What makes a Gundam, the man or the machine?

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Mu La Flaga
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What makes a Gundam, the man or the machine?

Post by Mu La Flaga » Thu Mar 13, 2014 12:06 am

Ok so here is my idea and kind of simple yet interesting to think about.
Not sure if it's been done before anyways.
But my idea is this over the course of time we've had various pilots and Gundams as the lead protagonist.
I've always been curious what makes the Gundam stand out, the pilot or the machine?(or maybe even both)
So to kick off with an examples/my list.

MSG: I would say in this instance the RX-78 itself more kind of stood out early on, even though Amuro's skills improved over time and the RX-78 needing a small upgrade to be able to keep up with the pilot.

Zeta: I would say in this instance it was Kamille more so then the Gundam/s themsevles, since the RX-178 wasn't anything too special(it was 1 of 3 prototypes), in the case of the Zeta, I would say it's a facotr of both since Kamille did have a hand in designing it.

ZZ: In this case, I would be tempted to say Juadu more since the ZZ sometimes wasn't the best suited Gundam and swapped between the ZZ and Zeta Gundam at times.

CCA: I think in this instance Amuro more so, but the Nu Gundam itself was rather formidable.
But when he had a skirmish with Char in the Re-GZ, he held his own pretty well.

Victory: I would say both, because the Victory 1 wasn't anything too special in some ways, but the Victory 2 was a huge step up in what it could do.

G: I would say both here in this instance.

Wing: In the case of Wing I would lean more towards the Gundams themselves, although not to say Heero wasn't a decent pilot at all, he had moments he did some silly things and some moments where he was great.

X: I would say in this case Garrod more, since the Gundam X itself wasn't anything too special, but the upgraded GX Divider was better and also the Double X were nicer for Garrod to use.

Turn A: hm, not fully sure on this one, because the Turn A itself kind of has a reputation, but Lorran always made strides of his own.

SEED: In this instance I'm going to lean more towards the Gundam/s(which counts even for Destiny Kira),
the Strike Gundam while cool and all, was rather powerful MS when it first got used and proved for a while difficult for ZAFT to take out unless other Gundams fought it.
Even later when Kira upgraded to Freedom it was kind of the same situation all over again.
Not to say Kira never grew as a pilot or anything, but this kind of extends even to the Strike Rouge and in the HD remaster of Destiny despite having a new pack when faced with more equal opponents the Rouge gets trashed(eventually)

Destiny: I'm going to say this one is mixed as Shin seemed very skilled and could hold his own in fights in the Impulse and various opponents (Destroy, the other 3 Gundams, the Freedom)
When upgraded to Destiny I think unfortunately Shin lapsed just a little in his piloting.
Even though against Strike Freedom he could hold his own fine, but Infinite Justice the meele machine not quite.

00: I would say in this instance it comes more down to Setsuna, because in the end Setsuna is Gundam/God.

Unicorn: I would say in this case the Unicorn Gundam itself, it seems to have a reputation behind it and inspires a level of fear in enemy opponents as we see in episode 2 when it debuts in combat against Full Frontal's forces and it's power also seems to indicate something special about it.
As opposed to the pilot Banagher.

So I will leave it at that much thus far.
What do you guys think?
Last edited by Mu La Flaga on Thu Mar 13, 2014 4:51 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: What makes a Gundam, the man or the machine?

Post by Raikoh » Thu Mar 13, 2014 1:06 am

I'd say that I separate based on the series. Most series are of the "Machine at first, but the pilot develops over time." I think most of the series end with it being a sort of 50/50, with the Gundam's quality and the pilot developing a balance - that is to say, while the Gundam is very much a deciding factor in battles, the pilot needs to be using it to its full potential. Here are the more complicated cases:

08th MS Team: No pilot has any major notable development from grunt to ace. Here, the deciding factors in combat are piloting skill, tactics, and numbers.

War in the Pocket: Chris was a decent pilot, but the Cyclops team were better. This is a time where machine superiority (and being on home turf) won battles.

