Anime World Order Show # 192 – My Gundam Is a Bird; Your Argument is Invalid

You asked for this. Literally. Thanks to Patreon support, we have brought The Internet’s Mike Toole on to discuss the theatrical film Mobile Suit Gundam Narrative, whose US Blu-Ray release is now but mere days away. Oh boy. It’s one of THOSE episodes.

Introduction (0:00 – 25:22)
We catch up with what Mike’s been up to since his last appearance, such as putting on his Otakon Online panel as well as running Discotek Media’s recent virtual panel that was rife with new announcements, while also discussing what titles each of us have been watching over the past two months. Or not watching, as the case may be. This invariably gets us talking about Mamoru Oshii as well as Jungle de Ikou. And, of course, COLUMBO~!

Promo: Right Stuf Anime (25:22 – 28:20)
This episode is about Gundam Narrative, and so it’s only fitting that we point out that you have mere DAYS to get your preorder in for Gundam NT: Special Edition on Blu-Ray, the features of which we break down in the course of the review. PSA: Daryl did not actually take Xanax, which he has never taken. It was Tylenol PM that Daryl took. He had gotten his flu shot and about 5 fillings done, and did the recording around 1:00 AM. SO IT’S NOT DRUG MISUSE, OKAY?

Review: Mobile Suit Gundam Narrative (28:20 – 2:16:52)
The runtime of the film is just under 90 minutes, so it’s only fair that we spend more time talking about it than it takes to just watch for yourselves. As a sequel to Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn which we previously reviewed, we strongly recommend watching that first before watching Narrative because it kind of has to give away Unicorn’s conclusion. If you’re unfamiliar with the traditional “Universal Century” Gundam setting, we gave a brief explanation of it prior to discussing the alternate universe series Gundam 00.

We um, have issues with this production and its potential implications on not just future Gundam installments, but past ones. But don’t worry. We will discuss them in a calm, rational, mature manner. This episode definitely did not result in four people screaming over one another, which was definitely not resolved through editing to make it seem like one person was talking at a time.

14 Replies to “Anime World Order Show # 192 – My Gundam Is a Bird; Your Argument is Invalid”

  1. This podcast made me realize I’m way too deep in the Gundam hole because Narrative made perfect sense to me. But as you guys pointed out all the minutiae… pretty off putting. Like I can explain to you why the Newtype stuff causes time travel, but I can’t claim it’s well explained in the plot.

    My one disagreement is that new types have ‘become’ gods. At the end of Zeta gundam the Zeta absorbs souls and then creates a massive space beam that easily destroys other mobile suits. It also shuts down the O with space magic. Char’s Counterattack ended with Newtype energy pushing back Axis. In Victory Usso creates massive angel wings (actually that might not have been newtype related??) When Lalah dies she sees time. New types are deux ex mobile suits.

    Distinctions between real robot and super robot are malleable. Personality I think the Newtype psychedelia in 0079 is by far its best quality and basically the only times when Tomino was thinking visually. But after 0079 the Newtype stuff got worse and worse. Newtype stuff should be an excuse for the dryness of Gundam to collide with a more visually and formally inventive stuff. Sadly it hasn’t really lived up to that since 0079. That newtype imagery in the Lalah death scene tho? So good.

    This episode made me wonder if you guys would like Dougram, my favourite mecha series. It is directed by Ryouske Takahashi, and in some ways might as well be a remake of 0079, but so in the weeds about politics. There are whole episodes that are like ‘how do we get rural farmers to support our anti-colonialist movement?’ It’s basically the mecha equivalent of a politics lecture with the occasional mecha battle. And I love it.

    Great episode as always guys! I must admit I am deeply excited by the Hathaways Flash movie. But yknow… I’ve drank the UC koolaid

  2. Look. I get that a projected voice of Lalah Sune said the words “I can see time” and Amuro commented that his being able to instantly understand her is why he believes people are changing, and perhaps someday people will be able to control time. I get that in Zeta Gundam, the way they justify how the hero can beat the bad guy is because of the untapped powers of the Biosensor, which is just another technological “just need something to do whatever” gizmo like the Psycho Frame.

