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September 16, 2013

Gundam-Diaries: Mobile Suit Gundam Part 3

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Written by: Valtteri Kauraoja
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So the fine people of the Gundam Subreddit got pretty angry at me because I didn’t enjoy the cheesy-as-balls karaoke… Thing… Apparently the song is some kind of a super-classic and very well loved within the community, which is fine. I can understand that, but weird poppy karaoke does not fit dark space robot-wars very well in my opinion. One gentleman compared it to the Snake Eater theme. Might sound silly and cringeworthy at first, but after you get the context, it transforms into something that gives you chills. I am not sure how this weird karaoke song becomes awesome in the context of the show, but I have to admit that the silliness does grow on you a little bit after a while.

I was also told that the Zeon attacks people to prove they are worth taking seriously, which leads to the one-week-war and all that jazz. They tell me I will start learning about this later in the serial but also that a lot of questions will be left unanswered, which I will probably rant about later. Maybe I am listening to the readers too much, and am sort of ruining the tabula rasa style of my writing series, but I was also told that this next article should be written of episodes 6 to 11, as it’s supposed to be some kind of an arc. Let’s try it out.

PIDADIIIIIINNNGGGG says the sound effect as the title screen comes up. “Garma Strikes”. The arc I apparently just got myself into is called “Garma arc”. I’m kind of interested. Who or what is Garma? Alright, so Garma appears to be a colleague of Char, the (apparently) hugely popular and legendary red baron-type character? They also immediately reveal that this fellow is apparently some kind of a super captain of “The Earth Occupation Forces”, so I will assume his job is to…. Well… Occupy Earth?

I will bet money on that that annoying grey-haired dickhead guy of the Federation will betray Amuro at some point and later turn back as he realizes what a dickhead he is. Just a lucky guess, as they wouldn’t develop his character more and more towards “Insane jerk” if they didn’t have plans for him. If he doesn’t betray the Federation, he is at least going to find himself in a situation by the end of the series where he has to grow up. As a new attack towards the White Base starts, Amuro gets ready to go out. They mention that the Gundam does not have any air combat weapons. I wonder what all of those lasers and stuff were that he was shooting in the past episodes. Maybe they don’t work as well in the atmosphere. Well, I’m not complaining as we see some guntank action, and that guntank thing is pretty sweet. But we don’t have to wait for long before we get more Gundam, as apparently it’s perfect for taking out ground units. These action scenes are pretty fantastic.


They would be so kawaii together. That’s a thing, right?

Here are some random thoughts on the episode. Apparently Amuro has problems taking orders from those sexy ladies they have on board. This is the first time this personality trait is mentioned. Maybe they will build on it in the future? Maybe not. Let’s hope they do though. It has potential. This beam rifle seems to take out air units fine, still not sure what “No air combat weapons” meant. So far Garma is nothing more but a big jerk. I bet he’ll get to be an actual character later. They mention stuff about him having to prove his worth to his sister constantly. I bet they are building up a big reveal about it, since that’s all we know about this sister character thus far. Jesus Christ those little kids are annoying. Completely ruined the scene where Amuro is supposed to be all depressed about the situation he has been forced into. We get a new Japanese karaoke song this time (or maybe I just noticed it the first time now) and it’s all slow and somber about Amuro. Still sounds silly to me, I’m sorry. I bet people who can compare this to other animes and who watched this when they were younger love it. It doesn’t do much for me.

I kind of wish Char and Garma would be a couple. They would fit great together. A cool spacewar captain-couple being badass. But a gay couple being captains in a war would barely fly today, and certainly would’ve not flown in the 70’s so that is not going to be a thing. Just something that sprung to my mind when Garma is looking at Char as he is running to do important stuff and says to himself “He hasn’t changed one bit”. Obviously that is referencing some kind of past between them, but it’s not going to be romantic. I just wish it was.

I love that the different parts of the Gundam are used as separate ships for separate functions, it’s great. I also love the design of the technology, how the ships are landed and such. There is eye for detail that is almost never around with older animations. It gives everything a very realistic and believable feel when everything you see sort of seems like something that could actually be used.

