Mobile Suit Gundam 0079 Review

Rating 8.5/10

Plot: In the year 2124, or Universal Century 0079, humans have built and lived in space colonies that are orbiting earth for over half a century. The colonies on the outermost section, called Side 3, united and started calling themselves the Principality of Zeon. In an effort to win their independence from the Earth Federation, Zeon declared war. The war has lasted for eight months, and while both sides have endured heavy casualties, it seems there is a stalemate. However, the war has quickly been turned on its head by the creation of humanoid mechs called Mobile Suits, and the newest model, the Gundam, is the most powerful to date. The problem is, no one has manned it yet.

The engineer’s son, Amuro Ray, hijacks the Gundam in order to help protect his friends in a nearby battle and finds himself the designated pilot of Gundam and a reluctant soldier of one of Earth Federation’s best ships, the White Base. Under the command of Bright Noa, and with a crew of civilian soldiers, Amuro faces off in numerous battles against the Zeon forces, including their fiercest soldier, Char Aznoble.

Breakdown: The first ever Gundam series and the show most people hold as a standard set for all Gundam series to follow, Gundam 0079 is a vast exploration into the many facets of war.

One of the most interesting aspects of this series is the fact that almost all of the people on White Base are not soldiers, nor do they have any formal combat or technical training. In fact, many of them are teenagers and several are children. Almost all of them are reluctant soldiers at that, having been suddenly drafted after an attack on their colony.

You usually only get a civilian point of view from outside of the war, but still experiencing the effects of it. This set up gives a realistic take from both sides of the horrors of war. You see characters struggle to learn, break under the pressure, emotionally cope with their being forced to kill people as well as deal with the losses of their comrades, try to force themselves to grow up in order to protect themselves and their loved ones and even develop a family on board that familiar Trojan Horse (The White Base’s nickname).

Interestingly, a bulk of the time, the Zeon forces also aren’t treated as soulless evil bastards you never care about. Unlike many other similar shows of the time, the Zeon forces are frequently shown in a light that both reflects their status as the enemy but highlights their humanity. They have families, they fall in love, they deeply care for their comrades and they feel the horrors of war like the Earth Federation.

I appreciate this view, but it gets ruined later in the series. While Char and some other Zeon soldiers maintain a fair amount of humanity to continue to relate to them, the Zeons are, as a whole, completely solidified as heartless evil bastards who just want to take over everything instead of winning their independence. If you don’t believe me, many Zeon soldiers are given that stereotypical stupid thug voice, speak like the average violent thug would speak, and some of the higher ups, even Char, commit incredibly deplorable acts both against the Earth Federation and their own people, especially the giant mess that is the Zabi family, leader of the Zeons.

But as a topping on this MUAHAHA cake, we have a conversation between Degwin Zabi, sovereign ruler of Zeon, and his son Giren, a high ranking soldier in the Zeon forces. Degwin compares Giren’s ideals to those of Hitler, and Giren gladly accepts this comparison and even calls the Zeon forces the followers of Hitler. Yup, Zeon is literally Hitler.

The Earth Federation forces have some bad eggs, but for the most part it’s a politically clean and non-corrupt military force. There are some atrocities to be had, but these are mostly always shown as necessities to the war effort instead of furthering some personal or political agenda.

This series is largely battle-based as the main linear story and, outside of the political mess happening in Zeon, is fairly disjointed. I’m not saying the story doesn’t make sense, but it’s more a collection of mini-stories that are built on character development milestones.

Speaking of characters, the collection we have here is interesting and likable, though there are some speedbumps.

Frow Bow is a very kind and gentle mothering character who serves as the pseudo-love interest for Amuro. I say ‘pseudo’ because he treats her poorly for a bulk of the series – despite being childhood friends and one of the only people from his home that he has left beside him. However, a significant chunk of their time on screen is them fighting or him being dismissive and rude to her.

Frow Bow seems to take up more of an older sister with a rebellious younger brother role than she does love interest, and that’s fine. I just wish there had been more in regards to serious bridge mending between them later on in the series. He quite drastically shifts his tone to her out of nowhere, even calling her ‘beloved’.

