Turn A Gundam
∀ Gundam: Called Turn "A" Gundam
∀ガンダム [ターンエーガンダム] (Japanese)
Type: TV Series (50 Episodes)
Time Aired: 1999-2000
Plot Synopsis: The year is Correct Century 2345. The civilization of Earth is at about the level it was during World War I. Long ago, humanity travelled through space, but the people of Earth have long forgotten about that. However, an advanced civilization still exists in cities on the moon, and now this Moonrace, in desperate need of resources, sets its sights back on its home planet. Three Moonrace teenagers, Loran Cehack, Keith Laijie, and Fran Doll, are sent to make sure that a return is even feasible, and are followed two years later by the invading Dianna Counter forces. Now, five thousand years after humanity first travelled into space, a new war is brewing between the Earthlings defending their homes, the Moonrace looking to settle on Earth, and other members of the Moonrace who believe a return to Earth may revive a nightmare from humanity's forgotten past...
This Gundam series is very, very different from those in the past. While this may be distressing to some, it is actually a breath of fresh air into what had become a stagnant franchise. The first noticeable thing is the series does not commence in the middle of the war. Instead, the viewer is treated to how the war evolved. Getting to see the political ins and outs and treachery of many of those involved adds a new level of realism to the story.
In fact, the way many things are done differently in Turn A Gundam are what make it such a treat to watch. Many of the events and themes presented are so radically different; yet also tell such a wonderful story. While many of the best Gundam series presented a rather grim image war, and the horrors inflicted, Turn A presents a story of hope for humanity, that we, as a species can redeem ourselves for our past atrocities.
Turn A also tells its story at a much slower, almost relaxed pace, again, different from the franchise regulars. This allows a much deeper view of the characters involved rather than spending time on spectacular mecha battles.
This is one of Turn A Gundam’s greatest strengths. The story in Turn A is almost entirely character driven. In this story we are presented with some of the best-explored, deepest characters that have ever appeared in the Gundam franchise.
The head of the pack in this cast of characters is Loran Cehack, one of the most likeable and deep characters in Gundam. Loran is a kind, compassionate individual who wants a war less than anybody else, yet is constantly torn between both factions. The story of Loran is just so perfectly played out that one cannot help but like this induvidual.
The same goes for many of the characters, from the tragic female lead of Sochie Heim and her cruel yet highly understandable prejudice, her older sister Khiel who is suddenly catapulted from the role of a woman in society into the dark and twisted world of politics in war to Harry Ord, the leader of Queen Diana’s bodyguard, whose unfaltering loyalty to his Queen is often tested to its absolute limits. These characters are so real and so utterly believable that you cannot help but cheer or cry as their stories unfold
This is the first Gundam series to involve computers in its animation progress, and the results show very well. The actual movement of characters and mobile suits is just so convincing and so real. From the elegant, agile humanlike movements from Turn A Gundam, to the purely mechanical walk of the WaDom, the fluid motion of movement is perfect.
Keeping in the spirit of being different, the character designs themselves are really something else. Both Khiel and Diana’s long blonde pigtails although strange, seem so fitting, giving an almost goddess like quality to both characters. Loran and Guin both seem very strange with their ganguro look of dark brown skin and brightly coloured hair.
The most standout, yet major aspect that seems to have kept people away from this series is Turn A Gundam itself, namely, its moustache. This rather sporting piece of facial accessory although strange looking, seems to fit perfectly well in this universe, with the strange, weird and wonderful mecha that populate Turn A’s world. Although despite the strange reactions at first, like many classic mecha design in the Gundam universe, it really does grow on you.
A special mention has to go towards the animation in the opening and closing themes, especially Tsuki no Mayuu’s closing, which is quite possibly the best closing images I have seen in an anime. Using the aid of computers we are treated to Diana’s metamorphosis into a butterfly of light, which amazingly suits the beautiful music mentioned later on.
This animation is quite literally art.
Voice Acting/Music: 10/10
What is most fascinating is the generally low profile of most of the seiyuu that make up Turn A’s cast. Nearly every single main character has only been in one or two other roles, mostly as minor characters of cameos. Despite this, every single member of the class did a stellar job with their voices. Loran in particular managed to stand toe to toe in quality to the legendary Koyasu Takehito who makes an appearance in the final story arc as the evil Gym.
Although the stellar voice acting is absolutely nothing compared to the utterly mind blowing soundtrack. Without a doubt, this is Yoko Kanno’s best work. The viewer’s ears are treated to a variety of surreal, obscure and even tribal tracks that fit the story perfectly. Later portions of the story in space have appropriately surreal science fiction scores. And the final closing theme “Tsuki No Mayuu” is perfectly described and is the very definition of the word beautiful.
It honestly confuses me why this Gundam series has such a bad reputation, how fans can be so easily turned off this series. For people to miss out on such magnificent storytelling, such deep characters, such beautifully surreal imagery quite simply boggles the mind.
Gundam fans and non-Gundam fans alike should pick this rare gem of anime if they can. You will be treated to a treat, for those that love Gundam, you will be able to enjoy such a new, radical view of your favourite anime, seeing some of the things that make the former series so great and view them in a new like. And those that dislike Gundam, you will be treated to something completely different.
To completely disregard such a great work, simply because the title Gundam has a moustache should quite simply be a crime.