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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

ExpiredSushi's Review of Gundam AGE

Gundam AGE Review
Note: The author of this review is by ExpiredSushi, a friend of our Team GG Falldog, the man behind the DarkHistoryDatabase. This review can also be read at Team GG Falldog's OtakuRevolution.com.

First off, I am only going to review the Plot and Characters. I am not picky about animation or music so I feel that it would be pointless for me to try and review those aspects. Second, I'm going to review each "Generation" separately and than the show as a whole. Each generation was different and had its own pros and cons and can be almost considered their own shows. Note: It may have been a while since I've seen some of these episodes so don't expect complete accuracy.

This review contains spoilers!
Generation 1: Flit Asuno

Plot: Generation one started off pretty solid with the mysterious UE attacking Nora and Flit using the AGE-1 to defend Nora. However, the Fardain arc was pretty pathetic. It was a pretty drastic shift from UE killing everyone to essentially two clown gangs fighting each other for no reason. Almost everything about Fardain was unnecessary and too out of place. After Fardain, we jumped pretty much back into "War" and the Battle of Ambat. The battle itself was nothing special, with exception to Flit (back to that later). The ending could have been better, a simple epilogue by Millais didn't do it justice. Overall, the plot was ok overall, but Fardain really dragged down this generation.
Characters: Unfortunately, Flit's generation saw very few strong characters. Flit and Grodeck are the only two characters I can consider developed. Flit's transformation as a result of Ambat was Phenomenal and pretty well done. He went from a plucky, smart kid to a heartless, on-edge murderer. Grodeck, a vengeful man because of the murder of his wife and child at the hands of the UE, was also a great character because he was portrayed as resourceful with a no-bullshit attitude. His choice to take all the responsibility for his actions at the end was amazing and only added to his awesomeness. After that, the rest of the cast are incredibly poor. The Diva's crew had little to no personality, Emily and Dique were incredibly annoying, the Zalam and Euba groups were jokes. The only "moderate" characters were Woolf and Desil. Woolf started off as the pretentious Ace pilot but developed into an almost big-brother to Flit. Desil was an insane brat, but he was pretty well-portrayed with spot-on voice acting.
Conclusion: Generation One was acceptable, maybe if it had been a full series by itself and many of the characters got more development it could have been better. Too much wasted time in Fardain and lackluster characters (that don't even carry on to later seasons) definitely brought down G1 to a mediocre status.

Rating: 6.5/10

Generation 2: Asemu Asuno
Plot: G2 started off on a lighter tone with a focus on Asemu before he really joined the war effort. It was overall just build-up for why Asemu enlisted, to defeat his friend Zeheart. The rest of the season is mostly built around Asemu trying to become better in order to defeat Zeheart and its done pretty well. The conclusion with Asemu finally figuring out his own beliefs was a solid ending. There were no questionable arcs like Fardain and the season stood on its own accomplishments.
Characters: G2 featured a large amount of new faces, as well as a few returning ones. Asemu was a good new character, an impressionable boy learning to discover himself and becoming a man. A lot of his mistakes are the result of his development and I had no problems with it. Zeheart was ok, he was supposed to portray the Vagans as real people; however, fanaticism for the Vagan cause threw some of that out the window. It was hard to like Zeheart when he always seemed so calm and distant. As for the rest of the new cast, I could care less about 80% of the Federation, the few exceptions being Obright and Romi. Likewise for the Vagan, the Magicians 8 had very little character because they were killed off soon after introduction and the rest of the new Vagans seemed as emotionless as ever.
As for the returning cast, some of were great, some pointless. Flit as an adult was amazing, he was still murderous, but he was also calm and methodical. He had his moments where you could see his hatred appearing but it was always kept subtle. Woolf's return as Asemu's mentor and father-figure was also great. From my perspective, he was that cool, older brother you always wanted. Unfortunately, besides those two, the rest of the returning cast was lackluster or downright useless. Grodeck was unceremoniously killed off, Emily is even more useless than she was in G1, Dique is still a joke, Millais has no personality, and Desil was just psychotic without any of the appeal he had in G1.
Conclusion: G2 overall was an improvement over G1. A more consistent plot and a couple strong characters really helped the show find solid ground. There wasn't as much wasted time as G1, but again, many of G2's characters were unlikable and poorly done. If there was more time to help develop the supporting cast, than G2 could have been an outstanding series (Hm, sounds familar).