Bright Noa is a strong leader who is one of the few who doesn’t want to take any of Amuro’s crap, even though he gives into his behavior several times because he needs him as a Gundam pilot. He has a very strong moral compass, and is always striving to do what’s right, even if it means disobeying military orders. Bright’s not without his flaws either, as he definitely struggles with his position sometimes.

Mirai takes to military life surprisingly quickly and basically becomes Bright’s first mate and one of the most effective and useful people onboard the White Base that never pilots a mech. She’s very mature and, if Frow Bow takes the role of older sister, Mirai definitely takes a motherly role. She is extremely loyal and close to Bright, and despite some uninteresting/annoying intrusions of her love life, she is one of my favorite characters.

Kai is voiced by Richard Ian Cox, so I love him yet hate him. Kai is an annoying smart-aleck who is always taking shots at people, particularly Bright and Amuro, but he is a very brave individual who is usually willing to fight to protect his allies on the White Base with the Guncannon. He grows on you a little, especially after his mini-arc where he abandons White Base, but he still grates on the nerves a bit.

Hayato is another childhood friend of both Frow and Amuro, though he’s more strongly connected with Frow than Amuro. He’s very short and gives off more of a vibe of being a kid than anyone else on the White Base, despite being the same age as Frow, Amuro and Kai. Because of this, he kinda sees Amuro as a measuring stick of his own successes. Even in the end, he seems to feel like he can’t match up to Amuro given his increasingly impressive abilities with the Gundam and his status as a Newtype.

No matter what, however, Hayato gives it his all in everything he does on the Trojan Horse, particularly in piloting the Guntank. He deeply cares about his friends and always wants to keep fighting to protect them, even when wounded. Hayato was another of my favorite characters.

Sayla was mostly just kinda there to me for a good chunk of the series until she’s finally given more development and backstory midway into the show. Until then, she’s mostly just another pair of hands on the White Base. After she steals the Gundam in order to find out more about her family, she is rightfully reprimanded (because those few episodes were stupid, to be honest), but, in light of her piloting skills, she is designated as the pilot of the Core Booster, being Amuro’s main support in battle. She eventually becomes more ingrained into the story as a whole, but I won’t spoil that.

We’re now at the first ever Gundam protagonist and Gundam pilot, Amuro Ray. And, I gotta say, it took me an insanely long time to warm up to Amuro.

Amuro, at least in the beginning, is hard to root for. I know he’s 16, but he’s incredibly impulsive, abrasive, immature and just has a bad attitude. I get that he’s a teenager thrown into war, but he basically threw himself into the war by stealing the mobile suit. Then he feels entitled to being the pilot of the Gundam despite breaking numerous military rules and laws, not being technically a military officer and the fact that he, ya know, stole the damn thing to begin with.

At the very least, he gets he gets a serious reality check when he returns. I can at least be thankful that those at White Base don’t welcome him back with open arms when he does decide to come back after his little tantrum in stealing Gundam after hearing he might be replaced as pilot. They throw him in jail the instant he returns and claim that they only want Gundam back and not him.

This is a good start at that reality check because now Amuro is basically going nuts with egotism claiming he’s the best pilot and only logical choice for Gundam. He even claims he has a perfectly reasonable explanation in leaving which is complete BS.

Dude, you left because you were sad they were going to take your robot away so you selfishly and immaturely stole the thing and ran off into the desert, leaving White Base very vulnerable to attack. You may have done a couple of good things in your absence that benefit the federation, but that doesn’t change the fact that what you did was done under selfishness and immaturity not because you had White Base’s or the federation’s best interest in mind. In no scenario would taking their best line of defense and refusing to return when requested would be beneficial to anyone but you.

Amuro did grow on me slowly but surely, but even at the end I wasn’t sure how much I really liked him as a character.

