Reviewby Chris Shepard, Jan 21st 2002
Mobile Suit Gundam
The Gundam and the White Base become the primary targets of the Zeon Forces. Char Aznable, the Zeon ace pilot, is very interested in the Gundam and is abilities. And Garma, one of the commanders of the Zeon forces, makes it his personal mission to capture the Gundam. Chased across the galaxy and around the Earth, Amuro and the rest of the White Base crew begin to lose hope. The war seems endless, but the fighting continues.
Another five episodes of the original Gundam series have launched straight at us. In Japan, released in 1979, this is the series that started it all. After Bandai's great success with the newer Gundam Wing in America a couple years back, they decided to reach deep into their catalogue and restart the legacy from the beginning.
As usual, Bandai has done yet another great job with the packaging. This volume's cover features Commander Char in his red uniform with his red zaku in the background. Looking good and functioning properly, Mobile Suit Gundam's menu system is stellar as well. Extras include two well-detailed analyses on two different mobile suits as well as a few previews for other Bandai releases. However, due to licensing issues, there is no Japanese track to be found. The original Gundam series is unfortunately dub only.
To be fair, Gundam's dub is actually quite good. Handled by the Ocean Group, which also took care of Gundam Wing and the first two seasons of Dragon Ball Z, they have shown their ability and executed a fine quality job on this release. All of the character voices fit and are done well. Secondary characters are occasionally overacted but these problems are minor at best. While purists and sub fans are bound to be disappointed without their Japanese audio track, strict dub fans have nothing to worry about.
Mobile Suit Gundam is turning out to be a thoroughly genuine series. Steady characterization continues, the plot is thickening, and the action is intensifying. The White Base crew is starting to reach their boiling point in reaction to what seems to be never-ending war for them. Amuro is starting to go through spasms and depression as the crew continuously relies on him to save their base and win battles. Deeper looks are also taken at the protagonists of the story, as they become more fleshed out as well.
One look at Mobile Suit Gundam and you can definitely tell that it was released in 1979. The animation is choppy and the art is definitely in a style of old. Complex and high-tech battles are no where to be found here. Despite all this, once accustomed to it, Gundam's visual style can actually be quite enticing if you can handle the old-school feel. Backgrounds are rich and detailed and the character designs are attractive. Though simple, mecha designs remain tight, keeping in mind the time period they came out of. If one can handle getting into the retro mode, it's not too much of a stretch to say that Mobile Suit Gundam actually looks good. But for the viewers who can't handle looking at anything with lower production quality than the vivid colors and animation of something newer like Tenchi, don't even bother with this title.
Despite its old look and lower animation quality, Gundam's cheese-factor is surprisingly low. The “70's anime happy music” which producers used to love throwing into any and all action scenes back during this time period is a rarity here. A couple of times the music came close to becoming this but for the most part, it portrays a very serious tone and holds up well.
Though not to the point of today's shows, the action still holds up to being exciting. Battles never span entire episodes so when they do take place, they never completely wear out their welcoming. Mobile suits still get slashed into pieces and big explosions do occur. However, once again, whether or not the viewer can get into these battles and find them entertaining depends on whether or not they can grow accustomed to the visual style.
Mobile Suit Gundam's showing on Cartoon Network was an unexpected event and it's disappointing that it didn't give the attention it deserved. Gundam's shaping into being a very intricate series with a well devised plot line. It's very unfortunate that this DVD doesn't feature the Japanese track, a necessity for the purist and most dedicated fans. And with the age of the animation, the most dedicated fans are what this series needs to succeed. Though the low price point may help win a few people over, Gundam's licensing issues are bound to make this one suffer.
Dub fans, if you like your anime serious with a little dark tone, Mobile Suit Gundam is a good one to look into. Once over the animation hurdle, very few things detract from this release. Cliches are everywhere but are much more forgiving keeping in mind that at the time they did have some originality. Mobile Suit Gundam is a very exciting series.
Overall (dub) : B+
Animation : C-
Art : B
Music : B
+ The series is continuing in a solid direction
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