Wednesday, February 17, 2010

After War Gundam X

I'm sorry, Space Monkees, but right now I'm going to use you to blow off some nerdy steam.

I hate "Gundam X".

Okay, that's a tad bit too dramatic and offensive a way to start a commentary, but I'm personally so annoyed with this show right not now that I can't think of a better way to start this that those three words.  I really am beyond disappointed with this show.  It had so promise:  its Gundam, for one, that's always awesome.  I mean, come on, how can giant robots fighting each other with frickin' lightsabers ever fail to be cool??  How?  Well, "After War Gundam X" has the answer.

The Gundam franchise is based largely upon various different universes, all differentiated by their calendars.  The "main" franchise, which is the setting of "Mobile Suit Gundam", "0083", and several others, is the "Universal Century (UC)", while other universes are "After Colony" ("Gundam Wing", my first and personal favorite), "Cosmic Era" ("Gundam SEED"), and even our own world with "Anno Domini" ("Gundam 00").  They each about as much to do with each other as Star Wars has to do with Star Trek plot wise.  You'll just see basic plot elements recycled:  space opera Sci-Fi, serious war plots, realistic character deaths, giant Space Colonies floating around the Earth, and of course, giant robots called "Gundams".

"Gundam X" despite its plot background and pornographic title, is actually quite boring.  You'd be surprised, considering the kind of world they imagined here.  Fifteen years ago a war broke between the Earthlings and those living on the Space Colonies.  Things went from bad to worse to serious shit hitting the fan when the Colonists, desperate to win, decided to drop tons of the Colonies on the Earth, completely destroying civilization and the entire climate.  Such a profound impact (pun not intended) did the war leave that the entire calendar has been remade, with years counted as "After War".  From a population of ten billion, the human race is down to ninety-eight million souls.  What's left of the population tries its best to scrounge a meager living, while fearing for their lives while the ghosts of the war, the weapons left behind by the destroyed combatants, falling into the hands of bandits and terrorists.  Doesn't that sound great?  Well, it isn't.  My God, it isn't.

You see, this isn't a post-apocalyptic world.  The show claims that it is, but it clearly isn't.  Things basically seem just about the same as they are now:  people have cars, jobs, homes, and futures.  Everybody is so cheerful, so ambivalent to the massive destruction that has gone on all around them.  What happened to everything you ever knew being completely destroyed before you very eyes?  I can understand the young protagonists, they're orphans who don't remember the pre-war world, but everybody else, they're lack of emotional scars boarders on sociopathy.  I mean, its nice to see everybody working together, but they shouldn't be working together.  They should be scared, they should have no idea what the future might hold, they should be fighting against the evil forces tearing the world apart.  Instead they're happily wandering the globe on a cool ship with cool robots looking for "Newtypes" (who anybody who watched the original should be familiar with), telekinetics whose powers border on magic.  There are battles, but they're so regional and unimportant that I keep on asking "why should I care?".

Worse than just being inappropriate for a post-apocalyptic world, the characters in this show are quite simply uninteresting.  It might be due to the fact that this show is Japanese-only, meaning I have to watch it in subtitles.  The Japanese language, at least to me, is very unpleasant to listen to, if I must be totally honest.  The voice actors here sound terrible, and I find myself unable to really connect with them due to the language barrier on some level.  You can subtitle live action and have no problem, but animation needs a direct human contact I think.  Anyway, despite my inexperience with Japanese voice actors, these - I hope - are not the best that Japan has to offer, because they sound horrible.  Everybody is either overacting or sound like they just don't care.  But even beyond the acting, when you get right down to it, there isn't much to any of these people.  The characters are all stock:  ditzy blond, silent elder badass guy with a dark past, silent mysterious magical love-interest*, flirtatious support character, loud Ash Ketchum-style hero, etc.  Nobody is considerable interesting, not even the snake-like villains whose unknown motivations are supposed to keep me watching.

Ultimately you figure out that there is no danger to this world to any of the main characters.  Despite the fact that they're fighting tooth and nail every episode, instead of there being any real threat, the combat is more a learning experience for the hero.  Every episode I was hoping that finally, maybe something big would finally happen.  Maybe one of the disposable extras tagging along would actually get disposed of.  But no, nothing really happens.  Instead its a "villain of the 3-5 episode arc" system, where events of one arc would be settled happily ever after, and I die a little more inside.  You know I'm not enjoying myself when I'm hoping that something terrible will happen just so that the plot can finally get some teeth.  Come on!  Even "G Gundam" for all its silliness, had a few plot twists that got my interest!

After awhile I realized that this was definitely not a mature show at all.  Nobody making this had anything deep to say, or even wanted to say it.  Maybe this would be a good show for little kids who just want to watch boys fight with their robots, but I'd at least want something a bit more.  Usually Gundam has more to offer than this, even if it is a poorly thought-out basic pacifism message.  At least they try.  "Gundam Wing" tried, "Gundam X" is nothing more than a kid's show.  It has all the depth of "Transformers" or "G.I. Joe" or any other stupid kid's cartoon show from way before my time.  I guess that means that Michael Bay will soon be doing an adaptation of "Gundam X" starring Shia LaBeouf, right?  Honestly, even Michael Bay would be an improvement.

So by this point I was struggling to even come up with a reason to keep on watching, something to justify the hours I wasted watching half the series so far.  There was nothing.  I decided that, screw it, I'll spoil the ending just to see if anything interesting happens in the end.  It doesn't.  So I stopped watching, got really pissed-off, and wrote this.  What a completely waste of time.  I'm sorry to have even started watching this.  So that's that.  I'm leaving this show behind, unfinished, and without regrets.  Onto something good, hopefully.

You know, I never did really watch anything more than bits and pieces of "Eureka 7" when it was on Adult Swim...  Maybe I can correct that...

EDIT:  You know, what I just said about Japanese voice actors was probably not altogether the most well-thought comment I've said on this blog.  "Ghost Hound", another anime I'm following right now, has an excellent voice cast despite it being in Japanese.  So "Gundam X" was just even more unusually horrible than I imagined.  And "Eureka Seven" is awesome so far.

* I really don't want to meet the kind of person who finds quiet, and inactive women to be an ideal or even attractive at all.  What kind of a personality must a person like that have?  Do you even want to imagine such a person?


  1. I liked G Gundam, it was my faavorite Gundam series, Gundam Wing seemed boring to me. and Gundam SEED was even more boring.

    When I as young, I used to collect all the toys around the G Gundams, beacuse they were all so unique and diverse, not your typical Gundam robots.

  2. The show's premise sounds A LOT like EVA. I know that may piss you off, but damn it, that prolouge sounds like Evangelion.

  3. It was exactly that similarity to EVA-ishness that partially drew me to it. And yet... UGGG.

  4. thank god I read your blog. That's the only reason I was able to find Ghost Hound, a very great though relatively unheard of anime. Thanks!

  5. I like Japanese voices :( It's usually more fun watching an Anime in Japanese with Subtitles, since English voices tend to suck(see Kitsune's English voice in Love Hina, urgh...), and that's not even close to the Swedish dubbings of the Miyazaki Films