What They Say:
The Battle Royale begins! Domon must defeat his friends and face the Four Evil Kings. But with the fate of his brother still fresh on his mind, Domon and the rest of the Shuffle Alliance must face the ultimate test as they rocket into space to save the Earth. Beside them stands all of the Gundams from all of the nations of Earth. The Gundam Federation has been formed to prevent the destruction of the Earth from the Ultimate Gundam. But is it too late?
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-five episodes of this set are spread across three discs with six episodes per disc and one with seven. 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 the prominent female characters get the foreground in a good way here with some striking designs. 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 feature 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 third clean opening and the second clean ending along with a small selection of commercials for the show.
The nature of most Gundam shows is that around the halfway mark, give or take a bit, things shift gears and we move forward with something more intense. Sometimes there’s a time jump, sometimes there’s a death or change in the nature of the various sides that alters the dynamic. But usually there’s something that puts us in a new place so that it’s not quite more of the same. While the first arc started off with the original Gundam Tournament rounds and paring down of participants, it quickly moved to the more personal vendettas and plots of the various cast members. And, of course, the machinations of that nasty old Devil Gundam.
Events early on here brings us back to the main overall plot and the opening of the 13th Gundam Tournament to decide who shall rule over the colonies for the next four years. This allows the show to serve two purposes as it gets underway. One, it starts as a springboard to bring in new fans at an easy and accessible point as they get to essentially reintroduce the characters to the audience. The second purpose is that in defining the characteristics of everyone we’ve come to know, they can save some time by showing footage from past episodes to display their skill set. So in a twisted way that works out fairly well, we get a decent recap episode. Plus, we get to see all the different Gundams again.
The setting for the 13th Tournament is very much a part of the cast as well. Having won the previous tournament with Master Asia being their Fighter, they get to oversee this one in how its laid out and to have their Fighter be the one that has to be fought in the end to win. Hong Kong in this timeline is very much unlike the rest of the world as it’s very vibrant and alive and its people almost seem as if they love being a part of the Earth and have a big adoration for the Gundams. It also seems to have suffered the least, though there are some rundown areas that look like they’ve been used for Gundam battles in the past.
Leading Hong Kong and presumably overseeing the government of the colonies is Wong Yunfat, a slick looking Chinese man who has some seriously big games going on. With Master Asia at his side, the two are plotting some very evil deeds to be sure, but Wong pulls it off with style and flippancy that unnerves his opponents. But he’s also wanting some blood to be drawn in this tournament, as he amends the rules to allow targeting of the cockpit by the Fighters. This new twists definitely adds a greater element of danger for those involved.
Once past the opening episode, the next few play out various battles and movements in the big ladder to get to the final bout with Master Asia. In this sense, it’s like we’re back to the beginning of the series but with much more honed and confident pilots taking control of things. There’s some hints of larger things to come and the return of some surprising characters, but overall the tension and drama of the previous volume just isn’t here this time around. But it’s not surprising since it’s really back to square one. There are some very fun fights here but it’s almost like starting over again before it settles into its approach.Of course, this all pales next to what really captures the viewers attention as it gets further in, and that’s Allenby. We’re introduced to Allenby by reputation first as she and her Gundam manage to easily beat Argo and his massive Bolt Gundam in under a minute. Her reputation is growing daily, though she’s managed to keep much of it quiet and secret for some time. A lot of this comes from her involvement in the Tournament, as she was never actually asked to become a pilot but rather brought into it by the military after her parents died. Since she started, she’s become a very proficient and powerful fighter.
So it’s little surprise that Wong and Asia decide to test her and Domon against each other, but they didn’t expect the two of them to meet up privately first. The way they meet up is done in true classic form and in a way that I haven’t seen done since Macross. And that only gave it more coolness to me. While about town with Rain and the two kids, they end up at a gaming center where the hottest new game, which is basically a virtual fighting simulator that everyone can see, is being played by one very talented and attractive woman. She handily wins again only to find nobody else will challenge her. Until the very publicly known Domon opts to take her on.
The fight is really a replay of the same things we saw in Macross, as the two veteran pilots faced off virtually against each other and realized just how good the other was. This relationship, which grows throughout the episodes, ends up becoming key during their actual match-up as both of them actually find themselves enjoying the match as opposed to just getting through it, since both of them are so skilled and fun to play off of. It’s just perfectly set up and executed. The larger plot also gets some movement as some of the previously defeated Fighters find themselves being brought into a plan to eliminate the Shuffle Alliance and Domon. There’s also a large sense of foreboding as something creepy feels like it’s being brought into the city as a huge dark container is airlifted overhead to a secret location. Of course, we all know what it is, but it’s set up nicely to reveal the larger plans of those who are vying for power here.
