G Gundam Thoughts

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G Gundam Thoughts

Post by Jaynz » Thu May 13, 2010 11:20 am

In preparation for my move, I went through a LOT of Gundam material all at once. I'm going to take some time today to go over what I saw and my quick thoughts on each series and movie. This post will be about the loved-or-hated "G Gundam". G Gundam was the second 'big Gundam' release series in the United States, being aired on Cartoon Network immediately after Gundam Wing (in the exact opposite order of its original airing in Japan). In the US, the series overall tone and insane marketing campaign (many, many toys flooding the shelves) quickly undid the popularity that had accumulated with Gundam Wing, forcing Bandai to return to its reliance on Power Rangers. A simplistic assessment, but is it one that's really fair on the show?

Sadly, it probably is. Even in Japan the series has a bit of 'love or hate' relationship with the fans. It's also very easy to see why. G Gundam is a 'riff' of popular anime of the early 1990s, meaning that it's not quite a parody, but it's decidedly unrealistic and runs with some of the more absurd tropes found in Sailor Moon, Yu Yu Hakisho, and (obviously) Dragonball Z. Worse still, the entire first-arc plot is a direct lifting of the 'Robot Jox' movie and novel, with only the names changed to protect the not-so-innocent. If you're accustomed to Wing or Universal Century, G Gundam will likely make your head explode.

The story's primary focus, overall, is the nannite-engine called the 'Ultimate Gundam' which was created to rebuild Earth's collapsed eco-sphere. Unfortunately, the Military of Neo-Japan sees only weaponized potential in this Gundam and try to capture it, causing it to malfunction and be reborn as the 'Dark Gundam'. This comes as a new set of quasi-Olympic games are about to return, which will allow one colony to control the Earth Sphere's government for four years. These games consist of having a representative Gundam from each nation battle it out randomly on Earth until there is a victory. Enter our hero, Domon Kassue, who enters the games as cover to find the Dark Gundam, which is piloted by his brother.

Despite a fairly solid and gritty opening, the show quickly moves into 'riff' territory with the over-the-top martial arts displayed by Domon and his fellow competitors. Sometimes this is played straight with some very good results (such as the first time Domon enters hyper-mode), but it often winds up being just a bit silly. The silliness ramps up through the games as we see more and more ridiculous Gundam designs (and, despite what you may think, the "Sailor Moon" Gundam is one of the better ones). Even the Dark Gundam itself owes much of its design to the hentai-villain Overfiend, though fortunately not nearly as sexually explicit.

On the plus side, there are some fairly solid Gundam designs in the series (such as the Shinging, Rising, Burning, Dragon, Spiegel, and Master Gundams) and there's actually a fairly solid plot through most of the series. It's also very hard not to root for Domon when you hear 'this fist of mine glows with an awesome power!', and it's oddly contagious (pretty much all the main characters do this at some point, and it's even slipped into non G Gundam characters in the games). It also helps that most of the characters are genuinely likable, and any angst shown is handled well and completely understandable.

On the final down side, the ending is just so ridiculously over the top (particularly with Neo-America's secret weapon) that it caps the entire series with the worst elements of the series, leaving an overall bad impression. It's a bit unfair and unfortunate when compared to the more solid storytelling in the episodes immediately prior.

So, overall? G Gundam was indeed a fun and light-hearted series for the most part and fairly easy to get into. On the downside, the constant riffs and silliness (which can often be inappropriate) can rip a more serious-minded viewer right out of the show. Ultimately, it's all to easy to see why some fans would hate it, while other fans would love it. It's completely different from all other incarnations of Gundam, but on its own merits is a passable, if not great, show.

