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    A New Gundam Fan

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    Nikkolas

    Posts : 71
    Join date : 2013-03-09

    A New Gundam Fan

    Post by Nikkolas on Sun Feb 16, 2014 1:24 am

    Now I've finished Zeta and had some time to think, I'd like to just address my impressions of it. To start though, I hope you'll forgive me a moment of self-indulgence.

    I've been looking for an enduring anime franchise I could get into for a while now. I wanted to find a series with a large fanbase and a lot of installments across TV and comics and video games. I love fiction because it's a way for me to connect with other people. I love posting on boards and discussing our various opinions and perhaps even arguing about them too. To this end and in search of a franchise I could fall in love with, I bought Neon Genesis Evangelion a few months back. I jumped right into the deep end of the pool too, buying the special volume sets with the insert booklets off ebay for $140. I was all ready to love the shit out of it and start buying the Rebuild movies and the various manga and the soundtracks. Then I actually watched NGE and it....was not very good. I don't know if I'd say I hated it but I was most definitely not blown away. I have no desire to ever watch it again save for one or two episodes.

    So after that flop I kinda drifted until at last I remembered my saying I was starting Gundam. I've been saying this for years by this point so I figured it was high-time I actually did it. "Gundam could be that epic franchise I was searching for" were my thoughts. And so I watched tge MSG anime, 08th MS Team and Stardust Memory. I would say I enjoyed them for the most part (except 0083) but I was again disappointed. I'd say they were okay-to-good but most definitely not great. It looked like I had put my faith in the wrong franchise again.

    And then I watched Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam. Hallelujah! My faith was rewarded!

    I was warned it wasn't as great as a lot of people say. Would I say it was the best anime I've ever seen and it changed my life? Probably no to both but if it wasn't the best anime I've ever seen, it's still in the Top 10, maybe even Top 5. Whereas I was almost passed the point of caring by the end of every other Gundam series, and I just wanted them to finally be over with, I was sad to see Zeta finish. And not just because it's finish is sad.

    Kamille had a rough start as a protagonist with his fits of anger and bitchiness but those really do subside fairly quickly. What's more, any bout of depression or angst he goes through doesn't out-stay its welcome. I think what I'd say about Kamille is that everything is in the right proportion; he isn't a jackass too much, he isn't moping too much, and often times when he is in one of his moods, he has every friggin' right to be. See: Emma slapping him and calling him over-emotional, to which he snarkily replies "this from someone who keeps slapping me."

    The supporting cast of Zeta is so much better than any other Gundm series I have yet to see that it's kinda sad. Backing up Kamille are fantastic characters like Emma. She's probably the best female I've seen in a Gundam series. Like Kamille, everything is in the proper portion with her attitudes and moods. She has to be one of the most reasonable and level-headed and believable characters in the show. And while on the topic of Emma, Zeta had a lot of more minor supporting characters like Captain Henken who were really likable. His death was probably the most painful for me in the finale.

    And of course I can't forget Char and Amuro. I've never seen characters rebound so fast. I disliked their MSG characterization quite a bit and yet they were both so much stronger in Zeta. I loved having both of them as mentors to Kamille but they were very good on their own as well. Amuro's PTSD was very believable and when he finally does get "back into the saddle" it's a raal hell yeah moment. Char meanwhile is so far removed from his evil shithead MSG personality that I can barely tell they are the same character. I'll get to that later on though.

    And on the opposite side of things, someone mentioned that one of Zeta's strengths was its large cast of villains. This is absolute truth. They run the gambit from evil masterminds to just plain psychos to traumatized victims. I think every show like this should have a broad selection of antagonists to choose from. That way you can have the villain you love to hate, the villain you can feel sorry for, etc.. The villain I loved to hate was Paptimus Scirocco. Yazan was great for how batshit nuts he was but I loved the fact Scirocco oozed evil even when he did nothing for most of the show. I also liked the only time we see him break his perpetually cool demeanor was when Sarah died. Adds a nice bit of "maybe there's more to him" but I'll get to that later as well.  On the sympathetic villain side of things, I loved Four. She and the other Cyber Newtypes took what they were trying to do with Lalah (from a storytelling perspective I mean) and actually executed it well this time around. Giving them a backstory of a sorts was probably the key to this, as well as letting them interact with the heroes more.

    The English dub was...hm, I'd say good but maybe just stopping short of great. Kamille's VA's performance seems to be a very subjective thing and it kinda reminds me of Spike Spencer as Shinji Ikari. A lot of people really hated him and attribute the Western audiences general dislike for Shinji to his acting making Shinji sound too whiny. Personally I think Jonathan Lachlan-Stewart as Kamille was the star of the dub and a big reason I likd the character. Kamille had a large range of emotions and moods so he had to be on the ball and I think he was. The recast for Amuro was a helluva lot better than the original but I'm not sure if that's Brad Swaile's fault. I know a lot of the voice-cast of the MSG anime and they are good but almost no one seemed capable of turning in a good performance there. Other standouts include Jonathan Love as Scirocco and Lisa Christie as Emma. And while I don't consider it an amazing dub, it's still the best Gundam one I've heard. I thought maybe MS Team was better but you can't compare the two. This is one reason why I don't agree when people say Cowboy Bebop was the greatest dub EVAH. It was relatively short and had so few characters that you can't compare its dub to a long-running series with much larger casts. Same is true for Zeta to MS Team. (well aware my love for Zeta Gundam's dub is not shared by that many people...)

