Anime Review: Mobile Suit Gundam AGE Episode 1

Anime Review:
Mobile Suit Gundam AGE Episode 1

What this is about: Watching all of the anime shows so you don’t have to! For more information about me and my reviews, click here for details on what I am reviewing.

Series Premise: Mobile Suit Gundam AGE is a weekly anime television series started in October 2011, the most recent storyline in the long-running mecha/sci-fi Gundam series. Set in the far future, humanity is being attacked by the mysterious beings known only as “Unknown Entity”. A young boy, Flint Asuno, inherits the secrets behind a legendary weapon from the past, known as a “Gundam”, which seems to be humanity’s only defense against the invading force.

Click on the thumbnails below to view the picture in full size in a new window:

Spoiler-free set-up: Set in the far future as humanity has spread far and wide across space, a mysterious force known as “Unknown Entity”, or “UE”, begins attacking colonies in the year A.G. 101. As a young child, Flint Asuno’s life comes crashing down as the UE attacks, barely escaping with his life as he inherits a strange “AGE” device from his dying mother. Years later as a teenager, Flint is living a comfortable life, divided between school and helping to develop a mobile suit based on the information from the AGE device. But that peace is interrupted when the UE arrives, and it is up to Flint to pilot the untested Gundam to save the colony.

My Impressions: Ahhhh, Gundam. The Gundam franchise is one the main pillars of anime with a long-storied history dating back over three decades with scads of books, television series, movies, specials, comics, games, model kits and other merchandise. And now we have Gundam AGE, the most recent slice of the Gundam universe storyline, debuting with much trepidation and caution among the hardcore Gundam community. So, why has it not been welcomed with open arms?

Because it’s not so much a “Gundam show” per se, as it is a “kiddie show” with Gundam trappings overlain on top. If you’re looking for a deep storyline, if you’re looking for a complex plot or well-developed, complicated characters and relationships, this ain’t it. But if you’re looking for something your ADHD-riddled eight-year-old cousin who thought that the Transformers movie was the “coolest thing ever!”, then Gundam AGE is right up your alley.

Mind you, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with anime shows aimed at a younger audience — after all, this is no better or worse than the shows I watched when I was young, such as Battle of the Planets or Star Blazers or Robotech. I would heartily argue that you have to have these type of shows to help develop the next generation of anime fans, just as you need kiddie comics to cultivate the next generation of discerning graphic novel readers. And with such a long-running franchise as Gundam, there definitely needs to be an “entry point” for new, young, impressionable viewers.

But I would hope that the writers and producers of the show would be a little more sophisticated, because it *is* possible to create a show aimed at the young kids while at the same time throwing in a few things to keep their parents entertained as well. Gundam AGE, alas, is all kiddie-centric all the time. The story is formulaic to the point of being hackneyed (although if you’re an eight year old it certainly could be “new” to them), the plot dumbed down so that even the slowest viewer can keep track of what’s going on. I could go into some of the more facepalm-worthy moments in the first episode (and yes, there are many), but I need to rein it in a bit and remember that this is really targeted at someone who is about a quarter my age (or less), so instead I just throw up my hands in resignation and say “this is not for me”.

How this all fits within the grand Gundam universe, I don’t really know and don’t particularly care. As far as I can tell it is *very* far in the future, and has little connection to most of the other Gundam stuff I’ve seen. I must also add that I am bemused by the character designs, Flint with the squishy-cosplay-foam hair, his school best friend is a blatant Matsumoto ripoff/reject, the grizzled and cuddly scientist dude is like something out of the seventies and the heroic ace pilot dude could be lifted whole cloth from early Macross. Nostalgic? Silly? Amusing? You decide.

And of course, I should also point out that I am innately biased against anything Gundam or mecha-related in the first place, since I think that all those giant robots and mobile suits are exceptionally stupid. I have avoided the majority of Gundam-related stuff in the past, but given that anime is well-steeped in it, it’s hard to avoid entirely. And there are some decent stuff, particularly when it comes to shows that focus more on the characters and less on the stupid mecha themselves, and especially the stuff has more of a hard sci-fi edge rather than the touchy-feely stuff that comes later in the timeline. For example, I can heartily recommend the Gundam Unicorn series (4th episode of this OVA series just came out), so the whole franchise is not *entirely* hopeless.

