And so at long last we come to where it all started…. Kind of.
You see, what has been referred to as Japan’s Star Wars and is now so important they have made life sized replicas of the title mech, was originally considered a failure. The original series episode order got cut down and for years it was a footnote, yet another failed mech series. But then something happened.
The story of Gundam was, good. But there was of course confusion. I’ve watched the original series version… well its dub anyway and you notice a few conflicts of interest. Clearly from watching the opening it gives this optimistic more super robot feel, but anyone who has watched a real Gundam series (basically the non Gunpla ones or G) you know it’s not really a series like that.
Gundam was a series about war, the mechs were weapons of war and even the bad guys weren’t just stock bad guys, they had families and some (Ramba Ral) were quite good people, while you could get jack asses on the same side as the lead. What’s more the plot had some moments that didn’t seem to help the narrative. So Gundam was given another go in the form of 3 movies that compressed the tale of the anime series into a more concise form.
So we have here the first third (roughly) of the original mobile suit Gundam series. I’ve often been told that the movies are the best way to watch the original series. It’s of note I’m watching a sub of this as the Blue-rays I watched didn’t have dubbing.
This is definitely though the same tale, of a band of youths caught up in a war between the principality of Zeon and the Earth Federation. The pacing is a lot faster as unnecessary moments are removed, though this does cause moments where the pacing seems insanely fast (and I’m not sure why there seem to be some people that outright vanish. I know in the anime they died on one of the cut episodes but maybe I blinked and they got taken off ship) you often don’t get the build up needed for some of the characters actions to make sense… also you get a strangely large amount of slapping.
I can’t say it’s ideal but it drops moments of the series that were unnecessary padding while remembering to give the gravitas of major events. We do see how a young boy (who has a jackass father) is thrown into a situation beyond his control to the point of eventually breaking him, only forced to get back in the Gundam at the realization he truly doesn’t have a choice not to pilot it for without him his friends (also on the ship) would die. Near the end we do see through the eyes of his mother just how much the war has changed him. I was talking about Amuro Ray FYI.
This is the first of 3 and I can’t say the ending point is a great moment or tense cliffhanger. We get the first encounter with Ramba Ral and the fall out of events earlier in the film but there is still much to come. We get clear indications there’s more going on with Char (ALL GLORY TO CHAR… go look up my origins review Sgathaich: Gundam the Origin) as well as many more challenges through the first year war. Amuros fight against Ramba does end in him losing after all and against a mobile suit that isn’t a Zaku, meaning the technological superiority of the Gundam may not last forever.
With this movie up on the Gundam YouTube channel at the time of writing this, it is still definitely the best way to experience the tale of the first Gundam series. Is it the best for people wanting to get into the franchise ?…. probably not due to age but it does have a better budget than the series had so animation is a bit better. I know some people can have difficulty with older animation.