Thursday, September 23, 2010

Nerd Rage #2: Turn A Gundam

I must have been spending the summer with my head in the ground because I apparently missed some extremely exciting news…for me, not you. I’m not sure how much you care about this, my silent and possibly imaginary reader, but this has been the highlight of my week since I learned of it a few days ago. After several years of quiet anger in regards to it never being exported to America Bandai Entertainment announced this past July that Turn A Gundam has been licensed and will make its way stateside in the future.


Squeeeeee!

Again you might not care. Chances you may never had even heard of this anime. But I’m excited over this. Kind of. Mostly. Sort of.

Turn A Gundam was an anime produced from 1999 to 2000 as part of the Gundam franchise. You’ve probably heard of this franchise as it has been on American television off and on since 2000 in some form or another. For the uniformed the metaseries is about giant robots in space that are varying degrees of awesome. The series has been called the “Star Trek of Japan” which is true in a lot of ways. I’ll leave it at that for now because really if I’m going to ramble on about the whole series I really should write a blog under that topic. Turn A Gundam was the fourth series in the franchise set in an alternative universe to the main continuity (“Hail Zeon”, and all that). There are two main reasons to be intrigued by this show, aside from the simple fact it involves giant robots; #1) It was directed by Gundam creator Yoshiyuki “Kill ‘em All” Tomino. Infamous for his decades long battle with depression resulting in him brutally, violently, and often pointlessly murdering his main cast of characters (Hence his famous nickname) in the most heart wrenching way possible Turn A Gundam marked his return to the franchise after taking several years away from the director’s chair. Luckily by that point Tomino had beaten depression and managed to not let his baggage influence his work, avoiding repeating his horrifying mistakes with Victory Gundam and other TV shows. Appropriately many Gundam fans consider Turn A Gundam to be among the best in the metaseries.

Tomino is well adjusted and loves a happy endin-JOSSED!

#2) Yoko Kanno did the music. Now don’t feel too bad if you don’t know who she is since she’s not nearly as famous here in America as she is in Japan and you’d probably have to be a pretty big fan of anime to know her. She’s most famous, from our point of view, as the composer of the score to Cowboy Bebop. She’s worked on a lot of different types of anime producing significantly different types of music over the years. Basically if it exists as a musical genre Yoko Kanno can probably fake it seamlessly. Other anime scores she’s done include Wolf’s Rain, Escaflowne: The Movie, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, the opening music for Cardcaptor Sakura (As opposed to the god awful and sexist American dub “Cardcaptors”) and this new show running around called “Darker Than Black” which Netflix repeatedly tells me I should watch, among many others.

The real question is "Why don't all Gundams have mustaches?"

So we have the father of Gundam and one of the most prolific composers in anime working on one show. How could it go wrong? Well, very easily because everything in the world is potentially terrible until proven different. I have watched the first five episodes or so of Turn A Gundam and it didn’t exactly set my world on fire. It was kind of wordy and the action wasn’t as in the forefront as I assumed it would have been. But hey, there’s 45 more episodes to get it together so no point in making any judgments yet. What I’m really curious about though is “why now”. Why bring Turn A Gundam to America now when the iron is so cold? Why didn’t Bandai do this in 2003 as a follow-up to Mobile Fighter G Gundam back when the series was still, you know, relatively popular in the US? Or even earlier than that, before releasing the 20 year+ old Mobile Suit Gundam killed all the momentum the ultra successful Gundam Wing provided in 2000 (Because, SHOCKINGLY, an anime made in 1979 looks like brightly colored poop an anime made in freaking 1979 and thus the kids weren’t interested in it). I assume the main reason it was never exported was become the central robot in the series, Turn A aka The White Doll, is very different from the normal style of Gundam. Mainly it’s significantly manlier than most of the others due to its EPIC mustache. Make no mistake, gentle reader, this makes the White Doll a GODDAMN MAN but the unenlightened (i.e. American society) may have found it laughable. Curse your hides! Also I’ve heard there’s a Gundam Committee that is responsible for which series is allowed to be exported to other countries and that these assholes have deemed shows like Gundam X and Victory Gundam off-limits to the world. If true perhaps Turn A Gundam was on that list as well.

Pictured: What Cartoon Network showed instead of Turn A Gundam

I guess it’s better late than never but I still can’t help but wonder what caused the Powers That Be to change their minds about this particular show. I have two possible theories.

Theory # 1: Dynasty Warriors: Gundam

Called Gundam Musou in Japan, Dynasty Warriors: Gundam is a video game series (Two games with a third coming out) that takes the gameplay mechanics of the redundant, but still pretty fun, Dynasty Warriors series and adds the characters and robots of various Gundam TV shows and films. Though it featured characters from the original Gundam as well as from Gundam Wing, G Gundam and Zeta Gundam, shows that had a presence in America in some capacity, it also featured a few shows that never made it over here and therefore completely unfamiliar to the average fan. Of these characters easily the most prolific was Loran Cehack and his mobile suit Turn A, the main protagonist of Turn A Gundam. A combination of his being visually and philosophically unique among the main characters we in the States were used to as well as Turn A being freaking sweet may have caused many fans to question why the show wasn’t licensed already and Bandai has since picked up on this feeling. I sure as hell didn’t know who that white haired girl was before playing that game but once I finished it I was damned interested in seeing more of her. It’s like how the Fire Emblem series didn’t make it to the USA until AFTER Marth showed up in Super Smash Bros. (NOTE: You won’t get this reference unless you’re a dork/nerd)

Loran Cehack: Actually a Boy

Theory #2: What Else Are We Gonna To Watch?

Gundam may not be as popular as it once was in the States but it does still have a strong fan base who will continue supporting the franchise/feed their habit. Bandai had been just licensing whatever new Gundam series that had come out in Japan to get their money off of Gundam fans the last six years or so, even scoring some TV deals for a few of them. Unfortunately, as of this writing, there isn’t any more. Gundam Unicorn, a six episode straight to DVD series, is years away from being completed (For some reason) and no full series has been announced. So if they want to keep ripping dollars off the yanks they need to provide something new. Turn A Gundam is the most recent series not already licensed and thus doesn’t look like dated 80s bullcrap (Sorry Gundam ZZ, but you do) so perhaps they view it as something to distract us wile a new, more modern, series can be produced.

I have no idea if either of these theories have any credence, but the important thing is that Turn A Gundam will be available to purchase, probably within the next year, so I’m happy. With this show in the works the idea of other Gundam series coming over isn’t so radical anymore. Really, how can you say that Gundam X will probably never see the light of day in our country now that Turn A Gundam will soon grace our shore? Let’s not be so pessimistic.

On the other hand Garrod is the worst Gundam pilot ever

Maybe Gundam X is fine where it is

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