The agony of disappointment.
So, Reconguista in G, my most-anticipated show of the autumn… which is perhaps a bit odd as to date I’ve only enjoyed two of the Tomino shows I’ve seen (Turn A, which I’m currently re-watching, and the third I’ve seen of Zambot 3). In fact, one of the worst things I’ve ever watched, and the worst experience I’ve ever had as a fan watching something, is Tomino’s atrocious and thematically ugly Mobile Suit Victory Gundam. (My general attitude toward bad anime is, “I watched all of Victory Gundam, this couldn’t possibly be worse.”) At the same time, however, I believe that Turn A Gundam is the pinnacle of the Gundam franchise, and as it was also the last Gundam show Tomino touched, I was optimistic that we’d get a little more that and a little less Victory. Admittedly, this was probably a foolish optimism to begin with since Turn A itself wrapped up a whole fourteen years ago. (I’m discounting the Zeta and Turn A movies since there was very little new material in either, and as they were from pre-existing stories, there is little reason to take them as indicative of what to expect out of Reconguista in G.) But you know what else it was? The title. That title sounds so cool! “Reconguista in G”! Damn, what a great name!
Given my excitement for the show, I’m quite dismayed to report that thus far I don’t like it a hell of a lot. As far as female characters go, this has been a great regression from Turn A, which boasted the likes of Kihel and Sochie Heim, Miashei Kune, Fran Doll, and Dianna Soreil, all of whom were fully-realized characters not encumbered by the misogyny that Tomino had previously displayed in other works. (One of things, too, that was great about Turn A’s female characters is that they were strong female characters without the staff just chucking weapons into their hands and thinking that’s all that was necessary, which is the default often when creators and writers are attempting to insert ‘strong’ female characters into their works.) Here they’re nearly all cheerleaders hunting husbands, bad pilots, and monomaniacal amnesiacs. We do glimpse Bellri’s mother, who is the Director of Operations for one of the military organizations, but its only in passing and it only ends up emphasizing the lack of female characters in the lead’s training class. (It does look like, thankfully, that the dark-haired and more fiery cheerleader will end up becoming a pilot in future installments.)
Then there’s how baffling the first episode is, although that in and of itself is pure Tomino; I think the only show to not have a confusing, choppy first episode of his was Turn A. Once I took that into mind, I was able to simply accept that I persistently felt that I was missing key pieces of information to understand the first episode. Buuuut you can’t really give a show a pass simply because you know that the director starts most of his shows off badly.
Really, so far I find the presentation and conceptual aspects much more of interest than what has actually happened. The space elevator is a neat idea, and the limitations that Minovsky Particles impose have the potential to make the battles themselves more interesting, even if they just left a big plot-hole yawning open in the second episode. Above all, though, is the artistic direction and the style, as its pure late 70’s/80’s Tomino but with modern animation and a big budget. It’s downright fascinating to behold, although I’m not sure it’d be so for anyone who hasn’t watched his older material. There are speedlines! The speedlines even SPARKLE at one point! (The amount of sparkles in these first two episodes lead me to believe that Tomino discovered sparkles very recently and finds them enthralling.) Zooming in is sometimes denoted by the camera not simply, well, zooming in, but by quickly cutting in rapid succession a few times to closer and closer views. To see this all with good animation for 2014 (as opposed to solid animation for 1986 or 1977) is both weird and thrilling.
I’m also curious about… well, it’s hard to explain exactly. Bear with me a little bit. So, Turn A Gundam (and, by the way, a lot of folks have been making comparisons between this and Turn A, but I’m not seeing it outside of a few nods here and there) was meant by Tomino to unify the timelines of all Gundam shows that had come before it (excepting S.D. Gundam), U.C. and the various AU’s like Future Century and After War. As such, it took place in an extremely far-flung future, with the Earth having undergone an apocalyptic event at least a couple of thousand years prior, and having lost almost all technology and human knowledge in the apocalypse and its aftermath. So, at the very least, Turn A probably occurs several thousands of years after U.C. Reconguista in G introduces another calendar era, the Regild Century. As its Regild Century year 1014, its already been a long time since the U.C. ended, too, although we don’t know when that ended, either, as no end-date is provided for it. So, the question that arises is – does Turn A still unify the timelines? If it does, there’s probably a gap from U.C. to Turn A (itself in year 2345 Correct Century) of roughly four thousand years. Geez!
Continuing along the Turn A and timelines/timescales line, Raraiya Monday looks a hell of a lot like Loran Cehack, the Moonrace lead of Turn A. I find it hard to accept that as merely coincidental. Here’s where the other thing likely to keep me engaged with Reconguista in G despite my lukewarm feelings on the whole – are we building up to the catastrophe that precedes the Correct Century? Will we finally get to watch the Black History unfold?
Speaking of time, I find it hard to accept that after thousands of years people would still be using a toy like Haro, of which a version (Harode) surfaces here. It also feels bizarre that no one seems to know what the hell a Gundam is (called here ‘G-Self’), even with such a passage of time, given that people are still using mobile suits similar to those of U.C. Actually, the technology angle in general feels off, as apparently things haven’t advanced much in the course of over a millennium. Perhaps Reconguista’s world is, too, post-apocalyptic, and what we are seeing is the product of a lengthy climb out of world-wide disaster.
Anyway – the TL;DR version is that I like it conceptually and am curious about the implications for the franchise as united by Turn A, as well as the potential implications of the fact that Turn A was meant as a unifier, as well as because of the visual direction, but not because of what has actually happened storywise in these episodes. I’m also not terribly sure how much more I can tolerate of girls being cute, empty-headed cheerleaders or bad pilots, or of Raraiya’s endless chanting of “G! GEEEEE!!!!!”. Can someone surreptitiously start leaving Turn A DVDs around Tomino’s home?
Two last notes:
- The pink-haired cheerleader is an asshole and I’m really sad about that since it definitely looks like we’re stuck with her for the long-haul.
- The eye-catch was done by Tomino’s adult daughter, who is a professional dancer in Europe. Cool!