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Re: G Gundam Thoughts

Post by DuelGundam2099 » Thu May 13, 2010 12:03 pm

My main problem with this series wasn't the silliness as much as it was slow pacing in the first half, until the Pharaoh Gundam fight it was kind of boring, but once that did occur it was pretty much watchable to awesome. I watched the subbed version because the dubbed version wasn't available and I think that's good 'cause "syndication" annoys the heck out of me.
On the final down side, the ending is just so ridiculously over the top (particularly with Neo-America's secret weapon)
Strange, I liked the last nine eps a lot and you have to admit the Statue of Liberty having a death beam was hilarious. :lol: That and it made Devil Gundam more of a genuine threat, before it was used by Rain it was basically an EI-01 wanna-be. My only real complaint is, er, well, how to put this, not having Spiegal Gundam in it.
a fairly solid and gritty opening
I'll admit the opening theme was good (the first anyway), but gritty? Every time I hear that music the first thing that pops into my head is Super Mario Brothers 3 and Super Mario World. :lol: Then again the themes to Gundam Wing remind me of Star Fox 64, so maybe it's just me.

One question I have with this series is why change Spiegel's name to Shadow Gundam? Shouldn't something like "Ninja" be more fitting since Spieg' basically uses ninja weapons?

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Re: G Gundam Thoughts

Post by Jaynz » Thu May 13, 2010 12:17 pm

DuelGundam2099 wrote:Strange, I liked the last nine eps a lot and you have to admit the Statue of Liberty having a death beam was hilarious. :lol: That and it made Devil Gundam more of a genuine threat, before it was used by Rain it was basically an EI-01 wanna-be. My only real complaint is, er, well, how to put this, not having Spiegal Gundam in it.
The problem is that you got a very psyczoid episode. There's this huge major nasty threat, Domon's true love is at its core, and let's make with lots and LOTS of really bad puns and anime jokes. Ergh? The fact that this came immediately after several crowning moments of awesome (as as the Spiegel) was a bit of a buzzkill for me.
I'll admit the opening theme was good (the first anyway), but gritty? Every time I hear that music the first thing that pops into my head is Super Mario Brothers 3 and Super Mario World. :lol: Then again the themes to Gundam Wing remind me of Star Fox 64, so maybe it's just me.
The episode, not the theme. :) The first episode was surprisingly dark, played very straight. You really got the impression that the games were 'hell on Earth', and were coming at too high a price. Indeed, since this was Master Asia's very motivation, it's a pity that the theme got so buried for most of the show.
One question I have with this series is why change Spiegel's name to Shadow Gundam? Shouldn't something like "Ninja" be more fitting since Spieg' basically uses ninja weapons?
I'm honestly not sure why 'Spiegel' would be considered offensive unless there's a WWII reference that I'm just not getting. (Nijna wouldn't make sense since it's a GERMAN Gundam, after all.) I understood issues with 'God Gundam' and 'Devil Gundam', naturally, but that seemed to be a bit odd to change. I think Cartoon Network (which had a lot of power over the dub) would be the entity to blame here, and they were want to be odd with 'creative contorl' over series they aired.

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Re: G Gundam Thoughts

Post by Red Comet90 » Thu May 13, 2010 7:00 pm

The problem is that you got a very psyczoid episode. There's this huge major nasty threat, Domon's true love is at its core, and let's make with lots and LOTS of really bad puns and anime jokes. Ergh? The fact that this came immediately after several crowning moments of awesome (as as the Spiegel) was a bit of a buzzkill for me.[/quote]

How did that battle make a bunch of bad puns and anime jokes? G Gundam's last 9 to 10 episodes are the best moments of G Gundam. If anything the battle against Spiegel Gundam was an appetizer for what was the main course of the ending. G Gundam prides itself in being ridiculously over the top and doesn't care what it does, but it knows that it does everything in a spectacular over the top fashion that's amazing.

I don't see why the Statue of Liberty cannon is such a big surprise when you have floating land masses in space, a martial arts tournament that involves mecha, and a whole Kung-Fu movie like flare to it.

