[REPOST] Gundam 52 (Was: Monster of the Week?)

-Z- (Z@gundam.com)
Wed, 20 Jan 1999 20:07:37 -0800

At 08:24 1/20/99 -0500, you wrote:
>Hate to do this to you again, Mark. But could you repost the differences
>the series that aired and what was originally planned to be aired?

Allow me. This is from Mark's post, dated 1 Jan 1997:

Some months ago, I came into posession of a really cool set of books on the
original Gundam TV series. Published by Sunrise and titled "Mobile Suit Gundam
Record Collection", these five hardcover books were published over the course
of 1980 and contain all sorts of background info, production notes and staff
comments from the Sunrise archives. Far as I know, these are also the first
Gundam books ever published - none of my other books (Roman Albums, Kodansha
story books, Rapport Deluxe books, etcetera) were published until 1981, when
the compilation movies stirred up renewed interest in the TV series.

Anyway, since these books were compiled by Sunrise, they feature all kinds
of cool production info and trivia. The first book contains a neatly typed
version of Tomino's original series proposal, but the real dirt is in the
fifth volume, which gives you Tomino's outline of the originally-planned
52-episode storyline.

See, when the first Gundam TV series was planned out, it was going to be a
full year. As the show went on, the powers that be decided to cut it off
early. Japanese TV shows are apparently divided up into "cools" of 13 weeks
each (is this a mangled English broadcasting term?), and it was decreed that
Gundam would be cut from the full 4 cools to a mere 3. From what I've read,
the staff fell down on their knees and begged for an extension, and they got
an extra month in which to wrap up the story - thus the final series length,
43 episodes.

Okay, enough preamble. Let's get to the fun stuff - the story in a nutshell.
I've made some notes and analysis at the end, so be sure to skip down to the
end even if you don't feel like reading the whole synopsis.

The 52-episode version roughly parallels the broadcast version up through
the Battle of Solomon (episodes 35 and 36). Then the weirdness begins...


Now we get the part where White Base pursues fleeing Zions and runs into Ma
Kube's fleet near the Texas Colony. As in the TV series, Ma Kube has been
dispatched from Kishiria's lunar base at Granada to hold off the Federal
Forces pursuers and allow the survivors of Solomon to reach safety. The Texas
Colony segment is pretty much the same as the TV series, but it continues for
three episodes instead of two.

In this first episode, hostilities are joined between Ma Kube's forces and
White Base. Barom, one of the captains under Ma Kube, duels the Gundam in a
Rick Dom. The fighting appears to spill over from Side 4 to Side 5, though the
synopses of the following episodes seem to be confused as to which is which, a
confusion that will continue throughout the entire Gundam saga.

Be it duly noted that in this outline, the names of most of the mobile suits
are different - the Gyan is the "Bakuji", the Rick Dom is the "Dowadge", and
the Gelgoog is the "Gyan". Tomino tends to latch onto certain names and keep
trying to work them in someplace until they stick. To avoid confusion, I'll
use the names from the TV series where available.


Amuro duels Ma Kube's Gyan.


Amuro duels Char's Gelgoog. Incidentally, there's no Doctor Flanagan in this
version - the Flanagan Institute is headed by a Doctor Sophia, who's a guy.


The Sharia Bull episode. Though he only lasts for one episode, Sharia Bull's
name keeps coming up in later episodes, as he turns out to have a lot of
newtype underlings. When a character is introduced as "He used to work under
Sharia Bull", it's shorthand for "He's a powerful newtype with no combat
experience; watch him die". Here, the Brau Bro is called the "Gelgoog" - see
what I mean about Tomino's name-shuffling?


Now the divergence begins. Kishiria launches an attack on Luna Two, and White
Base ends up helping fight it off. Kishiria's fleet includes the mighty
carrier Doros, three Gwazin-class battleships, and a gaggle of cruisers - this
is some heavy shit. To scout out Luna Two, Kishiria dispatches a recon team
consisting of a Gassha (piloted by a veteran named Daru) and two Gufs. The
Gassha never appeared in the broadcast series, but Okawara later drew up nice
line art of it based on Tomino's rough doodles. Yes, these are all
ground-combat mobile suits, but I guess crawling around inside Luna Two counts
as ground combat.