CCA: Char and Amuro, the central conflict, had units of equal strength. The final duel was decided with skill alone.

Unicorn: I haven't read the novels, but the OVA certainly makes it look like the RX-0's brokenness is more important than Banagher's skill.

Crossbone: Kincaid beat the Death Gales when they were piloting units that surpassed the Gundam in one way (offense, speed, defense) without arms. Do I need to say more?

G: I heard Imagawa has said (I don't know the exact source) that the Super Mode is the machine's full potential, while the Meikyo Shisui is the pilot's.

Wing: Considering every Gundam mows down any opposition effortlessly, even when said opposition is programmed with AI of a Gundam pilot? Yeah, I'm going to say this one is all machine.

Turn A: Despite the Turn A's reputation, for the majority of the series I actually would consider it a lower-mid tier Mobile Suit. It isn't until it gets to the moon that the Turn A even begins to tap into a fraction of its full potential, and by then Loran has become a great pilot. He couldn't have beaten the Turn X if he wasn't good.

00: Complicated. Early season 1 puts a heavy emphasis on mechanical superiority as a plot point, until the end of the season where tactics and numbers were shown to work against Gundams. The first half of season 2 (before 00 Raiser) focuses on piloting skill, and then everything after the 00 Raiser gives the win to whoever has the bigger stick.

Age: All of the above. Flit has a balance between pilot skill/machine strength, Asemu (after becoming SUPER PILOT) is running on skill (especially in the third Generation, where he's using a machine that's nearly 25 years old and hasn't had any major upgrades for years), and Kio is reliant on his machine's power.
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Re: What makes a Gundam, the man or the machine?

Post by monster » Thu Mar 13, 2014 3:59 am

Mu La Flaga wrote:the Strike Gundam while cool and all, was rather powerful MS when it first got used and proved for a while difficult for ZAFT to take out unless other Gundams fought it.
I'd say it's both in this case.

If it wasn't for the PSA, the Strike would've been destroyed. If it wasn't for Kira, the Strike would still have been destroyed eventually. It's especially shown in the Desert arc, where the BuCUEs would've just taken their time to destroy the Strike if the pilot couldn't adapt to the situation.

Of course, there are also other elements like teamwork and external help.

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Re: What makes a Gundam, the man or the machine?

Post by Mu La Flaga » Thu Mar 13, 2014 4:50 am

08th: I agree with the opinion above, since RX-79 are just customized units with slightly higher performance GMs basically.

0080: I agree with that too.

0083: I think more the Gundam/s again, since Kou wasn't all that great, I mean even when he got the GP03.

monster wrote:
Mu La Flaga wrote:the Strike Gundam while cool and all, was rather powerful MS when it first got used and proved for a while difficult for ZAFT to take out unless other Gundams fought it.
I'd say it's both in this case.

If it wasn't for the PSA, the Strike would've been destroyed. If it wasn't for Kira, the Strike would still have been destroyed eventually. It's especially shown in the Desert arc, where the BuCUEs would've just taken their time to destroy the Strike if the pilot couldn't adapt to the situation.

Of course, there are also other elements like teamwork and external help.
That is very true I'm not saying there weren't times the Strike came close to being destroyed previously.
But especially in CE 73, the poor old Strike Rouge showed it's aged when it faced relatively equal opponents such as the ZAKUs and GOUFs.

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Re: What makes a Gundam, the man or the machine?

Post by monster » Thu Mar 13, 2014 5:37 am

Mu La Flaga wrote:But especially in CE 73, the poor old Strike Rouge showed it's aged when it faced relatively equal opponents such as the ZAKUs and GOUFs.
Indeed, but in the process, it still managed to give offense to the Zakus and Goufs.

So if you are saying that the Strike Rouge showed its age in that incident, then you must give some credit to the pilot for what it was able to do against that many superior mobile suits.

Thus, it still goes back to a combination of the pilot and the mobile suit.

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Re: What makes a Gundam, the man or the machine?