Jaynz wrote:The episode, not the theme. :) The first episode was surprisingly dark, played very straight. You really got the impression that the games were 'hell on Earth', and were coming at too high a price. Indeed, since this was Master Asia's very motivation, it's a pity that the theme got so buried for most of the show.
I have to agree. The 1st episode is INCREDIBLY dark. The 2nd episode is so different in contrast to it as is the rest of the series. The 1st Episode shows how bad the Gundam Fight is for the Earth and just what deplorable conditions earthlings deal with. That theme takes a back seat till Master Asia's big reveal of his motivation.
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Re: G Gundam Thoughts

Post by Brave Fencer Kirby » Thu May 13, 2010 9:16 pm

Jaynz wrote:On the final down side, the ending is just so ridiculously over the top (particularly with Neo-America's secret weapon) that it caps the entire series with the worst elements of the series, leaving an overall bad impression. It's a bit unfair and unfortunate when compared to the more solid storytelling in the episodes immediately prior.

So, overall? G Gundam was indeed a fun and light-hearted series for the most part and fairly easy to get into. On the downside, the constant riffs and silliness (which can often be inappropriate) can rip a more serious-minded viewer right out of the show.
I don't really think that "it's not serious enough" or "some people will be put off by the tone" is a legitimate criticism. While it's certainly true that some people are put off by the tone, the tone is part and parcel of what G Gundam is. Criticizing G Gundam for being a Gundam series with a lighter tone seems akin to criticizing Sixth Sense for being a Bruce Willis movie with no action in it. Sure, it might defy your initial expectations, but that doesn't mean that it's a flaw.

G Gundam, unlike most other Gundams, is more character-driven than plot-driven. In most Gundam shows, the main characters are trying to save the world, defeat the evil empire, defend Truth, Justice, and the American Way, etc etc. In G Gundam they do get around to that (eventually), but it's not the primary conflict. The real drive of the series is the characters and their interaction -- it's about Domon and his relationship with the people around him. His family, his love interest, his teacher, his friends. It's not a coincidence that the climax of the entire series isn't the defeat of the antagonists -- it's Domon's declaration of love for Rain. (Which coincides with the final defeat of the Dark Gundam, sure, but its defeat was inevitable by that point anyway, and anything else resembling a foe had been left broken and bleeding in the dust episodes ago.) It's also not coincidental that G Gundam is one of the only Gundam shows with a decent love story (the others being Gundam X and arguably Turn A) -- in most Gundam shows it's a side plot (and in most of those it's just used to punch up the angst level when the main character's girlfriend inevitably bites the dust), but in G Gundam it's actually the focus.

Could the same thing have been done with a more "serious" tone? Well, that depends on what you mean by "serious". Nothing about Domon's relationships are played for laughs -- it's the source of the drama for the entire series. Domon's relationships to the rest of the Shuffle Alliance or to Rain are never treated as being inconsequential or unimportant, and in that sense they're very serious indeed. If by "serious" you mean "grimdark" or "angsty", then no, I don't think G Gundam could've been more "serious" and still been what it was. The whole point is that determination, friendship, and love can conquer all and overcome anything. That doesn't really come through as well when you had to kill your friends and failed to save your love interest from the big bad (or something else appropriately "serious").

The ultimate point is that while G Gundam seems far more "kiddy" or "silly" than other Gundam shows on the surface, if you dig down a layer past the spandex and martial arts superpowers, it's really not. It's not a comedy; it's not trying to make you laugh. It's certainly not meant for kids (at least, not more than any other Gundam show is). It is what it is -- one of the best Gundam shows (at least in my opinion), and one that benefits from being ridiculously over the top. I mean, come on, it ends with a coherent heart-shaped death beam fueled by love. If you can think of a better way to represent the ultimate triumph of love over adversity, then I'd like to hear it.
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Re: G Gundam Thoughts

Post by Jaynz » Sat May 15, 2010 4:53 pm

I don't really think that "it's not serious enough" or "some people will be put off by the tone" is a legitimate criticism.
There are a couple of points here, which the rest of your reply basically expounds upon, but I'll sum up. "Some people will be put off by the tone" is a bit of a truism, if you're more serious-minded, G Gundam may actually annoy you. Since thousands of people have effectively said this, I'm not sure how you can really argue against it.

