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 Afringe Home / Reviews / Mobile Suit Gundam Vol.1 10/26/2014 
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INFO FILE
Title:
Mobile Suit Gundam Vol.1: The Battle Begins
Format:
Bilingual DVD
Production:
Bandai
Sunrise
Hajime Yatate
Yoshiyuki Tomino
Comments:
This is where it all began!
Overall Rating:
87%

Animefringe Reviews:
Mobile Suit Gundam Vol.1: The Battle Begins
By Jake Forbes


Where was Gundam 15 years ago when it would have been my favorite series? Even though I’d never seen the original Mobile Suit Gundam until watching the first DVD, I felt an instant wave of nostalgia wash over me. A lot of anime fans who got interested in the genre through Akira, Dragonball Z, or Gundam Wing will probably find the animation to be painfully old-fashioned, but for anyone who grew up on Robotech and Battle of the Planets, First Gundam is sure to bring out the kid in you.

Throughout all the various incarnations of Gundam, the story has always been pretty much the same. Good guys are very young, want peace, and are in possession of new top-secret fighting robot designs called Gundam. The main bad guy usually wears a mask, flies a different colored Mobile Suit from his goons, and has a non-stop grudge with the hero, causing them to duel every few episodes. This series is where those clichés all began. While it might seem a little absurd that teenagers are fighting the war for the good guys, it’s no different from other series like this (Macross, Gundam Wing, Gunbuster, Evangelion). It’s just that here, the kids act more like kids and the teens like teens, instead of being the stoic, grown-up heroes that the teens in other anime are made out to be. First Gundam does a wonderful job at setting up a scenario in which the teens must take over the fighting duties, simply because the adults are dead. I’ve always been irritated by the cliché of having robots that are controlled by teens because of some mumbo jumbo about adults not being able to take the mental/physical stress. (Perhaps my inner child just wishes grown-ups were dead instead of incompetent?)

The teen prodigy in question here is Amuro, a scientific whiz and the son of a military scientist. He first pilots Gundam when a Zeon attack, led by Red Comet, devastates his colony from the inside. The survivors must gather together in the Federation’s new warship, White Base, and return home to Earth. All the while they are pursued by Char, the Red Comet, the ace fighter of the Zeon military. Fortunately for Amuro, the Gundam that he pilots has a self-learning program that allows it to learn new moves as it gets combat experience.

While Amuro is forced to fight, like every other teen mech pilot, he is much more human than many other pilots. One reason I never really got into Gundam during the Gundam Wing boom was because the characters were all so artificial and often times downright despicable. Heero’s a jerk, Trowa and Wufei are boring, Quatre’s a sissy, and only Duo is really likeable. If I was seven years old, I’d rather be like Amuro than any of the Gundam Wing boys, and that’s really what counts, as Gundam is really a pre-adolescent military adventure, like GI Joe in space. Sure, there’s much for older fans to love about the mechs, but the characters are really for kids, and doggonit, First Gundam has great characters.

A lot of new anime fans will call the animation in First Gundam quite primitive, but really, it’s very well done for its time and it holds up well today. The style is certainly dated, but for many old-school anime fans like me, this is quite refreshing. While characters certainly have less detail than they do in Gundam Wing, I think the animation in First Gundam is actually more fluid and natural feeling. Looking at this after having watched Robotech (Macross) so many times, it’s easy to see how much Gundam influenced the later more successful series (but as imitative as it may be, Macross’s Valkyries/Veritechs will always be 100x’s cooler than any Gundam in my book). Many of the characters look like they could have easily been interchangeable between shows.

The English dub is not as “serious” as the other Gundam dubs, but I think it’s actually the most fun Gundam dub of the ones I’ve seen. If I didn’t know better, I’d think that this was dubbed 15 years ago. The fact that it looks so much like the anime of my youth makes me forget that it even is dubbed. For those of you who just have to watch anime in its original language, you’ll want to steer clear of this disc—it only has a dub track. The music is wonderfully old school, especially the opening theme, which I’m glad they left in Japanese.

DVD extras are pretty sparse here. There’s 5 episodes, a good enough value, but for a $29.99 retail, I wish Bandai had come up with some more additions. As it stands, all you get is a short Mobile Suit Encyclopedia highlighting the three Federation Mobile suits in the episodes.

For anyone who still thinks Robotech is one of the best series around, First Gundam is a must see. The story, animation, and sound is some of the best of its era. Those who want more action and flashier art should stick with the MS Gundam 08th MS team. Liking this series makes me feel old. All you young whippersnappers who knock First Gundam on the web don’t have any respect for your elders! In my day, we had to walk three miles uphill in the snow to watch anime, and back then, we couldn’t even afford motion lines, so all we had were these robots that would just stand still. Heck, we couldn’t even afford robots, so we’d just look at these drawings of tin cans and imagine that they were fighting machines. You think your Gundam W is good stuff? It’s crap! You kids…

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