G Gundam Anime Review
Kidou Butouden G Gandamu
Story of the Mobile Military Battle G Gundam
US Release By
Mecha War Action
49 25-minute episodes
1994-04-01 - 1995-03-31
In the future, people have left the Earth to live in colonies in space. To prevent a war from breaking out, the colonies agreed to hold the Gundam Fight, where each colony constructs a huge machine employing as many racial stereotypes as is humanly possible, and have them fight on the Earth. Whomever was the victor would be given the right to rule the universe (dunno how that works...). Domon Kasshu, a gundam fighter from Neo-Japan, has been sent to Earth to locate and destroy the Devil/Dark Gundam, (they changed the name to Dark in the Cartoon Network dub) being piloted by his brother Kyoji. Along the way, he meets many and varied rival gundam fighters, some of whom become his pseudo allies.
G Gundam is one of the alternate universe gundam series, along with Gundam Wing, Gundam X, and one other which I don't know the name of. In other words, they take place outside of the main timeline involving Amuro Ray, Char Aznoble, and all those other guys like that. In my experience, they usually put a big emphasis on impressive mecha and over-the-top attacks, and G Gundam is probably the epitome of this emphasis. To cite an example, our hero Domon Kasshu uses an attack called Shining Finger, in which his hand begins to glow and he grasps the face of the opposing gundam until it's head is destroyed (usually accompanied by a speech to the effect of "My hand has awesome power, it tells me to defeat you!") Cheesy? Damn straight.
The upside of all this cheese is the most likely unintentional humor value. Characters jet around in mecha called Gundam Rose (from France) and Spiegel Gundam, (from Germany) using attacks like Rose Bits and Spiegel Blades, and reciting speeches in perfect sync about the power of their fighting skills, all with a straight face. It seems almost to be a parody of fighting shows like Dragon Ball Z at some points. Most people will hate this show just for the simple fact that whether you interpret all this as funny or idiotic depends heavily on what kind of person you are. I thought Excel Saga was a laugh riot, and I sometimes enjoy watching American action cartoons from the sixties because they inadvertently make me erupt with laughter. Thusly, I enjoyed G Gundam. However, someone who enjoys the humor in American shows like South Park or Friends will despise G Gundam, unless they happen to be about twelve years old and can actually take the show seriously.
The Cartoon Network dub is essentially a train wreck, the only upside being that all it does is make the show funnier. The over-the-top speeches are done loudly and completely overblown, as you'd expect, but the fringing attempts at drama and even some normal dialogue are acted flatly and sound like an elementary school play. Since the CN dub is the only version I saw, (and the only version released in the US, I'm pretty sure)I can't speak for the translation. As per the status quo with Cartoon Network, many facets of the show potentially damaging to children's minds, some even possibly resulting in a lifelong trauma, have been removed. This ranges from the roughly twelve-year-old Chinese fighter Sai Saici (the 'c' is pronounced like an 'sh') pulling up women's skirts, to bathing suits being painted on when he spies on them skinny dipping, to name changes. As far as I know, none of the character's names have been changed, but some of the mecha's have, such as Mexico's Tequila Gundam changing to Spike Gundam, Domon Kasshu's God Gundam changing to Burning Gundam, and the aforementioned metamorphosis from Devil Gundam to Dark Gundam. Added to this is the usual removal of the words 'damn,' 'hell,' and 'kill' (replaced with 'destroy').
The story, while initially seeming like a "guy fights in tournament and wins championship, defeating his rival" story, it's actually a bit different. Plotlines like these have been seen in Medabots and the second season of Zoids, but the area where G Gundam differs is the inclusion of the Devil Gundam. For the first few episodes, the plot is the usual "meet new fighter, defeat new fighter" fare, but it becomes different as soon as Master Asia, Domon's martial arts teacher, makes his appearance. From here on (up until the final battle portion) the story wavers from the convention, and actually delivers a pretty good tale. The problem with all this is that the characters seem a little shallow. Many of their personalities are based off stereotypes, such as Domon's "loner hero" act, French fighter George du Sand's chivalrous attitude of a knight, and American Chibodee Crocket (the name "Chibodee," I believe, is supposed to sound Native American, and the "Crocket" obviously comes from famous woodsman Davey Crockett) perpetuates an American hotshot/playboy personality. Thusly, you don't care as much about what happens to them as you could if they were better-developed. Some of the stereotypes are actually rather subtle, (such as Raine's "devoted lover") but a subtle stereotype is still a stereotype.
Being the devoted fan of J-Pop that I am, I liked the music. The opening, I think, fits the show perfectly, although the first ending theme is a bit suspect. The music played within the show is also good, but the BGM's were very forgettable and were repeated a bit too much. I will very seldom find fault with the music in an anime, and G Gundam is no exception. On a side note, Cartoon Network, as usual, removed the opening to replace it with a montage of pictures and sound bytes from the show. It repackaged the opening as the ending, shortening the song and replacing some scenes with scenes from the show. Cartoon Network is really the only American network to make any kind of progress in keeping the original openings and endings in an anime, but I would appreciate it if they would rid themselves of the montage accompanied by drum-and-bass music.
The animation was created circa 1995, but looks inferior to another anime from near the same period, The Vision of Escaflowne. The movements and detail are all fine, but it looks a little blurry and the picture quality is worse than I'd expect. The art style is also nothing special, which is partially what helped it seem like an "international anime"--its lack of an art style I'd immediately associate with anime. Tenchi Muyo, Love Hina, and Chobits all possess an art style that is "anime." G Gundam does not.
Essentially, G Gundam's fate hangs entirely with your own opinion; unlike some animes such as Akira, it cannot be instantly classified as a great piece of work, however, it cannot be immediately called terrible either. I've heard it was a big hit in Japan, but most American fans regard it as one of the worst animes ever made. People who think excessive cheese is funny, and ten to twelve year old children should definitely watch. Jaded fanboys should stay away; go watch Dragon Ball Z.
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Notes and Trivia
This series lies outside the standard Gundam continuity, and is also unrelated to any of the other "alternate universe" Gundam series. An edited dub of the show aired on Cartoon Network in the US.
US DVD Review
Bandai's uncut, bilingual DVDs have interviews and some information for special features. They were originally sold individually or in box sets of 3 discs, and the whole series is now available on two 6-disc budget-priced "Anime Legends" box sets.
The Cartoon Network dub is more or less appropriate for all ages. The unedited version is rated 13-up by Bandai.
Violence: 1 - Probably edited.
Nudity: 0 - None in the CN dub; some in the original, but not detailed.
Sex/Mature Themes: 1 - Some hugging and embracing.
Language: 0 - Also most likely edited.