My sort of post as to why people should really give Gundam AGE a chance. Now, i’m not saying that AGE is the best Gundam since the UC timeline (honestly, i’ve only seen the original MSG and that’s it) but it’s not as downright horrible as people seem to think. It’s fairly a middle of the road series, though your age (heh pun) and knowledge of the Gundam franchise YMMV on whether it’s decent, slightly better or slightly worse than the average Gundam series. Three parts, the beginning a closer look at what AGE is and a brief Q&A session.
I – Intro
When news of Gundam AGE started to spread, the mindset of many Gundam fans (old and new) were already set against it for a couple of reasons, but at the core argument of why “Gundam AGE is going to suck/be shit/fail/etc.” had to do with the character designs. Quite frankly, yes, they do come off a bit childish: Takuzo Nagano is credited as original character designer for AGE with his(her?) only other work being…Inazuma Eleven: a long-running children’s anime, while Michinori Chiba adapted those designs for the anime series, notably worked on Gundam 00 as character designer with Youga Kun. Why is this important? Well, Inazuma Eleven was created by the game company Level 5 who have teamed up with Sunrise to create Gundam AGE. From what i’ve heard (aka, unconfirmed): Akihiko Hino, president of Level 5 had mainly a large amount of creative freedom not usually seen in Sunrise animes. The main goal, according to Hino, is to expand the Gundam franchise to newer generations as a reasoning for the character designs. But, were the older fans completely left out of the picture? Of course not. But they aren’t the main demographic for AGE, the intent is to bring more younger viewers into the Gundam sphere: purchasing the model kits now and a few years from now, the Blu-rays/DVDs in what seems to be a never-ending cycle. First and foremost, the Gundam series mainly thrives on model kits and figurines. The anime, while of it’s own merit, mainly works as a large-scale promotional piece to advertise the different Gundams and other mobile suits. As it stands (for those who know Amazon Stalker rankings), Gundam AGE is barely cracking 1,200 Blu-ray copies pre-ordered with the actual release on Feburary 10th. It’s sad, but once the vast majority of Gundam fans refused to watch this series, the writing was on the wall for AGE. Financially speaking, AGE is not looking too good. But that’s only one side of the coin, the other being the overall reception of the series and that is a completely different story.
II – Into the AGE
What is Gundam AGE? A story of teenager Flit Asuno, who’s given a major component of the AGE Gundam by his deceased mother and his role in the conflict between the Federation and the Unknown Enemy (UE), with things not being so set in stone as to who the bad guys are in this series. That is the first of three major arcs in AGE: Generation 1, involving Flit and the Diva crew led by Grodek Ainoa spans 15 episodes in total as it starts with a UE attack on Flit’s home colony and from there his journey with the crew of the Diva, the mystery behind the UE are revealed. I really like how it’s being broken up into different generations, as the AGE Gundam is being passed down to Flit’s son and finally his grandson, Kio. But is it a good story? Honestly, it depends on how many Gundam series you’ve seen and the more you have seen, the more you’ll find AGE a bit annoying and cliched. For me, i’ve only seed SEED, Destiny, 00,MSG and currently Unicorn: with the exception of Destiny and the 00 Gundam movie, everything i’ve seen of Gundam so far has been much better than AGE. I liked SEED as it was my first Gundam experience, and i’m heavily biased in giving this show an 8 but i honestly loved the plot: it was simple, it was cliched but damn it it actually worked. I think that’s exactly what AGE’s plot has been: some cheesy dialogues, more cliched moments than ever before, knowledge of Gundam tropes (yes, there’s a big one that AGE uses but it’s a big spoiler but i’ll say that involves two people + romance.) and very simple to digest. What AGE is doing right now is what SEED had already done for me: made me a good fan of the franchise. In a sense, SEED passed the torch to AGE. The show isn’t even halfway finished and it’s really only below season 2 of Gundam 00 in terms of overall quality as seen below:
Mobile Suit Gundam
Gundam 00 2nd Season
Gundam 00 Movie
Gundam SEED Destiny
The real thing that makes AGE a bit unique is the storytelling. Being told from three different protagonists in different time periods is really what makes AGE stand out a bit and all three stories are intertwined (from what AGE staff has said). I mean it’s called Gundam AGE: it’s aging, and with age comes experience. The AGE system is a major component of the series, able to construct a weapon that can easily take down an enemy as long as their is sufficient amounts of combat data to be analyzed. But what it’s also capable of doing is making new additions to the Gundam itself. What’s not known at this point is how the AGE Gundam will actually “age” with its new pilots, but i don’t think it’s going to be a long winded explanation anyways.
Anyways, if you’re looking for an even better Gundam series than i’m afraid AGE is not what you’re looking for. But if you’re someone who hasn’t see any Gundam series, i highly suggested you start with AGE. Even if you’re neither of these two people, this series is not the best but it is far from the worst that Gundam has given us. This is more or less a rant for those who’ve judged AGE without seeing anything and less of a “why you should watch Gundam AGE” post as it was intended to be, eh.
II – Q&A Time
Q: No one dies in this series right? It’s too childish!
A: Without spoiling, actually three major characters have already died as of episode 14. One was pretty graphic, though. Do not let the character designs fool you: people die
when they are killed in this series
Q: Does this show reference past Gundam series?
A: It does, frequently. “X-Rounders” are this generations’ Newtypes/Coordinators/etc. In fact, just going to the AnimeSuki sub-forum on Gundam, you can expect to find many similarities with Gundam AGE to Zeta, Gundam X, G Gundam and others.
Q: Is there a noticeable drop in animation compared to Gundam 00?
A: Sadly, yes. But Gundam 00 was a powerhouse in terms of merchandise and BD/DVD figures which Sunrise rewarded with a higher budget (especially the movie). It’s not too bad, but if you just finished Gundam 00 and go straight into AGE you’ll be a bit disappointed.
Q: Is AGE better than SEED Destiny?
A: For the most part, yes. In fact, it’s hard to find anyone who really enjoyed Destiny unless you think of it as a standalone series and not a sequel to SEED. The music in SEED/Destiny remains one of my all-time favorite OSTs, however. But if you’re looking for a cohesive plot: AGE > Destiny.
TL:DR Gundam AGE is AverAGE, but it’s still miles better than Failblazer and Destiny. It may be filled with cheese and cliches, but it’s hardly the worst series people claim it to be. 50 episodes is better spent on AGE than Destiny.