Mobile Suit Gundam’s longstanding anti-war sentiments is the first lesson our overarching ‘Getting into Gundam Guide’ series hopes to impart on you, and it is by far more important than all the franchise’s cool shiny robots. The second? Mobile Suit Gundam and the name Yoshiyuki Tomino should be synonymous as he’s the man who created the entire series and imbued it with its inseparable post-war wish for peace.
After Yoshiyuki Tomino’s first big return to his darling creation, Turn A Gundam, finished up its run in 2000, he spent the next decade cutting compilation films for said series and the then 20-year-old Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam. Turn A utilized a comparatively artful approach compared to many of the Gundam anime, arguably representing Tomino’s ideal vision. Many thought he’d never direct another one, but 2014 saw the then 73-year-old return with Gundam Reconguista in G.
Taking place ‘after the end of the Universal Century’ (technically the far future of the original Mobile Suit Gundam but for all intents and purposes its own timeline), Gundam Reconguista in G acted as a place for Yoshiyuki Tomino to adventure into some new (for him) territory. Some of that territory does include space pirates, always a plus in our reviews.
The show centers around a good-hearted Capital Territory teen named Bellri who can, for some gosh darn reason, control the G-Self, a mysterious mobile suit only a fated few have the ability to pilot. Opposite him is an orange-haired lass named Aida, who’s been working with the space pirates for some time. The Pirate Corps (yes, they’re called that) essentially kidnap Bellri and his robot, but he decides to help them and their Amerian associated forces against the Capital.
If when reading the above as-stripped-down-as-we-could-make-it synopsis, you said to yourself, ‘hmm, sounds like this could become a mess’… boy howdy do we have news for you. The original Mobile Suit Gundam told a harrowing but elegantly conceived tale of war between The Earth Federation, maintainers of a status quo, and the space-based Zeon, reactionaries who act out of a desire for freedom.
Tomino couldn’t quite successfully replicate the tension and richness of his original fictional organizations, a tale that resulted in incredible anime for generations. Despite his best intentions, and even attempting to incorporate an active oppressed race element into Gundam Reconguista In G’s narrative web, the Capital Territory and Amerian conflict, even with its space pirates, fails to hit the mark.
Between the stilted, unnatural dialogue that would have felt stale back in the 80s and a fairly incomprehensible series of events, Reconguista couldn’t connect to its audience on an emotional level at the time of release.
Looking back on Gundam Reconguista In G seven years later though, one can appreciate more of what Yoshiyuki Tomino tried to do and what he did straight up get right. For starters, Reconguista in G is beautiful through and through. Tomino convinced Sunrise to entirely hand-animate a whole ton of gorgeous, visually dynamic mech action, making it at least look better than Gundam Unicorn.
We love Akira Yasuda’s design for the G-Self, with its sky-blue paint and many round edges successfully making it distinct from the hundreds of other Gundams. Most well known for their work on Eureka Seven, Kenichi Yoshida’s character designs were all extremely fresh, making every shot a visual delight. Heck, even some of that stilted dialogue in retrospect comes across as poetic and theatrical, even when bordering on gibberish.
Seven years later and Yoshiyuki Tomino’s back doing what he likes to do best: Cutting compilation films. Gundam Reconguista in G is, at the time of writing, two out of five planned compilation films deep with COVID having pushed back production.
Cut the nearly octogenarian a break! He didn’t revolutionize anime just for smart-asses like us to knock on his later-career efforts, even though Reconguista in G won’t go down as one of the highlights of the franchise. Fans do generally say the original Gundam’s comp films exceed the original, so Reconguista’s second-life may at least bump it up the list.
Gundam Reconguista in G’s available on Blu-ray from Nozomi Entertainment.