Reviewby Allen Divers, Mar 21st 2003
Gundam: Char's Counterattack
In the year Universal Century 0093, the Zeon rise again, this time led by Char Aznable. In his eyes, the people of Earth hold tight reign over the citizens of the colonies. To end the oppression, Char and his Neo-Zeon forces plan to render the Earth uninhabitable, forcing everyone into space. Only this way, can mankind enter the next phase of their existence. Standing in Char's way is his archrival, Amuro Ray. Now their battle from nearly fifteen years ago is rekindled, and the truth behind their real conflict resurfaces. Will Earth survive the greatest rivalry in Gundam history?!
Mobile Suit Gundam, like a familiar U.S. Science Fiction show has seen many different incarnations over its history. In the minds of fans for both series, sometimes the only true incarnation is the original. Char's Counterattack sets out to resolve the last lingering battle between Char Aznable and Amuro Ray, both rivals and heroes of the original Gundam series. The movie is a strong example of what has made the Gundam Saga an important tale in Anime history. Its exploration of mature themes, mixed with a strong script and detailed animation make sure that Char's Counterattack stands out as a pinnacle in the world of Gundam.
With such a major story in the Gundam Saga, Bandai went out of their way to create a special release version of the DVD. With the movie already at over 2 hours, Bandai still managed to pack in a few other extras. The first is a booklet containing some essential information about the world of Gundam. It has diagrams about the major battles as well as a timeline informing the viewer of what has occurred during the 15 years between the first series and this movie. The bonus features on the DVD include the original theatrical trailer, a Gundam model music video and a creator filmography. The movie is presented in Anamorphic Widescreen with four available audio tracks.
Audio for Char's Counterattack is split into two Japanese tracks and two English tracks, with one of each being 5.1 Dolby Digital and the other being 2.0 Dolby Digital. All tracks share the same musical score and sound effects, with special attention given to the mix and balance. Many of the original cast members reprise their roles for both the Japanese and English versions, giving the movie quite a bit of continuity from the original series. While many of the casting choices and performances of the English cast feel a bit off, it's still nice to have some consistency from the TV series. The English script also stays faithful to the original Japanese script, with only minor variances for timing purposes.
The audio isn't the only thing to gain from the change from TV series to movie. The animation and artwork for Char's Counterattack quickly outpace anything seen in the original TV series. With a larger budget, more experience and newer techniques, the entire movie pops out with much more detail than ever seen in the original series. From simple things like character costuming all the way up to the ships and the Mobile Suits, detail fills every inch, creating new life for each. Even the battles seem larger in scale, with more detail allowing the impact of the action sequences to sink in. The downside to this is that there are times in the movie where the story seems to slow down while the animation and artwork are given the most attention. While not exactly show stoppers, these scenes where the technology gets an explanation simply act as road bumps as the story treks on.
The main plot for Char's Counterattack finds inspiration from the original battle between Char and Amuro. Starting as rivals from their first battle in the series, the movie teases at the conflict by always throwing them within striking distance, only to throw out some twist that prevents the final battle. The story also weaves in such a way that the lines between good and evil become blurred, often leaving the viewers to decide who is in the right. The story also expands many themes developed late in the original TV series, that were actually explored a bit more when the TV series was converted into the Gundam Trilogy. Much of this dialogue has become the standard rhetoric for the Gundam series, with the idea of good and evil and the justification for battle explored in each of the different incarnations of Gundam.
The real problem for Char's Counterattack is that in the end, the rhetoric gets in the way of the true reason for this movie, leaving some question as to whether the rivalry between Amuro and Char is finally resolved. There is a moment where the conflict between the two is finally resolved, but again, the larger themes that the various Gundam series have explored get in the way - almost dismissing the outcome of the final battle. With the dialogue and the rhetoric, the pacing of the story becomes inconsistent; moving from exciting battle scenes to slower, dialogue heavy explanation scenes. Fans used to the half hour pacing of the TV show, may become impatient as they work their way through the movie.
Despite a few pacing problems, Char's Counterattack ties up the original Mobile Suit Gundam storyline, as well as brings closure to all the series that fall in the Universal Century timeframe. While the series has moved on to other timeframes, and many different retellings, at least the original falls into a position of having been fully explored. While a bit long, and relying more on the exploration of much of the Gundam rhetoric, this movie does its best to deliver on the longest running rivalry in Gundam's history, showcasing both Amuro and Char in their respective world views. For fans of the Gundam franchise, Char's Counterattack stands out as fine example of what makes this series so special.
Overall (dub) : B
Overall (sub) : B
Story : B
Animation : A
Art : A
Music : A
+ Strong mix of drama and action mark a pinnacle in the Gundam Saga
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