We’re almost through the month of March and I’m now a little under halfway through the original Gundam series. Overall, I’ve been pretty pleased with the series and can easily see how it captured the hearts and minds of fans for years to come. There’s always this little bit of trepidation that older works will feel exactly that, old. That somehow the years will render them unpalatable visually and narrative-wise. Thankfully, that isn’t the case here so far.
In what felt like no time at all, we jumped straight into the action with Amuro Ray and the crew of the White Base. While there was very little set up prior to the conflict, we did receive a bit of introductory history as well as a brief time on the Side 7 colony before Zeon’s attack. We get a sense of Amuro’s lifestyle–he’s a boy left largely to his own devices with a passion for machinery.
When the battle reaches his front door, he seemingly has one choice: follow other residents to shelter. Instead, he hops into a top-secret Federation mobile suit, one vastly superior to most Zeon war machines with a constantly evolving AI. Because of his inquisitive and quick mind, he grasps the basics of piloting in a shockingly short time; however, there’s still a realistic learning curve. He acknowledges the mobile suit makes up for most of his ignorance and failures. Stronger, faster, more adaptable—the Gundam is the pinnacle of technologies of that time that Amuro has the privilege and later responsibility of piloting.
This seeming opposition of civilian and soldier, refugee and combatant, child and adult repeats throughout the series with Amuro as its main example. A surprising percentage of White Base’s necessary positions are filled with civilians, many of them not yet adults, ones who took the yoke under duress and have since become experts with real experience. While Amuro takes the controls out of seeming necessity at the start, his reasons for staying as the episodes pass change. Once the immediate heat of conflict drops to a simmer, the question of changing pilots arises. Do they have the time and resources to train a new pilot, or do they continue to invest in the child citizen who has arguably led them to safety time and time again? Piloting the Gundam may have been fun for him at the start, but battle trauma quickly builds up and it isn’t long before joy turns to duty and eventually into dread.
One of the main character conflicts throughout the series takes place between pilot Amuro and Ensign Bright Noah. While Amuro is obviously still a child at the beginning, Bright’s age was less obvious to me. From the beginning, he acted like a man several stations higher than actuality. His immediate distrust and obvious dislike for Amuro grated on my nerves. I can understand not trusting Amuro on the grounds of inexperience at the start, but several battles later, Bright continues to show very little confidence in the young pilot’s abilities. When you think about it, the two of them are actually very similar–young men thrown into positions far above their initial skillsets who learn and improve remarkably fast. If Bright expects others to follow him, maybe it’d behoove him to demonstrate some of the faith in others like Amuro.
March is almost over and I probably won’t make it to the end of Gundam 0079 in time–don’t worry! I still plan to finish it as soon as possible. I know there are a few films retelling this original series and from what I gather they do an inferior job, particularly in regards to the audience’s understanding of Amuro. If anyone has strong opinions on whether these films are worth watching, let me know! I’m considering continuing on in the Gundam franchise after 79 in chronological order with a brief step backward to 2015’s Gundam Origin.
- 0 dango – average and forgettable.
- 1 dango – very good in its category.
- 2 dango – excellent show that is worth a try.
- 3 dango – exceptional show one must watch.