WHY WE CAN HAVE NICE THINGS, or, How The Gundam Fandom Can Find Their Own Personal Newtype

When I was still a complete outsider to the Gundam fandom (I consider myself still pretty much a newfag) I was utterly fascinated by how disgusting it is. I still am. It’s still disgusting. Why? War is hell, etc.

There seems to be a perpetual pissing match among fans. What’s at stake? Who gets to look down on whom: UC is great, AU is shit. G Gundam is super robot garbage. V Gundam is GRIMDARK while your Gundam 00 is wannabe relevant rubbish. G Savior is the best (no, I made that up). Turn A is not Gundam. Katoki ruins every mobile suit he touches. People who don’t understand the lore don’t deserve to build Gunpla. Gundam SEED is just a commercial for shitty overpriced toys made for man-children, while 08th MS Team is ART. All Gundam since Wing is for gay-slashing fangirls. Gundam is better without Tomino.

What’s fascinating is that these statements come from within the fandom. This is the same fandom that at one point saved the would-be franchise from oblivion precisely by buying every Gundam-related toy ever made. Fractured, and with no discernable desire of being anything but. There’s no incentive to be anything else really, though sometimes there are those who wish for some form of unity. After all, we all like Gundam in some form right?


But who am I kidding? There just seems to be so much gratification to be had to form cliques – which in many ways are reactions to other groups. And such groups, in the space of fan and hobby matters, are ideologically driven. Ideals presume hierarchy: there’s the ideal, and there are the things less than ideal.

But as I advocate, culture is pretty much flat. Ideals are chosen and are contingent, not necessary.  Mobile Suit Z Gundam is NOT necessarily superior than Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny. One must crush and shame hundreds of thousands of fags to make this evident to everyone who cares. Our ideals pretty much operate as biases in day-to-day fan life.

But in this space of fandom, it is the hope of some – like Owada Hideki, that all the fans would evolve, with abilities to deal with the vastness of this very space. In the Universal Century, the Newtype ideal failed. Perhaps it must live within the fandom first, as Owara seems to suggest. We, as fans must find what being a Newtype means for ourselves. Maybe then we would all achieve complete understanding of each other.

Ridiculous? Undoubtedly.

Feasible? Not a chance.

Awesome? Absolutely.

Could I personally use less haterade among Gundam fans? Yes, though it doesn’t mean I actually propose that we become less authentic about our feelings regarding Gundam shows and related products, that we pretend to like what we don’t. What I’m more interested in is the departure from the need to feel and act superior over each other even if we encounter the fans of things we consider the shittiest Gundam-related thing ever shat out of a butt. Maybe when we all activate our Newtype powers, until then may the space flamingoes find you and keep you.

Further Reading: An abridged set of links demonstrating fan uh, divisiveness related to Gundam.

Liar’s Day 2011 on We Remember Love

Ngee Khiong’s Epic Farewell

Gundam Fans Love Gundam Like Saji Loves Louise

Sayonara Gundam 00: My Wishes Are Over Your Airspace

Haven’t seen any Gundam at all? Don’t know where to start? Find your Gateway Gundam

Bonus: The Possibilities of Gundam [open image on a new tab for awesomeness]

About ghostlightning

I entered the anime blogging sphere as a lurker around Spring 2008. We Remember Love is my first anime blog. Click here if this is your first time to visit WRL.
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75 Responses to WHY WE CAN HAVE NICE THINGS, or, How The Gundam Fandom Can Find Their Own Personal Newtype

  1. karry says:

    I have a sneaking suspicion that those scribbles in the dialogue bubbles are actually letters.

  2. Whenever I think of how arguments between Gundam fans can be nasty, brutish, and not-short-enough my mind always moves to comparing it the other big mecha fandom. While I haven’t spent years thinking about it since I only watched the Macross shows within the past two years, I can’t help but try and compare them due to the similar lifespan and popularity of each. And it kind of reminds me of the two worlds in the old Ultima Online game: Macross fandom is Trammel where all the trees are in bloom, things are mostly newbie-friendly, and it’s not possible to attack other players. At worst things are a bit stuffy in their guild organizations. Gundam fandom is Felucca. All the trees are dead and players kill and steal from each other in a Hobbesian wonderland. But that still doesn’t answer why things are as they are.

    The nearest I can figure it amounts to the amount of variation in each franchise. Macross has much less (and fewer series, which is a byproduct of this) and Gundam has so many AUs that it’s hard to keep track. Working that into the previous Ultima Online analogy Macross and Trammel are more tightly controlled and standardized in form and even if you find fault with the way another group of players is doing things you can’t attack them for it. In terms of the fandom having the ‘maneuver space’ to attack someone else principly rests on saying that some aspect of the franchise they like is ‘wrong’ according to the overall standards of the franchise (whether that be on the grounds of plot, mecha design, themes, etc.) The Gundam franchise is FULL of space for offensive maneuver between all its unrelated AUs and number of series. In Felucca you have the means and opportunity to attack others, usually for fun but sometimes because you don’t like how they’re doing things. All it takes is motive. With so many series in so many universes it’s easy in Gundam to find a standard that one thinks is best and then all that’s needed is a willingness to engage in intense arguing with others. With so much ammunition lying around in the form of different universe/series standards it’s easy for a friendly argumentative skirmish to become a full-blown war. Especially if someone starts to think of their preferred standard as the ‘correct’ standard.

