Check-in Station: Gundam AGE eps 1-15 (The worst dreams are the ones that give you what you want.)

I’ll eat a little crow on this one.  I did tweet that I was gonna enjoy “oldfag” hating on Gundam AGE before the series got started.  I figured that with the kiddie designs and some of the mecha designs I peeked at that I wouldn’t get too deep and my enjoyment wouldn’t extend past laughing at its attempts at greatness.  Sure there may be some surprise moments of awesome, but I had placed my bets on Gundam Unicorn impressing me.  But once I started watching I started to wonder if would just be “remembering love” or if this would truly make me “see the tears of time”.

Gundam AGE has made an interesting “gumbo” with the Gundam mythology, its key elements and history so far.  Even the early  episodes I couldn’t realy pin down to one or even two Gundam series.  Flit’s age reminded me of Uso (Victory Gundam), Yurin gave me thoughts of Tiffa (Gundam X), and of course the Gundam and the colony strike hearken all the way back to the original 0079.  It hints at aliens (something only Gundam 00 even attempted to play with, results left up to opinion), and incorporates possibly its one controversial element (in my opinion anyway).  The AGE system.

I suppose the AGE System, which appears to be a super computer attached to some super tech creating  massive manufacturing/fabricating unit, is the series equivalent and replacement for the Gundam metaverse’s traditional “plot armor”.  Most Gundam shows use Gundanium, a mythical alloy that gave the machine its super endurance.  The SEED universe replaced it with Phase – shift armor (a very interesting, flawed idea).  G Gundam seemed to replace Gundanium with a combination of GAR and Guts.  Gundam Wing literally used not only Gundanium, but actual plot armor itself in the way important characters in grunt mobile units would take significantly more damage before going down, as opposed to their actual grunt counterparts.  Gundam AGE has managed to attach itself to the Gundam metaverse in its own way.   Allowing the Gundam to become stronger or faster as the super computer saw fit.

The other way it attaches itself to Gundam tradition is through the use of the term …ugh, “X-Rounder”.  It seems like an extremely simplified and unromantic take on the famous Newtype theme.  The even attribute an X-Rounder’s heightened abilities to a scientifically (by anime standards) identified X-Region.  UGH!  I’ll make myself perfectly clear when I say I HATE the term.  And it’s clearly an example of me “oldfag” hating on the series.  But the term feels way too dry and straigh forward for me.  I guess calling people psychic or Newtypes is no longer in style, but I just can’t let it go.

Somethings just as important as the plot armor and special pilots to Gundam are  the kid pilots and the captains.  Flit is as young as any Gundam pilot I’ve seen, and I severely underestimated him.  Someone who I thought was just a mentally talented and driven, but naive kid turned out to be one hell of a pilot once he got a little experience and got pushed a bit.  I expected Flit to just rely on his plot armor and mobile suit.  But Flit has shown to be good leader, an excellent pilot who could even hang with real aces like Woolf, and an absolute natural “Newtype” (yeah, I’m stubborn).  He accesses his “abilities” with a command even SEED’s aces had trouble managing.  While Kira and Athrun from SEED seemed to need an emotional trigger, Flit seemed to be able to focus and dig it out.  Maybe it’s an apples to oranges thing comparing X-Rounder abilities with SEED factors and even Newtype flashes.  But it does show that the writers are allowing him to have a high level of discipline and skill I didn’t think he’d be allowed so early in the series.  That overachieving kid has turned into an exceptional, though potentially traumatized human being.

Another exceptional human being in this series Captain Grodek.  I didn’t know what to think of Grodek at first, I was quick to compare him to the legendary Bright Noa for convenience reasons, but he’s no Bright.  He doesn’t really compare to any of the commanders and captains I can think of in Gundam.  He really is a renegade.  This man had one mission.  To make the UE pay for killing his family.  By the end of this story arc, I was expecting him to torture his enemies Punisher style.  But despite my fears he turned out to be an excellent and driven leader, as opposed to the blood thirsty maniac he easily could have been.  I still say that ground assault on the Ambat fortress was pretty dumb and insane, but I would probably blame that more on grandiose writers.  The point is that that man was a beast, and may very well be what Flit turns into in the future given how alike they seemed to be and the events that ended the fifteenth episode.

The one thing that really threw me off was the UE.  It was bad enough that in the beginning they were advertised as aliens, that immediately threw me off.  I don’t take kindly to new things like aliens being in my Gundam.  I didn’t believe it for awhile, then I did believe when I saw them.  Then I saw that the series had a thing for really weird hairstyles and colors, so I thought that maybe they were a race of “Cyber Newtype” type beings created and forgotten by the Earth government.  It turns out I had been led in a circle and that the UE were just abandoned humans with advanced technology.  In a roundabout way, they used the UE as a new angle on the old Zeon standard.

