Wednesday, February 12, 2020

The Business Of GUNDAM

GUNDAM has an interesting place in Japanese pop culture.

It has a message of war is terrible for teenage boys, but is also a massive advertisement for BANDAI and their model kits. What is now called GUNPLA. The idea of these huge mobile suits is ridiculous, but also cool. All characters in it are humans, and there aren't any good guys and bad guys. The look of the mecha has also become an influential style.

I read years ago of  an Australian Industrial Designer working for a Japanese car manufacturer and in his interview talked about what a force GUNDAM style design was in Japan. Not always in a good way.

There are many GUNDAM Animation Series and many hundreds of GUNPLA kits and variations, but the one I took notice of over 20 years ago was TURN A GUNDAM. Purely because they had SYD MEAD design the main machines. I have several SYD MEAD BOOKS, but also a Japanese one purely on the designing of the mecha in TURN A GUNDAM from rough sketches to finals.

What I have surprised myself with is that, all these years later, I have started watching the TURN A GUNDAM animation series in the last few weeks, thanks to my son having it.

This series is the last one in the GUNDAM timeline. 1000s of years after all the other series. I really like the premise and setting of this, and what all the previous conflicts resulted in.

There are 50 episodes and I have seen 32 at the time of writing this.  The quality of the writing in each episode varies quite a bit, as does the animation.  I think maybe 4 episodes have been great, with most just marking time or progressing the story or character development to some degree. Teenage Angst gets brought to the fore every so often for the target market.  Mecha battle scenes are not as common as you may expect.  Not saying it is bad though. Not at all.

I know nothing about the development struggles of the series, but guess there must have been.

See Bandai now has it's own YouTube channel with free to watch YouTube only anime. This makes sense when you understand their purpose is to sell the kits and collectibles, so they may as well give away the Anime itself. Sure the statics they can collect are very useful.

Gundam is pretty big business.

I also read that the GUNDAM THUNDERBOLT Manga was really good and have bought the first 8 volumes. I have the Japanese language one, so getting through that will take me some time, but the language study is part of the reason for getting it.

There is also THUNDERBOLT Gaiten (Supplement). An additional story that has all color artwork, and the mecha panels use Photoshoped GUNPLA models. The appendix has a section on the kits used. It looks rather well done. An Interesting idea. It takes the selling Gandum kits to the Manga market in a very direct way too.

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