As for 'it's not serious enough', my criticism was that the show went from 'taking itself seriously' at certain points to going the other direction - this can work sometimes, but G Gundam doesn't quite pull it off in its own narrative, in my opinion.

At this point, I wasn't comparing G Gundam to Universal Century, but only to itself, in that its sense of narrative and structure was sacrificed a bit too often for the laughs at the end - where it made no sense to do it. The fact that some of the most goofball antics come at the very end, right after a lot of 'crowning moments of awesome', really drove home the worst aspects of the series.

Just remember, it's just my opinion. Please refrain from going all 'wrongthink' on my for it. Not liking something (or, in this case just having criticisms of something I actually overall DID like) is not the same thing as a personal insult against you. Tastes always vary, and that's a good thing.

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Re: G Gundam Thoughts

Post by Brave Fencer Kirby » Sat May 15, 2010 5:33 pm

Jaynz wrote:"Some people will be put off by the tone" is a bit of a truism, if you're more serious-minded, G Gundam may actually annoy you. Since thousands of people have effectively said this, I'm not sure how you can really argue against it.
I didn't say that it wasn't true, I said it wasn't a valid criticism. Saying that G Gundam is bad because it's not serious enough is like saying that Scooby Doo is bad because it's too childish. You're not wrong (G Gundam isn't as serious as other Gundam shows; Scooby Doo is childish) but you're missing the point. Saying "I don't like it" for that reason is one thing; that's just a matter of taste, which no one can really say you're wrong about. Saying "it's bad because of it" or "it would be better without it", though, is sort of like saying an opera would be better without all the singing.
Jaynz wrote:its sense of narrative and structure was sacrificed a bit too often for the laughs at the end - where it made no sense to do it. The fact that some of the most goofball antics come at the very end, right after a lot of 'crowning moments of awesome', really drove home the worst aspects of the series.
Like what, exactly? The Statue of Liberty Cannon? The dozens of robots flying into space by clinging to the sides of rockets? The ultimate defeat of evil via a spontaneous dance routine transformed into a heart-shaped energy blast fueled by the power of love? The fact that you count those as the worst aspects of the series makes me think, again, that you're sort of missing the point. G Gundam is unabashedly super robot, as opposed to most Gundams which at least pretend toward being real robot. That sort of thing is par for the course in super robot shows. Being as over the top as possible is exactly the idea. Again, there's nothing wrong with disliking super robot, or preferring real robot, but saying that G Gundam is bad because it's super robot isn't really a good way to go about criticizing it.
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Re: G Gundam Thoughts

Post by AmuroNT1 » Sat May 15, 2010 6:34 pm

I think the others are covering the opinion side of things well enough; there's just one thing I want to address.
Jaynz wrote:In the US, the series overall tone and insane marketing campaign (many, many toys flooding the shelves) quickly undid the popularity that had accumulated with Gundam Wing, forcing Bandai to return to its reliance on Power Rangers.
Actually, no; while the overabundance of action figures that most fans wouldn't want WAS a major misstep, G Gundam didn't "kill interest". If anything, Bandai trying to treat America exactly like Japan in terms of merchandising and programming (IE One Year War all day every day) was what really hurt the franchise.
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Re: G Gundam Thoughts

