Watching the UC series for the first time

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Watching the UC series for the first time

Post by M-308 Gunner » Fri Oct 18, 2013 3:44 pm

Hopefully I'm not breaking forum rules by talking about a bunch of series at once here, but I've seen some peoples' "re-watching" threads so I figured it was appropriate. :mrgreen:

A bit of background: Like the typical U.S. Gundam fan, I first encountered Gundam by way of Wing back when it aired on Toonami, which was when I was in late junior high. I got hugely into the model kits for a while, and not having access to any of the traditional gunpla supplies, they turned out pretty sad :? (more on that in another thread, probably).

Since I didn't have cable TV I had to experience GW entirely through its VHS release and I never finished it. Through high school and college I had my ons and offs with Gundam, watching most of SD Gundam Force (yes, I am a fan) and all of G Gundam (it's my favorite). I discovered Super Robot Wars and other stuff here and there. Basically, I gained a pretty thorough working knowledge of the various Gundam universes.

But up until this year, I had almost no experience with the primary Gundam material. I knew the names of almost every suit and armor that appeared in MSG, but I had never watched a single episode of the show. So, a month or so ago I decided to end that losing streak and power through all of the major UC shows, and in this thread I'd like to talk about what I thought of each one.

First I'll point out the order in which I'm watching the shows and I'll include my thoughts on each series in later posts.

Order:
1. Mobile Suit Gundam
2. Mobile Suit Gundam: The 08th MS Team
3. Mobile Suit Gundam 0080: War in the Pocket
4. Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory
5. Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam
6. Mobile Suit ZZ Gundam
7. Mobile Suit Gundam: Char's Counterattack

Obviously I'm going in chronological order, and not every UC story is represented - I think I left out F91, Igloo, Victory, and Unicorn. I might come back to those later but this is my plan for now.

As of this post, I'm up to the third episode of Zeta Gundam. (So no spoilers for anything after that, please!)

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Re: Watching the UC series for the first time

Post by Angelo Sauper » Sat Oct 19, 2013 6:27 am

I think in the case of 0083 (and possibly 08th MS Team) that release order is better. I think MSG straight to Zeta, or 0080 to Zeta would be less jarring.

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Re: Watching the UC series for the first time

Post by HellCat » Sat Oct 19, 2013 4:38 pm

When I started my still ongoing rewatch (I started this dang thing in 2011!) I intentionally watched the 3 OVAs at their storyline placement because I felt it would give me best appreciation of if they actually worked. Especially 0083, which is trying to bridge MSG to Zeta. It actually annoyed me I could only do this to a limited degree with Unicorn; I had to watch what was released thus far and then jump to F91.
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Re: Watching the UC series for the first time

Post by M-308 Gunner » Sat Oct 19, 2013 5:38 pm

Mobile Suit Gundam (TV series)

Capsule:
ANIMATION: C
CHARACTERS: A
MECH DESIGN: A
PLOT: B+
OVERALL: A

Favorite mecha: Gundam, G-Fighter, Zaku II, Gyan, White Base, Big Zam
Favorite character(s): Kai, Bright, Sayla, Char

Review: I purposefully watched the TV version of MSG simply because I knew some of my favorite mecha, particularly the crazy one-off Zeon mobile armors, were cut from the films. And I'm glad I made that choice, because one of my favorite things about MSG is its transitional point between the super and real robot genres. I wanted to see all that weird not-quite-RR or SR stuff, like the hyper hammer and the G-Fighter, dammit!

Anyway, I went into this show fully expecting to love it and got exactly what I expected. The animation was crude but I was surprised several times at how the show was able to portray a certain grandeur with its limited means, particularly at times when White Base is moving slowly through cities and during some of the more intense one-on-one mecha duels. (I noticed that the more suits involved, the worse the animation, which made some of the final space battles a bit hard to look at.)

Character-wise, I found something to like about almost everyone and I enjoyed that most of the supporting characters on White Base got at least one episode dedicated to their development. I thought Frau/Fraw got a bit short-handed, though, but maybe she will reappear later on, I dunno. I really liked the episodes developing Kai and Mirai.

The mecha are of course classic and I went into the show already liking all of them. I tend to prefer mecha that err on the side of simplicity, so that has made me like the original RX-78-2 over almost all of its descendants. I really enjoyed scenes where the battle hinged on what weapons Amuro had available to him - he runs out of beam ammo and survives with just his shield, stuff like that.

