in a "Gundam Fight" tournament, where representatives battle for the prize of their country having the right to rule all of space for that period. The story takes place in the year FC (Future Century) 60 before the 13th Gundam Fight, and follows martial artist Domon Kasshu - pilot of Neo Japan's Shining Gundam.

Domon Kasshu, the hero of our story
Domon's catchphrase will get inside your head. It is destiny.

However entering the Gundam Fight is only one part of Domon's mission. Domon has been ordered to track down his older brother Kyoji, who allegedly stole Neo Japan's experimental Devil Gundam and travelled down to Earth on a quest for power. With his father placed in a cryogenic state, Domon must bring down the Devil Gundam and restore honour to his family. However as his journey on Earth progresses and Domon meets with fellow fighters, he learns that there is far more at hand than simply the Gundam Fight and bringing his brother to justice.

The Devil Gundam
Devil Gundam: Not as silly as it looks

It's hard to deny that the basic premise of Mobile Fighter G Gundam isn't completely insane - after all, its about martial artists fighting a giant robot tournament for the prize of having their nation rule the world. Despite being an alternate universe story, it still adheres to the Gundam franchise's stereotypical story of space colonies and political strife while at the same time making it fresh and interesting. However while the Gundam Fight itself doesn't take up a whole lot of the story, it's presence is felt throughout the course of G Gundam and only does its real significance become very clear at the end. 

Goodbye Shining Gundam, hello God Gundam
Main suit changeovers have never been so beautiful

Another aspect of the show which is more than likely to have drawn new viewers in is the Gundam suits themselves, which are far more unique and varied than their Universal Century (the main Gundam timeline) counterparts. While Domon's Shining (and later God) Gundams look like your average poster child Gundam (albeit far more awesome in motion), most of the other Gundams that appear are such hilarious stereotypes that it's hard to believe that the show can play them so straight-faced. Neo Denmark's Mermaid Gundam is a robot in a fish suit, Neo Mexico's hilarious named Tequila Gundam wears a sombrero, Neo Holland's Nether Gundam is a freaking windmill...and so on and so forth. Now the ones I've mentioned are more background/one-shot characters than the recurring ones, but they don't stick in your mind any less which just goes to show how memorable each and every suit is in the show. And as you'll see when watching, even the silliest of Gundams can pack a mean punch. 

The Undefeated of the East - Master Asia

Of course even with the craziest robot designs this side of anime, a 49-episode series like G Gundam was never going to get very far without the characters to back it up. And the fact that this show would still probably be good even if it didn't have giant robots goes to show how just great these characters are. Domon Kasshu is everything you want in a pilot/fighter - undisputedly badass, but not overpowered nor perfect to the point where he can do no wrong. He makes mistakes, he gets knocked down and occasionally you'll find yourself screaming at the screen for him being an idiot - but that's what makes him Domon Kasshu, and that is what makes him awesome. However he isn't the only character battling for that top spot in viewers' hearts, as much like the Gundams themselves their pilots often prove to be more than the horrible stereotypes they appear to be. Whether it's the insanely badass "Undefeated of the East" Master Asia, American-hearthrob boxer Chibodee Crocket, chivalrous Frenchman George de Sand or (my personal favourite) mysterious German ninja Schwarz Bruder, there isn't a single main character that could be labelled as "forgettable.

Neo Sweden's Nobel Gundam, it's a girl alright...
Look at this closely. Only here would this be a thing.

Featuring politics, drama, romance and most importantly completely over the top action, Mobile Fighter G Gundam is a series quite not like any other and one that gets far less praise than it deserves.  Branching out into the world of super robots arguably proved to be one of the best decisions the Gundam franchise ever made, creating a unique and interesting story while at the same time clearly being a Gundam production through and through. 49 episodes might seem like a lot and I freely admit that there were occasions where I wondered if the show could have benefitted from being shorter, but as those final credits roll it becomes clear not a second was wasted. I'm not denying for a second that G Gundam isn't completely cheesy (because it really is - and that's half the charm), but it is cleverer that it lets on. And above all it's INCREDIBLY fun - and could you ask for much more from a show than that?

Now repeat after me, "THIS HAND OF MINE IS BURNING RED..."

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