Speaking of characters, there was another issue that annoyed me throughout the series. Gundam 0079 has a nasty habit of introducing characters from nowhere, leaving them around for a few episodes, then killing them and having their death be extremely impacting for one character or another. They do this so frequently, especially in the second half of the series, that it seriously gets annoying. Half of these characters seem so superfluous or weren’t fleshed out nearly enough that I honestly can’t remember most of their names. Sleggar and Matilda come to mind, and there were countless Zeon higher ups that suffered from this.

The fact that Lalah became so focal in the end was also unwelcome. They act like she and Amuro had known each other very deeply and spent a lot of time together when they spend, collectively, a few hours together and had a psychic back and forth a few times.

The introduction of Newtypes was a little on the out-of-nowhere side, but I’m glad that everyone, to some degree got Newtype-ish powers instead of having everything cool go the hero again. Though it is odd that Char is only recognized as a Newtype when someone suspects he’s a Newtype. He doesn’t really display any Newtype abilities before then, outside of just being really good at piloting mechs.

If I had one more big complaint about Gundam 0079, it’d be the ending. The series just kinda ends out of nowhere. I mean, there is a little buildup when a sudden major death happens, but other than episode number, you really don’t expect the series to end on those last few episodes. And while the climax is pretty good, I was expecting more bang for my buck.

Plus, the dub completely ruins it. In their ED’s background scenes, they play the very last scene of the show full out without really any editing. Why? Why? Why? What is the goddamn point of doing that?

Art and Animation: Very dated, very noticeable reused footage, craggy in several respects, but for the time it’s not that bad. The art is classic and has many great designs. They don’t go too fancy with the mobile suits, but that’s alright.

Music: Also dated, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t love it. I sing along to the OP whenever it comes on and the ED is a great way to come down after an episode, particularly emotional ones.

Voice Acting: English – This dub is pretty dated, but stands up fairly well. Everyone’s voices fit well, and there’s a decent amount of emotion in each performance. Char’s VA in particular really helped bring this character to life.

Bottomline: Gundam 0079 was a fantastic first run of a much-loved franchise. I wouldn’t say it’s phenomenal, but I never disliked watching it, even during episodes where I was angry at some of the characters. Even during those times, at least I was being invested and feeling strong emotions for what was happening. It may be a bit too dated for many anime fans today, but any fan of Gundam or mech as a whole, or space operas, should watch this. You won’t regret it.

Additional Information and Notes: Gundam 0079 was directed and written by Yoshiyuki Tomino, creator of Gundam as a whole and director and writer of many, many Gundam titles. It was produced by Sunrise and is currently licensed in North America by Sunrise as well.

Year: 1979-1980

Episodes: 43

Recommended Audience: There are some mildly sexually suggestive themes-ish, but not really. People die by the droves, but there’s nothing horribly graphic. The tones and subject matter may be a bit heavy for younger viewers out the gate. 13+

Episode One-Derland: Gasaraki

Plot: Uhm….pbbbbttt…..A mech pilot dances and tries to summon Satan?

Breakdown: I’ve seen a lot of boring anime in my time.

And this is one of them.

I swear to God, if I wasn’t falling asleep while watching this, I was trying to understand what half the cast was talking about.

The first half of the episode has our main character, Yushiro, piloting a mech in a simulation. He infiltrates some building and is about do…something when they stop the simulation. This part of the episode is only there to tell us that Yushiro is special somehow because…his heart rate increases substantially when he’s on a mission?

The second half has Yushiro in somewhat of a Noh dance. It’s quite the jarring transition, actually. I was questioning whether the video spliced in a different show or something.

The dance takes up the entire second half, and we soon realize that he’s meant to use this dance to go into a trance and summon something called ‘The terror,’ which is about as bland as humanly possible.

A girl…in a…spiderweb cocoon? Contacts him psychically, tries to kill him, but fails. There are people manipulating the girl. He keeps summoning the terror then stops as they enter the final stage because the girl told him not to.

And that’s it. That’s the episode. Just add about 150 lines of ‘science’ or ‘magic’ babble that is never explained and imagine I hired Ben Stein to recite all of that.

Holy hell, it is massively boring. Speaking on a first episode basis, it fails on practically every level. I don’t know anything about the world they’re living in, outside of it seemingly meant to be set in modern day Japan, I think.

I have no clue about any of the characters – not even Yushiro. There’s one ominous bad guy manipulating Yushiro. There’s another ominous bad guy manipulating the blue haired girl. They both look very similar outside of one wears glasses. The girl is…..I have no clue. I would say she’s nice, but she tried to psychically murder Yushiro for no given reason sooooo….

Yushiro’s the worst bland offender. Not only do we barely get two words out of the guy before the end of the episode, but his face is obscured through 98% of the runtime. He’s wearing either a half-mask or a full face mask for all of it. When he does talk, he’s only repeating what the blue haired girl said about not bringing back the terror, and finally tells it to go back when it’s nearly summoned. And he can’t even add a drop of emotion to that.

It’s like it’s a big reveal when he finally takes off his mask. Like, ha! I have an identity! But his face is absolutely forgettable (It’s like when people saw Kakashi without his mask for the first time. Lots of buildup for “Oh, it’s normal”), and his actions after he takes it off are the polar opposite of anything epic. It’s not worth the psuedo-buildup at all.

Yushiro has a sister, whom we learn even less of, he was…taken from his home (?) and he’s special somehow. That’s all we know about him.

I feel like there might be something interesting here in terms of ideas, but the best I’ve heard about this show’s plot in reviews is – Kavik Ryx of Nihon Anime Reviews “However, to its credit, there are moments dealing with the SSDF and Japan’s economic crisis that are quite riveting. What is done with real world politics is absolutely uncanny, in a good way. There is something to be said when an anime’s highpoint revolves around the price of grain exports.” Oh boy, I can’t wait for that….grain…export….crescendo….

I’ve been told that the first episode is universally seen as a major weak point of the series because it leaves the audience with very little information and fails to grip the viewer in any way. Supposedly, you need to watch at least the first four episodes to get any sort of real grasp on the plot and characters, but, I’m sorry. You can’t give me dirty dishwater as an appetizer and expect me to order a four course meal.

Nearly every full review I’ve read of this anime tops out the rating as mediocre at best, and a lot of the praise seems to be going more towards the production values than the story or characters, so I don’t even feel compelled to make the trudge on the promise of something better.

I will say this, though. This was one of the most realistic uses of computers I’ve seen in a while. They move the windows, we get to see the cursor, they use menus and everything. They don’t just bash on their keyboards and have ten thousands things happening at once.

It also has pretty good art and fluid animation. The mechs are uninspired, and nothing strikes me as amazing, but it’s nice.

The music is also a positive. The ED in particular was gentle and calming…which is a tad problematic when you’re already falling asleep.

Final Verdict:

750spsl

If you have a lot of patience, do like some have said and watch the first four episodes to see if it grips you. However, I can’t see myself returning to this. I need much more substance in a first episode to justify going through more boredom.

SSBS – Zoids Chaotic Century Episode 2: The Mysterious Fiona

SSBS Zoids ep 2

Plot: Van takes Fiona and Zeke back to his village to introduce them to his sister and the villagers. However, he soon realizes that doing so has lead the same gang members from earlier to his village. They want Zeke, and they’re willing to attack the village to get what they want. When they kidnap Van’s sister, Maria, he has no choice but to pilot the Shield Liger and rescue her.

Breakdown: If first episodes are usually meant for establishing certain aspects of the plot, second episodes are for transitional periods and more establishment. And that’s really what this is.

In addition to being a slight continuation of the last episode, we’re moreso focusing on transitioning Van to his main plot objective of traveling the countryside and eventually meeting up with new friends and joining the war effort, while also more firmly establishing certain things like there being a legit link between Fiona and Zeke, solidifying Zeke’s importance in the functionality of the Shield Liger and the roles of Maria and some of the villagers.

