14 July 2001 | Chris Beilby
The Animé that redefined a genré.
In fall of 1979, Kidô Senshi Gandamu (Translated as Mobile Suit Gundam) premiered on japanese television to low ratings and general disinterest among japanese youth. The main problem is that most of the kids who watched Giant Robot animé were used to the thin plots and superheroic meka of the older shows, most of which were little more than thirty minute long toy commercials. They didn't know what to make of the complex plot and deep characters. So the show was canceled, and ended nine episodes early.
However, some months later, something unusual happened. While Gundam toys were gathering dust on the shelves, highly detailed scale model kits based on the show's Mobile Suits were selling incredibly well. And while the japanese networks were offering 'more of the same' in first run broadcast, this little known and seemingly unpopular series was gathering a huge fan following in syndication...
Now, 20 years later, we in the US finally are going to get to see what started it all. I can't believe that such shows as Macross (Robotech: The Macross Saga) and Armor Trooper Votoms, which are the direct line decendants of Gundam in storytelling and portrayal of realistic mecha, would be brought to these shores years ago, while the show that started it all would be left to languish until now.
The way was paved by 1995's visually beautiful, but ultimately empty Gundam Wing. While this was a wise business choice for Bandai, knowing that the spectacular visuals would capture the attention of the 'all important' kids's market, we dedicated fans can't help but wish that the original had been the first one released. Wing, while visually spectacular, is little more than a muddled and overly preachy and pretentious pastiche of the Universal Century saga (Gundam,Zeta Gundam, ZZ Gundam, and Gundam: Char's Counterattack) with out the cohesion of plot that the original shows contain (Although with ZZ, cohesion of plot can be argued.)
Yes, I know that the animation doesn't stand up to Gundam Wing. However, what do you expect? The show was made over 20 years ago. If you want eye candy, go watch Wing. If you want a truly outstanding story and characters, join me to watch the original Gundam, the most influential and important animé of all time, or, if you don't have Cartoon Network, at least watch the compilation movies (Sub only though, as poor Neil Nadelman was for some reason forced to use Star Trek doubletalk in the script for the dub.)