MObiLe suiT gunDam
released OUT NOW! (Part One)/TBC january (Part Two) 1979-1980 | PG | Blu-ray Director Yoshiyuki Tomino Cast shuuichi Ikeda, Tohru Furuya, Hirotaka suzuoki, rumiko Ukai
Debuting in Britain in two Blu-ray volumes (released a month apart), Mobile Suit Gundam is a true landmark of anime and TV SF. Like vintage British telefantasy, this 1979 serial takes a budget that probably wouldn’t cover the first shot of Star Wars and creates an epic space opera, bulging with battles in space and across a war-torn Earth.
Ostensibly made for kids, Gundam doesn’t have evil aliens or Darth Vaders. Instead, it presents a human war with no clear right or wrong, letting us cross the lines and engage with both sides. Plus it has masses of giant robots.
Geeky Amuro is a boy inventor whose space colony becomes a battlefield in the first episode. The lad tumbles into the driver’s seat of an experimental military robot, the eponymous Gundam. His rival is Char (pronounced “Shar”), a wily, brilliant young commander on the enemy side who rides a mean robot himself, and is irked by the newbie combatant.
To enjoy Gundam you have to be tolerant of old TV animation. The show looks far livelier than most American TV cartoons of the ’70s (and indeed ’80s), but it still looks dated and often crude, especially in the big battle scenes. As a story, it’s tightest and most exciting in the early episodes; later on, the series gets plodding in places. But it works hard to build compelling character arcs. It also saves some of its biggest moments for the end, taking Amuro into paranormal, psychedelic territory. In the end, Gundam is a hugely satisfying watch – a show you sense was as much an epic journey for its creators as it was for its cartoon heroes.
Extras Part One has clean credits only. Part Two will include a “30th anniversary staff interview”. Andrew Osmond
You were expecting him to carry a knife?