    The issue is that Harutoshi Fukui took all of these things one hundred percent literally, at full face value, and now he’s steering the ship. The issue is that when it becomes time to make a videogame, and the Super Robot Wars developers decide “okay, the Biosensor does exactly this” in an effort to turn an abstract narrative construct into a concrete, discrete, rules-governed game mechanic that fans then react with “aha! There you have it! The RULES have been established!”

    This is “the Ideon totally fired its gun and destroyed the universe, guys!” all over again. Thirteen years ago when we reviewed that one, we were naïve to think we could do away with that approach by simply pointing out that it’s intentionally unclear.

    1. This is a super defensive reply to a comment that wasn’t even defending NT! Like at all lol. NT is bad and the newtype stuff in it is bad. I’m just saying I don’t think the newtype feats in Nt are as substantially different to what came before as Gerald implied. They are presented in a taxonomical way which is boring and sets a bad precedent, I just don’t think they establish some new level of power to new types, because every UC Gundam series after 0079 ends with some psycommu system powering a newtype feat of some kind

      I’m of the opinion that the newtype sequences 0079 were an excellent way to aesthetically break up what could be a somewhat dry style. Since then I think it’s been treated as a kind of ‘power up’ in unimaginative ways. NT attempts to codify the newtype stuff into a set of rules, which I agree, is the completely opposite of why the newtype scenes like Lalahs death worked in the first place.

  3. Texhnolyze is an anti-moe anime. Instead of a character-centric cute girls story it’s just about anonymous middle-aged guys stabbing each other. I do think Chiaki Konaka evaded his usual total inability to write an ending – instead of a dream sequence ending, the entire series seems to be a dream sequence. (This is why none of the writing is readable, characters sometimes change entirely between episodes, metaphors become real, etc.)

    I’ve only seen it once and don’t feel like rewatching yet. Though I see Sayo Yamamoto directed a few episodes, can’t remember if they were especially good…

    The weak “narrative” in NT is interesting because that’s actually one thing I like about Tomino. CCA has a lot of nonsense, but I think it’s in there for a real reason; that reason just isn’t advancing the plot. Non-Tomino directors never have enough motives behind their nonsense. They just don’t have enough to say about how single moms are evil.

  4. I think that you guys gave a fair review of Gundam NT. There are some points I must note though:

    – The Hollywood-ization of Gundam had been forewarned for years before Gundam NT. In an interview in this book (https://mega.nz/#F!m4NVnabY!xOPUHXBDUSQ1GWzy_yAhcQ) between Hideaki Anno and Kunihiko Ikuhara, Ikuhara talked about 0083 being too much like a Holywood flick and thus lose all the charm of the original series. [And they were right! Alas, they are not directing or writing Gundam. I don’t know if even a Patreon goal could get us to review 0083, as great as it looks and sounds. —Daryl]

    – You guys do know that Luio & Co. first appeared in Zeta Gundam, right? In fact the woman who appeared in the Psycho Gundam scene, Stephanie Luio, was a minor character in Zeta Gundam.

    – The Unicorn novel series was thought to have ended at Volume 10 released in 2009 before Fukui released Volume 11, which NT was based on, in 2016. And we know that Sunrise approached Fukui in the first place to write a novel which they could adapt to an OVA. So it was very likely that Volume 11 was conceptualized after Sunrise decided to make an Unicorn sequel and told Fukui to get on it.

