REVIEW: Mobile Suit Gundam AGE – Episodes 6-10 (2011)

A TV series in the Gundam franchise by Sunrise and Bandai

As I stated in my previous review, Mobile Suit Gundam AGE was a show I sort of “wrote off” in the past. Upon downloading some “fansubs”, I recall not making it too far and dropping entirely after I heard the lukewarm reception it gained. I did import some cheap Blu Rays, but never watched them. Now I am making a effort to watch any Gundam material I may not have seen as of yet, and AGE seems like top priority as it is the one I’ve seen the least of! I will admit, this show starts off REALLY slow, so I can see why folks may have prematurely dropped it, but as we get to around episode five, everything starts picking up and the plot starts moving fairly quickly.

“In A.G. 101 (the 101st year of the Advanced Generation calendar) a mysterious entity known at the time only as “UE”, or “Unknown Enemy”, attacks and destroys the space colony Angel. This brutal attack becomes infamous as “The Day the Angel Fell”, and marks the beginning of the “One Hundred Years War”. The series begins in A.G. 108 when the UE attack the space colony Ovan, where Flit Asuno lives with his mother after they escaped colony Angel before its destruction. Flit’s mother is mortally wounded by the UE, but before dying she gives her son the “AGE Device”, containing the blueprints for a powerful weapon from the past—the ancient messiah named “Gundam.””

Episodes (From THIS site):

  • Episode 6 – The Light and Shadow of Fardain – The crew is given leave at Fardain. Grodek meets with a shady character, Don Boyage, in order to recruit more people to fight against the UE. Flit, Emily, and Dique go to explore the colony and are caught in a battle between Zalam and Euba. Complications arise and Flit launches in the Gundam to break up the fight between the two forces. Just as Flit stops them, a new UE mobile suit attacks, which the Gundam is unable to defeat. After its retreat, Flit is arrested, due to the collateral damage caused by the Gundam and the UE mobile suit during their fight.
  • Episode 7 – Evolving Gundam – The captured Flit is brought before Zalam’s leader, Don Boyage to account for the destruction that was caused in Fardain. At that moment, Euba’s leader,Ract Elfamel launches an attack against Zalam, sparking another battle inside the colony. Flit sorties in the Gundam and attempts to convince the two leaders to cease fighting to no avail. The reappearance of the UE mobile suit further complicates things, with the Gundam unable to stand against it. Will the new equipment developed from the AGE System allow Flit to turn the tide of the battle?
  • Episode 8 – A Deadly United Front – Thanks to the Gundam’s new form, Gundam Titus, Flit is able to defeat the UE mobile suit. The sheer power of the UE and Flit’s words force the warring factions of Zalam and Euba to unite their forces to protect Fardain, albeit grudgingly. The arrival of Woolf in his new WMS-GEX1 G-Exes helps the Gundam finish the battle, thus saving the colony.
  • Episode 9 – Secret Mobile Suit – Curious about Woolf’s new MS, Flit questions him about its origins. Woolf takes him and Emily to the Madorna Workshop, where Flit is amazed by all the different mobile suits. Much to their shock, however, Mukured Madorna reveals to them a recently delivered MS that is of UE design. Suddenly, the machine activates and attacks the factory. Woolf and Flit head out to confront it, but even the Gundam AGE Titus is unable to match it in combat.
  • Episode 10 – Day of Fierce Battle – The Gundam and the Diva leads a combined coalition of Zalam and Euba mobile suits in an attempt to protect Fardain colony from destruction by a UE Mothership and its mobile suit forces. During the course of the battle, the Zalam and Euba forces are able support Diva’s mobile suits in repulsing the UE forces, but at high cost of lives, Don Boyage among them. At that moment, Flit equips a new wear the AGE System has generated on the Gundam – Spallow. Thanks to this, Flit is able to turn the tide of the battle by defeating the black UE mobile suit.

