Anime Ramblings – Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn

Holy shit, IT’S OVER!

Gundam Unicorn is OVER!

Don’t get me wrong, I fucking love Gundam Unicorn, but there’s been so many delays for it and so much hype even until now, I was just eager to see how they ended this.

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So Gundam Unicorn started back in 2010, and when it was announced around year previously, everyone was hyped as fuck. I remember when Unicorn was announced: basically every mecha-related forum, board, chat, club, etc. was talking about this. Unicorn was, at that point, a novel that sounded really awesome and that seemed to tie up some lose ends from the early UC era. It was also the only hope UC fans had to the return of this timeline back to the mainstream and animated medium (there had been stuff like IGLOO and Evolve around, but they were either ignored or just not as popular or hyped as this).

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Basically, what I’m gonna talk about is the OVA, because frankly, I’ve only read the first two volumes of the novel series, and I don’t think I’ll be able to finish them anytime soon, but whatever.

The OVA was initially going to be six episodes, two episodes per year. But then something happened, shortly after episode 4, which was the least well-received of the episodes by then, and Sunrise decided to not only extend the series with an additional episode, but also delay the following episodes.

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It’s time for GANDAMU.

Episode 1 proved the hype wasn’t in vain: great animation, great music, excellent mechanical and character designs, not to mention the tone and the pacing was incredibly well handled and it was a greatly balanced piece of work. For anime and, especially the mecha genre, it was a good, nice fresh breath of air, which was somewhat ironic considering Unicorn uses so many clichés and tradition from the previous series (especially Universal Century Gundam series).

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Can’t be Gandamu without motherfucking Char! Or Full Frontal…or just a Char clone, doesn’t matter, really.

Episode 2 lived up to its predecessors: personally, I think it even outdid it, somehow outdoing in the animation, combat, music and performance departments while being consistent in everything else. It was also basically every UC fanboy’s wet dream: the Red Comet in HD, modern animation; good old fashioned asteroid field battle; Suichi Ikeda; typical LOLGundam politics and philosophy, etc.. It shed more light on pretty much all the characters, which at this point were still somewhat unknowns (unless you had read the novels).

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;_;

Episode 3 was the high point of the series, personally: it was all the good of episodes 1 and 2, with added extras like further exploring the UC timeline and world, a very moving scene involving the main character, Banagher Links, and his supporting character Marida Cruz; as well as one of, if not the, best animated combat scene in the franchise: the Battle of Palau. It also shed light on several minor characters like Daguza Mackle and Gilboa Sant, who would later become one of the many figures Banagher would look up to in the future.

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HURR SIEG ZEON!!!111!!!!!!!1!1!!!!1!!!1

However, the story-telling quality of the series decreased heavily in episode 4: the pacing was attrocious, the antagonist of the episode, Lony Garvey, was nothing more than delicious fap bait, and pretty much the only reason to watch it is for the, admittedly, very awesome battle in Torrington Base between the Zeon Remnants and the Earth Federation/Londo Bell forces, which features endless cameos of mobile suits from MSV, Zeta, ZZ, Char’s Counterattack, Z-MSV, ZZ-MSV, 0080, and many other animated, manga and Variations series, as well as original designs that were based on suits from many of the aforementioned series (such as the AMX-101K). The ending of this episode, however, also questioned heavily whether or not Sunrise would be able to properly cover the content of the novels in the next two episodes.

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XXX-999-666-VVV Gundam EDGE

At this point was when Sunrise decided to extend the series and make more reasonable release schedules (one episode a year instead of two episodes), in order to more effectively produce what remained of the series.

Episode 5 was much better, although it was still somewhat average. Despite this, it was possibly the first time we had had an air battle in the styles of original Gundam/Zeta between opposing factions, although the animation quality left somewhat to be desired. Despite this, it perfectly laid what followed in the next episode.

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Mineva and her bitches. Or manwhores, whatever.

Episode 6 was, however, the return to the roots: a perfect balance between story-telling and action, character drama, and not to mention a huge improvement in production values in general; there were at times when it seemed some of the characters had been rotoscoped due to how fluid the animation was in this episode. It was also a perfect lead in to the next, and final, episode.

Now the final episode has finally come out, and IT’S GLORIOUS. It has its fair share of flaws, mind you, but I don’t think I’ll elaborate much upon them right now. The episode basically delivered on what it had been promising since it was announced, and it did so, greatly. Not only did we get even more mobile suit cameos from previous series (Ga-Zowmn and Zssa, anyone? Oh yes, they appear), but the episode is essentially one of the best produced Sunrise works ever done. It has its share of ridiculous, such as the final confrontation between Banagher and Full Frontal (watch it, and you’ll see what I mean), Riddhe and Marida’s arcs, Angelo (although granted, he’s been pretty ridiculous since episode 2), and a few other things. However, one doesn’t mind with how awesome the episode is. It’s basically around an hour (or hour and a half: I really didn’t bother to check how long it was) of pure UC Gundam awesome.

