Archive for ‘Gundam’

January 6, 2012

A.r. On The Fractured Gundam Fandoms

Original Post: WHY WE CAN HAVE NICE THINGS Or, How The Gundam Fandom Can Find Their Own Personal Newtype

 

A.r. says:

January 5, 2012 at 7:57 pm

I’ve long figured there is no one Gundam fandom, just separate fandoms that vary greatly in diversity and dynamic. Separate fandoms that, for the most part, avoid each other like the plague and amongst the UC fandom especially consider the other ones “disgraces” and what not. Granted there is some cross pollination, especially in recent years, but this attitude is still alive and well in UC especially.

I wonder if some of it can be traced to the Toonami days when the Wing fandom was alive and ruling the scene. It was the Hetalia fandom of its day, being both one of the biggest anime fandoms on the scene and one the the biggest gatherings and sources of fangirl insanity. I can see why the UC fans of the day wanted to distance themselves as much as possible from it and probably were resentful of still being associated with it by the word “Gundam”. Unfortunately they’ve still clung to these attitudes of elitism and wariness of anyone with differing opinions even though the Wing fandom is long gone save for a few desperate souls.

I’m in a strange position since I’m a female fan who got in through 08th MS Team at the age of 12. After ten years I’ve seen more elitism and backhanded shaming directed at me than I can shake a stick at. Even though I’ve always been into UC and especially in the beginning had a very vocal dislike of Wing, I still feel like the fandom gurus just kind of (barely) tolerated me but didn’t ever think of me as a “real” fan, at least not one who deserves to be on their level. True, I’ve said and done plenty of dumb shit, but so do most awkward teenagers. I don’t know if some silly, fangirly post I made when I was 14 can be held to the same accountability as something written by a 20-something year-old.

My silliness aside, it seems like a good chunk of the crap isn’t because I’m legitimately acting stupid, but because my tastes in characters have always been at odds with the fandom majority. Gundam fandom elitism doesn’t just come in the form of series elitism, but character choices as well IMHO. Well-liked characters are perfectly okay to heap with praise and even whitewash (see Char Aznable), but heaven forbid someone try to give say, Quess Paraya the time of day other than to bash her into the ground (I’ve gotten people telling me to kill myself for saying I liked her). My favorite of all is Ghinius Sakhalin, and it seems like if you try to argue him as anything other than a 1-dimensional monster, you’re a dumb fangirl over-analyzing things. Of course it’s okay to have 10-page threads over-analyzing mech specifics or a popular character like Ranba Ral or Anavel Gato, but Ghinius apparently isn’t allowed anywhere near the same consideration. No one important likes him, and clearly the fandom majority is what’s right and anyone who says differently is automatically full of shit and not worth listening to.

I don’t ask people agree with my views, I just wish I wasn’t treated like some silly fantard whose views have no basis in canon and are thus unworthy. But it seems like the only way I’ll get that respect from people is if I denounce my opinions and change my feelings about my favorite characters, force myself to like characters I don’t (Char Aznable and Shiro Amada come to mind), and parrot every opinion of the majority and be a good little hive mind. And even then, since I’m female, prefer characters to mechs, and like some slash and fanfiction I doubt I’d still be treated as a “real” UC fan (unless I denounce all those things as well). It seems like the only way to win is to give up every ounce of individuality I have, and I’d rather not do that.

Other fandoms seem to welcome differing views/analysis (parts of the Utena fandom come to mind) since it can make for some great, intelligent discussion. But if you try it in the UC fandom, you’re looked down upon and invalidated. As much as this fandom has become a part of my identity, I don’t know if it’s really worth it to do anything other than stay in my corner, post my writings/fanfiction/essays/rants/etc to my personal journals and be ignored by most of the other fans and generally feel lonely as hell. I mean I guess I can’t blame them for not liking characters like Ghinius or Quess since they’re very much acquired tastes, but it still gets lonely and frustrating knowing that if I try to take my views about them to major fan forums I risk getting met with people trying their hardest to belittle and invalidate me while still coming across as “intelligent” and “right”.

