「進化するガンダム」 (Shinka Suru Gandamu)
For anyone coming off the latest episode of Gundam Unicorn, it’s easy to draw parallels between the lingering hatred between the Earth Federation and Zeon to the hatred between Euba and Zalam, but it’s also easy to see that AGE’s variation lacks the seriousness and severity seen in the Universal Century timeline. With only seven episodes to go on — and the two factions only introduced last time — Flit’s attempt to break the cycle of hatred simply can’t compare to the significance of Banagher’s variation. However, it can’t realistically be expected to either, seeing as the Advanced Generation timeline is still in its infancy and will require a fair bit of time to establish itself. For that reason, I didn’t feel it was fair to knock this episode for failing to get me emotionally invested in what was going on, so instead, I simply appreciated the fact that one of Gundam’s main themes carried over to the latest iteration. As a result, younger audiences will get to experience some of the same elements that I got to during my childhood, and hopefully garner some interest in the franchise as a whole.
In terms of appealing to new viewers, Gundam AGE has done a decent job thus far, but could use some minor tweaks to the script so that the characters are a little more agreeable. While I’m okay with chalking up most of the disagreeable stuff to adolescence and a tendency to act on emotions — like how Emily and a bunch of kids went protesting for Flit’s release — I sometimes have to question if they add anything to the story or if they’re only intended to be a convenient set up for something else. In this particular case, I was okay with Vargas giving into his granddaughter’s insistence even though he knew it was a fruitless endeavor, but I didn’t see what bringing all the kids added except for some increased dramatics when Flit came to their rescue. Questionable developments like that can easily take away from the intended scene, since it’s hard to feel concern for those who dug their own grave, so I wish the series featured more scenarios where the kids simply get caught up in the war and don’t go looking for trouble. So far, this hasn’t bothered me that much, but I can understand how it can ruin the viewing experience for some people. After all, nobody cares about characters they don’t like.
The other area of concern is believability, like when the UE mobile suit was unable to shoot down the truck full of children that Grodek was driving. I gather a lot more people would’ve been completely okay with that scene if Flit tackled the UE mobile suit before it got a single shot off. All the missing just belittles the ultimate enemy in the series because they can’t even shoot down a truck on a narrow road. Equally unbelievable is how Grodek suggested that some old Zalam warships are going to fair better against the UE than the Earth Federation’s. If they had shown some indication that he was lying to Flit to hide the fact that he stole the Diva, it wouldn’t have come off as the ridiculous justification that it was. Minor changes like those can go a long way by not stretching a viewer’s suspension of disbelief to its limits, so there are definitely other areas for improvement in the script.
Amidst those head-scratching moments, the best developments came from the explanation that the Earth Federation don’t care to get involved in the Euba and Zalam’s guerrilla war — addressing some concerns from last episode — and the sight of the two sides fighting over nothing but old grudges. They were straightforward and believable, and didn’t take away from the battle that ensued. People who complained about the Gundam not taking any damage should be somewhat appeased too. Incidentally, that ties in with my favorite aspect of this series that continues to trudge along — the constant adapting between the AGE System and the UE. It’s nice to see that the AGE Builder isn’t churning out countermeasures for every situation so that the debut of the Titus add-on was actually meaningful here. If there’s one area that the writers have handled really well, it’s the balanced portray of both the Gundam and the AGE System. They’re an answer to the UE, but far from being the ultimate solution.
* Don Boyage didn’t help the series when he said, “What the hell is this? It’s just a bunch of kids.” The haters are going to love the irony.
* The Titus add-on reminds me of the Hyukebein/Exbein’s Boxer parts.
* Full-length images: 02, 03, 04, 09, 11, 15, 32, 36.
Note: This post isn’t intended to be as negative as it may sound. I just felt like discussing some aspects that could be improved.