Oh boy… Well, I was warned, even by the creator of the show himself (literally Tomino told people not to buy the DVDs in an insert on the DVD release…) but now I’ve finally started to watch Victory Gundam and it’s not good! Who would’ve thought that a show with a bad reputation even among diehards of the meta-series would actually not be very good? Well, at least the first quarter-ish, we’ll see about the rest, obviously. Want to know more? Read on!
The Earth, still loosely controlled by the greatly weakened Earth Federation, comes under attack by BESPA, the armed forces of the space colony-based Zanscare Empire. Only a ragtag resistance movement, League Militaire, stands in BESPA’s way as they swiftly conquer much of space and start their invasion of Earth, with the advanced mass-produced mobile suit, the Victory Gundam, as the League Militaire’s secret weapon. However, BESPA’s power continues to grow, using violent means, including public executions with guillotines, to strike fear into those living on Earth.
*spoilers appear from here on out!*
The Victory Gundam, along with a “Gun EZ”, which… isn’t that stupid sounding, compared to a lot of Mobile Suits!
Well, I do like the Victory Gundam design. I haven’t seen much of it because all of Uso’s game appearances have been while piloting the V2 Gundam he presumably gets roughly halfway through the series, but the original is fun too. It splits into three, with a “core fighter” as one of the parts, so that’s led to a few unique bits, plus its mass produced at least to a degree, which is definitely unique in the Gundam meta-series.
I… sort of like Ltjg. Chronicle (that’s Lieutenant Junior Grade, in case you were confused like myself), the Char-a-like of the series, seemingly. He’s part of the Zanscare royal family, but he’s trying to prove himself a proper soldier that earns his ranks. As the series moves on we see he has a good side, unlike most of the Empire who are just dastardly evil, helping League Militaire member Katejina and later trying to broker peace between the Zanscare Empire and a third party airport that was caught in the middle of their battle with League Militaire… before his fellow soldiers just started bombing the place and fighting anyway… My only criticism is his face mask, which just looks like a white balaclava that he keeps taking on and off all the time. It’s like Tomino didn’t want to do it, but the producers wanted another masked rival character.
Apart from that though, slim pickings. There were some good mobile suit battles, particularly at the spaceport/airport mentioned above, but they were often ruined by… things listed below…
Uso talks to Katejina, a relationship that’s bound to end well!
Where to start? I mean there isn’t a single likeable character on either side, really. Uso, our lead protagonist, is whiney and, well, 12-years-old, but also keeps just accepting things after complaining about them for half an episode. Then he also has moments of silly prat-falls and other slapstick comedy, whilst also pining for the love and attention of a woman much older than he is, but also acting quite mature sometimes, then being an ace pilot, then not wanting to be a pilot… He’s just all over the place.
Unlike say Amuro or Kamille from the first two Gundam shows, two characters who started off unlikable in their own rights as protagonists, Uso doesn’t have a strong cast of side characters to help with his issues. His friend Shakti is just annoying, constantly wanting to go back home and not fight in the war, but never actually doing it, despite having to look after a dog… and a BABY. Why none of the other soldiers or cliché “cool” friends of Uso and Shakti didn’t just insist she leave even if it is without Uso I have no idea. At one point Uso lets her and the child into the cockpit of the Victory Gundam’s core fighter despite potential danger and apologises when they caught in the battle. No shit! Maybe don’t take a girl with a crying child on her back into an active warzone. Throw in an overabundance of extremely annoying Haro robot and yikes.
The actual League Militaire don’t get much better. The leaders are all lacking charisma, Marbet, the pilot who Uso takes over for when she gets injured, just keeps banging on about how it’s pathetic they keep putting a child in the cockpit of a fighter during war but not doing anything about it (or trying to do something but immediately failing and tagging out to Uso) and we’re eventually introduced to the “Shrike Team”, which are a set of six female mobile suit pilots that seemingly exist to be killed off. Seriously, they’re introduced in Episode 10 and by Episode 14 three of them are dead. The first was killed off so quickly that one of the pilots had to say “She’s dead? The best one among us and the person who we all looked up to as a role model and that we all loved dearly is dead? Nooo!” and that’s not even paraphrasing much, it was that on the nose that this character who I sure as hell can’t remember the name of had so little screen time that they had to try and add character to her during her fellow pilot’s mourning of her death.
Fuala gives Chronicle the suspicious eye after I praise him and not her… Wait, how is she aware of this review?! Argh!
Then like I said two more get offed and we’re supposed to care why? Look at the massacre at the end of Zeta Gundam, that came at the end, when we had enough time to grow to care about the characters, not within a few episodes of the characters debuting. The Zanscare Empire don’t hold up much better, character-wise. Most of them are generic soldiers, and the leader of the Earth-based force, Fuala, is just a generic sadistic leader until suddenly we see her on the streets as a civilian and she talks about her family being tied to the re-use of the guillotine and how she hates it, and they do the whole thing of having our protagonists meet their enemy outside of battle and not-knowing the kind person was in fact their foe after all. It was interesting, but then she immediately goes back to generic “attack the civilians to draw out our foes!” bad guy. Then at the end of this chunk of episodes it looks like they’re trying to add more depth again as Ltjg. Chronicle saves her and takes her to space with him, but too little too late.
It really is a struggle to get through some of the early episodes. They’re full on the same forest / river backgrounds and there just isn’t any interesting or fun characters to follow. It doesn’t help that the studio had Tomino swap the early episodes around so the Gundam appears in Episode 1, therefore having to have what would have been the first few episodes get presented as a flashback. That was just… stupid, though at least that wasn’t Tomino’s fault… unlike the rest! I know he was depressed at this point in his life, but why does that mean he wants to repeatedly either kill off women, or in the case of Katejina, switch sides and break our protagonists heart (I mean, thanks to the games I’ve already played I know that happens, even if it’s only hinted at here…) Not good.
Not good at all…
Marbet’s first failure. Aww… First of many, seemingly.
Yikes. Victory Gundam gets off to an awful start. Annoying characters, badly written scenes meant to be dramatic but instead come off as comical or confusing, and a general feeling of boredom. The animation is okay, and there are some good battles … just about, but if it weren’t for the combination of wanting to be able to say I’ve watched every Gundam series and this blog being a thing I would’ve dropped this show fast. Fingers crossed it gets better, because of course THIS would have to be the longest series of them all…