Plot: In the distant future, earth has been essentially abandoned for established space colonies. In order to maintain peace and control between the various colonies, a tournament was created to choose the colony that would reign over the others for a year. This tournament is called the Gundam Fight. One person from each nation is chosen to pilot a mobile suit and is sent to earth. There they must fight other Gundam fighters from other nations using earth as a battleground. Due to this, earth has become a desolate wasteland, supporting only handfuls of people across the globe with many dying.
Our main character, Domon, has only one goal for being Neo-Japan’s Gundam fighter; he wants to find and confront his brother Kyoji, whom he believes killed his mother and was the cause of his father being imprisoned in a comatose state. He knows Kyoji has fled to earth with the terrible Dark Gundam and he’ll do whatever it takes to find him.
Breakdown: This is a slap of nostalgia, huh? I used to love this show, but man is it unbelievably cheesy at times. Basically the entire series is laid out for us in a nutshell, Domon is obsessed with finding his brother and he has to fight other Gundam fighters to find him. I don’t really have any qualms about the story. In fact, I find it to be quite good, if not somewhat cliche. The reason why this gets lower marks is for the following reasons.
1 – Domon is not very likable. He’s constantly moody and emo and he’s always angry. When he’s not being moody or angsty, he’s actually very enjoyable to watch, but he doesn’t act happy very often. I’d say only about 3% of his screentime is him being happy and the rest is him being miserable when he’s not fighting. Not to say that he doesn’t have a reason to be a little upset. I mean, taking this off of the illusion episode, he seems to have been a very happy person and also seems that way when he’s with Master Asia, but that doesn’t mean it’s enjoyable to watch a lot of the time.
2 – The acting’s pretty damn corny at numerous times. Rain has an especially lame voice actress. When she’s not acting terribly, she’s annoying the crap out of me and/or yelling “DOMON!” Granted, at least her voice sounds okay and it’s not grating or super high pitched, but the acting gets on my nerves. I don’t expect masterpieces out of a show this aged, but still, pretty damn corny.
3 – The art’s blah and the animation’s fairly cheap unless they’re in a super important battle and, even then, it’s not great. Lots of animation is also recycled over and over, mostly in terms of attack animations and when the fighters are getting suited up into their Gundams.
I should also skew from the topic for a minute to mention that the Gundams are piloted in such a weird way. There’s no real controls. The Gundams are controlled through use of a full body skin-tight rubber/latex outfit that is always custom fit to the fighter upon entry. Apparently this is not only for functionality but also so that the fighters, for whatever reason, can feel the blows from the enemy and actually get physically wounded when their Gundams are damaged. I know they did it this way to showcase the fighters actually fighting with their Gundams instead of just pressing buttons and triggers and whatnot, but surely there’s a better method to this.
4 – The ending is the cheesiest cheese ever cheesed. (Spoilers, obviously) I’m still debating which is more cheesy, this ending or Eureka 7’s. It’s a tossup, but I’d have to lean more towards this. Just slightly. I mean, come on. The ending is cheesy enough with the declaration of love and Rain jumping into Domon’s arms as his cape (which seems to become insanely big during this scene for some reason) flowing gracefully around them without them riding off into the sunlight with Domon holding Rain wedding-style as they ride off through a rainbow heart while riding on a Pegasus. I am in no way, shape or form kidding.
5 – Shining and Burning Finger have to be the two stupidest attack names I’ve ever heard, barring magical girl anime. I was actually hoping the dub was to blame for this and that the actual attack names were like Shining Hand or the God Hand/Hand of God (His Gundam was called the God Gundam in the original, hence the name G Gundam) but nope. Apparently that’s a completely accurate translation…Wow. Also, the speech he always gives before he makes the move is unnecessary and corny, but I guess that’s what makes it so quotable.
6 – The shuffle alliance thing just seems tacked on. Domon constantly spouts out that he’s the King of Hearts, but the other shuffle alliance members get no real focus on their titles. In fact, spoiler, but the original shuffle alliance only appears in one episode before they die and pass on their titles. The new shuffle alliance members hardly ever get any spotlight on their titles. Hell, I watched this series all the time when I was younger, and rewatching it I couldn’t remember who got what title until the actual episode and I still have trouble remembering. Even if they did, what good is it, and why do holographic-esque icons appear on their hands because of it? I just never got that.
Other than that, though, the other characters such as Allenby and Sai Saichi are enjoyable, there are numerous tear-jerking moments and it’s a pretty enjoyable ride. Some Gundam fans may not enjoy the tournament setting, but I found the tournament setting a welcome change from the constant Gundam series that are just wars between two factions. All of the different nations coming together to fight the Dark Gundam was also pretty damn cool.
The music is also very memorable and great. The OP fits the theme perfectly and it’s great to get you hyped up for action. The ED is just okay and the background animation for it is repetitive as hell. It is literally nothing else but the same picture of Rain repeated over and over by zooming in on the reflection in her earring.
Let’s run through the characters real quick.