    In search of other comparisons I tried to think of other analogies that might shed some light on this, but I can only offer these two with partial firsthand information. One could be the Pokemon and Final Fantasy franchises. Pokemon is a much more standardized series and all the Pokemon fans seem to just eat up every new game while Final Fantasy changes after every game and has a much more fractured fandom. The other might be Warmachine vs Warhammer 40k miniatures wargaming fandoms. Warmachine is a newer game but also takes a more smaller and more controlled philosophy to its releases, making the game’s releases and rules much more coherent. 40k on the other hand releases its new versions of rules and army books frequently and seemingly at random at times. There are more armies, many more revisions of the base rules compared to Warmachine. And while I don’t know 40k in depth, I can only observe that 40k players argue A LOT more with each other and often in harsher terms than Warmachine players.

    So if these examples form any sort of coherent pattern in this tl;dr comment of mine, it would seem to suggest that the more variation in a franchise and the more disjointed it is as a whole, the fiercer the intra-franchise haterade is going to be. The more tightly controlled and coordinated franchise would seem to produce less because there are fewer instances where a fan can say X part of the franchise is ‘correct’ and Y is ‘wrong.’

    • I agree about having more stuff = more stuff to argue about. You’ve also made quite interesting comparisons, though I think I favor the Final Fantasy one the most (I’ve a post comparing the 2 franchises scheduled — I kept pushing it back since I’ve been talking about Gundam a lot).

      The thing about fan behavior, is this (an observation of mine):

      1. Actions/words are undertaken/spoken so as to be able to look down on others (particularly clique outsiders)
      2. The more people one can look down on, the bigger the incentive to do so.

      Gundam fans are so good at this. Part of the reason is the WILD variance in quality of the works, while maintaining a tremendous level of popularity in almost all cases. Furthermore, thanks to the periodic release of entry-level TV series, there are hordes of new people to do all sorts of interesting stuff with: co-opt, troll, bully, welcome, etc.

    • Matt Wells says:

      While you are broadly correct in your comparison of Gundam and Macross fandoms, you’re forgetting one thing. Macross fans are capable of as much hatred and divisive vitriol as any Gundam fan, they just limit it to two topics: Macross 7, and the fans who like Robotech VS the fans who swear Jihad on anyone for defending Robotech in any way, shape or form.

      • Well Robotech is objectively wrong :P

        Though on Macross 7, as much of an ordeal as it was for me, and it was quite a test of my Macross faith, it’s one of those terrible things that you laugh about as you’re ranting about how terrible it was. At least, that’s how it was for me and the impression I get from other people who complain about it.

        • Gonna rewatch and reread ALL of Robotech. Gonna find a way to blog all of it! WATCH OUT!

          • Matt Wells says:

            Nice! Just beware…for someone like you who drinks deep of the holy communion of Macross, Robotech will be a…Unique form of torture. I’ve heard some say the second and third series are better in their Robotech incarnation than the Japanese originals, but still…

            Make sure you cover the movie which used footage from Megazone 23. Sad thing is, Robotech is pretty much the ONLY version of Macross legally sold here in the UK. We got Macross Plus 6 years ago, but that’s out of print. Robotech is not :(

            On the other hand, I just got M Plus DVD’s cheap on Amazon, and I should be watching them within the week. Knowing Plus’ reputation, I’m looking forward to my gateway Macross series being something special… :)

    • Stormshrug says:

      Regarding Warhammer 40k, it is worth noting that its releases are actually quite regular (about 3 Codices a year), and much slower than most players would like, actually (especially Necron players).

      The problem isn’t the release schedule, it’s the fact that there’s very little internal consensus about the canon that is being released. Nobody’s manning it, as it were.

      Basically, it’s a free-for-all, with several individual codex authors writing what would be considered ‘primary’ fluff, largely without editorial control, so far as anyone can tell. At the next tier, you have a bunch of Black Library authors writing novels, again largely without any cohesive form of fact-checking or agreement on canon (excluding the Horus Heresy novels, which are a rare exception to this mess). Then, on top of that, you have the video games, which pretty much do whatever they want with the canon, precedent be damned.

      For the Gundam fans in the room, imagine that every Gundam series took place in the same universe, and were all considered to be canonical (somehow – perhaps there are multiple “Earths”). Then imagine that, every few years, they redid each series *to account for all the new series that had come out since they last did it*, but with no particular regard for how it had been in the past, and without consulting any of the people behind the other shows. And then imagine that all of the spinoff manga, video games, etc were done by people who hadn’t seen any of it anyway.

      So you go to one book, and something is explicitly stated to be impossible. You go to another contemporary book, and that VERY THING thing happens. Then you go to one of the video games, and it’s not only happening, it’s commonplace!

      That’s pretty much the state of the 40k fluff, and that’s why the fandom so filled with RAEG and lulz.

  3. sadakups says:

    April Fools is done already, right?

    But wait, we’re in the Philippines. We don’t have that.

  4. Thanks for all who read the fucked up post. Fixed it, as well as the image sizes (you can now click to enlarge).

    Still, enjoy this .gif on the possibilities of Gundam:

    http://twitpic.com/4g2ew5

  5. Reid says:

    I consider myself a pretty stalwart, longtime Gundam fan and I’ve never understood why there is so much division within the Gundam fanbase. I mean, we can all agree that certain entries in the metaseries have been subpar in execution but not in idea (the live action/cg of G-Savior) or had a tone that was out of sorts with the overall milieu of the storyline (the lighthearted comedy of ZZ Gundam) or was wildly devisive in terms of storytelling decisions and characterizations (SEED Destiny). However, all of those shows STILL had SOMETHING good about them. I think one of the main reasons Gundam has been so successful in its 30+ years is that it changes with the times and means different things to different people. As most American Gundam fans, I started off with Gundam Wing, which I still hold a soft spot for even though I can easily recognize its faults. However, I can also look back at the much “better” (subjectively, and from my own perspective, though others feel the same way) Mobile Suit Gundam and Zeta Gundam, which I saw much later, and see there are also some problems with both of them (extremely dated animation for the former and overly downer ending for the second, again, just my opinion).

