by Bamboo Dong,

Mobile Suit Gundam

DVD Vol. 5: In Love and War

Mobile Suit Gundam DVD 5
Mobile Suit Gundam-- one of the foundations of mecha anime, considered by many fans to be a classic... Fortunately, anime fans in North America now have the opportunity to experience the series that launched the entire Gundam franchise through Bandai's dubbed-only release. In the fifth installment of MS Gundam, the White Base members find themselves under constant attack as countless Zeon forces try to bring down the indestructible "Trojan Horse." Unfortunately, the White Base is wrought with tragedy as one of the crewmembers sacrifices his life to defend the ship and his comrades. Even while the shipmates are trying hard to cope with their extreme loss, the Zeon continue to launch endless campaigns against them mercilessly.
Packed with excitement, the four episodes on this disc provide a hundred minutes of fun, mecha-pounding action, complete with scenes filled with tear-jerking emotion. With four episodes, plus the ever present Mobile Suit Encyclopedia, Bandai did a good job of packaging. Also including a Gundam sticker, this is one of the best volumes of the series so far. Not only was the plot engaging, the visual effects were filled with fire and energy. Although the episodes followed the routine schematic of Zeon arrivals and their inevitable defeat, it was still interesting to see how each predicament would be solved and how each problem would be alluded. Even though it was certain that the White Base would always win, the scenes still had me at the edge of my seat, making me wonder if the new Zeon ploy would work, if the Mobile Suit midair conversion would work, or what would happen once the Gundams ran out of ammunition. The only downside with the way the Zeon forces are presented is the sheer confusion of it all. Zeon commanders are introduced and killed faster than I can catch, which makes it difficult to figure out who's avenging who, who has the toughest troops, who's in love with who--in general, how they're all interrelated.

What stood out particularly in these episodes were the characters, which was both intriguing and annoying at often the same time. After the surprise honorable death of one of the crewmembers, the viewer is jolted by the recollection of the fact that in anime, main characters die all the time. The scene of the person's death is highly emotional and tear-inducing . . . needless to say, it would have possessed those qualities if it wasn't such a display of bad acting and the source of some of the cheesiest lines I have ever heard. Regardless, the event plays a major part in the events to follow, as the viewer is able to witness the various reactions that each character goes through. In fact, for the very first time, even the commanding officer, the stoic Bright Noah shows human emotions as he deals with the tragedy.

As I near the tail end of the review, it becomes necessary once again to begin ranting about the dub. What were mistaken before as emotionless characters turned out just to be bad actors, as they all droned in a dapper monotone throughout the episodes. Some of them were better than others, some of them were worse. As I make my way through the series, though, an innovative thought has dawned upon me. My opinion of the dub alters considerably depending on the way the characters are sitting in my mind. For instance, in the last volume where the characters angered me to no end, the dub seemed atrocious. Now that the characters have fallen a bit more in place with their designated natures, the dubbing doesn't seem as bad (not to be confused with good, however). In that sense, I don't mind Amuro's voice at all. This doesn't imply that his actor is legions above the others, it just means that his character is likeable, and thus his voice is fine. The women, on the other hand (as habit dictates, I can't seem to get through a review without expressing my displeasure of the females in the series), are quite an annoying bunch. It seems like they all try to prove their equality to the men, but somehow, they always seem to fall short of the mark. Their inadequacies serve only to strengthen the stereotype of feeble women. (Then there are those female characters who aren't exactly women. Haro, the talking robot-ball thing, for one, has by far the most annoying voice in the series with the exception of the little girl.)

For a series that is so marked with age, the animation is continually impressive. Although the fluidity lacks, it's hardly noticeable with all the events going on in the scenes. It's also intriguing how the characters can possess such an air of realism about them even with the lack of shading and facial features, such as the pupils and whites of their eyes. (Which, speaking of objects that aren't there, it's a mystery where Char's run off to, since he hasn't appeared in quite a few episodes.) As a mecha fan, the fight scenes continue to be enthralling. Since the introduction of the midair conversion process a few episodes back, I can't get enough of the way the core fighters are so versatile and serve as both a fighter plane and the cockpit to the Gundams. It may be just an eccentricity of mine, but the midair conversion of the Mobile Suit is definitely my favorite part of the series so far and one of the reasons I look forward to each episode so eagerly.

Eccentricities and characterization aside, it's about time for me to plug this volume, and plugging it I am. In all seriousness, watching it is definitely recommended, as it's my favorite volume so far. Even if it means you have to sit through volume four to understand it, you might at least rent it to check it out. Filled with fighting action, emotional drama, subtle romantic innuendoes, and the midair conversions that I've fallen in love with, the fifth installment of the original Gundam series is definitely worth viewing. Besides, how could you ever become an Otaking without immersing yourself in the masterpiece that is Gundam?

Overall (dub) : C-
Animation : B
Art : B
Music : B

+ Midair Conversion! Let's do it again!
Must kill green-robot-ball-thing...

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Production Info:
Chief Director: Yoshiyuki Tomino
Yoshihisa Araki
Hiroyuki Hoshiyama
Kenichi Matsuzaki
Yoshiyuki Tomino
Yū Yamamoto
Ryoji Fujiwara
Hiro Kuno
Hiroshi Kuno
Shinya Sadamitsu
Kazuo Yamasaki
Kazuo Yamazaki
Minoru Yokitani
Episode Director: Takeyuki Kanda
Unit Director:
Ryoji Fujiwara
Susumu Gyoda
Hiroshi Hisano
Eikichi Kojika
Hiroshi Kuno
Hiroshi Matano
Shinya Sadamitsu
Osamu Sekita
Susumu Sekita
Minoru Yokitani
Yuichiro Yokoyama
Yuji Matsuyama
Takeo Watanabe
Original creator:
Yoshiyuki Tomino
Hajime Yatate
Character Design: Yoshikazu Yasuhiko
Art Director: Mitsuki Nakamura
Chief Animation Director: Yoshikazu Yasuhiko
Animation Director:
Yoshinobu Aobachi
Kazuo Nakamura
Manabu Oizumi
Kazuyuki Suzumura
Kazuo Tomizawa
Kazuo Yamazaki
Yoshikazu Yasuhiko
Mechanical design: Kunio Okawara
Sound Director: Noriyoshi Matsuura
Director of Photography:
Takafumi Hirata
Akio Saitô
Hobuyuki Okuma
Nobuyuki Okuma
Wataru Sekioka
Yasuo Shibue

Full encyclopedia details about
Mobile Suit Gundam (TV)

Release information about
Mobile Suit Gundam - In Love and War Uncut (Dub.DVD 5)

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