「AGEの力」 (AGE no Chikara)
“The Power of AGE”
The more I watch Gundam AGE, the more apparent the super robot influences become. We have Vargas as the old scientist/co-creator of the Gundam, Emily as his granddaughter and childhood friend of Flit, and now the AGE Builder that can create weapons on-the-fly from the data acquired by the Gundam’s evolutionary AGE System (a little too convenient, but still pretty cool to see). If anything, the super/real robot cross-up should be what largely attributes to the notion that the latest Gundam iteration is targeted toward younger audiences — more so than the character designs anyway. Yes, the story develops rather conveniently at times, but I still see it as a throwback to my childhood where boyish heroics can change the world. I really don’t see any reason why this can’t appeal to younger and older fans alike though, especially when I fall into the latter category. If you’re so adamant about how Gundam AGE isn’t what the franchise is all about, then you can simply not watch it. The last thing I want to read week in, week out are comments about how people think Gundam should that are just annoying to people who want to give AGE a fair chance. As far as I’m concerned, the only person who has any unconditional merit in making such a statement is Tomino Yoshiyuki — the creator of Gundam.
In many ways, Gundam AGE can be perceived as a homage to the series that Tomino created, so it’s kind of sad to see that a lot of younger generation fans have lost sight of that fact. Much like video games nowadays, impressive-looking and/or realistic visuals are all that matters to a lot of people, whereas story, gameplay, and overall entertainment are mere afterthoughts. This is really apparent for someone like me, having grown up in the NES and Universal Century Gundam era (i.e. the early 1980s). If you ask anyone else from my generation, they’ll probably be able to tell you about how there’s been a noticeable shift in priorities when it comes to both mediums, since younger generations are incredibly demanding of how things should look due to their much higher baseline to compare all works to. Personally, I never expected Gundam to look as impressive as it does in Gundam AGE, let alone Gundam Unicorn, but I’m in a situation that’s arguably more appreciative of the advances that have been made. As such, I haven’t forgotten that Gundam is intended to appeal to multiple age groups and that AGE provides a nice balance of themes to that end. Just to be clear: This isn’t an attempt to defend Gundam AGE’s stylistic choices, so much as an attempt to address the self-centered mentality that some viewers may have about how anime is created for them and them only.
So with that in mind, I’ll be quick to admit that I had some moments of disbelief with how the new battleship Diva is going to pull out the core of the Nora colony to evacuate everyone, and how “easily” Commander Hendrik Bruzar (Sawaki Ikuya) is going to be sacrificed to see that it happens. In both cases, it felt like a rather convenient way to further Flit’s resolve in his fight against the UE, but I didn’t see any point in dwelling on it when it’s pretty clear that’s what the story’s going for. I hardly find predictability in the early stages of a series a bad thing, especially in regards to something that’s been clearly foreshadowed for us to pick up on. In contrast, there were a fair amount of questions raised regarding Grodek and how he usurped command of Diva from right underneath the Earth Federation Forces (EFF). At the moment, it’s kind of hard to tell if he has some ulterior motive or if he decided to take matters into his own hands because he suspected that that Captain Dian Fonroid (Kiyama Shigeo) was going to abandon the colonists. I’m kind of suspicious of Grodek either way, simply because he pulled this off behind everyone’s back and in such a way that put his trembling in episode one in question. It sure feels like there’s a conspiracy going on somewhere — just like Millais suspected — making it even more likely that the UE are actually some radical human organization.
Last but definitely not least is the introduction of Yurin L’Ciel, who’s not only gracing us with Hayami Saori’s angelic voice, but also raising questions about whether she’s going to be Flit’s future wife. What’s more, she seems to possess a telepathic Newtype-like ability, which bodes well for Flit’s future son. If it’s not going to be her, then I’m kind of wary that she may be killed sometime during this war, seeing as the painful loss of a loved one is a recurring theme in the Gundam franchise. After the main Gundam pilot loses the one he loves, he almost always ends up confiding in another girl and falling for her, so Yurin and Emily have kind of been labeled for those roles in my eyes. Rest assured, I’ll be watching closely to see how Flit’s relationship with both girls develops from here on. For now, I do think that Flit and Yurin look cute together, especially with the way he picked her up. “Hey, want to take a ride in my Gundam? I built this baby myself.”