Edward Ju (gundam@loop.com)
Sun, 1 Aug 1999 18:01:04 -0700


Here's a quick 1st impression:

Original Soundtrack CD:

"Turn A Gundam Original Soundtracks"
KICA 473
3,059 yen (after tax)
Released July 23, 1999
24 tracks
Produced by Yoko Kanno

I listened to the CD before watching the show. You feel like this is a
world music album because each track is totally different stylistically
from the previous track, and you will get more than the fair share of tracks
with Japanese vocals, tribal, and other not-so-conventional tracks. In a way
you can say it's full of surprises, or you can say it's very inconsistent.

After watching the first 3 episodes I figured out why the tracks had split
personality problems, but the music does get a little carried away during
some scenes (do we really need a choral thing going while the Waldoms are
wreckin' havoc? It sounded too much like Es-ca! Flow-ne! Get original
and
stop ripping off yourself already...)

The cover is a painting of Roland's close-up, with the Turn-A barely
visible in the background. First-print edition comes with a tiny replica
of the gold fish toy/charm. Not a very exciting gift. Back cover is a shot
of the moon, with a bird in the sky. The 24 tracks were named in Japanese
mostly, but some had English titles. The last track is named "Felicity."
I hope Tomino is not watching too much American TV! See the anime show
discussion below for the influence of American movies I saw in the show.

Turn A's first OST CD offer's a remarkable departure from previous anime OST
CDs: no OP or ED songs! A rather gutsy move. Wonder if this will piss some
people off and hurt sales. Since these songs are available on CD singles,
it's not realy an issue now. But if the later OSTs do not include these two
songs (Turn A Turn and Aura), then the CD singles can become REALLY hot
collector's items.

As for the music itself... like I mentioned, it varies widely stylistically.
But if you've heard Escaflowne's BGM, then it's basically the same thing,
plus the "world music" elements in about 1/3 of the tracks.

1/100 scale Turn A Gundam

A rather pricy kit at 2,000 yen, I think the box size was about the same
size as a MG Gundam or MG Zaku II. Good news is that most parts were molded
in the right colors (thank System Injection for it) - you even get colored
clear parts for the cockpit cover. It can hold its beam rifle in a stance
just like when it first appeared in the anime. Too bad there's no "jock-
strap" elevator cockpit like in the anime. The white used on the plastic
did not look good though... you will definitely want to paint over it,
because it looked too plastic for comfort.

The flying penis cockpit does pop off the pelvis, but unfortunately it
does not transform into a fighter. Parts are provided for you to build
a seperate, transformed fighter cockpit instead.

Turn A Gundam - first 3 episodes:

[WARNING:

 SPOILERS

 GALORE!]

Episode 1: Bark at the Moon
Episode 2: Coming-of-Age Ritual
Episode 3: After the Ritual

OK, since episode synopsis is available, I won't summarize the episodes
again. Bascially episode one has no MS action - the Turn A is not revealed
until the 2nd half of episode 2.

Episode one sets things up and let 2 years go by before we knew it. There's
some problem with the editing - a lot was cut out in between scenes and
makes watching a bit hard because it took a while before you realized that
this is the next scene and they skipped just enough to confuse you and force
you to stop and think in order to fill in the gaps, but not enough to get
you totally lost. Trust me, this is not "creative scripting", but utterly
lousy writing and directing, because I am watching a subbed tape!

Characters:

Roland, our hero/Gundam pilot, hasn't lived up to expectations. He is
not charistmatic and seems devoid of personality. The problem may lie in
his character design - those eyes weren't very expressive to begin with,
and we never see Roland emote much - he wears that blank expression
throughout most of the first 3 episodes I saw, even when Soshie lost her
dad and was crying her eyes out. In fact, Roland is like a male version of
Rei from Evangelion! The only time he was happy was when he was staring at
the moon at night and savoring life on earth. Then he became a male bimbo
and started laughing like Alf from 0080.