    Like ExecutiveOtaku said, the more “versions” and “universes” exist within a given metaseries, the more likely that certain groups of people will latch on to one particular storyline or another and then come to the decision that one is “correct” and the other(s) are “wrong.” I mean, I’m no SEED fan by any stretch but there are still things I like about it (retelling the original “One Year War” storyline in a fresh way, for example). I’ve never openly “hated” any Gundam show, though there are certainly ones I prefer over others. Frankly, I think those that complain ad nauseum about which Gundam show is correct and which is incorrect should get a life. I wish I could say “Just roll with it, folks.” It’s a CARTOON. Enjoy it for what it is and don’t attack other people who, by rights, ought to share a common interest with you. There’s too much actual bad stuff going on in the world or legitimate causes or viewpoints to get behind to waste one’s breath bashing other fans of the SAME SERIES. That’s what I love about WRL: we don’t hate a show for its few faults, we appreciate it for what it does right as a whole, and I don’t think too many of us here, or anywhere, for that matter, would disagree with me when I say that Gundam, overall, does a lot more right than it does wrong.

    That’s the end of my rant, honest.

    • Well, the issue I think isn’t whether the shows have ANY good in them. It’s about how TERRIBLE they are, especially measured against the exemplary ones in the franchise.

      Personally, ZZ Gundam is like my best friend ripping my leg off me and clubbing my whole family to death with it, V is like the hot girl who’s great at everything infecting the whole class with herpes, and watching GSD is like taking a GIGA DRILL BREAK up my bunghole while a monkey sucks my brain out with a straw THROUGH MY EYE; and 00 is that ex-girlfriend who broke up with me saying she wants different things then has a penis attached to her surgically. W is something I won’t attempt to finish until next year. I’m still recovering from watching 4 incredibly shitty TV Gundam shows in 2010.

      But see, I won’t hold it against people if they enjoy these shows. I love Gundam, therefore I love these shows too, in my own fashion (often by roasting them above the coals of my passionate loathing — IT’S JUST LOVE).

      What is quite true is that you can’t hate something you don’t care about. I care about all Gundams is why I hate and I love to hate so much. Other fans aren’t there yet, they don’t get it yet; they act like a show is so terrible with very little perspective of what terrible is, or what greatness is. I chalk up much of this choadishness to the fan behavior that enjoys so much the leisure of looking down on other fans.

      • Reid says:

        I agree with your…assessment of SEED/SEED Destiny, but please don’t kill me if say I really liked V Gundam and I have that wistful, first love for Wing (the new “Frozen Teardrop” novel positively fascinates me) and I got really into the mecha design of ZZ, silly as it is (not that Gundam’s mecha design hasn’t always been a little silly). But, again, that’s what’s great about coming here: I don’t have to worry that just because you and I don’t necessarily agree on everything about Gundam, nobody’s going to take any criticisms the wrong way. I think with this post I finally get what “remembering love” is about when it applies to the fractured base that is “Mobile Suit Gundam”.

        Also, your inclusion of Ngee Khiong’s exit remarks is particularly meaningful. It nearly crushed me when he took his main blog down, such did I enjoy reading it daily. Fortunately, other good blogs like GundamGuy came in (for me) to fill the spot left by NG for Gundam -merchandise and supplementary materials related- info. Then of course, I followed some links from GundamGuy and found this site, which is, if I might be so bold (how can I not be so bold if I just said I LIKE Victory Gundam ^^), is my favorite website of the past year. I looke forward to many good discussions and conversations…and maybe a little newtype awakening. Nah.

        • Like I said I don’t take it against people if they like what they like. It will be a point of contention if people insist that their pet shitty show is superior than what shows I esteem. Of course, never in an absolute way — just fan bullshit that we all enjoy every now and then.

          But yeah, I love all Gundam, including G-Savior which I just finished watching (it was terrible, but hey).

  6. Lokey says:

    Being a huge gundam fan, i myself have gotten into some of these debates. When i sit back and think about it, it seems pointless. But whenever i see one going on, i always jump in. It’s oddly fun to have flame wars with each other.
    While i do it fun, most of the fans are dead serious about what they argue. Personally, i think you need to sit through the shows you say are crap before you can judge them. Every gundam show has at least one totally awesome part (even G-Savior).

  7. megaroad1 says:

    I only began watching Gundam over the course of the past year, and have slowly made my way through almost all of the UC Gundam (just missing Victory and Unicorn).

    For the most part, I have gotten my recommendations on what Gundams to watch and in what order, from anime enthusiasts, that is people who like Gundam, but are not “Gundam only” fanboys. So I haven’t really been exposed to the intensity of debate in the Gundam fandom. After reading this, I’m kinda relieved. Life is intense enough without internet flame wars on things we are supposed to have for enjoyment.

  8. Kuro says:

    I think the fans should all agree first that their favorite gundam pilots are not superior to others. May it be Cosmic Era coordinators or Universal century Newtypes. At least that’s what I think. Gundam fans should appreciate all gundams.

    This post has reminded me to finish reading the whole Gundam Sousei manga. Is the manga finished already?

    • That is simply not true.

      Judau Ashta is such a retarded unprintable idiot that he’s almost at the same level of shittiness as Shinn Asuka! I’m pleased to be able to appreciate just how terrible Judau is as a character of fiction.

      Sousei is finished and it is grand!

  9. drmchsr0 says:

    G Gundam is JAWSOME super robot bullshit. So face-rockingly JAWSOME they could not withstand its adamantium nutsack of jawsomeness and they have to resort to whining about how sucky it is (A COMPLETE AND UTTER LIE) to assusage their nutsack-slapped egos.

    As for SEED being a giant Bandai commercial, well, that’s all of Gundam, basically. It’s the big reason why Tomino’s so pissed about it nowadays, and was the cause for his depression.

