Mobile Suit Gundam follows the adventures of the Federation's most powerful mobile suit, Gundam, and the Federation's ship, White Base. Amuro finds himself in the middle of a war between the Earth Federation and Principality of Zeon. Amuro pilots the Gundam, usually with backup from the Guntank and Guncannon.
Made in 1979, this original Gundam is very dated. The animation shows, but it doesn't completely detract from what it sets out to do. This is a a good sci fi adventure, with a well-defined world and terminologies, that lives up to what I wanted it to be: a tale of war, surprise attacks, mobile suits, and space bases built inside comets. There are moments of incredible imagination that make me feel like a kid again. But this isn't some kids show. It's serious sci-fi space story about a war between the Earth Federation and the Principality of Zeon. Regardless of the Gundam itself, this is a well-told sci-fi story.
The sci-fi, characters, and story drew me in. The show had me interested from the beginning and I found it quite entertaining for most of the series. The two biggest issues I have with this show is the "fight of the week" setup, and the animation quality that holds the fight scenes back from being truly engaging. In addition, the show is too long for the story its trying to tell, and there is too much repetition in its setup. Some episodes could classify as filler, but for the most part, it felt like it stayed focused. The last several episodes do a good job bringing the series to a solid ending.
The artwork and animation are dated. Still, the show is quite watchable and is not too hard on the eyes, though it does impact the enjoyability of the action scenes. It does have some recycled animation, like some of the firing shots, the Gundam launching, and when Amuro is shown taking damage inside the cockpit, flinging back and forth. Still, I didn't find it too distracting, and it's nothing drawn out like a long merge sequence or anything. The show is quite action packed and even has some good-looking stuff, like the end of episode 28.
Due to its age, the scenes don't flow as well as they should. For instance, there are many sliding backgrounds that reset to the beginning of the artwork when they reach the end, causing a jarring visual transition that you see in many older shows. Same thing with the animation itself, it lacks a sort of momentum that makes it feel like everything flows at the same pace, whether it's a mobile suit flying through space or someone walking down a corridor. There is quite a bit of actual animation, and some neat events that takes place during battles, but the old school animation has a hard time effectively conveying that in a fully entertaining manner. It loses a lot of the coolness in the action because of this. In one scene, there is a glitch where the Gundam's gun tip stays in the same position on the screen even though the Gundam is no longer there. Also, characters sometimes look cross-eyed which looks quite bizarre.
White Base constantly comes under attack by Zeon, forcing Captain Bright to launch the Gundam to defend against the attack. Despite the old-school animation, the combat can be rather fun. I had bigger issues with the repetitiveness of the action and how many of the battles end with the enemy retreating and returning the next episode. It's also unbelievable how White Base survives attacks episode after episode that you just start assuming that it will, no matter what strategy Zeon launches against it.
Amuro makes for a decent main character. He's a good guy, tries hard, and isn't annoying. When he first pilots the Gundam, he is not good at it and only survives the battles because his mobile suit is so advanced compared to his enemies. This is what keeps him alive in the beginning. Throughout the show we see the Amuro grow as a pilot: from barely making it through a battle in the first few episodes to tallying his kills in a later episode.
It does a decent job depicting how citizens got caught up in the war, but the characters, while good, don't leave much of an impact. It could have developed the character relationships further. And while it has good writing and dialogue at times, the scene transitions and characters can come off as stiff or cold. The show also spends a fair amount of time focused on the Zeon characters, so you get to see both sides of the war. I could have done without the very annoying trio of children on board the ship, though.
Mobile Suit Gundam is worth watching, not just because it's a piece of anime history, but because it is a good show. Despite its age and a few other issues, the story, adventure and maybe even the characters, make it worthwhile.
Written by Marc Frost on
Several deaths. Some blood, but not overly violent.
One quick, rather undetailed panty shot from Fraw Bow in first episode. A couple short scenes of Fraw Bow in the bath with nipples.