Holy giant rants Batman, the fuck I just type?

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December 24, 2011

Andrew Graruru on Mineva Zabi’s Conversation Over Coffee

Original Post: 12 Moments of Anime 2011: Coffee With a Runaway Princess (Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn)

andrewgraruru says:

December 24, 2011 at 4:46 pm

[…] At this point I’ve praised this scene on two podcasts and on your blog, and I still think its deserving of that praise. I like the way, through conversations like this, Unicorn is building a much fuller picture of UC’s political climate, going right back to the space settlement program. Spacenoids grievances have been expounded upon through Full Frontal attempting to excuse his mens actions, and from Marida we get a more civilian spacenoid view on why they agitate against the earth Government. The Diner conversation sticks out to me because not only is it the rare occurrence of an earthnoid who says more than a sentence (and that sentence isn’t “Ahhh! a colony is dropping on me!”), but also because it gives us an optimistic viewpoint of space-colonisation. All of this affects the conflict we see in 0096

None of this feels like dry exposition or monotone babbling. Instead it gives the impression of a lived-in universe, and puts all of UC’s conflicts into perspective. And also in this scene we Audrey develop more in four minutes than Banagher has in four episodes; she accepts her position and is ready to go forward. I wish all the characters in this show were as well written as she is.

With two more episodes left (and maybe a movie?) and three more books to cover, I doubt they’ll have time for many more scenes like this. But I expect the conclusion of this series and the opening of Laplaces box will feel all the more effective as the culmination of these quiet moments and political instabilities.

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November 23, 2011

Andrew Graruru on the Zeon of Gundam Unicorn

Original Post: The Despair of Zeon At The Bottom of The Gravity Well–Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn 04

 

Andrew_Graruru says:

November 23, 2011 at 4:19 pm

It’s hard to really root for Zeon in Gundam, and whatever Harutoshi Fukui’s political leanings may be, I don’t think that’s what Unicorn attempts to do. Despite how humanistic the Zeon characters are in this show (especially compared to the cold, inefficient Feddies) and the damming account of Feddie occupation, Zeons atrocity during war-time still casts a massive shadow over the episode, both in the colony-drop and by showing the Shamblo decimate that random Australian suburb.

As you point out, this more human portrayal serves simply to give a richer, more fully realised lore. It is clear in Unicorn that spacenoids are, to an extent, disenfranchised. They lack the right to vote, they were occupied and pillaged by the Federation (which recalls Mineva’s comment about Spacenoids being used to violence against them). I’ve even heard that in the novels it is explicitly mentioned that the spacenoids are classed as abandoned refugees by the Government, which is why they lack certain fundamental rights. This doesn’t justify the gassing, the colony-drop ect, but it does make it more believable that so many spacenoids would be attracted to such an extremist organisation as Zeon. I hear a lot of complaints about this series being “Zeon fanwank” or whatever, but I actually think it does a good job of making the ideologies of UC as a whole much more fleshed out and believable.

And any time it gets a little too “Hail Nippon!” or “those evil FEDDIE Amurrikans!”, Banagher is there to give Zeonic ideology a good hard kick in the balls.

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October 31, 2011

Reid on Gundam AGE Episode 04

Original Post: The White Wolf is a Fun Guy–Mobile Suit Gundam AGE 04

Reid says:

October 31, 2011 at 1:52 am

Things I liked about Gundam Age episode 4:
Likes
1. Really should be LOVES LOVES LOVES, because it thrills me to no end to know that Woolf (Wulf?) is first and foremost a GP race driver and then a combat pilot. I’ve often wanted to see/read/hear about Mobile Suits’ uses outside of the usual combat-and-construction roles we so often (exclusively) get shown in most Gundam media. As a big-time motorsports enthusiast, I’d be keen to see somebody take this idea and run with it. Maybe a manga about junior mobile suit racing having to struggle during wartime (like how the real Grand Prix did during the years leading up to and following World War II).
2. The Genoace Custom is intensity in ten cities. I really like how, as Matt said, it seems to be a call-back to the original concept of Tomino’s Gundam: stark white. Besides, the model kits, being all white, will be easy to customize…bring on the Char colors!
3. Flit’s response to Woolf’s challenge. “THE GUNDAM IS NOT A TOY!” Kinda reminds me of a certain other famous Gundam pilot’s admonition of “THE NU GUNDAM IS NOT JUST FOR SHOW!”, while simultaneously (and ironically) hanging a lampshade on the fact that, well, actually, yes this Gundam is the most toy-like in many many a year.
4. I liked it how Woolf and Flit worked together to beat back the UE at the end of the episode. Though Flit looked like he was going to get the “win” by showing up with the DODS rifle, it was Woolf who recorded the “save” by using it to blow up the asteroid, covering our heroes’ escape back to the Diva. Then, in the mess, their back-and-forth banter difinitely makes me think that Woolf’s already gone from a too-cocky blowhard (stereotype) to a more nuanced representation of the more experienced pilot. Sure, he’ll rag on Flit for the rest of the series, but they’re buds now for sure. After all, Woolf did say, as he fled from the attacking Gafrans and had his Tallgee…GENOACE’s lower leg get shot off, “Maybe I overdid the cool-guy act.”

My favorite dude in this show is still Largan though. Red-heads deserve more respect (and airtime).

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October 21, 2011

Stormshrug on Gundam AGE and the Scale of Robot Anime Sci-Fi Bullshit

Original Post: Does Gundam AGE’s AGE System Make The Impossible Possible? (Gundam AGE Episode 02)

 

Stormshrug says:

October 18, 2011 at 4:42 am (Edit)

The AGE system was gigantically less bullsh*t than I expected, and this pleases me greatly. Of course, it’s just setting me up for eventual disappointment, but still, I was very gratified to see the AGE system be “normal sci-fi total bullsh*t” and not “LOLOLOL Lambda Driver GN Spiral Power Super Robot bullsh*t.”

On a scale of Giant Robot bullsh*t, it ranks as follows:

-Use of Inflatable Santas as Decoys (totally not bullsh*t and completely awesome)

-Wrist-Mounted Gatling Guns (probably not actually feasible but not particularly bullsh*t)

-Minovsky Particles (bullsh*t that justifies other, bigger in-setting bullsh*t)

-Magically Indestructible New Metals (bullsh*t, but too common to complain much about)

-The AGE System (at least it doesn’t use “nanomachines”)

-Robots that Can Fly (like a jet) (kinda bullsh*t)

-I-Fields (kinda bullsh*t, but limited in scope and therefore acceptable)

-Rock-throwing Zakus (F*CKIN’ ROCKS OUT OF NOWHERE)

-The Unicorn’s Newtype Destroyer Mode

-Robots that Can Hover Indefinitely (f*ck you, Code Geass R2)

-Lasers that Bend and Home-In (why do so many good shows insist on this particular piece of bullsh*t?)

-Teleporting Robots

-Lambda Drivers (“You thought this was Real Robot, didn’t you, sucker” bullshit)

-The Gundam Hammer, in all incarnations (Wait, wasn’t the morning star one of the most dangerous, difficult to control weapons OF ALL TIME? LET’S PUT ONE ON A GIANT ROBOT!)

-Being a successful pacifist in a giant robot

-Anything to do with Gundam Seed Destiny

-Chickens on Bright Noah’s head (FUUUUUUUUUUUUUU-)

SH*TTY POSTER, HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

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July 5, 2011

ghostlightning on Gundam The Origin, Gundam AGE, and The Viewers

This is the text I intended to put on the original post: Our Preliminary Reaction to The Fact That There are TWO Major Gundam Projects Upcoming (and Unicorn Isn’t Even Finished Yet)

…but I decided to use it as a response to the first involving comment.

ghostlightning says:

July 4, 2011 at 10:34 pm

Didn’t get drunk at all, except from our own hot-blood and love for manly robot anime songs! (We sang Yuusha no Tanjou, The Winner, Crossfight, Aura Battler Dunbine, and Skill!)

