Sunday, October 16, 2011

Gundam AGE, Episode #1 First Impressions: In which I say SAGE to AGE, tear my own logic to bits, and glue it back together

AGE! AGE! AGEgege no *copyright infraction*
First things first- Sunrise, or Bandai, made a monumental mistake in naming their new show Gundam AGE. I suppose it squares with the direction they want to take the franchise in- i.e. a new age. The problem is, it also opens you up to abuse by biased wise-asses (Namely me) who interpret AGE as the Japanese counterpart to the word/function 'bump' found on English forums (Most notably 4chan), which is used to keep an interesting post 'alive', so to speak. So what, you say. Well, never forget an antonym, which for 'age' is 'sage'- to lower/push down. There you have it. Sage to AGE. I wonder why 2chan hasn't noticed it yet.

I've got to say this about the Gundam franchise, however. The first time I watch it, it's awesome. The second time I watch it however, it's no big deal- just people in robots thwacking other people in robots, with some drama on the side. Take Gundam SEED for example- the second time I watched it (Or tried to) Kira Yamato's constant whingeing; Athrun Zala's obsession with Kira; and the occasional plot hole really got to me. SEED Destiny is oddly exempt- Shinn Asuka was annoying from the very first time I watched it.
Up-skirt voyeur consummate spotted. He's wearing shorts, though.
Might as well get started on why I don't like AGE. You'll quickly come to realize that I'm rather biased against it. Here goes. I don't like it when a kid is the star of the show. I'm not a subscriber to the old adage 'children should be seen but not heard'- in which case, if the child's not being listened to, it should just save its time by wandering off so as to not be seen as well.

Back to the point. I used the same argument for the first half of Naruto, though somewhat reversed. I figured, 'OK, the hero and his friends are kids. I don't like that. Maybe I'll pretend that they're a little older.' Somehow, this method of denial worked. Interestingly, I didn't need it in shows like the endless Detective Conan or the sublime Dennou Coil. Maybe it's because the kids there weren't involved in mind-bogglingly epic events in which the fate of millions hung? Makes sense. Kids may be seen, and they may be heard- but I don't like seeing them as war-heroes when soldiers are a dime a dozen.

However that logic is doubtful too, especially since I had no problems with Himura Kenshin being a pro assassin at age 15 (Rurouni Kenshin). No problem with the kids in Ender's Game being trained as soldiers either. So what's the problem here? Is Kenshin at 15 acceptable because during that historical period boys were considered to be adults at that age? Ender in Ender's Game was 10, I think- was that fine because he was a genius (Bred for it, in fact)? Bugger. Oh, that's actually a bit of a joke, if you've read Ender's Game. I guess the only conclusion I can derive from this is that I don't like seeing kids piloting giant mechs. Wait in line with the others when you're 17, punk.
"I don't like your goatee, but can't say anything about it since my beard's equally bad"
 What else is there? Let's go with the art. Bandai/Sunrise obviously meant for it to appeal to a new generation of viewers- specifically kids. Maybe that's why they had a kid take the main role. I can't say I don't like the art- I don't mind it, really- I've watched some great shows with weird art direction before. For some reason, however, anyone with facial hair in this show just rubs me the wrong way- and they haven't even given me a 'daddy's side-burn rub-hug' yet either. 

The mecha designs, then. There's the Gafran, which looks alright in humanoid form, until it transforms into its mobile armor mode- a 'dragon'. I didn't get a picture of it as I thought it simply wasn't worth it. The logic in action here is the same I employed in dissing the Transformer movies: you don't transform into something less awesome than what you were before. Namely, why transform from a giant robot into a hapless sports car? Because the transformation sequence looks cool? What, do you have a mechanical Sailor Moon fetish or something? Puh-leez. Even James Bond's wheels can do things like puke missiles, or fly. And he doesn't have to activate a transformation sequence to do it, either.

While propounding this point, I was reminded of the Gaia Gundam from SEED Destiny- apparently it transformed something resembling a dog. It didn't annoy me, however. I think the reason for that was simple gravity. Or maybe animators with free time. It doesn't take a child long to realize that legs aren't much use when you're using wings to fly. AGE takes place in space- as a result the Gafrans, while flying around in dragon-form, leave their legs and tails dragging lamely in the galactic vacuum. If you still think gravity isn't an issue, imagine a real dog (A clueless non-violent Chow-chow) being grabbed by a UFO catcher and dragged across the sky. Quite a pathetic sight.
"No, the pot-bellied old guy always gets first dibs on the blondie!"
The chap I was discussing the show with said an online community (Notice that I'm not naming which one it is- I shall temporarily devolve into a spineless coward so as to avoid being hacked by angry residents of said community) praised AGE for it's 'tactics'. Uh. What tactics? The military failed to predict the attack on the colony (The kid did, but never mind that); they couldn't lift a finger against the enemy; their commander has irritating facial hair...

...anyway, whatever 'tactics' in episode 1 consisted mainly of the human forces getting their asses whooped, until a kid took a Gundam out and surprised the enemy with it's superior specs (Namely it's hard skin), following which the enemy retreated and nuked the colony, while Mr. Gundam stared at the simulated sky and thought 'so this is a war zone...' So what were you in the previous attack where your mom got nixed, a tourist? I sure hope you had travel insurance, kid.

Oh, I forgot. The online community *censored*'s raving about it, he said. I replied "the people at *censored* are a bunch of lolicons. This time they get to see an elementary school romance, so they freaked out- especially since Gundam is bound by precedent to either include a nude dream sequence or have female characters float towards the viewer in their birthday suits as their twin peaks bounce vigorously in the opening or ending music video- so yeah, *censored* likes it".

Turns out he was actually talking about *bleep*, and not *censored*. "Oh, then that's different. *bleep* people just pretend that they don't like lolis, as they're legally bound not to." That settles that.
Kid in Gundam: Booyah!
Well, till next time. Oh, I'm just translating the words in the picture. I wonder if there will be a 'next time', though. Come to think of it, with everyone gushing over AGE, I might just have found myself a comfortable niche to sit in... I actually look forward to the kid hero finding out that he's just killed someone (The enemy mechs are bound to have pilots in them, for dramatic effect), and realizing that the enemy blew up yet another colony because of his Gundam, which means that he's the reason for mass murder. *In Joker voice now* This is gonna be such FUN!

...sigh. I've probably just earned myself a 'sadist' tag. Whatever. I just want an older protagonist for Gundam, and not have a kid save the world. So what if I'm being contradictory.

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