That Allenby is someone that initially could be seen as something of a toss away character, she’s quickly becoming a key player in events. While hanging around with Domon a lot, she ends up at the event mentioned earlier outside of Chapman’s. When the enemy came leaping outside and Domon simply tells her to take out a few of them, she doesn’t question him at all and simply leaps right into action. She’s also getting quite familiar with Domon, which doesn’t sit well with Rain. Even though she and Domon are no longer competing, Rain doesn’t like the fact that she’s working with Domon on the God Gundam to upgrade parts of it. It’s an amusing dialogue, particularly in the dub, as she throws Allenby out of the cockpit. It’s really surprising at how few episodes it took for Allenby to really become a great addition to the cast and change the dynamic of the relationships. She almost makes me question my devotion to Rain.
As time and the fights go on, the attacks on the island have gotten much more intense as the battle has whittled down to the few remaining Gundams. While they continue to fight, the concern from outside has grown considerably which leads to a small group of the support folks trying to figure out how to get inside. Unfortunately, the barrier that surrounds the island is so intense that it goes fairly far underground and overheard as well as being double-sided, causing those who try to get in a fair amount of pain, enough to kill a normal person. Kyoji tries to help out when he arrives in his Gundam, but it isn’t until Rain shows up (in her ever so sexy fight suit) in the Rising Gundam that one of Chibodee’s support team figures out a way to get inside. The plan is cunning to say the least, using the energies of the Gundams to draw out the barrier, and then get someone to slip inside the gap and destroy the barrier post so that the whole deal will come down. This is a tedious process, and it takes quite a bit of time to work through, leaving those inside fighting a bloody fight.
The real focus though comes as Domon starts moving in closer to the Devil Gundam, leaving him to deal not only with Master Asia but also the controlled berserk mode Allenby that Wong is using to push Asia out of the picture. There are some conflicts about to brew there, but the action ends up overriding most everything else. The inability of Domon to fight against Allenby brings some problems to the fight since he’s only trying to defend, but there’s an interesting resolution to it that leads to a creepy and sorrowful transformation for Allenby.
The best material here comes from Kyoji as some of the plot gaps get filled in and we figure out at long last what’s been going on. The twists in the tale come from his revelations, changing much of Domon’s motivations for the series to date. As the show gets closer and closer to the end, the information revealed is more critical. Domon’s struggle is definitely much more than just a physical one now. Though some of the fight scenes may drag on a little bit more than they should, it’s all to illustrate the tenacity of both sides in this struggle over how the future of the Earth will go. This is great fun epic material with a great focus on the characters.
The Battle Royale is the main focus as we get into the find round of material as we shift to the final battle between Domon and Master Asia. Domon’s still reeling from the revelations about the Devil Gundam and his brother, and now having to take his master down, someone he still in his heart does call his master. Master Asia takes Domon’s refusal to listen to his side of the story rather well, and instead focuses on telling him his tale through his fists, bringing more of the fighters spiritual methodology into play. The bulk of this episode is the rising level of violence between the two with elements of the larger plot Asia had in mind revealed at long last. This is one of those episodes that would normally be the end of any other series.
But here, we’ve got four more after it.
The larger battle takes up the next four installments as the Devil Gundam has risen again under a new master, surprising the hell out of everyone including those who had been working alongside him. What makes this particular version of the Devil Gundam more evil is that they’ve placed Rain inside of it as the necessary living pilot, and that only serves to infuriate those who will fight against it, allowing them to make many mistakes along the way in the battle as they’re getting too emotional.
G-Gundam really escalates beautifully here in the finale, building up and playing out many of the cards it’s held throughout the series. They do manage to make each episode basically stand alone but also as a segue into the next one where the stakes are higher and serves as a sequel. There’s also the great bit that happens in a lot of classic series, things I also remember fondly when I was little, in having all the Gundams from all the nations assemble to help out. The large battle sequences here are things that are definitely more common in the UC universe as opposed to this one, so it was neat to see such a large playing feel of varied Gundams going at it.
In the beginning, I really wasn’t sure about G-Gundam based on the years of bashing it has suffered by the few who had seen it through other means. All I can figure is that either they based their opinions on the first couple of episodes – a serious no no when it comes to all the Gundam series – or they just couldn’t deal with something that decided to do something different with the Gundam universe. As much as I enjoy the UC storylines, more so than the alternates, G-Gundam takes some of the usual conventions and plays with them. It also brings in a lot of varied material from other shows Imagawa was influenced by and just rides things to various extremes and has fun with it.
As I’ve said over the years with this property, I love the UC shows and their serious modes, storylines, and characters. But I enjoyed the hell out of how much fun the people behind this show seem to have had in making it. Their fun is really reflected here, providing something very enjoyable, entertaining and engaging. It took a bit to really get into it, but as it further establishes itself, the intentions behind it, and almost reinvents itself as it moves into the second half, G Gundam presents something still fairly unique to this particular property. Nozomi and Sunrise have put together a very solid release here with it looking the best it ever has and including the very fun English language dub that was produced before. It may be light with on-disc content but the forty-nine episode run overall is just a blast and the kind of trip you remember for years to come.
Japanese PCM 2.0 Language, English PCM 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing, Commercials
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: January 8th, 2019
Running Time: 625 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.