Post by Mu La Flaga » Thu Mar 13, 2014 9:07 am

monster wrote:
Mu La Flaga wrote:But especially in CE 73, the poor old Strike Rouge showed it's aged when it faced relatively equal opponents such as the ZAKUs and GOUFs.
Indeed, but in the process, it still managed to give offense to the Zakus and Goufs.

So if you are saying that the Strike Rouge showed its age in that incident, then you must give some credit to the pilot for what it was able to do against that many superior mobile suits.

Thus, it still goes back to a combination of the pilot and the mobile suit.
Well if we go by normal Destiny it gets trashed kind of faster, HD it takes a little more time because it shows off a new pack actually.
But that being said Kira does have a level of skill to hold his own(even if for a time in an older machine)

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Re: What makes a Gundam, the man or the machine?

Post by Zeonista » Thu Mar 13, 2014 12:40 pm

Gundams (and other MS) are awesome, but they can only contribute so much. The MS has to have someone be its pilot, and that pilot has to have the courage, willpower, skill, and luck to become the ace hero who wins the war, defeats the cool enemy ace, and gets the girl. (Or just gets to live to the final credits and curse the cruel hard world.) The idea that "a Gundam alone is enough" can be countered with episodes 2-8 of Gundam ZZ. :D Or on a more serious note, the final battle of War in the Pocket, the entire rivalry subplot in Stardust Memory, or any big fight in G Gundam. The nice things about mecha anime is that they give us the cool robots, and then remind us that it's the human inside that matters the most.
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Re: What makes a Gundam, the man or the machine?

Post by GX9900-Gundam-X » Fri Mar 21, 2014 12:38 am

Hm Id have to say with the general OYW (0079, 08th, WITP, ECT,) It mostly comes down to suits here a good pilot is always required but I'd say the Gundam gave Amuro an edge even when he was pushing well beyond its limits MS Technology is rather new here so while end war Pilots are skilled It comes a bit more to high performing machines.

Operation Stardust: The machines Kou got decent but he still lacked a lot of the life experience Gato had the last battle of the GP01 and GP02 was close but Gato had lost his most capable long range weapon and in the end the GP02 sustained damages that evened the gap the GP03 proved not to be enough against the Nevue Ziel with Gato's greater skills triumphing when in perfectly equal machines

Gryps conflict has a good slough of machines all of which have some good advantages but here Piots and tactics shine more what with the crazy arms race good pilots like Emma and Kamille made a world of difference

First Neo Zeon War: Gotta say this one is on the Fence really, superior units Like the Z and ZZ really kept the AEUG afloat but Haman's skill allowed her relatively new Quebelley to face off and potentially overwhelm the ZZ I guess this one is First half is Suits second is Skill

Axis Shock: Yeah all skill the smaller Londo Bell's Jegan's fought off the larger nukmbered Geara Doga's with good machines with seasoned Pilots and while the Nu and the Sazabi were formidable Id say it all came down to who could use it better though the Fin Funnels being having individual generators helps give it an edge

Laplace conflict:The machines Unicorn is down right game breaking and Banagher has yet to show any signifigant jump in skill he most certainly has gotten better but he still needs the Unicorn to keep up his fight with Banshee Marida only seemed to go as well as it did do to the Unicorn's abilitys and her being in an off kilter state of mind

Cosmo Babylonia and Jupiter War:Pilots A decent Feddie pilot and a Naturally skilled newtype pretty much held the lines in F91 mostly on their own in Crossbone Kincaid handed the death gale's there asses with no arms Tobia managed to make wonderful use of a Pez battarra and my personal favorite Harrison Martin could even out with the F97 Crossbone units usint a ten year old F91 limited production type

Zanscare war: Pilots and machines on perfect equal here the Victories handled real well the V2 was incredible but Zanscare still held quite well

Lightning Squad vs Project Raven: Skill of the pilots in this case Reed Fox kept even the Space mode G-saviour able to handle in earths gravity to the point where ony the equally skilled Rysis in his Raiven could actually beat him with the G3 Reed became almost unstoppable

