26 August 2009 | xamtaro
Gundam as a "Street Fighter" game and Kung Fu movie with shonen anime elements
When they first mentioned "alternate universe" Gundam series, i naturally expected a series different from that created by Yoshiyuki Tomino or even other alternate universe series like Gundam Seed(which was the first Gundam series i watched). Mobile Fighter G Gundam felt so far removed from the stories of war that have become synonymous with the Gundam franchise that it came as a huge surprise to me.
G Gundam seemed to cash in on the popularity of Hong Kong "wuxia" movies like "Stormriders" and fighting games like "Street Fighter" that had gained a huge following from 1991 to 1994. I can safely say that the plot is fairly intriguing on the surface level. It takes place in year 60 of the Future Century, during the 13th Gundam Fight where we follow Neo Japan's representative Domon Kasshu who's mission is two-fold: win the tournament for Neo Japan as well as track down his brother who had stolen the mysterious Devil Gundam from the Neo-Japan government.
The central themes have moved away from the typical war and politics. Most of the themes center around the individual characters and interpersonal relationships. There is a hinting of a political theme here and there but it is never fully pursued. An environmental theme which seemed very common in the early 90s is also present but i would not want to spoil too much about what it involves.
Along the way Domon meets many bizarre characters and fellow fighters, some of whom he befriends. Too bad that almost the entire cast seem to be just re-threads of the usual stock characters and I know some people might find the portrayal of many of the side characters as slightly insulting to the countries they represent.( i don't think i need to go into details but i'll just mention "SCUD" Gundam representing neo-arabia. There are many others). The main characters only come across as mildly interesting with much of their motives(Fighting for his lost honor, fighting to free loved ones from prison, fighting to prove his manhood etc) seemingly "tacked on" just to provide some illusion of character development. There is even a attempt at a love story in the later part of the series that just seems to pop out from nowhere. Thankfully their interactions with each other are fun to watch and is helped along by some tremendous acting by the Japanese cast.
The English dub for this series was horrendous, which was a real pity actually. G Gundam's multi racial cast could have benefited from having different accents or even mixed languages(eg: Neo Japanese characters speak Japanese, french characters speak french, Chinese characters speak Chinese etc etc). Not only does the English dub for this series sound flat, everyone sounds.........Canadian; no effort at all is made to give the cast a variety of accents.
What i could not stand most of all was the tendency for this series to fall into the trappings of typical shonen anime staples. The constant "powering up" and learning new techniques got really old back in Dragonball Z. Sadly, even the animation is as dated as Dragonball Z with some well animated stock footage inter-spliced with the mostly stiff and uninspired character motions. The art is very basic on G Gundam and has an overall low budget feel. Details like clothing folds and shadows are kept to a minimum and sometimes characters look very flatly colored. Even 1980s Gundam series like Z Gundam and V Gundam manage to look better than this 1994 series. Only the overused stock footage of Gundams preparing to fight or performing special moves look remotely decent.
Aside from its engaging character relationships with top notch acting, a few thought provoking underlying themes and an overall original look and feel for a Gundam series, Mobile Fighter G Gundam suffers from too many flaws, from its less-than-mediocre animation for its time to the contrived story.
But if you are on the prowl for an over-the-top, entertainingly fun, action packed series that still has some of that "Gundam charm", then Mobile Fighter G Gundam is a great way to pass the time until something better comes along.