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REVIEW: Mobile Suit Gundam AGE Blu-Ray


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Engineering Nerd



Joined: 24 Apr 2008
Posts: 622
Location: Southern California
PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2018 10:36 am Reply with quote
Yeah, the ending definitely left a poor taste in my mouth as rushed pacing and poor character derailment (yes, NOT development) finally accumulated to a gigantic mess.


In the end, I love Age 2 the most, so good it should not even be part of this series, and sunrise knows this too, as they released a new compilation OVA (with abundant new scenes) just for part 2
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Kicksville



Joined: 20 Nov 2010
Posts: 783
PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2018 10:48 am Reply with quote
I would not blame anyone who is skeptical of the negativity often directed towards Gundam AGE - people seemed to have it in for this show since the very first magazine scan ("Oh nooo it looks too kiddy!!", it was said of a kid's show, with virtually no other info). I was very much one of those "give it a chance" people, and I think that was fair enough. Looking at it on paper, it seems solid enough, and there were no major production snafus or anything.

The canary in the coal mine, as it were, is the very first episode, a strange, mechanical-feeling reproduction of the first episode of the original Gundam. "This is what Gundam is", it seemed to say, like "If you just do these things, it's Gundam and it'll work".

But there's no "feeling" there - characters have, well, motivations or whatever, but they're just kind of there, going through the motions, "This happens and then this happens". There's no warmth, no panache, no sensuality.

"Nawww, that can't be right" I kept thinking. "There's gotta be something else there." As the first two arcs kept going on, it was like, "Yes, and? Hmm? Yes, and...? And...?" It just sort of went through a series of events, things just sort of happen. It does very much feel like "here's a tree of events that happen in a video game to move it along".

The last arc here is where it confirms this was all it ever had, with characters stopping at certain points because they have to (Zeheart's motivations solidify quickly into a more obvious antagonist position simply because he has to, Asemu does what he does simply because there is a need for a Cool Pirate Gundam). It has often been said, and is very justifiably outlined in this review, that one need not look much further than the series treatment of its women and girls to drive this home - they really do only seem to exist to give motivation to the men (usually by dying) or to make babies. Emily nearly gets to have an interesting role, being the one to call out the adults on how they treat Flit as an asset...but after she gives birth, she is rarely ever heard from or seen again.

Special mention is deserved for Girard, a pilot who is introduced, has her tragic backstory spit out, and killed off in short order. Like, "That's drama, right??"

Finally, I'd like to point out what I feel is the best scene in the entire show: There's a grunt pilot, Obright, who we see in the second arc, and whose story involves his love interest, Remi, predictably dying in dramatic fashion. Remi treated the ship as a home and cleaned the mobile suit deck with a mop, silly as it seemed. Obright lives to become a veteran by the third arc. There's a part where he is cleaning the mobile suit deck in a similar fashion, and Kio joins to help - Obright explains the idea of respecting the ship like a home.

He had given Kio a mop that happened to be propped up nearby. Why did Obright have a second mop up and ready to go for seemingly no reason? Then it hits you. Oof!

It is a certain something that is very noticeably absent from the rest of the show, and speaks to how there were definitely talented people on this production, but the stifling, ramrod-this-and-this way it was structured gave nary a moment for any of that to shine through. I've not always loved every Gundam series, and it has always had its ups and downs with its relationship to merchandising, but this one struck me as an especially, genuinely, creativity-crushing product.
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Lynx Amali



Joined: 05 Nov 2010
Posts: 1203
PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2018 11:23 am Reply with quote
Kicksville wrote:
Girard


I feel like she was introduced too late to really mean anything, especially given Gen 3 already had a character who served the same purpose. They could've been a singular character and probably for the better.

Introducing her earlier and having her banter with the crew would've made her arc matter more. What they did was basically a replay of an arc that literally just happened before that point too.


Last edited by Lynx Amali on Mon May 28, 2018 2:04 pm; edited 1 time in total
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db999



Joined: 23 Dec 2017
Posts: 57
PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2018 11:29 am Reply with quote
This run of episodes cements Gundam Age for me as the worst Gundam series. I actually don’t mind the first 10 or so episodes of the arc. It’s definitely the weakest of the three but I didn’t find it that bad until they go to Mars. Not only does Kio look exactly leader's dead son, but they introduce the terminally ill girl and her brother with the sole purpose of getting you to feel some sympathy for the Vagans, but none of it works. Sure the trope is overused, but that isn’t the problem. Terminally ill girl dying and changing the main character for the better can work, but they don’t do anything interesting. Her personality is bland and uninteresting and it felt like the writers thought that all they needed was to introduce the character in order to get people to care without doing any of the legwork that makes the trope work.

