Sat, 20 May 2000 23:59:08 MST
I was a bit bored this afternoon, so I rewatched the F91 movie. It's been
quite a while since I've seen it. The first time I saw it I knew very
little about the Gundam universe and how F91 fit into it.
I'm sure most of the people on this list know about F91, but for anyone who
doesn't, after Char's Counterattack, F91 was conceived as a full length TV
series which would carry on the Gundam saga. During development, the format
was changed from a TV series into a single feature film.
Unfortunately, the end result was in many ways much like the MS Gundam
compilation movies or The Last Blitz of Zeon. Altogether too much story
crammed into too little time. Many things happen without any explanation or
take place offscreen and must be inferred. For instance, Seabrook steals
the F91 to go back to his home colony, but we don't even get to see him do
it or learn the reason he chose to did it. Many characters go through major
changes without the slightest reason. Those are the lucky ones, most
characters only get to say their lines which are essential to moving the
plot along as fast as possible.
The plot itself involves a takeover attempt by the aristocratic Ronah
family, whose ideals seem to be a cross between the philosophies of Zeon zum
Daikun and GW’s Romafeller Foundation. A fairly good synopsis is available
at the Gundam Project website and I won't try and duplicate it here.
Despite the disadvantages of the format, there are some good points. The
mecha design is very well done. I especially the like the Federation Heavy
Gun (GM equivalent) and G Cannon (Guncannon %quivalent). Unfortunately,
almost every time we see these, they don't last more than a few seconds
before being destroyed. The transformable Guntank is kind of neat, and the
F91 itself brings some new ideas to Gundam design. I am less enthralled
with the Crossbone Vanguard suits, though some of their features are pretty
neat (especially the beam shields).
Despite the lack of development, I liked most of the characters. Those
which we do get to see a lot seem very individual. The relationship between
Seabrook and his sister is very well done. It's refreshing to see a Gundam
hero with a real family connection. Cecily could be an interesting
character, but she goes through too many changes of loyalty without enough
explanation. From what we see, the dynamics among the Crossbone Vanguard
pilots are quite interesting, but there is very little explanation of their
rivalries or motivations. Annamarie's change of loyalty also doesn't seem
to have any reason behind it. Finally, Karozo, a.k.a. Iron Mask, has the
makings of an excellent Gundam nemesis, but he comes off as a cross between
an annoying whiner and a comic book supervillan.
I can only lament that a story with so much potential was butchered by the
choice of a theatrical relapse over a TV (or at least OVA) series.
Unfortunately, I don't read Japanese, but the Gundam Project says there's a
two part novelization which is long enough to remedy many of these faults.
I'd love to read a translated version, unfortunately, F91 is probably too
obscure for a translation to reach U.S. shores any time soon.
An interesting note: Many characters in F91 switch sides during the movie.
The Ronah family believes the masses should be ruled over by a class of
noblility, trained from birth to rule. The Ronah family also asks Cecily
Fairchild to serve as a figurehead queen who will win the support of the
masses. Do these plot points sound familiar? It seems to me that many
aspects of F91 popped up later in Gundam Wing.
Chris Upchurch a.k.a. Blackeagle
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