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Mobile Suit Turn A Gundam – Commentary September 6, 2009

Posted by emeraldsuzaku in Anime, Commentary.
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So I was all geared up to start a post on Turn A Gundam the other day, but decided to watch the last few episodes first. Which was probably a good thing. Maybe. Given that I haven’t really been taking notes or running a blog-along of the series, this is going to be a pretty weak commentary. But, hey, at least it’s something!

The series starts off normally enough, with several characters’ arrival on Earth. After a few minutes the series jumps forward two years and starts laying the groundwork for the plot and the rest of the characters. And this is where Turn A diverges from pretty much every other Gundam series.

Turn A primarily focuses on its plot and characters, sometimes to the exclusion of any meaningful action. Sure, every Gundam series has tried to be more about substance than style, but Turn A takes this to the extreme. The result of this is inconsistent pacing as the series goes from plot point to plot point, but where the intervening episodes tended to drag. When one runs into an episode of Turn A in which nothing happens, it really is a case of absolutely nothing happening.

Because of its focus on plot and political drama, Turn A focuses on characters on both sides of the war. This is actually quite interesting, and while it’s nothing revolutionary it’s still nice to get more insight into both the Moonrace and the Earthrace–particularly because the series likes to try and keep the viewer guessing as two who the bad guys are at any particular point in time. The problem with this is that when the setting turns to space roughly two-thirds of the way through the series, half the cast is abruptly forgotten because they remain on Earth.

The ascent into space proves to be a turning point in the series (as it generally is in most Gundam iterations), and the pacing picks up to something more reminiscent of the series’ namesake. Unfortunately, the plot points start coming more and more abruptly as the series rushes towards its conclusion, and it can be difficult to keep characters, motivations, and alliances all straight. Luckily there’s a short recap of the previous episode’s events at the beginning of each new episode, but it shouldn’t be such a necessity as it will be for some viewers.

This confusion is even more sad when one realizes that the war–the overarching backdrop for the entire series–doesn’t actually go anywhere. Every time it looks like something is going to happen, things very quickly go back to te staus quo. So we get things blowing up with no real effect, battle plans that don’t really do much, and the main characters getting into the right place at the right time to take down a single character (who isn’t even in most of the series) to finally and very abruptly end the war.

One interesting moment in the series involves the creators trying to use the Turn A to tie all the different Gundam series together. It’s an amusing idea, but rather lackluster in its execution. The fan service prevalent throughout was pretty fun, though. Turn A made Zakus awesome again!

In the end, Turn A is not a complicated series by any stretch of the imagination. Its perceived complexity is simply the series taking abrupt left turns for no real reason, and then not bothering to relate what is going on to the viewer, even though the characters seem to mysteriously understand right away without any form of exposition. It’s completely forced and unnecessary, and really hurts the series as a whole. The last ten or so episodes were exciting, but the ultimate villain came more or less out of nowhere, and didn’t have much (read: any) development.

As anime involving mecha go, Turn A isn’t terrible. As a Gundam series, however, it leaves a lot to be desired.

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