Here’s the thing about Gundam AGE: it’s perfect. Not just for the Gundam franchise, but for anime in general. Robot anime has increasingly been the passion of the following distinct demographics:

1. Annoying elitist Oldfags
2. Annoying teenage Newfags
3. Fujoshi

The first group keep getting older, crustier, more irritable, and pissed off. Nobody wants to even try robot anime knowing that these guys will pick on them and act superior. The second group tend to appreciate robot anime in terms that annoy oldfags — they enjoy the shonen fightan style of flashy battles, they proclaim the few robot anime they’ve seen as the best shows ever, and they are unwilling to watch and appreciate most older shows. The third group doesn’t watch robot anime for the robots.

Of course there are the general anime fans, the casualfags, etc. These groups aren’t bad at all, but they tend not to watch robot anime for the robots. The robots are incidental to them, and instead judge the robot anime for general merits such as plot, verisimilitude (worse: realism /facepalm), character development (groan), and originality (kill me now). They will like a few shows transcendent of the robot anime genre, and mark them down for the ways that they remain being robot anime (I just died again).

Here’s an example of the possible reactions to say, Mobile Suit Gundam The Origin anime:

1. Oldfag: Man they better do this the RIGHT way.
2. Newfag: I hope it doesn’t look you know, old.
3. Fujoshi: Meh. Huh? Garma x Char wait what?
4. GeneralElitist Anime Fan: Why do they keep making OYW rehashes? This franchise is so dead.
5. Casualfag: Hmmm. New animation? May check it out.

Of course, these aren’t the only possible reactions. Casualfags may prove to be quite negative too. As for me, I think Gundam Unicorn is the best way to present a Gundam show: with the appropriate seriousness, focus on combat, include the grand thematic sweep, and use spectacular production values. To do this with the main storyline is a very good thing. For almost 2 decades, we’ve seen AU Gundam shows re-present the main Gundam story in attempted fresh ways. Each subfranchise has its own fans: W, SEED, and 00 had their own takes on the Universal Century narrative and its themes. These shows have been useful in bringing some of the newer fans to discover the rest of Gundam.

This is why Gundam the Origin is so good: There’s no need to repackage the main narrative into an alternative universe. It IS the main narrative, in TV anime form — stripped of all the compromises the original production staff had to make as pioneers of real robot anime. Also, new animation with higher production values to me is ALWAYS worth watching.

This may create newfags, and may transition existing newfags into their oldfag journey. BUT, Gundam the Origin being such an adult show may not really create fans of Gundam and robot anime in general in large numbers so as to infuse the community with growth and new blood. For this, you have to go beyond the UC, beyond your typical AU show (read: it can’t be something like 00 which was very faux adult). Gundam AGE on the other hand, is perfect for this.

I couldn’t ask for anything better. Yes, I asked for something like this, in very specific terms:

My Wishes for the Robot Anime of the Future.

I want Gundam to create a mass base of fans at the grade school level, just as I was a fan when I was a kid. I saw super robot shows in kindergarten and saw Macross in the 3rd grade. I want the game and merch tie-ins to be brilliant. I want the kids to go fucking nuts over this. This is what will sustain all of us. This is what will sustain the war effort for another decade.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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December 20, 2010

Shinmaru on Gundam SEED Destiny

Original post: To Make The Impossible Possible: Enjoying Gundam SEED Destiny

Shinmaru says:

I think by the one-third point of SEED Destiny I was doing OVER 9000 double takes each episode at how butt-fuckingly retarded each episode was. The final stretch is just … something else. Meer’s stupid episodes (who fucking CARES about her??), two recaps in the last nine (WHAT), Ray going batfuck insane, the eye-rollingly stupid recall to Mu’s sacrifice in SEED, Jesus Yamato, Shinn x Lunamaria (god what a fucking nightmare), and so on and so forth. Just … fuck, what.

