Monday, June 13, 2011

Gundam Age Preview

The next animated series in the venerable Gundam franchise was officially unveiled today, so let's take a look at it, shall we? I've translated information from the official site below, with my personal impressions of the series at the very bottom. First up, the first PV advertisement:



Story
Several hundred years have passed since mankind first began to colonize outer space. The perpetual wars for dominance on the planet's surface are ended, and humanity embraced a new, peaceful era.

But that peace soon crumbled into despair.

A.G. 101 -- The 101st year of the Advanced Generation calendar.
An unknown enemy, designated UE, attacks and destroys the space colony Angel, suddenly and without warning. This brutal attack becomes known as "Angel Sunset," and marks the beginning of humanity's suffering.

A.G. 108
The United Earth's war against the UE continues. When the UE attacks the space colony Ovan, a 7-year old resident of the colony, Frit Asuno, watches his mother perish. The memory of her death is forever  documented his his memory unit, "Device AGE," there to be passed down through the generations. From his mother, Frit inherits an ancient blueprint for a powerful weapon--an ancient messiah called "Gundam." Frit determines to make the ancient blueprints into reality.

A.G. 115
Frit Asuno, noew 14 years old, lived at a United Earth Federation base in the Nora space colony. After spending years studying with the military engineers at the base, he finally completes the Gundam. Equpipped with self-evolving mechanism, it is installed with the "AGE System."


But now that he finally has the power to avenge his mother, Frit Asuno is afraid. The UE are invading Nora: Frit's destiny is fast approaching!

The war with the alien UE has persisted for more than 14 years, and in all that time the United Earth Federation has been unable to win even a single victory. Is this truly an enemy that Frit can overcome?

Technology
  • AGE System: The AGE system is an artificial-intelligence designed to self-evolve. When coupled with a body (human) and a system (Gundam) it collects data from combat, and evolves on its own. It is designed to grow with the pilot, and is permanently "registered" with only one pilot at a given time.
  • AGE Devices: Passed down through the generations of the Asuno family, the AGE device records the guiding principles of the Asuno family, as well as other information--data and research compiled by various family members--accumulating over the years. Known as a "Book of Secrets," it is inside his family's AGE Device where Frit discovers the blueprints for the legendary messiah, Gundam.
Mobile Suits and Foes
AGE-1 Gundam Normal (ガンダムAGE-1 ノーマル)
 The AGE-1 Gundam is the "base" appearance of the AGE-1 Gundam, in much the same way that the GAT-101 Strike Gundam served as the "base" for the Aile Strike, Sword Strike and Launcher strike. It's design is very much a throwback to the original RX-78-2 (original Gundam)'s design in the first Gundam animation, Mobile Suit Gundam, from 1979.

AGE-1 Gundam Titus (ガンダムAGE-1 タイタス)
The Titus equipment is designed for power, at the expense of mobility. Think of it as "heavy equipment."

AGE-1 Gundam Sparrow (ガンダムAGE-1 スパロー)
The Sparrow equipment emphasizes speed at the expense of power. Think of it as a "flight type."

RGE-B790 Genoas (ガンダムAGE-スパロー)
 The Genoas would appear to be a mass-production model of the AGE-1 Gundam. It's design is very clearly a throwback to the RGM-79 GM from the original Mobile Suit Gundam animation.

UE (Unknown Enemy)
This mysterious alien mobile-weapon first appeared 14 years ago. Classified simply as an "unknown enemy," it has repeatedly attacked and destroyed human settlements throughout the Earth Sphere. Crafted in a form reminiscent of a mythological dragon, it has the ability to transform into a humanoid shape.

Characters
Frit Asuno (フリット・アスノ)
The first protagonist of Gundam Age, he was born the same year that the war with the Uknown Enemies began. After witnessing his mother's death, he finds secret blueprints for an ancient mobile weapon called "Gundam," and devotes himself toward the defense of humanity and the defeat of the UEs. He is 14 years old at the start of the his story.

Asemu Asuno (アセム・アスノ)
Asemu Asuno is Frit Asuno's son. He will be 15 years old at the start of his story.

Kio Asuno (キオ・アスノ)
Kio Asuno is the grandson of Frit Asuno and the son of Asemu Asuno. He will be 13 years old at the start of his story.

Emily Ammond (エミリー・アモンド)
Emily Ammond is the childhood friend of Frit Asuno.


Gurudekku Einoa (グルーデック・エイノア)
 Gurudekku Einoa is the captain of the United Earth Federation warship, Diva, on which Frit Asuno and the AGE-1 Gundam are stationed.

Millais Aroi (ミレース・アロイ)
Millais Aroi is a female officer on board the Diva. Bridge bunny?

Air Date and Merchandising
  •  The Gundam Age anime will air this October, 2011. (Only 4 months away!)
  • The first three gunpla will include all three initial variants of the AGE-1 Gundam (Normal, Titus and Sparrow). They will be 1/144 in scale.
  • There will be a collectible card game available for sale soon.
  • A tie-in video game for an as-yet undisclosed platform is currently in development by Level-5. It will allow players to fight as all three protagonists.
Impressions
 At this point, although there's still a great deal about Gundam Age that we do not yet know, I feel compelled to reverse my initial impressions. Yes, the protagonists may be too young for my tastes. Yes, the character design may be too simplistic and the mechanical design too derivative and uninspired--but the story sounds really cool. And since we've had a run of Gundam shows (ever since Turn A) that had decent-to-good looking character and mecha design, but lousy narratives, I think this may very well be a step in the right direction.

