Mobile Suit Gundam F-91 Anime Review
Kidou Senshi Gandamu F91
Mobile Warrior Gundam F91
US Release By
Arno Seabrook and Cecily Fairchild have grown up together blissfully not knowing the horrors of war that plagued the previous generation. But eternal peace is not to be. One day, during a celebration held in their space colony, they are attacked by the Crossbone Vanguard. A highly skilled and extremely well equipped military force belonging to the aristocratic Ronah family, rebelling against the Federation. The two friends are separated during the fighting, not only by distance but also by destiny. Cecily is revealed to be the scion of the Ronah dynasty, and Arno is destined to be the pilot of the Federation's newest and deadliest mobile suit: the Gundam F-91.
A bit of history first: Gundam F-91 was supposed to be Yoshiyuki Tomino's (Gundam's original creator) big return. It was drafted and visualized as being a full length TV series, but along the way something happened and those plans were scrapped; instead, a movie would be made. This was a somewhat ungraceful change of pace, and unfortunately it shows.
The story feels rushed, and there are too many incidents and story elements to fit, even in a two hour movie. After all, they were trying to condense a storyline laid out for a whole series of TV episodes into a single movie. Which results in a very "jumpy" style of storytelling. People change ideals, switch sides, reveal deep secrets, and sometimes even fight whole battles, and it's all done offscreen with barely a mention of it later on.
Quite a shame really, since in Gundam F-91 we had a very very promising anime. The story, mangled and rushed as it is, does manage to shine through with unfulfilled promise. One could tell that it would've made one hell of a story arc. The movie abounds with well-rounded characters just begging for a share of the limelight and some character development that happens on screen. The conflict itself is interesting and is full of those nice shades of grey. Both sides commit atrocities, and both sides ultimately have good intentions in their hearts.
Fortunately, not all is lost. The story is still good--like I said, lots of good moments still shine through. The animation is gorgeous in that nice, un-glittery early '90s style. The mecha designs, as expected, are top-notch. The mobile suits maintain a reasonable amount of believability, as does the combat, which is by turns violent and oddly graceful. And it depicts the horrors of war well, a well known Gundam trademark. Civilians die in the cross fire. Unsung heroes are killed before they have a chance to reveal their potential. And it all looks very realistic. The bigger mechas are lumbering and slow, but are graceful as a swan in the zero gravity of outer space. The music complements the animation well, but it soon sinks into the background and isn't particularly memorable.
In short, Gundam F-91 manages to be a good anime even with its share of faults. A very good anime, in fact, which only highlights how great it could have been.
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Notes and Trivia
US DVD Review
Bandai's DVD comes as a 2-disc Special Edition set featuring a Dolby 5.1 English soundtrack in addition to the Japanese, a commentary track by the producer, a gallery of the characters and mecha as well as other images, a timeline, Gundam mechanical files, and a collection of other information.
A bit violent but no excessive gore. Otherwise Ok.
Violence: 2 - Lots of people are killed, but very little onscreen gore.
Nudity: 0 - Nothing at all.
Sex/Mature Themes: 0 - Nothing at all. Our two star crossed lovers have other things on their minds.
Language: 1 - Nothing worth mentioning.
Staff & Cast
Original Japanese Cast
Arno Seabrook: Kouji Tsujitani
Cecily Fairchild (Berah Ronah): Yumi Touma
Korozo 'Iron Mask' Ronah: Masaaki Maeda
Zabine Chareux: Kiyoyuki Yanada
Dorel Ronah: Takeshi Kusao
Director: Yoshiyuki Tomino
Writer: Tsunehisa Itoh