Echo|Fox (echofox@wingzero.net)
Mon, 14 Aug 2000 10:24:44 -0600 (MDT)


Errg, this is going to be hard to write so I don't offend anyone. Please,
nobody take this personally. I'm not attacking anyone, nor is this an
AC vs UC thing (I'm quite absorbed in Turn A right now), I'm just trying
to look at the state of Gundam in North America as it is today.

Right, up until last year, Gundam hadn't penetrated the US to any great
degree. Sure, you had the Gundam movies, and 0083 and 0080, but that
seemed to be a bit of a token gesture by Bandai that wasn't really
followed up. Most of us got hooked on it through fansubs, or watching raw
versions, either taped from TV by Japanese friends, or LD's, or whatever.
Personally, I've only been a Gundam fan for two years, which is nothing
compared to those of you who were blessed with an earlier exposure, but it
was something that really captured my imagination. Furthermore, the
fanbase is quite tightly knit and a bit more, dare I say, "adult" than
your average series. Getting our Gundam fix wasn't too hard, as we had
HLJ, or Rainbow 10, anime cons, and import model shops, but it did
mean we occasionally had to wait a little longer. Most people who would
call themselves a Gundam fan knew enough of the backstory to be able to
understand the average conversation on the GML, for example, knew the
differences between the alternate continuities and UC, and understood
that Gundam is about the characters and the story, not the mechanics.
A normal GML conversation might revolve around the relative merits of the
Zaku II vs the GM Custom.

Now, contrast that to today, where the Cartoon Network's airing of Gundam
Wing has brought in a whole new generation of fans, unlike any that have
existed before. Personally, I'm not sure whether its a blessing or a
curse. Wing is obviously the flashiest of series, and thus the most easily
accessible to new fans, but its also the anti-thesis to "Tomino" Gundam,
and its emphasis on the flash means that the average Gundam Wing fan has
no idea about the rest of Gundam. I can't really complain though, because
airing MSG first quite possibly could have bombed, and that would have
been a serious blow to Gundam Fandom in North America. Furthermore, we've
all benefitted, I'm sure, from the recent interest, since more US online
stores than ever are stocking Gundam merchandise (and not just Wing,
thankfully), meaning we have other options. The success of Wing is also
bringing us all of UC Gundam on DVD far faster than may have otherwise
happened.

There are things, however, that terribly amuse me about the Wing fandom,
specifically. Let me say again, I'm not personally mocking anyone, this is
just stuff that's had me shaking my head and smiling.

- I was in a local model shop the other day trying to buy a few more
Gundam Markers (blast! they didn't have any other colors in stock), and I
saw 3 kids around the Gundam aisle. One had a MG RX-78 in one hand and a
1/144 Deathscythe in the other and said (gesturing to the RX-78) "I don't
remember this from Gundam, it's boring looking". Bear in mind, this is
Canada, only eps 1-3 of Wing have aired here.
- Watching the stats at wingzero means I see who's linking to my page.
Occasionally, people link to images in their signatures on web forums, so
my referalls list shows a referal every time someone reads that post, so I
usually go and read the thread for fun. I found one yesterday regarding
"custom" Gundams, and the length some of these Wing Kiddies (no offense,
this is a term I coined to refer to, well, little kids watching Wing) go
to ... is ... well ... basically, it involves them perusing the
Mechadomain, cut and pasting all of the stats and weapons from various
Wing Gundams into the
Super-Hyper-Mega-Omega-Death-Jesus-Christ-Its-Coming-Straight-For us
Gundam
- Reading alt.fan.gundam which seems to be fairly evenly split between the
aforementioned Wing Kiddies, converted Wing-to-UC fans, and a smattering
of UC gundam people. In comparison to the example above of a normal GML
conversation, you've got stuff like "Who would win in a fight Gundam Wing
or DBZ".
- A friend of mine from IRC owns gundam-wing.com, and his e-mail address
is is duo@gundam-wing.com. He routinely recieves e-mailes from kids who are
having difficulty differentiating fantasy from reality ("What's it like to
be a Gundam pilot?", "Are you and Heero gay lovers?")

Every time I start to shake my head and wonder, I realize that they _are_
just kids, and I'm sure I did the same thing years ago, except it was
Transformers and He-Man, and we didn't have the Internet. I sorta feel
guilt for laughing afterwards, since they don't know any better, and I
just hope that they'll grow up to appreciate Gundam as a whole.

So, was Wing's success good for the rest of us? Yeh, I'd say so. Are a lot
of Wing fans relatively clueless? Yeh, but they're also just kids. Should
we do everything we can to show them how much cooler UC Gundam is? Hell
yeh. Whenever I get e-mail (As a webmaster) from a Wing Kiddie, I try and
be polite. Just the other day, I got an e-mail from someone's parents,
looking for help on the "Endless Dual" (their spelling) game their son
downloaded. I explained the legalities of emulators and ROM's, where they
could get SNES9X and ZSNES, and then encouraged their son to take a read
through Gundamproject and see the "rest" of Gundam. I still have no idea
why they e-mailed me, but hopefully that's at least one wing fan who'll
take the time to learn.

---
Nicholas "Echo|Fox" Paufler
http://www.wingzero.net - Home of the High Quality Gundam Image Archive
"The most likely way for the world to be destroyed, most experts agree,
is by accident.  That's where we come in; we're computer professionals. We
cause accidents." - Nathaniel Borenstein

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