Gundam Fight 13: Almost always the pilot as Pilots are selected either for a pre built machine that matches them or have a machine built around them pilot's who relied to much on the machine CoughcoughNethergundamCough got stompped pretty fast mind you a good machine matters as well it seemed more on the pilots

Eve wars:Machines all about the machines Really the Gundams mowed down everything that was not a tallgeese and while non some non gundam units showed signs of being able to fight it was mostly plot armor

8th Space War:Pilots really it was the skill of Garrod Wiltz and Roybea that kept their gundams going and Vulture strong especially since Garrod couldn't over rely on his gimmicky satalite canon untill the Double X by then he had the skills that he did not need to

Operation Return to earth: Skill and machines at the start it was more or less the Turn A and some of the slightly better machines but as time went on pilots skill became far more important especially with evenly matched units Turn A and Turn X

Boody Valentine War 1 and 2: this one started out supierior Pilot Strike being able to hold off its brothers with the only back up being the Mobius 0 and later Skygraspers As the Freedom Showed up it seemed pilots started to rely more on the machines performance it seemed to go back to skill in destiny up till everything fell apart

00:First part was all about superior machines at the end though when challenged by machines with near even footing and ace pilots the Meisters got thrashed it all became about skill from that point

Age: If super pilots Asemu and Woolf taught us anything skill is what matters most unless its Kio, Kio seems to rely wholly on the gundam

Build Fighters: Its a mix a good "Pilot" can handle any situation even in a ball however a well built Gunpla can easily bolster your chanced by a good percentage

really it all comes down to a good pilot but a pilot can only function as well as their tools and skills combined can
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Re: What makes a Gundam, the man or the machine?

Post by manwiththemachinegun » Fri Mar 21, 2014 12:12 pm

Unfortunately most of the time, the machine does make the pilot a non factor. Might be more useful to examine the exceptions.

Amuro and Char, both of their machines were high performance, but not invincible from damage. They received constant maintenance and both were eventually destroyed by standard weapons. Amuro's reflexes were the key factor here, after a certain point, he essentially didn't get hit from standard pilots anymore. However, they still had to do things like withdraw in the face of overwhelming odds, or if a battle went poorly. They didn't turn the tide of major engagements all by themselves.

Everything I've seen from SEED suggests that Gundams are invincible super machines that can only be destroyed by another Gundam, same with Wing. They can fly around a battlefield with impunity so long as another main character doesn't intercept them.

G-Gundam I'm not even going to count, since it's obvious that show isn't trying in the slightest to be realistic, and is better for it. :P

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Re: What makes a Gundam, the man or the machine?

Post by monster » Fri Mar 21, 2014 12:50 pm

manwiththemachinegun wrote:Everything I've seen from SEED suggests that Gundams are invincible super machines that can only be destroyed by another Gundam, same with Wing. They can fly around a battlefield with impunity so long as another main character doesn't intercept them.
Which would actually suggest that the pilots matter as well.

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Re: What makes a Gundam, the man or the machine?

Post by manwiththemachinegun » Fri Mar 21, 2014 2:43 pm

The point is they're essentially immune to "conventional" attack, which puts it in the super robot category. Compare that to Valkyries in Macross. Even the super models can, and do, get trashed just as easily as cannon fodder units.

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Re: What makes a Gundam, the man or the machine?

Post by monster » Fri Mar 21, 2014 3:13 pm

manwiththemachinegun wrote:The point is they're essentially immune to "conventional" attack, which puts it in the super robot category. Compare that to Valkyries in Macross. Even the super models can, and do, get trashed just as easily as cannon fodder units.
And what is conventional attack?

For example, in SEED, even the Strike would've been destroyed by the BuCUEs if the pilot wasn't able to adapt and if he didn't have any help. And eventually, beam weaponry was common enough that the Gundams themselves can no longer be called immune. The pilots had an equal responsibility of actually maneuvering/piloting the mobile suits in order to defend/escape from attacks.