Anyway, Sayla impetuously grabs the Guntank (the Guntank!) and goes to
intercept Daru's recon team. Mobile suit combat ensues.


White Base remains at Luna Two and, along with the rest of the Federation
fleet, is restocked in preparation for an attack on Granada. Unlike the TV
series, the Federal Forces aren't using the captured Solomon as a staging area
- perhaps in the long version the asteroid fortress was destroyed outright
rather than captured. At any rate, Luna Two is shortly attacked by Lalah Sun's
Elmeth, backed up by Char's new mobile suit "Kikeroga" (this is described as
"something like the Brau Bro").

As in the broadcast episode where Amuro fights the Brau Bro, the Gundam can
no longer keep up with Amuro's superhuman reflexes, and after the fight it is
refitted with magnetic coating by the scientist Mosk Han. From Mosk Han, Amuro
hears that his father has been captured by the Flanagan Institute. "He's
alive?" gasps Amuro (I guess he didn't meet dad at Side 6 in this version).
"Naah, they killed him". Weird little interlude.

Then Amuro takes his retooled Gundam out for a spin and blows Char's
Kikeroga to kingdom come.


The Federal Forces depart Luna Two, destination Granada. Kishiria intercepts
the fleet and dispatches space Azzams (space Azzams!) to mess 'em up. Amuro is
able to find the space Azzam's weak spot and the invasion proceeds on

Granada falls. At the last minute, Kishiria tells Char and Lalah to flee and
save themselves. She knows Char's true identity, and reckons that inflicting
him on her brother Giren will be revenge enough.


The Federal Forces occupy Granda as a staging point for an invasion of Side 3.
The Elmeth stops by and sinks the Federation's new battleship "Amerigo" (named
after the explorer/cartographer/egomaniac Amerigo Vespucci, I presume). By the
way, its bits are called "doku" in this version.


Giren sends Char some reinforcements - a batch of the new mobile suit
"Galbaldy" (again, Okawara drew this up after the fact) and the "semi-esper"
youth Paccadelia, one of Sharia Bull's hand-me-downs. When battle is joined,
Amuro and Lalah enter a newtype mind-meld (as in the broadcast series), but in
this version their rapport is disrupted by Paccadelia, who thinks Lalah is
consorting with the enemy and blows her up. D'oh!

Lalah gets the customary spectacular dying telepathic experience, Char
blames Amuro for the whole mess, and Kai and Hayato blast the hapless
Paccadelia into space dust.


Char meets Giren Zabi in person for the first time. However, he's now too
obsessed with defeating the Gundam to take advantage of the opportunity to
whack Giren.

Meanwhile, Degin Zabi, patriarch of the Zion Duchy, has decided to seek
peace. After all, he now has no heirs left other than the loony Giren, and he
doesn't exactly want him to win the war. Degin meets up with White Base and
comes aboard with his dishy secretary Kusko Al (same name as the character in
the novels, totally different character), to whom Bright takes an immediate
liking. Degin recognizes Sayla and begs her forgiveness for doing away with
her father Zion Daikun, corrupting Daikun's dream, placing the fate of
humanity in the hands of his crackpot son, and so forth.

Then Giren's mobile suit hit team shows up to do away with dear old dad.
Degin begs Sayla to ice him and put a stop to the fighting, but she refuses,
pointing out that she's not like her brother. Degin is killed anyway, but
Bright rescues Kusko Al.


Amuro is convinced Kusko Al is a spy, but Bright defends her. There's a
footnote pointing out that this is typical of Amuro, who's a raging paranoid.