The verdict:

For more information:

Sampling of Online Reviews:

  • “My real problem is that, for a show Sunrise promised to be DIFFERENT, Gundam Age’s first episode was horribly formulatic and had nothing almost we haven’t seen from another Gundam show.” – Bokutachi no Blog
  • “After seeing episode 1, not only am I impressed with AGE’s story potential, it’s gonna easily be my favorite Sunrise show of the Fall season and I’m really hopeful that I can compare this to MSG (Mobile Suit Gundam) by series’ end.” – Metanorn
  • “Somewhere between a normal Gundam show and GaoGaiGar, lies Gundam AGE. This show is a real mixed bag because it combines the incredibly boring story style and kids of GaoGaiGar with some decent combat. But then even GaoGaiGar had some decent combat.” – Nerd Age
  • “Despite being a kid’s show, it manages to bring back the love for the older Gundams. I liked how the boy kicked around Haro like a soccer ball. And the Gundams are objects of legend in this timeline. In this way it’s a bit reminiscent of Turn A Gundam.” – Draggle’s Anime Blog
  • “Unfortunately, this is where the episode falls – story-wise, the plot is simple and it doesn’t bring anything new to the table. Obviously the Gundam style has conventions that have to be followed, but when watching AGE it feels like we’ve seen it all before. Grade: 4/5.” – Moeronpan
  • “So a pretty good first episode, bar the children’s logic and plot stalling but enough to bring me back for Episode 2 to see the AGE system in action. I’m really hoping the story will darken and cripple Flit’s childish and naive mentality as it progresses, since that is after all what made the original series a success, that is watching a teenage boy mature as the horrors of war change him.” – Sekijitsu
  • “As it stands right now, Gundam AGE’s story seems like it completely breaks away from the typical Earth vs. Space story that pretty much every Gundam series has employed. There is a lot of unanswered questions that I’m looking forward for this series to answer down the line and that is something I look for in every Gundam. Grade: 3.5/5.” – Population GO
  • “In the end, this could serve as a decent introduction to first-timers to the Gundam franchise. However, Gundam age will feel very unoriginal to those that have followed the franchise over the years. This intro episode was, quite frankly, outright dull, but that’s not to say it will change up later on. Grade: 4/10.” – Emory Anime Club
  • “Gundam AGE will win no points for subtlety or originality, that’s for sure. But that’s also sort of beside the point, at least for me. This strikes me a series you can enjoy without thinking too much, a rousing hero story with a protagonist who’s a paragon of boyish enthusiasm and idealism and never spent an emo moment in his life.” – Lost in America
  • “It just, bothers me on so many different levels.” – Angry Anime Bitches


Thumbs-up for Round One: Un-Go, Chibi Devi, Working Season 2, Bakuman Season 2, Mirai Nikki, Shinryaku Ika Musume Season 2

Thumbs-down for Round One: Morita-san wa Mukuchi Season 2, Kimi to Boku, C3: CubexCursedxCurious, Mbbile Suit Gundam AGE

Coming up next: Ben-To, Kyoukai Senjou no Horizon, Chihayafuru, Guilty Crown, Phi-Brain, Last Exile: Fam the Silver Wing, Fate Zero, Majikoi Oh! Samurai Girls, Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai, Shakugan no Shana III, Hunter x Hunter, Mashiro-iro Symphony, Tamayura Hitotose, Persona 4, Maken-ki, Cross Fight Bedaman, Digimon Xros Wars II

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2 Responses to Anime Review: Mobile Suit Gundam AGE Episode 1

  1. Pingback: Anime Review: Recap of the Fall 2011 Season (after watching the 1st episodes) | This Euphoria!

  2. Nightslash3535 says:

    Don’t be fooled by their childish character designs, from episode 14 onwards, shit got real.

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