What They Say:
Directed by Yoshikazu Yasuhiko, Mobile Suit Gundam Cucuruz Doan’s Island is an adaptation of the 15th episode of the original Mobile Suit Gundam series, and for the first time ever, the film will be available to fans outside of Asia. It also marks the first time it will be available in both English subbed and dubbed.
After a covert mission goes wrong, Mobile Suit pilot Amuro Ray and his comrades are stranded on a remote island. The battalion was sent to a land called the Island of No Return to clear off any enemy forces, only to find a group of children and an enemy mecha attack. Now Amuro must find a way for them all to escape this mysterious land, but not before meeting a strange man—Cucuruz Doan.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
A locked piece of Gundam history is making crossing the shores as episode 15 of the original series is being made into a movie. Yoshiyuki Tomino didn’t take to kindly to his creation and made his best to hide episode 15 from history. This movie is a chance to correct a wrong and let everyone see a new take. After so long, this chapter is finally available to all. And Gundam is all the better for it. It’s an excellent representation of everything that Gundam has to offer. The bigger-than-life fights with Gundam are brought down upon us and the effects they have on people.
One of the worst consequences of war is the effects it has on a person and how children cop with the unfortunate reality thrusters upon them. This film touches upon children and how they deal with some of that loss. Most of the children are orphans being taken care of by Cucuruz Doan. Though it doesn’t focus too much on the external negative reasons and takes a brighter tone with these children. The younger children still have a sense of innocence. It ties into Amuro’s journey as he seeks to make sense of this war-filled world.
There is a nice way that this film depicts how war affects children differently depending on the side that they are on. The Federation children are protesting the Federation to go back for Amuro after he is stranded on the island. One of the girls gives up their protest for the sweet allure of ice cream. This girl can have the illusion of innocence, while the children on Cucuruz Doan’s Island have long lost it. The children on the island have to work so that would have shelter and food daily. It’s not something that can be promised to them. They even made a promise to Cucuruz that to eat, they have to work. That scene was made harsher as the children say this with a smile. There is a purpose to work but the way these children have accepted the world is just sorrowful. It would have been better if there was a time dedicated to Cucuruz Doan and why his mission is to save these children. Are they a part of his past where maybe he was responsible for the children’s current living conditions?
It’s disappointing but this film starts with a depressing mood and doesn’t follow up too much with it throughout the movie. In the first scene, Cucuruz Doan shows no mercy for the weak as he pilots a Zaku and obliterates RGM-79. It would lead you to think that there would be violence but that doesn’t occur throughout the film. There is one additional scene where Amuro displays the vicious nature of war. But the movie doesn’t commit to being a monster of war. If you watch this scene, then you will know the only possible outcome is that a villain dies in the most gruesome way. But it doesn’t want to show you. It’s a halfhearted step to protect people from the horrors of the way. But this film has been subtlely showing you the horrors in a more light-hearted way this whole time.
This film suffers from a rough middle. It could have been shorter by 30 minutes and the message would remain the same. Most of it was Amuro’s process to understand the lives of the children on Cururuz’s Island. The point of their lives was made early on and it didn’t has to be dragged on for so long. To add insult to injury, the villains are just completely stupid. Their motivations could have been explained just a bit more. It made their motivations seem stupid.
Part of the allure of Gundam is seeing Gundam fight each other with everything they got. The only problem is that just as they were getting good, they were cut short. It just relates to the villains being stupid. The fight was pretty to look at it but there was much substance dedicated to it.
Cururuz Doan’s Island puts in a lot of work in making some of the horrors that orphan children have to deal with visible reality. Amuro is made more of a silent protagonist to let people view how these outcasts make due in a world that has forgotten them. A true villain was heavily lacking in this film. The villains present didnt make much of a case of why they should even be in there. It ran for a little bit long for the message it was trying to tell.
In Theaters in the U.S. on September 27 and 28; and in Canada on September 29 and October 1