White Base makes a foray into Side 3, since this is where the Federal Forces
will be heading next. They intercept a flotilla of refugees, who have been
forcibly evacuated from Side 3's 38 Bunch. White Base goes to check out this
mysterious colony and is fended off by an expertly-piloted "Garaba" (yet
another new mobile suit). They capture the pilot and he reveals that the
colony has been commandeered for "Operation Solar Ray", but that's all he


We are treated to an explanation of why Char hasn't whacked Giren yet. Sure,
he's sworn an oath to avenge his father, he's already murdered his best friend
towards this goal, and now all that stands between him and vengeance is to ice
the freak who's standing right in front of him, but...

...but now he also has a major hate on for Amuro and the Gundam. If he nails
Giren, who's going to build him a mobile suit tough enough to take out the
Gundam? If he singlehandedly ends the war and brings peace to the war-weary
human race, when's he gonna get a chance for a showdown with Amuro? Sorry,
dad, one quest for vengeance at a time.

While Char agonizes, he and Giren confer on personnel matters. They have one
spare Brau Bro but two newtype candidates; one is a veteran named Dardan, and
the other is yet another of Sharia Bull's underlings, a powerful but
inexperienced kid named Gola. Char opts for Dardan, opining that Gola isn't
cut out to be a soldier (after all, look what happened with Paccadelia).

Meanwhile, the Federal Forces conduct a whimsical violation of the Antarctic
Treaty. In an effort to pinch Zion's energy supply, White Base leads an attack
on a Jupiter Energy Fleet convoy. Kusko Al, who turns to be a spy after all,
warns the Zions and flees the ship. While Mirai takes over as captain, Bright
must pursue his tragic love interest, hunt her down and kill her like a dog.

The attack on the Jupiter Energy Fleet begins. Amuro duels Dardan and blows
him away. Amuro also senses the presence of Gola, and likens it to the second
coming of Lalah Sun.


Gola has figured out Char's secret identity. He tells Giren, who quite
reasonably reckons that if Char were really going to ice him, he would have
done so by now. The Federal Forces mass at Granada to invade Side 3, and Giren
blasts them with the Solar Ray, taking out over half the Federation fleet.

Amid the chaos, the Zions attack. Amuro duels Gola's Ziong and, in a
dazzling display of newtype prowess, destroys it. However, Amuro is getting
mighty tired of exterminating newtypes - his butchery of Gola reminds him all
too well of what happened to Lalah.


Amuro sets off for Side 3's 38 Bunch to discover the secret of the Solar Ray.
Char intercepts him in a Garaba for one final duel. As Char and Amuro fight,
Giren uses the Solar Ray a second time and wipes out the remainder of the
Federation fleet. Char and Amuro are both stunned by the sight of the
colony-scale laser cannon in action, but Amuro recovers first, trashes Char's
Garaba and then singlehandedly (singlehandedly!) destroys the entire Solar

Manifesting her latent newtype powers, Sayla senses that Char ins't dead,
just horribly injured.


Char, who is really messed up at this point, limps back to Giren's
headquarters at A Bao A Qu. Giren pins a medal on his chest and gives him a
hefty promotion for helping him attain ultimate victory. Char is horrified to
realize that, distracted by his vendetta against Amuro, he's not only failed
to complete his original mission but he has in fact helped his father's
murderer become supreme ruler of the human race. Ooops.

Amuro, wading through Zion plebes, also has an overdue epiphany. He finally
realizes that these hapless minions aren't the real enemy - it's the leaders,
nutcases like Giren Zabi, who are responsible for war and bloodshed. Rather
than slaughtering plebes and wiping out other newtypes, he should be going
after the evil scum who started this whole thing. Kill the leaders and the war
ends. Thus resolved, Amuro leads White Base toward A Bao A Qu.


Amuro and White Base reach A Bao A Qu. White Base plows into the fortress and
the crew begin fighting their way in through grueling hand-to-hand combat.
Amuro duels the fortress' last line of defense, the Gigan (the Gigan!), and
the Gundam is trashed. He joins the rest of the crew in bloody hand-to-hand
combat, closing inexorably in on Giren's hideout. Even Char limps into the
fray, hoping to make up for his epic screwup.

