2016 Summer of Anime – Turn A Gundam

20) Turn A Gundam

Walk A walk.

The year is 2345 of the Correct Century, and the Moonrace–a group of humans who fled the Earth some millennia ago–seeks to return to Earth.  The vast majority of Earthers don’t even know there is a Moonrace, so only a select few have been in contact with them.  Unbeknownst to these few, though, Queen Dianna of the Moonrace has already sent a handful of her people in advance to get acclimated to Earth.  Loran Cehack is one of that handful.  He’s lived on Earth for two years working for the rich Heim family, and he’s grown to love Earth to the extent he doesn’t plan to live with his fellow Moonrace when they come back.  Loran even decides to take part in the local coming-of-age ceremony.  It is during said ceremony that the Moonrace begin their return, but it is not as peaceful as Loran had been led to believe.  In an age where Earth’s technology is pre-Industrial Revolution at best, the Moonrace arrives in mobile suits.  It doesn’t look good for the Earthers, but Loran falls into the (literal) cockpit of a giant mobile suit we know as a Gundam.  Young people, giant robots, war…. No one does it like Gundam.

I haven’t talked about Gundam much on here, but I’m a fan of the franchise.  I own a good bit of the various series, and I plan on watching every Universal Century entry in chronological order when I finally acquire all of them (I think I’m only missing four or so), which I have dubbed THE GUNDAMMING.  Gundam Wing is even one of my top ten anime, and I bought a bunch of the action figures when I was a kid.  So…I love Gundam.  I didn’t go into Turn A Gundam as a rookie.  I went in with nigh-veteran eyes.  How do I feel it stacks up against the others I’ve seen?  Pretty damn well.

First off, I want to get my major complaint out of the way.  I’d love to say this didn’t detract from the series very much for me, but that’d be a lie.  This show is abundant with infuriatingly stupid/hardheaded people.  So much of the conflict in this series could have been avoided if people would have just sat down and really thought about what they were doing.  While the de facto leader of Earth’s forces in dealing with the Moonrace, Guin Rhineford, is trying to establish peace with them, the Earth Militia constantly attacks and harasses the Dianna Counter (the Moonrace army on Earth).  This leads to the Dianna Counter saying, “Screw this,” and they raze the city to the ground.  And this is just one of many, many times someone from the Militia or Dianna Counter effed things up because they didn’t just think about their actions.  It is downright frustrating to watch sometimes.  And the damned thing of it is those stupid characters are likable when they’re not being hardheaded jackasses.  Also, almost none of these people are ever seriously punished for any of it!  Just…aggravating.

Other than that, I love the series.  The characters who aren’t constantly insufferable assholes are great.  Loran, Dianna, Dianna’s Earther lookalike Kihel Heim, Kihel’s younger sister and mech pilot Sochie Heim, Sochie’s bestie Miashei, the Char of Turn A Harry Ord, survivor of the Dark History Corin Nander, femme fatale Teteth Helleh, the always unlucky Jacop and Bruno, rich bitch Lily Borjarno, Loran’s friends Keith Laije and Fran Doll, Gym effin’ Ghingnham, and so on.  And yes, I include Gym because even though he is the bloodthirstiest character in the series, he doesn’t pretend to be doing it for any reason other than, “I like to fight.”  He even kills someone I hated with a passion, so that’s a plus.  I also want to bring up Guin Rhineford again.  I could tell a couple things he would go on to do as soon as he showed up, but he was still a surprisingly complex character.  And, as with other Gundam series, I love how characters get brought back for various reasons and play different roles throughout the 50 episodes.  That’s one of my favorite tropes of the franchise.  Almost everyone has their part to play in the grander scheme of things.

This show also looks different from other Gundam series.  Just look at the Turn A–It has a mustache.  I don’t think they ever say why it has a mustache.  It just does.  Syd Mead supplied the designs for this series, so it’s no surprise it stands out visually.  With the steampunk-ish tech and landscapes, though, it kinda strikes me as a Studio Ghibli Gundam series.  It just looks like something they would’ve done.  The show is usually decently animated, but there are definitely times when you can see the scissors chopping those corners off.  It’s no visual masterpiece, but you will certainly remember how it looks.  One last thing–the disc art for the physical release is amazing.

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One of the coolest things about Turn A is how it was envisioned as the grand finale to the entire meta-series.  Zakus and Capules are found by Earthers and used against the Moonrace’s machines.  Blueprints are found for G Gundam‘s Windmill Gundam and Fuunsaiki.  One of the Moonrace pilots who actually fought in the Dark History is terrified of the Turn A Gundam because he remembers fighting against Wing Zero!  Like…this is just the best thing for someone who loves Gundam.  It’s not just great fanservice, too.  Envisioning this as a world that’s been constantly rebuilt after so many giant mech wars is kinda neat, don’t you think?  It leads to some real, legitimate fears for individuals from both sides, and the arguments between the pacifists, the warriors, and those who just want to advance the human race are grounds for darn good storytelling.

I waited a day to write this so I could sort out how I feel about Turn A.  At first, I was furious that so many awful people who ran roughshod over this series never got their comeuppance, but…that’s just one complaint.  This series visually stands apart from its brethren in a good way, it’s populated with mostly great and complex characters, the backstory is fanboy heaven, and the story itself is interesting enough the 50 episodes kinda flew by for me.  I really had to sit down and think it over, but I’ll give it an 8.5.  It’s not my favorite Gundam series out there, but it is definitely one fans both new and old should give a shot.

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