U.C. 0068 - Zeon Zum Deikun suddenly dies while giving his speech to declare the Autonomous Republic of Munzo's independence from the Earth Federation. As Munzo falls in turmoil while the House of Zabi rises to power, Deikun's children Casval and Artesia must flee the colony to Earth in order to survive what is to come.
While almost everybody is busy hyping whatever bullshit comes out every season, only to completely forget it in favor of the next bullshit that comes out, the actually good stuff pass under the radar. Gundam the Origin, one of the few great anime in this awful decade, is one of them. And you know what, I don’t mind how nobody cares about it. Part of being niche has to do with only the actual fans saying how great it is, not casuals who think whatever mainstream bullshit comes out is the only thing worth watching because it’s popular.And I’m not implying Gundam is unknown to the public. It’s by far the most famous mecha franchise with countless seasons, toys, games, and manga. The thing is, almost nobody cares about the actually good stuff, which is the original universe, or better say the only good universe because it’s the first and the most retro of them all. The casuals are watching everything else, which to the most part is hollow spectacle about selling toys to children and has nothing to do with the original concept of a serious war drama. And it’s not like the Universal Century is that serious as a whole. Origin has lots of comedic moments. Too many for some. The characters have a body language that is much more cartoony and hard to get into if you didn’t grow up with 80s cartoons. Well, lucky for me I did, so I don’t mind it much. In fact, I like how it follows the original style and doesn’t try to update it by making everybody being out of character for the sake of mass appeal. It’s not a reboot, but a prequel to the original 1979 series, it should feel like I can watch both of them and not be given the assumption they are not the same timeline. They are, and they feel the same, good job. Also, good job with the CGI. It will eventually look bad after a few years, like all CGI do, but it was rendered far better than any tv series of its time, since it was given far more time than one week to do everything. That’s the beauty of OVAs. You get one once or twice every year and it looks spectacular, because the animation team is given enough time to do it right.But eventually, the best part is how seriously it takes itself in terms of characterization and atmosphere when you compare it with everything else. The plot is elaborate, the characters are looked into, and the theme is explored wonderfully. It sounds like the same words can be used to describe any show you are a fanboy of, but let’s be honest here, very few anime are as remotely as detailed and looked into as Gundam the Origin. The staggering majority of mainstream anime are bullshit about high schools, oversexualized minors who yell all the time, and over-explanatory dialogues that waste hours in infodumping the rules of magical systems, only to break every single one of them for the sake of spectacle. No politics, no tactics, no intrigue, no backstabbing, no substance. So by this simple fact, Gundam the Origin is one of the very few anime that is not about obnoxious teenagers and half naked bimbos in some high school doing whatever random bullshit the plot wants them to do. You are finally getting a worthwhile war drama that is not only faithful to the original title, but also manages to clarify everything you were hearing about in the series, without betraying its tone. It’s not easy to write a prequel that doesn’t feel stupid, or one that demystifies everything you were better off not knowing about. Gundam the Origin is one of the very few exceptions where everything clicks perfectly.And finally, it has giant robots and spaceships fighting in space, with politics and ideals clashing all the time. If you are into that shit and you don’t mind CGI that much, since that is the downfall of any anime, you are going to have a blast with this one. It is not as great as Legend of the Galactic Heroes, and not that serious as Area 88, but it’s still one of my favorite anime ever.