The concept of a multi-generational story is very appealing, but I'm curious as to how it will be executed. We could see some interesting narrative depth is the story was told in a non-linear fashion, jumping back and forth between past (Frit), present (Asemu) and future (Kio)--and on the other hand, if the story is told in a linear fashion, that would mean we would (or we should) have the opportunity to see at least two protagonist grow up, maturing from rash children into competent adults. I, for one, would love to see a protagonist grow from age 7 to 60. This would be particularly nice for Gundam, which even in the "golden years" under Tomino, never quite had much in the way of character development. Or, rather, character growth: once a Kamille, always a Kamille, so the saying goes.

The setting, too, seems quite promising. With several centuries of peace and space colonization, we'll be seeing the most "developed" gundam setting since Gundam Wing--so I expect to see a whole lot of space colonies, several Lunar cities, and (hopefully) some sort of terraforming operation on Mars. Despite the "super robot-y" feeling the initial story details evoke, the presence of United Earth Federation military forces (in the form of both mobile suits and warships) bodes well for a "war drama" opposed to the generic "enemy of the week" routine. The initial designs for the AGE-1 Gundam, though uninspired, may look better with the addition of 1) fluid animation, 2) additional parts/accessories and 3) weapons. the Unknown Enemy design is certainly something very new for Gundam, even if it is a bit of a ZOID, and I look forward to seeing it in action.

On the whole, I'm beginning to feel more and more optimistic about Gundam Age. I probably won't be buying any merchandise, unless the Diva is really, really cool, but I hope to be entertained by the show itself. With an air date this October, and without an assinine year-long hiatus mid-series like Gundam, I fully expect Gundam Age to be a far more enjoyable experience than Gundam 00 or either of the Seed projects.


___
Sources: Bandai Channel Live announcement event, and the newly-opened official Gundam-Age.net website.

11 comments:

  1. There is no mention of United Earth Federation, where did you get that information from? Source please.

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  2. ^--That would be from the story synopsis on the official site (which I translated/summarized in the "story" section of the preview."

    Check out the first sentence under AG 108:
    UEとの地球連邦との戦いは未だ続いていた。

    Specifically: 地球連邦

    Unless I'm mistaken, those kanji are read as "Chikyuu Renpou," or "Earth Federation."

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  3. Ihave a hard time looking past the character designs, myself. The fat/circular "professor" in the PV just screams "generic super robot show--don't bother" to me.

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  4. UE dragon thing looks pretty cool. Do we know for a fact that it's alien?

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  5. I agree that this show has promise, though not the promise many "this-particular-timeline-is-the-only-real-Gundam" fans are demanding. The setting alone gives me chills to the possibilities. I hope this does turn out to be good and does not end up short like poor Gundam X. Strangely enough, the show gives off a feel of Tomino's non-Gundam works for me,like Dunbine and Ideon.

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  6. What intrigues me the most is the whole "three generations" thing, coupled with a 100 Years War. There's a real opportunity for a level of character development (and world development) that's typically not possible for most shows. I really look forward to seeing how that's implemented.

    I do worry that they'll do something stupid to "bridge" the generations. I have a hard time imagining how it'll play out. Will the fathers' die? Or are we going to see horridly irresponsible parenting?

    Sure kid, you're 13 today! Happy birthday! No go to war!

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  7. Yeah, it does seem a bit weird that the pilot would start out so young, but you have to consider that there may only be one, perhaps two seasons of the show. How much can a character evolve in such a short amount of time?

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  8. ^--All signs point to this being a traditional 50-episode Gundam series, so that leaves quite a bit of time do flesh out, develop and evolve the characters.

    It all comes down to how the production staff, the director in particular, want to frame the story. If they want to have a large, ensemble cast, and divide their focus between a set of protagonists (as was the case with Gundam 00, Gundam Seed Destiny and to a lesser degree, Gundam Seed) there's really not a lot of space for that kind of narrative depth.

    A more focused story, in the vein of the original Mobile Suit Gundam, can very easily embrace quite a bit of character development and evolution, EVEN with the protagonist swapping out multiple times.

    And just because the protagonist changes, that doesn't necessarily mean the previous protagonists will no longer appear. I, for one, look forward to seeing a young, hotblooded kid grow and mature into a (grossly irresponsible) father.

    Assuming they don't take the easy road and kill off the males as soon as they fertilize the females.

    *ahem*

    Just keep in mind that plenty of single-cour series (12-14 episode long affairs) can manage quite a lot of characterization, even with action or mystery-hyeavy plots.

    Just because Gundam has been weak in that area in the past does not necessarily mean the weakness will persist into the future.

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  9. I strongly agree with pretty much everything mentioned here. Started out pretty pessimistic (though not as much as everyone else) but now I'm quite looking forward to it.

    I don't imagine it'll be topping my Gundam rankings any time soon but it should be an entertaining ride at least.

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  10. Gundam Age is the throwback tribute to the original Gundam that I have been waiting for. Although I do enjoy the mass amounts of mobile battle metal scraps during the 1st episodes of 00 and seed/destiny, I can appreciate their focus on higher level character development. Clearly failures like Shinn Asuka and Setsuna showed their shallow "emo imma kill you." I have great hopes for Age, even though the start is a little slow.

    On a better note, since I'm always worried how mindless romance will ruin any Gundam series, I'm glad Bandai gave us a big spoiler of who the mother is. I'm calling it right now, Emily Ammond is the mother, it should be pretty obvious, which means she is definitely not on the "I'm going to get killed" list. I'm really hoping she doesn't turn out like the previous female leads in all the 2000's Gundam Series. I'm not ready for another passive aggressive crying act put on by some pubescent little girl.

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  11. Yurin > Emily.

    So, naturally, she'll die.

    The only living gf that's better than a live gf is Sayla.

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