C&C - Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin - Series Talkback

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Mr. Anime

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Once upon a time in 2001:

244902


In April of 1979, there came an anime series unlike any other at the time. While there had been giant robot series before it, they had been fanciful tales of hot blooded heroes saving the day from mad scientists, demons and alien invaders in their Super Robots. None had been serious dramas about what if human beings went to war using such giant machines.

Mobile Suit Gundam changed all that.

Now, get ready to see the prequel to the series that launched a franchise that is basically Japan's version of Star Wars and played a major role in the history of Toonami.
 
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PicardMan

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Another empty (the emptiest) talkback thread here. Starting to wonder about Toonami's choices considering how the talkback threads are substantially more bare than with what aired before. No UC Gundam really works without seeing the original, which happens to be streaming limbo as it seems that Unicorn, 08th MS Team, and this are easy to find streaming, but not the original.
 

Yojimbo

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Another empty (the emptiest) talkback thread here.
I hope it's a case of people letting their DVR record while they go out/go to sleep.

No UC Gundam really works without seeing the original, which happens to be streaming limbo as it seems that Unicorn, 08th MS Team, and this are easy to find streaming, but not the original.
That's strange a very popular franchise isn't completely and readily available for streaming.
 

PicardMan

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That's strange a very popular franchise isn't completely and readily available for streaming.
I do know that old anime tend to have licensing issues, but I know that the original Gundam is on Blu Ray and a few old school anime titles are still easily findable on streams, like 70s Lupin and Robotech. I wouldn't think it would be that costly to have the original Gundam up for streaming and I know that there's a sizeable number of people who are discovering Robotech for the first time via Netflix. I guess that we'll see if anybody DVRd if this talkback thread comes back from the grave.
 
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Nobodyman

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Incidentally, I actually bought the Blu-rays of the original Mobile Suit Gundam and watched it for the first time about a year ago. As for this series, I didn't see it on demand on my cable service, but they do have the OVA version on Hulu, so I decided to watch that. I won't get into details since the first OVA episode covers more than this episode, but I'm really enjoying it so far, and this show has some stellar animation. And I know Gundam can be confusing, but I don't think this series should be too hard for newcomers to follow.
 

Light Lucario

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I thought that this episode was okay. It kind of just jumped right into the situation without really explaining who these characters are, what the political situation is or really much of anything beyond how people were murdered. Admittedly, this approach can work and I'm sure that this is targeted more towards long time fans rather than making it easier for newcomers. With that said, I wasn't really bored watching this episode. Stuff was happening, which is more than I can say for Gundam Unicorn and its dry exposition. Hearing Veronica Taylor in a more recent dub is always a nice treat. It got more interesting near the end, but then we got an abrupt cut to the ending credit. I'm sure that is the result of cutting up an OVA into a TV series.

Overall, it was an okay episode. It didn't really blow me away, but it didn't turn me off either, so I'd be okay with giving it another couple of episodes to see if it is more appealing to me.
 

Grenzer

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I knew there might be an issue here with people who never watched the original UC Gundam. Even though this is a reboot, and a prequel on top of that. You simply will not have the ability to connect with these characters and events without being knowledgeable about the original series.

You know, tonight I'll make a post in the new thread giving some more background to what is happening. Both for last week's episode and tonight's, after it airs of course. UC Gundam is one of the most iconic and influential franchises in all of anime, so it deserves that much.
 
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Yojimbo

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Lady Hamon's arrival in the battle tank mobile suit was the most entertaining thing. And if I remember right, in the original series, she didn't have an actual rank either, hence those two jerk pilots calling her Miss Fake Lieutenant.

Ramba Ral's flat tire ruse, the closed lanes -- hilarity.

Ah yes, Char has awakened...

The kitten boucing off of Hamon's head, heh. Not as funny as the scratches all over Ral's face at the bar but still.

Yeah, makes sense Kycilia Zabi would see through the ruse. Head of state police after all.
 
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Light Lucario

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I thought that this episode was pretty good. While I'm still confused over the characters' names and the setting, I felt really bad for the mother as she tried to reassure her daughter. The chances are excellent that she is going to die, which is one reason why they wanted her children to go to Earth, so she told her daughter a pretty lie in order to calm her down enough to go to Earth.

The struggle to leave was pretty intense, especially with that chase scene and the boy firing back at those tanks. The woman helping them was pretty cool, although I wonder if she survives after helping them. Overall, it was a pretty good episode.
 
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Grenzer

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As I promised, this post will be designed to give some context to those who are watching this series with no or limited knowledge of UC Gundam. It contains spoilers for the original Mobile Suit Gundam anime that premiered forty years ago in 1979. However, since the show is so old at this point, and the ability to grasp many of the plot points being introduced here is tied to knowledge of that series and its sequels, spoilers will not be marked. Further more, Gundam: The Origin is a reboot of many of the events from the original MSG, so simply knowing this information will not spoil you about what exactly will happen in this show.

