Turn-A Gundam Overall Series Review

Turn-A Gundam has been called many things, from a masterpiece to boring, from “if Studio Ghibli did a Gundam show” to “That show with the moustache Gundam in it”. In my opinion it’s a little bit of all those things (well, it’s entirely the show with the moustache Gundam in it, to be fair) While no masterpiece it is well written and has some great character moments, while not boring it does have some very slow moments. So, let’s take an overall look at the series, and see where in my opinion the show ends up…

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:

To this day Loren remains the only Black Gundam protagonist, though Gundam 00’s Setsuna comes from the Middle East and therefore isn’t exactly White…

Turn-A Gundam is the very opposite of the previous Tomino work Victory Gundam in every way. Turn-A is far more upbeat, the action is toned down and the anti-war message told with more tact than murdering a bunch of women for no reason. Many thousands of years after the Universal Century the Earth and the space around it is very different: the space colonies have gone and Earth devolved into a more primitive society, only now just reaching technology that’s comparable to the 1930s. Meanwhile the cities on the Moon have continued to flourish, retaining the technology of the time and even using cryogenics to prolong their lives. When the series kicks off several young members of the Moonrace are sent down to Earth to see if it’s ready to be colonised by the Moon, peacefully is the original idea… just to take some land that’s not being used. One of these kids is Loran, and he’s our main protagonist. He’s in love with the Moonrace’s leader Queen Dianna and so he found himself surprised when he ended up working for the Heim family and their head Kihel happened to be an exact double of his beloved Queen. Loran also befriends the younger Heim, Sochie, who is more interested in being a pilot than an upperclass snob (but is somehow even more annoying than if she was).

Soon the Moonrace’s “Dianna Counter” forces arrive and begin attacking the settlements of Ameria (formally known as America) and during the battle an old Mobile Suit called the Turn-A Gundam is revealed, so Loran soon pilots it to protect the people of Earth against her own people. This is basically the set up for the majority of the series, Loran is stuck in the middle, loving people on both sides of the war and just wanting to find peace. The leader of the Ameria’s Inglessa Militia is Guin Lineford, a charming man who while not a flat out baddie until later in the series is still very much against allowing the Moonrace to settle in Ameria’s Sunbelt, while Queen Dianna just wants to create a new colony for her people, but many of her officers are happy to take it by force. The first half of the series is political back and forth between the two sides combined with a fair few skirmishes between the Moonrace’s mobile suits and some old mobile suits from the Universal Century period that the Militia happen to unearth. Another key point in Kihel Heim and Queen Dianna swapping places, which starts off an interesting “seeing the perspective from the other side” story, but soon becomes tired and over-used, but I’ll get to that later…

Tomino bringing back some of the weapons he took out of the original show for being “too silly”. Shows how much he’s mellowed!

Eventually all eyes turn to the moon as a man with the odd name of Agrippa Maintainer has taken over in the Queen’s absence and soon even he’s over-ruled by a war-happy man named Gym Ghingnham. To make matters worse for the Moonrace the Dianna Counter were split down the middle, with the people loyal to Queen Dianna, including her trusted right-hand man Harry Ord (and his amazing sunglasses) on one side and people who want to take Earth by force siding with high-ranking military man Phil Ackman. Eventually the Moonrace reunite under Dianna and team with one half of the Militia after the other half sided with Guin after he teamed with Gym… which given the latter is obsessed with war surprisingly didn’t turn out well. Gym has the Turn-X Gundam, and the finale includes a big duel between Loran in the Turn-A against Gym’s Turn-X.

That’s a quick rundown, obviously I’ve got four sets of episode reviews up if you want to look into it in more detail, (quickest way to find them is in the Gundam page HERE). Like I said there is a lot more focus on character here, with a love triangle between Loran, Sochie and Dianna, Harry Ord falling for his beloved Queen’s doppelganger Kihel, and even “villains” like Guin and Phil having multiple layers to their personality. There is also the usual Tomino anti-war scenes, with plenty of shots of innocent people being killed in the crossfire of various battles, Queen Dianna’s lover’s grandson being killed before she could get to know him, and a storyline involving nuclear weapons and how its far more logical to dispose of them than it is to keep them. The art design is unique for Gundam and very pleasing to the eye, apart from the main Gundam’s design… Overall it’s a fun series, but not without flaws…

The Bad:

Sochie turns her back on everyone, and only one person cares. … Maybe.

The two major flaws in the series are firstly Sochie Heim, who frankly acts like a spoiled brat the entire series. She supposedly gets character development by falling in love with Loran, having other people come after her affection, piloting one of the mobile suits and other friendship-based woes but she just acts like a spoiled brat through the whole thing… There are other annoying characters who appear from time to time, but Sochie was the only one of the main cast, which is good going, really…

That being said, the second major flaw is the storyline where Kihel and Dianna switch places, which is good for the first quarter or so of the 50 episode series, but eventually it gets to the point where you lose all interest as the same plot points crop up again and again. About half way through they tease them swapping back to the correct place before they… well, don’t. It started driving me a little mad by the end. Also I’ll mention the design for the Turn-A and how stupid it looks, especially when compared to the Turn-X, which I actually really like the design of. It’s a big deal given it’s the titular suit… at least other characters make fun of it as well in-series. It was designed by Syd Mead of Blade Runner fame, though with Tomino’s direction. He also created the SUMO suit that Harry and other Dianna Counter members use, and I really like that one, so I have no idea what happened here…

There are some periods, especially in the first half, where you get a couple of episodes that are extremely slow paced and don’t even offer up much in the way of interesting character development. Hell the first two or three episodes are really dull, despite some nice world building, so I don’t blame people for being put off from the start. It’s worth settling in with though, even if you’re unlikely to binge watch a bunch of episodes in a row…

Overall Thoughts:

Had to end with Harry’s Gold Sumo, still my favourite suit to play as in Extreme VS. games…

Turn-A Gundam is an odd show. It looks quite unlike any other Gundam show, it concentrates on the relationships between characters far more than mobile suit combat and spends 90% of the time on a 30’s-style Earth. It does have some really good moments though, certainly worth sticking through the slower periods and the scenes with Sochie in them to get to. I can’t give it a perfect score, especially due to a long-running storyline that runs out of juice halfway through, but I will recommend it. It’s a good show, and a wonderful look at a man now out of the depression he was clearly in during Victory Gundam, with a more hopeful look at humanity as a whole…

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