    Also I’d like to say that it’s not just Gundam, but the entire anime fandom in general. I can’t mention anymore because I’d get flak from it, and I’d like not to get the verbal equivalent of exploding hot metal at inopportune times.

    • WTF are you yelling about?

      Stop whining like a Shinn Asuka in any given episode.

      • drmchsr0 says:

        Ahem.

        It may NOT have occurred to you, but there are people out there who hate anime and only watch it so that they have SOMETHING to do the same things people in the Gundam fandom do on a regular basis.

        Less haterade is one thing, but you can’t stop this kind of behavior even in the long term. It’s an inherent human thing.

        Also, who calls G Gundam super robot rubbish? It is the best Gundam ever PRECISELY because of that reason. No shipping bullshit, no excuses, no nothing. Just pure, unadulterated super robot AWESOME. G Gundam dissers don’t know what they are missing out, man.

  10. Anya says:

    I never really understood all the hate against the newer series, and all the praise towards the UC series. I didn’t watch the UC series apart from Unicorn yet, but when I’m watching them I don’t really think that hard about what makes one better than another. I just enjoy it without thinking too much (except when there’s something that’s such a big slap in the face like the Space Lily of Understanding). When I do get around to watching the UC series I doubt I would come back and decide if it’s better than 00, let alone try to attack or defend one over the other.

    • Well, first of all, the newer series are derivative to begin with — which means they HAVE to be better in many ways. They can’t be mediocre and expect sympathy. Unfortunately, Outside of Turn A Gundam and G Gundam, all the TV series since Victory Gundam contain incredible suckage. The staunchest defenders of those series are those who grew up with them — those who discovered them when their critical faculties weren’t educated by neither school nor experience. Then nostalgia comes in.

      The older series have lots of suckage too, but are forgiven due to their pioneering contribution given their age and context.

      Mistakes made in Z Gundam are intolerable in V Gundam, and outright atrocious in Gundam 00. The franchise has to grow and improve, so each new show has a lot to do to avoid hate. Unicorn is the way to do it, 00 is not.

  11. VyseLegend says:

    Gundam has never been a pristine gift from God. Its a popular culture product, and we’re lucky that it has had any redeeming value at all. And I’d go so far as to say a great deal of Gundam has had redeeming value, even given some of the ahem, Jesus-y, rough spots in its history.

    This is coming from a fan who got into the series with Wing, and has slowly caught up over the past few years. As a Wing fan, I’ve seen more than my share of unabashed criticism of the show, right up until Seed and then 00, where the ‘oldfag’ fans expectedly decide to bash the latest incarnation in an attempt to galvanize their childhood memories/nostalgia.

    Its completely predictable that people will have such biases, so you also have to draw
    the line between ‘bias shit-smearing’ and ‘legitimate criticism,’ the fact that people are ALLOWED to like different things (sometimes on the internet this escapes people), and like others have said – hey, its still Gundam.

  12. animekritik says:

    Has a gender study been done? Like, how do female Gundam fans assess the franchise (what shows they prefer) and how this compares with male fan appreciation?

    • Matt Wells says:

      Between the girlfriends of main characters dying like flies, the female villains being hateful shrewish caricatures of womanhood, and the inherent fetishisation of war and machinery, I’d be surprised to find ANY female fans of the series. I’m not saying “DURR, GIRLLS STAY OUT OF MY GUNDAM!”, but of all the robot franchises, I’d always assumed Gundam would have some of the lowest figures for a female fanbase. Still, your idea is very interesting…

      Though if we’re being as offensive and stereotypical as possible, I would assume that Wing would be more popular with female fans than male ones, for obvious reasons… :)

      • A.r. says:

        Well in the US at least the Wing fandom in it’s heyday was at least 50% female and pretty infamous for its size and insanity (the yaoi fangirls tended to be the worst). SEED and 00 are the same way to lesser extents from what I’ve seen, though UC has historically been a boy’s club.

        That’s not to say female UC fans don’t exist (I’m pretty sure I exist), it’s just we’re very much a minority. I personally have never really cared for Wing and similar AUs, though I do prefer characters to mechs. I tend to go for villains and other characters everyone else hates anyway so the “hateful shrewish caricatures of womanhood” are usually some of my favorite characters (I love Cima Garahau, Kishiria Zabi, and if I watch V I’ll probably like Katejina. I even like Quess Paraya). 0080 is my favorite series, though 08th has my favorite character (Ghinius, who’s another widely despised character).

        Of course I’m just one person so I can’t speak for any of the other UC fangirls. We tend to congregate most on LJ for some reason, so if you’re interested in what they think check there.

    • It might exist somewhere, but female UC fans are not commonplace. A lot of them got into Gundam via W (I know of one here in the Philippines who dumps on Unicorn measured against W: Endless Waltz /facepalm). A lot more got into SEED/Destiny, and even more via 00.

      You can assert that the popularity (and existence) of Code Geass is due to W Gundam.

      If you want to take a quick and dirty survey of the landscape, GO TO FACEBOOK and see the hordes of SEED fangirls (an entire colony of them from INDONESIA). You can tell because their profile names are of SEED/Destiny characters and/or characters being shipped together (and the Bahasa language).

  13. Matt Wells says:

    Love and hate ARE seperate sides of the same emotional coin. Like you note Ghostlightning, the bile and scorn you heap on the likes of SEED only demonstrates your adoration for the series as a whole. And as fun as trolling can be, I can personally say I DON’T watch shows I hate just to bitch about them, unlike the Gundam fans you describe here. If I find a show where the genral opinion is that it sucks, and it’ll contain things I hate (plot holes, inconsistent weapons, irritating characters, plot armour) I choose to not watch it. Revolutionary thinking, eh? :)

    Hence why I’ve yet to see ZZ, Wing and SEED. I’d rather spend my time and money on something I’d enjoy. I’m still open to new things, but if, say, I feel like killing myself halfway into Victory, I’ll stop watching it. That doesn’t prevent me from complaining about the flaws in shows I do enjoy, because picking apart the things you love is by far preferable to suffering through the things you truly despise: its just another way of remembering love. Just my whiny little “can’t we all just get along speech”, but that’s how I see it.