So without further adieu...

The Republic of Munzo/Zeon: In the original series, this collection of space colonies* becomes the despotic Duchy/Principality of Zeon that are the antagonists to our heroes, the crew of the Space Federation battleship White Base. Located at Side 3 (a side being a large grouping of colonies anchored to a certain Lagrange Point), they declared independence about a decade before the start of Mobile Suit Gundam, and then declared war on the Federation in the year UC (Universal Century) 079. The name Munzo was created for this series, in older material it was always referred to as the Republic of Zeon.

Zeon Zum Deikun - The bearded man you saw at the begining of episode 1, whose death sets off the events of this series. Namesake of the Zeon state. He was a politician who created a philosophy that humans who had settled in space colonies were evolving into a new species. He coined the term Newtype for this breed of man, who consciousness could reach across all existence, even into the souls of other people. Because of that, all of humanity needed to leave for space into order to reach the next phase of interstellar civilization. At the same time, Earth was a sacred place that needed to be abandoned to nature, so that the remaining lifeforms there could be allowed to flourish in peace.

As you can guess, most people in the Gundam universe see Zeon as sort of an unhinged crackpot, but the Zabi family used his ideas to indoctrinate their subjects into believing they are a master race who will conquer the Federation and the inferior humans who still live on Earth. His death made him a martyr whose name is used to inspire the Zeon soldiers to fight on despite their nation being hopelessly outnumbered by the rest of humanity. As an aside, the majority of humans in UC Gundam live in space colonies, but most are loyal to the Federation and oppose Zeon, something that causes no shortage of social tension through the story.

Zeon Zum Deikun was also the father of...

Casval Rem and Artesia Som Deikun- This is like telling anyone over the age of ten that Anakin Skywalker is Darth Vader. These two are better known to Gundam fans as Char Aznable and Sayla Mass. Char is the titular "Red Comet" that is mentioned in the The Origin's full title. He is also one of the most famous and heavily copied characters in all of anime, so an explanation of his role is in order.

In the original series, Char is hero Amuro Ray's chief enemy for the run of the story. Their rivalry becomes deep, personal, and bitter. It is the stuff of legends, and has been copied in so many other shows over the past four decades that I could not even begin to list all of them. Char is the prototype for just about every mysterious masked anti-hero/anti-villain in Sci-fi anime, and in Japan is about as well known as the above mentioned Vader. The Origin is his story, and how he came to be the deadly ace pilot later seen in Mobile Suit Gundam.

As you have already seen, Casval/Char lives under the belief that the Zabi family murdered his father to take control of Munzo. His whole life after that event became one massive odyssey to pay them back the favor. While playing the role of an ace mecha pilot in Zeon's military, he relentlessly conspires to overthrow the Zabi dictatorship. This is one of the reasons Char became the most iconic character of the Gundam franchise. He is one of the first examples in modern fiction of a villain whose motives exist outside of being an obstacle opposing the heroes in their quest for peace and justice. Realistically, his conflict with the crew of the White Base in the original series is a sideshow to his own ambition of killing the Zabi family. And his battles with Amuro would seem even more insignificant except for one little factor...

Artesia/Sayla has become a Federation soldier who is on the White Base and has a crush on Amuro. I could explain more, but I assume The Origin will be getting into this with more detail, so just file that info away for now.

Char is a brilliant but mercurial figure, with motives that change greatly over the course of various Gundam shows and movies. He grows as a man and also devolves as well. His flaws are never glossed over, but you have to admire him regardless. However, it should be noted that he comes to wholly embrace his father's legacy and this has huge implications on the story.


If you watched Gundam Unicorn a few years ago, you might have noticed the character of Full Frontal was believed to be the return of Char under a new name. That is a story for another time, but that Frontal could collect so many devoted followers because of that belief should give you an idea of just how revered Char is within the UC universe.

Now this post is turning out to be a lot longer than I anticipated, so I will wrap up for now. Next, I will get more into the Zabi family, Ramba Ral, and Zeon. In the meantime, I hope that at least some questions about this show were answered. Good night.

* As an aside, colonies in the UC timeline (and many other other Gundam AUs) were based on the theories of Gerard O'Neill, who was a prominent real-life proponent of space exploration back in the 1970's when the show was being made. See the links for more info.

Edit: Char's role in 079 in a nutshell (I really can't help myself):

 
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Grenzer

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As promised, I now present Part Two of a primer on UC Gundam:

Principality/Duchy of Zeon*: When the Zabi family (see below) seized power, they converted the Republic of Munzo into a monarchy with fascist undertones under the rule of Degwin Zabi (the bald man with the sunglasses). Degwin claimed the title of Sodo, which means lord, and promoted his children to various high-ranking positions in the military, which became the dominant branch of Zeon's government. The Principality consists of about forty colonies total, with a population of 150 million people. This seems impressive, but Zeon's population is only about 2% of the Federation's, and without control of the Earth, Moon, or asteroid bases it is very poor in natural resources.

