Mobile Suit Victory Gundam Overall Review

Victory Gundam Overall

On the Japanese DVD releases of Victory Gundam there was a special interview with creator Tomino himself which was titled with a quote from the director. It read “Don’t buy these DVDs because you should not watch them!!” Turns out I should’ve listened to him… Well, apart from these were Blu-Rays, but you get the point. When the creator of the show tells you not to watch it, you know you’re in for a “treat”. Victory Gundam was the one series I’d never watched (until AGE came along, which is now the new one series I haven’t watched!) due to its reputation and length, and I can safely say now I’ve watched it, I WON’T be watching again. So let’s take a final, overall look at Victory Gundam, then try and forget about it…

Synopsis:

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 Good:

Victory Gundam Overall 1

A gaggle of Gundams!

Looking back on my four previous reviews of episode chunks pretty much the only thing I ever mentioned that was good is one or two of the mobile suit designs and there being some fights / battles that manage to actually be a bit exciting. That may be something to say when you’re just looking at a batch of episodes, looking back across the whole series it’s not exactly praising the show. Yes, some designs are good, I really like the Gundam V2, but there are also many that are dull or awful. Some characters have dramatic deaths in a great battle, but so… so many more have pointless deaths in generic battles. An overall look at the series shows there isn’t much to praise…

I will say the last batch of episodes were good, it was a slower burn than most Gundam endings and there were some twists involving in-fighting within the Zanscare Empire as well as some actual earned, emotional deaths. The decent pay-off is not worth watching the whole rest of the series, mind you…

The Bad:

Victory Gundam Overall 3

Uso gets a brief glimpse at some of the crap he’s going to have to endure…

I guess the main thing to look at is the very basis of any story: its protagonist and the journey the character goes through and the antagonists he must face. In this case, Uso Ewin is our protagonist, and is merely a child at 12. He and a bunch of other orphans live in a forested area of Earth called Kasarelia and soon he’s thrusted into the cockpit of an experimental mobile suit and starts fighting the invading Spacenoids on behalf of Earth. Usual UC Gundam jazz. The problem is that Uso isn’t very likeable, and instead of maturing or developing across the 51 episodes, he stays exactly the same. People die, he gets angry or upset, the next episode he’s fine. He get molested in a bathtub, next episode, he’s fine. He gets attacked by rocket launcher-wielding bikini women, next episode he’s fine. There was literally zero connection made between myself and him, and that makes for a poor show.

To make matters worse, the same can be said for the rest of the cast. His love interest Shakti stays in “I don’t want to see Uso hurt and I hate this war” mode for the duration, with a slightly interesting wrinkle in that she turns out to be the daughter of the leader of the Zanscare Empire, the baddies of this period, but that just ends up with Shakti being captured 100 times. Uso’s other crewmates can be broken down into three categories: old men who talk about the modern generation being stupid and impatient, teens who act all stupid and/or “cool”, and female pilots who exist only to die, with the exception of ONE pilot, out of, like… over ten. Seriously, throughout the series we see an all-female MS squad called the “Shrike Team” and they almost immediately start to die one by one, often so quickly you’ve not had time to grow even the least bit attached to them.

This theme of being very down on women continued with the Zanscare Empire, especially Katejina Loos, someone who starts off with Uso and the League Millitaire, but soon switches sides and then takes great pleasure in manipulating the “stupid men” to fight over her. Her final fate is to be made poor, blind and with no memory, so… Worse than death, basically. Throw in the loving Queen of the Zanscare Empire being killed, a scene full of bikini wearing rocket launcher troops being killed, and Uso’s mother being BEHEADED and you have a series that really dislikes women. Never before have I felt so much like I was diving deep into a writer’s unpleasant (at that time in his life) psyche. Thank God Tomino ended up writing the far more uplifting Turn-A Gundam and Reconquista in G series, they at least show he recovered from whatever depression he was in…

Victory Gundam Overall 2

You know, in five reviews I don’t think I ever mentioned the crap mobile suits with helicopter rotors. Well… They were crap, and had helicopter rotors. There.

The rest of the Zanscare Empire, by the way, didn’t fare much better. Lt. Chronicle started off interesting, with his “has morals unlike his peers” attitude, but soon he just stopped developing and became Katejina’s pawn who wears a stupid white ski mask for literally NO reason. Fuala, another female pilot who’s killed, at least goes through some interesting developments and makes a good unhinged villain Uso faces in the latter stages, but her early appearances were just generic evil general. Everyone else was pretty much just moustache-twirling villains. It’s a shame because the idea of the Zanscare Empire being followers of a religious order, with the Queen being a Jesus-like figure, was an interesting and different spin rather than the usual seeking independence space colony we normally get, but they’re soon reduced back to a generic evil army.

So that’s the good and bad characters all failing to be interesting, plus an unpleasant obsession with killing women. What’s next? How about machine designs? Beyond a small handful of designs I liked, there were some really stupid and terrible ones, mostly involving wheels. One mobile suit was in a giant wheel, another threat was a series of large red motorbikes, and the granddaddy of them all, the “Motorad Fleet”, which had huge capital ships that turned into gigantic motorbikes that could literally run over cities, making the Earth “clean again” so the Zanscare people can repopulate it. It was often funny because it was so stupid, but that wasn’t what they were going for…

It also has to be said that the worst episodes of the whole bunch are the first 10 or so. They all take place in the same dull jungle, the characters … well, are as crap as they’ll always be, the first four episodes are flipped around due to broadcasters insisting the new Gundam model be shown in the first episode, and generally it was a struggle to watch more than one episode at a time. I said in my first episode batch review that if I didn’t want to be able to say that I’ve watched all of the Gundam series I would’ve tuned out then and there, and I meant it. Yikes.

Overall Thoughts:

Victory Gundam Overall 4

“But I don’t get it, if everyone sees you put the white mask on, what’s the point?”   “Listen kid I…. Erm… Shut up!”

Victory Gundam is… pretty crap. No characters had me invested, an overabundance of women being killed made me uncomfortable or annoyed, and most of the mech designs were pretty dull or stupid. A few good battles and designs don’t save you from 51 episodes of bad, or if you’re lucky, averageness. I gave Victory Gundam 1, 2, 2 and 3, but honestly, if you’re asking “Should I watch Victory Gundam” as an overall question? No. Hell no. I’m giving this series a 1 because no matter how much it improved from the awfulness it started in, it’s just not good. The whole series sees no improvement with its characters or plot, and that’s unforgivable, especially for 51 episodes. Listen to Tomino: DO NOT WATCH THIS.

1 Star Watch

*sigh*. Now that’s that slog over with, I’ll be covering a few other anime shows and story arcs before I head into the Alternate Universe Gundam shows later in the year…

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