    …But G Gundam is the best! Suck it UC fans! (paradox: since I AM a UC fan, must I also suck it? Such vagrancies come with self loathing…)

    • WATCH THEM AND SHARE OUR PAIN LIKE A TRUE FAN

      • Matt Wells says:

        WAHHHH, I DON’T WANNA! ZZ I can excuse because I haven’t seen Zeta or the original series yet (working on it!), but from what you’ve written about it, not even Kazuki Yao as the main character could save it. As for the rest, I really am just bitching out of stuff I KNOW will suck, and refuse to watch to be obstinate.

        FORGIVE ME MASTER GHOSTLIGHTNING, FOR I AM WEAK! THE MIND IS UNWILLING AND MY FLESH IS WEAK AND SPONGY!!!!

        • Watch the Original Movie Trilogy immediately. That is all.

          • Matt Wells says:

            I would, but the only version I can find is that lousy remastered version Tomino did a few years ago. Why exactly did he feel the need to go all George Lucas on us and mess about with the classics?

            I would rather watch the original TV series in Japanese than watch the movie version with songs removed, all dialogue rerecorded by a thirty year older cast (oh, and the original Sayla and Bright actors were dead, so they got new ones!), and the classic sound effects replaced by modern bland ones.

            If anyone out there knows where to find the unaltered original movie trilogy, I would appreciate it if you told me. It WAS on Youtube before Bandai took it down. The DVDs sold in the US and the UK are both the remastered version, so no luck with the official release.

          • Reid says:

            I finally managed to track down the first and second movies just two weeks ago and Man Oh Man those movies are terrific. There were obviously some pacing flubs, but that’s to be expected when you take a 5o-episode-plus TV show and make it into three two-hour features. Overall, though, I’d say it’s a great alternative to owning the whole original Gundam on DVD (if you’ve seen the original TV show, that is).
            Matt, I didn’t even know about the remastered versions, but the DVDs I have are from 2001 and they are, as far as I can tell, the original movies with the original voice actors. The movies are not as hard to come by as the TV show, so definitely check ‘em out. Those original Mobile Suit Gundam DVDs are almost impossible to find for some reason.

  14. Sekou says:

    Personally, I believe we’ll see the demise of the Gundam franchise before there’s less hate within the fandom.

    When I truly immersed myself in the Gundam franchise in the summer of 2007, I was surprised to learn of the division among fans. It also saddened me to realize the first series I had watched and my favorite show — Gundam Wing — was a common target for the hate. I was frequently told once I watched UC masterpieces such as Zeta, CCA and others, I’d understand why GW was so disliked.

    Upon watch the UC series, I certainly enjoyed them and the various elements GW had drawn influence from were evident. But rather than share the point of view of “UC elitists” or GW detractors, I became enraged. The hypocrisy I often heard when other criticized Wing was so evident. How could fans attack GW(or any other AU series) for a lack of realism, character rip-offs or recycled plot elements when various UC series were guilty of the same offenses?

    In time, even the “UC trumps all” viewpoint began to irk me. What sense does it make to compare a universe that is the backbone of a franchise and features numerous 50-episode series to side-projects? Of course most AU series aren’t as developed. How could they be when most of them are just one series?

    These days, I do my best to avoid arguments. GW aside, I love ZZ, After War, 0080, Zeta and have really enjoyed Victory and Unicorn so far, so mingling in the fadom is relatively easy. However, when an ignorant or false claim is made, particularly about GW, I can’t help but jump into a heated “debate”.

    I believe some of these claims are at the root of the division within Gundam’s fan base but there’s no way to prove that. Whatever the reasons actually are and as fractured as the Gundam fandom is, at the end of the day, we’re just talking about cartoons.

    • Yeah it really sucks when the arguments escalate and turn into ad hominem awfulness.

      Relevant: my response to Anya earlier.

      Also:

      Personally, ZZ Gundam is like my best friend ripping my leg off me and clubbing my whole family to death with it, V is like the hot girl who’s great at everything infecting the whole class with herpes, and watching GSD is like taking a GIGA DRILL BREAK up my bunghole while a monkey sucks my brain out with a straw THROUGH MY EYE; and 00 is that ex-girlfriend who broke up with me saying she wants different things then has a penis attached to her surgically. W is something I won’t attempt to finish until next year. I’m still recovering from watching 4 incredibly shitty TV Gundam shows in 2010.

      You may disagree, but it doesn’t mean we can’t be friends! My best friends (among those who love Gundam) disagree wildly (particularly about V).

      • Sekou says:

        I look forward to the day you finish GW. Even if you still despise it as much as you do now, it’ll be good to hear how you found it.

  15. GyroNinja says:

    This was an interesting read, because I’ve always been on the outside looking in when it comes to the Gundam. I have kind of the tempered opposite of your opinion on UC Gundam; I can appreciate the good points of it on an intellectual level, but I just find it, well, boring now. I can imagine how the original series must have hit Japanese 12 year olds in 1979 like a ton of bricks, and that anime as a whole would be worse off without it, but when I actually sat down and watched it with a friend recently it just felt kind of goofy looking and awkwardly paced, a few awesome scenes exempt. A part of the problem is probably that my favorite anime tend to not be 50-episode epics (especially not those which feature the dreaded continuity), but those in the 13/26 episode range.

