[gundam] What next? (Was Re: Even more Tomino interview)

Mark Simmons (scorpio@best.com)
Tue, 16 Feb 1999 20:33:19 -0800

Probe writes,

> But it still really bothers me that they're re-writing gundam, or trying
>to 're-invent' the original. Sheesh, give it a rest and do something
>post-VG or something... why this endless re-hashing!

  I guess Tomino's current feeling may be that any kind of a direct
sequel would be a mere retread, and that the only way he'll be able to do
anything interesting with the premise would be to start from scratch. I
don't necessarily agree, and I may be misinterpreting his comments
anyway, but there you go...

  Personally, I do feel like the followup UC stories never really took
advantage of the potential of the original series. All that stuff about
human evolution and newtypes just turned into an excuse for psychic
superpowers, and none of the conflicts of the original story were ever
really resolved. I like V Gundam and Crosbone Gundam a lot, but they're
certainly not on a par with the original story.

  Then again, after Evangelion, I dunno what you could do with the
newtype concept that would still be particularly surprising. You could
say that Anno kinda stole Tomino's thunder. ;-)

> Well, I too am dissappointed. The original was great because it debunked
>the anime stereotypes of the time.
> But now Gundam has become sort of ossified, Gundam Wing, apart from its
>great plot, hearkens back to the "giant robo" tradition that Gundam was
>originally created to get away from! What gets be about G-Gundam was the
>very same sort of super-hero-ish-ness.

  You don't think G Gundam debunked the stereotypes of the "realistic
robot" genre? <grin>

  Fact of the matter is that, Nadesico and Gasaraki aside, the
Gundam-style "realistic robot" genre is pretty much extinct now anyway.
There's not really an established orthodoxy there to challenge. There are
certainly some very, very good "experimental" anime showing up of late -
Perfect Blue, Evangelion, Lain, yadda yadda - but they're not reacting
against the tyranny of the robot show because there's not really anything
left to rebel against there. If Tomino's stuck in the robot-show genre,
how does he avoid becoming a dinosaur?

> Ironically enough, it's _Evangeleon_ which is the recent anime show that
>most closely fills the place that Gundam created, a show that dares to
>take all the classic anime sterotypes and flip it upside down on its head.

  I'd agree there. It was very, very different. But the realistic
robot/super robot/Ultraman pantheon was just one of its targets; that
genre is too irrelevant now to be worth challenging by itself.

  Essay question: What other anime stereotypes are left to topple? Or,
put another way: What's holding the genre back? I'd say fan service, for
starters, and that's a sacred cow even Evangelion was cautious in tackling...

-- Mark

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