Rating: 8/10


Generation 3: Kio Asuno
Plot: Ok, this is where things get out of control and I think the writers forgot what they were doing. There are many parts in the plot that feel like rather than working in an event into the story in a good way, the writers simply shoe-horned them in and hoped they weren't awful. First example is Shanalua, a character that is built up 2-3 episodes prior to her inglorious death, a death that had little to no impact on viewers. Back to the beginning, Asemu's random disappearance after his character finally clicked was questionable. It became ridiculous when he returned out of nowhere as a space pirate and a different set of beliefs (I'll come back to this). Than came the introduction of the EXA-DB, something that was never even mentioned until now and is supposedly the most important thing to ever exist. After that was the Second Moon arc..., dear god that arc was almost as bad as Fardain. Here is where the writers shoe-horned another character, Lu, killed her off in less than 2 episodes and hoped would have an impact on viewers. Again, it failed. Not only that but they threw out all chances of Vagans being acceptable when they turned Ezlecant into a comic book villian (again, I'll come back). Kio than took all of his experiences and his new gundam and went the pacifist route, which was expected. This than carried into the Battle of Luna where there was another shoe-horned character who gets killed off in 2 episodes, Girard Spriggan, another failure. Finally, the Battle of La Gramis. This is where G3 both excelled and fell short. Many members of the support cast get their time to shine and don't disappoint (Seric and Obright). However, what could have been an amazing final battle is ruined by the fact that they try to tie up too many loose ends in too short of time. Some characters who have been built up for a while (Zeheart and Zanald), are just killed off without any real effect. The final episode was even more chaotic with the way Flit changed his mind so easily and Zera Gins and Shido being defeated pretty effortlessly. The epilogue itself seemed like a last minute addition. It stated/showed very little and felt pretty empty. G3 was such a chaotic season that its very hard to praise outside of a handful of moments.
Characters: Simply put, a lot of awkward characters. Many of the new characters lacked any spotlight or development unless they were to be killed off the next episode, thereby nullifying their development (Shanalua, Lu, Girard). A portion of the other characters received nothing (Bisidians, Diva's "problem" crew, Leil, Wendy, Zera). Another part got some development but resulted in nothing of value (Zanald, Anis, Wootbit). Thankfully, some characters like Fram, Seric, and Obright got plenty of character development and were rewarded with amazing and memorable scenes.
Onto the "Main" cast. Kio was overall a decent character. Many of his decisions are questionable and many viewers seem to dislike him; however, I think his character was acceptable. His pacifist personality was still a bit preachy, but it was portrayed pretty well. His fighting style wasn't ridiculous like Kira's in the freedom, and he wasn't a hypocrite like Kira. Kio chose not to kill and he never betrayed that decision. He was still a pretty flawed character, but I found him to be acceptable.
Asemu's return as a space pirate was way out of left field. He ended his generation as a proud man with a firm understanding of who he was. To suddenly become a pirate with a whole new set of beliefs was ridiculous and completely uncalled for. This sudden change drops some of Asemu's appeal and damaged his character.
Flit's return as a cranky, genocidal grandpa was to be expected. Overall, it was maintained pretty well. He continued to be determined to wipe Vagans out of the universe up until the last ten minutes of the show.... All it took was his grandson begging and a brief dream of those he lost to convince him to turn completely 180. It would have been much better if it wasn't so sudden and drastic. The whole "becoming a savior of all" thing did help redeem it a bit in my eyes.
Ezlecant...., I had hopes that Ezlecant was finally going to make the Vagans likeable, but the fact that they made him into a genocidal utopian turned that hope into dust. How can anyone like the Vagans when they've only been portrayed as mindless, ruthless zealots.
Zeheart...., now this is where an ok character went to absolutely absurd. Zeheart was an acceptable character in G2, and started off decently in G3. He was played up as a caring commander who genuinely took care of his subordinates. That all flew out the window when he conformed to Ezlecant's plan. He threw away all of his beliefs, which had been built up for ten or so episodes, like it was nothing. Another complete 180 of a character for no good reason. I can't find anything redeeming about Zeheart's character at this point.
Almost all the characters of G3 were flawed in some way, either they were under developed, developed and did nothing, or developed in the completely wrong direction. I have no idea what the writers were thinking when they ruined so many potentially good characters.
Conclusion: This was very depressing. G1 and G2 had their problems but were pretty solid overall, they had promise that was only ruined by G3. The horrible pacing, weak characters, and all around chaos leaves G3 as the worst of the 3 generations. Its flaws definitely outweigh its good moments. Everything felt wrong, wasted, or unfinished. Once again, if the show had been given more time to develop its plot/characters, maybe it wouldn't have been the mess it is.