    That’s not to say that I don’t like certain Gundam series though. Gundam 0080 and 8th MS Team are great war stories that just so happen to take place in the Universal Century, and while I’ve never sat down and watched the whole thing, I remember that every episode of G Gundam I saw way back when it aired on Toonami never failed to entertain me. 0080 in particular is just fantastic, and I’m ashamed that I didn’t get around to watching it until last month. Definitely recommended as a good gateway Gundam.

    Right now I’m attempting to get into Turn-A Gundam, and while it sure isn’t a typical Gundam, I’m pretty intrigued despite only being a couple episodes in. When I first saw the mecha designs I thought they were pretty dumb looking, but now that I’ve seen them in context they actually work pretty well. Almost remind me of the tripods from War of the Worlds, which kind of fits.

    • Matt Wells says:

      Turn A takes a good 12 epsiodes or so before it gets really intriguing, so stick with it! The arrival of Corrin Nander marks its change from a slice-of-life series to a proper Gundam show, and it only gets better from there. Never realised the War of the Worlds/Tripods connection, but you’re right; given the Victorian setting it DOES make perfect sense!

      And while I find myself able to slog through a good 50 episode series, I usually feel the result is too padded for the sake of filling up the broadcast schedule. I agree that my ideal anime length is 13 episodes, 26 at most. Anything longer than that becomes something of a chore to watch and take in.

    • Well, this is because I’m a fan of Gundam and you sound like you’re more a fan of good things (whatever your standards precisely lie). You see the distinction here? Gundam I value not because it’s great and stimulating and whatever else (these things are contingent to my mood — as there will be times that I won’t want anything to do with the whole thing), but because it is Gundam, the totality of its narratives, triumphs, disasters, horrors, etc.

      I may love something transcendent like War in the Pocket, but I love it even more because it is a Gundam show — that it makes an essay out of Al Izuruha being the child we once were and in some ways still are — geeking out about warfare and mobile suits. 0080 is very grown up in that it’s Al whose youth and naivete gets ground into hamburger; and perhaps us who feel as strongly as he does about our robots.

      It’s even stronger when it comes to Macross!

  16. Stormshrug says:

    Everyone who holds an opinion contrary to my own is probably doing it for the express purpose of trolling me. It’s the only reasonable explanation that somebody would defend Code Geass R2.

  17. Whatsht says:

    After reading most of the comments, i have to say this to other fans of gundam who are arguing over which is shit, if you are a gundam fan, appreciate every series and not say this series is shit, this is not. Due to my personality, i love protecting gundam series that gets attacked by its fans(friendly fire?). Typing on my phone sucks, im continuing this later.

    • LOL I don’t mind hate, as long as it’s real and when fans like me hate it’s for reals and not some play to act big and look down on others or try to be an authority on matters of taste, ugh.

      Like I’ve said many times. I love all of Gundam, which is why I feel free to pile on the shittiest shows in the franchise. Being a fan isn’t believing your pet show is INFALLIBLE, but rather it’s how you’re willing to forgive it for whatever crap it sends your way… that you’re going to love it anyway in some form.

      • WhatSht says:

        agree, why fight over which is better when they are all “gundam”? It’s all part of a huge series called ” Gundam”, arguing with one another about which gundam is better is like civic wars in a country, true fans should protect the series from fans of other series, not take down each other.

        most debates i joined in because of my personality are about “XX series is so much better than this!” and SEED is always the victim, people compare it with 00, wing, UC, etc, and always talk about the bad points of SEED, never talking about good points. Come on, they are all just powerful/cool machines labelled as “Gundam”, what is there to argue about when we are all fans of it?

        • Plenty!

          But what I’m counseling against is the bad blood, the nastiness that aren’t directed at the shows but at people. I want fans to enjoy arguing with each other, because that’s what fans do — my best mates and I argue all the time about Gundam. But obviously we don’t hate EACH OTHER because one of us loves Victory (yuck).

          One of the best things to argue about are the robots! Which is better?!? For that, I invite you to this

  18. Pingback: Hero of the Weak: Tiger and Bunny 08 (Also Why I Should Be Part of the Writing Team For This Show, Para-text Section) | We Remember Love

  19. Gene says:

    I really enjoyed this article someone basically saying, it’s okay to debate about the series, have your opinion but not to shove it down everyone’s throat or act superior cause they don’t like what you do, and make it personal, wish more people talked like this

    • Thank you, and you’ll find that the discussion community on this blog is mostly free of the assholes that pollute the internet, or at least, us assholes behave better when we’re talking about anime and manga on this blog.

  20. A.r. says:

    I’ve long figured there is no one Gundam fandom, just separate fandoms that vary greatly in diversity and dynamic. Separate fandoms that, for the most part, avoid each other like the plague and amongst the UC fandom especially consider the other ones “disgraces” and what not. Granted there is some cross pollination, especially in recent years, but this attitude is still alive and well in UC especially.

    I wonder if some of it can be traced to the Toonami days when the Wing fandom was alive and ruling the scene. It was the Hetalia fandom of its day, being both one of the biggest anime fandoms on the scene and one the the biggest gatherings and sources of fangirl insanity. I can see why the UC fans of the day wanted to distance themselves as much as possible from it and probably were resentful of still being associated with it by the word “Gundam”. Unfortunately they’ve still clung to these attitudes of elitism and wariness of anyone with differing opinions even though the Wing fandom is long gone save for a few desperate souls.

    I’m in a strange position since I’m a female fan who got in through 08th MS Team at the age of 12. After ten years I’ve seen more elitism and backhanded shaming directed at me than I can shake a stick at. Even though I’ve always been into UC and especially in the beginning had a very vocal dislike of Wing, I still feel like the fandom gurus just kind of (barely) tolerated me but didn’t ever think of me as a “real” fan, at least not one who deserves to be on their level. True, I’ve said and done plenty of dumb shit, but so do most awkward teenagers. I don’t know if some silly, fangirly post I made when I was 14 can be held to the same accountability as something written by a 20-something year-old.

