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Mobile Suit Gundam Trilogy (a J!-ENT anime DVD review)

June 26, 2008 by  



“The ‘Mobile Suit Gundam’ 0079 original series is a classic and a storyline so immense. What the films primarily are for people who are not willing to watch hours and hours of the series but watch the series condensed into a total of 7 hours via three films. As for the DVD release, not only are fans getting a digital 5.1 release but newer music and animation. If you are a fan of the Universal Century series for the world of ‘Mobile Suit Gundam’, owning the films is a must!”

DVD INFORMATION:

DVD TITLE: Mobile Suit Gundam Trilogy (Kidou Senshi Gundam)

DURATION: 441 minutes

DVD INFORMATION: Dolby Digital 5.1 – Japanese, newly remastered transfer, Japanese stereo audio (Movie 1) and original Japanese mono track for Movie II and III.

CATALOG #: 80170

COMPANY: Bandai Entertainment

RATING: 13 and up

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

STAFF INFORMATION:

ANIMATION DIRECTOR and CHARACTER DESIGNS: Yasuhiko Yoshikazu

WRITTEN BY: Hoshiyama Hiroyuki, Araki Yoshihisa, Yamamoto Masaru, Matsuzaki Kenichi, Tomino Yoshiyuki

MECHANICAL DESIGN: Okawara Kunio

ART DIRECTOR: Nakamura Mitsuki

ORIGINAL STORY: Yatate Hajime and Tomino Yoshiyuki

CAST: Furuya Toru (Amuro Ray), Suzuoki Hirotaka (Bright Noa), Ikeda Shuichi (Char Aznable), Inoue Yo (Mass Sayla), Yashima Mirai (Shiraishi Fuyumi), Ukai Rumiko (Fraw Bow) and more.

Universal Century 0079, Amuro Ray finds himself caught up in the war between the Earth Federation and the Principality of Zeon. He unwillingly becomes the pilot of the prototype Mobile Suit called Gundam. Now he and the crew of teh White Base will have to fight for their very lives as the enemy attemps to destroy this new weapon at all costs. Each combatant will face triumph and turmoil as they battle their way through space to get to their final destination on Earth. The outcome of the war lies in the hands of the Newtype in the anime series that started it all.

My first foray into the world of “Mobile Suit Gundam” films was back in 1994 or so. A group of friends fansubtitled the anime series and we were all hooked. Nearly 15 years later, I pretty much forgotten about the series and storyline and if anything, with so many MSG releases since then, I felt a bit lost on the overall Universal Century line.

So, in 2008, I decided that I’m going to start from the beginning and watch everything Universal Century related and slowly purchase a lot of the releases (since DVD press copies for review were given out back in 2002 or so).

The first thing on my list was to obtain the films and there have been several releases. The first was the “Mobile Suit Gundam” Trilogy (released as a box set and the other in just a DVD case that holds three discs) and then a later version released in 2004 titled “UC GUNDAM MOVIE PACK” which contains the trilogy, the fourth film “Char’s Counterattack” and the “Mobile Suit Gundam 08th MS Team: Miller’s Report” OAV.

Both are a lot cheaper now and I was able to score the trilogy set pretty cheap.

As for those wondering what the films are about. Back in 1979 through 1980, there was the original 43-episode television series. In 1981, the series was condensed down to three films.

But the series has spawned many side stories, alternative universe stories, many manga, video games, model kits, toys…you name it, “Mobile Suit Gundam” is Japan’s “Star Wars”.

The main storyline is about the Principality of Zeon who declared independence from the Earth Federation. This led to what was called a one-year war when many people and their colonies were decimated during the war.

The first film was about how a colony was raided by the Principality of Zeon who were spying on the Earth Federation Forces. Unfortunately, things went out of control when one of the Zeon’s piloting the Zaku started attacking the Federation and in the process, many of the Federation were slaughtered.

As everyone evacuated and trying to get away from danger, a teenager named Amuro Ray went to look for his father who was involved in the development of the Mobile Suit Gundam prototype. But as the Zeon continued their attack, Amuro snuck into one of the Mobile Suits and manages to defeat the Zeon.

But the damage to the Federation was too great. Many of the soldiers and adults were killed by the Zeon. Although many of the residents evacuated, those who survived, mainly the elderly, wounded adults, teenagers and children would become the main crew members on Earth Federation Pegasus-class assault carrier – SCV-70 (LMSD-71) White Base.

The crew of the White Base are:

Amuro Ray: The main character and the hero of the original series. Amuro’s father was the Project Leader for Earth Defense Federation’s Project V which help develop the Mobile Suit Gundams.

Noa Bright: A non-commissioned officer candidate who was thrust into leadership as the sole surviving officer.

Fraw Bow: Amuro’s next-door neighbor who takes care of the orphaned children on White Base and becomes one of the main crew members.

Mirai Yashima: A civilian who had flight training. Daughter of an Earth Federation officer and would later be the main pilot of White Base.

Sayla Mass: A well-rounded soldier who has been searching for her brother Casval.

Kai Shiden: A pessimist, coward and earlier on,really turns everyone off because of his “I don’t care” attitude. Since he was one of the male survivors, becomes one of the pilots and soldiers of White Base.

Ryu Jose: A stocky test pilot who then becomes one of the main pilots of White Base.