Review Mobile Suit Gundam: The OriginSome pretext: I am a mature adult anime reviewer (34), and recently begun exploring the Gundam series. I actually came across the Alternate Universe of Grim dark series Mobile Suits: Iron-Blooded Orphans before watching this. I chose a standalone alternate universe before getting into the main series to see if it was a type of anime I would like. So my review is influenced by the natural comparison of the two series. [SPOILER WARNING FOR ALL 6 OVA's]Story: 5/10 It's difficult for me to put the pro's and con's into seperate categories because some of the same flaws are some of the things that are also brilliant. The fact this is made into a 6 hour continual OVA, was much more paltitable and less rushed than 20 min episodes in a small series. There is quite a lot of depth involved overall in this story. I enjoyed that the series started with M.C's as small children, Aretesia is 7 at the start of the show, and I believe Casaval/Char is around 13, this was an interesting choice. It's certainly not what I expected from the trailers and then the intro to the first OVA. Honestly, if I had only watched the first OVA, I Would have scored this much lower than 5. Although Sunrise started off with the right hook and introduction, the pacing in this series is all over the place. It has a strange vibe that alternates from Annoying Villian 1(no context or background), to cat climbing up bed posts(slapstick humour?), to grandfather having an apopolexy, to fanatical deiken father who looks like he's going to molest his sleeping children in the first 3 mins... Another jarring aspect was in the first OVA they explain absolutely nothing and everyone is ranting and raving in the first 10 mins that I am having a difficult time making heads or tails of the dialogue. Then when you hit the second OVA they spend 4 mins recaping everything and finally explaining the hour you spent. Honestly I'd tell people watching this for the first time like myself to skip OVA1 and start on OVA2, it made much more sense in 10 mins recap than an hour... Irritatingly the series continues to do these annoying voice over recaps in every OVA until the last ones are nearly 10 mins long each. Then the LAST OVA doesn't have one at all... It makes no sense to show these in such a manner. First confuse your viewer with no explanations at all and then add needless explanations after we painstakingly figured it out for ourselves insulting our intelligence. And then the one time you might need it, coming back to the very last OVA, it's not there at all. Not to mention the narrator then overlays in the middle of the shows starting on OVA 2-3 breaking your suspension of disbelief and being in the storyline. Seriously, the pacing in this story often had me falling asleep on different parts of the OVA's. The first OVA in particular. And again when long spats with the Zabi's made me want to rip out my ear drums. Many of the scenes voice acting was so gutteral and didactic that I really hated listening to most of the characters speak at all. Despite this, the anime picks up on storyline by OVA 2, 3, and 5. However, I'm really not sure what this anime is trying to achieve storywise. Are we supposed to love Casval/Char or hate him? And what of the side characters? I felt nothing for the uncle Ramba Ral who helped rescue the cat in OVA 1 and his design is so different later that if it wasn't for subtitles labeling I wouldn't have realised it was him. I enjoyed the dichotomy between Artesia and Char, but clearly she was nutured and loved and he was neglected quite a bit. Stark example of this is the last night with their mother in the tower and Artesia is held lovingly and the boy left without even one last cuddle. Was he always malacious or was he simply harbouring anger from neglect, trauma, ptsd, and abuse from a young age? Should I really believe we can make mechas in the future but we still have outdated tropes that women are nutureres only still and are "blood thirsty monsters" otherwise? That's a direct quote for the movie when the main Zabi leader asks Garman not to change because he's not "blood thirsty like Kycilia". Yeesh. I rolled my eyes hard there considering it was the men of the Zabi's who took down an entire space station of people an landed it on earth, killing earth and space people alike with no hesitation. And am I supposed to believe that mental health isn't addressed at all- or for that matter cured? I guess this is where trying to adapt 1970's era anime fall flat for me in 2020. Things like all the miltary garb resembling WW2, and all the "mothers" and "good women" being blonde haired blue eyed. Not to mention all of them look like carbon copies of each other. Artesia's mother, Crowley Hamon, the miltary girl turned Dozle Zabi's wife...someone couldn't make the women look different from each other? Or are they all expendible? The red headed Kycilia Zabi, and the three very small side love interests (Engineer who helped design Mobiles suits sons girlfriend and the girl who went in shelter and died from gas/fall of shelter onto earth and Char's wife/partner) were exception to the rules of this design flaw... however they all suffered in this series as props to the men except Kycilia. On an aside, I would have loved to see this show based on