Reviewby Bamboo Dong,
Mobile Suit Gundam (Dub only)
DVD Vol. 4
It's the novelty of watching the series that spawned a generation-impacting franchise . . . It's the novelty of seeing one of the most fan acclaimed mecha series ever produced . . . It's a novelty that's wearing off fast. As excited as I was about watching Mobile Suit Gundam, it's quickly turned into a burden as the actors are rapidly getting on my nerves. In the first episode on disc four, Sayla takes the mobile suit into combat, seeking information about her brother, while at the same time trying to prove that a woman can fight as well as a man. Ironically, it's not true at all, as she carelessly throws the White Base into danger, while doing a shabby job of piloting the Gundam. The majority of the rest of the episodes deals with Amuro as he deserts with the mobile suit after he overhears the captain express disappointment in him.
Containing four episodes on one disc, Bandai does a good job of packaging. Also included is a set of stickers, which I thought added a fun touch. Packing aside, I didn't enjoy this volume of MS Gundam as much as I expected. In the first place, I thought the characterization lagged a bit at times, with random characters coming and going without any introduction or details. Also, because of the way their actions were portrayed, some of the characters were really starting to piss me off, especially the women. In the first episode, Sayla takes the mobile suit into battle, assuming she can pilot it just after a few sessions in the simulator. Her repeated excuses of, "Oh, I didn't think it would be this hard" failed to elicit any sympathy from me; rather, it frustrated me that she wanted to prove herself in a "man's role" even though she obviously couldn't. As for other females that got on my nerves, Fraubo is definitely one of them. She can't seem to get it through her head that maybe Amuro just doesn't like her that way. She insists on following him around like a whining puppy, and frankly, I could hardly sit through it. The cocky, ignorant Zeon woman, the little girl on board the White Base . . . even though I happen to be a female, I couldn't help disliking women in general after I was through with the disc, they were portrayed like such dumb flakes. (Don't get me wrong, the male characters were getting to me too, especially the childish decisions that Amuro and the rest of the crewmembers were making.)
Obviously, no one can be blamed for the way the series worked out; the series is quite old, so the societal and cultural differences must be excused. At the same time, I kept telling myself that maybe it wasn't just the characters that were bothering me; it was the combination of them in addition to the English dub. When I first started watching the series, I didn't mind the dub too much, since I knew I had to live with it if I wanted to watch the series. Evidently, as the episodes progressed, my nonchalant attitude toward the dub changed. Either the actors got progressively worse as the series went on, or the prolonged duration of listening to dubs after years of assiduously avoiding them finally began to wear me down. For the record, though, it must be stated that some of the actors did a fine job. Unfortunately, some of the minor characters were so dull and lifeless that I would have muted them and read the close captioning had there been any available. I could get into the bad casting, too, but perhaps I should save that for a later review.
Despite the aspects of this volume that turned me off, the disc also had some redeeming qualities. For an old series, the animation is rather impressive. Granted, it may not be the most fluid display of cinematic excellence I've ever seen, but it's pretty good considering its age. The mecha fights continue to be exciting and they still deliver an action-packed display of pyrotechnics. There are times in the series when normal sequences are inconsistent with the scenes around it, but that can be expected and excused. One thing I noted about the disc, though, was that the opening theme has been replaced with a spliced montage of the war, with a narrator talking about the war between the Federation and Zeon. The ending theme was replaced with a generic techno-ish beat similar to the ones found on many of the shows that have been aired on Toonami. Correct me if I'm wrong, but that's not what's supposed to happen. (I could be wrong, though, so please let me know if I am.) Albeit I wasn't a huge fan of the opening and ending themes to begin with, I certainly preferred them to whatever they've been replaced with.
If you've already started watching Mobile Suit Gundam, then by all means, forge on and watch this volume. Even though I didn't enjoy this volume as the ones prior to it, I still recommend it if only for the mecha fights and the obvious realization that volume four is necessary in order to understand the connection between volume three and five. Personally, I'm not a fan of the dub (or dubs in general), but a little bit of discomfort and angst can surely be tolerated for a chance to watch the original Gundam series. If you happen to speak Japanese, though, I implore you to import the series instead, as you'll probably enjoy it much more in its original format. If not, well, Bandai deserves credit for giving it their best shot. So, all in all, it's worth at least a rental.
Overall (dub) : C-
Animation : B
Art : B
Music : B
+ Cool mecha butt-kicking action
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