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December 20, 2010

schneider on the legitimacy of hate

Original post: To Make The Impossible Possible: Enjoying Gundam SEED Destiny

schneider says:

I remember a poster in /m/ saying that every /m/an should watch all of Gundam SEED Destiny to know how bad it is, because “real /m/en finish the shows they watch.” The logic is kinda jacked in that one, but the thing with GSD is that it brings out what’s good with the Gundam franchise just by being irredeemably terrible. It also acts like a Gundam litmus test–if you think GSD is good, then you need to watch more Gundam shows (I had experienced this firsthand).

At any rate, I know some people who hate on shows as if they were the shittiest shit ever shat out of a butt after watching (and dropping) the first few episodes. But we /m/en don’t do that! If you want to be a hater, then you must know your enemy. And that is by finishing GSD, because you have more material to hate with all 50 episodes, right?

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November 9, 2010

Jerry on the Other WW2 Reference in Mobile Suit Gundam (Unicorn)

Original Post: Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn 02 Unmasked

Jerry says:

I think the writer of Unicorn is really trying to link Zeon to WW2 Imperial Japan, and not Nazi Germany as many Gundam fans usually see it. And he’s doing it in a way that to me seems very obvious and direct, unlike Tomino who was more covert about it. In Tomino’s shows, there was the Battle of Solomon, which I thought was analogous to WW2′s Pacific war around the Solomon Islands. In Fukui’s episode 1 of Unicorn, we have a Neo-Zeon soldier saying “Space belongs to the spacenoids!” which is analogous to Japan’s WW2 slogan of “Asia for the Asians!” which was a message that opposed the colonization of the non-white world by white Western nations.
And in Episode 2 of Unicorn, Full Frontal tells us that the space colonists of the Federation had no ability to vote. All their leaders were appointed by people in the Federation. In other words, by white European imperialists, as it was in the various colonies found in Africa and Asia and elsewhere. Finally, episode 2 and 3 will take place in Palau, which is a mining colony in space. In WW2, Palau was a Japanese mining colony in the Pacific, and there was a big conflict there between the US and Japan. There’s going to be a big one in the Unicorn show too.

Before Unicorn, I often suspected that Gundam’s resonance with segments of Japan’s population was due to their ancestors’ participation in WW2, and how Japan’s younger generations have various paradoxical opinions about that. I believed that the reason the usual main character of Gundam was a Federation pilot, and either a spacenoid (Amuro, Camille, Banagher) or of Japanese background (Uraki), was supposed to appeal to the Japanese public’s sense that the modern Japan is allied with American side of things, despite the fact that the spacenoid cause is supposedly championed by Zeon (imperial japan). To me, Unicorn really proves my suspicions.

So basically, Gundam’s appeal to the Japanese public has to do with how post-War Japan is in a kind of cultural conflict with WW2 Japan. Zeon is Imperial Japan and all its brutality. And some of its more noble sentiments. (Did you know that Imperial Japan advocated the passing of the Racial Equality Clause in 1919? Black American groups became fascinated with the possibility that the Japanese empire would somehow liberate the non-white world from Western European control.)

Spacenoids are the people who were taken over by the white Western powers. The Federation is America’s military protecting Western European imperial politics. I feel like Unicorn’s writer (Fukui) saw this pattern and really cemented it in. Who knows if Tomino intended much of this though, or Fukui and Tomino ever even met. And I don’t get the impression that the people who really Nazified Zeon in MS IGLOO were ever talking with either Fukui or Tomino.

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August 3, 2010

Executive Otaku on Why Bad Guys are Made to Look More Awesome

Original Post: Operation Valkyrie: the Gihren Zabi Assasination Plan (He’s Hitler, Get it?); Why Do Bad Guys Seem So

Executive Otaku

August 2, 2010 at 4:04 am

Not just in anime I think there’s a lot of common threads in regards to making the bad guys cool in fiction. There seem to me to be three main elements of this, sometimes a series only uses one, sometimes it uses a combination of them.

Romantic notions of chivalrous aristocrats/knights vs indifference to or even disdain for standardized, modern armies.

Legend of the Galactic Heroes is definitely a series that uses this in creating much of the appeal of the Reich (as well as Reinhard’s personal dynamism.) Despite wars being just as brutal in previous eras, there’s a lot of fondness for the supposedly gentlemanly way wars were fought when leadership was determined by high social standing. Since the officers (or in even older eras, knights) all came from the aristocratic class they brought their social habits with them to the battlefield and let things like honor and personal temperament get in the way of combat at times. Contrast that to the modern army where everyone wears the same uniform, carries the same weapons, and doesn’t have time for such uptight manners. It’s an issue of warriors vs soldiers, and warriors are much more romantic figures in fiction even if they’re nowhere near as effective in warfare. What did aces like Johnny Riden and Anavel Gato do for Zeon compared to a squadron of GM’s who worked together on the EFSF side? What did a few 100+ kill aces who stayed on the frontlines until they died accomplish for the Luftwaffe compared to squadrons of decent pilots trained by lower-kill count aces who were rotated back to be instructors for the USAAF? Not much. (Hope I’m not laying it on too thick there, but grounded as I am in military history it’s a favorite sport of mine to tear down the romanticism around the warrior myth.)

Machine perfection.

Going away from the previous element’s disdain for modernity, this one embraces it and polishes machine like standardization to an unrealistic but impressive level. Star Wars was big on this, making the Imperial Navy and Army chilling but impressive with just how perfect their standardization and coldness was. And when the army is machine like, it makes the one or two leaders like Darth Vader and the Emperor stand out even more as they command those forces.

A superior, overwhelming enemy.

This tend to cut both ways depending on a viewer’s preference, since it can make the bad guys seem impressive or make the good guys seem all the stronger for having to be such underdogs. All the series you mentioned in the post have this in them, and as it relates to making the bad guys cool it does so by making their accomplishments seem unstoppable or in some cases effortless. It inspires an admiration for just how capable the enemy is, for instance when Char would beat up on Amuro (though he had a small element of underdog to him since he didn’t have the vastly superior Gundam in 0079.)

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June 20, 2010

Vendredi on the Underdogs of Gundam’s One Year War

Original Post: The Dogs of Conflict: Who’s the Over/Under? or, Giant Killing is Best Done Between Giants

vendredi

Posted June 19, 2010 at 8:18 pm

[…]“underdog” is sometimes more a matter of presentation than actual ability. Consider the classic Terran-Spacenoid opposition in the Gundam franchise; to take the U.C. alone, people can sympathize with both factions as the “underdog”, depending on how you paint the picture. For die-hard Zekes, it’s the underdog tale of an oppressed minority rising up to challenge a far mightier power. For Feddies, it’s the underdog holding the line against a brutal and unwarranted blitzkrieg and to stay in the fight though bloody and bruised. I think you’re very much correct in noting that the status of underdog is more often conferred by perception.

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June 15, 2010

Schneider on Char’s Counterattack on Amuro

Original Post: Char, I am Disappoint: Revelations of a 3rd Viewing of Char’s Counterattack

schneider

June 15, 2010 at 12:53 pm

Ah, CCA Char. When I first forayed into UC Gundam, CCA was one of my first stops. I was fascinated with the character of Char, and I wanted to consume it in the shortest, most succinct way possible.

Imagine my disappointment. The movie showed a great deal of Char’s greatness alright–his personal magnetism, piloting skills, and what seemed to me as untarnished ideals of how humanity should move forth, extreme measures and all.

However, it seemed that Tomino himself was holding Char back. No, he actually degenerated Char. The title of the movie is Char’s Counterattack. Char was to launch a counterattack… aimed at whom? Or what?

