Mark Simmons (
Thu, 14 Oct 1999 11:55:25 -0700

Jon Souza writes,

>Gundam has GOLD fins on its head

  Then I guess the RX-78, with its white V-fin, wasn't a Gundam...
SY writes,

>You forgot the red chin and the two eyes.

  Then the Z Gundam, with its white chin, wasn't a Gundam either.

Just for the heck of it, let me preopose my definition of a Gundam...

  Classically, it should be mostly white. The original Gundam was
supposed to be white like a Star Wars stormtrooper, up until toymaker
Clover overruled Tomino. The notion lives on in the "shiroi yatsu"
nickname which has been applied to many generations of Gundam. Even the
colorful Gundams of the alternate-universe shows share the same basic
white color scheme, and even when they deviate from it, it's an
intentional reversal (as with the black Psyco Gundam and Master Gundam,
and black-and-burgundy Epyon and Virsago, which are all anti-Gundams).

  The V-fin, or some variant thereof, is also a standard. Even the
fish-shaped Gundams of Neo Denmark in G Gundam are identifiable by their
V-fins, plus some other facial features which derive from the RX-78 (but
haven't been retained by its descendants).

  That's about it. While the Gundam's arsenal usually consists of two
beam sabers (preferably backpack-mounted), gun, and shield, this is
hardly universal.

  One other thing - the philosophical symbology. In the Hathaway novels,
at the end, someone wonders why anti-Federation rebels would adopt the
Gundam as their mascot. Bright - who's something of an expert at this
point - says that the Gundam symblizes, not the Federation, but the rebel
spirit within it. (Presumably, this spirit is sometimes allied with the
Earth Federation, and sometimes opposes it when justice dictates.)

  I'd also say that the Gundam tends to be the defender of Earth; it
isn't used as such in Z Gundam, but the Titans who built the Mk.II
certainly had this in mind. Anaheim's fondness for building Gundams is
thus something of an aberration, and G Gundam and Gundam W depart from
the defender-of-Earth motif entirely. Maybe that's what makes them
alternate universes, eh?

On this score, the Turn A isn't such a radical departure. It's certainly
white, it certainly has a V-fin (even if it's a meter lower on the head).
It has two eyes. Its head design, modeled on antique armor, parallels the
RX-78's similarity to samurai armor. It has two sabers on its back, a
rifle, and a shield (unlike, say, the F91 and V Gundam).

  On a philosophical level, the Turn A is explicitly the defender of
Earth - it even bursts out of the ground to repel the "alien" invaders.
It's this fact, just as much as the fin and white coloration, that leads
Moonrace soldier Coren Nander to identify the Turn A as a Gundam -
according to Moonrace legend, the Gundam is their ancient terrestrial enemy.

  Regardless of the interminable and boring debate over the Turn A's
design, its combination of visual identifiers and philosophical symbolism
actually make it a more authentic Gundam than, say, the Z Gundam.

-- Mark

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