Ultimately, though, everyone falls by the wayside, wounded or captured by
Giren's royal guard. Amuro alone makes it to Giren's hideout, where he
confronts the evil genius.

"Ha-ha", Giren jeers, "You're too late! I've set A Bao A Qu to

"In one minute and thirty seconds, right?"

"Damn you, newtype!" cries Giren, going down in a hail of bullets.

Amuro is immediately surrounded by Giren's tardy royal guard. Before they
can blow him away, he points out that their leader is dead and the entire
place is about to go kaboom, so they should probably run away while they can.
They follow his advice.

What follows is something pretty close to the broadcast version. Amuro
crawls back into the wreckage of the Gundam and telepathically directs his
friends back to White Base so they can survive the destruction of A Bao A Qu
intact. Sayla and Char run into each other and tearfully greet each other as
brother and sister. Char insists that he can't escape with Sayla, but the
synopsis doesn't explain why - I dunno if he's pinned by a girder, riddled
with bullets, or just so ashamed of himself that he can't go on. At any rate,
everyone but Char makes it back to White Base and rides out the blast. Amuro
emerges from the explosion in what's left of the Gundam and the White Base
crew are reunited.

It's year 0080 of the Universal Century. On January 3, the Earth Federation
and the Zion Republic make peace and everyone lives happily ever after.


Okay, now for some closing commentary.

First off, you'll note the amazing proliferation of new mobile suits. Many
of these were sketched out by Tomino, and in the years following the TV
series, Okawara took it upon himself to render these as finished line art. Now
you know how the Dowadge, Galbaldy, Gassha and Gigan - the infamous Pezun
mobile suits - fit into the story. In the sort of ironic twist we've come to
expect from Tomino, the Gundam is finally done in by the silliest of the lot,
the dopey Gigan. The Zion answer to the Guntank, this is a mobile suit torso
mounted on a buggy with a tank turret on top of its head. Tomino doesn't even
bother to specify the name of the pilot - it's just some dweeb.

On the other hand, if the series had run the full 52 episodes, we'd have
been treated to more brilliant Yaz character designs. I'd be happy to see the
Gundam dispatched by a wheeled gun turret if it meant we could see wacky
characters like Dardan, Gola, Paccadelia, Kusko Al and Daru given life by the
master character designer.

And speaking of characters...

The note about Amuro's paranoid streak was quite illuminating for me. I'd
never thought about it in this light before, but the kid does have a definite
track record here. In original Gundam, Amuro is consistently the first to
suspect everyone:

    "They're conspiring against me, they're gonna take my Gundam away,
     but I'll show them - I'll steal it and bury it in a sand dune!"

    "One of our generals is a traitor, I'll bet it's that fink Elron!"

    "Hey Bright, I know you're sweet on her and all, but Kusko Al is
     going to sell us out first chance she gets!"

This continues throughout Zeta Gundam:

    "Men in black are following me everywhere, they watch my every
     move and listen in on all my conversations!"

    "Hey Katsu, I don't trust Char and I want him off my planet -
     at gunpoint if necessary!"

Even in Char's Counterattack, he's the paranoid guy who insists that Char is
sending fake ships to Luna Two so he can sneak off and conduct evil deeds
elsewhere. And you know the funny thing? He's always right. What does that
tell you about Tomino's world view?

Similarly, the long version offers a revealing explanation of why Char
doesn't just kill all the Zabis when he has the chance. It's not that he's
forgotten his quest for revenge, it's just that he's started another one and
he wants to handle them in the proper order. This may help explain his weird
behavior in later Gundam stories. In Char's Counterattack, Char's not pursuing
a war against the Federation just so that he can have a duel with Amuro -
rather, he has the chance to kill two birds with one stone (so to speak). I
guess he figures that, by timing everything just right, he can accomplish both
goals. If he dueled Amuro *before* it was too late to stop the descent of
Axis, he might screw up again like he did in the One Year War...

Anyway, food for thought. Dig in!

Mark Simmons <scorpio@best.com>

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