What They Say:
It is time for the “Gundam Fight” tournament! Each country sends a Gundam to Earth for this prestigious tournament in the hopes of winning power and glory for their homeland! But this time, there’s an unseen evil lurking behind the scene. Domon Kasshu, Neo Japan’s reluctant Fighter, is determined to uncover this evil and clear his family name! The fight to the top begins now!
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language track in stereo along with the previously created English language dub, also in stereo, using uncompressed PCM for it. The series is one that certainly shows its age so it’s not going to be really dynamic with a lot of placement or depth but the lossless tracks help to give us a clean and clear version that doesn’t have any issues at all. The action goes big and fun throughout and it works well to immerse us until this particular world where every shout is a declaration of intent on a big scale. The dialogue really does run the gamut here with some fun quiet scenes of introspection from time to time and plenty of normal material. But it goes big in a lot of ways and it delivers well there with what it wants to do.
Originally airing in 1993 to 1994, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. The twenty-four episodes of this set are spread across four discs with six episodes per disc. Animated by Sunrise, the series has a really great look to it with lots of bold colors, a lot of variety to the color design, and a lot of fun detail to everything to bring it to life. The encoding captures this traditionally animated show in a great way with the linework rich, the colors warm, and just a really great sense of fluidity about the high motion scenes that delights. There’s some natural film grain to be had here due to its age to be sure but it works well and comes across without problem. It’s a rich palette here and while it may not go totally vibrant in a lot of ways like more modern shows it definitely has a lot to work with. It’s a solid encode that’s pretty much free of problems, resulting in a smooth and enjoyable presentation.
The packaging for this release comes in a slightly thicker than standard Blu-ray case to hold the four discs on hinges. The front cover artwork goes for a really fun piece with two mobile suits more in the background while Domon and Master Asia get the foreground – with Asia dominating it here but Domon showing off his brand of intensity nicely. It’s a good piece with a kind of intense script along the right for the volume numbering while the logo along the bottom has a fun look to it that makes me think videogame to some degree. The back cover works the orange background well with an easy to read summary of the premise and what extras are included. The big cast shot looks great as we get four more of the supporting players and their mobile suits as well with some good detail and color design. The technical grid covers the basics and there’s a nice selection of small blended shots from the show to round it all out with. The set doesn’t have any show related inserts with it but we get a great two-panel spread of character and mobile suit material that also has the episodes included by number and title.,
The menu design for this series keeps things simple as we get a split screen approach in a slightly different way. The left section features the logo and navigation set against black and it’s done with a kind of playful script that figures into Domon’s style nicely. The right side has a soft visual in the background of the mobile suite while above it and mostly centered on the screen is a kind of cover/key visual piece that uses different character and mobile suit images for each disc. These are bright, colorful, and nicely detailed with what they do, especially the first one that lets Domon and Rain take center stage.The navigation is straightforward and easy to get around in and I like the way the episode selection is done with bars of shots from the show that shift to the episode number and title when highlighted – both when checked out from the main menu or through the pop-up menu during playback.
The extras for this release are the basics as we get the first two clean openings and the first clean ending.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Every Gundam series has its fans and there are a lot of shows where there’s crossover with those fans. There’s a smaller pool where there are those that like every Gundam project and there’s a small pool of fans who like just one particular piece of the franchise. Within all of this, however, we get some shows that are just not liked in general. One of those is G Gundam, the standalone timeline series that just made me a huge fan – eventually. As we say with a lot of Gundam works it can take a while for a show to find its groove as they plan things out with a yearlong approach for the story. That keeps some of them from really coming together until closer to the halfway mark. With G Gundam, I definitely struggled early on with it during my initial viewing but it quickly became a show that got me more and more interested with its variety and whatever goes kind of approach. This series was one that also got its own fandom through Cartoon Network broadcast, but a broadcast that didn’t get quite the repetition that some others did. It’s the weird show that a lot of folks aren’t sure how to talk about, especially when it involves a mobile suit with windmill attachments on it
The layout of this alternate timeline is pretty simple. Sometime in the future, a high percentage of humanity decided to leave the dirty filthy overcrowded Earth and went off into space to form the Colonies. We only see them in the opening, but they look vastly different from the usual cylinders we’ve seen, more like floating islands in the sky with atmospheres. Sixty years later is where this storyline picks up where every four years the colonies hold a competition to decide which colony will be the de facto leader of known space. The competitions were decided upon so that they could avoid costly and devastating wars among each other and the ruination of various colonies. On the downside to this plan, they use the entire Earth as their battleground.
Each colony nation sends its representative and their nationalistic Gundam unit to their former country on Earth. Depending on the country, there seem to be varying levels of cooperation with those who’ve left to the colonies. In Italy, we see nothing but disgust and despair over the competitions, as it looks like most of that country is in ruins from it. But in the United States, the competition is loudly cheered and their warrior highly respected, as they see the competition as a re-affirmation of the American Dream of can-do.
