I’ve mentioned this before, and I’ll probably repeat myself over and over: I like updates in anime shows. I like retellings and I like remakes. Why? It’s fundamental to why I like anime in the first place: animation. I like illustrations a lot, and when they move, I like them even more.
As much as I can appreciate older shows (it’s not a problem for me really, as I’m old enough for them to be cutting edge animation when I saw them first (or when they aired)…ugh. But I generally like the advances made in digital animation and enjoy how many new shows look.
I’m not interested in a dichotomy between Miyazaki Hayao’s ideals and the supposed decline of animation skill in the industry. That may even be true, but it’s not something I’m interested in this post. I picked this moment from Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn 02 precisely because it looks great.
Here is part of it:
It is amazing in part due to the aversion from many if not all of what kept me from thinking highly of mobile suit battles in Gundam. I reproduce my list from this post:
- Variable damage (weapons arbitrarily get weaker, targets arbitrarily become impervious to weapons)
- Shouting matches concerning ideology and morals during fighting. And by during fighting I mean when you’re supposedly giving your all to lock on and shoot the other guy, concentrating like hell to avoid gunfire; or swinging a robot sword hand using levers, pedals, and buttons.
- Standing around and not finishing a target off so as to allow a dramatic dialogue or scene to pass, then getting killed precisely because said drama was allowed to pass.
- Stealing into, or just plain stealing mobile suits easier than stealing panties.
- Remote beam weapons flying within reach of beam swords/melee weapons.
- Hell, finding it easier to engage opponents with swords than it is to shoot them
- HUGGING ROBOTS IN SPACE.
It isn’t just the avoidance of these pet peeves of mine. The battle used the environment. The asteroid and debris were factors. As I’ve mentioned in that post, the details in the fight felt like it meant something – the jettisoned parts, the finite ammunition, the damage incurred.
In the 1980s, shows like Armored Trooper Votoms and Super Dimension Fortress Macross shared a few things in common with action movies like Rambo, Commando, and many others even less remarkable. These shows featured hordes of enemy soldiers who seemed to exist only for the purpose of being gunned down by the heroes.
While I think the UC Gundam shows never had this problem (and it’s truly a remarkable thing), it’s even more exemplary in Gundam Unicorn. We can tell that the Grancieres ship only had a few suits, maybe only two with the Geara Zulu already taken out in the first episode, and then the Kshatriya with a damaged wing/armor segment, as well as losing most of its funnels.
These things make up a high level of verisimilitude that I crave for in robot anime, especially Gundam. Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn let me see it in 21st-century big-budget OVA glory. Sure, Macross Frontier: The False Songstress had prettier robots, faster dogfights, and generally better animation… but this is Gundam, and it’s serious business (a comical idea for sure, but indulge me), and the best robot action is when it’s serious business (see Macross Zer0, and Macross Plus, and Mobile Suit Gundam: MS Igloo 2).
What are your favorite moments in Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn so far? What are your favorite robot battles this year?
Haven’t seen any Gundam at all? Don’t know where to start? Find your Gateway Gundam!