The tragic story of Char Aznable, the ace pilot known as the Red Comet, and his sister Sayla Mass unfolds against the backdrop of the events leading to the One Year War. The Zabi family's rise to power, the birth of the Principality of Zeon, the early days of famous aces such as Ramba Ral and the Black Tri-Stars, the development of the revolutionary new weapon known as the mobile suit, and the road to war against the Earth Federation are all depicted onscreen for the first time.
Child of Zion
A Promise with Mother
Édouard and Sayla
Char and Garma
The Principality of Zeon Declares Its Independence
Dropping the Colony
A Red Mobile Suit
The Battle of Loum
Char, the Red Comet
*Spoilers ahead. TL;DR with the bottom two paragraphs*Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin is one of my favorite anime of the decade. It is a prequel done exceptionally well, and it is easily one of the best installments in the franchise. While it did have some stumbles, its growth as an OVA series over the course of its three-year run is one of the most rewarding experiences I've had with an anime in years. It is one of the most compelling space operas and political anime I’ve seen, and it exemplifies a sense of wonder and charm that few in this franchise can match. As such, you can imagine my worry when this adaptation was expecting a TV re-edit. I knew that no matter what, it would still be a good show and perhaps a more accessible way for certain fans to get into the series, but I also expected it to hinder the material with unfortunate removals and jarring edits. That's exactly what happened and then some, though that isn't enough to make this a bad series.This is going to be a more critical look at how this TV version handles the material, rather than a review of everything we were presented, as I already did that with the review of the OVA which ended last year. As such, this review may sound more negative than the score would imply. The core narrative and feel of Gundam Origin is stellar enough that a good adaptation of such material almost inherently warrants a high rating. It's just that Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin - Advent of the Red Comet provides several inconveniences and removals that make this supposedly more accessible rendition serviceable at best. The first problem this series has is its pacing and how the OVAs and by extension, the manga, were not designed with TV pacing in mind. This is most noticeable in how episodes end, often resulting in cliffhangers that feel limp instead of enticing, as these endings are generally abrupt, resulting in no fanfare or impact. The pacing also highlights how disconnected certain scenes tend to be. Some of it comes down to simple removals and awkward edits like when a scene in episode 5 goes from Char laughing when Garma tries to befriend him to an explosive mock battle that comes out of nowhere. Other instances are simply due to how rushed the pacing of some of the weaker episodes of the OVA --namely 1 and 4-- were. Truncating that even further makes the first and fifth episodes of this TV version feel like a series of disconnected scenes happening in rapid succession. Each episode of the OVA had a natural and visible through-line to them, and it sometimes took a while for them to reach their strides. Even when the pacing felt abrupt, it somehow still felt deliberate. It no longer feels deliberate when the true Char Aznable that our protagonist eventually takes the identity of only gets three scenes in episode 4, has an important scene demonstrating the rift between him and his family get cut down heavily, and then dies at the end of that same episode as opposed to having more of a presence in the second OVA episode before dying in the third. It also doesn’t feel deliberate when they further truncate the most rushed plot point in all of Gundam Origin, that being the relationship between Dozle and Zenna from the military academy.Noticeable cuts include the removal of Amuro’s interaction with his father and some interactions with Frau Bow. However, the one I’m going to be focusing on as it’s one of the more detrimental alterations is the removal of how Astraea's house arrest was partially motivated by the house owner's jealousy. We know it was mainly done under Zabi orders but removing this detail while keeping the scene in instead of just altering it to make it solely an act made by the Zabis feels wrong. This makes it so the scene of the owner of the house bitterly reminding Astraea of how her husband sometimes used these chambers for his influential thought feel needless. Knowing where Zeon Zum Daikun, Char's father, sometimes thought of his speeches wasn't the important part. What was important was highlighting how Astraea was never an intellectual partner for him and what that meant for both her and the owner who resented her. Chalk this one up to a nitpick but it's omissions like this and the aforementioned scenes with the original Char that cause the characters to lose some of their vibrancy when the cast of characters was perhaps the most defining aspect of Gundam Origin. The main cast is largely as wonderful as ever but a