Some folk out there might point and complain about Gundam Build Fighters, stating that it isn’t a true Gundam series and is nothing more than a toy commercial that completely invalidates the spirit of Gundam set forth with the original series.
However, that is a small margin of people considering the fact that this sucker exists.
I’m gonna let this sink in for a minute.
If you consider Mobile Fighter G Gundam’s legacy it’s certainly an odd duck if ever there were one. It was the first Gundam series to not follow the original timeline and was the first production after the series Victory Gundam, a Gundam series infamous for violence and death. Released in 1994 this series was the first to depart the now famous Universal Century timeline within which all Gundam stories had previously occupied since its inception.
It’s also a massive shift from a deep space military drama to a pure combat and fighting storyline. Normally Gundam was about how military factions battled and the stories of soldiers on the battlefield as they reconciled their beliefs with their actions. There was typically love stories, great enmity, all really revolutionary stuff for its time.
G Gundam, if compared to its predecessors is a massive departure of style and arguably a detriment to its legacy. It is the story of how humanity now uses a massive international giant robot fight to determine political battles. Each nation sends one representative in a giant robot to Earth from the colonies and they fight. The last man standing wins his country’s supremacy over all others.
But something strange is going on this year. Japan’s fighter is travelling around the world with a photo asking everyone he can find if they’ve seen the man in the picture. His name is Domon Kasshu.
Despite what you might consider a goofy premise people love this show. Myself included. It took me a while to realize why.
I think, looking at giant robot shows at the time was that what G Gundam did was not create a new type (ahahaha) of giant robot show. Rather it took the Super Robot Genre and matured it a great deal.
Normally in Super Robot Shows (what you consider something like Power Rangers) the violence isn’t depicted as serious and damage to the surroundings with little sense of the word collateral. G Gundam took that in an entirely different direction. At the beginning of the show it’s shown that fighters on Earth are hated by the populace because of how much damage they do every time the Gundam Fight happens. Domon is persecuted on his journey, doubly so because he is a fighter from another nation.
There’s a lot of work in this show to make the concept, which is admittedly quite silly, very mature and taken seriously. Every moment of Domon’s development as he uncovers the story of the man in the photo is wrought with tragedy and loss. Rather than shrinking from this, he’s shown persevering in the face of it, going from a simple vengeance seeking man to… something I won’t spoil.
On top of that the show devotes a great deal of time developing the other fighters as well rounded characters with complex motivations and not walking stereotypes.
Oh my god it has a mustache! Why does it have a mustache?
Okay some of them are.
On top of that, rather than having a single maniacal villain most of the enemies Domon fights have reasons for their actions driving them to these acts. There are also some brilliant bait and switches that go on throughout the series as characters’ true natures are revealed. In many ways it isn’t the Gundam franchise that profits from a Super Robot show but rather Super Robot shows that profit from G Gundam. It certainly took itself more seriously than many other shows of its ilk and where Evangelion stands as a condemnation of many of the tropes G Gundam matured them into a stronger story.
If there was one thing I could point at in G Gundam that was definitively said by fans and critics to be the show’s high point it would be the romance between Domon and his partner Rain Mikamura. The series takes all 49 episodes to develop their love story and the conclusion of that and the series is one of the most memorable moments in Anime. I can’t recall many declarations of love, especially among Giant Robot Shows that are as well written and are of as such quality as that entire closing monologue.
It’s certainly an interesting series and I invite you all to check it out.
And so too does this work exist.