Finally, the plot was satisfying but I started to feel a bit cold once the show started with all the newtype stuff in the third act. I preferred a bit more the parts where the White Base crew is simply trying to survive while traveling through Zeon-infested lands. The Char/Sayla/Zabi family subplot was also far more interesting to me than the Char/Amuro/Lalah triangle. On the other hand, the Char-Amuro rivalry was great and I really liked the scene where Char meets Amuro on Side 6.

Overall, the show left me hungry for the next thing and I was glad to transition directly into the super-polished animation of the three OVA series.

Next: The 08th MS Team
Angelo Sauper wrote:I think in the case of 0083 (and possibly 08th MS Team) that release order is better. I think MSG straight to Zeta, or 0080 to Zeta would be less jarring.
I'll see what I think once I get through everything, but so far I feel like the three OVAs were a good break from all the newtype stuff in MSG, and by the time I was done with the OVAs I was ready to get back to it.
HellCat wrote:When I started my still ongoing rewatch (I started this dang thing in 2011!) I intentionally watched the 3 OVAs at their storyline placement because I felt it would give me best appreciation of if they actually worked. Especially 0083, which is trying to bridge MSG to Zeta. It actually annoyed me I could only do this to a limited degree with Unicorn; I had to watch what was released thus far and then jump to F91.
That's been my experience so far. (Although at the moment I'm not planning to watch Unicorn or F91...probably I will eventually, though.)

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Re: Watching the UC series for the first time

Post by HalfDemonInuyasha » Mon Oct 21, 2013 1:22 am

HellCat wrote:It actually annoyed me I could only do this to a limited degree with Unicorn; I had to watch what was released thus far and then jump to F91.
Thankfully, there's no real direct connection (animation-wise anyway) between Unicorn and F91 (as in F91 doesn't really show nor talk about anything straight from CCA or Unicorn and such), so you're not really missing anything by not being able to complete Unicorn and hitting F91 earlier. That's the beauty of a "blank" (officially anyway) 27 year gap. Same with F91 to Victory, unless they decide to animate the Jovian War stuff (Crossbone Gundam series').
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Re: Watching the UC series for the first time

Post by M-308 Gunner » Mon Oct 21, 2013 2:19 pm

Mobile Suit Gundam: The 08th MS Team

Capsule:
ANIMATION: A+
CHARACTERS: A
MECH DESIGN: B+
PLOT: A
OVERALL: A

Favorite mecha: Apsalus, Gundam Ground Type
Favorite character(s): All

Review: I knew I was going to like this one. I consider the mid-to-late 1990s to be the pinnacle of my favorite type of animation - hand-drawn - and the short running time and bigger budget for OVA series meant this was going to be some seriously polished stuff. (And it is.)

It helped that I liked all of the members of the 08th MS team immediately. Each had developed goals and persona and were quite distinct from each other. I was glad that Aina was a capable pilot and broke the helpless, brainwashed love interest stereotype by frequently making up her own mind and demonstrating initiative. Unlike what we will see later in 0083, her reasoning for choosing the "bad guys" made sense to me.

The mech design, while definitely Very Good, didn't really wow me, other than the crazy Apsalus. Still, the designers clearly spent a lot of time hashing out how the Ground Types actually worked, and I can't fault them at all. It's very much a personal taste type of thing.

Like what I said for the characters, the plot of the series made sense to me and was easy to follow. I'm not sure what the prevailing opinion on the ending is, but given the volume of tragedy in the following two OVAs, I'd say I was glad for the happy ending. For once it was nice to see some characters actually escape the horrors of war.

I kinda wish we would have gotten to see more of Shiro's memories of Operation British. As far as I know this is the only animated appearance of that part of the one-year-war beyond the shot of the colony falling in the early openings to MSG.

But beyond that I have very little critique of 08th MS Team. I think if someone wanted to get into Gundam, this would probably be the first thing I'd show them.

Next: War in the Pocket

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Re: Watching the UC series for the first time

Post by Amion » Mon Oct 21, 2013 3:49 pm

It would behoove me to heavily, highly and severely recommend Crossbone Gundam the manga, that is, the first manga, it has had sequels but the original is the only one I've read. they really set things up for Victory Gundam, and handle the newtype question the best way I think has ever been done, sort of gives you a good perspective on what Tomino actually thinks of them and what points he makes in Zeta concerning them through character actions. Since well, the show's dialogue would have you believe all sorts of stuff different. :P
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Re: Watching the UC series for the first time

Post by M-308 Gunner » Mon Oct 21, 2013 3:56 pm

Amion wrote:It would behoove me to heavily, highly and severely recommend Crossbone Gundam the manga, that is, the first manga, it has had sequels but the original is the only one I've read. they really set things up for Victory Gundam, and handle the newtype question the best way I think has ever been done, sort of gives you a good perspective on what Tomino actually thinks of them and what points he makes in Zeta concerning them through character actions. Since well, the show's dialogue would have you believe all sorts of stuff different. :P
I'll probably check it out once I get through Char's Counterattack, but we'll see if I've burned myself out on Gundam by that point. (hopefully not)

I've always liked the design of the Crossbone Gundam.

