Yoshiyuki Tomino is a treasure. More precisely he might be one of those cursed treasures whose tremendous powers come at a terrible cost but in the anime industry that is just being extremely on-brand. The clearest example of the demon sword that Tomino has become is his last TV series Gundam Reconguista in G. I know it is slightly controversial to say but there are some cool things about the show. It has some amazing mecha designs, memorable characters, interesting setting concepts, and even some engaging and clever themes. But I also have to say that Gundam Reconguista in G is a hot mess. The characters go through unexplained Tomino mood swings and allegiance changes on the drop of a hat, the world-building is random and spotty to the point where it seems deliberately obtuse, the pacing could generously be called messy, and it always feels like it is the first draft of something that need three more drafts to be functional. It has distinctly earned its reputation despite having some really good points in its favor. I enjoyed it but it is undoubtedly the durian of the Gundam series.
So with any of these Gundam compilation movies, there is always a faint glimmer of hope that this could be the second draft to clean up a messy TV series. The original Gundam movies did a lot to streamline the somewhat messy and bloated TV series. Past that point, the compilation movies are a mixed bag with far too many of them feeling like a sloppy clip show more than a properly curated affair. The problem is usually they just show the best parts of the TV series without any of the proper connective tissue to have any of it make sense. They often wind up chopping out the important little parts without trimming enough of the filler fat.
The thing is Gundam Reconguista in G feels like a series that MIGHT be saved with some proper editing. There are a whole bunch of somewhat useless storylines that could be trimmed or remixed into something far more viable while adding in some new informative scenes to flesh out things that seemed to come out of nowhere. Assuming this would happen is utter foolishness but this series would also benefit much more than others so it seemed like something to check out just in case.
So all that in the first half said it is still a bit hard to see how much Gundam Reconguista in G can do to improve on the original TV series. There are distinct improvements made on the original TV series. So you can see where effort is being made to clean up a series than needed some spit and polish. On the other hand, some of the unstructured parts of the story are still in there without any real improvement. Also, the opening few episodes move along rather quickly. It is the later meandering middle episodes that need the most work and editing. That would be the true litmus test of how much of an improvement these movies will turn out to be.
The biggest help without a doubt is just these little cuts where people have a Newtype moment and you hear what they are thinking. In most series, it could be easily criticized as being a lazy case of telling and not showing what characters are thinking. There is a fairly strong case for that still being true but considering how often the characters in the show have extremely muddled motivations this feels like a godsend. Bellri most of all is greatly improved by just having a little insight into what he is thinking. His actions towards Aida and his staying on the Megafauna make MUCH more sense with just a little insight into his thought processes. It makes clear a lot that has to be picked up by inference and knowing how Tomnio logic works otherwise.
That said there is still a good deal of terminology, politics, and history that is either said in passing conversation, obliquely, or with side material that continues to go without any real explanation. Kuntala are still an unexplained term, the politics of the Regild Century are often only decipherable with a wiki, and some plot points are extremely subtle and other times just plain sloppy. I get the difference between the Capital Army and the Capital Guard but it would be far too easy to mistake the two or not realize the importance of the division. Also when Cumpa Rusita lets the gang go and run off in the G-Self it is supposed to be obvious that he is doing this as part of a calculated sinister political move. The problem is before this point so many officials let Bellri, Aida, and friends run around without restraint it is easy to assume this is another case of an adult just refusing to take responsibility for them. Some improved editing might have been able to make this fact a little clearer.
I have to say it was AMAZINGLY odd that they used the original opening for the movie. I love “Blazing” by Garnidelia but that opening animation looks like a place holder opening that you use until you can get the real opening done. If they felt a need to have an opening then this would have been the perfect time to put a nice bit of original animation in the movie. I know they try to make these compilation movies on the cheap but it feels like another major missed opportunity.
Also if they could just take out that whole part where Bellri kills Dellensen it would be extremely useful. It weirdly makes Bellri seem psychopathic and is swept under the rug later on in a way that makes it all pointless. If Tomino is looking to do some trimming he should start there.
Does this movie turn straw into gold? No. It would take some real miracle work to fix Gundam Reconguista in G. Could it redeem the show in the eyes of anyone who hated the original TV series? Nope. The fixes are not anywhere near enough. The only real audience for this movie is for people who found there was something worth digging for in the original and maybe just want a little help finding some of the hidden treasures buried within. Still, I feel the next two films of the five will be very telling if any of this is worth anything. That is the part of the story that needs the most work and could benefit the most from a smart bit of editing.
The crazy Tomino and I can wait to see the next movie and everyone else can just spend their time a little more productively with the rest of the Gundam franchise if they so choose.
2 thoughts on “Anime NYC 2019: Code Geass: Gundam Reconguista in G Movie I”
Tomino feels like he’s got that particular variety of “The Brain Eater” that gets caught by writers who still have really good ideas, but are in desperate need of an editor who will tell them no, and who can menacingly stand over their shoulder with a ruler (or harisen) if they won’t take no for an answer.
I haven’t personally seen the series but I have heard from many that it’s not particularly enjoyable. Hopefully the compilation movies can sort out all the problems. Tomino’s record since the 90s has been quite hit and miss.