It wasn’t the Federation or the Earth that Tomino wanted Char to fight. It was Amuro–the movie is structured so that Char can have his final go at Amuro, in the backdrop of a war he started. The tragic thing is that Tomino could have easily written CCA in such a way that Char’s main purpose was to drop Axis on Earth, Amuro being just another unwanted thorn in his side. But no, he had to encase Char in myopia and have him make concessions just to allow Amuro to engage him on equal footing.

It’s common sense. If you really wanted to achieve something, you don’t give your enemy legroom in order to trounce you.

I found it hard to like Char when his ego was ridiculously bloated like this. He started the ball rolling, but stopped caring midway, playing around with Quess instead of, you know, commanding an army. And for all his coolness in the first half of the movie, he is utterly trounced by Amuro in what is the greatest mobile suit bar brawl in all of Gundam. WHOSE RESPONSIBLE THIS??

And Lalah… that is the worst cheap shot ever.

I can understand all this, but seeing how Char had been screwed up in Zeta, I’d think he would be smarter, more resolute (in the sense of ensuring that you succeed with what you want). But I can’t accept this self-destructive behavior of his. There’s a reason why in Super Robot Wars, we usually have Quattro to play with, not CCA Char.

However, that takes nothing away from my fascination with the original masked man. He was truly at his worst in CCA, but it was still a grand film that concluded a great rivalry in a satisfying way. I could turn a blind eye to his failures, and look at the man with admiration, his fatal flaws and all.

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June 15, 2010

DonKangolJones on Unmasking the Three Faces of Char Aznable

Original Post: Char, I am Disappoint: Revelations of a 3rd Viewing of Char’s Counterattack

DonKangolJones

June 15, 2010 at 9:43 am

[…]I never really “drank the Kool-Aid” when it came to Char’s legacy. I can break down Char three ways. In the One Year War, he was dark and brilliant and driven by an almost singular purpose. In the Gryps conflict he was unsure, humble and full of untapped promise. And finally in Char’s Counterattack he was very much just as you say.

The fact that the Char in Zeta Gundam is my favorite version of him is just another one of my many unpopular choices. I saw the good and the hope in Char in that series. He came across as more human in that series than in the others.

For me, seeing Char as he was in CCA was an intensely sad thing. Anyone who saw the events of Gryps or even some of the atrocities of ZZ Gundam should be able to see how badly and directly it tainted his character. Before there was anger, in CCA it was pure hate and contempt. Maybe that’s why I sympathized with him. In a way, I believed he was right. Look at the later UC series and you see the same horrors repeat. Bright and Amuro didn’t solve anything, they just delayed the events. Char can’t be called a hero for attempting to slaughter so many innocents, but the maintenance of the status quo only led to the eventual rise of more conflict. The Federation is one of the worst fictional governments I have ever seen. Part of me wonders how Amuro could live with that.

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March 9, 2010

ExecutiveOtaku on the Evil Organizations in the Gundam Franchise

Original Post: Gundam Ecole du Ciel is so Doomed Moe

ExecutiveOtaku

March 9, 2010 at 4:13 am

[…]

I don’t disagree with this reading, only that I don’t make a big distinction between the constructs that are organizational systems and the humans that participate in it. I only mean that humans are still responsible for these things they create, and the actions they perpetrate during wartime.

Organizations can be a major force for evil in conflicts and other situations due to the way they either give a false confidence to the people carrying out the orders. If someone is ordered, especially a soldier who is taught to respect their chain of command, to do something that they don’t understand or doesn’t sit well with them they assume that the people above them know the bigger picture and thus things that the individual wouldn’t normally do become okay in many cases. Or the truth could just be hidden from most people, as Cima Garahau’s escort of the poison gas-carrying MS-05s was hidden from her until it was too late. And if that should fail, there is the threat of punishment by an organization if the orders are not carried out. Organizations can sometimes make it very difficult to do the right thing or can encourage people to do the wrong things.