Further complicating matters, by the time the original Mobile Suit Gundam series takes place, Degwin has been reduced to a mere figurehead by his two eldest surviving children, Gihren and Kycilia. The stunning successes of Zeon's forces in the early months of the One Year War makes them arrogant, and Principality's leadership becomes dangerously unfocused at a time when the Federation is gaining a second wind. This low-grade conflict between Gihren and Kycilia blows up in the last arc of the show, and intersects with Char's increasingly aggressive moves to undercut the Zabi family, and the White Base's crew key role in destroying the last strongholds of Zeon military power.

I don't think it is much of a spoiler to tell you that Zeon loses the One Year War. If you watched Unicorn, you know that a whole generation of children grow up knowing Zeon only as a failed stated that was dismantled in a similar fashion to Nazi Germany after World War II. But as the Federation is also a very corrupt, violent government in its own right, there are no lack of crypto-Zeon supporters who would love for it to rise again, and allow the people of the space colonies to gain independence from the Federation once and for all. This provides much of the grist for conflict in later installments of UC Gundam such as 0083, ZZ Gundam, and Char's Counterattack.

Zabi Family: We have already talked a lot about these guys collectively, but it is a good idea to give a brief spotlight on each individual family member and his/her role in the story:

Degwin: The toad-like family patriarch. Scheming and power-hungry, but not cool-blooded or fanatical like Gihren or Kycilia. He realizes only too late what horrors he has unleashed upon humanity and has a measure of regret for it.

Gihren: The eldest son, arguably the central villain of the original Mobile Suit Gundam anime. A tall man with slicked-back silver hair. Ironically, Amuro and the White Base crew never meet him in person, and he is aware of them only in the way a general is aware of a group of especially dangerous enemy soldiers. Gihren is a high-functioning sociopath with no true affection for any other human besides himself, but he is brilliant and charismatic. He gives one of the most famous speeches in any anime ever, which has been widely emulated (and parodied) in a wide number of other shows.

(minor spoilers in the clip below)

Even Degwin thinks his son is the UC's version of Adolf Hitler, and Gihren took that as a compliment.


Sasro: Created for The Origin, his main contribution is to slap Kycilia and call her stupid, and then be blown to charbroiled bits just days later. Do the math.

Kycilia: The only daughter, but no less formidable than her brothers. She is a smidge bit more principled than Gihren but is still cold and calculating. In her quest to succeed her father, she has charmed a number of key Zeon senior officers and ace pilots and made them fanatically loyal to her. Kycilia's major weakness is her infatuation with Char, who of course uses it when needed to get the supplies he needs for his troops. To say anymore right now would give away more of the plot than necessary.

Dozle: The brutish-looking giant of the family, but surprisingly insightful and chivalrous. His soldiers adore him, and he in turn is saddened by the great sacrifices they have made in order to win the war. Dozle is actually a decent person, but unfortunately totally under the thumb of his elder siblings. He may privately question the morality of Zeon's actions, but he would never defy Gihren or Kycilia's orders and helped plan many war crimes during the opening stages of the One Year War. Towards the end of the show, he fights the Federation forces in his own personal mobile armor, knowing full well that even if he were taken alive he would be tried and hanged as a war criminal.

There is a reason I am giving a lot of focus on Dozle. He is the only member of the Zabi siblings with a family. He is deeply in love with his wife and their infant daughter, and would do anything to make sure they escape punishment by the Federation. His daughter is named Mineva Lao Zabi, and after spending a lonely childhood in exile used as a pawn by Neo-Zeon supporters, she assumes the identity of Audrey Burne to live a normal life. And now you have a little more context on what was going on in the earlier episodes of Unicorn. It is no small irony that the last child of the Zabi ended up living an existence similar to the children of Zeon Zum Deikum. Hopefully she avoids the mistakes Char made...

Garma: The baby of the family. He is a half-sibling to the others, and the only child of Degwin's beloved second wife. Handsome, easy-going, and lacking the ruthlessness typical of a Zabi, he is nonetheless loved by both his father and the common people of Zeon. He befriends Char during their days at the military academy, oblivious to who he is truly dealing with, a mistake that will cost him dearly in the years to come...



I'll cut if off here for now. We still have to talk about Ramba Ral and his clique, and the Federation after them, but it is best to save that for another post(s). Good reading everyone.


*You will see different translations of this nation's name depending on what official release you are watching/reading. That is because Gundam has been around for a very long time, but up until c. 2000 or so there was very little guidance from Sunrise on how names should be rendered in English. The original name in Japanese is Jion Koukoku, and koukoku is a generic name for any sort of political state ruled by a crowned monarch, regardless of the title. Principality has become the preferred translation.
 
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