a.k.a.Kidou Senshi Victory Gundam
Uso and Shakti are two orphans living happily on Earth until the day the Zanscare Empire brought their war into their young lives. Now, Uso, an awakening newtype, is forced into piloting Victory Gundam for the rebellious League Militaire in their war against the Zanscare Empire. The year is Universal Century 0153, and the lives of these children will be changed forever.
summary by Ender
Highs: Carries its own weight; great characters; mobile suit battles
Lows: Change in character designs; some music; few mobile suit designs
Tomino brings his Universal-Century-sprawling epic full circle with this final (?) chapter to the Gundam epic. And what an ending it is!
Unlike most entries in the Gundam universe, one doesn’t need to have watched the previous series in order to appreciate the story at hand. The story and characters are, once again, the driving force. And since this is a completely new cast of characters, anyone can easily connect with them without feeling left out. Shakti is especially great in this epic cast, the one lonely girl who represents the beauty of humanity while knowing full well that she cannot stop her friends from dying. As characters fight, love and die, the viewer is right there along for the ride. This is especially something when you realize the main cast consists mostly of children. Using the characters as the engine and dramatic mobile suit battles as fuel, the story gradually builds up speed and doesn’t let up until the explosion-ridden climax. Even then, the story doesn’t end until after the smoke clears and the final body count has been taken.
Although this is not necessarily a bad thing, some of the character designs seemed a bit too “cartoony”. This isn’t made terrible until compared with the gritty designs of Zeta Gundam, which makes these characters almost seem out of place in their dark story. This was the same with some of the mecha. Technologically speaking, the designs make sense, but seeing a Gundam “volt-in” in midair may raise a few eyebrows. The music was beautiful in a lot of cases, but sometimes felt misplaced; the soundtrack breaks the mood during dramatic moments when the music sounds like a ballet.
As with most created worlds, the end of Victory Gundam may not be a complete resolution to an expansive universe, though it is a very good note to end on. Well… until the next sequel.
Highs: Gripping storyline; excellent soundtrack; believable characters; humanity at its best and worst
Lows: Slightly disorganized introduction
Now and again, an anime comes along that makes me stop dead in my tracks. For one reason of another, I can’t ever get a select few series out of my head, and they become truly memorable for me. Victory Gundam is one of those series.
Despite being set in the Universal Century, a brush-up on UC history is not necessary. Set nearly eighty years after the One Year War, that epic struggle, among others, is now a distant memory. As a result, this series is able to stand on its own and weave one of the most engrossing and intriguing storylines I have ever witnessed. Even though the series lasts for 51 episodes, the pacing never suffers to any degree. It knows when to speed up and also when to hit the brakes and let the viewer absorb what just happened. Twists and turns are revealed at a steady pace and certainly kept me at the edge of me seat. There’s just one little hang-up, and it comes at the very beginning. Initially, Tomino wanted to start the series by setting up the landscape and story without showing or even mentioning the titular mecha (something that he would eventually get to do in Turn A Gundam). Sponsors of the series didn’t like the idea, and a switch was made to introduce the Victory Gundam in the first episode. As a result, the series starts right in the middle of a heated battle and pursuit with no knowledge of how it started or why it’s even happening. Fortunately, the next three episodes, which are set up as a flashback, end up explaining how they got to that point. So for those keeping score, the first episode is actually the fourth if you look at it chronologically. Again, this is the only flaw I could really think of, and since everything is eventually explained, I can excuse this.
In this war, it doesn’t matter how power is gained. All that matters is that one has it, and both sides stop at nothing to obtain and increase it. The sense of impending death permeates the story, and no one is safe. The cast of characters here are so realistically fleshed out that it is very easy to find youself sympathizing with them. The fact that many of the main characters are children makes the trials and tribulations shown throughout the series that much more horrifying. You can’t help but feel terrible while watching Uso endure such heavy losses at such a young age or hate the Zanscare soldiers for their ruthless nature and general disregard for humanity. At the same time, Uso’s courage to keep fighting for those who died is admirable in the face of the atrocities committed by the Zanscare Empire. By the time the final body count has been tallied (and trust me, it’s a high count), there are no winners; there are only survivors. And yet, despite it all, there is still a faint glimmer of hope in the form of little Shakti. No matter where she is or what has happened, she continues to retain what little humanity there is left in the world while everything else seems to come crashing down around her.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a Gundam series without excellent music, and Victory Gundam is another success in the world of anime soundtracks. Composed by Akira Senju (Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood), sweeping orchestral pieces flow right along with each intense battle while also complimenting the quieter and more peaceful moments, few as there may be, admirably. Not to be outdone, catchy vocal pieces are present before and after each episode. While the themes may be fun to listen to, it’s also almost unsettling how ironic the opening themes are in relationship to what is going on once an episode begins. With upbeat melodies and lyrics coupled with such positive titles as “Stand Up To The Victory” and “Don’t Stop! Carry On!”, the impact of what is going on in this vicious war is magnified tenfold.
In the world of anime, many consider the various Universal Century Gundam series to be the superior chapters in this storied franchise. Dark, at times depressing, and nothing short of gripping, Victory Gundam is one of the prime examples of this train of thought, and it also stands as a series that should not be missed by the average fan.
Mobile Suit Victory Gundam can be downloaded legally in the United States HERE.