Archive for March, 2011

March 18, 2011

Chris on The Achievements of Gundam Unicorn (Robot Battles)

Original Post: The Possibility of Being SUPER (Robot) and Mobile SuitGundam Unicorn 03 (Also, an Offering of Sympathies to the Japanese People Affected by the Magnitude 8.9 Earthquake)

Chris

March 14, 2011 at 8:48 pm

You know, it’s really hard to give Gundam Unicorn the praise it deserves, without slapping it with a bunch of superlatives, but I’ll try my hardest not to. Take it from an individual who’s a perfectionist in VFX, 3D, and animation in general, as well as constantly having the need to over-analyze everything he watches, but Unicorn is quite possibly the best Gundam series I’ve watched, at least three volumes in. Anyway, back in 2009, I saw the film District 9, which featured one of the coolest mechas I ever saw (this story will be relevant to how I came across Gundam Unicorn), and it revived my interest in mecha and robots in general. But one of the things that made D9 so special to me, is the fact that it balanced solid storytelling, an interesting character arc for the protagonist, and quality action sequences. I remember wanting to find a recent mecha anime to watch after seeing that film, which would have reignited an interest in a medium that I had put on the backburner years ago. I wanted to find something that contained those compelling traits of District 9.

So, after going several months without finding anything riveting (and keep in mind, I had never watched a single Gundam series til’ this), I ended up reading up about Gundam Unicorn in March 2010. It caught my interest and on a blind buy, I was floored by the visuals, from the bright color-palette contrasting the dark shadows of space, to the brilliant animation of the characters and more specifically, the mechas themselves (I honestly believe that Gundam Unicorn is the best digitally animated mecha anime that I have ever watched, I say that with absolutely NO exaggeration). At first, it was hard for me to take in the story and its characters, as I was busy salivating at this visual feast my eyes were greeted with, but after several rewatches, I came to the realization that Gundam Unicorn was what I had been looking for… a mecha anime for ADULTS. It just had that perfect balance of blockbuster action, colorful visuals, excellent weaponry, and a nice, believeable story with likeable characters.

However, I was a bit disappointed that I wouldn’t have the second volume til’ months later, but it’s understandable, considering that OAVs take longer to produce due to the higher quality of animation. It was during this time gap, that I tried to find other mecha anime’s to fill my desires and I found some solid shows in Macross Frontier, Gurren Lagann, and even old school Votoms, but I kept itching for Gundam. I ended up watching the original Mobile Suit Gundam, Zeta Gundam, ZZ Gundam, Gundam 08th MS Team, and almost every other UC timelined show til’ the second volume of Unicorn dropped. It was also nice to finally have a backstory to certain characters that I could piece together, I.E. Char/Full Frontal and Marida and her Puru clones from ZZ Gundam. Now, as I watched the second volume of Gundam Unicorn, I couldn’t helped but be blown away by the outstanding choreography from the mecha battles… the entire sequence of Full Frontal taking on the Nahel Argama and the Unicorn Gundam, was just breathtaking. A close friend of mine, who makes short action films and is practically an action guru, made one of the best and plausible comments at that time: “The choreography in this series is so good, that even Hollywood action directors could take inspiration from this.” It was at that moment, that I realized I found something really special in Gundam Unicorn… it had finally elevated the metaseries above JUST being an anime, it was becoming a technical achievement for its genre.

Now, I know those are some very broad and bold claims to make, but I think the action and pacing of those sequences validate those responses. I even remember reading where the producer of Gundam Unicorn made mention that this was the first Gundam series to feature really quick edits and kinetic pacing during the mech battles, to be more specific, the Unicorn/Kshatriya sequence in the opening of the second volume, features very quick editing and frantic pacing, which was said to be very complex and time consuming due to having maintiain a fluid and coherent pace. And that battle is then followed up by the aforemention Sinanju/Nahel Argama/Unicorn battle, which also features moments of quick editing and unique camera angles. If there is one thing I’ve really come to appreciate about the battles in this series, it’s Kazuhiro Furuhashi’s involvement in the choreograpgy, as he brought a newfound style that Gundam has never seen before. His angles and attention to detail is to be appreciated, but it shouldn’t come as a surprise. If you’ve seen Samurai X or Le Chevalier D’Eon, then you know his eye for action is one of his best traits as a director. I hate to keep sounding like a broken record, but I’m telling you, Gundam Unicorn is SQUASHING every other mecha anime that’s out there right now, at least in the mecha battle department… it’s almost not even fair.

Finally, to stop sucking off the visual quality of this animation, as visuals alone can’t drive a series… I think the story and characters are very solid. One thing I’d really like to single out is female characters, specifically Marida and Mineva/Audrey. How many times in the past have Gundam series weakly integrated female characters into their story? If there’s one pet peeve I have with Gundam collectively, it’s the inability to feature captivating female characters in most of its series. But that’s not the case here, in fact, I’d argue that Marida Cruz is the most interesting character of the series so far. The way they handeled her past in this third volume was so tasteful, touching, and imaginative. They took what could be seen by many as a poor plot device, due to how sexually degrading her past is, and ended up using it as a driving force for her characterization. This is when you know a production studio is attempting to go all out for this series. And as for Mineva, her past is vague when you remove her scenes from ZZ Gundam, which I think makes her motives a bit more interesting, considering her past ties with Char. She may not be AS well written as Marida’s character, but I think Mineva’s bigger payoff won’t be coming til’ later episodes, so I can forgive that for the time being.