Domon: I’ve already explained him. He’s not a horrible main character, but he’s not all that likable either. When he’s actually relaxing and not being an angst ridden scowl face, he’s a pretty likable character, but sadly these moments are few and far between.
Rain: Rain is Domon’s crew for the Gundam and his love interest. She’s a lot more useful than most females in these kinds of anime, but that by no means means that she’s not annoying. She’s kidnap fodder/damsel in distress, her dialogue gets annoying sometimes, she gets knocked out more than an Ultimate Fighter and her particular brand of emo-ness causes her to be the crux in the ending. Also, their relationship just bugs me. They may be childhood friends, they may banter, but they just don’t seem to have good chemistry in my opinion.
Allenby: Allenby is Neo-Sweden’s fighter, pilot of the Noble Gundam and Rain’s only romantic rival in the series. Allenby is a very independent, spunky girl (also she seems to be the only female in the entire Gundam Fight. Rain has used Shining and Burning Gundam on occasion, though.) I really liked her character. In fact, I wished Domon would’ve gotten with her instead of Rain. It seems like, I don’t know why, but it looks like it’s hinted that Allenby ended up with that blind Gundam fighter in the end….Her and Domon just have such great chemistry together and Allenby is a much more interesting and likable character than Rain, to be honest.
Sai Saichi: Neo-China’s fighter, Sai Saichi seems to be the youngest Gundam Fighter in this year’s tournament and perhaps ever. He can’t be more than 12 or 13. Despite his age, he’s noted as being the first person to ever legitimately force Domon into a draw. He uses the Dragon Gundam and is fighting for the revival of the dying Shaolin Temple. He’s a very energetic, yet focused and strong kid with a heart of gold. I really like Sai Saichi. His crew is made up of his two mentors/guardians who are also monks of the Shaolin temple.
Argo Gulskii: Argo is Neo-Russia’s fighter piloting the Bolt Gundam. He is fairly unique in that he’s a prisoner during the entire Gundam Fight. He used to be a space pirate before he and his friends were caught and imprisoned. His reason for fighting is to earn the freedom of him and his friends. Argo’s a pretty stoic character. He doesn’t talk much, but he’s still a really cool character. He’s very honorable and wise for a former space pirate. His main crew member is the warden of his prison, a woman named Natasha whom I’m convinced was designed after one of the artists watched a prison porn…Seriously, she has a whuppin’ stick and everything. She’s also basically Argo’s love interest throughout the series.
Chibodee Crocket: Neo-America’s fighter and the pride of both Neo-America and earth’s America, Chibodee is a boxing champion and pilot of the Gundam Maxter who is the embodiment of the American dream. Chibodee’s not terrible, but he’s a bit annoying. He’s a loud mouth who calls mostly everybody by their chosen nation affiliation (He usually calls Domon Neo-Japan etc.) and he’s a bit of a lech too. His crew is made up of four attractive ladies who also double as his cheer squad.
George De Sand: Neo-France’s fighter, George is the epitome of a knight. George is incredibly boring. (Also, wtf is up with his hair?) He’s a cliché on top of a cliché. He’s a knight whose only goal is to fight for his country, his pride as a knight and his love interest, the princess Miss Marie-Louise.
This pairing is pretty lame to me. Watch the first episode with his debut and you’ll see why. She’s way more into him than he is into her. She even fakes her own kidnapping to see if George will fight for her. Pretending that you’re in danger to see if your man will fight for you isn’t horribly uncommon, but usually those fights don’t involve giant robots, guns, lasers swords, bombs and the huge possibility of death. Remember, even though it’s frowned upon to kill another Gundam Fighter in battle, it happens all the time. Even if it doesn’t, there’s a very very very high risk of severe injury.
His crew consists of his butler whose name escapes me.
Master Asia: Neo-Hong Kong’s fighter, Master Asia is the former King of Hearts, the previous Gundam Fight’s champion and is known as the Undefeated of the East. He is Domon’s martial arts master and basically raised him from about 10 or 12 into his twenties. Master Asia is a pretty good character, but I never understood his intentions…Oh, he also has no crew that is ever seen.
Schwartz Bruder: Neo-Germany’s fighter (Considering who he really is, don’t you have to be native to the nation you’re representing in order to be their Gundam Fighter?) Schwartz is masked throughout most of the series, but his identity is essentially revealed in his name (His name translates to Black Brother in German. Racist jokes aside, if you speak German, they basically hand you his identity on a silver platter.) Also, his voice, in the dub at least, is too notable to not guess who he is the instant he appears. Also, also, there’s no other reason for him to be masked if he just up and hands out his name. Sure masked people are a staple in Gundam series, but he had no other reason for wearing one. However, Schwartz appears mid-way through the series and essentially becomes Domon’s replacement mentor for Master Asia. He’s a pretty cool character and is even on par with Master in terms of skills. He has no crew to speak of either and pilots the Shadow Gundam (Gundam Spiegel in the original. Spiegel apparently translates to “mirror” so I don’t understand why that needed to be changed.)
