It can be easy to dismiss Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn with “another year another Gundam project” but I am thrilled to see a full return to the Universal Century. Unicorn is so UC you can hardly tell it’s not directed by Tomino. Banagher Links is a student on the colony of Industrial Seven. He is quickly drawn into a brewing conflict when he helps the mysterious girl Audrey Burne who is trying to prevent a war between Neo-Zeon and the Federation over a mysterious object know as the Laplace Box. At the end of the episode most of Banagher’s friends at school have been killed by the fighting that had broken out, he has found his father just before he died, Audrey and his remaining friends have been picked up by the Londo Bell soldiers, and Banagher himself is piloting the Gundam Unicorn. The animation is luscious and everything is what could only be OVA quality. The fights be they hand to hand or mecha are fluid and expertly choreographed. My only real complaint is other than being totally into Audrey I did not get much of an impression about Banagher. We know that Micott is the inheritor of the Frau Bow legacy of being in love with the main guy who totally ignores her and Takuya is a geek. Suberoa and Marida Cruz of Zeon distinctly make an impression as people to watch. It will be a hard 6 months to wait for the next episode but it will be worth it.
YAYAYAANEWUNIVERSALCENTURYGUNDAMYAYAYA! Okay, now that I got that out of my system, I can happily say that all the hype (that I myself was contributing to) surrounding this OVA release is 100% justified. Gundam Unicorn has all the trappings of the original storyline directed by Tomino, it knows its source material well. Audrey caught me happily by surprise with her determination and courage. Banagher acts in typical UC teenager style and does things seemingly for no reason and falls in love at the drop of a hat, but atleast I didn’t want to punch him! They set up a lot of players for the coming story and rattle off a few tempting names before a spectacular finale. I am completely in love with the modern but 70’s characters designs that are the trend for series with old roots, their simplicity actually makes the series looks even more slick. And that’s pretty amazing because the production quality is on overload with this. I am also enjoying the robot designs with this animation as well, Marida’s Kshatriya makes quite a splash in this first installment. Everything about Gundam Unicorn’s debut episode was exciting and better than I could have imagined, here’s to the rest being as impressive!
I started watching Future Police Urashiman (eps. 1-25) again. I had started watching a while back and then stopped watching in favor of waiting for the fan-subbers to just finish the series. Getting back into it I have to say it’s lots of fun. It reminds me of those old kid cartoons were the bad guys have wacky schemes to make money and defeat the mobile police. But all the characters have depth and when the villains have plans they more often than not tie into their personal history. There are three things about this show that stick out to me. The first is that everything about the series is so 80’s from the animation and character designs to the overall vision of the future. The second is apparently everyone is an acrobat because they jump around like sentai heroes and villains all the time. I was half expecting Inspector Gondo to jump up 10 feet in the air. The third is the show really likes to use insert songs. The real hook is the waiting for the reveal of who the Fuhrer is and what Ryu’s power is. I know that we are probably only going to learn these things in the last 5 episodes but it still keeps you waiting for answers.
Finally picked up the last two volumes (7-8) of Monkey High! Even though it gets a little more dramatic in the last volume with the interference of Haruna’s father, it still stays a little, familiar, and happy romance story where love rules the day! Though I was glad to see it take a closer look at a some adult issues, but still keeps that positive upbeat outlook. Monkey High! doesn’t do anything incredible but it uses what it knows perfectly and Masaru and Haruna are just adorable together.
Since I talked about Cutie Honey during the second Speakeasy podcast it spurned my interest in actually seeing the show I used as an example. I decided to start with the 70’s classic series (eps. 1-10). You see the groundwork for the immensely successful Cutey Honey franchisee laid out in the first 10 episodes. Honey Kisaragi’s father is murdered by the evil organization Panther Claw who is trying to obtain all the beautiful and rare objects in the world. Honey is actually an android made by her father who can transform into various forms. She uses her transformation powers to defeat the generic goons and gimmick bosses working her way up the ladder. She is assisted by the Hayami family who wants in Honey’s pants (because this is a Go Nagai work) and are all based on characters from another Go Nagai series. The episodes all follow a simple formula of Honey sneaking out of school, getting involved with a Panther Claw plot to steal something, taking on several disguises to find the boss, and then transforming to her ultimate Cutey Honey form and taking out the boss. It is a fun series but very simple and very low budget. They mostly keep the viewers interested by making sure Honey is naked every time she transforms and by often having her clothing shredded by villains in key locations. I can’t say it’s a great series by any stretch of the imagination but it does have a distinct charm to it. Also it is sometimes worth watching just to see some of the odder transformations Honey makes that people don’t talk about like Homeless Honey, Woodsman Honey, and Charlie Chaplin Honey.
Read through Kekkaishi books 19 and 20. The end of 18 was a bit of a cliffhanger and it finishes up nicely in 19. But what is most exciting is the looming longer story arc that is evolving out of it. A prophecy and a vision of destruction! Someone is destroying scared sites! The council of 12 is starting to be revealed more! And Yoshimori’s mother and brother are in the thick of things! And seriously it’s hard to tell if they are in the right or the wrong many times. Yoshimori is continually building his power, but his attitude (i.e. I want to seal away it’s power and for it to be gone for good) about guarding Karasumori is making him powerful enemies. He seems to be growing up a bit in these books but it’s hard to tell just where he is headed. Tokine hasn’t been as much of a prominent figure, but it looks like her feelings are starting to reveal themselves a little more regarding Yoshi.
It can be hard to find a tasteful picture that sums up Cutie Honey but I think this does the job well: