Mobile Fighter G-Gundam Vol. #01 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: C+

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B
  • Video Rating: B
  • Packaging Rating: A
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: All
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Bandai Entertainment
  • MSRP: 19.98
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Mobile Fighter G-Gundam

Mobile Fighter G-Gundam Vol. #01

By Chris Beveridge     October 12, 2002
Release Date: November 05, 2002


Mobile Fighter G-Gundam Vol. #01
© Bandai Entertainment


What They Say
Future Century 60: It is time for the "Gundam Fight" tournament! Each country sends a Gundam to Earth for this prestigious tournament in the hopes of winning power and glory for their homeland!

But this time, there’s an unseen evil lurking behind the scene. Domon Kasshu, Neo Japan’s reluctant Fighter, is determined to uncover this evil and clear his family name! The fight to the top begins now!

The Review!
While Gundam Wing was the first alternate-timeline Gundam series to show in the US, G-Gundam was the first one to do it. And while it may have confused fans to no end when it started, it proved successful enough to run longer than the original Gundam series, clocking in at a total of 49 episodes. That knowledge made my wife cry.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. Though originally released in 1994, the track for this appears to be a pro-logic mix, though I don’t really hear anything coming through the rear speakers unless my ears are playing tricks on me. The Japanese track feels a small bit lower than the English track, with dialogue feeling a slight bit muffled at times. There’s not a whole lot of directionality going on, since when things happen, they’re loud all-encompassing moments of destruction that fill up the entire forward soundstage.

Video:
The transfer for this release looks decent, but in general feels like it’s not up to snuff when compared to other Gundam series. A part of that problem is that for the most part, we’ve only seen OVA series and movies for comparisons sake. While Gundam Wing had a lot of color to it, these opening episodes feel very drab and dark with lots of muted colors, so it doesn’t look as good when in comparison to that either. With that in mind, the only real thing we noticed as a problem throughout is the occasional nicks and scratches of dust and dirt and some extremely minor cross coloration.

Packaging:
With the US release being done very close to the Japanese release, we luck out in that we get the same covers since they’re releasing it in the same number of volumes. And the artwork for this looks great, with an over the top feel to the characters and some of the usual excellent looking Gundam imagery. The first cover here provides a good shot of Domon and Rain with two of the Gundam’s battling it out in the background. The back cover provides a few shots of the show itself and a few paragraphs of show summary. The discs volume numbering, done in rounds, shows up on both the spine and the front cover, earning good kudos from us. The back cover lists the episode numbers and the basic features of the disc. The insert provides another shot of the front cover while it opens to reveal a bio on Domon Kasshu and a bio on the Shining Gundam. The back of the insert provides the production and cast information for the show.

Menu:
The menus are nicely done though a bit simple. The main static image is of a circuit board while to the right there’s some visuals from the episodes playing. Selections are mixed into the circuit board area and access times are nice and fast. There’s little to the disc outside of the basics, so moving about is pretty easy and the layout is fairly standard for Bandai releases. One of the best spots is the episode selection area in how that’s laid out. Very neat.

Extras:
The extras for this release are minimal but excellent. The only thing included is a good 14 page interview with the series director and talks about his plans for the series and the staffs hesitation about how the first several episodes were done. There’s some really good stuff inside of this that will help illustrate what the series was trying to do.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Suffice to say, fans have been unkind to G-Gundam over the years prior to its release here. It’s been related into the pile of some of if not the worst Gundam material available. With its airing on Cartoon Network, and watching daily how a group of people who never would seem like they’d get into the show, got seriously into the show, I was definitely looking forward to the disc release so I could finally judge for myself. What a concept, eh?

The layout of this alternate timeline is pretty simple. Sometime in the future, a high percentage of humanity decided to leave the dirty filthy overcrowded Earth and went off into space to form the Colonies. We only see them in the opening, but they look vastly different from the usual tubes we’ve seen, more like floating islands in the sky with atmospheres. Sixty years later is where this storyline picks up. Every four years, the colonies hold a competition to decide which colony will be the de facto leader of known space. The competitions were decided upon so that they could avoid costly and devastating wars among each other and the ruination of various colonies. On the downside to this plan, they use the entire Earth as their battleground.

Each colony nation sends its representative and their nationalistic Gundam unit to their former country on Earth. Depending on the country, there seems to be varying levels of cooperation with those who’ve left to the colonies. In Italy, we see nothing but disgust and despair over the competitions, as it looks like most of that country is in ruins from it. But in the United States, the competition is loudly cheered and their warrior highly respected, as they see the competition as a re-affirmation of the American Dream of can-do.

Naturally, with this being anime, we follow the representative from Neo Japan. His arrival on Earth with his Shining Gundam is the event that kicks off the competition, as he quickly challenges his Italian Mobile Fighter opponent after some run-ins with him. The competitions work in that respect, in that it can only be one on one and that the Fighter’s must challenge each other. And apparently they can decline. But in the end, they all must fight at some point, since the last one standing is the winner. But the Neo Japan Fighter, Domon Kasshu, is on Earth for another reason as well. We see him asking everyone he can about a man in a photo that he has as to whether they’ve seen him or not. While he’s definitely there to fight, he’s got another mission that’s not yet fully revealed.

After the first four episodes, I’m still not sure how to quite take this. It’s done in a very serious manner, though aspects of it come off over the top in how it feels. The way that the pilots interact with their Gundam’s, all dressed in skintight clothing that has antannae’s at various points to let them give instructions, comes across as very cheesy. The character designs are also done in a more 70’s style, with the closest thing of a current analog being the designs from Getter Robo. Both of those aspects give the show a very different feel, definitely something you wouldn’t expect from a mid 90’s series. But at that same time, I find myself curiously drawn to these aspects of it, since they do push aside the standard Gundam traditions.

Even the supposedly “really bad/near racist” Gundam’s don’t feel as bad as they’ve been mentioned to be in the past, though we’ve only seen barely a handful of them so far. If anything, they’re more comedic than anything else, where the American Gundam has boxing gloves for all intent. The only aspect that’s bothering me so far is that Domon’s Shining Gundam keeps using the same attack and nothing else.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from Gundam series is that it’s never best to judge it until much farther into the series. These opening episodes are jarring from what one normally expects, but there’s enough interesting moments and some attempts at something different for style that I’ll be checking out much more of this.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Interview with Director Yashuhiro Imagawa

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.

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