Archive for November, 2011
I feel uncomfortable watching Gundam AGE. Seven episodes in, and I feel caught in a world of conflicting contrasts.
On the one hand, AGE begins by killing the protagonist’s mother in front of him, in a dark sequence similar to a key scene in Barefoot Gen. Referencing Hiroshima makes a strong statement about the writers’ intention for drama. And even this early in the show’s plot, one “good guy” has already suffered a tragic death.
The retro character designs seem to be a point of confusion. The characters are not young children; Flit is 14 years old. They are quickly thrust into conflict and lose everything except each other.
On the other hand, AGE is a
Meanwhile, the show has already introduced many familiar Gundam elements: the arrogant pilot, the awesome old commander, and the battleship that takes the Gundam everywhere. We’ve even seen several characters that seem plucked straight out of other series: the
All of this is told in a completely unfamiliar story. Never before have Gundam heroes tried to save a colony by removing part of it; they’ve never tried to save colonies besides preventing their destruction. Never before was the protagonist also the Gundam’s chief engineer. Indeed, never before has the protagonist wanted to pilot the Gundam this badly (except, perhaps, Seed Destiny’s Shinn).
Speaking of whom, Flit is the most normal,
While I’m at it: thank you, writers of AGE, for Emily’s fire. She acts. She lacks resources and skills, so her attempts to act haven’t shown results yet, but she’s a clear contrast to ”good Japanese girls” like Frau Bow and Tifa. Granted, most modern Gundam hero’s girlfriends have been active, from Relena Peacecraft and Lacus Clyne to Sochie Heim and Diana Soreil.
Which reminds me: I felt the same disconnect when I first watched
Interesting. My love for
Artist/Writer: Naoko Takeuchi
Published in: 1993–1997 (Japan), 2011 (America)
American Publisher: Random House/Kodansha USA
Genres: shoujo, magical girl
Premise: A lively 13-year-old girl is given the power to transform into a magical girl and fight crime
Volumes: 2 (Japan), 1 so far (America)
Availability: Easily available on sites like Amazon and RightStuf.
Codename: Sailor V is both surprising and dull.
It’s the precursor to Sailor Moon, as well as its inspiration. Apparently, Sailor V was picked up for an anime adaptation, at which point the anime studio sat down with V‘s manga-ka Naoko Takeuchi to re-work Sailor V for the anime adaptation. The result was Sailor Moon. Takeuchi then began working references to Moon into V.
V is very much not Sailor Moon. It’s a traditional magical girl story containing only one 13-year-old magical girl, with a much lighter, goofier tone than Moon. It’s fundamentally a sitcom. Indeed, the heroine spends most of her time fighting crime rather than a long-form antagonist. While life lessons are dispensed, most of the story focuses on comedic misunderstandings and the protagonist’s silliness. There’s almost no larger story arc.
The art works; neither crowded nor sparse, it stays out of the way. Takeuchi’s characters do have a slightly elongated style common to shoujo.
Ed Sizemore pointed out that the artwork focuses on the clothing to an almost fetishistic level (my words, not his). While there is a lot of attention paid to this, it’s no worse than I’ve found in other shoujo works like Card Captor Sakura, and I chalk it up to many girls’ almost fetishistic attention to fashion.
So, the manga has a problematic dual problem. If you come looking for Sailor Moon, you’ll find instead a traditional magical girl comedy. If you prepare yourself for a magical girl story, you’ll find a very traditional magical girl comedy, with little to recommend itself beyond that.