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Re: Watching the UC series for the first time

Post by Kratos » Mon Oct 21, 2013 10:03 pm

Looks like we have reasonably similar taste! I really like MSG and 08th, and both fall on the same level for me. Can't wait to read the rest of your reviews!
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Re: Watching the UC series for the first time

Post by Soma Taozi » Mon Oct 21, 2013 10:34 pm

It is always nice to see people review these shows as they go, if I had the time I might do something similar in the future (that is going to be years down the road though).

We agree on MSG, but I was never a huge fan of 08 ms, mostly because I felt the relationship between Anna and Shiro was a little rushed and forced (not to mention cliched) but maybe that is just me being jaded.

That being said, how are you watching these shows so fast? 08 MS team is only 12 episodes sure...but it only took you 2 days?! That is remarkably fast. Especially for something that is as heavy as Gundam.

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Re: Watching the UC series for the first time

Post by HalfDemonInuyasha » Mon Oct 21, 2013 11:40 pm

Soma Taozi wrote:It is always nice to see people review these shows as they go, if I had the time I might do something similar in the future (that is going to be years down the road though).

We agree on MSG, but I was never a huge fan of 08 ms, mostly because I felt the relationship between Anna and Shiro was a little rushed and forced (not to mention cliched) but maybe that is just me being jaded.

That being said, how are you watching these shows so fast? 08 MS team is only 12 episodes sure...but it only took you 2 days?! That is remarkably fast. Especially for something that is as heavy as Gundam.
Yeah, it was definitely rushed/forced considering how little time they spent together. Heck, even their ideology wasn't the same when they first met; they really just changed to hri "no killing" bit after meeting eachother, IIRC. So I mostly ignored the "love" bits and focused more on the consequences of their ideology (the anti-SEED of Gundam, lol) and everything else.
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Re: Watching the UC series for the first time

Post by M-308 Gunner » Mon Oct 21, 2013 11:53 pm

Kratos wrote:Looks like we have reasonably similar taste! I really like MSG and 08th, and both fall on the same level for me. Can't wait to read the rest of your reviews!
Thanks! Watching these shows has been a long time coming for me and I always feel the need to write out my thoughts, so it's good to know someone appreciates it. :)
Soma Taozi wrote:It is always nice to see people review these shows as they go, if I had the time I might do something similar in the future (that is going to be years down the road though).

We agree on MSG, but I was never a huge fan of 08 ms, mostly because I felt the relationship between Anna and Shiro was a little rushed and forced (not to mention cliched) but maybe that is just me being jaded.

That being said, how are you watching these shows so fast? 08 MS team is only 12 episodes sure...but it only took you 2 days?! That is remarkably fast. Especially for something that is as heavy as Gundam.
I buy the idea that it's a rushed relationship. But I also see it working in that Shiro is a very passionate person and understands immediately what he wants and why he wants it. I think of the scene where he accidentally peeps on Kiki, and when she confronts him, unlike many anime protagonists he doesn't turn red and try to deny anything, he just says, "I think you're pretty." (For the little good it does him in the immediate future. But that's another thing about Shiro - he takes the immediate, most passionate route and damn the consequences, and this show often illustrates the consequences.)

Aina is also highly idealistic and I think up until the last few episodes she, like Shiro, believed she was on the side of good morals. I think Shiro connected with that. Also: Surviving a deadly space walk like in the first episode would probably cause any two characters to develop a strong bond.

Oh, and lol, no, I'm not watching these shows as fast as I'm posting reviews. While I wish I had that much time to just sit and watch Gundam, I don't - I have up to this point finished through 0083 and am up to episode 6 or 7 of Zeta. I'm just spacing out my reviews to give people a chance to read/respond.

