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Thursday, December 1, 2011

Mobile Fighter G Gundam (1994) anime series review


Overall verdict: 5/10

The Good: Awesome japanese voice acting, imaginative premise, a few terrific Gundam designs, upbeat background music and songs.

The Bad: sub-par animation, cheesy script, shallow characters with chiche'd backstories, mostly silly gundam designs, slightly insulting racial stereotypes, overuse of stock footage, contrived and predictable narrative

Current Availability Status:
On DVD but not available in Singapore

VCD now out of print.
******************************Review********************

An "alternate universe" in a franchise is a marketing ploy more commonly used in comic books. It either takes previously well known characters and places them in completely new settings or it takes the spirit of the original story and translate it into something fresh for newcomers to the franchise. Mobile Fighter G Gundam is the first Gundam series to apply this ploy. However, somebody took that whole "Alternate" bit a little too far. Aside from the Gundam's faces, there is absolutely nothing in common with previous gundam series; neither the spirit, feel nor the themes of war. A fresh start, yes. But is it too "fresh" to be considered "Gundam"?
G Gundam seems to cash in on the popularity of Hong Kong "wuxia" movies like "Stormriders" and fighting games like "Street Fighter" that had gained a huge following from 1991 to 1994. The story takes place in year 60 of the Future Century. During the 13th Gundam Fight tournament we follow Neo Japan's representative Domon Kasshu who's mission is two-fold: win the tournament for Neo Japan as well as track down his brother who had stolen the mysterious Devil Gundam from the Neo-Japan government.

Most of the themes center around the individual characters and their interpersonal relationships. The western philosophical waxings about ethics, warfare, politics and purpose have given way to more eastern schools of thought bordering on new age "Ying yang" stuff. There is a hint of a socio-political undertone around the middle of the series but it is never pursued. An environmental theme which seemed very common in the early 90s is also present.

Along the way Domon meets many bizarre characters and fellow fighters, some of whom he befriends. Too bad that almost the entire cast seem to be just re-threads of the usual stock literary characters; the strong silent type, the hyper active loud mouth, the calm suave thinker to name a few. But in what is possibly the worst case of political incorrectness ever, some of the side characters are just downright insulting to the countries they represent. Take the "SCUD" Gundam representing neo-Arabia piloted by borderline terrorist, or perhaps Neo Germany's Nazi themed Speigel Gundam.
The main characters only come across as mildly interesting with much of their motives(Fighting for his lost honor, fighting to free loved ones from prison, fighting to prove his manhood etc) seemingly "tacked on" just to provide some illusion of character development. There is even a attempt at a love story in the later part of the series but it soon takes a nosedive into cheesy territory. One wonders what monkeys wrote the script. A Lot of dialogue feel like some bad fanfiction; overdone, unnatural, almost like a self parody at times.

Thankfully the Japanese cast manage to take the script seriously and deliver a terrific and professional performance. Veterans like Tomokazu Seki, Kappei Yamaguchi and Yuri Amano bring much needed heart and passion to the otherwise wonky script, making even the silliest lines sound good. The English dub however was horrendous, which was a real pity actually. G Gundam's multi racial cast could have benefited from having different accents or even mixed languages(eg: Neo Japanese characters speak Japanese, french characters speak french, Chinese characters speak Chinese etc etc). Not only does the English dub for this series sound flat, everyone sounds.........Canadian; no effort at all is made to give the cast a variety of accents. A taiwanese chinese dub exists for the show but unlike the japanese cast, these guys obviously thought the show was a joke. Roles are over acted, lines are over emoted, and everyone seems to be shouting all the time in a constantly excited state.

Perhaps G Gundam's greatest crime is to fall into the trappings of typical shonen anime staples. The constant "powering up" and learning new techniques got really old back in Dragonball Z. Sadly, even the animation is as dated as Dragonball Z with some well animated stock footage inter-spliced with the mostly stiff and uninspired character animation. The art is very basic on G Gundam and has an overall low budget feel. Details like clothing folds and shadows are kept to a minimum making the characters look flatly colored. Even 1980s Gundam series like Z Gundam and V Gundam manage to look better than this 1994 series. Only the overused stock footage of Gundams preparing to fight or performing special moves look remotely decent.

Aside from its engaging character relationships, top notch acting, and an overall original look and feel for a Gundam series, Mobile Fighter G Gundam suffers from too many flaws, from its less-than-mediocre animation to the contrived story and satirical side characters. But if you are on the prowl for an over-the-top, entertainingly fun, action packed series that still has some of that "Gundam charm", then Mobile Fighter G Gundam is a great way to pass the time until something better comes along.
*****************************Review End******************

Go For it: if you like fighting games like Street Fighter or Tekken
Avoid it: if you expect anything similar to other gundam series or any of the elements common to the gundam franchise

Entertainment: B-
Story: B-
Characters: B
Animation: C-
Art: B-
Voice work (japanese): A
Voice work (english): C-
Voice work (chinese): D
Replay Value: B
"Brains": C+

PWNED!


Ooh! Gundam Up-skirt shot. Woof!


Fly!! Fly!! Fly!! Buzz off! AAAARRGH!! Fly!


Great Snakes! Its a great snake




Sometimes, the jokes make themselves


You really do not need a caption for this


Look, Up in the Sky! Its...............


We should stop with the captions now. These screenshots are hilarious as they are


Universal Century Gundam fan's reaction to watching G Gundam

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