So, what is my final word on Gundam Unicorn? Well, I think it’d be going too far and say it’s one of the best Gundam series ever made…but I don’t care. I’ll just call it one of the best Gundam series ever made. Sure, there are some I prefer like 0080, or Zeta, but Unicorn is just so well done and so well composed (sans that shitty filler of episode 4 that might as well not exist), it really deserves most of the praise it has gotten, gets and will get.

I mean, it has great characters, excellent art (mechanical, character, background…you name it), God-tier production values…it’s basically everything Gundam should aspire to be in the future, even if it isn’t UC and features space alien pirates and is set in the Andromeda Galaxy and has character designs by Masami Obari.

So have you seen Gundam Unicorn, what do you think about it?

Random – Anime Babe of the Month

I’m bored.

The final episode of Gundam Unicorn finally came out. I’m so tempted of going to the mecha boards and check out spoilers, but I determined myself not to (especially after seeing surprise spoilers about the novel years ago).

So I’ll do this post, IDGAF.

The award of Anime Babe of the Month goes to Maria Grace Fleed, from Grendizer.

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It doesn’t help that in this particular image, she’s drawn by the Master of Animated and Drawn Pronz, Satoshi Urushihara, who also made gems like Another Lady Innocent and Legend of Lemnear. But even when not drawn by Urushihara, Maria is so freaking hot it’s unbearable.

Tomorrow, Movie Babe of the Month.

Anime Nostalgia – Prefectural Earth Defense Force

Parodies are something that can go right or wrong in any medium, especially animation. However, one of the strengths of animation is that, like in writing, you can go wild with the animation because one isn’t limited by a thing called “reality”.

Animators all around the world inject parody to varying degrees in their work: whether it be call-backs to popular or recognizable things, or entire works that are dedicated to this, they do it. Cartoon Network originals, Bugs Bunny, even Disney, are filled with this.

The Japanese animation industry (a.k.a. anime industry) is filled with this too; the medium is actually very notorious of making countless references and call-backs to things of world pop culture -from locally, but well-known-in-Japan anime series to worldwide phenomena like Star Wars and Aliens, nothing is safe from being parodied in anime.

One of the most critically-acclaimed parodies in Japan was a manga series called Prefectural Earth Defense Force, which was released in 1983 and ran for two years, for four volumes. It was a success, as it contained delicious art, delicious girls, well-illustrated action and genuinely-funny comedy. It also happened to parody a very popular special effects series called Ultra Seven, which made it even more accessible to audiences in Japan.

Back in 1986 (which seems to be a year of release of many popular and famour OVAs and films like Gall Force), an anime studio called Gallop made an OVA based on the manga. Although it is a one-shot OVA, it is by far one of the finest gems of its time and place of origin.

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The OVA starts off with a bangin’ opening sequence…I don’t feel like describing. Just watch it.

Excellent shading, great animation, catchy theme. It seems like it’s gonna be a typical, fun sci fi action movie.

Well, it is in the “typical” where one is wrong.

It is not “typical” as there are no aliens, monsters, or any other typical enemy to confront. Rather, the elements are, in the end, much more mundane and down to Earth. The “bad guys” are just stooges, whose only aspect of “normalcy” is them wanting to rule the world, but that’s about it. Seeing them in the OVA makes you wonder if they’ll be actually able to do so.

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The heroes themselves, while completely into their own parts, are really just kids playing around. And no, the robot is just for show. It does have, however: cyborgs, super-powers, cute and sexy girls, and a ballin’ soundtrack. It also has Shuichi Ikeda (Char Aznable, Brian J. Mason, Kessler) voicing the main bad guy, and is by far the best performance in the entire OVA.ImageNow, Ikeda is one of the most famous, most profilic and best respected voice actors in the anime industry, right up there with Norio Wakamoto…no, actually, quite higher than Wakamoto, due to his role of Char Aznable in Mobile Suit Gundam. Pretty much every single role he does, whether major (Ulrich Kessler) or minor (Brian J. Mason), he nails them. He can play the gentleman or the ruthless, cold, calculating bastard. And something he excels at as well is comedy, one of the best, if not the, best example being his role as the captain of the alien ship in Project A-Ko, another highly popular product (in this case, a theatrical film) of the same year as Prefectural Earth Defense Force. Ikeda’s performance is charming and it is clear the actor is completely enjoying himself.

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The only thing I can think of that is somewhat similar to this is the movie Help! with the Beatles. While watching it, I was reminded of it. I cannot explain why, mainly because Help! didn’t have any cyborgs, although thinking about it, the tone of both this OVA and the Beatles movie seems quite similar.

This OVA was, sadly, only released in the west until the mid-2000s, by A.D. Vision during its last years of existence. The DVD is pretty hard to find online, but it might be out there on the shelves of video stores. Either way, I recommend it. It is one of the true gems of its time.

Have you seen Prefectural Earth Defense Force? What do you think about it? Love it, hate it, indifferent at it?

Comment below, let me know.

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