Rating: 5/10
Gundam AGE: Overall

Plot: AGE started off pretty rocky but eventually found some solid ground at the end of G1. G2 managed to keep this going throughout its season and ended on a pretty good note. G3 had it going at the start, but that quickly disappeared. I believe most Gundam series are defined by their last 10 or so episodes. Unfortunately, AGE's last 10 were pretty pitiful. So much potential was wasted on pointless arcs and time wasted on weak characters that could have been spent building and reinforcing existing plot points and characters.
Characters: Across three generations we received a flood of pointless, unlikable characters. Many characters were also very poorly handled and robbed of all potential. If time had been managed better or if each season was longer, we wouldn't have had so many pointless characters and weak, potentially good characters.
The Asuno family itself was pretty good. In my eyes, Flit was the main character of all three generations. The show essentially followed his descent into madness at the hands of the Vagan. He is a phenomenally strong character that I genuinely enjoyed following. Asemu was also a great character, only his sudden shift between seasons keeps him from being an overall solid character. Finally, Kio wasn't terrible, but he was definitely weak. Many of his actions and decisions cause his character to suffer. It also doesn't help that his season was overall poorly written. Perhaps if his season was done better, than his flaws wouldn't appear so significant.
Conclusion: The idea of having a cross-generation Gundam series had incredible potential and was interesting. Unfortunately, it didn't work out like it could have. Squandered time and characters all culminated in a poorly handled series. AGE does have some moments where it shined, but overall it was a very poor attempt at something new. With that said, I still enjoyed watching it on a week to week basis. Will I re-watch anytime in the near future? Definitely not. Do I think its the worst series? No, some of its better moments help keep it relatively afloat in my eyes. I'll probably go back and watch some of its better moments from time to time and try to ignore its massive flaws. Gundam AGE is most definitely not a "must-watch," but I wouldn't say its a "skip." Watch it if you want, but take it with a grain of salt and don't be too disappointed if you're not a fan.
Final Rating: 6.5/10


Thank you for reading my review of Gundam AGE! Sorry if its a bit wordy and chaotic, I'm a rather poor writer. Also, please understand that this is my opinion. If you don't agree, than you don't have to listen to me.

Article can also be read at OtakuRevolution.com

22 comments:

  1. Nothing else to add. Everything is 100% true. Unfortunately..
    Great job, ExpiredSushi.

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  2. That pretty much sums up most people's opinions, nice work. You forgot to mention the terrible MS designs of the vagans in G3. They seemed to be getting more ridiculous with every passing episode except for a few like the Legilis. Does anyone know if the director or writer changed in this arc or something?

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  3. The review is pretty much spot on.

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  4. Good review. I couldn't have worded it better. As much as the series was faulted, it didn't feel like a chore to finish (despite getting exponentially confused with each episode at the end). The AGE-1 arc felt to me like it went too fast. Granted it was about 13 episodes, but it felt like it was just the first 13 episodes of a different series. I agree that the AGE-2 arc was the better part of the series. However, if Age-3's arc was supposed to portray the chaos of war, as it seemed to imply, it was handled rather chaotically, and felt cluttered and unorganized.

    Now that it is done, I dont have much intention to watch it again as well. If I were, I would do as stated earlier and make it into a drinking game. Here's a rule: Take a sip everytime Girard Spriggan's name is said.

    For now, I still wait for Episode 6 of Unicorn, and anticipate for what they do with Gundam: The Origin.

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  5. weirdest thing of all was how the second moon could have moved away from mars the entire time and escaped those mars rays.
    and how the epilogue spoke as if the main cause for the war was that they couldn't live in space properly.

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    1. At the ending, they mention that some population go back to living around Mars again which I find it weird. What's the point of going backwhen there is nothing worthful on Mars. Unless they are living on Mars surface and terraforming it, if they still live in colony around Mars, might as well live in new colony around Earth.
      Initially when Mars was mentioned in the story, I was hoping that a Gundam series finally will have the chance to include people living ON the surface of Mars, which will be interesting.

