A Beam Rifle in Precure?! Z Gundam’s Iconic Sound Effect

Mobile Suit Z Gundam is a classic anime series, a successful sequel and a template for other 80s robot anime. One aspect of it that really sticks in my mind but is less talked about is the sound design. In particular, the sound of beam rifles in Z Gundam is rather iconic, as it’s noticeably different compared to every Gundam anime before and after.

I basically never hear that distinct Z Gundam beam rifle sound anywhere else (that’s not just featuring the Z Gundam itself), with one big exception: the fighting magical girl franchise Precure.

I can’t recall exactly when I first heard the use of the Z Gundam beam rifle sound in Precure—I think it might have been in Kira Kira Precure a la Mode—but ever since then, I can’t help noticing it. In Episode 32 of Healin’ Good Precure, the monster of the week makes pretty much that exact sound when firing a blast of energy (see 17:43 in the link).

It’s so strange to me. Of all the places for the beam rifle to show up, why Precure? There’s no studio connection (as Gundam is from Sunrise and Precure is from Toei Animation), so they’re not necessarily working from the same stock library. You won’t even find the sound in other mecha series—though maybe hearing it in a giant robot anime would bring up too many comparisons? I wonder if the sheer genre distance between the two allows Precure to use the SFX? Or could there be some Gundam fans in charge of sound production at Toei who like to incorporate the beam rifle into episodes. For that matter, I think I’ve even heard the classic Newtype flash on occasion while watching Precure.

More broadly, this all makes me want to know why the Z Gundam beam rifle sound just never really went anywhere beyond that one series. Personally, I think it has a great tone that sounds like a powerful yet precise weapon. Perhaps it was too iconic for its own good, but I guess for now, it’ll live on in the battles of modern anime’s most prominent transforming heroines.

Attack on Titan is the Mobile Suit Gundam of Shounen Fighting Manga and Anime

Attack on Titan, the manga and now anime about a world where humans live in walled cities for fear of being eaten by nigh-invulnerable giants, is an interesting and unique title in that it goes against the grain of shounen action series and their conventions, especially when it comes to heroics. In particular, I find that Attack on Titan emphasizes people as a group over individuals in a way which doesn’t really happen in other popular titles.

When it comes to shounen fighting series, especially over the past ten years or so, gigantic ensemble casts are the norm. In something like Inuyasha or even Hajime no Ippo, you have the main characters, their friends and family, rivals, enemies, enemies turned allies, and so on until they require multiple volumes of guide books to keep track of them all. It’s even more the case that titles in the shounen fighting genre will emphasize group-oriented concepts, such as friends (One Piece) or fighting for a greater cause (Saint Seiya), but ultimately it boils down to unique characters cooperating. Where Attack on Titan differs, at least initially, is that it gives you a sense of a world where individual heroics are much more ineffectual, and it is only through the massing of people that they can have any hope of surviving in their world, and a slim one at that.

The reason why I make the comparison to Mobile Suit Gundam (though I understand that the comparison is not perfect) is that Gundam is known for bucking the trend of giant robots as metal superheroes, instead positioning it as an individual war machine as part of a greater force. The Gundam is still glorified to an extent, but compared to the shows which came before it, this is much less the case.

I think my point can be seen by just looking at the opening to Attack on Titan and comparing it to intros from other shounen fighting anime. Popular and long-running shounen fighting anime go through a process where their first openings emphasize a core group of characters, but as the cast expands they find it important to at least show a bit of each remotely significant characters. Whether it’s those slower-paced initial openings or the later frantic ones, though, there is still that focus on a multitude of individuals. In Attack on Titan‘s opening on the other hand, you barely get glimpses of the core cast, who are shown running and jumping from one structure to the next, almost as if the camera can’t stay on them for too long. Even Eren receives only a few brief moments centered on him, and in some of those cases he’s still seen as part of a group of fighters. The fact that the soldiers are all similarly dressed, male or female, instead of wearing unique outfits, and the fact that they all use standardized weaponry, creates a sense of them as a unified army.

That’s not to say that Attack on Titan lacks individualized or unique characters. There’s a clear protagonist in Eren, and there is a core cast of characters who are given personalities and particular skills such as sound judgment and lack of mercy. I’ve also read enough of the manga to know that there are developments which change things up significantly. However, the sense of group which Attack on Titan portrays goes beyond the typical shounen concept of such, and it lends an atmosphere which almost (but not quite) puts more attention on the military force than the people who comprise it. They swarm the titans like ants, which is about as un-shounen heroic as it gets.

