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Gundam: Turn A


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Title Info

  • seen: 1-8
  • type: TV
  • grade: flawed
  • genre: mecha
  • source: asian
  • form: sub
  • made: unknown
  • Review created: Mon Sep 24 17:05:51 EST 2001
  • mod: none

Another day, another Gundam. Although this one's a little different, seeing the `gundam' experience taken in some quite different ways. Unfortunately the main result has been to label it as, "that one with the goofy mecha". Hardly a ringing endorsement.


The planet earth. Some time, Some when. One of the major states is occupied with beefing up it's militia. Lot's of guy's with rifles, trucks with guns on the back and even some actual aircraft put them at the cutting edge of military technology. However what only a handful of people at the top know is that they are expecting to be invaded, that these invaders are coming from the moon, and that these invaders are actually humans as well. Albeit humans who have retained the technology that the people of planet earth have lost. And, this being gundam, they also have powerful mecha.

We get to follow the story through the eye's of some young `moonrace' people who are put onto earth to test out the environment. Over the course of the test they find places in society to the extent that they don't actually feel like rejoining their `brothers'. Indeed the developing conflict, and the arrogance of some of the moon-race, make them wonder which side to support. This is especially true for one of them who unearths a major archaeological find. And, this being gundam, the find just happens to be buried mecha from earth's `dark history'.


The first thing I must mention is that this review is performed through the haze of a Hong Kong release. Being an average English translation of the Chinese translation of a Japanese product the story takes some damage. It's possible to follow, but impossible to judge how much depth has been lost. When/if I get the chance to see a decent translation be sure I'll take the opportunity to revise the review.

The main difference between this and your average gundam series is the question of scale and focus. The two of which are quite closely related. It is expected that a gundam series, while always being expressed through a handful of leaders, will chronicle a broad conflict between two powerful political and military forces. With a lot of the philosophy being delivered as the respective hero's on each side compete, conflict and interact with each other. This one is actually a lot more low key than this.

Which is surprising really. Because on the surface the plot sounds pretty serious. The powerful and technologically advanced moon race coming to earth in order to seize a huge chunk of what we know as America. While the peoples of earth try and protect their lands and livelihoods. However the actual `invasion' of earth is actually over very quickly. And we spend most of our time on the social elements, the meeting and interaction between these disparate cultures, and the political reality of negotiation between them. Rather than mecha horde's most of the `conflict' revolves around small groups of militia and moon race troops getting annoyed at one another.

Likewise the `lead' character has a fairly strange role. First you've got to wave the magic gundam wand and allow for the fact that he becomes an expert pilot in a `buried' gundam about 5 minutes after it appears. And, for some reason, this gundam not only doesn't need fuel but is actually more advanced that the moon race vehicles although, initially, there's only a single vehicle. That aside he's a surprisingly passive character. Born of the moon race but with friends and sympathies on earth he wants only peace. He's not a political leader however, nor a military one, so his actions actually end up being very local and small scale. He spends most of his time following orders while wishing things could be different. Perhaps he takes the lead later in the series, but it's a very slow and quite unexciting start. I will admit I love the initial atmosphere, the sort of 1900's society they explore, but that fades out as the politics starts to dominate.

It sort of feels like they had a good idea for a setting and started from there. A gundam series seemingly set in Europe in the 1900's certainly is different. Meanwhile the moon people are very much like the invaders in `war of the worlds' with a very different history and culture. The expectation being that character and politics would be enough to power the story. At which point they ran into a paradox. Being a gundam series without impressive mecha battles it risks alienating the fans. Yet in order to be gundam at all it has to inherit so many elements that don't really fit in with the story. Without the mecha, and endless politics, there's the heart of a good story here. But the end result feels artificial, confused and under impressive. Then again, given the focus on politics and interaction, the dodgy translation hits it even harder.

The animation itself is reasonable enough. The trappings of the neo-primitive earth society is rather well done when it is brought into the story. The characters have a strong visual personality and express themselves well. It's not too flashy however, and the detail level is not hugely high. The mecha design is, um, pretty awful with the main earth mecha being boring and the majority of the other mecha being quite odd. This is amplified because the motion animation, and battle scenes, are actually quite jumpy with a low frame count. Weapons effects range from overkill, such as a mecha obliterating several miles of city while shooting at a biplane, to non existent. The voices and music seemed quite decent.

Other Reviews

  • Lord Carnage review The master of all things Gundam has a positive and lengthy review for this title. However it's open to argument whether he is still depending on a general optimism than experiencing the whole thing. And even he find the story to have some odd jumps and the characters bit light. Still, a very interesting review (3.5/5).


Words by Andrew Shelton, Web by Ticti, Last Compile: Wed Aug 5 12:39:19 WST 2009