And that’s about it. Despite not being as–…..What? ….I don’t see any elephant in the room. ….Okay, okay. One of the things that puts people off of this series is the slew of racial stereotypes. Domon, Neo-Japan’s fighter is a master martial artist who is all about pride and honor as a fighter.
Sai Saichi dresses in very monk-ish style clothes and is also all about pride as a fighter and whatnot. Also, his main reason for entering the tournament is to save a martial arts temple and honor his country. Also, his Gundam is the Dragon Gundam…
Argo’s got huge-ass eyebrows, is incredibly stoic and seemingly cold, but Natasha is moreso the stereotype IMO.
Chibodee is almost insulting just with his name. (“Hey guys, what’s something American-y-ish?” “….Uhhh…Davey Crocket?” “Brilliant!”) He’s very loudmouthed, surrounded by pretty girls, wants nothing but money, fights and pretty girls and all of Neo-America and earth’s America is obsessed with watching his boxing matches.
Probably the worst of these offenders is George. Like I said, he’s a (bishounen) knight who fights for his honor as a knight, the pride of his country and his princess. (Yes, I’m being serious, she’s an actual princess.) His manner of speech, mannerisms and everything screams French stereotype (I’m honestly surprised we never see him wearing a beret and eating cheese) Hell, if you wanna go further, look at his Gundam. It’s called Gundam Rose, looks like a giant knight and uses roses as his main attack. Also, he fences.
And that’s just the main characters. There’s also Andrew Graham from Neo-Canada who pilots Grizzly Gundam (Lumber Gundam in the original…both are fairly stereotypical) Unsurprisingly, he wears plaid, has a big burly beard, suspenders and lives out in the woods usually chopping wood with his axe. (Sorry if you were hoping he worked in a maple syrup factory between hockey games.) His Gundam also uses two axes as his weapons.
Neo-Egypt’s Gundams are the Sphinx Gundam and the Mummy Gundam. Also, the first debut of Neo-Egypt, the pilot was a mummified version of the previous pilot. Yeah, someone tell the writers that mummification hasn’t been used in Egypt for thousands of years?.
Neo-Greece has a Zeus Gundam, because Greek gods and all that.
Neo-India uses a Cobra Gundam.
Neo-Kenya has a Zebra Gundam.
Neo-Holland’s Gundam is called the Hurricane Gundam and is a giant friggin’ windmill.
Neo-Spain uses a Matador/Toro Gundam which basically looks like a giant bull.
Neo-Mexico’s original Gundam name was Tequila Gundam (Again, not kidding.) The dub, however, changed this to Spike Gundam. Still, the Gundam looks stereotypical. It looks like it’s wearing a sombrero and has cacti all over it. But hey, if that’s not stereotypical, the pilot of Spike Gundam was named Chico Rodriguez. I don’t think you can get more ‘Mexican’ than that name.
Despite these stereotypes, however, not one person speaks with any sort of an accent and that is just really freakin’ weird. Maybe the dubber didn’t want to instill any more stereotypes than the anime already does, but not one person, not one, has any sort of accent. Natasha has the slightest of accents, but that could just be her voice.
Whether or not you’re offended by these stereotypes depends on how easily you’re offended. You really start feeling the stereotypes when the finals start and all of the Gundams show up. Sure they’re stereotypes, but none of them seem inherently bad. One could argue that all stereotypes are bad stereotypes, but I see it as long as the character is good person, I’m not that offended.
If anyone should be offended, it’s Italy. Their Gundam is called Neros Gundam, named after a Roman emperor who committed various atrocities in his reign including setting fire to a village to make room for a palace, and its pilot is a raging asshole lunatic too. Also, apparently there’s a Gundam for Neo-Italy called the Ferrari Gundam and it does seriously look like a robot Ferrari…whether or not that is offensive is up in the air.
Like I said, the art and animation are pretty damn rough, but it could be worse.
Voice acting: Also brought this up, but most people are voiced alright and it never seemed like anyone was bored with their roles, except maybe George’s VA, but that could just be George. There’s a bunch of cheesiness in the acting and Rain annoys the crap out of me, but nothing really horrible.
Music: The music is really good and I love the opening themes. The final song in the series is an uncut version of the second season’s opener and I really love it. In the original run on American TV, they just kept editing in the old theme song for some reason so I always supposed this was just a song made for the ending. Now that I hear the cut version at the beginning of the episodes I get disappointed that it stops so abruptly.
Bottomline: All that aside, this series has some great action, great characters and some touching moments. If you can stomach some serious amounts of cheese and aren’t easily offended by various stereotypes, check it out. There’s even a moment or two when you might feel like crying. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna go eat a cheeseburger in my pickup truck while singing The Star-Spangled Banner.
Additional Information and Notes:
G Gundam was directed by Yasuhiro Imagawa who also directed Berserk.
It was written by Fuyunori Gobu, and produced by Sunrise.
Bandai currently holds the licensing rights to G Gundam in North America.
Recommended Audience: There isn’t really too much to write home about. There’s no swearing, but there’s a lot of violence and fighting. Various people do get killed, but I don’t remember seeing much blood or anything. No sex, minor nudity. Eh, 10+