Post by Brave Fencer Kirby » Sat May 15, 2010 9:54 pm

AmuroNT1 wrote:while the overabundance of action figures that most fans wouldn't want WAS a major misstep, G Gundam didn't "kill interest". If anything, Bandai trying to treat America exactly like Japan in terms of merchandising and programming (IE One Year War all day every day) was what really hurt the franchise.
While that's true overall, the flood of G Gundam figures that no one wanted did piss off a lot of stores. When you want more Shining Gundam and Burning Gundam figures because that's what's selling well, and Bandai insists you accept yet another shipment of Hurricane, Toros, and Mermaid Gundams because they're trying to clear their excess stocks, you're not going to be too pleased with Bandai. The way they handled the G Gundam merchandise is generally credited with giving Gundam a bad name among retailers, which in turn contributed to the downfall of the Gundam series as a whole in North America. Gundam is extremely merchandise-driven -- if they're not selling toys and kits, then they're not making much money, so keeping the retailers happy with Gundam is an important part of keeping the Gundam franchise strong. And Bandai utterly failed to do that.
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Re: G Gundam Thoughts

Post by AmuroNT1 » Sat May 15, 2010 11:28 pm

Oh, the action figure thing was definitely a screw-up (still not sure WHAT Bandai was thinking on that one), I was just saying that it's not entirely to blame for Gundam losing steam over here in the US.
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Re: G Gundam Thoughts

Post by YazanGable » Wed May 19, 2010 1:30 am

OK. There's just one point I want to clarify here
Jaynz wrote:G Gundam was the second 'big Gundam' release series in the United States, being aired on Cartoon Network immediately after Gundam Wing (in the exact opposite order of its original airing in Japan).
This is actually inaccurate on a few levels.
Bandai USA and CN had never started airing a Gundam series immediately after one went off. They probably wanted to let the market settle before throwing something else in.

Also, G Gundam didn't come right after Wing. Rather, Wing was followed by Mobile Suit Gundam TV. The show did horribly ratings wise, resulting in CN pulling the plug a week before the show's ending (citing 9/11 as their justification. A claim that fell rather flat a few weeks later when they moved 08th MS onto the weekday slots.)

There was something of a downtime after that where Toonami coasted Gundam on the ratings from 08th MS reruns. G wasn't picked up until a considerable block of time later, and was likely picked as its merchandise-heavy style could help Bandai recoup from 0079's financial blow.

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Re: G Gundam Thoughts

Post by Dark Duel » Wed May 19, 2010 9:32 am

I don't really know about how the series was received by the fandom as a whole here in the States, but I found G Gundam to be a lot of fun to watch. I mean, it runs completely counter to what Gundam usually looks and feels like, and while certain moments in the dub were cringeworthy in the extreme (like Domon commenting "Hmmm...he's out cold." or something to that effect after stopping to check out the pilot of a crashed plane in one of the later episodes - as if plane crashes knocked people unconscious rather than killing them...or pretty much any time Chibodee and Sai ever opened their mouth), I had a lot of fun with most of the battles, and the name changes, except for Kowloon Gundam's and the Pharaoh Gundams', didn't bother me at all.
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Re: G Gundam Thoughts

Post by HalfDemonInuyasha » Fri May 21, 2010 2:09 pm

G Gundam is one of the few alternate universe Gundam series that I really liked. (Alongside Gundam X, wish it didn't get cut off, and Turn A Gundam.)

The MS designs were unique and good-looking (windmills FTW! XD), but they didn't focus SOLELY on one-sided battles where the main character(s) are virtually invincible and ONLY (come close to) lose as an excuse to get better MS or something. There's actual character and plot development with great plot twists (like the REAL deal behind the "Devil" Gundam and Kyoji's motives, Master Asia's motives, and who the REAL enemies were at the time) alongside great (and pretty balanced) battles.