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Re: Watching the UC series for the first time

Post by Kratos » Tue Oct 22, 2013 1:21 am

Regarding Shiro and Aina, that's actually something that results in the lowering of the grade a bit for me -I found it rushed and highly idealistic - but it didn't really take away from what I enjoyed in the show for that lowering to be immense, or anything. It bugged me about as much as the animation/sometimes-awkward pacing of MSG did (which is to say, not that much).
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Re: Watching the UC series for the first time

Post by M-308 Gunner » Tue Oct 22, 2013 10:21 am

Mobile Suit Gundam 0080: War in the Pocket

Capsule:
ANIMATION: A
CHARACTERS: A
MECH DESIGN: A-
PLOT: B+
OVERALL: A

Favorite mecha: Hygogg, NT-1 "Alex"
Favorite character(s): Alfred, Christina, Bernie

Review: Of all the UC shows, this was the only one that I had seen before. I actually bought it back in 2006 or so during my first big Super Robot Wars kick, mainly because it was one of the most accessible UC Gundam shows, and I had always liked Hygogg (because of Gundam Battle Assault) and wanted to see it in action.

I suspect someone's enjoyment of 0080 hinges almost entirely on whether you find Alfred endearing or annoying. I like coming of age stories and stories that focus on kids, so I fell into the former category. The scenes with Alfred and Bernie plotting to destroy the NT-1 are some of my favorite in the UC saga so far, although it was kinda hard to watch them knowing how it ended.

Something you'll quickly learn about me is I really value good female characters, so you won't be surprised to find out that I'm a big fan of Chris MacKenzie. I only wish that she got a bit more screen time, since she's one of the only female Gundam pilots who doesn't inherit her machine from a male character. Still, I quite like how she is written with a nurturing personality but with technical skill and potential to be a badass pilot. (I will have to play a SRW with 0080 and boost her up to ace level.)

One thing that I had forgotten about this show is just how much blood is shown. Up to this point in my viewing the shows, while violent, hadn't shown much actual viscera. Even Kycilia's decapitation at the end of MSG wasn't particularly bloody. But I wonder if this was a conscious decision, since Alfred is present in a lot of the bloodiest scenes. His arc is basically learning just how horrifying war can be, so it would make sense in that way.

Also, apparently this show was aired on Toonami? Could this possibly be the most depressing thing to ever be aired on that venerable block? It must have been a bitch to censor, too.

A quick note on the mech design: Again, like 08th MS Team, nothing that really wowed me but everything was technically awesome. Except Hygogg. That thing is worth a whole letter grade. Too bad it's only in one episode.

To wrap up, the plot doesn't get an "A" simply because at the end I did get the feel that the writers were just piling it on. The only way it could have been more depressing was if they killed off Alfred and Chris too, but even so we get the idea that Alfred is going to grow up with some serious mental issues. But: The show still gets a high grade because I got a great Greek tragedy feel.

And weirdly, even though the main character body count was lower, I got through 0083 feeling much more depressed than with this one.

But more on that next time.

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Re: Watching the UC series for the first time

Post by Amion » Tue Oct 22, 2013 10:47 am

You don't like the Hyogg? :cry: I do wonder what happened to poor Alfred, though as far as mental issues go, that's par for the course in the One Year War remember, as most of the people left alive had to deal with ecological collapse, fanatic terrorist remnants, and general war aftermath.

Shame on you, not loving the Hyogg.
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Re: Watching the UC series for the first time

Post by M-308 Gunner » Tue Oct 22, 2013 10:53 am

Amion wrote:You don't like the Hyogg? :cry: I do wonder what happened to poor Alfred, though as far as mental issues go, that's par for the course in the One Year War remember, as most of the people left alive had to deal with ecological collapse, fanatic terrorist remnants, and general war aftermath.

Shame on you, not loving the Hyogg.
Maybe I wasn't clear - I DO love the Hygogg. It's not only my favorite mech from this show, it's probably in my top 5 favorite mecha in any Gundam show, or any mecha show period.

Par for the course indeed, although Alfred's experience was exceptional in that the trauma happened directly to him and in some ways because of him, whereas the average UC person would have a more generalized trauma. Basically it sucks to live in this universe, which is funny because most of us have probably fantasized about hanging out there. :)

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Re: Watching the UC series for the first time

Post by HalfDemonInuyasha » Tue Oct 22, 2013 3:33 pm

Alfred and his friends are basically like actual kids; they see things that shoot things, blow stuff up, etc. as cool and exciting and want to be able to do such things themselves, completely ignorant to the reality of war.

Alfred, however, ends up actually getting up close and personal with that reality of war and while it may have seemed cool and exciting at first, like he was playing soldier, it quickly becomes clear that it is far from it, especially when you see that your own friends or family could end up being a part of it and losing their lives. So I found the difference in Episode 1 and Episode 6 to be quite telling; episode 1 being like I said, Alfred and friends talking all excitedly about Mobile Suits and the OYW and how cool it was, but Episode 6 having Alfred just all quiet and sombre while his friends kept talking about it the same way, still ignorant to the reality.