    – Do you know that people have, when they catalogued the Godzilla franchise, actually found out that for most of the movies Godzilla had significantly less screentime than the human? And there are a lot of good Godzilla movies like that. So focusing mainly on Godzilla might not have been a really great idea. [Unless it’s Final Wars, that ratio is no good, I say! The name on the marquee is Godzilla, not dull soldiers and scientists. This is why I don’t own that Criterion set but do own multiple copies of Super Inframan. -—Daryl]

    – Yeah, they can pretty much declare Newtype whatever they want. If you go back and read Zeon Zum Daikun’s text, the Newtype he was talking about were people living in space and therefore have a different perspective and motive than the people on Earth. The idea for “a new type of people” is normal for every revolutionary movement. But then during the One Year War, Zeon realized “Holy shit, there really are people with mind power!” They could have had come up with a new term, but instead they just reuse the word “Newtype”.

    + Also, Newtypes are not necessarily tied to space. That is just Zeon propaganda. Amuro was born and grew up on Earth, and he had only been on Side 7 in space for a few years before the One Year War broke out. That was the same thing with Lalah, or Uso Ewin from Victory.

    And as a suggestion for the next Patreon reward, how about you guys just auction off the right to request AWO to review whatever anime the highest bidder want? That is what a lot of movie and music reviewer on Youtube are doing nowadays. [I hesitate on this approach, as it’s basically just a matter of which one person has the most disposable income. —-Daryl]

  5. Since the pandemic started I have been going through all the UC Gundam I can get my hands on. Stopped at Zeta because Double Zeta ain’t on Netflix Japan, so I will get to it when I eventually feel like signing up for some other Japanese streaming service. The goal is to eventually get through the end of Unicorn which I never finished (my heavy drinking will kill the brain cells that remember the spoiler mentioned in this ep).

    But now… god… yeah, NT seems totally skippable. Like, I have resolved to sit through F91 at some point because it’s somewhat iconic. But the shit y’all are describing in NT seems unbearable. Your review of this reminds of how much of a gap in quality there is with Gundam, especially the post CCA stuff.

    So yeah, thanks for the warning. I’ll sit out of this one.

  6. I love to listen to episodes where you bash badly written shows and comics, and especially most of Tomino’s material. It is funny. I like it. Keep doing it.

    I hope you are happy now. You will probably edit my comment to make me look stupid.

  7. Your saying that Newtype powers are inconsistent isn’t just a problem with the newer Gundam entries like this one. Because, you see, way back in the 80s there was a little show called Gundam ZZ, in which Haman Karn, the leader of Neo Zeon, and Judau Ashita, our new teenage protagonist use their Newtype abilities to…

    Project Giant Psychic Stands of themselves and have a Kaiju battle in the middle of a city. That’s real, that happened. Judau also pilots three machines at the same time remotely once, but it’s not quite as funny as the previous entry.

    So yeah, Newtypes have had dumb crazy space magic since the third entry in the franchise. [This reply is a rebuttal to an argument that was not quite made. As we actually noted, Newtypes just do whatever the Hell is needed. The issue is when someone tries to declare there is a discrete ruleset governing this. — Daryl]

  8. I’m hoping that on the Blu-ray edition of this episode, Gerald’s “NO, IT DOESN’T” will be dubbed by Matt Murray. The proper way to say “Xabungle” is always in a half-asleep murmur, the way Kubo did to his soon-to-be ex-girlfriend in Otaku no Video. Hello also to Mike, who I’m extra glad to hear on the show, owing to the distancing nature of the year. As I’m sure is the case for many people, AWO is helping listeners get through these difficult times (“But, Doctor,” says Daryl, “I am Pagliacci.”).

    I’m the only fellow who thinks of Yuji Moriyama not as “the guy who made Project A-Ko,” but as “the guy who, as soon as Project A-Ko was finished, sauntered two blocks west to Gainax to be an animation director on Royal Space Force.” Moriyama-sensei was a guest at the second Anime Central in 1999, accompanied by his family as well as Jungle de Ikou!, for which he hosted a screening–it had not yet had a licensed American release, although Media Blasters would do so that summer. I recall the sincere pride he expressed in the work, and the ’99 issue of Doujinshi Central had his drawing of Mii on the cover. Not two years after seiyuu Eri Sendai chanted that fertility dance, she was pulling the cord on a satchel charge in Jin-Roh; at the time, no one was working harder than her to keep the industry in balance.

