Turn-A Gundam – Episodes 1 – 16 Review

Turn-A Gundam is a very odd series to cover. It’s pretty much the antithesis of Victory Gundam, that series being all negative and depressing, and this being all positive and full of hope. That being said, this does lead to the series leaning on both comedy and even romance, neither of which I find Tomino manages to land all that often. Still! Let’s take a look at what is currently the last TV or film effort set in the UC timeline (even if its set so far in the future that the name has changed) that I’ve yet to cover…

Synopsis:

For two thousand years, a separate race of humanity has lived on the moon. Known as “the Moonrace,” their technology is leaps and bounds beyond those that stayed behind on the Earth’s surface. Now seeking to return to their original home, the Moonrace send three teenagers – Loran, Keith, and Fran – down to Earth on a reconnaissance mission to test the viability of its environment.

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

The Good:

The Turn-A Gundam disarms a Wodom suit… literally! Well, I mean, it still has one arm, but you know what I was going for…

While it’s not as action packed or thrilling as your standard Gundam series, I do like Turn-A’s more relaxed approach. Having a war between the Moon and Earth thousands of years after the UC timeline came to an end (the space colonies had apparently started their thrusters and buggered off into the unknown around that time as well, for the record) is a good idea, but complicating matters by having the lead character, Loren, be a member of the Moonrace who spent time on Earth and came to like it enough to defend it makes it that much more interesting. After a slow start eventually the Moonrace’s “Dianna Counter” group arrive and straight up attack some Earth settlements with their mobile suits, technology far beyond the Earthling biplanes. The Turn-A Gundam is revealed during the attack and Loren eventually pilots it to fend them off. A few episodes later the Queen Dianna Soreil herself arrives on Earth and this puts even more strain on Loren as he is in love with Queen Dianna, but is also now loyal to the Heim family he’s been working for on Earth, the head of which, Kihel Heim, happens to look identical to Dianna…

Earth’s militia soon get a helping hand as they begin to excavate mobile suits from the “Dark History”, or the Universal Century timeline, and add them to their own force. A ceasefire is called as both sides try to negotiate a peace where the Moonrace could settle on Earth, but it doesn’t go too well. A trigger happy Dianna loyalist called Corin Nander for one attacks a few times, serving as Loren’s enemy for a chunk of episodes, although the main focus is on the fact that Queen Dianna and Kihel Heim switch places with each other for a bit of a laugh, but then end up having to actually play each other permanently. Kihel (actually Dianna) soon meets Will Game, who she thinks is her old lover from many years ago, but it’s actually his descendant, showing that the Moonrace live a hell of a lot longer than those on Earth do. Will is, of course, killed in dramatic fashion before the fake Kihel’s eyes, inevitably setting back negotiations again. I say of course, but death is actually a rare thing here!

Yes, Corin’s suit has a weird penis arrow symbol on his crotch. So what of it?

That’s it really, for the first quarter in terms of core storylines. I do also have to mention Harry Ord, who is the head of Queen Dianna’s security forces. I’ve always liked his design and the fact his character isn’t a bad guy and actually frequently suspects his own people behind incidents designed to blame the other side and the restart the war. Guin Lineford is another interesting character, he’s the leader of Ameria’s Militia and manages to both peacefully negotiate and look down on the Moonrace, sometimes at once. It’s definitely a show that leans on the “no side in a war is innocent” as both the people of Earth and the Moonrace are shown to be willing to go to unpleasant lengths to “prove” that the other side is evil or needs taking out. That’s when poor Loren being stuck in the middle is such good drama. I really like the art direction as well, most of the character and suit designs, plus the old early 19th century things like the biplanes and such give it a unique atmosphere.

The Bad:

Sochie and Loran, both looking happy… that actually doesn’t happen that often in Sochie’s case…

While I find the leisurely pace works well for the subject matter sometimes, there are other times when I do find my attention wondering. The opening four episodes for instance focuses a lot of Loren and Sochie Heim, who for the record is an extremely annoying character who is also sadly featured in every episode, and a look at how their weird society works, which is at times interesting, but also a lot of times really… really not. This happens quite a bit as each of the rest of the episodes are all nearly entirely self-contained “stories of the week”, which of course means their quality is variable. Sochie for the record is the spoiled brat of the Heim family who wants to be a fighter rather than a stuck up royalist, which is good except for the fact she spends the whole time acting like a spoiled brat anyway. Kind of ruins the moment when she learns how to pilot the Turn-A if you don’t actually want to root for her…

There are a lot of that Tomino humour we saw at the start of ZZ and later in Reconquista in G, so shots of teens and preteens in the nude, the odd bits of slapstick, that sort of thing. Again, sometimes it lands, often times it really doesn’t. As mentioned above, while I do really like the art style and character / suit designs for the most part, the Turn-A Gundam itself has always looked stupid to me, dating back to when I first saw it playing Dynasty Warriors: Gundam. It’s not just the moustache, it’s also the cockpit that literally descends from the cock… or where it would be if the Gundam were a human man…

Lastly, Episode 16 is an entirely a recap episode. Boo!

Overall Thoughts:

Dianna cradles an injured Loran… or is that Kihel? (This joke may get repeated a lot in the coming weeks…)

Turn-A Gundam gets off to a glacial start, moving at such a slow pace that I don’t blame anyone for tuning out in Episode 2 or 3 and not giving the show a chance. Stick with it though and you do get a show with an interesting premise, mostly interesting characters (that aren’t named Sochie) and a rare look at war from Tomino that doesn’t involve an extremely high body count.

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