(26ish episodes ; the first two were aired together)
What’s it about ?
Happy 35th anniversary, Gundam ! For the occasion, we’re getting a new TV series by the franchise’s original creator, Yoshiyuki Tomino. Since his last turn at the helm was 1999’s brilliant Turn A Gundam, there are reasons to be excited.
This is nominally set in the far-future of the original “Universal Century” continuity, but the ties are token enough for this not to matter : it’s a series that can be jumped into without any foreknowledge.
Bellri “Bell” Zenam, our protagonist, is a young prodigy among the mecha pilot trainees. Also, son of the Director of Operations, but he doesn’t let that go to his head. His squad’s mission is routine maintenance of the space-elevator/space-station, but of course unexpected stuff happens.
Raraiya Monday is the first unexpected factor. She’s a mysterious girl who got dropped off during a skirmish with space pirates. Unfortunately, she seems to have suffered brain damage from performing atmosphere reentry in a mere skydiving suit, so she’s having trouble communicating. Anyway, for some reason she’s kept captive aboard the space elevator.
Aida Rayhunton, a space pirate who attacks the space-elevator aboard the titular G mecha to rescue her. After a fierce battle in which Bellri takes no small part, she’s eventually subdued. (I’m amused that someone complains that the name she gives is obviously made-up, because seriously this is a Gundam series.) She boasts that she’s locked the mysterious G’s cockpit and only she can open it again… wait, Bellri, how did you do that ?
Rounding up the supporting cast are many pals of Bellri’s, including Luin Lee, his amiable senior and best pal ; and several members of the high school cheerleading squad, who hitched a ride with the cute mecha pilot trainees to get some. Most prominently : Noredo Nug, who’s clearly set her sights on Bellri ; and the gung-ho Manny Ambassada. (But Aida is still obviously the one with a made-up name.)
There’s something slightly old-fashioned in the character designs, which is compounded by the beautiful pastel watercolor-ish backgrounds. Still, the CG elements are well integrated, the animation is fluid overall, and it’s a great-looking package.
The OP & ED sequences feature the entire cast dancing for some reason, which hints at a bright and fun series. That’s certainly what it looks like so far.
Fuck yeah ! This is as promising as I hoped for : fun characters having colourful hijinks with barely any angst around. There’s a lot of exposition flying around the first episode that’s a bit too dense to entirely parse, but the second episode helps it all sink in. And there’s just tons of charm from watching those kids fooling around on cool tech in the middle of a battlezone. It has the same sense of innocence that Turn A had, and that’s a relief from the more grim-and-gritty norm for mecha series.
This looks like one of the season’s highlights. No way I’m skipping it out.