Gundam Build Fighters: How to Build A Gundam Show For the Present

[This is a guest post by my friend and mentor, ghostlightning.]

The primary problem that befell the latter Gundam shows is the failure to reconcile the war aspect of the show with the youthful audience.

It cannot help but glorify violence, since the amazing Mobile Suits are war machines designed to destroy other war machines.

These are not police forces, like the Labors of Patlabor. These are suits of armor for futuristic fighters. Death is very likely, especially if the fighting is done in the vacuum of space.

But how does one make an action show featuring war machines without killing soldiers? How does one make a dominant fighter hero without having him kill enemy pilots in large numbers.

It is easier to spare the life, narrative wise, of an important antagonist character, than it is to spare multitudes of other combatants. Unless you’re willing to forego all sense of verisimilitude, as the G.I. Joe cartoon of the 1980s portray pitched battles with lots of gunfire, missiles, and explosions with nary a human casualty.

I remember how Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt sent up The Transformers cartoon in the same context.

Gundam has done something similar for the past 2 decades, only with forced narrative moralizing, usually leveled by the saint-like child hero: Kira Yamato, Setsuna F. Seiei, then Kio Asuno (and perhaps Banagher Links).

This method made for terrible shows; hypocritical and poorly executed (jury is out on Gundam Unicorn as of this writing). Gundam AGE is the most recent, and perhaps the worst.

To me at least, it has become impossible to make an acceptable Gundam show. But this was until Gundam Build Fighters.

After seven episodes, and especially after the most recent pair, this show has delivered the most exciting Gundam battles in made for television Gundam. It feels so full of possibility having been liberated from the context of war entirely.

The show is about the Gundam hobby and the lifestyle, fantasized as a tournament culture similar to video games like Street Fighter and Tekken. People build Gundam model kits, which in turn become “video game” avatars in a battle context. The power of the model kit is respective of the skill of the builder and the parts used.

This, allows for incredible violent fighting, with no human life at stake. In this sense it is less violent than Pokémon since no one ever gets hurt. At most, the model kit is destroyed.

The story, is not remarkable. But it is remarkable how insignificant this is relative to the capacity of the show to provide enjoyment for people who like Gundams.

On Choosing Sides In Anime Conflict – Gundam, Escaflowne, and Shiki Episode 20

(There are no spoilers in this post except where marked. It can be read spoiler-free.)

The idea that there are no “good guys” or “bad guys” in war is ubiquitous, but it’s one that must be repeated at any time where emotions run high and logical thinking must be laid down. By my logic, there’s no inherent “right” or “wrong” in the world. (I say “by my logic” because even if I think it’s the absolute truth, I am not all-knowing, and I will not pretend like I understand any “truth” about the universe.) There simply is what there is.

I don’t consider any action that I take in life to be a reaction to a moral idea. I would never kill a human being, but not because I think it’s “wrong” to do so. It simply isn’t something I would do, having been raised as a person with an aversion to doing such a thing. On a personal level, as I’ve mentioned before, I see murder as a waste because the dead can never benefit the world nor, by extension, myself. If a person remains living, then they carry with them the potential for infinite possibilities, and I don’t have any reason to destroy that.

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Gundam 0080: A War in the Pocket – The Question is, What Do You Want To Do? The Answer is, Do That.

THIS POST IS LOADED TO THE BRIM WITH GUNDAM 0080 SPOILERS. DO NOT READ IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN IT (BUT GO WATCH IT, IT’S ONLY 3 HOURS LONG AND IT’S REALLY GOOD)

Tonight I watched Mobile Suit Gundam 0080: A War in the Pocket with my mech-obsessed little brother, and it certainly was a great and fun show with a downer ending we saw coming from ten miles away, which has been the topic of most of the discussion I’ve seen about the show. While the ending was indeed sad in that poor Bernie had to die (at the hands of a woman he happened to be falling for, in a fight I described as ‘epic in all the wrong ways’), the series as a whole actually left me with a bit of an uplifting feeling. The pervading thought in my head as I watched the series was a moral question that the show was all too keen to answer.

In the second episode of 0080, young protagonist Al, who lives in one of the Federation colonies, hands over a whole ton of useful information to certain Zeon pilots – a practice he will continue through the show. After his first trade with Bernie, handing over his video card with important info logged on it in exchange for one of Bernie’s patches, my brother and I remarked about how this poor ignorant child had just lost his team the war. That’s how it seemed anyway – the kid just wanted to look at cool mechs, and the jackass he ran into used him to get info that he didn’t know he had. The video was useless to the kid in comparison to a tangible object, but maybe that doesn’t necessarily mean that the kid doesn’t know what he’s given the Zeon soldier. As the series continues, it becomes clear that, yeah, he does.

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GUNDAM RX-78 CAKE (and More Anime Cakes)

My younger brother just had his 17th birthday, so more anime cake! He immediately went for the classic RX-78 Gundam, seeing as he’s always been a fan of Gundams but only recently finally saw the original movies. He’s now working his way through Zeta, and for his birthday he got Master Grade Zeta Gundam and the new Char-like from Gundam Unicorn. After this and the Reinhard cookie, you are probably wondering why the rest of my family has better taste in anime than I do, and why you got stuck with me blogging about it :p More pics below!

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Moment Highlight: Mobile Suit Gundam III Encounters In Space – Char Towed My Car!

(I have to apologize for the lack of screenshots, I watched this on DVD and my comp’s drive is broken, so bear with me and try remembering~)

Mobile Suit Gundam III Encounters In Space

So, I finally saw Encounters in Space today, having watched the first movie twice in the past year or so and only 2 weeks ago managed to finally get to Soldiers of Sorrow. Anyway, the film was great, and had probably one of the greatest endings in movie history, but since I’m sure enough has been said about it (and really, if you’ve seen it, you understand), I want to talk about another of my favorite scenes from the film.

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Gundam Fans! Check Out Mobile Suit Gundam Battlefield Record: Avant-Title and Then Get This Shit Subbed!

This is Mobile Suit Gundam Battlefield Record: Avant-Title, a 7-minute animated short that is with the new Battlefield Record game for the PS3. As you can see, it is 7 minutes of awesome and would be totally easy to sub, so there’s no excuse for it not to be! The short is directed, storyboarded, and written by one of my favorite directors, storyboarders, and writers, Matsuo Kou, and it certainly shows that his gold touch was on it!