Gundam G no Reconguista – 01/02 Review
I don’t think the Gundam-franchise has ever looked that colorful before.
And so the Fall-Season begins. I could’ve already reviewed Terraformars but well… a blind person would know what the hell is going on with that series. If you have a pair of characters called Adolf and Eva in a series that talks about stuff like “Your genes are better than other people’s.” than you know what kind of story the series wants to tell. This new Gundam-series is a far more interesting little thing in comparison. Well, maybe not little. After all, Gundam has an anniversary to celebrate and they got Yoshiyuki Tomino back into the game for this series. The most surprising thing about these first two episodes is to see just how hard its creators are trying to do something different with the Gundam-franchise. And the first two episodes actually were a nice change of pace, although they weren’t good enough to make me feel optimistic about the rest of the series.
On a more general note: I will definitely review Psycho Pass’ second season and I will definitely review Legend of Korra’s fourth season (starting tomorrow). Selector WIXOSS has its second season coming up but I’m not so sure about reviewing that one. Otherwise, I will see what interests me.
Bellri is a guy, a young guy to be specific and like all good young guys he wants nothing more than to be a soldier. Bellri, you might say, is a real bro – and the girls frigging love it! A few girls even go so far as to sneak into one of his training-sessions to do a cheerleading-routine. Naturally that’s not okay because women were just being manipulative in the hope that they could convince the guy they like to marry them.
Also, there’s another girl on the ship. But she has lost her memory and… a lot of other stuff. She’s simple-minded and nobody really gives a shit what her deal is. She just gets dragged around from place to place.
But that peace gets disrupted when pirates attack! One such pirate enters a battle with Bellri who’s more than capable of taking her out with shoddier equipment. His bros also help him but that’s not really important.
What’s important is that the chic in that mecha is really hot and therefore it’s no wonder that the boy-wonder Bellri immediately falls in love with her. But she’s a pirate and not very submissive so she gets a slap and becomes a prisoner.
Back on the planet, there’s a nice celebration and important peo… *ahem* I mean, important men meet but all of a sudden the pirates attack to free the hot chic.
Well, a few chaotic moments later Bellri is forced to kill the pseudo-father of the hot chic which is a total bummer in her book.
It would’ve been okay for this to be the plot-convenient excuse explaining why Bellri is able to pilot the mecha… but the insane amount of times this gets mentioned in these two episodes makes it a REALLY obnoxious plot-point.
What is the future like? It’s the simple question at the heart of every sci-fi-story and with stories revolving around battles, mechas and whatnot the answer is more often than not: grey, brown – boring. The Gundam-franchise certainly has forgotten in recent years that it should be concerned with more than just selling new mecha-figures. Except redesigning mechas or inventing completely new ones the Gundam-series seldom made its future world a spectacle. And the most obvious virtue by which this series sets itself apart is to look like a future that seems exotic.
The look of this series’ setting is full of luscious colors and actually makes you pay attention. And things aren’t completely futuristic either. Aida, the pirate-girl, is kept captive in a castle-looking building during the second episode that is simply medieval in its design. Rather than having this edgy cold appearance that most sci-fi-series adapt this series’ looks seem almost romantic. It’s a bit more playful and fantastical. And there is a sense of discovery with this setting because it clearly does its own thing. This series visual style is most certainly the best element of this series so far.
The direction only heightens the sense of adventure here as the plot and action are very dynamic. Nearly every shot has movement in it and sometimes the shots itself become dynamic and move or the screen gets split. There’s always something happening on-screen in these two episodes. And I’ve talked with Zankyou no Terror already how that series as well had a more dynamic style when it came to its cinematography. Gundam G no Reconguista goes even further with this and the shots become almost frantic at times.
Sadly, though, I feel like this speedy, dynamic style did the series more harm than good as the series is too ambitious for its own good. These first two episodes do so much worldbuilding that it ends up being more overwhelming than informative. Look, I’m all for creating original settings but the more original your setting is the more alien will it feel to the audience at the beginning. You need to anchor this feeling of alienation and distract the audience from feeling disoriented in this new setting. A good way for that is to usually create a sympathetic plot or likeable characters. You have to do one of those things because otherwise the audience doesn’t know why all the worldbuilding should matter to them. What you expect your audience to do with good worldbuilding is that they get invested in what is going on in that fictional world you’ve created. But the audience needs an entrance-point.
Wait, but then how could anyone have a girlfriend, if nobody’s allowed to interact with girls out of consideration for guys without a girlfriend…?
And in this case it’s not the plot because the plot is rushed. I’ve already talked about the sometimes rather frantic direction-style these first two episodes have and then you also have this somewhat overwhelming worldbuilding. And the plot not having a lot of time for a story ends up being aimless. Without a strong sympathetic theme to bring coherence to the plot the events of these first two episodes felt very incidental. Stuff just happened and characters reacted to it. You never want this detachment where it feels like stuff simply happens. In real life stuff like that may be the norm but the magic of storytelling is to make this stuff meaningful. That’s one of THE most important things to keep in mind while telling a story. And Gundam G here just doesn’t have a mission-statement to offer in these two first episodes. Besides making the plot feel aimless, it’s also something that a series NEEDS to establish as early as possible. And as a rule of thumb personally I feel like that the third episode is already too late for this thing. There’s a reason why all these Gundam-series started with the trite “random boy finds a Gundam, turns out to be the Chosen One and kicks evil-guy-ass”-setup at the beginning. Maybe the evil guys in that setup aren’t even really evil. Who cares?! The point is that you need to be snappy about these sorts of things. Gundam G’s writing may not be so bad as to be convoluted but it’s complicated enough that it feels like way too much is going on at the same time here which in turn keeps the series from focusing on what’s important. Basically the story offers no theme or idea for the audience to focus on.