    My thoughts on the final episode itself... Well Newtype stuff had becoming increasingly more blatant comic book superpowers instead of the little precog or increased empathy of before. Do I have a problem with Kamille gathering the consciousnesses of those who have died around him as a source of power to defeat Scirocco? Uh...not really, even though it took the power creep to a whole new level. Emma dying like that did irk me however. I do not think it was necessary. The abrupt ending with Kamille having his mind destroyed by Scirocco was very disconcerting too. I knew it was coming but leaving everything so open? Annoying.

    Now...to criticism. Being a true fan of something means you acknowledge its weaknesses as well as its strengths.

    I mentioned addressing Char and Scirocco later and now is the time. I've seen many people complain that his character - and more importantly how everyone else reacts to his character - is very bad writing. Now...I'm not sure how I feel about this. Does everyone on the AEUG looking at him as some sort of idol, especially those who fought against him back in the One Year War, make sense? I'm really not sure. I'm gonna guess the extent of his douchebaggery isn't well-known. As the viewers we know it all too well but my impression was that the characters only knew the romanticized account of a poor kid who had his father murdered and then spent his life trying to fight against the evil monsters who had done it. Together with this semi-fantastical account of his life, his very real charisma and intellect make him someone I can believe people would gather behind.

    Now. Scirocco. He stayed in the background TOO long for my taste. Even if he didn't make his move for power any earlier, he should have been featured more prominently. And speaking of making his move...it's really not clear what he was after. He mentions in one of his first appearances that he believes a woman will rule the inevitable empire they create. He also later extols the greatness of having a female leader. All this while he draws in feeble, broken women to serve as his puppets. I'm really not sure what he was after.

    Also you might have noticed I left off Jerid when assessing the bad guys. Jerid was an asshole but I'm not sure how much we were supposed to like or dislike him. He had very likable female companions like Lila and that Newtype girl and when they die he is shown to be distraught. So he's human. But then he goes around gassing colonies and attacking cities full of innocent people without blinking an eye. I just don't get him.

    My final criticism is actually very minor to me but I can see why it would perhaps prevent others from liking Zeta or taking it seriously. That problem is that the philosophy or themes or whatever you want to call it underlying the conflict don't mke a lot of sense. Under all the very legitimate and physical reasons for battling there is a message of how being in space and being on Earth have resulted in two irreconcilable groups of humanity. I'm reminded of one part of 0083 that stood out to me because of how absurd it was. Kou has these books to learn about picking up Nina and one of them had a title like "Learning About Spacenoid Women."

    My immediate thought then was "....how the hell is she any different from other women?"

    And so the same applies to the two warring groups in Zeta. I just don't really buy into being in space has somehow changed people that much that they feel they are a whole different group from those who live on a planet.

    And so those are my thoughts as best as I can sum them up at the moment. Knowing me, a lot of other stuff will come back after I post this and I'll be like "I should have said this, this and this!"

    But for now, I will conclude with saying I loved Zeta Gundam and if any future Gundam series I watch even comes close to it, I will be more than satisfied.

    After this I will be moving onto Char's Counterattack and then I'm gonna take a break from UC and start one of the AUs like Wing or SEED.

    oraf

    Posts : 67
    Join date : 2013-02-04

    Re: A New Gundam Fan

    Post by oraf on Sun Feb 16, 2014 10:27 am

    definitely SEED yo! : )) that shit never gets old. and then if you really end up liking that kind of destiny shit too, then you gotta' check out Buddy Complex. 2014, and it's like SEED all over again


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    Ben

    Posts : 26
    Join date : 2014-02-16

    Re: A New Gundam Fan

    Post by Ben on Thu Feb 20, 2014 2:03 am

    I'm a huge Tomino fan, so if you like the Classic Gundam stuff (and in particular his darker work like Char's Counterattack) you should really check out Space Runaway Ideon;

    Ideon was a huge influence on most sci fi anime that came after as well, and also there are some small things in Xenogears that strike me as being influenced by it. It's very dark, in the style of the original Gundam movies, and I think that's why it never found a huge fanbase compared to Gundam. IMHO it's his best work though. Sadly, it's never been domestically released, but it has been fansubbed *pm hint hint if you're interested*. Aura Battler Dunbine is also a very good Tomino series, though it's a fantasy setting.

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