This Gundam Mahjong Game Has a Really Long Title But It’s Still Really Fun

Despite being a huge fan of video games in general, I haven’t bought very many video games as of late, so I think it’s all too fitting that the latest game I’m playing is something that pretty much doesn’t NEED to be a video game but sure enjoys being one. The game I’m referring to is (deep breath) Kidou Gekidan Haro Ichiza Gundam Mahjong + Zeta: Sara ni Dekiruyou ni Nattana! Or in short, Gundam + Zeta Mahjong for the DS. Being Gundam doesn’t really imply any gameplay functions and mahjong certainly doesn’t require any sort of electronics to play, but it’s got all sorts of fun touches that may have you playing it over regular mahjong (or free online mahjong).

Gundam Mahjong is essentially mahjong + super meter. Before the match itself you pick a character, each of whom have their own special abilities, as well as a  “figure” that gives it own unique bonuses.  Char for example has the ability to see an opponent’s winning tiles if they declare “reach,” as well as the ability to deplete every other super meter. Otherwise it’s just normal mahjong. And if you have trouble remembering the rules, there’s a handy built-in guide (though you’d have to know Japanese to use it).

The playable characters are Amuro, Kai, Bright, Sleggar, Char, Lalah, Ramba Ral, Garma, Dozzle, Kycilia, Gihren, Kamille, Emma, Quattro (yes, he’s considered separate from Char), Jerid, Yazan, Scirocco, and Haman. Other characters make cameos, with Frau Bow and Four Murasame being the most prominent. It’s interesting to note which characters in Gundam are considered “characters of action” in the greater consciousness of its fandom.

The selection of Mobile Suit and Mobile Armor figures (it’s implied in the story mode that everyone is a figure-collecting otaku) is much more broad, tapping not only into the two main series but all of the Mobile Suit Variations and side stories from both the One Year War and the Grypps War. You can even use Johnny Ridden’s Mobile Suits. There are certain Mobile Suits that can only be used by specific characters, like Amuro with the original Gundam, Jerid with the Baund Doc, Haman with the Qubeley, and so on. Part of the fun is in deciding which figures to use with which characters that best utilizes their super moves. Char’s Zaku II for example allows Char to gain meter at 3.5x normal speed, which goes well with his meter-killing super. If you’re a real romantic, I suggest pairing Kycilia Zabi with one of Johnny Ridden’s mobile suits.

There’s a free play mode, a story mode, and you can customize the rule set or use a pre-existing one. The game is packed with clever nods big and small to the Gundam franchise, particularly in the way characters talk to each other during the game. When Garma wins, he will comfort his opponents by telling them that it’s not that they were weak, but that he’s simply too strong. Then he’ll recite his winning hand. The best moments are probably when you declare reach, as the music changes accordingly. Nothing says Char’s about to win more than this song.

Even without the Gundam elements though it’s still a solid mahjong engine, and you can even battle people over wireless and wi-fi. About my only complaint is that sometimes the computer opponents are a bunch of cheaters, but that comes hand in hand with any sort of game like this. So, overall impressions are about as obvious as you can get. If you like Gundam and you like mahjong, then check it out, but don’t trip over yourself in trying to obtain it.

Space Battles = Easier to Blend

If any anime company is crazy enough to do what the Zeta Gundam movies did, and combine mid-1980s cel animation with mid-2000s digital animation, please take my advice when I say that it’ll be a hell of a lot less jarring if you transition when the image is fairly dark. In this case, when battles take place in space and everything is nice and black or dark shades of blue, it’s fine. When it’s not, well…

Without video I can’t show you exactly what I mean, but here are some screen shots.



So basically, Initial D might have an easier time pulling this off.

I will not buy an anime if the opening has been replaced.

Zeta Gundam, Kodomo no Omocha, and so on. I bet someone will call me shallow, but I have my reasons.

I’m not balls against any sort of changes, as I understand that it’s silly to want, say, original Japanese credits, and despite scrolling English credits often hurting op/ed sequences sometimes (in my opinion), I know and accept its existence.

Opening and ending themes (not to mention music overall) are different, though.

When I buy a DVD, it’s a one-time thing. I am buying this collection for archival purposes, and what I want from my archive is authenticity. OPs and EDs are very much a part of an anime’s identity, and to remove them is to make the product inherently flawed. I know there are always legal/monetary reasons behind these decisions, and I feel for the anime companies, but it doesn’t mean I have to like the result.