Mecha Monday: What Went Wrong with Gundam AGE?

Hey, Kaushik here for another edition of Mecha Monday. This time I’ll be going through the latest major Gundam series, Gundam AGE, and just why it didn’t hit all the right notes. As you may know, Gundam AGE is the latest televised Gundam series, airing from October 2011 to September 2012. This show took a unique route right from the get-go, announcing that it’d be split into 3 “ages”, so to speak. Essentially, the show went through 2 major time skips, which I found a novel and interesting concept for a Gundam show. AGE would be detailing three generations of the Asuno family, starting with Flit Asuno, then his son Asemu Asuno, and finally his son Kio Asuno. While some people may have been put off by the initial character designs (they were fairly childish following a show like Gundam 00) I felt like AGE had a lot of potential. Unfortunately, it didn’t deliver.

From this point on, expect major spoilers!

Asuno Family

I’m not going to call Gundam AGE terrible, or the worst Gundam show ever (looking at you SEED Destiny!), but there was just a lot of lost lost potential. The story of Flit Asuno, the first story, honestly wasn’t that bad. It was fairly generic, and somewhat predictable in its twists and turns. As a starting point for a story that was going to span 3 ages, it seemed like an okay start, not the best. Following Flit’s story came Asemu’s story, which was oddly enough the most interesting story of the bunch. Asemu is unique in that he’s the only member of the Asuno family to NOT be a newtype. As a result, his story line involves a lot of self-reflection on somehow overcoming newtype powers with his own abilities. As he’s dubbed several times in the series, Asemu aimed to become a super pilot. It may sound a bit goofy, but Asemu’s inner struggle combined with his rivalry with the Vagan Zeheart made for the most entertaining story of the series.

And then the series came to a colossal crash and burn with the final story, that of Kio Asuno. As a setup, Flit’s story worked passably well. Asemu’s story I felt offered little to the overall plot but instead was quite interesting as a standalone piece. Kio’s story took all the possibly interesting plot lines and potential the series had and dashed it to the ground. Kio, as a character, was about as interesting as cardboard. He’s your generic savior character that understands all sides of every issue, never wants to kill enemy pilots, and never has any inner struggle ever. So he’s a lost cause, of course. On the flip side, the development of Flit’s character throughout the series was remarkably interesting. In fact, the entire dynamic between the Asuno family and their thoughts on the Vagans were quite interesting.

Of course, by the 3rd generation, Flit looks like some sort of crazy hobo uncle, so I'll give one point back to Gundam AGE.

Of course, by the 3rd generation, Flit looks like some sort of crazy hobo uncle, so I’ll give one point back to Gundam AGE.

Flit was the most hard line of his family.  After seeing one of his friends, Yurina, killed in part 1 of AGE, Flit became slowly crazy about killing all the Vagans. It was an interesting plot line to see the so called messiah of the human race turn into a genocidal maniac. I thought in part 3 they were going to take that plot to its conclusion and create a situation where Flit had to be put down by his own sons because he went insane. Of course, that didn’t happen. Flit ended up redeeming himself at the end and realizing the errors of his ways. Of course, I can’t always expect a story to go exactly how I personally want, but considering the wasted potential of that plot line being developed over several episodes, I feel like it was really a missed opportunity that could have set Gundam AGE apart as a cut above the rest.

The Titus. It's some crazy cool boxing Gundam that does beam lariats and stuff (Gundam Maxter, anyone?)

The Titus. It’s some crazy cool boxing Gundam that does beam lariats and stuff (Gundam Maxter, anyone?)

Story line considerations aside, my other major issue with AGE is that none of the mecha designs were that interesting. The show was set up to be incredibly cool, what with the AGE system being able to produce weaponry that would suit the pilot’s needs when the pilot needed it. As a result I expected a lot of cool mecha and side armaments. While the show did deliver (somewhat) in side armaments, the lack of really stellar mechs was disappointing. The AGE units themselves were okay at best (some part combinations like the Titus were pretty cool), and the ultimate AGE unit, the AGE-FX was honestly quite disappointing. I’m somewhat sick of the bit or funnel-spamming mechs and had hoped the AGE units would distance themselves, but that didn’t really end up the case. I will say that it was a bit interesting how the AGE units were somewhat modeled after the first 3 major Gundam series. The AGE-1 was remarkably similar to the RX-78-2, the original Gundam. The AGE-2, with its transformation capability bore a great resemblance to the Zeta Gundam, and the heavily armored AGE-3 (with a matching core fighter!) was of course modeled after the Double Zeta Gundam.

The Vagan Gafran, their first grunt suit. It looks like some crazy dragon-mecha crossover and I am not a fan.

The Vagan Gafran, their first grunt suit. It looks like some crazy dragon-mecha crossover and I am not a fan.

Moreover, I didn’t like any of the Vagan mecha designs. My big issue with them is that they all look quite biological and less mecha. For example, the grunt units you see all the time in the first age all look like these bipedal armored dragons. Most of the other models ended up looking somewhat similar to this biological design, and I just could not dig any of the Vagan suits. As a mecha fan, if I can’t enjoy the mechs in a show, I consider it somewhat of a failure. Especially in a series as diverse and interesting, with such a storied history as Gundam. Unfortuantely, AGE just did not deliver on that and other fronts.

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Kaushik

I write about anime and stuff. Giant robots are pretty cool, too.

Kaushik

I write about anime and stuff. Giant robots are pretty cool, too.

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