Ghost corrected me in the comment section of his episode 15 post, I had completely forgotten about the Jovians of the UC timeline.  The Veigans would be more of a apt comparison, but with some Zeon elements in there, too.  Seeing as how a Jovian, Paptimus Scirrocco is one of my favorite Gundam characters, this adds an additional bit of joy to me watching the series’ second “age”.  I can think of it a little as Scirrocco’s buddies waging a war on the Earth Sphere.  Joy!

During the One Year War of the original 0079, you could always have compared the “space men/spacenoids” of the Universal Century to aliens.  At the time their mobile suits were highly advanced technology, they invaded the Earth, and you could say they were on a campaign of revenge against the abusive, yet neglectful Federation government.  In that way, these faux-spacemen of Gundam AGE are exactly the same.  It’s a wonderful idea, and I’m very glad I was exposed to it.

All these elements have been combined to help make this a very solid, very accessible and fun Gundam franchise so far.  The series isn’t without its weak points.  Despite the show getting rather dark and a bit more graphic near the end of the arc, the writing and plotting for some of the episodes felt a little too familiar and simple at times.  Situations  I thought could have been more tense and complicated were often resolved through convenient plot points and techniques.  The timely arrival of an enemy or friend in the middle of a tense situation.  Predictable solutions to problems happened a little too often for me.  And I didn’t feel like the pacing allowed some of the characters and relationships to blossom fully. Yes, I’m saying some of the dreaded character development episodes were needed in this series.  Admit it, sometimes there needs to be some real quiet moments for this to really stick and feel significant.  Flit and Yurin’s relationship being the biggest victim of this failure.

For those reasons, I’m inclined to compare this to another favored show of mine, Fairy Tail.   Both shows have excellent elements and use the lessons of the successes and failures of their respective lineages and genres to build a unique and distinctive niche for themselves.  But unfortunately, some of the elements are so familiar, and so well worn to veteran like me that I fail to be emotionally moved by their key elements.  Though to both their credits, Yurin’s death and some scenes in Fairy Tail I have found genuinely powerful.

I’m hoping with the next “age” of Gundam AGE we’ll get to be more invested in the characters.  We already have the added bonus of seeing how the characters from this age grow and progress.  I have a feeling Flit may be a bit bitter and obsessed.  Though it looks like his son is gonna be quite the firecracker.  I wonder if Woolf may be a bit more sympathetic to the Veigans’ cause?  I don’t think we’ve really seen  our Char equivalent in this show quite, yet.  Desil looks like he’s going to grow up to be a very good villain.  Though I do worry that they’ll just saddle him with the loser villain role after losing so handily to Flit.

"Is he born with that hair, or does he really work at that every morning?"Ract is a character that also shouldn’t be forgotten.  Though how could anyone miss that hair?  He could be an influential ace pilot, but I think I would like to see him captain a ship.  With Grodek out of the way (for now), I think he’d be an excellent replacement the next campaign.  And most of all, I’m looking forward to seeing if  the second “age” takes more cues from the Universal Century and we see a show more similar to Zeta Gundam.  The seeds of hate have already been sewn.  And Gundam AGE has shown us in the past three episodes that it doesn’t fear its bloody roots.

Gundam AGE clearly has quite a way to go, both literally and figuratively , but I feel good about this show now.  It’s a complete 180 from how I felt about the series a few months ago.  And to me that equals success.  I greatly look forward to seeing what the series has in store for the future.  And maybe if it does things just right, it will squeeze those precious “tears” from me.

ghostlightning:

Some of these numbskulls twisted my arm and said they wanted in on this post. DonKangolJones unfortunately has to take it like a man.

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18 Responses to Check-in Station: Gundam AGE eps 1-15 (The worst dreams are the ones that give you what you want.)

  1. Reid says:

    I completely agree with your assessment, good sir, and with that of your panel, which, by the way, may be the best one yet assembled.