    My silliness aside, it seems like a good chunk of the crap isn’t because I’m legitimately acting stupid, but because my tastes in characters have always been at odds with the fandom majority. Gundam fandom elitism doesn’t just come in the form of series elitism, but character choices as well IMHO. Well-liked characters are perfectly okay to heap with praise and even whitewash (see Char Aznable), but heaven forbid someone try to give say, Quess Paraya the time of day other than to bash her into the ground (I’ve gotten people telling me to kill myself for saying I liked her). My favorite of all is Ghinius Sakhalin, and it seems like if you try to argue him as anything other than a 1-dimensional monster, you’re a dumb fangirl over-analyzing things. Of course it’s okay to have 10-page threads over-analyzing mech specifics or a popular character like Ranba Ral or Anavel Gato, but Ghinius apparently isn’t allowed anywhere near the same consideration. No one important likes him, and clearly the fandom majority is what’s right and anyone who says differently is automatically full of shit and not worth listening to.

    I don’t ask people agree with my views, I just wish I wasn’t treated like some silly fantard whose views have no basis in canon and are thus unworthy. But it seems like the only way I’ll get that respect from people is if I denounce my opinions and change my feelings about my favorite characters, force myself to like characters I don’t (Char Aznable and Shiro Amada come to mind), and parrot every opinion of the majority and be a good little hive mind. And even then, since I’m female, prefer characters to mechs, and like some slash and fanfiction I doubt I’d still be treated as a “real” UC fan (unless I denounce all those things as well). It seems like the only way to win is to give up every ounce of individuality I have, and I’d rather not do that.

    Other fandoms seem to welcome differing views/analysis (parts of the Utena fandom come to mind) since it can make for some great, intelligent discussion. But if you try it in the UC fandom, you’re looked down upon and invalidated. As much as this fandom has become a part of my identity, I don’t know if it’s really worth it to do anything other than stay in my corner, post my writings/fanfiction/essays/rants/etc to my personal journals and be ignored by most of the other fans and generally feel lonely as hell. I mean I guess I can’t blame them for not liking characters like Ghinius or Quess since they’re very much acquired tastes, but it still gets lonely and frustrating knowing that if I try to take my views about them to major fan forums I risk getting met with people trying their hardest to belittle and invalidate me while still coming across as “intelligent” and “right”.

    Holy giant rants Batman, the fuck I just type?

    • Excellent, and thank you.

      The character-centric fandom is a great observation. It’s like the mobile suits are secondary and the characters are everything (this is amazingly stupid to me). Gundam definitely has interesting characters, but to me liking anime with a character-centric mindset is extremely limiting the way it manifests in so many fandoms (well beyond Gundam… just look at the insane Ranka threads that my recent Macross Frontier posts all became). Even stupider, is how immature the character appreciation is.

      The fanboys/girls pet characters MUST be some kind of perfect being, Sues, all of them (but don’t tell that to the faggots).

      Let me tell you: the reason why Char Aznable is the greatest, best, and most fascinating character in all of anime is because of the sheer amount of fail in his story… ESPECIALLY how he falls apart in the end. CCA cemented his legacy. He wasn’t just this cool badass slick enemy that fags rejoiced for when he turned “good” by joining AEUG. He is this utterly small human being who not only wanted to fuck the Earth, but was willing to throw everything away out of some infantile bullshit with Amuro and Lalah. And yes, he fucked EVERYONE over leading up to his annihilation into space dust. It was amazing. Brilliant.

      BUT NO, Char has to be this justifiably dark hero, a freedom fighter consumed with his goal to do right. Well, fuck all of you Charfags. You don’t get Char. You want Char to be some kind of moe idol princess. He’s dirt. And all of us are enriched by his story.

      If you want to read and discuss Gundam intelligently, you’ve come to the right place.

      • A.r. says:

        I don’t know, I still notice more focus on the mechs overall. That’s fine and dandy, I just prefer characters myself. The mechs are cool, but for whatever reason I’m more interesting in analyzing the fuck out of characters instead of mechs.

        Agreed so much on Char. He’s a very deep, complex, fascinating character, but he is in no way, shape or form the noble anti-villain his rabid fans make him out to be. This is the man who stabbed his “best friend” in the back and offed his sister for something they had nothing to do with, used and abused numerous young girls, and in the end wanted to kill billions of people for some nutty ideal. As complex as he is, Char is still a monster a few steps away from Giren Zabi. The lengths his fans go to justify and blame his victims and insult anyone who doubts Char’s greatness is are almost sickening. And most hypocritically of all, a lot of them are the same people who think Ghinius is scum of the UC for what he did and get their panties in a bunch over him being anything other than this completely evil monster. Sure Ghinius is far from a saint, but if you think his backstabbing makes him completely vile, you shouldn’t act like Char is so mighty and noble. Pot, kettle, black, etc.

        And lest we forget Anavel Gato, one of the most rabid Giren fanboys we’ve seen in canon who fires a nuke for the Glory of Zeon ™. Fanboys love to treat him as this misunderstood hero, and indeed a point can be made of how convinced he was that he was doing right. However, the Giren fanboying and nuke are conveniently ignored in discussions of his greatness compared to characters like yucky Ghinius. Like the Char fanboys, I’ve seen Gato fanboys use being a Giren supporter as a point to bash Ghinius. Again, pot, kettle, black.