Soshie (the younger of the Heim sisters) is probably my favorite character.
Her character is very well developed and executed, I think her popularity
will soon start to dominate the magazine polls. They are also setting her up
to be Roland's girlfriend, I think. There's a weird sideplot about how
Roland was mistaken as a girl by the man Soshie's older sister is hoping to
hook up with. Looks like we're going to have some pretty screwed up multiple
way relationship down the road.

Kiel, Soshie's older sister, is supposed to look just like Diana, the
(supposedly benevolent) leader of the Moonrace. Diana hasn't showed up yet,
but she either has little control over her soldiers, or she lied to her
soldiers when they were told that earth will offer no resistance when the
Moonrace begins operation with the "returning fleet". Doesn't this sound a
wee bit too similar to V Gundam's setup? The Queen of the Zanscar Empire
= Diana, because both lacked control over their military organization, and
both were spacenoids hoping to return to earth but did not have the time for
a peaceful solution.

Turn-A's jock-strap cockpit:

If you thought the Flying Penis was bad enough, I can't wait to see your
reaction to the Turn-A's jock-strap cockpit, which lowers the entire cockpit
(the... "head" of the unit, not the entire shaft, mind you) like an elevator,
not different from the cable-based elevator used by the amphibious MS
infiltration team lead by Char's Zugock.

Gratuitous Nudity:

If you thought Tomino got away with a lot when he did the nudity stuff on
Brain Powerd, you thought wrong. The ED has a buck-naked Roland floating
in the air. Roland got butt-naked in episode 1, and he got to see the Heim
sisters naked before he drowned. He got naked again with Soshie in episode
2 and 3. Roland's unit even made contact with Soshie (don't ask) in episode
3. In just 3 episodes, we've already had A LOT of nudity, and most of
them don't even enhance the story at all, either. Sunrise probably
dictated this on Tomino, in order to appeal to the Wing fans who can't get
enough of the yaoi thing.

Waldom:

The invasion MS of the Moonrace. Its movement resembles that of an ostrich.
It also has nanotechnology in it. Which apparently isn't a perfected
technology, because when one of its pilots exited the hatch she was told that
the nanoskin almost sealed the hatch.

Flat:

The Flat did not get enough screen time, it was more of a spy transportation
vehicle, which was safely tucked away after the 3 Moonrace spies arrived on
earth. Not bad for Bandai... 2 minutes of screen time yielding a kit!

Animation quality:

It was probably on par with Zeta but I haven't watched Zeta in a while. Was
definitely better than the earlier episodes of V or G. What I didn't like
was how dark everything looked. Given that most of the action took place in
nighttime, they could have used a bit more contrast still.

The animators also seemed pretty lazy. A lot of transitional actions were
not shown for the sake of animation economy. I am not sure "less is more"
applies here though... it sure did not feel as action-packed as previous
Gundam shows with Tomino's name on it.

Mystery:

- What's that gold fish thingie Roland is so fond of?
- Is Diana a benevolent leader who lacked control over her soldiers, or is
  there something darker brewing behind it all?
- What other goodies are buried near the site of the Whitedoll (Turn-A)?
  They've already unearthed the Kapool... apparently in the "black history"
  the Turn-A was mentioned along with other MS from the UC era. And both
  sides of the conflict know about the Turn-A's importance as they fight over
  control of it.
- Why does Kiel resemble Queen Diana so much?
- Will Roland fight for the earth or the Moonrace? It's pretty obvious that
  the Moonrace has superior technology, and I think the earthnoid's unearthing
  UC MS to compete is beginning to sound like a cheesy setup...

Verdict:

Based on the first 3 episodes, it doesn't look very promising if you are
looking for something truly original or exciting. The V-Gundam-like setup
gives you a been-there-done-that, deja vu kind of feeling, except now
things take place in a 19th/early 20th century environment a la space colony
which Seabook lived in(F91). The Turn-A itself also did not live up to all
the benefits of the doubt you guys gave it. In fact the characters from the
show openly make fun of it, and that ain't a good sign if you're parodying
yourself that early in a show:

"Yes, sir, there IS a problem with the MS."

"Oh? What is it?"

"It's got a ... mustache."

Eddie

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