The fact that it was so unique with how it went about things (DBZ-like moving MS, lol) is another thing that drew me to it. Sure, it LOOKS like it'd fail because of how different or even weird it is compared to Universal Century, but it's quite good once you get past the surface. The lighter tones it had at times is what ZZ failed to do for its first half of the series.
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Re: G Gundam Thoughts

Post by jabman025 » Fri May 21, 2010 3:58 pm

I really didn't like G Gundam but I know exactly the reason why in my case. With a few notable exeptions I really prefer the real robot genere to the super robot genre and G Gundam is pretty much "foot on the gas" Super Robots. I know the G Gundam was essentially the first Alternate universe and as such they wanted to take it as far away for the UC as possible but for me personally it was the wrong direction. I don't hate G Gundam but it does rank on the low side of my favorite gundams series.
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Re: G Gundam Thoughts

Post by Aegis » Sat May 22, 2010 12:45 am

Really, when you got transforming windmills, a skinny Jack-in-a-box, an elephant, a skimpy schoolgirl, and a walking American cliche amongst the many other oddball designs complete with pilots shouting out their special attacks, and we're somehow talking about 'lack of seriousness'? Main character's design, of course, had to be the 'coolest' looking, with Shining Gundam and God Gundam in there. I was actually surprised the series even had some seriousness and even loaded with depth in there with all the goofy designs and the silliness. Somehow, when you have characters ripping mobile suits with scarfs or punching buildings with their fists, a Statue of Liberty Cannon is not only not a bad thing, but suits the style very well. With what the series was aiming for, G Gundam was a fine series.

It's why I liked this series along with Turn A, simply because both of them were NOT your typical Gundam series.

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Re: G Gundam Thoughts

Post by Jaynz » Sun May 30, 2010 3:48 pm

Again, Aegis, the problem isn't that G Gundam when 'Giant Robo', it's that it vassilated so strongly between two moods that the narrative overall suffered as a result. Gags thrown in at inappropriate moments, etc. You can switch moods within a narrative (look at Kenshin, or even Sailor Moon), but G Gundam didn't do it well, particularly at the end.

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Re: G Gundam Thoughts

Post by ShadowCell » Sun May 30, 2010 5:12 pm

Where exactly do you think they're throwing in "gags at inappropriate moments"?

I mean, if things like the Statue of Liberty Cannon still surprise you by episode 47 of a 49-episode show, maybe you should've paid better attention to the 46 episodes that came before it.

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Re: G Gundam Thoughts

Post by Jaynz » Sun May 30, 2010 5:41 pm

ShadowCell wrote:Where exactly do you think they're throwing in "gags at inappropriate moments"?

I mean, if things like the Statue of Liberty Cannon still surprise you by episode 47 of a 49-episode show, maybe you should've paid better attention to the 46 episodes that came before it.
Once more. It's not that the gags were a surprise, it's that they broke the narrative to the detriment of the overall narrative. Sometimes this can work, but often in G Gundam it was jarring from what was otherwise going on. The Statue of Liberty attack may have worked at another point in the show, but when it came at the 'crowning moment of doom', and right after several 'crowning moments of awesome', it was a gag that hurt the show.

Yes, I know you're going to defend this anyway and ignore the point that I've repeatedly made now.. but once again, it's NOT that the show hit the silly mood, it's that the show often didn't know when to use it and when not to. This oscillation is what gave the show a bad name to many fans, and it's easy to see where that frustration came from.

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Re: G Gundam Thoughts

Post by ShadowCell » Sun May 30, 2010 6:03 pm

But the point here is that it wasn't "breaking the narrative," because the show literally does not provide you any reason to assume that stuff like the Statue of Liberty Cannon won't show up. You provided all those reasons to make that assumption yourself--and that's not the show's fault.

It's not really very fair to criticize a show for not living up to the unreasonable expectations you continued to hold despite forty-some episodes' worth of indication to the contrary.

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Re: G Gundam Thoughts

Post by Jaynz » Sun May 30, 2010 6:09 pm

Since you're one-half word shy of saying "it's unfair to say anything negative about this show, even when explicitly giving your own opinion, because I like it more than you do", I think we're done here. You're not going to change my mind about how the story and narrative flowed by saying "nuh uh, because I liked it and that's why!"

Sorry.

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