Everything just goes downhill from the start of the 4 generations arc and is without a doubt the worst stretch of episodes in the entire franchise. As much as I don’t like the final 15 episodes of Destiny, at the very least it was still entertaining to watch. While there’s bad stuff in those episodes at least most of it is at the very least interesting, and I actually thought the ending was ok. The problem is mostly that they completely squander the cast they introduced in Destiny to focus on Kira again, but even though he has no character arc he’s still at least likable. But oh my god is the 4 Generations arc awful. Girad Spriggan is a completely useless and superfluous character, that you could completely remove and lose nothing. She wastes 2 episodes with her storyline, but it doesn’t affect anything. They could have used those 2 episodes to better flesh out one of the most rushed finales in the entire series. Not that more episodes could fix the final episodes, but they could at the very least not make it feel rushed.

Not to mention what they do with Asemu makes no sense and is Flanderization on par with the treatment that Cagalli got in Destiny. But nothing is worse than what they do to Zeheart. Nothing he does in the final 5 episodes makes any sense from a character standpoint. He goes through such an abrupt heel turn that it feels so jarring. Also, Flit’s sudden change also feels really rushed.
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Wyvern



Joined: 01 Sep 2004
Posts: 1065
PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2018 11:41 am Reply with quote
Kicksville wrote:
I've not always loved every Gundam series, and it has always had its ups and downs with its relationship to merchandising, but this one struck me as an especially, genuinely, creativity-crushing product.


Terrific review, and completely on the money. I wanted to like AGE so much. I didn't mind the character designs, and the premise of a multi-generational Gundam saga seemed amazing. But they screwed it up so badly. I think the fatal mistake (along with the treatment of women on the show) was the preoccupation with doing tributes to old Gundam series. Rather than write their own original story which could actually work for three generational arcs in one series (because that premise could be fantastic if executed well) they tried to jam the plots of the first three Gundam shows into a single series, and the result was a lifeless production where things often happen for no reason, other than because the same thing happened on another Gundam show that aired 30 years ago.
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belvadeer



Joined: 11 Jun 2006
Posts: 4678
PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2018 12:13 pm Reply with quote
Ultimately, what can be said of AGE is that there was an attempt to make it good, but it just wasn't very good in the end.
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H. Guderian



Joined: 29 Jan 2014
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PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2018 3:11 pm Reply with quote
Engineering Nerd wrote:

In the end, I love Age 2 the most, so good it should not even be part of this series, and sunrise knows this too, as they released a new compilation OVA (with abundant new scenes) just for part 2


Yeah, there was actually a neat theme in that part of the show. The Grandpa and Grandbrat are both super powered, but the one in the middle wasn't. I really liked how the first kid's ideology morphed and 'concluded' at the end of Age 2, until they derailed him in the final act of Age 3. The middle kid's desire to get better actually felt potent and I really thought it was the highlight of the show.

That OVA/Movie whatever was the best part of the whole slog of Age.
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AiddonValentine



Joined: 07 Aug 2006
Posts: 1736
PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2018 5:14 pm Reply with quote
Called it back in the previous review. And like I said back then, the show already had big problems with tone and treatment of its female characters (though I would argue Gundam has ALWAYS had a problem with the treatment of its women) but the third arc just amplifies all those frustrations with a bunch of saccharine pontificating. It once again tries to do moral ambiguity, everyone has a point, no one is truly evil shtick, but unfortunately it makes us hate everyone due to them coming off as idiots or not-so-nice-people (looking at you especially, Flit).

All in all, AGE was a fiasco. It had promise in the beginning and the idea of a Gundam show planned from the beginning to take place across multiple generations is something I would like to see done (though probably better if it was broadcast across three, two cour seasons) but Hino just does not have the writing talent to do something that ambitious; heck, Level 5's games as a whole have mediocre stories with only a few exceptions. Again, better off staying as a video game.
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stowrag



Joined: 16 Nov 2010
Posts: 47
PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2018 7:17 pm Reply with quote
Props to anyone who calls out Gundam's treatment of women. IMO, I always thought the franchsie as a whole was pretty bad at handling them. They write some interesting ones, but just as often they're a confusing inconsistent mess that, if they're not being fridged, get sidelined at the end and don't live up to their potential. That said, there are some examples of female characters that remain great (or at least purposeful) to the end of their stories.

Also, I was much more excited for the last part of age when I thought Kio was a girl. Anyone else?
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AiddonValentine



Joined: 07 Aug 2006
Posts: 1736
PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2018 8:18 pm Reply with quote
stowrag wrote:
Props to anyone who calls out Gundam's treatment of women. IMO, I always thought the franchsie as a whole was pretty bad at handling them. They write some interesting ones, but just as often they're a confusing inconsistent mess that, if they're not being fridged, get sidelined at the end and don't live up to their potential. That said, there are some examples of female characters that remain great (or at least purposeful) to the end of their stories.

