The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Mobile Suit Gundam Formula 91

Title: Mobile Suit Gundam Formula 91 aka Kidou Senshi Gundam F91
Genre: Action/Drama
Company: Sunrise/Sotsu Agency
Format: Movie; 115 minutes.
Dates: 16 Mar 1991

Synopsis: The year is Universal Century 123. Though it has been many years since the fall of Neo Zeon, the Ronah Family still retains its ambitions to spread its aristocratic vision across the colonies. First blood is drawn in Frontier 1, where the family uses its private army to decimate the Federation’s presence and make the colony the foothold of their coming empire. Survivors of this horrific raid, Seabook Arno and his friends are thrown onto the front lines of a new war.

The Highlights
Plot: Convoluted and poorly crafted for the movie’s length.
Presentation: Oh where has the cinematics gone?
Characters: Gundam cliches who run through the plot maze like rats with their backs on fire.
Genocide Finale: UFO-esque saws that mow people down? Awesome.

If there ever was a Tomino Gundam anime I would advise you to never watch, it would be Gundam F91. Originally slated as a fifty-odd episode television series, this movie crushes an extraordinary amount of plot into a single 115 minute movie, which is akin to putting a person into a small box, shrinking said box with a car crusher, and then miraculously expecting the poor subject to survive. Parts of the movie could have been salvaged with the appropriate edits, but the movie is far too large in scope, tackles too many themes and juggles too many characters to be anything other than one massive trainwreck.

The simple story of F91‘s short life is that it tries to be too much and ultimately fails to become anything. It goes through the entire checklist of Gundam tropes including the main character begrudgingly asking why people fight, acting horrified when he finally kills someone, and then becoming an ace killer shortly after. The problem is that in other Gundam shows, these changes were something of a progression where the audience slowly gains a sense of empathy for the characters and their circumstances. In this movie, everything happens in a time cycle of mere minutes, no introspection and no time to sit back and absorb the events, just “bam” plot, “bam” more plot, “bam” fight scene, “bam”, “bam”, “bam”.

I let many things slide for television productions due to the nature of their budgeting and timing, but I do not hold the same sympathies for well budgeted movies. While Gundam F91 is a functional movie, it utterly fails at being a piece of good cinema. There are no memorable lines in the dialogue, no emotional upheavals and no sense of flow. There is no interesting uses of camera, motion or anything remotely close to experimentation. Visually, this is literally what you would expect to find in a television anime except the details are upscaled to a movie budget. When Tomino first submitted the script for Gundam F91, someone should have immediately tossed it aside and request a complete rewrite for an actual movie instead of a glorified commercial of a television series that will never exist.

For all you who purchased the DVD when it was released a while back, I now share your pain and I must sadly say that I’m not better because of it. For all you who are interested in the movie but have not watched it, my recommendation is “don’t”… unless you’re interested in purchasing my copy of it.

The Rating: 3

Reviewed by: Shadowmage

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