        I don’t know what it is about those characters that make fanboys latch onto them so much while at the same time they’re repulsed by a character like Ghinius. They all commit some pretty terrible and similar crimes, so why is it that the fanboys are willing to let it slide with Char and Gato yet Ghinius ignites this almost visceral revulsion and disgust? To the point that the very notion of someone not finding him 100% evil and wanting to analyze him as something other than a 1-dimensional monster means that person must have something wrong with them and should be shamed as much as possible for their opinions.

        Blarg, in case you can’t tell I’ve spent way too much time waging war in defense of my favorite character.

        • Well, people (ergo characters) are more familiar to viewers than robotics is… or so they think.

          As we’ve seen, the appreciation of fictional characters have so much to do with their idealization and less about the totality of their entertainment value.

          Ghineas to me, is indeed scum… but I like that about him. So is Ghiren, so is Gato. What makes them interesting is that there are portrayals of them — Gato in particular, that makes them more completely human than just some cartoony villain.

          Allow me to digress a little.

          This character hypocrisy is less striking but is even more obvious in the appreciation of female characters. Now there’s oceans of ink spilled on the fail associated with moe preferences, but here’s a relevant example:

          Minmay.

          The hate and vitriol thrown at her is ludicrous. SDF Macross too, is a clever essay on the then nascent idol industry. The idols then and now are portrayed publicly as pure, perfect, harmless little girls — which allow socially maladjusted otaku to latch onto them in their way. Minmay was the Wizard behind the curtain, the naked emperor… here’s an idol, she is human, and a bitch and a half. Deal with it. This is Macross being brilliant.

          I actually got sucked into some stupid discussion where iDOLM@STER fags were trying to IMPRESS me with their pet idols.

          Bottom line, elitist fags think they know characters, they think they know human beings. They’re wrong.

          • A.r. says:

            Well I mean, turning a somewhat cartoony character into a fleshed out human being can be wonderful (in a way I think that’s what I try to do with Ghinius). However, that doesn’t mean justifying their less-than savory actions. I do get sick of the mockery and belittling I get for interpreting and presenting Ghinius that way though, like he’s so especially horrible of a character that giving him any depth is stupid and the person doing so is clearly lower on the fandom foodchain than Gato or Char fans. Ghinius to me is a very human character. I like him not because he’s any kind of admiral being, but because he’s a raw, insecure, fucked-up, self-loathing, repressed, unstable, self-destructive little bastard full of unhealthy coping mechanisms, horrendous abandonment issues, and is just all-around a fascinating character. Without those traits he wouldn’t be Ghinius, and he wouldn’t be any fun.

            Perhaps he induces the disgust he does not just because of his actions alone, but because unlike Gato and Char he’s not hidden behind the facade of cool ace pilot with a custom suit. He’s sickly, effeminate, and pilots nothing until the end. There is no “cool factor” about him to lure in and motivate fanboys to cheer for him. Gato and Char do equally repulsive things, but because they’re behind the shiny walls of cool nicknames and custom suits fanboys let it slide. It’s kind of shallow if that’s that case. Much like fangirls willing to forgive Sephiroth or Draco for their nastiness because of their pretty bishie looks.

            While I don’t forgive or justify Ghinius’s actions (you can’t), I do sympathize with him on a level. Believe me, I also get shit for that. True, it probably sounds crazy and forced, and maybe it is, but I don’t come from a normal situation and I’m inclined to relate to a character like that more than I should. The subject of how people from abnormal and unhealthy situations relate to and interpret characters and series in another subject that could make for some fascinating exploration IMHO, but I guess that’s something to poke another day.

            Oh, female characters can never win. It’s like Quess Paraya being a realistic 13 year-old instead of a vapid, sugary mascot. How dare she. She’s scum, and committed a far graver crime than the man who wants to drop an asteroid on the Earth! And to not have an insane, rabid hatred of her is a crime against the UC fandom punishable by death. But then Lacus is the vapid, sugary mascot and guess what? She’s still scum.

          • You’re right. Ghineas is a sniveling nerd.

            He reminds people, whether they know it or not, of the kind of sniveling nerds they are — only that Ghineas is much better looking.

            Unlike Char and Gato, who are jocks, Ghineas doesn’t get moments of awesome, never mind crowning moments.

            Jesus Christ Lacus is an unprintable horror. In SEED she is introduced as this retarded piece of cuteness, then disappears for awhile. When she returns, she’s basically Lafiel Abriel. It’s utter nonsense how this character is constructed.

  21. Pingback: A.r. On The Fractured Gundam Fandoms | The Ghosts of Discussions

  22. A.r. says:

    Either that or he pings the subconscious disgust for men who are effeminate, weak, passive (aggressive), and sexually questionable that the sissy villain archetype intends to hit on. From a Queer Theory standpoint, Ghinius fails at pretty much everything a man is “supposed” to do and be (he’s even dependent on a woman!), hence he elicits disgust from those raised with heteronormative ideals. More than likely it’s a combination of both him being a frail, appearance-conscious pansy, and him being a reminder of the more realistic type of role those fans would play in the OYW: sniveling nerds developing stuff in the background, taking a backseat to the jocks in the cockpits. Only spending less time in front of the mirror with a flat iron or in expensive clothes stores.

    Doesn’t SEED in general have tremendous writing problems? I know I should probably see it before hating, but I’ve avoided it since from what I hear Kira especially would make me want to punch something valuable. Plus I have more important things to watch. I have friends that like though.

    • I’m totally with you re Ghineas, queer theory and all.

      SEED has more problems than I can go into here, more problems that I ever got into here. But I have become the kind of fan of Gundam that I have to watch everything… no matter how terrible. It’s part of what I find so fascinating with the franchise in general.

      I certainly don’t recommend it to anyone who tries their best to only watch what they think would be excellent material.

      I do think that people watch for different reasons and with different approaches to fulfillment, that shouldn’t be collapsed/confused with critical appreciation.

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