That said, I lean more towards concluding that holding the organization more responsible is a cop-out. Some individual gave the order and in some cases other individuals executed orders that go against good conscience/the law/whatever. Reducing a conflict to the madness of states or organizations is an easy way out, a way of absolving the participants and comforting the minds of the bystanders who would rather not contemplate the evil that lurks in the hearts of men, sometimes their fellow countrymen. Once Chairman Zara was defeated in SEED, everyone seemed to forget about Yzak killing a shuttle full of civilians and other crimes. He even became a good guy! Clearly he was responsible for what he did (he wasn’t even ordered to destroy the shuttle), but SEED seemed to absolve him of this because he was part of an organization at war. In war terrible things happen, but this wasn’t a case of mistaken identity or even of stray rounds or explosions as happened to Shin’s sister. Sometimes it is politically expedient, such as in the peace treaty that ended the One Year War and only placed blame for it on the Zabi family. But it doesn’t address what happened in an honest fashion, and it can even be dangerous when the losers are not confronted with the fact that they lost, that they were wrong, as Operation Stardust proved. “A few corrupt leaders were wrong, but the people/the ideals were right!” as Gato might have said. Gundam may emphasize the ‘organizations are evil’ element, but it can only explain away so much. It’s an odd dynamic within the franchise: individuals (usually Newtypes) are given such a prominent place in the narrative, yet when anything bad happens it becomes all about the organizations that they are a part of.

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March 2, 2010

Revuhlooshun on The Beauty of Operation Stardust (Phase I)

Original Post: My Gundam is Better than Your Gundam (DKJ’s Favorite Gundam Moments)

Revuhlooshun

March 2, 2010 at 3:25 am

That is the beauty of it: These cocky, arrogant Federation officers being blown up in a huge sunburst of an explosion! :D

I think though that their arrogance helps the transition from the 0079 Federation to the one in Zeta Gundam. The Federation had become so confident and so big headed after winning the One Year War, and they were so sure in their capabilities, that they thought they were just invincible, which helps to justify the police state that appears in Zeta. The Titans rise not only from the sheer horror of that atrocity but also from the Federation’s shattered pride and image, making it almost a ruthless dictatorship.

To give it a parallel, it’s like 9/11. There were plenty of signs and warnings and briefings and memos alerting that it was coming, but a lot of it was dismissed within the government. We were in peace time. We just defeated the Soviet Union, the Evil Empire! What else was there to worry about!?

And the responses were pretty much identical in both Zeta and the real world.

And there was that awesome explosion :D

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December 17, 2009

Crusader on the Middle Ground of Real and Super Robots that Gundam 00 Stands On

Original Post: Moments of 2009: Please Don’t Call This a Comeback (Gundam 00 Finale)

Crusader

Submitted on: December 17, 2009 at 4:59 am

[…]The middle ground that Gundam now sits is much more of a double edged sword since I have trouble digesting super robot and real robot cocktails. It just doesn’t go far enough in either direction to be terribly satisfying as say Mazinger Z which was an unadulterated celebration of Super Robot tropes. I think had they kept it more in line with real robot that any political message they had in S1 when they tossed around conflicts that were then ongoing they probably would have been more successful.

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December 14, 2009

Kaioshin on Mobile Suit Gundam MS Igloo II

Original Post Here: Moments of 2009: A Definitive Portrayal How Mecha Can Rule the Battlefield

Kaioshin Sama said:

December 14, 2009 at 3:59 am

[…]I think MS Igloo 2 like the original series does a great job of showing that in the deaths and personal sufferings of each main character of the episode even as they afforded less screen time than the average Gundam lead. So at the end of it all I have to say that MS Igloo 2 does a great service to not only the war epic and tales of heroism, but also the mecha genre. For it shows what I’ve always felt about war, and that is that even the greatest of men is powerless without the weapons with which to wage a just war at the same time as a weapon is useless without the courage of a hero to put it to use properly in that just war.

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