Reviewby Allen Divers, Jun 19th 2002
Mobile Suit Gundam
Movie Trilogy DVD Box Set
It is the year 0079 of the Universal Century calendar and war wages on between the Earth Federation and the Duchy of Zeon. Backed against a wall, the Earth Federation places all hope of victory on the success of an experimental mobile suit, the Gundam. Through a strange mix of circumstances, the Gundam ends up in the possession of a young boy named Amuro Ray. Aided by civilian volunteers and raw recruits aboard the White Base, Amuro fights a seemingly never-ending battle through space and on Earth.
Only after countless battles does the crew of White Base come to understand the dawning of a new way of life for man as the Federation uses them as a pawn to distract the forces of the Zeon, lead by Char Aznable with an agenda all his own. He and Amuro find themselves linked as adversaries through the discovery of newtypes.
See the entire run of the original TV series, compiled into the Mobile Suit Gundam Trilogy!
For many fans, much of the "Giant Robot" genre got its start right here. With a similar impact to that of Star Trek, Mobile Suit Gundam has spawned off a variety of sequels, spin-offs and movies. The origin lies in a TV show that didn't fair too well in its original television run. The original run was cut short, and Gundam ended up in perpetual re-runs. During this time, the fan base grew. With a new set of fan support, the original series was edited, with new dialogue and footage added to create the Mobile Suit Gundam trilogy. The Mobile Suit Gundam: Movie Box Set collects all 3 movies giving fans of the show a nice package to view this Anime classic.
Consider the era that these movies were made, its no surprise that the DVD set lacks extras. What extras exist revolve more around the remastered footage and soundtrack. The original Japanese cast was reunited to create a new Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack supervised by Gundam creator Yoshiyuki Tomino. Also included is a small booklet with a listing of major differences between the original TV series and the 3 movies. The book also features a foreword by series creator, Yoshiyuki Tomino who supervised the creation of the 3 movies as well as their remastering.
While a remastered Japanese soundtrack is a major plus, the lack of an English soundtrack is a bit of a disappointment, considering the TV series features an English cast (The TV series, currently on DVD, also only feature an English track with no Japanese track). An English dub was created for the original release of these movies on VHS in the 90s, but was poorly received. Its lack of inclusion on this release is actually a blessing in disguise as it is reported that the dub was a very liberal retelling of the events of the Trilogy. It is still a shame a new English track couldn't be created using the current cast of actors as they are well suited to their roles.
The visuals of Mobile Suit Gundam seem very primitive by today's standards of animation. There is a tremendous lack of detail when it comes to the mecha, clothing and even character designs. What detail exists has been enhanced and cleaned up with this transfer to DVD. The colors are bright and very few scratches pop up on screen to mar the image. For the reworked dialogue and storyline elements, new animation was created. Mixed in with recycled footage from the TV series, this new footage transitions in with no problems. Only a few instances exist where the change to the new footage is quite abrupt and obvious.
To paraphrase Yoshiyuki Tomino, the original Gundam series was about story telling. Yes, it has space battles, big robots and pretty girls, but the focus of this series always seemed to be the hopelessness of war and how a few strong people can make a difference. The TV series focused on Amuro Ray and the battles he fought each week against the Zeon. At times, it seemed the rest of the White Base crew was simply there to support him. The movies still emphasize Amuro as the lead character, but bring out the idea of newtypes a lot sooner. By getting this central theme out in the open early, it helps emphasize why the Federation leaves the White Base out there on its own. Side characters like Sayla and Mirai get more time onscreen and play a bigger role in the overall storyline. Char Aznable also steps up as the primary adversary for Amuro with a clearer understanding as to why they are destined to battle each other.
The movies also reestablish the timeline of the Gundam universe and the one-year war. This is important, as many sequels such as MS Gundam 08th Team and Gundam 0080 are dependant on the events established by the original series. Also, the numerous battles White Base fought are often rewritten as one major battle or event. The pace set by the movies feels more realistic than the pace set by the TV series where every week, Amuro and White Base were expected to fight off another villain of the week. Reducing the number of minor skirmishes actually helps build the story telling as the writers could now focus on the consequences of each major event.
Overall, the additional dialogue and storyline changes were made to bring a consistency to the Gundam trilogy. A lot of inconsistencies and useless gimmicks (such as the core-booster transformation sequence) are removed to streamline the story and raise the emphasis of the newtype back story that acts as the climax for the third film.
Despite its clunky look and feel, the original Gundam trilogy is the backbone that an entire franchise is built upon. Its remastered footage and newly recorded soundtrack breath life back into this 20-year-old masterpiece. For fans of the Gundam franchise, the Movie Box Set is a must have!
Overall (dub) : NA
Overall (sub) : B
Story : A
Animation : C
Art : C
Music : C
+ The cornerstone of an Anime Classic
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