All the Rage! Mobile Suit Gundam AGE!

Incoming, gang! A new Gundam Series is on the horizon!

Information was recently leaked and posted in an article at Anime News Network about the upcoming TV anime series, "Mobile Suit Gundam AGE". Early reports state that the show will follow three young protagonists - each proceeding the next in a generational saga that span throughout a "One Hundred Year War"! Blurry scans have also been uploaded onto the internet, and between the sparse information and few pics we've seen, the Gundamnation is afire with debate about whether or not this series will be another fine addition to the Gundam franchise. Those thirsty for more news, we will get the full scoop on June 13th, when Bandai & Sunrise unveil the series officially at the Tokyo Toy Fair 2011.

As for my knee-jerk first impressions, there are more positives to this than the negatives most folks are presenting. First off, the idea of dividing the course of the story among three generations of protagonists is a daring idea. Reminds me of what Sega tried to do in Phantasy Star III in 1990, although it paled in comparison to PSII. It doesn't mean this will fail, however, and to have a long-term war presented in a Gundam series is something I've been waiting a while for in this franchise.

What is causing many folks to wig out about it young ages of each protagonist, as well as the "kiddie" style that Level-5 has brought to the character design aesthetic. Personally, I dig the hell out of what I've seen so far. Level-5 does has an aire of whimsy to what they do, but it doesn't mean that they can't handle drama and war-torn grittiness we expect in a Gundam series. Over the last 3 decades, we've seen a variety of character designs featured in various Gundam series. From Yas' trademark style, to Mikimoto, to a more shonen-esque flavor of the 90's & finally the bishonen-friendly 2000's, we've seen plenty artists lend their talents to Gundam and bring a multiude of memorable designs to the small screen. Not every artist is my cup of tea (as you've heard me mention about Gundam SEED & my initial thoughts on 00's shojo-look on previous eps of Gundamn At MAHQ), but when it comes to Level-5, I've always adored their "kiddie" designs, likening it to the approach that Studio Ghibli & Miyazaki employs in their projects. That's high praise, when comparing them to Ghibli, but Level-5 gives me the impression that they would like to be the "Studio Ghibli" of the gaming world, at least. Much like Pixar wishes to be the Ghibli of the CG Animation medium.

Does that mean this show is trying to find a younger audience than 00? Without a doubt. That's where the money is, gang, and with all the merchandise we can expect Bandai to sell in regards to this new project, they are looking to make another fortune with this series. Some older viewers and long-time Gundam followers have been instantly turned-off by what they've seen so far, expecting to see another mature series like 00 or Unicorn. We don't know the whole story or where the plot will take us, but I honestly believe (that initially) AGE will skew to a younger audience in order to bring new blood to the fan base.

We've seen this all before, though. There were UC fanatics that harrumphed at the mere thought of an alternate universe Gundam, and when news broke of G-Gundam, many of them had a conniption. A Dragon Ball-Z-type, Hong Kong kung fu movie inspired, Super-robot series calling itself Gundam? Pa-shaw! Needless to say, that almost 20 years later, many of those naysayers now call "Mobile Suit God Gundam" a classic. That series couldn't be more different to the UC series, and yet it's lauded for bucking the trend. On top of that, I think it's still the only Gundam series to date that has four acts instead of the conventional 3.

Much like G-Gundam before it, Gundam AGE is launching out the gate different. I couldn't ask for anything more. As for it's young leads, all I can say is don't judge a book by it's cover - "Mobile Suit Victory Gundam" had a 12-year old protagonist in the form of Uso Evin and that poor kid had a tour-of-duty that was one of the most nightmarish journeys in Gundam-lore. It's very possible that one of these kids stories is just that dark.


That leads me to wonder if each one of these pilots' plot line will have a different feels and storytelling style. I can only hope that Sunrise and the show-runners take the opportunity to make all these stories connect but to have the legs to stand on their own. I don't want a situation where the first story comes off strong, the third story falls victim to a convoluted plot, and the second story is nothing more than filler to tie the beginning and end generations together. Each one should have their own 1st, 2nd, and 3rd acts. Each one should have it's own identity and feel. Each one should have it's own memorable cast and conflicts. And lastly, all three should come together to bring together a much larger mosaic when it's all said and done.

Like many things I anticipate, I've got high hopes for this series. The difference from trolls is that I don't become angry or flippant if the show doesn't turn out the way I anticipated. The folks working on the show have a clear vision of what they want and where it will inevitably go. In the end, I just want to be surprised and entertained by "Mobile Suit Gundam AGE", and with the franchise's track record thus far, I'm pretty sure that will end up being the case. We'll have more to say on this in Episode 80 of Gundamn! @ MAHQ (since Ep. 79 is already in the can), so stay tuned!

Soul Bro Ryu
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