There’s so much more that I’d like to say, but I gotta run… all I know is, I feel like Gundam Unicorn is elevating Gundam above just being a typical mecha-action series. I feel like I’m watching something that has a lot of imagination and integrity behind it, and it’s for those reasons, why I love Gundam Unicorn so damn much. I really, really cannot wait for volume 4… should be a good one.

Reply

Advertisements
Tags:
March 18, 2011

Maglor on Genetic Evolution and Memetic Discourse on the Newtype Theory

Original Post: Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn as a Eulogy for the Newtype

maglor

March 18, 2011 at 1:30 pm

[…] What people needs to realize is that Evolution at its core is merely changes in ratios between genetic elements within a species, and it is something that will inevitably occur over long period of time as mere result of certain genetic elements lending to an individual, more opportunity to procreate. If fragments for genetic element for newtype can be found in sufficient portion of humanity, then even though most may not show the sign of being a New Type, a New Type individual will emerge at pretty regular interval. It is possible that New Type individuals may prosper better in a society that is relatively free from threat of war. If so, slowly their frequency will rise.

What also needs to be explored is that New Type may have memetic components; it is the openness to other’s thoughts and emotions which is required for the New Type abilities to be triggered. It is likely that Zeon Zum Daikoon’s message was more about need for Social evolution instead of genetic evolution. The guesses and feelings about social evolution are presented through diverse individuals in UC Gundam stories from the UC 0079 to Gundam Unicorn time, and hopes and despairs for New Type-like Society seems to be constantly changing. I guess we may get to see several twists to the visions for the New Type as the series continues.

Reply

Tags:
March 18, 2011

KrimzonStriker on (The Tears of) Time That Newtypes Didn’t Have

Original Post: Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn as a Eulogy for the Newtype

KrimzonStriker

March 18, 2011 at 5:49 am

One thing I believe that was crucially missed [in this essay] was the conversation between Banagher and the Nahel Argama’s Doctor in relation too the Newtype theory. And going back even further in regards to Cardeas’ own speech in regards to Newtypes. At this juncture the promise of Newtypes has been abused and perverted, monopolized from its original intention, and is now slowly being rejected from society as a whole because it lacked the one thing it needed most… time.

As the Doctor points out, it is far more likely that humanity will destroy itself long before the Newtype theory can ever reach fruition, and why there is now such importance in trying to discover a way within our ordinary and limited understanding. This sheds new light and importance on Riddhe and Audrey’s quest to find a political solution to the conflict, alongside the wild-card of Laplaces Box that carries such mystery, but also promise, to give new life to the Universal Century.

At this point in time I do not think it is quite so necessary to bury Newtypes in the grave, so long as humanity itself exists then the possibility will remain, someday, we simply aren’t ready for it yet. Like Yang Wenli’s comparison of fire and democracy it will take a vast amount of time and much trial and error before we can truly determine its worth and value to mankind as a whole.

Reply

March 18, 2011

J. Marshak on the Means and Ends of Zero (Code Geass)

Original Post: Acknowledging Our Guilt for Our Choice of Heroes: Code Geass’ Lelouch Lamperouge

J. Marshak

March 18, 2011 at 9:18 am

[…] In my mind, the Empire is a rotten institution, it is a corrupt and evil edifice that is systemically broken and has to be destroyed. Therefore, I always saw Lelouch/Zero’s role fundamentally as a cleansing force–the person who was to tear down an irredeemable evil so that society can move past it and aspire to something better. To rise up like the phoenix from the flames.

I also saw Lelouch as part of a much greater tradition, so thus he became more sympathetic. Lelouch is Paul Atreides, Judah Ben-Hur, and Alan Moore’s V all rolled up into one hot mess. Well, Lelouch and Zero–each of his aspects embody different narratives. Lelouch is fundamentally the spurned prince a la Ben-Hur and Paul, motivated by revenge and hate, but importantly also by real, though perhaps selfish, desire to see what is best for his Sister (cf Ben-Hur’s mother and sister, Lady Jessica. What’s with the mother/sister infatuation? There has to be some silly psychoanalytic reading for this archetype). I think people here have really ignored the divided nature of Lelouch’s motivations, focusing only on his desire for revenge and ignoring his equally real and important desire to protect his family, which would ultimately become his redemption, whatever little of that he earned.

Zero, on the other hand, is a much different beast. Zero is V (or Zorro, if you will), Zero is Maud’dib (and through Maud’dib, he has shades of Jesus, but I agree with an earlier commentator who pointed out who the comparison isn’t really apt): the insurgent messiah who comes to reign down fire and destroy the old order to bring in the future and give voice to the oppressed. Does it matter if Zero is real or not? Zero gave people something to believe in, made them aspire to something better. He gave them hope that the Empire could be cast off, that a new world was possible. Not only that, more importantly he gave them a way to make that new world possible. But as the destroyer, he has to destroy himself in order for his actions to mean anything, just as Paul learns in Children of Dune. Not only that, he had to realize and accept his own evil before his sacrifice would be meaningful.

But I’m not completely convinced on this issue. Perhaps like Moore’s V, Lelouch is really nothing more than a revenge blind madman, with no real concern to the number of people he destroys in pursuit of his revenge. Or perhaps even there was some hope for the Empire–this is what the liberal humanist in me thinks, as opposed to the revolutionary. That it was Lelouch’s own hubris that destroyed any chance for peaceful change, in possibly what is one of the greatest moment in any Anime, the perfect definition of Poetic justice and classic tragedy.

Do the ends justify the mean? I say not–means change ends. Was the ends that Lelouch achieved the “best”–I honestly can’t tell, but I can say it’s one I’m decently comfortable with.

Reply

Tags: