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Mobile Suit Gundam F91: The Motion Picture (Anime Movie Classics) (a J!-ENT Anime DVD Review)

August 16, 2009 by  



“For fans of the Universal Century Mobile Suit Gundam storyline, you will definitely want this movie in your collection.  Mega mecha action, dramatic plot and more!  But among the Universal Century related MS Gundam storylines out there, unfortunately F91 feels a bit rushed and you feel there should be more to the storyline than what is included in this two hour film.

 

Image courtesy of © 1991-2004 SOTSU-SUNRISE.  All Rights Reserved.

DVD TITLE: Mobile Suit Gundam F-91: The Motion Picture (Anime Movie Classics)

DURATION: 13 Episodes (315 Minutes)

DVD INFORMATION: 1:78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English 2.0, Japanese 2.0, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Sunrise/Bandai Entertainment

RATED: Suggested 13 & Up

Release Date: February 3, 2009

Originally created by Hajime Yatate, Yoshiyuki Tomino

Original Manga by Hiroshi Yasuda

Directed by Yoshiyuki Tomino

Script by Tsunehisa Ito, Yoshikyuki Tomino

Storyboard by Yoshiyuki Tomino

Music by Satoshi Kadokura

Character Designs by Yoshikazu Yasuhiko

Mechanical Design: Kuniko Okawara

Art Director by Shigemi Ikeda

Sound Director: Sadayoshi Fujino

Director of Photography: Atsushi Okui

Anime Production by Sunrise

Featuring the following voice talent:

Kouji Tsujitani/Steve Cannon as Seabook Arno

Masaki Maeda/Abe Lasser as Carozzo “Iron Mask” Ronah

Yumi Touma/Michelle Ruff as Cecily Fairchild/Berah Ronah

Chie Koujiro/Jennifer Jean as Annamarie Bourget

Kiyoki Yanada/James Lyon as Zabine Chareux

Mari Yokoo/Jane Alan as Leahlee Edaberry

Sayuri Ikemoto/Julie Maddalena as Reese Arno

Takeshi Kusao/David Lelyveld as Dorel Ronah

Teppei Takasugi/Simon Isaacson as Meltzer Ronah

Ai Orikasa/Midge Mayes as Drosie Mua (Dorothy Moore)

Akifumi Endo/Dave Mallow as Chris

Akiko Tsuboi/Barbara Goodson as Nadia Ronah

Universal Century 0123.  After a generation of peace, the Earth Federation has begun to build new space colonies to house humanity’s growing space population.  But a new force, the aristocratic Crossbone Vanguard plans to seize the colonies of the newly constructed Frontier Side for itself.

As their home becomes a battlefield, a handful of young civilians struggle to escape the conflict.  To save his friends and family, the reluctant warrior Seabook Arno becomes the pilot of a new Gundam which bears the codename F91.

During the early 1990’s, with the success of “Mobile Suit Gundam” and the films, Mobile Suit Gundam creator Yoshiyuki Tomino was literally itching to start a new Gundam saga.  Since 1979, there has been a stable release of “Mobile Suit Gundam” series or films  (with the exception of 1983-1984 which Tomino went on to create “Aura Battler Dunbine” and “Heavy Metal L-Gaim”) and with the last film “Mobile Suit Gundam: Char’s Counterattack” in 1988, many fans were anticipating a new MS Gundam series.

So, Tomino immediately began on plans to create the usual 50+ episodes for a animated TV series called “Mobile Suit Gundam F91”.  Unfortunately, after a dozen screenplays, the project was terminated due to production problems due to staff disputes.  So, what was originally planned for a television series became a theatrical feature film.

And for those who are familiar with “Mobile Suit Gundam” Universal Century storylines, seeing a series that is intended to be span over 25 hours receives a 2 hour film and thus many important details are literally lost and thus “Mobile Suit Gundam F91” didn’t receive the true treatment that Tomino would have liked.  Needless to say, for those who want to know more backstory would have to wait for Tomino’s two -part novels.

The film featured Tomino as a director, screenwriter and storyboard artist.  Joining him for the screenplay was Tsunehisa Ito (“Zillion”, “Nazca”, “Sherlock Hound”, etc.), well-known MS Gundam character designer Yoshikazu Yasuhiko (who also worked on the “Crusher Joe” series, “Venus Wars” and “Arion”) and well-known Gundam mechanical designer Kunio Okawara (who also worked on “Armor Trooper Votoms”, “Yatterman” and the “Gravion” series).

Universal Century 0123.  The story of “Mobile Suit Gundam F91” takes place 30 years after the 2nd Neo Zeon War (Mobile Suit Gundam: Char’s Counterattack).   There has been peace on Earth and the population growth is quite strong, so strong that the Federation has worked on creating space colonies to house the growing population.

But the peace has been shaken when a group known as the Crossguard Vanguard starts a war against the Earth Federation in the Frontier IV colony.  Unfortunately, the Earth Federation is unprepared for battle and are getting slaughtered by the Crossbone Vanguard.  Meanwhile, fighting takes place inside the colony, a group of teenagers and kids try to escape from all the destruction and make it to shelter or an escape pod before they are killed.

The film focuses on a group of youngsters (teenagers and kids) which include the main character Seabook Arno and his friend Cecily Fairchild.  The two and their friends and young family members and other kids that join them try to escape the colony and while they try to make their escape, Cecily’s father is seen having an argument with his daughter and trying to prevent her from joining her friends by aiming a gun at her.  Seabook tries to rescue her to no avail.  The group escape without Cecily.

