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REVIEW: Mobile Suit Gundam Thunderbolt: December Sky Blu-Ray


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Ajc228



Joined: 29 Dec 2015
Posts: 124
PostPosted: Tue Sep 05, 2017 10:10 am Reply with quote
One of the main things I appreciated about this movie was the storytelling. The director understands how to show and not tell the audience everything. A good example of this can be seen in Daryl's flashback sequence. The use of music and smart editing really elevated this scene for me.I understand that this may be too bleak of an entry point into the Gundam universe for some but I loved it. Honestly, this harkens back to 80s and 90s OVAs that were more violent and darker in tone. The nihilistic tone reminds me of VOTOMS or the spinoff OVA Armor Hunter Mellowlink. It's fair to deem this entry exploitative but I would argue most Gundam shows have a problem with preaching the horror of war while simultaneously showing how cool it is. I also don't believe audiences need a character to root for. If the characters are interesting, I believe that's enough. Not everyone will feel the same but that's just my personal take.
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SrkSano



Joined: 05 Oct 2008
Posts: 96
PostPosted: Tue Sep 05, 2017 11:24 am Reply with quote
Ajc228 wrote:
One of the main things I appreciated about this movie was the storytelling. The director understands how to show and not tell the audience everything. A good example of this can be seen in Daryl's flashback sequence. The use of music and smart editing really elevated this scene for me.I understand that this may be too bleak of an entry point into the Gundam universe for some but I loved it. Honestly, this harkens back to 80s and 90s OVAs that were more violent and darker in tone. The nihilistic tone reminds me of VOTOMS or the spinoff OVA Armor Hunter Mellowlink. It's fair to deem this entry exploitative but I would argue most Gundam shows have a problem with preaching the horror of war while simultaneously showing how cool it is. I also don't believe audiences need a character to root for. If the characters are interesting, I believe that's enough. Not everyone will feel the same but that's just my personal take.


Have to agree that I love this series and I wish that more manga adaptations understood what you just have to show and not tell.
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Nyren



Joined: 07 Oct 2014
Posts: 507
PostPosted: Tue Sep 05, 2017 11:52 am Reply with quote
Ajc228 wrote:
One of the main things I appreciated about this movie was the storytelling. The director understands how to show and not tell the audience everything. A good example of this can be seen in Daryl's flashback sequence. The use of music and smart editing really elevated this scene for me.I understand that this may be too bleak of an entry point into the Gundam universe for some but I loved it. Honestly, this harkens back to 80s and 90s OVAs that were more violent and darker in tone. The nihilistic tone reminds me of VOTOMS or the spinoff OVA Armor Hunter Mellowlink. It's fair to deem this entry exploitative but I would argue most Gundam shows have a problem with preaching the horror of war while simultaneously showing how cool it is. I also don't believe audiences need a character to root for. If the characters are interesting, I believe that's enough. Not everyone will feel the same but that's just my personal take.
While reading this review, I couldn't help, but get the feeling that the author needs a good guy to root for, or more lightheartedness in their stories, but to me Thunderbolt was good BECAUSE it didn't have any of that. I love stories that are dark and stay dark. I love stories that explore morality or what makes someone human. War is terrible, and just like the OVA's of the 80's and 90's, as you said, it drives that home. Sure, the mobile suit fights are flashy, but there are no good guy morals to preach here. War makes monsters out of those who fight them, and that was pretty damn clear.
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zrnzle500



Joined: 04 Oct 2014
Posts: 2618
PostPosted: Tue Sep 05, 2017 12:00 pm Reply with quote
While I don't know that I would say it is the best Gundam, it is my favorite one. The style and atmosphere the show cultivates not only with the music but also visually is something I really like. The stellar animation in the fight scenes especially doesn't hurt either. It's not the most substantive Gundam, but I don't really need it to be. It certainly doubles down on the "War is Hell" theme throughout the franchise but I think that it isn't just hammering it the most frequently of Gundam but also the most thoroughly. Not only do we see the casualties as they happen but also the mourning by those left behind, not just among the main characters, but also the nameless foot soldiers, to say nothing of the costs short of death.