    1. Gato/Grodek – men driven to omnicidal revenge + bada$$ hair + cool names + lots of mental anguish + resolution to endure a grim fate = awesome
    2. Gihren Zabi/Flit – I just about died laughing here. I mean, not that genocide is a laughing matter but…well, let’s just say I hope Flit doesn’t turn out to be like Gihren. Just because he didn’t go all “I want everyone to hold hands” like, say, Setsuna F. Seiei did doesn’t mean he’ll turn into a maniac like Hitler-worshipping Gihren. I’d say Flit is the best of the “next-generation” Gundam protagonists so far.
    3. Woolf – yes, he is. There is no limit to my hero worship of this guy. He’s my favorite big brother-type guy in an anime series in a long time. I like it how he didn’t take long to show he wasn’t a jerk and his mobile suits stole the show in the first third of “Gundam Age.” As I’ve said before, Largan is who I AM, but Woolf is who I WANT TO BE.
    4. Sayla – you’re a sad woman. I’m sorry Amuro didn’t want you after having floaty space conversations in his head with some girl he met for about 15 minutes one time. Hopefully Flit will be nicer to Emily, who I really liked.
    5. Char – You’re the man. End of story. I know you aren’t really a pedobear, and you know it too; that’s why it’s so much fun to just go along with the joke.

    • I’m amazed at how Ghost always has a new profile pic of Char for each and every Gundam post. Speaking of which, doesn’t Char have anything to do besides show up for these Gundam posts? Is he getting speaker’s fee for guest appearing in We Remember Love? ‘Cause I’m not paying it. That was all Ghost’s idea.

      • Reid says:

        Well, being dead, he’s got plenty of time. Unless he really is Full Frontal, but I doubt it. Casval has better hair, for one.

        Seriously though, Ghost be making it worth Char’s while to keep showing up – pretty much for the sole purpose of goading haters/parental groups with his semi-inappropriate comments about young chicks. In reality, he’s making so much money on all these guest appearances that he won’t be able to use the “I don’t make enough money” excuse too much longer. Nanai is gonna tell him to put a ring on it sooner or later, after all.

  2. Taka says:

    Fuck. does this mean I have to pick this show back up…

  3. sadakups says:

    Yeah, the show has some questionable writing, although it hasn’t reached the point where it really contradicts itself and reaches the level of writing of “because we said so” as explanation. I agree though that calling this show’s Newtypes “X-Rounders” really felt off for me, but believe me, the kids find it cool.

    The first generation is entertaining enough for me, and I guess the “wait and see” attitude I have prior to the show worked out despite my apprehensions. The initial impressions (especially by rAGErs) really added to my initial apprehension, but guess what, the rAGErs can suck their own dicks. It didn’t turn out like what they thought the show’s gonna be.

    I’m pretty much excited watching Generation 2 since Generation 1 pretty much laid out the foundation and all it needs to do is expand on it. Will it try to be a Zeta or will it try to deviate from it?

    • I’m definitely betting on them doing some sort of play on Zeta Gundam. The Gundam franchise definitely has a habit of taking the Lego playset it has and just rearranging the pieces to make something that looks different, but isn’t actually that different. AGE is definitely no exception.

      I think I was one of those rAGErs too early on, I changed my tune pretty quick though.

      And as for the kids thinking that X-Rounder crap is cool….*picks up cane*
      You can tell those little bastards to get the hell on!

  4. Kaioshin Sama says:

    Ract and Don Boyage may very well have been the most surprising characters to me in this first generation arc. When they first showed up they seemed like they would end up being throw away idiot side actors in just how goofy they’re whole feud with each other was, but once they cut the nonsense with the fake warring and got down to business they both ended up demonstrating some incredibly feats of courage, skill and bravery in quite possibly the shittiest mobile suits the show had to offer and seemed to have formed a bromance with each other and had an influence on Flit in the end. I wonder if Flit might well rediscover what he taught them at some point in the second since the irony is that he’s basically starting to become jaded and revenge obsessed with regard to the UE/Veigans in a way that I can already see making him act similar to them in terms of his outlook in the second generation. Living in the past, unable to let old grudges go etc.

    If Ract ends up coming up to Flit and basically parroting his words back to Flit during the second generation it’s going to get pretty interesting. Actually I’m going to call that as a thing that’s going to happen.

  5. I’d like to think that Ract may become the moral compass of the second age, too. I’d like to think that’s the whole reason they beat those lesson into him in the first age. I’d like to think Woolf may have that role as well. He’s seemed that a real stand up guy since him and Flit started getting along.

  6. Pingback: The Start Of The Second Age: Mobile Suit Gundam AGE 16 | We Remember Love

  7. Pingback: DonKangolJones’ Images of the Week: January 30th (chill out man, enjoy the ride!) « the Check-in Station

  8. Henry says:

    I wanna see the new Gundam design in this series. I also want to check the story.

  9. Pingback: Sunrise Loves the Little Children: Mobile Suit Gundam AGE 1 – 15 « Those Damn Cartoons!

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