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    2. they are terraforming it. using AGE system & EXA-DB to cure the mars ray

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  6. Wow you more or less hit everything spot on

    One thing I will mention though is the EXA-DB was not entirely out of nowhere, it was hinted at alot in Gen 1 and alot of viewers (and perhaps some characters) had suspicions this was the cause of the UE advanced tech, Gen 3 is when it made its official debut

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  7. u rite bout all logic plot
    but i think u missed bout character feels.
    i dont think Asemu 'come out of nowhere' because he stil hold his faith even in pirate ship.
    This prove in episode where Filt n Asemu finaly talk face by face on a sofa..Asemu being a pirate TO PROTECT, the same faith he ad in G2
    And bout Zeheart change of heart, of course, people can forgot who they are n suddenly turn into others kind of people just because one turning point.

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  8. This review wraps up pretty much everything about this anime. I feel in some way Bandai wanted to target a family show instead of just kids. It would only be the reasonable choice if we take a look at the past decade with GS GSD and 00. The show really had a lot of potentials, but I feel that the writers and animators were affected by the initial reaction too much. They panic and didn't know what to write about by middle of G2, causing G3 to be a complete mess.

    I think the anime should have taken more on the approach of focusing more on family problems since the show is targeted for that audience. By making the secondary characters more solid and consistent, we will have more time for the main characters to develop properly.

    The concept of this show was great, besides the god-like age system. However, I feel like since the show is spanned across 100 and the universe is called Advance Generation, they seem to have missed the point of 'Advance'. G1 was good, because it was where we were introduced to everything, but 25 years later, are they really still using the Deva? I feel there was absolutely no advancement in technology and very few for mechanical design as well.

    The show obviously wanted to promote a strong sales line of kits, which I must say the kits were a big step up. G1 was obviously not going to do well with the kits, thanks to its 'amazing' designs (age-1). I was extremely disappointed by the lack of advancement in the mecha design in G2. 25 years later and all that was changed from the zedas to zedas-r and m was a color scheme on the shoulder...

    Overall the show was a huge appointment, G1 set some good potentials, but after that, there really was nothing much that was appealing.

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  9. Good review but none the less I like AGE.

    I have to admit the Plot of Generation 3 was full of unneeded stuff like Spriggan, but the part of Kio being a held in Veigan was a necessary part in my opinion. There was showed how they live and that was sth. I would know since Generation 2.

    Flit was great in all three Generations, but his last ten Minutes of screentime were too forced. His sudden change was... silly?
    Asemu was great in every aspect. Not much to say.
    Kio being a pacifist... I think it´s not possible to be one and fight in a Gundam at the same time so this was sth. that I hated in Seed, too (Dont´t get me wrong, I liked Seed). At first he was a great little Pilot, later...
    But overall I think Kio was right in fighting without killing, so far it´s possible without endangering his own companions.

    The other characters... Some I liked and some not but in general they all deserved more screentime and more growth.

    All in all I like Gundam AGE and will rewatch it in the near future. And if possible I will buy it, too.

    So now you AGE-haters can go on and bitch a little like you always do, but do know: I give shit on your opinion.

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  10. I couldn't agree more.Thx for Good review

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  11. Awesome review! I beg to disagree with the scores though but that's purely objective so no issues there.

    I just think G1 should have scored at least an 8 for that wonderful ending and Fardain was really not that bad but was essential with the plot too. The build up was to have that impact on Flit being that "Savior" uniting humanity.... And them "clowns" the needed manpower to go against vagan.

    G2 was the best for me. The drama was more intense with Flit leading Earth, Asemu's frustrations with his father on how to please and live up to people's expectations, Woolfe showing his human side not just an ace war machine - so touching!, and underrating Grodek's death. When the unsung hero Grodek got out of the prison at that day and age he really did not have a place on the crew. The spy role and death really had meaning. Earth was just, if not, a lot rotten than vagans.

    G3 was a bit hard to swallow. Flit being gramps but still in action was awesome. Asemu is a pirate! And Kio felt like Kamille Vidan. Start was good but it didn't get thrilling from there not until asemu came back and went a bit downhill again after a few eps. Now, Flit did NOT change his mind so easily at the end mind you. Kio had been building up that "GRAMPS! STOP! THE VAGAN ARE HUMANS TOO!" effort. Just look up how torn Flit was after when the three main characters clashed their ideas speaking face to face at ep. 44 tackling about Flit's intent on using the Plasma driver. Somehow kio managed to get through flit, probably because they both are exceptional x-rounders and "understood" each other power IYKWIM kinda helped as flit saw Urine i mean Yurin and the others which he "was not able to protect" forgive him.