As to their being no one to root for exclusively, the franchise has been mostly defined by moral grayness to me, so both sides having both good and bad to them doesn't bother me. They may have threw off their humanity in various ways, but they are all the more human for it. Depending where they go in the third season, they may yet solve that concern anyhow.
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residentgrigo



Joined: 23 Dec 2007
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Location: Germany
PostPosted: Tue Sep 05, 2017 12:40 pm Reply with quote
For the record. The 8 episodes adapted 7 volumes of content. They couldn´t have gone even 1 volume further, as Vol.8 wasn´t out by the time the last batch went into production. That´s why the story feels on Speed. "S02" even went though about 1 volume in 20 minutes!
Not really an excuse, as we lost out on a great tv show, but the production values almost make up for it all. This team should reconvene with an actual film script tailor made for them, as they made the fleeing of the late 80s to mid 90s OVA scene live up again.
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pajmo9



Joined: 24 Feb 2005
Posts: 501
PostPosted: Tue Sep 05, 2017 1:17 pm Reply with quote
Quote:
At times, the violence and tragedy feels exploitative, like the movie was trying too hard to drive its point home.


That pretty much sums up my thoughts on the story telling in Thunderbolt. I think the music, art, and animation are what really carry this OVA for me personally. I can't wait to get the second season on 4k blu-ray.
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Codeanime93



Joined: 28 Jul 2017
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 05, 2017 2:30 pm Reply with quote
I really hate to say it, but after my big disappointment with IBO I think I can probably forgive any and all problems this has. Just saying it probably wouldn't disappoint me too much and I would probably like it better than the last season of that show.
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Zin5ki
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Joined: 06 Jan 2008
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 05, 2017 3:51 pm Reply with quote
Ajc228 wrote:
A good example of this can be seen in Daryl's flashback sequence. The use of music and smart editing really elevated this scene for me.I understand that this may be too bleak of an entry point into the Gundam universe for some but I loved it. Honestly, this harkens back to 80s and 90s OVAs that were more violent and darker in tone.

This is certainly true, but I would add that this series did suffer from a lack of balance. Had more scenes being granted to these character backstories than to the myriad battle sequences—dazzling though they were—then this story could have enjoyed more of a distinction in its sobering humanity rather than its style. I contend that the elaborate jazz-fights were simply afforded more screen time than was ideal in this respect. (Presumably, such elements were prioritised by virtue of the franchise's commercial aims.)
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DangerMouse



Joined: 25 Mar 2009
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 05, 2017 5:35 pm Reply with quote
Yeah the 4K HDR blu-ray looked really gorgeous too.

And I totally agree with the review on the two audio tracks, both the English and Japanese casts were great.
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Dian Z



Joined: 27 Feb 2013
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 05, 2017 6:48 pm Reply with quote
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When these two clash, neither of them comes out looking like the good guy.


Quote:
.....no real protagonist to root for when war forces everyone to become a monster


I wouldn't call it a minus aspect of this show. I think we do normally need some character(s) to root for and in most cases that makes the story enjoyable to follow. But I think that shouldn't be the case for every story, just like this one where it's not necessarily about good vs bad or good character vs bad character. Each of both main characters here have their time where we are to sympathize with them at some point, but then we're shown that they're humans with flaws and grey, that might be interpreted as some realistic development of a character as they're "damaged" by war.

That might actually one of the ways in which the show tried to make its audience relate to the characters, by not being an entirely good or bad characters, although it might be getting more impossible to relate towards the end of the story, as at this point we might be presented with the state of the characters we can only try to understand, but maybe not to relate to.

At least in this kind of setting, we're indeed not to take side or have a favorite, not in the traditional means anyway, or rather we're to overlook such thing as we try to dig deeper on the characters' psychology, motive, flaws.
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Zetabag



Joined: 30 Mar 2009
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 05, 2017 10:14 pm Reply with quote
[quote="Dian Z"]
Quote:
When these two clash, neither of them comes out looking like the good guy.


I can understand how Lauren might feel this way about Io but why Daryl?

Daryl was pretty much forced to give up his limbs and even if he wasn't he still would have likely done so to protect his comrades since they need the Psycho Zaku to stand a chance of surviving. I don't see how any of this makes him a monster.

Now granted the ending does imply that Daryl might be heading down the same path as Io but he clearly has a long way to go before reaching Io.

Zin5ki wrote:
Ajc228 wrote:
A good example of this can be seen in Daryl's flashback sequence. The use of music and smart editing really elevated this scene for me.I understand that this may be too bleak of an entry point into the Gundam universe for some but I loved it. Honestly, this harkens back to 80s and 90s OVAs that were more violent and darker in tone.