When we last left the crew of The Diva, we learned that the Captain of the ship, Grodek Ainoa, was secretly a defector from The Earth Federation, and was using his standing to take the battle to the ‘UE” when he was not supposed to be. We see him travel to a colony seeking out a shady series of business deals in order to purchase black market Mobile Suits. This is largely unknown to the crew who still thinks they are within the good graces of The Federation as a whole. The crew runs into the UE in this colony and once again Flit has to protect his friends.

I mentioned before that I was watching this via an English dub I found on YouTube. Largely the dub has been okay, but leans towards being the sort of voices one would hear in a children’s show vs any sort of serious acting. Upon researching, it looks like this dub was produced in Australia for the English-speaking Asian market. This is the first batch of episodes where I started earing janky accents, strange inflections, and other weird voice acting. I’m sure if you look online folks will say this is the worst dub ever made or some hyperbole, obviously they have never watched Devilman (1987)!

For example, in episode six the crew runs into a man and his young daughter in the Colony of Fardain. This man, Mr. Iwark sounds like a Scotsman by way of Australia or something – it’s not terrible, but it caught me off guard. Credit to trying to have people in different places talk differently, but it was odd. Emily also is starting to sound like Minnie Mouse for some reason, which is unfortunate. I will chalk a lot of this up to the child demographic, and the need for all sorts of goofy voices. I know shows like this get dubbed this way in the US as well, so it’s not unheard of. This is not a deal breaker, and I will continue watching in this manner.

One thing I One thing I did not really mention in my review of episodes one through five, was that the mechanical designs in Gundam AGE are pretty good. The Gundam itself does borrow from the original Gundam from 1979, but there are enough differences that it stands out on its own. This is especially true when add-on parts are put onto it – making it entirely it’s ow beast. At one point, in order to beat the Unidentified Enemy (UE), the Gundam is fitted with these large red shoulderpads that project energy spikes. These are then used to basically shoulder block enemy mobile suits to death. I both love how this particular suit looks and love the inventive way that the writers designed the battle. I honestly can’t say that I’ve ever seen something like that happen in a previous Gundam show. There are grunt suits in the show that appear to be somewhat based on the Zaku from Gundam 0079, and some pretty slick looking background suits that you see from time to time. Even the Unidentified Enemy suits are definitely something I have never seen before which is a good thing.

Speaking of battles, if you thought that the first few episodes were pretty sparse with them making it a slow slog, these next few episodes have enough to make up for that. Not only do we have a couple of skirmishes in the colony, but a full out war starts as they leave it. These five episodes went by in a flash because of that, it’s just wall to wall action boom boom boom. If the rest of this season stays running at this pace, I’m not sure what I’m going to do when it switches to the next character!

Honestly, I think the only thing that I don’t like about this show is the AGE System, which is the artificial intelligence computer that builds parts for the Gundam. this computer basically acts like a replicator from Star Trek, but instead of food it produces upgrades for the Gundam. Think of a HUGE 3-D printer. While battles are happening, it analyzes the data, looks for weak points, and evolves in order to create parts that might successfully solve a problem that is happening. For example, I mentioned the red shoulder pads with energy spikes from episode six – the reason those came into being is that Flit was having tons of trouble actually landing blows on one of the UE mobile suits, AGE System saw that and cranked out an entirely new weapon. I don’t hate the idea or anything, but it’s almost as if it is magic which is a problem when you are looking at what is considered a “real robot” show. nothing else in this show seems that particularly advanced technologically, so it seems somewhat out of place. I won’t rage on it too much because ostensibly this is children show and it cuts out all of the extra discussion that happens in most Gundam shows related to various technological manufacturers and their product lines usually involving illicit Gundam lines.

Overall, despite the silly accents in the English dub that I’m watching, I think this is the point in the show where I’ve been won over. it’s not a perfect show by any means, and it comes across somewhat weird and comparison to other Gundam franchise material, but it has a lot of heart and for that I respect it. I really enjoyed the mechanical designs and battles in these episodes, and I hope they can keep the momentum going into these next episodes. we still don’t truly know who the UE or or what their real motivations are, Although when we see the obvious members of it standing around they look kind of silly with their masks which will take a lot to get used to. I’m looking forward to episodes 11 through 15, and will hopefully get that up fairly soon. Stay tuned for more!

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