    But yeah, all in all your review was pretty accurate and i most agree with your input for G3. i just wish there were no scores as it would raise a few eyebrows and tend to spark the purist fans and haters alike. i wonder what / how can something be a "perfect" 10. bottom line: AGE is far from being the blacksheep / bastard child of the Gundam franchise so bombers, please go somewhere else. cheers! :D

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  12. G1 in my opinion is better because not just the strong characters but as well as having elements similar to that of Gundam X(Yurin and Grodek) and G Gundam(Spallow and Titus) despite being a tribute to the UC series. G2 is more like Gundam Seed and G3 being Victory Gundam/08th ms team/Seed Destiny/Crossbone.

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  13. Pretty much it. I really liked AGE, but I must admit most of the flaws you pointed out were true. I actually liked Asemu in gen 3. He seemed to have it "together" more than the others, and I felt like it continued his character pretty well. Other than that, great review.

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  14. The review was spot on for the most part but I strongly disagree with gen 2 having the lead on gen 1. Gen 1, aside from fardain, had very balanced character development for everyone. The assault on ambat was spectacular with outgunned and technologically inferior suits fighting against the UE. You could also see the desparation and brutality of hand to hand combat.

    Gen 2 started off well but it started suffering from Seed syndrome from the suspicious colony episode onwards where grunts would stand around getting shot instead of trying to dodge. Asemu's continued rank subordination also dragged things down and characters like Millias were completely forgotten. I find it surprising that people would rank gen 2 so highly because the characters were older but many times they acted less mature than in gen 1. Story was also less accomplished.

    Gen 3, you already know...

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  15. Agree with lots of points mentioned. Is it me or for the past few Gundam series, they have many cool ideas and potential, with good start but as the as the series progress, it went downhill and end up lots of people disappoint at the ending of the series.
    By the way, I think it will be great idea to design a Gundam unit specially fitted with weapons that immobilized enemy MS (electric net launcher or something) if they want to have a pacifist piloting it thus bring true potential of a Gundam without killing enemy.

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  16. see ? I told you gundam age is not good.
    so, for those who didn't watch gundam age, are you happy now ? :)

    ps: I'm happy btw.. ^^

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  17. I am a big fan of Flit and Asemu, (as of the models I only have the AGE-1 and AGE-2 Normals), and if you ask me, I wish G2 would have a spinoff where you start at the end of G2 and have it end until Asemu gets his ass kicked by SID. I'd give it a title of Gundam AGE SP (for Special Forces, Super Pilot, or Space Pirate).

    The series does feel slow at first, and I sorta liked it from the end of the first generation throughout the second generation. The third one ruined it for me.

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  18. This review hit the nail on the head. Simply put, Sunrise took a risk, but it didn't pay off as intended. Age had potential, but it wasn't carried out properly. Don't get me wrong, from what I've seen of Age I've enjoyed. I'm Just happy that we got a new Gundam series, and can't every real Gundam fan be happy with that? I'm not gonna say that age is the worst or the best as every gundam series has its specific strengths and weaknesses. The Gundam franchise is a timeless classic, and we shouldn't diss a new Gundam series because someone wanted to do a different take on classic tale of the hell that war is. In the end, we should all look on the bright side: We now get to look forward to the next Gundam series. I know I'm excited for it, is anyone else?

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  19. "He threw away all of his beliefs, which had been built up for ten or so episodes, like it was nothing. Another complete 180 of a character for no good reason. I can't find anything redeeming about Zeheart's character at this point." I think you missed he part when Zeheart desperately said: "I wanted to make Lord Ezlecant's dreams come true. Otherwise, I don't know what else I've been living for." Learning that Ezlecant had been deceiving him all this time really put a huge blow on Zeheart. He was oscillating but ultimately became desperate to make it true anyway out of despair.

    I'm of the unpopular opinion who REALLY liked Gundam Age. I definitely agree with what every flaw people saw but I just liked it, you know. I skipped a lot of boring parts so maybe that's why I ended up enjoying it way more. I didn't have to sit through some shit xD

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