Episode 8 is fantastic. Very human. Shows character from both sides. Makes the sides feel very real and introduces some more shades of grey. Not the sexual kind though. I wish the Zeon-pilots that gave care-packages to the civilians would’ve died. It would’ve added a bit of drama. I guess it makes no difference, as we get a chance to bond with them later in the episode, which also works as a good bit of humanizing the Zeons. The jerk-character was forced to pilot a mobile suit, which was great. Give him something else to do than complain and make snarky comments.

Episode 9 is filled with teenage angst. Yes, Amuro has a good reason to not want to fight and it’s natural. But I don’t think it’s handled extremely well. I was trying to think of ways to make it better, but all of them would require things not really possible in 70’s anime, so I might be asking too much. But I will say that if I made that episode, it would’ve been more than just Amuro lying in bed with his arms crossed like a teenage girl not wanting to go to a boring vacation trip with her parents. Also, after 9 episodes, it’s starting to dawn on me how dumb the names “Guntank” and “Guncannon” really are.

Reddit told me that the Garma arc started around episode 5, but the actual character doesn’t get much screen time or character development before episode 10. Now we get some fancy forbidden love stuff and balancing personal life with the army. It’s alright, at least we have actual characters which are more than I expected when I started a 70’s action anime series.

I was kind of sad to see Garma die in episode 10. He seemed like a character worth exploring. I know that apparently Char is a legendary character among Gundam fans, but personally, based on these 10 episodes, I much rather would’ve watched Garma being Garma than Char being Char for the rest of the series. As of right now, Char barely has character outside of being a manipulative power hungry badass. But I imagine they will build on it. They have to, based on the fanbase that has been formed around this one character. Well, hopefully they will keep the Garma-thing going with his girlfriend and family.


Either make her death spectacular or don’t kill her at all

Another thing disappointed me. We are introduced to the HQ of the Zeon at the start of episode 11. It’s such a stereotypical bad-guy-thing with a throne and everything. Bad guys in cartoons never seem to design functional and logical headquarters. Instead, they have to make rooms way too large and empty, and obviously the entire building should look like a skull or a scary face from the outside, because that’s not overdoing it at all.

But gladly I forget all about that as some of the best action I’ve seen in the series so far happens as mobile suits fight planes. It’s also interesting to see Garma’s girl get into war since she’s being all butthurt about the love of her life dying a horrible, painful death or something. I guess it’s justified? There is also drama with the refugees which is awesome. I like that. Everybody seems to have their own brain instead of there just being the “good guys” and the “bad guys”. I like the fact that there are people trying to make sense out of the situation and coming to different conclusions on what should be done.

Lady Icelina, Garma’s girl, another character really worth exploring dies by hilariously falling from the plane. If they needed to kill the character, they should’ve made her commit suicide. Aiming her gun at Amuro, realizing she has nothing left and how killing a teenager would only make things worse, slowly putting the weapon in her mouth and pulling the trigger. At least that’s what I would’ve done; some good drama, some shock-value and something to traumatize and thus deepen the character of Amuro. It was good, it could’ve been great.

With that the “Garma”-arc is over. What did I think? It was pretty good. I don’t understand why they had to kill off every character of any depth they introduced since now it almost feels like we are in the same exact situation we were before Garma was around. They should introduce some goals into the series to keep it interesting. Something else for the Zeon to do than shoot at the Federation and something else for the Federation to do than cry and defend themselves. We’ve seen this go on for almost a dozen episodes now. I could do with a purpose. There is nothing to make me go “I wonder what happens at the end of the series?” because there is no Mcguffin to hunt, places to capture or things to do other than shoot at the enemy and hope you hit. With that said, the action is still pretty cool and I dig the universe so I’m going to keep watching for now. I just kind of want to move on to another, more modern series already since the format of this show is not really my thing.

About the Author

Avatar of Valtteri Kauraoja
Valtteri Kauraoja
Valtteri Kauraoja is a Finnish hippie, who obsesses over retro collecting and enjoys overthinking everything. The pretentious idiot uses all game-running machinery he can find, often talking about weird old games or obscure artsy fartsy titles nobody wants to hear about. He doesn't believe in scores or objectivity and he's probably slightly mentally ill. We apologize in advance.



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