G Gundam – Episode 1

Hello and welcome! Today I’m starting on a new notes project – G Gundam, the most hot-blooded and over-the-top of all Gundam properties. G Gundam actually embraces the camp inherent in giant robots, and harkens back more to classic super robots than the variably serious scifi stylings that Gundam helped bring to the genre. I’m not really fond of super robots on the whole, but I can enjoy a robot show executed with great flair or personality (Giant Robo, Turn A Gundam), so I guess we’ll have to see where this one falls. Let’s get right into the action!

Episode 1

Jeez, this is already camp as hell even just in the OP. One director trying to forcibly drag the needle of giant robot storytelling back thirty years

G Gundam

With this and Giant Robo coming out at roughly the same time, it must have felt a bit like a resurgence… until Evangelion came along and blew all prior assumptions about anime/giant robot storytelling away

Not to say that Evangelion was entirely without precedent, of course. But it certainly changed the landscape

A drop of water falls like a tear from his sword’s sheath to a photo of his father. Symbolism!

And then we see him lift up his sword in time with the guy in the background – Master Asia, who I’ve heard will basically play that role for him in the narrative

The show title is on the beam sword, excellent

G Gundam

This very different style of piloting giant robots makes it much easier to play this as a hot-blooded fighting show, as opposed to a scifi drama. Shifting knobs and dials gives an element of real-world presence that many scifi narratives crave, but this show clearly wants to establish itself more as a fantasy

Christ, SHINING FINGER is such an ANIME attack name

Looks like we’re in some sort of post-apocalypse – Neo-everything, and the “once beautiful Earth”

The beautiful blooming flowers of robots falling from space. War stories very often have trouble not glamorizing their subject matter, and anime in particular is very happy to fetishize killing machines. A show like G Gundam can avoid this dilemma through camp, and just revel in the beauty of exertion

G Gundam

Apocalyptic imagery, the gundam framed as a massive black destroyer

Its cold yellow eye cocooned in rock, like it’s some kind of demon

“The guys in the Colonies don’t care about the Earth”

Oh my god, this guy’s gang of ridiculous Escape from New York punks. I forgot what 80s Anime Punks are like

Some charming child pickpockets

G Gundam

This is a world that has given up

And of course, our hero is looking for his dad

A simpler time, when all bad guys had terrible chins and lopsided eyes

Why do guys who look like this pick fights with guys who wear capes

“Is this guy part of your group?” So our hero has very little faith in his father

G Gundam

“Admit you’re a Gundam Fighter.” The cops are very good at recognizing main characters

Domon Kasshu is our lead

Oh my god, this framing. The long pan back as he tears apart his passport. This show loves the melodrama

The cops hate him, but the kids love him

This dead city is a pretty evocative opening setting. I like that the show begins by framing its Gundam Fights from the perspective of the cityfolk who have to suffer through them

G Gundam

“How can a guy like that represent our country?” “Because he’s strong”

Apparently the Gundam Fighter was waiting behind the wall for someone to mention him

Oh my god, this guy’s giant Bowser shoulderpads

A super-kick sends Domon flying back!

“If you want her back, come to our base alone!”

G Gundam

The girl is Rain, and she has some broken-ass shield ability

I feel like loving this show requires a bit more love for giant robots than I have – unlike Giant Robo or JoJo, it lacks the unique charm or aesthetic execution to be sold on its own merits

The government framed as useless

“I’m not going to watch you guys destroy this city any further.” I get the feeling this police officer is going to learn a valuable lesson about the power of main characters

Hah, and we just don’t even include the scene of Domon escaping. Okay, so there is plenty of genre awareness here

G Gundam

“Gundam Fighters are nothing but scum.” I have seen nothing to counter that assumption!

This is a show where a low-level bad guy can kick a bullet to deflect it into cutting a rope while guitars wail in the background

Ah good, Domon caught all their bullets

“The King of Hearts, Domon Kasshu!” Our hero starts as a badass, which I guess is kind of a necessary choice in this genre

This is certainly a step down from Turn A!

G Gundam

I wonder how classic Gundam fans must have felt about this new show? It kinda peels back the veneer of every assumption Gundam specifically takes for granted

This Gundam is apparently powered by latex

Plenty of match cuts aligning the Gundam with Domon’s own motions. These are giant robots, but in truth this is a martial arts show

Which is kind of disappointing, since normally one of the most interesting parts of these shows is how lumbering and inhuman these machines are. I like shows that emphasize the tactile nature of these horrible machines

The earth is surrounded by a giant laser boxing ring

G Gundam

Now I understand why the bad guy was wearing such a stupid outfit – he was just planning to rip it off anyway. No need to waste his best jean jacket on that

The enemy Gundam shoots lasers out of its feet. Well, you gotta start small

Competitions exist to prevent all-out wars between the Colonies – instead, the Earth is used as a battleground for proxy fights. Huh

“Earns the right to rule all of space.” Yeah, this is some flaky worldbuilding. But this is a silly show, so…

There’s this compelling sadness to the fate of the earth, and some striking imagery, but it’s difficult to square that with everything else

G Gundam

Love these shots of the police officer as a boy

“You may have those silver feet… but I’ve got these golden fingers!”

Looot of stills in this episode. Really not much animation

Both this and stuff like Kill la Kill are playing on the same legacy, a legacy that really doesn’t do much for me

“It’s the pizza I promised you”

G Gundam

And that’s that! So far, G Gundam is kind of hitting an unfortunate middle point for me – not leaning into its camp enough to be fully entertaining that way, not leaning enough into its actually pretty compelling worldbuilding to gain much emotional weight, and not executed with enough polish to impress purely as an aesthetic object. From what I’ve seen, this show’s fans actually do care about its characters, but I’m pretty far from that at the moment – the hot-bloodedness here just kinda distances me, and it’s got a children’s show structure. Plus, turning giant robots purely into expressions of martial arts mastery kinda drains them of what limited resonance they do possess. We’ll have to see if it can hook me from here!

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