MO­biLe suiT gun­Dam

Robot Wars

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Reviews -

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?

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