0080 also depends on whether you're someone who likes and appreciates character development over flashy MS battles, as that tends to be what UC OVAs are about; just as much, if not more about the people than the MS and their battles. Of course, they make sure to keep the MS battles tense and exciting when they do happen. Though, like a number of people, I did find the ease of which the Kampfer owned the Scarlet Team to be quite over-exaggerated to the point where it looked like it was nothing but novice pilots in those otherwise top-of-the-line MS (then again, when it came out, most of the known MS were simply redesigns of the original before they were retconned into what we know them as today, IIRC, so I guess it's understandable)

What I also liked about Christina is how she's not a Newtype (also another pretty common factor in UC OVAs; main characters being normal humans), so she's not exactly owning everyone. It was even said that she could barely control the Alex (given it's a tuned-to-the-max MS meant for Amuro after all).
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Re: Watching the UC series for the first time

Post by Kratos » Tue Oct 22, 2013 5:05 pm

Interesting. I'm glad you liked it: 0080 is far and above my favourite Gundam series, with such a tight plot, great tragedy, real pathos, and incredibly "real" characters. Its ending is a gut punch that gets me every time. It's about the only series I'd give a perfect score to, because I can't think of anything wrong with it (or anything that isn't completely negligible, anyways).

I definitely don't agree about 0083 - I found its ending kind of obtuse and ridiculous, compared with the genuine tragedy of 0080 - but there you are. Can't wait to read your impressions of that series in general!

Also, I would probably do any number of awful things for a Hygogg Master Grade kit. Shame we'll likelyh never see one.
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Re: Watching the UC series for the first time

Post by Wingnut » Tue Oct 22, 2013 5:19 pm

M-308 Gunner wrote:Also, apparently this show was aired on Toonami? Could this possibly be the most depressing thing to ever be aired on that venerable block? It must have been a bitch to censor, too.
Not really. It aired late at night on the Midnight Run section of Toonami which was also home to the 08th MS Team's run as well as the uncut version of Gundam Wing.
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Re: Watching the UC series for the first time

Post by zetatype » Wed Oct 23, 2013 3:32 am

Nice reviews, glad you liked both the original MSG and War in the Pocket.

While I do think the movies are the superior version in terms of story, one of my disappointments in the films was the fact that they cut out "The Trap of McCuve" and "Matilda's Rescue" which gave Mirai some nice character development. I also miss Amuro's duel with McCuve's Gyan as I thought it was one of the best fights in the series.

Gundam 0080 is probably my all time favorite Gundam series which is kind of odd considering since it's probably the least gundami-ish animated series in the franchise. However, this also makes it very easy to show to my friend who aren't familiar with the Gundam franchise in the slightest.

One of the reason for this is because I (and probably some other people) see a bit of my younger self in Al. Like Al, lots of us probably used to see war as fun and games with good guys fighting bad guys. But as we get older we learn that the reality of war is far removed from those fantasies, and Al's character development throughout the series is a brilliant depiction of this.

In addition, Chris and Bernie (voiced by Solid Snake/David Hayter no less) are also great characters and what happens in the end is nothing short of tragedy.

I don't quite agree with you on 08th MS Team in terms of story and characters as I would probably have given them both a B.

While the characters were likable I don't feel that the show devoted enough time to character building or development for each one. While the series does devote at least one episode to each of Shiro's squad mates it isn't enough, and the show doesn't really do anything else with them after each one's respective episode.

While Shiro does get more attention, his transition to a no killing policy kind of bugged me a little bit. It's not because there wasn't enough of a reason behind this change, but because it just happens too suddenly. Before Shiro's second encounter with Aina he had no problem with killing, and then after that he's suddenly against killing. And as others have said already I feel that Shiro and Aina's relationship was very rushed.

Another thing I thought was odd was Shiro's Side 2 backstory. We only get a very brief mention of it in epsiode 1 and an equally brief flashback in episode 7. I get the feeling that originally the writers wanted Shiro to have an intense hatred of Zeon due to the fact that he was on the colony that Zeon gased. The purpose this would serve would be to make Shiro's change of heart all the more powerfu and memorable. However, it's possible they dropped this because they feared they would not have enough time to properly develop Shiro, and thus having him despise Zeon would have made his change of character seem very unconvincing to the viewers. Granted this is all just conjecture.

Now despite all this I still liked the characters and the story. The characters are fun and likable enough that I cared about them, and I like how the story gives a more realistic portrayal of the consequences of applying pacifist ideals on the battlefield compared to other Gundam series (and this is coming from someone who likes SEED).

Anyway looking forward to your thoughts on Stardust Memory though personally I think it would have been better to view it after Zeta Gundam.

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