Suprise — a Gundam review! Bet you weren’t expect that, huh? It’s a little depressing to realize that it’s been a year and a half since I’ve done one of these. But unlike the hiatus I took in figure collecting, there’s a bit more to why the plamo section of Hobby Hovel has been neglected for so long.
In short, I’m a little burnt out on Gundam. From its conception, the Gundam franchise has been somewhat of a glorified toy commercial. Director Tomino Yoshiyuki broke the conventions of the late 1970s with the original Mobile Suit Gundam, but after 30 years, Gundam has become a convention if of itself, along a long list of tropes that are continually recycled to this day.
For me, the straw that broke the camel’s back was episode 5 of Gundam Unicorn, which continues to sideline quality storytelling in favour of echoing as many tropes as possible. There’s even a Lalah clone, right down to her physical appearance. The OVA has started to feel like a snotty little rich kid living big on his grandfather’s fortune — everything about it seems to be a thin slice of something great long ago. Once again, I find my expectations butting heads with reality.
I like Gundam, and the adventures of the White Base and its crew will stay with me forever (not to mention the exploits of Bernie, Shiro, and hell, even Domon). Yet for the sake of the franchise, there is a desperate need for innovation and risk-taking. I’d much rather have oddballs like Turn-A Gundam and G Gundam as opposed to the same story of about the space colony boy stumbling into the cockpit of cutting-edge military hardware.
By now you’re probably asking “if you’re so worn out on Gundam, why’d you buy another kit?” Well, I didn’t — this bad boy is actually a freebie from HobbyLink Japan for a little article I wrote for them (which will be up on hobbylink.tv in a few days). Whatever feelings I may have towards the Gundam franchise, building models is as fun as it has always been, especially when it’s one of the big daddies of early universal century mobile suits.