Do you dislike Gundam? I sure do. Do you have an irrational hatred for any mecha anime Sunrise puts out these days? Me too. Do you not care for the robot genre in general? Kind of.
Well then you might like Mobile Fighter G Gundam aka the best Gundam iteration aka the only good Gundam iteration.
Let me make it clear that I wouldn’t have given Imagawa’s version of Gundam the time of day if it wasn’t for the fact that so many fans and haters of the franchise told me about how awesome it was. The first few episodes, whilst there wasn’t anything to hate about them like f*cking Gundam Wing, didn’t have anything I particularly liked either. It was mainly just a guy I didn’t know fighting a bunch of Gundam fighters because he wanted to search for his brother and all that. And I know this might be heresy to some people, but Sunrise mecha fights are some of the most boring robot fights to ever exist, on the level of those godawful “pew pew” scenes in Legend of the Galactic Heroes - which also suffered from the fact that the first few episodes aren’t very compelling come to think of it. How about getting out of the robot and fighting for real, huh? Incidentally, my favorite fight scenes were when the characters did just that.
It also didn’t help that the voice-acting was so mediocre and dull-sounding just like every other Gundam show in the past that I had to switch the language to the laughably bad English dub just to buy into the characters. Yeah, even the genuinely touching romance scenes between Rain and Domon click with me more when they’re spoken by people who sound worse than James Sunderland’s original voice actor in Silent Hill 2. Come to think of it, I had to do the same thing with War in the Pocket, as well as every other Gundam series I tried.
Anyways, I finally managed to get into the show around Episode 9 or so when I finally was able to see the bigger picture. And it’s not like the show got better or anything. I was just able to finally “understand it” over time. The show is basically your standard shonen fighting anime except with Gundams. A dude has a goal he’s striving towards and must enter a tournament to help him achieve said goal. He’s assisted by his female partner/love interest and bond through the Gundam stuff rather than the slice-of-life tediousness that qualifies as dating in anime terms. On the way, he befriends some opponents upon defeating them, makes more of them mad, conflicting dreams, it turns out that there’s an underbelly to the whole tournament thing, yada yada yada. And then the four-episode final act is similar to Gurren Lagann’s final act except with real robots instead of super robots.
There’s not too many surprises, especially if you’re used to the formula by this point, but G Gundam manages to add enough spice to the whole thing to make things interesting enough. The main reason are the characters. They’re all shonen stereotypes for the most part, but they also have their own hopes and dreams in regards to the Gundam tournament with entire episodes being dedicated to exploring their motivations so that we give more of a damn about them than we do about Chris F*cking Brown (how many times has he been arrested now?). The names can be a bit ridiculous like Chibodee Crocket or Allenby, but if a guy named Andy W. Hol gets to be the most sympathetic character in his mecha show – and let’s be honest, it was his show - then I don’t see why G Gundam can’t be the same.
Actually, EVOL is a pretty good comparison, because that’s another generic mecha premise that was spiced up with a load of details, mostly the colorful cast, in order to make it work. And just like EVOL, whilst the details are interesting enough to be fun, they didn’t go far enough to be truly memorable. I’m actually struggling to shower any real praise on this show because I can’t really think of anything it does well that wouldn’t turn me into a retarded fanboy or girl or whatever upon praising. And I don’t even love the parts that that specific audience go gaga over, so if I talked about how handsome Sai Saichi is for a little kid, I’d be lying. Although it was cute how every one of the Alliance members got their own love interest in the end. Except for Chibodee, who got his own harem.
G Gundam didn’t play with the shonen formula enough to make me love the show like I know some of its more long-term fans do, especially when you compare it to the fighting anime that rank amongst my favorites. I certainly don’t think it’s one of the greatest anime ever. But it did enough to make it an interesting enough watch and I wouldn’t mind going back to it sometime down the line. That’s more than I can say for any other Gundam series – scratch that – every other Sunrise mecha that’s been coming out lately. No you’re NOT getting me to watch Gundam Boyfriends!