Also, I was much more excited for the last part of age when I thought Kio was a girl. Anyone else?


It wasn't really until the 90s where Gundam started treating its women more fairly. Heck, of all things G Gundam actually had some pretty decent female characters with Rain Mikamura, Allenby Beardsley, and Nastasha Zabikov who either threw down effectively or at least weren't just a pretty face. 08th MS Team also had Karen Joshua and Aina Sahalin (relevant, considering I met Kikuko Inoue at Anime Central). And Gundam X gave us Ennil El and Pala Sys. It seemed to revert back for a time (like with AGE, blech), but now things are on a bit of an upswing. Still, the rampant sexism in the series was baked in from the beginning, so it's one of those that they're still trying to shake off.
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stowrag



Joined: 16 Nov 2010
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PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2018 8:54 pm Reply with quote
[quote="AiddonValentine"]
stowrag wrote:
. And Gundam X gave us Ennil El and Pala Sys. It seemed to revert back for a time (like with AGE, blech), but now things are on a bit of an upswing. Still, the rampant sexism in the series was baked in from the beginning, so it's one of those that they're still trying to shake off.


Okay, Ennil El was introduced as a shotacon who went murder crazy after the protagonist kicked her out of his bed when she snuck into his bedroom in the middle of the night. Her character had a sympathetic and interesting arc later on and maybe she moved on, but for me you can't recover from that. And Pala unfortuantely came in at the very end of a show that was having a lot of episodes cut (but I deflinitely liked what time she did have). It's a shame, since I actually really really like X. Definitely underrated.

As for things being on a bit of an upswing... I don't know if I agree. In IBO Kudelia just stopped being important in season two (demoted to back-up Atra), the most interesting female antagonist I can remember died shortly after she was introduced in season 1, and probably more memorable than either of them was the harem.
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GoldCrusader



Joined: 25 Apr 2017
Posts: 974
PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2018 9:13 pm Reply with quote
I don't know. I actually liked AGE a lot aside from the rushed ending. It had fun characters and cool designs for both the characters and the MS. I loved all the Gundams. They are really better looking version then what they were inspired from.

Honestly I would easily say it's a better GUNDAM show then the likes of Zeta, ZZ and G Reco. The 3 worst series related to gundam i watched. I'd rank AGE in the middle. Enjoyment wise.

X, G, SEED, EW, Victory and Stargazer will forever be the franchise highlights for me.
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BlueAlf



Joined: 02 Jan 2017
Posts: 730
PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2018 10:40 pm Reply with quote
AGE was conceptually good. You can feel the love of the staff from the way it was animated. However, it had such a poor, poor script. This was the series that cemented my doubts about Akihiro Hino's storywriting capabilities.

I definitely agree with Lauren's review. It accurately portrayed how I felt. Especially, regarding the mechs and the way the show treats its female characters.

Nevertheless, I'd still rate AGE higher than SEED Destiny. Regardless of how disappointing it ended, AGE was never boring. AGE brought interesting ideas and had good action scenes. While SEED Destiny was interesting only at the very beginning and nearing the end. That's why I can sorta understand why Titus-A liked it.

...The story does deserve an F with how disappointing it is though.
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Codeanime93



Joined: 28 Jul 2017
Posts: 571
PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2018 11:52 pm Reply with quote
BlueAlf wrote:
AGE was conceptually good. You can feel the love of the staff from the way it was animated. However, it had such a poor, poor script. This was the series that cemented my doubts about Akihiro Hino's storywriting capabilities.

I definitely agree with Lauren's review. It accurately portrayed how I felt. Especially, regarding the mechs and the way the show treats its female characters.

Nevertheless, I'd still rate AGE higher than SEED Destiny. Regardless of how disappointing it ended, AGE was never boring. AGE brought interesting ideas and had good action scenes. While SEED Destiny was interesting only at the very beginning and nearing the end. That's why I can sorta understand why Titus-A liked it.

...The story does deserve an F with how disappointing it is though.

If only AGE didn't look like it does, I'd probably think of it better.
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DmonHiro



Joined: 06 Jan 2007
Posts: 3278
PostPosted: Tue May 29, 2018 3:53 am Reply with quote
I rate AGE as the worst Gundam I ever encountered. There are other Gundams that I didn't like that much, but AGE is the only one I couldn't get though. It's the one Gundam anime I dropped and isn't part of my collection. Yup, it's that bad.
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