It is learned that Cecily Fairchild is really Berah Ronah, a daughter of royalty and the daughter of Carozzo “Iron Mask” Ronah who leads the aristocratic Crossbone Vanguard (a private army of the Ronah family), responsible for the war against the Earth Federation.  Needless to say that Cecily doesn’t trust her father and moreso, because he wears an “Iron Mask” and never reveals his trueself to her.

Iron Mask wants to establish an aristocracy i the new Frontier colonies at Side 4 (aka Cosmo Babylonia) and because Berah is his daughter, he wants her to be the Crossbone Vanguard’s political figurehead.

With so much death and destruction, Seabook, his friends and the kids managed to find safety with what’s left of the Earth Federation on one colony and the fact is that the don’t have enough mobile suits to fight against the Crossbone Vanguard.  But they do have a Mobile Suit that has not yet been used known as the F91.   Because of situations in which the Earth Federation is ill-prepared, they need a pilot immediately and thus everyone puts their faith in Seabook to piloting the F91.

But what surprises everyone is his ability to learn the machine quickly.  Is it possible that Seabook is a “Newtype” (a person who has heightened mental awareness)?  If he is a Newtype, will he be able to use his skills to fight the Crossbone Vanguard?

VIDEO & AUDIO:

It’s important to note that “Mobile Suit Gundam F91” is an older anime that came out in theaters in 1991.  But because it came after the main “Mobile Suit Gundam” series and films featuring Amuro Ray and Char Aznable, the animation quality is much better than it’s 1970’s and 1980’s counterparts.  More detail and more shading is quite evident and the film is presented via anamorphic widescreen with an aspect ration of 1:78:1.  But because the popular original MS Gundam character designer Yoshikazu Yasuhiko and mechanical designer Kunio Okawara returned for this film, character designs were consistent and for me, that is important.    So, overall, for a 1991 film, “Mobile Suit Gundam F91” looked great for an animated film created at that time.

As for audio, the audio is presented in English 2.0 and Japanese 2.0.  I watched both audio tracks and for the most part, both were quite solid and are well done.  So, for English dub or Japanese dub fans, the voice acting is well done.  Also, the music by Satoshi Kadokura is awesome (and you may even pick up some “Star Wars” style of music in the film).  As for the audio, it is in 2.0 (my receiver shows the audio as Dolby Digital 2.0) and for the most part, for those with a good receiver, my selection for audio is selecting all channels on Stereo.  One thing that I did notice in comparison is that the English dub track is slightly louder compared to the Japanese audio.   But again, both audio tracks are quite solid.

As for subtitles, the film is presented with optional English subtitles.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Mobile Suit Gundam F91: The Motion Picture” comes with the following special features:

  • Gundam F-91 Mechanical Files – Using your remote (or arrow keys on your computer), you can view technical data and information on the mobile suits such as the F91, Heavygun, Jegan, Guntank R-44, Den’an Zon, Den’an Gei, Ebirhu S, Berga Dalas, Dahgi Iris, Berga Giros, G-Cannon and many more.
  • Trailers – Bandai Entertainment trailers for “Wolf’s Rain”, “Ghost in the Shell” and “Kaze no Yojimbo”.

Watching “Mobile Suit Gundam F91: The Motion Picture”, at first glance, my first time watching the film, I thought it would have potential like the first “Mobile Suit Gundam” film but where there was four films to help in plot creation and character development, “Mobile Suit Gundam F91” felt rushed.

With Yoshiyuki Tomino originally wanting the series to be over 50-episodes, you can imagine how much storyline was lost in the creation of this film.  So, the film felt rushed and I just felt there was a chunk of storyline missing.  You don’t feel anything for Seabook or Cecily as you did with the characters from the previous Mobile Suit Gundam films (or television series).  The character development of Seabook and Cecily was just too rushed and for a “Mobile Suit Gundam” film, it just didn’t seem right.

Another thing that surprised me is that this 2009 release of “Mobile Suit Gundam F91: The Motion Picture” under the Anime Movie Classics moniker is inferior to the 2004 Special Edition release.    The 5.1 Dolby Digital English track was not used for some reason, nor were the inclusions of the special features that were used in the Special Edition.  But granted, the SE 2004 version had two discs and I reckon to get this DVD out for a low price, they opted for the cheapest alternative and that is the single disc release.

The story of F91 doesn’t end with this film.  The good news is that in 1994, “Mobile Suit Crossbone Gundam” manga series written by Yoshiyuki Tomino was created and takes place ten years after F91 and brings back a few characters from the film.  And two manga sequels were created in 2003 (“Mobile Suit Crossbone Gundam: Skull Heart”) and in 2006 (“Mobile Suit Crossbone Gundam: The Steel Seven”). The bad news is that the manga has so far been released only in Japan and neither of the three manga series have been released in English in America yet.

Overall, “Mobile Suit Gundam F91” is a good Gundam movie but could have been even greater if it was released as a television series.  There is so much backstory that is not on this film and its easy to feel that the storyline seemed rushed in order to get from Point A to Point B.  But there is quite a bit of mecha action is this series and there are times which I found quite entertaining.

If you are an anime fan who has been collecting “Universal Century”, then of course you will want “Mobile Suit Gundam F91: The Motion Picture” in your collection but in terms of MS Gundam Universal Century-related storylines, “F91” is not as captivating as I was hoping for it to be.

 

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