Mobile Suit Gundam Movie 1 -

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Mania Grade: B+

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  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: N/A
  • Age Rating: 12 & Up
  • Region: 2 - Europe
  • Released By: Beez
  • MSRP: £17.99
  • Running time: 144
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Mobile Suit Gundam

Mobile Suit Gundam Movie 1

By Dani Moure     July 14, 2005
Release Date: June 06, 2005

Mobile Suit Gundam Movie 1
© Beez

What They Say
In the year 0079 of the Universal Century, the Earth Federation and its space colonies are engaged in an apocalyptic war. The rebellious Duchy of Zeon, using humanoid fighting machines called mobile suits, has all but vanquished the Federation. Now the Federation's last hope is the prototype Mobile Suit Gundam. When a twist of fate makes young civilian Amuro Ray the Gundam's pilot, his own battle begins - a struggle not only for the Federation's survival, but for his own.

The Review!
Beez bring us a piece of anime history, as the original Gundam series hits the UK so we can finally suit up, for the first time…

The Japanese track has been remixed for this release (as it was for the original Japanese DVD release), and as such it contains some slight changes in sound effects and the like. For someone like me who has never seen the original series though, you wouldn’t notice, and it contains some classic sounding effects when it comes to laser blasts and such. The 5.1 track has some good directionality about it and makes good use of the channels, particularly for the various sound effects to really envelop you as you watch.

Much like the audio, the video for the movies was completely remastered and restored for the DVD release, and it shows. For a show that debuted in 1979, the video is crisp and clear, with no aliasing, cross colouration or other artifacting that I noticed during playback. It really does look good, and the only downer is the jitter inherent from the film splicing of older movies.

The English subtitles are white, in a clearly readable font, and I didn’t notice any errors.

The front cover has a nice image of Char holding on to Frau Bow in a similar pose to when she’s just seen her family killed, which really serves as a symbol of the true themes behind the movie. Looming in the background is the Gundam itself. The cover has a reddish tone, with the logo at the bottom of the cover along with company and rating logos. The back cover features a description of the movie, some screenshots and the usual credit list. Additionally Beez add their very welcome information box to clearly show the disc’s technical specs.

The menu system is pretty simple. After selecting your language on an initial screen, a short animation begins before the main menu loop kicks in. The main screen has Amuro on the right hand side, the logo in the bottom left and a central computer-style screen in the middle showing clips from the films. Selections are along the top part of the screen. Sub-menus are all static, playing different parts of music from the film and with images of the Gundam at the sides. While they’re not spectacular they’re nicely themed to fit the Gundam style display, and are really easy to use with quick access times.

None (trailers really don’t count as extras).

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
I have to admit, I am a big Gundam fan. Not a super-duper hardcore elite one, but a big one nonetheless. So much so that I will gladly collect any Gundam series on DVD. It was a few years ago that I saw the original movie trilogy for the first time; a couple of years after my first exposure via Gundam Wing and then the Universal Century OVAs. Going back and revisiting the first movie after all this time (and with several later series under my belt), it certainly hasn’t lost any of the magic it had originally.

On its surface, the original series is a simple tale. The first movie covers a portion of the original 43 episode series, and introduces us to Amuro Ray. Char Aznable and the world of the Federation and the Zeon.

50 years ago, mankind’s population was growing so large that it began moving into space. There, mankind created giant colonies that mimicked earth, and these floating cylinders are called “Sides”. Now it’s the year 0079, and the colonists of Side 3 have broken away from the Federated Union of Earth and declared themselves the Duchy of Zeon, beginning a war of independence. Half of the population of both sides was lost in the first month of the war, and everyone began seeking an end to the atrocities.

Eight months later, and the Zeon launch an attack on Side 7. A boy named Amuro lives there, and on being ushered to his shelter he can’t help but scurry to find his father who works in the military. But when he sees his friend Frau Bow’s parents slaughtered along with many other colonists, he instinctively jumps into the Federation’s new mobile suit – the Gundam – to try and fend off the Zeon Zakus. Some of the colonists manage to escape on White Base, a Federation space ship, which also carries the Gundam. Frau Bow and some other civilians take up makeshift military positions as many of the soldiers were killed.

They take White Base on a journey to earth and the Federation headquarters, Jabrow. But little do they know that they’ll have to continue as soldiers for some time, something that doesn’t exactly please Amuro as he’s the only one who can truly pilot the Gundam. Add in continued pursuit from the Zeon and one of their more calculating soldiers, Char Aznable (who has more than a passing interest in the Gundam) and you have a recipe for continued war.

Part of the allure for me of Gundam in general (outside of the giant robots) are the themes of war and the setting in space. This movie captures that wholeheartedly, as we watch the adventure of this makeshift crew of White Base, part military and part civilian, as they try to survive in the battlefield.. But what most Gundam series also manage to do, and this is the one that started it all, is bring a more personal and human standpoint on the theme of war. As we get to know this crew, and particularly Amuro and what he’s thinking, we see more of the effects of war and what that means to the people caught up in it.

A great example is when Amuro goes back to see his mother towards the end of the film. He’s really happy to see her and know that she’s well, and she reciprocates. Yet she can’t help but feel saddened to see that her own son has become a killer, something which Amuro himself is finding hard to grasp. Then to make matters even worse, he is almost responsible for the deaths of the other villagers when Zeon soldiers arrive and realise he’s working for the Federation. It really helps hit home that though there’s a war going on, people are involved and that’s what makes it all the more gripping to watch.

The tow main characters in the film are Amuro and Char, who will eventually become bitter rivals but for now don’t cross paths all that much. Amuro is our human look at the inner workings of the war and gives us a more Federation slanted view of things, while Char definitely seems calculating with his own agenda, but gives us a look at the Zeon’s inner workings, and the two provide a nice contrast in each side’s positions.

The supporting characters don’t get a great deal of time, but that’s simply because this movie, even more so than the others, is just a compressed version of a TV series that had a lot more time to flesh out side characters. As such the likes of Frau Bow don’t get all that much development time, but many of the characters including her help open up the emotions of Amuro and make him a more vulnerable and, consequently, realistic character as a whole.

In Summary:
While the animation and general look may be a little dated, it only helps add to the classic feel that this movie has. As the first part of a trilogy that retells the entire TV series, you’d be forgiven for just thinking this movie is much of the story setup, which it is. To see any sort of real pay-off you’ll have to get the two sequels that complete the story, but that’s really the only problem with this film.

The pacing can be odd at times as a lot of it is compressed TV footage, but in general it flows surprisingly well, and the story is a timeless tale of war and destruction set against the backdrop of space. Unless you have some aversion to older shows or despise the whole science-fiction and giant robot genres to the point you can’t watch any of them, then I’d recommend this movie, and by owning it you’ll be getting your own personal piece of anime history.

Japanese 2.0 Language, Japanese 5.1 Language,English Subtitles, French Subtitles, German Subtitles, Polish Subtitles

Review Equipment
Philips 28" Pure Flat Widescreen TV, Pioneer DV-464 code free DVD player, JVC gold-plated RGB SCART cable, standard stereo sound.


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