Naturally, with this being anime, we follow the representative from Neo Japan. His arrival on Earth with his Shining Gundam is the event that kicks off the competition, as he quickly challenges his Italian Mobile Fighter opponent after some run-ins with him. The competitions work in that respect, in that it can only be one on one and that the Fighters must challenge each other. And apparently, they can decline. But in the end, they all must fight at some point, since the last one standing is the winner. But the Neo Japan Fighter, Domon Kasshu, is on Earth for another reason as well. We see him asking everyone he can about a man in a photo that he has as to whether they’ve seen him or not. While he’s definitely there to fight, he’s got another mission that’s not yet fully revealed.
After the first four episodes, I initially wasn sure how to quite take this. It’s done in a very serious manner, though aspects of it come off over the top in how it feels. The way that the pilots interact with their Gundam’s, all dressed in skintight clothing that has antennas at various points to let them give instructions, comes across as very cheesy. The character designs are also done in a more 70’s style, with the closest thing of a current analog being the designs from Getter Robo. Both of those aspects give the show a very different feel, definitely something you wouldn’t expect from a mid 90’s series. But at that same time, I find myself curiously drawn to these aspects of it, since they do push aside the standard Gundam traditions.
As the show moves forward, Domon continues his multinational journey and ends up in Neo Russia this time, in a place where Gundam’s and their pilots actually manage to disappear. He starts scouting it out, and through his own natural luck, ends up finding out that it’s basically a prison where they draw in Gundam pilots by letting them think that the Neo Russian Fighter is there. So now Domon’s part of the prison members of mostly criminals and some really depressed and downtrodden former pilots. Things play out in a mini Alcatraz style with a break-out and the luring out of the real Fighter to take on Domon as well as using him to draw out his Shining Gundam. The sneaky Russians use the entire set up to gain more technology from other colony nations so that they can continue with their massive project of a Gundam. The one they have is a massive blocky but powerful unit. While this all seems like another one-off episode, they do an excellent job of using it as a launching pad for later on in this disc.
Where the show really started to get to me was pretty early on after the first batch of episodes when Domon is spirited away back to his colony and is placed into the remains of his family’s home. Using some advanced hallucination techniques, certain elements from the colonies military and science groups place Domon into the sequence of events in his family’s past. Through this sequence, we learn about how his brother and father had completed building their own Gundam, the Devil Gundam. This beast is vastly different from other models built, as it literally seems like it’s tapped into the dark powers. Domon’s brother, Kyoji, watched as the military came in to take the Gundam away from them, watched without emotion as his mother died, and espoused his plans for global domination as he takes the Devil Gundam to Earth.
The general belief was that the unit burnt up during re-entry due to it’s speed, but the scientists believe that with its dark powers, it would actually rebuild itself over time. So using their skills, they convinced Domon that he must go to Earth to find his brother and destroy the Devil Gundam, and that the best way to do it is in the competition. Through all this flashback, in a period where Domon didn’t actually take part in, we learn a lot of very useful information. And how the military people who do consider Domon a friend are being used by their superiors. Though it’s done in a fairly cartoony way, it adds some good levels to the series that I expect from any other Gundam series.
Of course, with all this good serious stuff, we then move into the more comical, though done with a serious enough touch. The entire episode that featured the Tequila Gundam with its sombrero or the fact that their colony looks like one massive sombrero… well, that’s what stands out there and I can’t recall much more of it. While that one was sort of a loss for me, I was surprised at how good the Lumber Gundam episode was, as it brings back into play the Neo Russian Fighter and the pasts of the two pilots from over five years ago. Some of the plot is fairly obvious, with the obvious misunderstandings causing years of anger and hatred, but it plays out well. I’ll still call the Canadian Gundam the Lumberjack Gundam though, cause he’s okay.
While there’s a lot of setup early on the show doesn’t want too long to really get things moving with the larger plot points as it hits just before the halfway mark here. While we were introduced to the dark nature of the Devil Gundam and an inkling of Kyoji’s plans for it early on, here we see just what he’s been up to in the time since the units revival and how it’s going to really affect the world. The character of Master Asia is amusing to say the least, and the meeting of the two after some time provides Domon with some really badly needed emotions other than anger and simple grimacing. The relationship between Rain and Domon gets some nice exploration as well, which the introduction of an old potential flame will almost always do, as well as getting a better feel for how these oddly designed colonies are like.
The Shinjuku battlefield arc works well as it gets underway and especially when it starts to take on a new twist for Domon here as four previous fighters, those piloting the Rose, Maxter, Dragon and Bolt Gundams, have apparently fallen victim to the power of the Devil Gundam. This is something they learn after he and Master Asia go off to find out the source of a communication coming from the old Tokyo Tower. Through their journey, and throughout the episodes in general, we get more flashbacks to the past between these two men and see how Asia had essentially raised Domon from one point and taught him the ways of his arts. Though they’re brief, they do nicely get across the reasons beyond the obvious why Domon has such respect and love for his Master.
