The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Mobile Suit Victory Gundam

Title: Mobile Suit Victory Gundam aka Kidou Senshi Victory Gundam
Genre: Action/Drama
Company: Sunrise
Format: 51 episodes
Dates: 2 Apr 1993 – 25 Mar 1994

Synopsis: The year is Universal Century 0153. In an effort to spread their influence from the colonies onto the Earth, the Zanscare Empire has started to invade the Earth under the banner of peace. For now, only a guerilla resistance group, the League Militaire, have the resources and the will to resist this incursion. In a twist of fate, two children, Uso Evins and Shakti Kareen, are thrust into the middle of this war when their residence is invaded. Thirteen year old Uso must now gain the will to fight or be killed in a series of genocide raids.

The Highlights
Animation: Solid, especially for the time.
Music: Sweeping ballad-like string compositions.
Drama: Usually melodramatic but a few scenes are genuinely poignant.
Characters: Many are genuinely likable.

After hundreds of episodes of stagnation, mediocrity and outright trash, it’s obvious why so many people look down on the Gundam franchise as a relic of an age long passed. Over course of more than ten years, only the OVAs and the unexpected Turn A Gundam have served as beacons of hope to this withering franchise. If you are wondering why so many die hard fans are still willing to ride on what quite frankly looks like the RMS Titanic, look no further than the Universal Century shows. For some, it was the original Mobile Suit Gundam that sparked an obsessive devotion to this franchise. For many more, it was Zeta Gundam. For me, it was Victory Gundam.

From the looks of things, a director’s mental state has a huge impact on what type of anime they produce. Evangelion is a product of one of Anno Hideaki‘s psychotic fits; Victory Gundam is what Tomino Yoshiyuki makes when he’s depressed… Simply put, people die. Lots and lots of relatable characters are put to the chopping blocks and split in two. The deaths themselves may be glorified with the whole nine yards of melodrama, but there is an inexplicable void created after sitting back and realizing a character simply won’t be around anymore. Overtime, the whole debacle becomes increasingly ironic considering that Uso Evins gains more and more power as a Gundam pilot but can do so very little to save of those around him.

As per usual Gundam lore, the animation is above par, and fight scenes abound. Much of the plot moves with the battles, but there are a few ephemeral moments where the characters get to kick back and act like normal human beings. The series also takes its time to look back at what life could have been like without war. This is especially made poignant when the show looks at those characters with bombastic dreams and those with small, personal ambitions dashed by a senseless war. Since this show unabashedly confronts death, Victory Gundam holds the single strongest anti-war message of all the television incarnations.

The usual anti-war message is hammered even deeper by the fact that most of the main characters are children. Like any war, power is the name of the game and nothing is held sacred as long as there is victory. The feeling one gets while watching these children both figuratively and literally carry the coffins of those they have killed is inexplicable. What prevents this show from degenerating into angst filled drivel is unusually resilient Uso Evins. Despite being forced to bear the full weight of his cross, Uso does not fall fall into the trap of cursing humanity and developing a sense of deep self-loathing. Instead, he sheds earnest tears of agony, and he doesn’t let himself become alienated from his friends who support him even in the darkest of times.

If there ever were a Gundam I would be more than willing to spend my money on, it would be Victory Gundam. So, in the improbable case that those in the industry are reading, please Bandai, please license this anime. I swear that this one is worth buying for my shelves.

The Rating: 9

Reviewed by: Shadowmage

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