Rambling About : Mobile Suit Victory Gundam

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So I've started this small project focusing on various Gundam series as this summer I decided to finally complete Gundam series that I just kept on my "to watch" list for way too long. I want this to be a weekly thing throughout summer as I complete more and more entries in the franchise. Movies and OVAs will maybe be discussed in a future backlog blog hopefully coming out sometime in Autumn.

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Watching Victory Gundam was like a rollercoaster full of emotions. For starters you have your silly, dumb moments to break up from the usual serious tone of the show, but on the other hand, you are going to be hit with sadness and depression as slowly characters who you grew attachment to throughout the story gets to be killed off in the most surprising ways, especially from a show like Gundam. Gundam, especially if we are talking about the Universal Century is a war drama, and with every war there are of course deaths and usually in Gundam, characters die in their suits from an explosion or get shot. Victory Gundam takes it even further by showing us executions by the guillotine and letting pilots experience a slow death trapped in their suits as even if it was hit, sometimes it wouldn't explode. The drama is amplified by the inclusion of children also being involved in war and how they have to keep themselves strong in order to move forward.

Uso is our protagonist in this incarnation of the franchise, and gets involved with the war very quickly as his parents went missing and is now under the protection of the Federation. As he feels some sense of responsibility towards the loved ones, wanting to protect them, he becomes the pilot of the Federation's ultimate weapon, the Victory Gundam. Uso quickly impressed me because, despite of him being very young, 13 years to be exact, he is able to be very mature and believes that he has the power to end the war and the suffering. He is the exact opposite of how Amuro was in the beginning of the series. Amuro hated fighting and at one point, he gave up in a moment when the Federation needed him the most. Uso as well hates fighting and usually hesitates killing when his opponent is in a disadvantage, and in the case of Victory, some people from the Federation clearly disapprove of the idea of using Uso as a weapon for the Federation. Like I said, he has the sense of responsibility and if he is the only one capable to push the Victory Gundam to its limits, then he doesn't hesitate to get on in the battlefield. Now here is a little fact about him, he was originally going to be the great grandson of Char from the first MSG and that could have been a nice connection between Victory and the events before it but Tomimo disliked the idea and it was never brought up again. It's a shame too since none of the events from past series are mentioned, well there are vague references to the battles that took place in the past but being a series taking place in the Universal Century and having a rich history even at that time, Victory feels more like a standalone series but things such as alternate universes did not exist at that time.

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Even if Victory would be the first TV Gundam series that doesn't have cameos from previous characters, it still has a rich and likable cast. I believe that the cast in Victory is one of the better things that this show has to offer. Like I said, the main characters are mostly children that are involved in the war and have to fight alongside the Federation. For their age, they are really mature in most of the situations, nonetheless, outside of the battle, they still act like kids because that's what they are at the end of the day. Another thing that I enjoyed about this series is the character interactions, now since the Zanscare Empire is conquering Earth, it is inevitable that at some point the kids would have encounters with the Empire, but face to face, they don't know who each other. There is a cool episode where one of the members of the Zanscare Empire and the leader of the Bespa forces goes undercover in town and there, she encounters Uso and his friends and without knowing who each other really are, we get to see a different perspective of someone that we thought was a heartless and cruel leader of the rival camp... until by the end of the series where she goes insane and only wants to show her piloting skills by killing the Victory 2 Gundam with Uso in it... yea, that's one of the bad aspects about the series.

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Even though the main characters are a great addition to series, the same can't be said about some side characters and enemies from the Zanscare Empire. Well for starters, since this is a "kill em all" Tomimo work... well you can already guess what this means. Characters who had potential to be good die too early, and characters who you might have liked at the beginning of Victory just go mad because of the frustration of the war and that was the case with past incarnations. The characters from the Empire are underwhelming compared to something like the Zeon from the first Gundam. It doesn't have to copy elements from the Zeon such as bring another Char clone to make them enjoyable, I just want to feel some sympathy for the other side too. That's what I loved about the One Year War, even though you are supposed to cheer for the Federation, neither sides are right or wrong and they both have done terrible things at some point. Comparing the One Year War saga, which had numerous Gundam series attached to it, might not really be fair, but instead of following the same pattern in every episode such as having repetitive and sometimes boring fights at the end of every episode, give me some episodes focusing on characters from the Empire as I honestly couldn't find a single character from Zanscare by the end of the episode who I liked in the slightest bit.

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The series also suffers from bad pacing throughout halfway into the story and as the Federation goes to space, the fights get very repetitive and boring. The only thing good that came out from this journey to space is that we finally get to meet Uso's mother and the inclusion of some alright new side characters. You'll have some nice twists from time to time but these mostly result to unexpected deaths in the series but these are rare because, for a while you start noticing a pattern. For example, characters who got little to none spotlight up until that point suddenly become the focus of the episode and like I said, you'll start to grow attachment to these characters only to sacrifice themselves by the end of the episode hopefully having a somewhat memorable death only to not be mentioned ever again. I just couldn't understand this concept of throwing out so many characters, not giving them any focus and just killing them all.

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There might be a reason for this poor decision and for the high number of deaths in the series. Tomino at first had a different take on Victory Gundam but Bandai came and Tomino was pressured to change his ideas and make Victory a much more marketable show for Bandai to sell kits, this resulted into Tomino suffering from depression resulting into Victory becoming another kill em all series and the show from a point clearly became a mess. Victory has a strange first episode which has little to no introduction to the characters or the story, it's just Uso fighting against Bespa in a stolen Suit, and that's because the first episode is actually the fucking forth episode so that it could show the cooler mobile suits first to launch a new toys and kits line, not that's just messed up... Anyway, Tomino hated working on Victory and he is ashamed of his work telling even the fans to not buy the DVDs for Victory. But is it really as bad as Tomino says it is ?

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Victory is a bit of a controversial Gundam incarnation, you are going to find people who like it and people who absolutely despise it. For me personally, well the first 15 to 20 episodes are pretty good in my opinion and from there until the last 10 episodes starts to decline with some nice surprises here and there. Despite not doing anything revolutionary or special to stand up from other Gundam series, I liked Victory with its ups and downs, I definitely did not feel that I wasted my time watching 51 episodes. Would I recommend it to a newcomer to the franchise ? Not really to be honest, while you can definitely watch Victory without knowing anything about the franchise, there are much better options out there like the Gundam trilogy movie series or OVAs such as War In The Pocket which is only 6 episodes and The 8th Ms Team which is 13 episodes. But at the end of the day, you the viewer decide which Gundam you want to watch since all of them have something different to offer and all of them have their ups and downs. All in all, Victory Gundam is a nice incarnation in the franchise that I definitely enjoyed a decent portion of it and if you are a Gundam fan, give it a try, you might be surprised by how good some of the aspects of the show are...