Gundam’s Jetstream Attack

Gundam has undergone many changes over the years, either creating sequels or alternate timelines where new stories can be told, and every incarnation inevitably leads to some complaints that the franchise is heading in the wrong direction and that it can’t capture the magic of an older, more beloved series (often times this is considered to be Zeta Gundam). At the same time, people also complain that the series which try to play off of the old classics are too bogged down in their continuity. It seems almost impossible to fulfill all of the criteria set for a new Gundam (especially when you take into account the blame that is often placed on the fans themselves for not liking a certain series), and I think Sunrise and Bandai have realized this too. This time around, they’ve decided not to put all of their Mobile Eggs in one basket, and given everyone what they want, separately.

Gundam Unicorn, currently running, is an OVA series which acts as a direct sequel to the film Char’s Counterattack, seeks to capture those old UC fans who were never quite comfortable with the feel of later series such as Gundam W and Gundam 00, or even the later Universal Century timeline series such as Gundam F-91 and V Gundam. The character designs harken back to an 80s aesthetic and the plot itself is such that it appeals most to people who are already invested in its universe.

Gundam AGE is an all-new TV series in an entirely original universe with very modern character designs (sometimes regarded as “kiddy”), a generational motif that could potentially give it a wide appeal, and a merchandising system that is updated for the age of Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh!  Unlike Unicorn, it requires no prior knowledge of Gundam, and seems designed to capture fans unfamiliar with the franchise.

Gundam: The Origin is an anime adaptation of a manga based on the original anime. First Gundam is unique relative to even its direct sequels ina number of ways, and it could both introduce the original beloved story to new fans as well as appeal to those people who enjoyed Gundam decades ago but never became “Gundam Fans” per se.

Given this multi-pronged assault, I have to wonder why some fans still complain in the direction Gundam is going. Never mind that Gundam AGE isn’t even out yet, I can understand why someone would look at AGE and think, “This is so not for me,” but you’re literally getting something for non-fans, something for old hardcore fans, and something somewhat in the middle. The only logic I could see behind being against this approach is that the three anime muddle the image of Gundam, compromising its overall artistic merit. I disagree with that as well.

5 thoughts on “Gundam’s Jetstream Attack

  1. Well, this isn’t directly related to your question, but I’ve seen people complain that by animating Gundam Unicorn (originally a novel), Sunrise is effectively elevating its storyline to canon status, and they don’t want it to be canon.

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  2. There’s been a lot of complaining about AGE especially. The most relevant complaint I’ve seen isn’t that it’s too different from gundam, so much as it would attract a too different sort of fan to gundam. Sort of like how some people complain about Gundam Wing/00 yaoi fangirls.

    Personally, I’m going to give both AGE and Origin a fair shake. I’m currently watching the original Gundam, but I might hold it off and watch it co-currently with Origin, just for laughs.

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  3. I’d argue the first season of Gundam 00 was a good try at bringing in new fans with a fresh new take while pleasing old fans with various aspects.

    But then someone had the bright idea to turn the second season into a combination of Zeta Gundam and suck :<

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    • I agree with you about the first season, but I know a number of hardcore Gundam fans who could just not accept 00 for various reasons, mainly that it didn’t feel enough like a Gundam. I mean, I still think it does a lot of things well and I think it’s one of the better Gundam series out there, but capturing that Gundam Magic for the really adamant UC fans can be particularly difficult.

      Though I think much of the complaints stem from a fear of emasculation for Gundam. I might write about that at some point.

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  4. Beyond mere emasculation, Gundam itself has turned into a parody of what it once was. Gundam is credited as the ancestor to the entire real robot genre, and increasingly, it seems, even in the U.C. verse, it betrays that theme by making its lead mecha increasingly supernatural. As a franchise in general, Gundam is no longer about the cross section between the limitations of machine and operator, as it was in earlier Gundam series (08th MS in particular), but the fighting spirit of said operator. Unicorn Gundam explicitly violates what characters in the UCverse consider possible, but not as a function of its hardware capabilities, but as a projection of its operator’s psyche; essentially rendering skill, preparation, training moot in the face of a weapons system that requires none of those things.

    Frankly, I think it’s sad.

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