her point of view. She is the only one whose dialogue didn't centre around men other than the context of war but still, better than the rest when it was the context of love. It was so jarring to come from Mobile Suits Ironblooded Orphans with strong female women, in design and concept to this mess of an OVA series for the views and roles of all the characters.There was a lot of plot to chew in each OVA, and each one is over an hour long. So i took quite some time to finish them all. I do not reccomend binge watching as you will find yourself pondering the motives, plot an storyline for a little while after. This at least I think is a positive thing. And all this brings me to characters: 5/10 I found these to be the single most one demensional characters I've found in any series. Especially the villans. The only saving graces were Casaval and Ral... The poor voice actors weren't given much to work with in concern to the Zabi's. Still even Casaval fell prey to some one demensional tropes in that he was made to look only bad. If we are to believe and want to put faith in an antihero, at least give us reasons to like him as well as hate him. The Zabis were possibly the most ignorant, irrrational, confusing bunch of antagonists I've come across in susposedly mature niche anime in some time. Their voice acting was far too over the top, and their animation too. It must be something from that era because it was completely the opposite of what I am used to. Honestly I'm not sure how I sat through this entire series. I think what kept me going was that I was seeing a history lesson on future Gundam that might be wildly different and add context to needed next installments, and also my favourite part of the series: The music and animations. Animation: 6/10 I didn't like a lot of the character stylisation as it didnt suit my preference but it was still done expertly. I appreciate the effort for returning gundam fans and the studio to keep faithful to the origional design ideas. However, after looking up the director and designer teams for these gundams, i have to say I will not be watching anything futher from them. I can see now why IBO was different from this series. Completely different designers/directors team.There wasn't any annoying jarring or off lipsyncing for the japanese audios. They looked realistic in different point of views and not just straight forward or sideways but three quarters as well. The physics behind them walking, running, jumping, etc were really well done. Casval/Char's iconic tilt of head and movements of his hair out of face was a good example of this.They didn't use place markers scenes like looking at a static object to make up for laziness or lack of animation skills. And don't get me started on how beautiful and breathtaking the background artwork was, the clouds, the perspective shifts from close to large views. Oh my! One really memorable one of this was when the father and son(Amuro I think?) were standing in the industrial biosphere space shelter, overlooking all the red wasteland and the cranes surround them, that was beautifully juxtaposed. Another was the combat fights. Many people dislike the 3D CGI and look down their nose but I think they are a wonderful innovation between full cgi and anime. It also was used quite a lot in the character's animations and no one seems to comment on those sections. It created a much more seemless and fluid movement of characters then just drawn by hand because the physics were handled by the computer. A good example of this is in OVA 2, and 5 when the club dancer Crowley is singing, or when Char is running up the mountainside while training in OVA 3 and then slides down to rescue the zabi heir Garman and places his waterproof shelter overtop his rival/companion, which really was a fine example of good physics in animation design and tastefully done 3D CGI. I feel uniquely qualified to comment on these things because of my own lifetime background in the arts. So definitely the art was something that kept me going in the sluggish moments. Bringing me to Sound: 9/10This is based solely on the soundtrack and not the voice acting. This is a soundtrack I would purchase and listen to again, it took awhile for the overarching theme to match the ova's it worked much better in OVA 4-6, but it really hit me in the feels when I watched the shelter plummet to the earth. It reminded me both visually and emotionally of visiting the harrowing Holocaust musuem in Washington D.C., they definitely sourced some of the scenes from those historical videos/pictures from those times because the placements of how people lay like they were asleep or gasping for breath, was uncanny and gave me shivers with the timing of the music. Definitely a wonderful sound track and highly reccomended. So overall I have really mixed feelings about this series. I love what Sunrise made in Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphan, and I saw small moments of similar brilliance in this series, but the overall themes, the lack of development outside of Casaval and Artesia, the amounts of useless characters who are brought in then dropped and the pacing made this a really strange experience for me. I loved parts of it, I hated parts of it, and I felt some parts were mediocre. So all in all this rated 5/10.
Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin is an ode to excellence, an art habitually outdoing itself. It is the epitome of what Gundam is and was, and is the type of work only a master can craft. Origin is cinematic brilliance, and one of the finest in modern manga adaptating and modern anime storytelling. As such, it is as charming and emotionally evocative as its tentpole franchise has ever been, perpetually asserting itself among the best this decade has to offer in terms of an animated series. It would be unwise to herald such a title as absolute perfection; there are blemishes in this magnificent work of art. The questionable overreliance on 3D CGI can be off-putting when non-mechanical objects rendered in such a style look worse than Dozle in a car accident. Additionally, the film series stumbles choppily at first before truly hitting its monumental stride. Some of the ending themes are forgettable and the music takes a while to truly match the scale and magnificence of the series proper. Certain moments regarding character relationships can feel rushed as well. However, in the face of an 18 meter behemoth of passion and glory, these issues the size of a hammer-induced dent. They exist yet mean little; mere bumps and scratches in the left calf of a machine painted, oiled, and buffed with the utmost care. The character designs by legendary Gundam veteran and original mangaka Yoshikazu Yasuhiko are absolutely perfect, perfect updates on both the iconic designs of yore, and the art redesigns of the manga. The expressions are the liveliest in the entire franchise, striking the perfect balance between character detail and freedom of animation of the models. As for the mechanical designs of the pre-0079 era, they work exquisitely as the prototypes and predecessors of what would become the norm of the One-Year War. The CGI work for these mechs in particular is nothing short of commendable, as the clunky experimental designs of the iconic mobile workers -prototypes to the iconic mobile suits- are capitalized on tremendously. The directing of the action sequences -courtesy of franchise veterans Yoshikazu Yasuhiko and Takashi Imanishi- is exquisite, most especially in regards to the iconic Custom Red Zaku II Char pilots. One need look no further than the spectacular opening scene in episode 1 or the battle in episode 6 to know exactly how kinetic and monumental these skirmishes are. The smoke effects work wonderfully as well, particularly in regards to the purple smoke and explosions of Federation ships and student artillery. Dare I say, if the CGI were present in the mechanical models exclusively, this would be Gundam’s visual magnum opus! It already achieves such marks from a directorial standpoint. Even more care was taken to make sure that each development of the characters, narrative, and technology, kept the integrity of the original series in tact. Char’s vengefulness was built up perfectly and shown to be as innate to his as humanly possible. Seeing him in a position of power is an absolute treat, whether it be him taking down a Guntank single-handedly as a child, or beating up a spy with his fists and a spiked plank. His malicious tendencies also originated from a place that feels both human and sensible, unlike a more direct counterpart in Anakin Skywalker aka Darth Vader and how the Star Wars prequels attempted to do the same. Additionally, witnessing other major characters from the original series in their younger forms was particularly charming. The biggest standouts were Dozle -the lovable oaf- and Ramba Ral, both of whom were particular highlights in Origin. Even witnessing a younger Amuro Ray was wonderful, especially when everyone’s favorite troublesome little mascot, Haro began acting like the lovable goof fans know and love. The characters brand new to Origin held up as well and worked wonderfully in their roles, particularly Ramba’s father and the man who would take care of Char and Sayla in the second episode. Every second spent with these characters is wonderful and full of the type of bittersweet pleasantness you never get in anime, especially when you are familiar with where they end up in 0079. The voice acting held up tremendously as well. Keith Silverstein did a marvelous job playing Char’s teenage and adult self, with just the type of calculated, semi-dominant, and slightly spiteful tinge that truly made up Char as a person up until the end of the original 0079. Kirk Thornton was splendid as a slightly younger but ultimately gravely Ramba Ral, and Doug Stone was splendid as his desperate, constantly stressed, and slightly deranged father. The most interesting casting choice was Mike Pollock -best known for his role as Eggman- whose performance as Char and Sayla’s caretaker, Don Teablo Mass. There are a plethora of other cast members who did wonderfully in their roles as well, such as Liam O’Brien, and other well known VAs such as Lisa Ortiz and Patrick Seitz make great background character voices. Even Hamon’s singing in the penultimate installment -in both languages- especially in the context of the original’s story, is as beautiful as it is soul-crushing. Everything melts into a wonderful english dub, lip-syncing issues aside. There’s a sense of love and passion Origin exudes, a marvelous sense of charisma that exemplifies the joys of cinema. It may not be as thematically rich as Thunderbolt, as visually mesmerizing as Char’s Counterattack, or as inviting as Turn A, but in many ways, this exemplifies the best of what Gundam has to offer. Even when displaying a sense of brutality synonymous with Gundam, this love letter to the franchise never stops bringing a sense of whimsy and evoke visceral emotion to the silver and digital screens. You may need to watch other installments to truly appreciate this one, but in doing so, this is your reward: the absolute pinnacle of Gundam!
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