Mobile Suit Gundam Anime Review
Kidou Senshi Gandamu 0079
Mobile Warrior Gundam 0079
US Release By
The Origin of Modern Mecha Shows
43 25-minute episodes
1979-04-07 - 1980-01-26
In the future, people live on space stations called colonies which have artificial environments inside them. Well, not all people, but some of the people on these colonies consider themselves better than people on Earth, so they form the Principality of Zeon to break away from the Federation. They crash a colony into Earth, blowing up Australia (damn, no more kangaroos!). The Zeon are devastating the Federation because they have giant mecha called mobile suits. The Federation is building their own mobile suits in Side 7, a colony where a teenager named Amuro Ray and his friends are living in peace. Amuro has a gift for machinery. One day, the Zeon attack, killing his parents and everyone he knows, along with the crew of the White Base, a ship designed to carry the new Federation Mobile Suits. Bright, the commander of White Base, has to find a new crew among the ruins of the colony. Amuro joins and begins to pilot the RX-78 Gundam, the most powerful of the new mobile suits.
Mobile Suit Gundam (also known as Gundam UC 0079, but known on Cartoon Network as Mobile Suit Gundam) is possibly the start of modern anime as we know it. If you read interviews with a lot of anime directors, you'll find that some who worked on the most unlikely of projects (Love Hina) were actually inspired by the original Gundam. It also receives a lot of praise from anime fans. A show like this sounds like the type that I would mercilessly roast, but I actually liked it. The same can't be said of the movie, Char's Counterattack, but... Let's move on.
At the time of its conception, the storyline of Mobile Suit Gundam was simply unmatched. It's actually still good today (not like Kikaider), and anything you've seen that's like it was probably "inspired" by it. It's a well-done storyline, but unlike many of today's shows it's a well-done storyline without being an impossibly convoluted storyline. Politics do play a role in it, but not so much of one that you'll be bogged down by who wants what and what will bring who which. Good war drama is the biggest ingredient; Amuro and his comrades desert from the stress of war many times, but always realize what's right and come back. Unfortunately, they often don't realize what's right until someone dies to show them. I don't think a main character ever died in an anime before Mobile Suit Gundam. It started the trend.
This leads to characterization. Amuro Ray is a very annoying whiny kid, but the show does a good job of showing that he's a whiny kid in a war that he never asked for, so you can understand why he might be this way. The other crew members of White Base also have their own personalities, which still, though they seem archetypical, can't quite be typified. There's the cynical Kai, overly righteous Ryuu, motherly Mirai, stern Bright, and brooding Sayla (who has mysterious connections to the Zeon). A lot of effort is put into putting these people in the perspective of a war. Kai is always worried about losing and death, and Bright always has to keep everyone going, even if it means being cruel. In most shows, the characters that match the setting and story are put in, but in this show, the characters are bent to match the story and setting. It's still good today, although I prefer the shoujo-flavored Vision of Escaflowne and the less heavy Big O.
The technical aspects are, for the seventies, very impressive. The animation is better than Lupin the 3rd and even Dragonball, which was made in 1984. It's a bit choppy by today's standards, and the mecha all move like human beings, but neither of these are terribly severe. The BGMs are good, but the opening and ending are very, very cheesy (I had a friend of mine listen to the opening and he burst out laughing as soon as it started up). The ending starts slow with a chorus of "Amuro... Amuro...", then breaks into music that sounds suitable for square dancing. The odd thing is, when these songs are used during the show as BGMs, they fit the show perfectly. The dub is done by the Ocean Group, and features Hamtaro's Maxwell/The Soul Taker's Kyosuke Date/X-Men Evolution's horrible fake German Nightcrawler as Amuro (Oh yeah, and Gundam Wing's Quatre Raberba Winner). I don't know what his name is (Bandai has a bad habit of just shoving a big list of all the actors in at the end of the credits and not telling you what roles they played). Kai is played by Inuyasha's title character/Zoids' Bit Cloud, Richard Cox (Inuyasha was published by Viz, so they actually told you the actor's roles). All the voices in the dub are average. There weren't any horrifying ones (good thing Amuro wasn't German), but none amazed me with their acting prowess.
Mobile Suit Gundam can be a bit wearing due to the fights, and the characterization (like any mega-deep characterization) is slow-moving. The fights aren't as boring as either season of Zoids, but there wasn't much to like in them either, not with today's big flashy light-speed mecha battles (or FLCL's light speed battles). I also didn't come off liking it as much as this review makes it sound, because Amuro gets about seventy percent of the screen time and it takes a long time before you can actually sympathize with how whiny he is. But there have been much worse shows made in any era of anime, and these days people seem to think good animation can make up for bad show (I once again cite The Soul Taker, Betterman, and Gatekeepers Full Throttle, because I really REALLY hate them). Let Gundam UC 0079 give them the kick in the ass that they need!
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Notes and Trivia
For some reason, every laser (gun or sword) and every explosion in the show is pink. Oh yeah, and if you end up liking Mobile Suit Gundam there's about fifty or eighty more shows, OAVs, manga, movies, and four alternate universe series that carry on its story. Be warned that if you absolutely love Mobile Suit Gundam, you will probably dislike the alternate universe series Gundam Wing and loathe the alternate universe series G Gundam. Gundam Wing is more of an angsty mecha version of X/1999 and G Gundam is like a very racist mecha version of an over-the-top fighting series (even more over-the-top than Dragon Ball Z). By the way, Mobile Suit Gundam was made by Sunrise, the very same people as both The Soul Taker and Betterman. They had done out Gundam, then when Eva came along and stole their mecha heavyweight title they threw a tantrum like Amuro and made both those shows, along with Gasaraki, to compete with it. They're still trying to win the title back.
US DVD Review
Not currently available on DVD.
Strict parents won't want kids under thirteen seeing this.
Violence: 2 - A lot of people are killed inside exploding mecha, including some main characters.
Nudity: 1 - A few shower scenes, but they don't show anything beyond shoulders and feet.
Sex/Mature Themes: 2 - Mainly for the war drama.
Language: 0 - It was probably edited on TV.
Staff & Cast
English Dub Cast
Kai: Richard Cox