Mobile Suit Gundam Vol. #01 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: C+

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  • Audio Rating: C+
  • Video Rating: C
  • Packaging Rating: C+
  • Menus Rating: C+
  • Extras Rating: B-
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Bandai Entertainment
  • MSRP: 24.95
  • Running time: 125
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Mobile Suit Gundam

Mobile Suit Gundam Vol. #01

    October 26, 2002
Release Date: August 07, 2001

Mobile Suit Gundam Vol. #01
© Bandai Entertainment

What They Say
The year is 0079 of the Universal Century, the Earth Federation and its space colonies are engaged in an apocalyptic war. The rebellious Principality 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!
The story is obviously just warming up, and the pacing and trauma certainly don't compare to Gundam Wing, but there is something both nostalgic and compelling about this series that began it all. As an old series, though, MS Gundam definitely suffers from technical limitations.

The disk started off on the wrong foot with me when it became apparent that there was no Japanese dialogue track. While I am not adverse to listening to decent dubs, it seems to me that a complete lack of options on a show whose main audience is probably older otaku is a bit of a mistake. Fortunately, the dubbing matches the animation style, and I was able to watch all five episodes without cringing.

The rest of the audio was more limited. The intro and ending songs were left in the original Japanese, but the intro song had several rough stops in it that sounded like a tape wearing down, and the ending song was fuzzy. The background music was often tinny and lacked depth, but that is no more than one expects from such an old series. The transfer itself seemed mostly good. Depth is, of course, a joke. You could probably listen to this disk on your computer and the experience would be almost as good as on my sound system.

Like the audio, the video suffers from age. While the transfer itself was completed without major complications, the colors are flat and they sometimes ran over each other. My roommate's pet peeve was the lack of whites in Mr. Bright's eyes. The space backgrounds were also quite pixilated. Again, this is a matter of age, and if you have seen a number of shows from the 70's, you probably won't find this one all that bad.

The cover is a cleaned-up shot of the Gundam just after it has cut a Zaku in half- it looks nice, but don't be fooled into thinking the scene from which it was taken is this bright and clear. The back is very simple, with Amuro standing on one side and the Gundam pointing its gun straight out. Inside, the insert uses the picture from the front and has ads for the rest of the Gundam series on the back. There is also a sticker of the same "cutting a Zaku" picture. The disk itself has, shock, that picture again, plus the logo and some text about the DVD. This is a very repetitive packaging scheme.

These are incredibly simple. The main screen is a cropped version of the front cover shot of Gundam. Even the chapter selections are available on the main menu page. Not very interesting, but at least it's easy to navigate.

The Mobile Suit Encyclopedia is the only extra available. The encyclopedia itself is much more thorough than the ones from the Gundam Wing disks, if you have seen those. If there had been a few more extras like this one, I might have been distracted from the simplicity of the rest of the disk.

As a rabid fan of Gundam Wing, I went into this story wondering if I could possibly like the original universe created over two decades ago. My reactions were decidedly mixed.

Setting aside the video and audio limitations already discussed, the content is still very much in the 70's style, with a large number of relatively simple characters engaged in short battles alongside the occasional plot twist or moment of character development. The action begins immediately, but after that there are several obvious plot devices that made the experience less enjoyable. For example, when the main character, Amuro, tries to find his father in the midst of an attack on his space colony, the force of an explosion just happens to throw the manual for the Gundam right in front of him. Not terribly convincing....

On the other hand, the characters that are introduced are generally sympathetic. Amuro is completely believable as the accidental pilot of Gundam; a boy who climbed into the cockpit to stop two other mechas from destroying his home colony- and then promptly opened the manual to figure out how to make the thing stand up. Alongside him most of the way (making sure he eats and doesn't do anything stupid) is Fraubo, the first in a long line of competent women of the future. Yay!

My favorite secondary characters so far are Sayla, a girl who likes to take control but is evasive about her past, and Mr. Bright, the nineteen-year-old soldier who ends up commanding the escape ship when most of the defense forces of the colony are killed. There are several other characters to choose from, but many of them are not well-developed by the end of the fifth episode.

Most of the story so far focuses on the battles between the fleeing ship of civilians and the forces of the Zeon archduchy, in the person of Char, the "Red Comet" (Gundam Wing fans- think "proto-Zechs"). The Federation colonists have the advantage of the new Gundams, but they have no experienced soldiers, and Char runs a tight ship. Nonetheless, the battles start to get boring by the time the two sides reach Earth and begin entering the atmosphere. We are left shortly thereafter on the usual cliffhanger, described by the announcer as "Who will survive?"

It's not Gundam Wing. Don't go into this show thinking that it will be. But if you look at it from a world-building perspective, or as an exploration of the roots of Gundam, you may enjoy it quite a bit. As for me, I'll wait for the next disk and see if the plot starts moving faster or the characters get more complicated.

English Language,Mobile Suit Encyclopedia

Review Equipment
25" Samsung Stereo TV, code-free Pioneer 333, Sony STR-SE391 receiver, Sony speakers, and the cables that came with the set.


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