This is certainly true, but I would add that this series did suffer from a lack of balance. Had more scenes being granted to these character backstories than to the myriad battle sequences—dazzling though they were—then this story could have enjoyed more of a distinction in its sobering humanity rather than its style. I contend that the elaborate jazz-fights were simply afforded more screen time than was ideal in this respect. (Presumably, such elements were prioritised by virtue of the franchise's commercial aims.)


To be fair the the space arc (vol. 1-3) was never really meant to be standalone so its possible the manga author was saving further character development and backstory for later volumes. Unfortunately, from what I hear, season 2 cut out a lot of character content from the manga.
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jr240483



Joined: 24 Dec 2005
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Location: New York City,New York,USA
PostPosted: Wed Sep 06, 2017 12:36 am Reply with quote
Codeanime93 wrote:
I really hate to say it, but after my big disappointment with IBO I think I can probably forgive any and all problems this has. Just saying it probably wouldn't disappoint me too much and I would probably like it better than the last season of that show.


i am no fan of IBO's second season cause of how dark it got and immediately went to the much hated "kill em all" approach, but DAMN!! Thunderbolt: December Sky definitely takes the cake with the ugly dark undertone. it more or less makes Zeta Gundam which was at the time extremely dark in its telling of warfare look like a sunday picnic. luckily its not a TV series since it was this type of dark storytelling that got Zeta Gundam into serious trouble with the parental community. so much so that they completely "kiddiefied" the first part of ZZ Gundam to please them , but then hardcore gundam fans went on a massive tizzy fit.

which is why its a good thing that thunderbolt doesnt have a TV series. it probably would be dejavu all over again since they would have to make the tv series as dark or even darker than the movie to please fans of the source materials.
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Codeanime93



Joined: 28 Jul 2017
Posts: 354
PostPosted: Wed Sep 06, 2017 3:00 am Reply with quote
jr240483 wrote:
Codeanime93 wrote:
I really hate to say it, but after my big disappointment with IBO I think I can probably forgive any and all problems this has. Just saying it probably wouldn't disappoint me too much and I would probably like it better than the last season of that show.


i am no fan of IBO's second season cause of how dark it got and immediately went to the much hated "kill em all" approach, but DAMN!! Thunderbolt: December Sky definitely takes the cake with the ugly dark undertone. it more or less makes Zeta Gundam which was at the time extremely dark in its telling of warfare look like a sunday picnic. luckily its not a TV series since it was this type of dark storytelling that got Zeta Gundam into serious trouble with the parental community. so much so that they completely "kiddiefied" the first part of ZZ Gundam to please them , but then hardcore gundam fans went on a massive tizzy fit.

which is why its a good thing that thunderbolt doesnt have a TV series. it probably would be dejavu all over again since they would have to make the tv series as dark or even darker than the movie to please fans of the source materials.


As long as it has characters that are not named Rustal or Iok, I'm fine. Seriously Okada introduces so many awful new characters in season 2 of IBO. And had to bring back that obnoxious Gaelio back.
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Zeino



Joined: 19 May 2017
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 06, 2017 8:00 am Reply with quote
I think Thunderbolt is the Gundam series that I'm most ambivalent about. On the one hand, it does it's job about selling the horrors of war straightforward and unsentimental as possible really well. On the other... There is an ugliness here that makes it tough to love for me and sense that it doesn't have much to say beyond "Isn't war terrible?' Plus 0080 already did everything it does better with a much more humane and moving point to it.
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Ajc228



Joined: 29 Dec 2015
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 06, 2017 9:02 am Reply with quote
Zeino wrote:
I think Thunderbolt is the Gundam series that I'm most ambivalent about. On the one hand, it does it's job about selling the horrors of war straightforward and unsentimental as possible really well. On the other... There is an ugliness here that makes it tough to love for me and sense that it doesn't have much to say beyond "Isn't war terrible?' Plus 0080 already did everything it does better with a much more humane and moving point to it.

Hiroyuki Yamaga is a fantastic writer. Child characters are difficult to write without them coming off as obnoxious or overly precocious. He did a wonderful job of using a child's perspective to show how war is romanticized until people actually experience it. It's one of the best written Gundam series that is also relatively accessible to new Gundam audiences.
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