And it’s for this reason that Domon takes it so hard when he realizes the Master Asia has also fallen under the influence of the Devil Gundam and is using the four other Gundam’s as his front line fighters to deal with the nuisance things he comes across, including Domon. The revelations are pretty quick to come, especially since things start off with Asia going off and doing mysterious things pretty regularly. It also provides a really good plot twist for making Domon even more unstable since he also has his brother Kyoji and the Devil Gundam itself to take care of. But now he has the added pressure of making sure that he gets Asia freed from it – if he’s actually an unwilling servant, something they’re not sure of.
This provides some really good combat sequences, both inside and outside of the Gundam suits. It also brings into play a new element, one that’s fairly comical at first sight but actually blends into things well the further they expand upon it. Arriving during one of the fights is something called the Shuffle Alliance. This group of four, utilizing the cards as their names, such as the Jack of Diamonds or Black Joker, is a group that’s been together throughout most of human history and has guided wars to make sure they don’t go beyond a particular stage. Each generation has a new set that takes over from the previous, and these powerful Gundam fighters are the current incarnation. And much like Domon’s King of Hearts symbol on his hand, they all have theirs.
The Shuffle Alliance provides some interesting changes to the dynamic of the groups in general, especially as they progress. They’re not given a deep amount of history or time on screen, but they play key roles in changing the direction of many of the cast members here. As I said, it all seems comical at first, with the outfits, as they don’t use traditional pilot outfits, and their style of talk – and never mind their actual Gundam’s, but as their history unfolds and the connection with Asia and therefore Domon becomes known, it all blends well. With the new Shuffle Alliance standing together, things are actually looking up to see some teamwork going on and the action changing direction. Of course, that’s what you’d expect, but with as diverse the personalities of this group, that’s not going to happen. Most of them don’t even want to be a part of the Alliance, so they all end up going their separate ways. Domon himself is still filled and fueled by finding his Master and either knocking sense into him and freeing him of the Devil Gundam’s grip or doing the unthinkable. So he heads off as well into the sunset to find Asia and deal with him.
Domon’s problems are easily realized though, as we shift to the Devil Gundam lair and find out just what kind of powers are at work here. Asia sums it up nicely in that since his best student is now hunting him, he essentially knows exactly what Domon will do and the reasoning behind it. This begins to show very quickly as Asia messes with Domon’s head by having his Gundam show up and lead Domon into a trap. The only thing that ends up saving him is the interference by the Neo German Fighter, the mysterious Schwarz Bruder.
What he ends up imparting on Domon is critical, and that is that Domon is not ready to face his master, both physically and mentally. When Bruder manages to actually impress this on him through a special sword trick, Domon resigns himself to this fact and heads off to where he and Master Asia originally trained years ago, to Guyana in South America. You can almost hear the background artists sigh in relief. There are some decent character episodes along the way, including some fun time with Rain piloting that I wish we had more of, before events shift in solid ways. Domon’s training proves to be interesting, especially since Schwartz ends up involving himself in it and helps to provoke Domon in the right way to produce certain results. A lot of this goes against the way Domon has trained for so long that it doesn’t click well with him, though he keeps trying to figure it out. Their training time doesn’t last all too long together though, as the Devil Gundam and its Death Army have decided that it’s time to end Domon and the others once and for all, so that their true plans can go forward.
What this results in is three episodes of constant fighting between both sides. Sometimes one side gains an upper hand briefly, then the other overwhelms it before it all repeats again. These episodes are very good though, so don’t get me wrong. The action sequences play out great and there’s a lot of primal feeling to much of the combat. There’s even a good amount of time with Rain taking the lead of the Shining Gundam and working with the others to get it to Domon before he gets caught up in the attack. But with a battle sequence like this, there’s things to say but they end up revealing too much.
By the end of this set, I’m very pleased with how the series has changed throughout the first two dozen episodes. While there is a fair amount of camp at times, especially toward the end where it’s showing off a variety of Gundam’s from around the world – including that one from the Netherlands or the Viking one with the boat – it’s managed to focus most of the camp feel into something stronger and more gut level primal. Adding the dimension of the relationship between Domon and Rain as something more important towards the second half has definitely helped as well. I’m very curious to see how the second half of this series will turn out, and that’s something I certainly couldn’t have said at the beginning of this series.
I totally understand the frustrations that a lot of general Gundam fans have with G Gundam but it’s a show that I enjoy for a lot of reasons – including it being the first Gundam show my kids got into for the absurdity of it all. There’s a lot of suspension of disbelief that has to go on with this series compared to other shows in the franchise but that made it all the more enjoyable, similar to the Gundam Build Fighters series for me since it too just went all in on a new concept. The UC timeline is still my favorite but G Gundam is just special to me. This release brings so much of it together at once in a great way that comes across beautifully as the traditional animation shines with its detail, the intensity of the action, and the fluidity of it. The set is a solid one that captures the show wonderfully and preserves the previously produced dub, all for a fantastic price. This is the best the show has ever looked here and it’s worth every moment of strangeness, silliness, and weirdness.
Japanese PCM 2.0 Language, English PCM 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Openings, Clean Closings
Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: Nozomi Entertainment / Sunrise
Release Date: December 4th, 2018
Running Time: 600 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.