The enemies are even less threatening this time around, even if their actions are worse. Nothing significant happens in their attacks and they make off with nothing. So…pbbt. Also, again with the ridiculous bragging that you’re besting a child in a 3 on 1 robot battle.

The art and animation are somehow faltering even worse in this episode. It’s not terribly distracting, but it’s bad enough to notice. The voice acting is suffering in a similar fashion. Fewer VA’s seem to be giving a crap this time around and VA’s who were doing alright last time seem to be phoning it in.

Finally, Fiona is very annoying in this episode, but mostly in her complete lack of knowledge in anything (she can, like a machine, pinpoint the exact thread location of a small hole in a blanket, but she doesn’t know what a tree is.) and her almost vaudeville-esque back and forth with Van about what she does and doesn’t know.

It’s an alright episode given its necessity. But hey, we get Irvine next! Hooray!

Rating: 7/10

….Previous Episode

SSBS – Zoids (Chaotic Century) Episode 1: The Boy from Planet Zi

Zoids 1 title

Plot: Van is young boy who wants nothing more than a Zoid of his own to pilot, just like his late father. After being chased down by some crooked Zoid pilots, a Guysak pilot in particular named Bull, Van becomes trapped in some old war ruins.

He finds a secret passage that leads him to two pods, and he accidentally opens one of them, revealing a baby raptor-like Zoid that he names Zeke. Bull returns to finish him off, and Zeke tries to protect him to no avail.

Zeke takes Van and flies them out of the ruins, leading them to an old ruined Shield Liger. Zeke amazingly fuses with the Shield Liger, bringing it back to full form, and Van manages to scare off the enemy.

After the battle concludes, Zeke leads them back to the ruins where he prompts Van to open the second pod. Thinking it’s another Zoid, Van excitedly agrees only to find that the pod contains a strange girl.

Breakdown: Zoids was a show that I definitely followed when I was younger. Here’s the thing though, outside of the bare basics, I remember nothing of the story. I remember Zoids, I remember fighting, I remember Van, Fiona and Zeek, that’s about it. I don’t know if that says something about the quality of the show. Hopefully it’s just my crappy-ass memory.

As for this first episode, it’s pretty good. Not great, but pretty good. They establish basically what Zoids are without going into expositiony detail. They introduce Van quite well, and he’s a really likable character so far. You click with him near the end when you see how excited he is to win his first Zoid battle. His relationship with Zeke also starts out pretty strong.

The enemies…..are….the biggest weak point of the episode. The other two, who pilot Command Wolves, are just blah, which is not at all helped by their completely bored voice acting.

Bull, however, is just nearing ridiculously evil. He whines about not getting one of the cool Command Wolves from whoever his bosses are, so he takes command of a stray Guysak, a scorpion-like Zoid, and tries to prove its worth by killing Van….Yeah I’m sure you’ll look so impressive killing a small boy with a 20 ton battle robot. He justifies it by saying he witnessed something or other, but it’s pretty flimsy.

The other weak spot of this episode would probably be the scene with Van’s sister at their father’s grave. It’s just a big fat exposition dump.

The art is usually pretty good, and even the CGI Zoids look pretty nice and don’t clash too much with the traditional animation. However, there are a bunch of scenes with silly and odd facial expressions. Nearly every shot of Bull is a screenshot for the books, and even Van gets some laughable faces.

The music is pretty good, and the ED has stuck with me throughout the years. Something interesting about this series is that, unlike a ton of English dubbed shows, this one keeps the next episode previews, which I greatly appreciate even if they have a habit of spoiling episodes every now and then.

The voice acting, English, is a mixed bag so far. Van’s VA is pretty good and Bull’s is alright, but the silver haired Command Wolf Pilot was just horrible. He could not sound more bored. Van’s sister’s VA also isn’t a very good actress.

All in all, a pretty good first episode that leaves a nice cliffhanger-ish ending to have you chomping at the bit a little to see what’s up with both Zeke and the girl, Fiona.

Rating: 8/10

Next episode, we learn more about the mysterious girl from the pod, Fiona.