Now granted, in Wing, the Gundanium alloy does make the Gundams what they are, both near indestructible and limited in production. Still it is arguably that such features would also require certain types of pilots, especially given the political climate in which the Gundams were made. And it is as much the actions of these pilots, through the use of the Gundams, that made the Gundams as well known as they are.

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Re: What makes a Gundam, the man or the machine?

Post by HalfDemonInuyasha » Fri Mar 21, 2014 10:17 pm

As mentioned, it tends to start off with machine all the way, then the pilot starts getting more known bit by bit, depending on how things go. Like I doubt Kou's name ever got out there at all given the Federation's cover-up of most of the Delaz Conflict and the GP series, hence the "Unknown Ace" title, while others may not be (as widely) known simply because whatever events they were involved in were so small and/or isolated like Yu Kajima with the Blue Destiny stuff, both as opposed to someone like Amuro who was more involved with the One Year War (of which no conflict has been anywhere near as huge in the UC era), especially during the last couple weeks with Solomon and A Baoa Qu.
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Re: What makes a Gundam, the man or the machine?

Post by SonicSP » Sat Mar 22, 2014 7:12 pm

In regards to 00, as far as the pilot/machine thing goes, it's definitely the machines for most of the series. The pilots themselves aren't that great, and at the start of Season 1 they did not even have actual MS combat experience and does not show great skill. Ace pilots from the blocs like Graham and Ali keep showing them up (I'm including the Trinities as well, they get showed up by ace conventional MS pilots and things got worse once the technological gap was closed)

Their armor makes them pretty much nigh invincible from conventional non-beam weapons for the most part and their GN-based defeats most defences in the other side rather easily. They even have innovations in other areas such as Kyrios being the only VMS in Season 1 time that was designed to transform mid-air. Their technological superiority plays an important role in Season 1's story from being able to conduct such operations to being lusted over by the blocs as possible tools in their zero-sum game.

But Gundam in 00 is also a pretty strong symbolism for people in the series. For Setsuna it represents the elimination of warfare through combat and later the power to bring unity within humans. Their also important symbolism a in society. By the end of Season 1, they are a hateful symbol of hatred and opression in the public. This is such the case that even when the blocs even to lengths to hide any visual representation of Gundams in their own self-made design despite the fact that some of the physical aspects of Gundams are actually important functions (the yellow fins for example). One example would be the Ahead which actually possess a chest orb but because they're associated with Gundams the HRL engineers hid it with armor. There's also the lack of any obvious clevical antennas in most of the designs, which on the Gundams serve as a GN particle control mechanism.

The trend is reserved post season 2 since events actually made Gundam symbolism be seen in a positive light and that the mass production designs by the ESF now actively integrates things like orbs and clevical antennas and displays them publicly and proudly due to the change in the image of Gundams in the public as well as with the pilots.

Pilot became more important later on the series when it comes to the Quantum Field sections because you need True Innovators to use the systems but even then the machine plays a big role since they have to have the powerful Twin Drive System equipped to generate the powerful Quantum Field effects.

Of course, if we're also measuring the importance of Gundam as a whole and not just combat output then the pilots actions are important and in the case of 00, the best compare and contrast would be the Ptolemaios Meisters and the Trinity Meisters. One pretty much divided the opinion on the public in regards to Celestial being while the other singlehandedly made the world hate them.

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Re: What makes a Gundam, the man or the machine?

Post by MaC » Tue Mar 25, 2014 11:15 am

Lets not forget poor Char had that whole "His beam saber's overpowering mine?!" event, which imo led to his reckless stab against Amuro, knowing he would lose a battle of attrition. :wink:

In UC, it seems to be a combination of the two. For instance in ZZ we see that Fa in the Zeta Gundam isn't even as effective as Judau in a Jr MS. But even Judau was outmatched by later Neo Zeon machines, necessitating the mid-season upgrade. Even Amuro in the Nu Gundam was pinned down by Alpha and Gyunie's Jagd Doga, surviving only due to Nu Gundam's new technology.

Even Unicorn itself requires a certain affinity with a pilot to achieve maximum combat potential

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