Hayato Kobayashi: One of Amuro’s neighbors and an individual who tries his best to be better than Amuro but very insecure.

and then there were the Principality of Zeon:

Char Aznable: The “Red Comet” and brilliant pilot for the Principality of Zeon. He very much wants to destroy the Mobile Suit Gundam but it is revealed that he is Sayla’s brother Casval.

The Zabi Family: Degwin Sodo Zabi is the leader of the Principality of Zeon. His eldest child Gihren Zabi has the likeness of an Adolf Hitler. Along with Gihren are other members of the Zabi family such as Kycila (second eldest and the female member of the family) who somewhat despises her older brother. Dozie Zabi, second oldest son to Degwin, who happens to be a very good military leader towards his troops, a family man despite his rough, big exterior. Garma Zabi is the suave, handsome and youngest (and favorite) son of Degwin. Commander of the North American Zeon forces.

Basic synopsis of the three films:

The first film is literally about this crew of survivors trying to get out of harms way and to survive by docking at an ally station without being killed by the Zeon.

Unfortunately, along the way, they have to take on several of Zeon’s mighty pilots and the final battle of the first film leads up to a battle with Commander Garma Zabi and Char Aznable.

The second film titled “Soldiers of Sorrow” continues where the first has left off. This time, the Principality of Zeon wants revenge after Garma’s death. As the Zeon has suffered casualties, in the third film, the crew of the White Base also suffer casualties.

In this film, there is speculation that Amuro maybe a “newtype” (a next stage in human evolution with heightened mental awareness) and that they may need to strip him away from the Mobile Suit. Also, a little more character development with Kai Shiden who finds a love interest after leaving the White Base, Bright Noa taking interest in Mirai and more on the storyline between Sayla and her brother. Especially as Sayla steals the Mobile Suit Gundam to search for her brother.

Nevertheless, more battles against the Zeon continue. This leading to another fantastic battle between Amuro and his Gundam versus challenging and accomplished Zeon pilots.

The third film titled “Encounters in Space” features the dictatorship of Ghren Zabi and the war near its end.  As the Earth Federation starts to gain an edge, Ghren who his father has since compared him to Adolf Hitler comes up with a plan to decimate the Earth Federation numbers with an ultimate weapon.

Also, an introduction to a love interest for Char and Amuro.  Final battles between Federation and the Zeon. Who will die and who will survive?

Also, revealed in the final film is what Char Aznable’s intentions are with the Zeon.

All in all, the trilogy of the “Mobile Suit Gundam” films were quite enjoyable. If anything, you lack the character development and the romantic scenarios of how this character and that character have fallen in love and so forth. If anything, the main parts of the series are what’s being focused on and that is Amuro’s earlier stage from whiny teenager to become the hero of the series, how Bright Noa and his team have survived countless battles on White Base and of course, the respect but yet hatred between Amuro and Char and how both will do what it takes to destroy each other.

VIDEO:

The video ala newly remastered transfer looks great and for a 30-year old film. I’ve read that the remastered version for these films have new animation but all in all, it looks great!

AUDIO:

The Dolby Digital 5.1 Japanese track was great! Everything sounds clearer especially during battle and I’m glad there were a lot of focus to bring things out audio-wise for the trilogy. For purists, the mono tracks are also included as available choice.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

There aren’t any. That would have been cool to have commentary or some featurette with interviews or even showcase footage from the 25th Anniversary but no special features. Although the box set supposedly has a booklet on the restoration.

I have to say that what the staff was able to trim down to create three films from an original 43-episodes was pretty well done.

Of course, you lose a lot of the storyline from the original series and you lose probably some of the character development that goes into detail of relationships between characters.

But sticking to the core of the series which revolve around Amuro Ray, the crew of White Base, Char and the Principality of Zeon is intact and that is where the film succeeds.

There were some odd editing in two scenes from the third film where a scene didn’t transition well to the next scene. Not sure if that was my DVD (scratch or dust, not sure) or how things originally were but all in all, to have a digitally remastered copy of the three films, let alone having a Dolby Digital 5.1 version of the audio is just fantastic.

If anything, this film has now made me want to purchase the original series and to see how much plot and character development that I’m actually missing.

As for the fourth film “Char’s Counterattack”, I have been told to watch Zeta Gundam first before watching it, so next step in my Gundam UC viewing list is “Mobile Suit Z Gundam” and will report on that later.

Anyway, you can find this trilogy or the separate film on DVD fairly cheap these days and who knows if the film will be coming out on Blu-Ray very soon. But if you are into mecha and want to check out the most successful mecha titles out there, I highly recommend checking out “Mobile Suit Gundam”.

+ Enjoyed the storyline for all three films!

+ Condensing 43 (20-25 minute) television episodes into three films (7 hours total) is not easy. But the staff managed to do just that.

+ Definitely great for busy people who can’t watch all 43 TV episodes and can each volume or the collection can be purchased for a fairly low price.

+ Really good voice acting!

+ Newly remastered transfer and Dolby Digital 5.1, freakin’ awesome!

– For those who can’t stand older anime, I doubt they are going to see this and probably watch the Alternate Universe MSG Gundam storylines instead

– No special features but hopefully we’ll see it in a Blu-Ray release. Who knows…

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