    Daryl, I enjoyed your demo of a chill, sedated revamp of AWO; keep that up and we’ll start seeing it advertised in the Washington Metro during Otakon, like Pod Save America. I should say that whenever Radiolab starts, my first impulse is to adjust my fader. When Clarissa mentioned the aesthetic of sounding “drugged up like a 50s housewife,” I reflected on how drug references change over the decades like music; the idea expressed today through mentioning Xanax might have been evoked by Valium in the 1970s, or Miltown in the 1950s. Even though as a Gen-Xer I’m supposed to despise filthy hippies (“How do you hide money from a Zeon? Keep it under the soap!”) I’m a fan of The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers (from Rip Off Press, although when it comes to the underground comix era, let’s not forget Barefoot Gen is published by Last Gasp), and one thing I admire about it is that it’s as deeply invested in drug culture as a cooking manga is in food. Actually, maybe more so, since while manga frequently explain their obsessions to the uninitiated, in Freak Brothers the jokes take it as assumed that the readers will understand the effects of Dilaudid, ibogaine, and Alpha-Ther. If it weren’t for the Japanese establishment’s enduring fear of reefer madness, I imagine there would have long ago been drug manga, except instead of hirsute boomers it would center around teen girls and their after-school “tea” time.

    I agree that Captain Goto always had a Columbo vibe about him (I’m not sure it’s entirely right that he outranks Columbo). As for Batou, he has been known to wear a trenchcoat, and the basset is definitely there, except that Batou’s “Oh, just one more thing, sir” is generally followed by him whipping out a squad automatic weapon.

    You mentioned how everyone wants to develop their own equivalent of the Marvel Cinematic Universe these days, and I suppose in some ways the MCU is merely a less expensive version of the plain old MU, where the comics consumer is obliged to empty their wallet for events and crossovers in a way that makes the film studio look unambitious. Gundam is indeed already one of the largest media franchises in the world, and yet I can’t help but note that in its over its forty years of existence, it has brought in a grand total amounting to roughly half the current annual budget of the Japanese Self-Defense Force—which only goes to show the difference in earnings potential between operating a 1/144 scale military-industrial complex, and operating the real thing.

    As soon as Mike mentioned MSV, of course, my face instantly became flushed and spitting: “UHHHHH…actually, Gainax was involved with that idea back in the spring of 1984…uhhhh…actually, they hadn’t incorporated as Gainax yet…uhhhh…actually, it’s supposed to be written GAINAX…you know, like CLAMP…” Using Lalah Sune’s last words to spin forth Gundam Narrative…I can never think of light novels without recalling the elderly lady’s request to read something light in Airplane!, but Hiroyuki Yamaga wrote one for 0080—really a novelette, as it was only 64 pages long—as part of the AMBunko Jr. line. It was reprinted for the Japanese Blu-ray edition, but (and I apologize if I’ve got this wrong), I don’t believe it’s included in the RightStuf Blu-ray release, which if so may have simply been a rights issue, as the novel was done for Tokuma and had three creators involved—Yamaga wrote; Mikimoto and Toshiyuki Kubooka did 14 illustrations for it, including four in color.