So, if the series doesn’t have a sympathetic plot to anchor the exotic worldbuilding, it probably will focus on the characters, you might say now. Well, the characterizations in this series are a funny thing. On one hand I really like the way they are handled but on the other hand I do have some problems with the series here. After all, I would say this series is kinda sexist. All the male characters in this series are in the military or in another kind of leadership-role and the only exception is Bellri’s mother who well, is his mother which is a female role. Meanwhile, all the girls in the series dress up as cheerleaders trying to motivate the soldier-trainees. The exception here is Aida, the pirate-girl and her characters is actually one of the best in the series so far, I feel like. And I come to how good the series handles the characters soon but it really bugs me that the societal setup is that sexist.
For example, when the girls sort-of sneak into a training-briefing of the soldier-trainees to do a cheerleader-routine, one of the adult-soldiers later admonishes them that they should stop their husband-hunting. An ADULT said that to a TEENAGE-GIRL! First of all, it reeks of the insinuation that these girls were doing something that’s not okay. He might as well have said to them not to use their wily charm to dirty those innocent boys. And the other thing is the preposterous assumption that whenever a teenage-girl tries to get the attention of a boy she likes, it’s with a marriage in mind. The most a teenage-girl can do is to consider marriage in romantic terms or not at all if she’s a pessimist or a realist.
There’s also this moment where Aida gets just slapped by an officer for not being submissive. Raraiya Monday can do whatever she wants since she’s amnesiac and somewhat simple-minded due to a drastic, failed attempt to flee but Aida for showing self-confidence gets a slap. She’s still a teenager that just has become a war-prisoner. That slap was really unnecessary.
But here’s the thing: The setup may be sexist and there are some sexist moments in these two episodes but overall these two episodes were really efficient in managing this varied cast of various characters. You would think that it’s all about Bellri but really he never stays in the limelight alone. Most scenes have multiple characters and nobody of them just sits around without doing anything. One of the reasons why these two episodes sometimes feel so frantic is that this series does care to give everyone in a scene something to do. And the way these episodes handle the characters during the action isn’t sexist at all. In fact, it’s very conscious of not using tiresome tropes like a damsel-in-distress or to play up female characters as someone that needs to be protected. It’s pretty balanced overall, I would say. I wouldn’t say it’s perfect but the script-writing is very competent in this case.
The characters themselves are an assortment of known types pretty much. There’s nothing original or inherently interesting about the characters in these two episodes. The writing is good enough to deliver their characterizations in a concise manner but there’s no depth or individuality that would make any character of the cast stand out. And the two episodes sorely lacked good character-moments. Except for Aida where the two episodes have done quite a good job of having shown off both her frailty and her toughness, the other characters don’t leave much of an impression. They do the job, mind you, since the writing is good enough but I doubt that afterwards you will think much of them.
Now, I already said that nobody really has the limelight for him- or herself in these two episodes but Bellri is clearly the “Chosen One”-kid in this Gundam-series. His personality is clearly this energetic, not-a-care-in-the-world-but-very-talented type. Also, he’s special but yeah, of course he is. I really hope that they don’t go the uninspired rout of starting out with him being naïve and careless and then, to make him grow up, have him experience tragedies and shit like that. Instead of making him dour and more contemplative, he should stay energetic but instead of being motivated by naiveté like in the beginning he’s now motivated by idealism and conviction. Self-serious series too often think that tragedies are the way to go for character-developments as if pain and suffering are the only tools to develop a character.
Overall, I liked these first two episodes. They kept my attention after all. I’m not so sure whether these two first episodes have really made an impression. Sure, there are elements like its visual style for example and the way it handled its cast that are great but the thing I always come back to is that nothing interesting has really happened in these two episodes. Without a theme that would give the stuff meaning, this incidental plot hasn’t much to offer to make me really interested.
- Bellri is a stupid name.
- It was a nice dramatic moment for Bellri to be forced into this situation where he had to kill Aida’s pseduo-father. But the rushed plot really undersold that moment. Add to that that it isn’t that original of an idea in the first place and it was hardly as impactful as it could’ve been.
- That moment where Bellri runs up the stairs in that medieval fortress-prison only to run into a wall and then to say some stupid shit about this being like a maze… That was a REALLY weird moment. And the scene immediately cut away as well, as if the series was aware how dumb that scene looked.
- Mark Ishii makes his debut with his voice-acting-role as Bellri here.
Posted on October 3, 2014, in Anime, Gundam G no Reconguista, Reviews and tagged Anime, ガンダム Gのレコンギスタ, gundam, Gundam G no Reconguista, Gundam Reconguista in G, reviews. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.