lot of the side characters a tad hung to dry this time around. It isn't as egregious as the general pacing and scene sequence issues, but it emphasizes how this version is about rushing to get to the meat of the story regardless of how tactlessly it may do so. Then again, at least it didn’t play a scene twice halfway into episode 3 like Unicorn Re:0096 did when the people involved thought keeping both the end of the first OVA episode and the beginning of the second one was a good idea. The only things left to cover are the opening and ending themes, as well as a few thoughts regarding the audiovisuals in general. The OVA boasts a fair amount of terrible environmental CGI, so the removal of several scenes for the TV version means the removal of some of said CGI. The rest of the CGI outside of the first episode still ranges from good to downright stellar, with the mechs being particularly great in several instances. The direction is mostly kept intact and along with the crisp animation and expressive character designs, it leaves the series looking gorgeous. The dub retains the same level of quality as the dub of the OVA, so much so that they may have just been ripped straight from that. If not, then the rerecording must have been impressive. The music is still well-composed, with a few particularly incredible tracks such as the main theme of the OVA and the remix that plays when Char launches into the battle of Loum later into the series. The OPs performed by LUNA SEA are generally good, although visually the first two are nothing more than spoiler-filled montages. The first OP, “Higher and Higher” is easily my least favorite, though things only pick up with the more inspiring second OP, “Hisoubi”, which sports the feeling of a folk tale. The final OP, which is a cover of “Beyond the Time” from the film Char’s Counterattack, is my favorite opening of the year, with a sense of pride and finality matched only by the visuals, which present the current state of affairs with incredible transitions before whisking us away to the original Mobile Suit Gundam from 1979 and returning to the events of this TV edit from 2019. I can’t even begin to do justice to how much this works at celebrating 40 years of Gundam far more than the show itself does. As for the ED themes, almost none of them are particularly worth mentioning in my eyes aside from the colorful visuals in the second ED, as I don’t particularly care for the first two and I only find the third one to be a decent song. The only one I genuinely like is the ED that plays in the final episode, that being a somber song known as “Hikari no Hate” by SUGIZO by Aina The End (BiSH). The final OP and the later EDs provide the only bits of genuinely new content in this show, though since you can simply look them up elsewhere, they don’t necessarily provide much of any real advantage for this version of the series.I won’t lie when I say I am disappointed with this TV re-edit. That isn’t to say I didn’t enjoy it, especially given how spectacular Gundam Origin tends to be. However, there were times where I was actively bored or annoyed by the handling of certain episodes, which was never the case with the OVA. I expected some of the pacing and editing issues presented here considering they needed to adapt from a more theatrical OVA format to a more controlled and limiting television format. However, even considering that, sometimes this show failed to properly do even that material justice, like with the first and fifth episodes. Certain characters feel particularly left out to dry compared to previous iterations of this story, and the pacing occasionally leaves the show feeling like a series of disconnected sequences. Often times, episodes end without the final scene having any impact or even feeling like a proper conclusion to an episode. It’s even worse when said episodes include a scene that feels like the proper end to an episode occurs long before the actual end, and they work much better than the limp cliffhangers and conclusions the show gives us. On top of that, most of the faster-paced moments and certain plot points that already felt rushed were condensed even further. It leaves the pacing feeling a lot more awkward and disjointed than before. I see no benefit to separating the contents of the episodes in and of itself, but the way they truncated and edited them only puts this version at a further disadvantage. Some may consider most of these nitpicks, but even then, these issues snowball into a substantially inferior experience. Some may not even notice these faults, however, especially if they haven’t seen the OVA or read the manga. Hell, some may even prefer the more truncated version as it allows for binging or digesting the material at a slower pace of 22 minutes a day compared to 55-95 minutes a day or what have you. It’s their choice, honestly. Even a mediocre retelling of wonderful material still leads to a good show. As for me, I’ll stick to the OVA and begin wondering if manga fans had similar feelings regarding it to what I felt here.Written and Edited by: CodeBlazeFateProofread by: Peregrine
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