    The novel relates the prior work that Chris MacKenzie did—in Yamaga’s account, she was a “shoe fitter”—a term for people licensed to assist in the ego development of artificial intelligence systems by entering into a remote mentoring relationship with them that requires a degree of emotional intimacy. “Alex,” the AI she was assigned to mentor, was, as you might expect, the learning computer of the RX-78NT-1, and while Alex and Chris had a good relationship when the AI was “younger,” as an adolescent it has become a “bad kid,” increasingly hostile, until at one point it sinks into a depressive crisis (expressed as a stain on its monitor, like dead pixels) and seems to arrive at a catharsis by playing a depiction for her of Lalah’s last moments in the battle between Char and Amuro, the violent merging of their thoughts followed by calmness and death. Chris later understands this to have been “the vision that Alex showed to save me;” as Yamaga’s novel came out the same month as episode one of the OAV series, naturally one could use it to attempt to interpret how the narrative (narrative…not narrate) of 0080 is eventually resolved.

    —C.

    P.S. wah, it’s good to see you again, and thank you as always for contributing to the RSF 25 zine. We’re all advised to use alcohol as an antiseptic, so I suppose using it as an antiviral is just being on the safe side. As Misato said: “In the Instrumentality there is no beer; that’s why we drink it here.”

    1. I continue to be honored that you picked me as one of the contributors 🙂

      I have a feeling if I wrote for the zine now I’d have a very different outlook! Boy does one’s viewpoint change after nearly a decade.

  9. There’s nothing wrong with neatly trimmed, well groomed facial hair. That ‘s been “acceptable” as you put it for decades. The problem is the ridiculous styles or mountain-man lengths and unkemptness. THAT’S what the “millennials”(of which I am apparently one, despite being 34) have fucked up. [If you were born in 1986, I don’t think there’s any debate that you’re a millennial; that means you were a teenager in the 2000s! –Daryl]

  10. Speaking of all the Columbo-ing going on …
    I grew up a fan watching Columbo with my folks and re-watching it again as it seems to have always been re-playing on UHF stations and now on the various in-between broadcast channels since the digitizing of broadcast 10 or so years ago.

    Anyway, when Mike said that Columbo was popular in Japan that sounded right to me, but I couldn’t remember why. Then tonight I saw part of a re-broadcast of The Tonight Show from October 15, 1982 with guests Joan Rivers (always hilarious) and Tetsuko Kuroyanagi (“black willow iron girl”? … someone should make that anime). Anyway, in 1982 Tetsuko was a popular TV host in Japan and was in America promoting a book about her childhood. Johnny Carson asked Tetsuko if he [Johnny Carson] was famous in Japan. She said no, because his show isn’t shown in Japan, due to the difficulty in translation. Then Johnny asked what American shows were popular in Japan. One of the shows Tetsuko mentioned was Columbo.

  11. I like Gundam NT, but none of that is really because of the movie. I was going through a hard time when the movie came out, and it gave something to look forward to. So those memories of telling myself that “if I just get through another day, I can see the movie” really make it seem a lot better in my head than it is in reality. I also just kinda like the movie. Sometimes I can’t pinpoint why I like something, I just kinda do.

    I feel one of the biggest problems of the movie is that they try to define the crazy. They try to set up rules for how and why these powers work, but the truth is you can’t. The powers between Newtypes is so inconsistent throughout all the UC works that trying to definitively state that “this is how it works” just cannot be done. Tomino didn’t create a ruleset for Newtype abilities, so trying to create one does not work. That is part of why I liked the Newtype concept: there wasn’t a concrete set of rules, so you could experiment and do new things with the concept. Not everything has rules, and I hope that those in the future will stick to the idea that rules are meant to be broken.

    I am cautiously optimistic about the UC NexT 100 project. I am one who likes to have hope things will be good, but I have started to have doubts. From what little we’ve seen, Hathaway’s Flash looks good and they haven’t said anything about any of the other projects. I just hope that they don’t wrap themselves too much up in the UC timeline. Build Divers Re:RiSE was more of a side thing and it’s been very well received and I assume the kits are selling, so I hope it’s success reminds them that people want more than just the Universal Century.

    Overall, I thought watching this would annoy me, but I very much enjoyed it. I agreed with you guys mostly overall and what you said have really gotten me to reflect on my own opinions in a good way.

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