As a huge Gundam fan, there was no question that I’d watch Gundam AGE. Despite people’s concerns over the “kiddy” art style, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed Gundam AGE and I think it may well be one of my favourite Gundam shows ever.
The third act in Gundam AGE has just begun, entering the final era of the show’s timeline that covers 50 years and three generations of protagonists. This generational concept is a core part of Gundam AGE’s story, with the son of the previous hero taking over the reigns of a new Gundam mecha.
The generations plot device isn’t just a literal concept for the protagonists though – each era in the show reflects a different era of Gundam. The first set of episodes are reminiscent of the original Gundam, while the second are undeniable inspired by the more recent Gundam SEED and Gundam 00. Unfortunately, I think the first Gundam based start to the show has put off a lot of viewers who are more accustomed to the fast paced and flashy shows of recent years, especially coupled with the more simplistic art style that turned off some folks.
It’s a crying shame though, because I think this way of telling the overall story has been absolutely fantastic. With the ability to compress down the story, you eliminate a lot of the fluff and filler present in most of the 50 episode long Gundam shows, allowing every 15 or so episodes for an end of season style climax leading into the next generation. They’ve then been able to replicate some of the fan service from previous Gundam sequels such as Zeta Gundam and ZZ Gundam, with returning characters having meaningful roles and cameos. I feel it owes a lot to the way Gundam 00 split up its story over the two seasons.
The story for each of the main characters has been different enough as well so not to repeat anything. Flit Asuno, the first protagonist, has a standard motivation of his entire home and family being destroyed by the shows bad guys. Asemu Asuno, Flit’s son and successor, takes the Gundam SEED route of having a friendship betrayed, while also continually craving acceptance by his distant Father. Unlike Gundam SEED, this story is pulled off very well.
I probably get a lot more out of this show from being a Gundam fan – the references to different Gundam concepts and mecha design come from many sources. I don’t think, however, that these detract from the story for someone who does not have that much prior experience. But I’m very obviously biased.
I’m very excited for this new era of the show, with the first episode so far showing glimpses of some of the 90s Gundams, OVAs, and even the Crossbone Gundam Manga. I think now is a great time to catch up if you haven’t been watching already.