Ballads of the Earth and the Moon: After War Gundam X, Newtype Dolphin . . . ’nuff said.

All the various Gundam shows come together to make a strange animal. They are all part of the same franchise but are radically different from each other. One of the odd things I have noticed is the two types of Gundam fans in the U.S. There are Universal Century purists that are usually older Gundam fans. They either hate Alternate Universe Gundam series or are extremely harsh judges of them. New Gundam fans tend to judge all the Gundam series on their own merits and flaws which I prefer. I remember hearing nothing but bad things about After War Gundam X back in the day. It was supposedly a horrific show that was the lowest point in the Gundam series. After I watched Turn A Gundam which also had a bad reputation but found it to be my favorite Gundam series I decide that maybe I would give Gundam X a chance. This was reinforced by various friends on Twitter assuring me that it was worth a shot I plunged into the unknown.

Gundam X begins after the apocalyptic end of a war between the Earth and the colonies. During the climax of the war the colonies dropped themselves on the earth killing 99% of the population. Fifteen years later the environment is somewhat stable again and people are just starting to making decent headway in the rebuilding of Earth. Garrod Ran is hired to save a kidnapped young girl named Tiffa Adill with mysterious powers who was taken by mercenaries. But the people asking Garrod to rescue her might not have her best interests at heart. While rescuing Tiffa Garrod also finds an amazing pre-war mobile suit called the Gundam X. This suit is just as mysterious and powerful as Tiffa.

Garrod Ran is a likable chap. I like describing him as if you took all five Gundam Wing pilots and made them one guy with Duo being the main and strongest template. He is a loner but usually easy going, energetic, and resourceful. He goes through periods where he is depressed and angry but he’s fifteen. It would be highly unrealistic for him to be any other way. Garrod has an aptitude for piloting but does not start out as an ace and it is implied that he has done some piloting before the show begins. Tifa Adill is sort of a stock mysterious girl with powers but she is a well done version of that archetype. It turns out she is a Newtype but unlike in the original Gundam series she never uses her power for combat. She is a quiet and odd girl who cuts herself off from everyone else. Although it is never stated, you know that Tifa has been unable to live a normal life ever since she discovered her powers. Still she is a good and kind person who wants to help others but is not always sure how to interact with people in order to do so.

Eventually Garrod and Tifa wind up on a ship called the Freeden. The captain, Jamil Neate, was a war hero who now goes around saving Newtypes while earning a living as a mercenary and scavenger. He is a quiet father figure for the crew who is trying to atone for several major sins committed during the war. The rest of the crew is a tightly knit group that slowly integrate Garrod and Tifa into their family. They are a varied bunch from the ditzy blond helmswomen to the the 12 year genius mechanic. In the first episode we are introduced to Witz Sou and Roybea Loy who start out as independent mercenaries but they quickly become full members of the crew. They usually fight along side Garrod in lesser Gundams while providing him the advice of a pair of older brothers. I would be remiss in not mentioning Paula Cis, the spunky tomboy that saves Garrod at one point and later allies herself with the crew of the Freeden. She was obviously supposed to get a deeper back story and more screen time but Paula is a victim of the show getting the number of episodes cut. Which is upsetting because Paula Cis reminded me of a mixture of Sayla Mass and Allenby Beardsley. In other words, pure awesome.

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Ongoing Investigations: CaseĀ #052

So I finally got around to building my Char Action Base over the weekend. I was quite surprised that it was in any way complex, I expected to just open up the package and be good to go. Not so. This is probably for maximum customability, there were more stickers in this kit than I think there were in the actual Zaku II Master Grade I built! Both stands can be put in many different positions as well as be lengthened and shortened easily. They are very thick so sturdiness seems in tact though trying to put the Zaku II at a 90 degree angle proved too much for it. In any case, the construction was rather quick and then came the ability to make Char’s Zaku look like it is flying through space! Watch out!

I don’t think that The Battle of Genryu: Origin is a bad manga though I am not sure it is a good one either. Our main character Jinnosuke has an unusual condition. Most of the time he is a normal clumsily high school student but every so often he get amazing bursts of athletic skill. We comes to find he has tremendous martial arts skill that lies dormant thanks to his family’s hypnotism. Jinnosuke’s older brother, Soichiro comes back determined to awaken this sleeping powerhouse. The fighting is fine and entertaining but not spectacular. Shoko Fukaki tends to use a lot of speed lines and the rest of the art work is serviceable but not outstanding. Jinnosuke is happy go lucky normally but his personality with the power is utterly ruthless. That dynamic is what will make or break this manga, but it is hard to tell which direction it is leaning here. I was somewhat saddened that even though Fusano, Jinnosuke’s girlfriend, is also a martial artist, she is really the utterly weak sauce love interest girl. The first book mostly set up Jinnosuke’s situation so how exactly the whole series is going to play out has yet to be determined so it’s hard to make a definitive statement. However, it’s not a series that is going to win over non-fighting manga fans but people who like martial arts might want to see how it develops.

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Ongoing Investigations: Case #039

I just got the third hard cover special edition of Black Jack. It’s Black Jack therefore it is awesome. As with any episodic series you will have you ups and downs. Some stories are amazingly powerful or stunningly cool. Other are quickly forgettable or even downright uninteresting. I have yet to see a bad review of a Black Jack book and you won’t see one here. The real question is whether or not the limited edition is worth the additional eight dollars. They are but there is no reason to pay through the nose when they become rare. The hard covers are well designed and you get a little hard to find bonus story in each book. But the extras stories aren’t that amazing if you have to pay a lot more to get them. Black Jack as a whole is worth what ever you have to pay to get it but there is no need to get crazy. And unless you can’t get over Osamu Tezuka’s old school art style, there is no reason not to go out and read Black Jack.

I am slowly going through all that CMX has to offer by manga-ka Nari Kusakawa. I read the first book of Palette of 12 Secret Colors. It is about an island that houses the most beautiful birds in the world. Along with them they train wizards (called palettes) who use the birds’ bright colors to change ordinary things, like cloth and rocks, into precious treasures that are sought the world over. We follow Cello, a wizard in training, who is anything but ordinary. Her magic doesn’t work like anyone else so she has a hard time learning the basics (she is so bad she has been held back a year in school) but her unique abilities get her into some interesting situations. Cello is a great lead, she is positive, funny, and easy to love. Dr. Guell, who is obviously the love interest, is blunt but funny and caring, so much so you can’t help but root for these two to come together. It continues to show her ability to weave fantasy, romance, and a little comedy into a charming combination. This series is after Recipe for Gertrude and you can really see her art style becoming more refined. I am looking forward to getting the rest in the series.

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