Continuing on from my previous Gundam pieces, Mobile Fighter G Gundam (or G Gundam for short) is perhaps the most surprising Gundam series I’ve seen thus far. Whilst it’s fair to say that every Gundam has surprised me, since they don’t appear to be those super edgy MAN showcases like wankers on the internet lead me to believe they are, G Gundam in particular stands out. For all it’s ridiculousness and ham, G Gundam turned out to be quite an earnest show. Expressing deep concerns over capitalist meritocracies, the nature of modern war politics, and even the nature of the generation gap. It managed all that and more (If occasionally stepping back before going too far. Not every show can be Utena after all) whilst still retaining the cartoony energy and fun that only a show about mixed martial arts and giant robots can.
G Gundam follows Neo-Japan’s Mobile Fighter Domon Kasshu, who is taking part in the “Gundam Fight” a tournament with vague rules which determines which of the space colonies – the ruling elite of the world’s countries – has the right to rule over all of space. But that detail, whilst important for the sake of the plot, matters very little to Domon. Domon has his own goals which transcend even this elaborate form of war. More importantly, for the sake of this piece, Domon spends many episodes taking part in other character’s episodic tales. He serves as a catalyst in varying pulps, before a core cast builds up in their support for our angsty, childish, but earnest protagonist.
Of this cast is the ‘Shuffle Alliance’, Mobile Fighters also taking part in the tournament who – due to various plot reasons – are also obliged to uphold the ‘spirit’ of the tournament. Domon and the rest of the alliance are all men, for better or for worse, and for the most part they all get their own romance arcs. Domon himself has Rain, his engineer and Doctor, who’s relationship with him is emphasised throughout the whole show in both it’s ending songs and a handful of arcs along the way. Allegedly there’s also a love triangle due to Allenby, but that’s bollocks even given her childish crush on Domon. To say that’s a love triangle would be to say Reina x Kumiko x Taki in Sound! Euphonium is a love triangle. It’s simply ridiculous, even if you do believe the show is trying to support it.
The rest of that supporting cast also have their own romance arcs. Argo Gulskii has his… erm… Prison warden, Natasha. Which does not sound like a healthy dynamic to a relationship, but G Gundam tries to make it work with as Natasha lets down on her authoritarianism, and as they both come to see each other as equals. Not particularly compelling an arc, but an arc that at least works. Sai Saici doesn’t have his main ship within the main group, and instead has his arc near the end of the show where he falls for another Fighter’s little sister. His epilogue with her at the end isn’t as blatant as Domon’s or Argo’s but he’s also far younger than them. His is a child’s romance, compared to the more teenager and adult romances of Domon and Argo’s respectively. George the Sand is living in the shoujo anime world, with his shoujo anime princess. He is a French knight, and thus has his duties to protect his country, and to protect his monarchs. His romance with his princess, Maria, is almost like a classic shoujo. It’s a tale of them both ultimately fighting against the roles that fate has granted them. A messy rose petalled romance, but a romance nonetheless.
Lastly, we have the great American Hero: Chibodee Crocket. When Chibodee is introduced he is surrounded by his engineers and support staff: four women who are endlessly supportive of him. At first this may seem like G Gundam is endorsing those traditional tropes of showing a man as being successful by depicting him as being literally covered in women. To G Gundam’s credit, whilst it does initially set up that trope and is playing with it, that is not at all what’s going on. Whilst the rest of the main men in G Gundam get romantic subplots, Chibodee gets a familial one instead. Having lost his original Mum to terrorist clowns as a kid, Chibodee had to fight his way to get the power and respect he has in G Gundam. “The American Dream” as he puts it himself, even if such a thing in actuality is false I am unsure G Gundam really believes in it either. With his current position he elevates others. When four gang women try to sneak aboard a ship to the colony, he invites them along. Letting them escape poverty.
G Gundam could have easily written this as a romance arc. The structure is right there. But it doesn’t. When everyone else is having explicit romance arcs, Chibodee’s episode is clearly dedicated to a motherly kind of support. G Gundam, like Build Fighters, mainly putting women in supportive roles – even if it does attempt to tackle gender roles with it’s aforementioned princess being incredibly gungho – is quite disappointing, it made an attempt but didn’t go all the way. But if we can overlook that wrong doing, then I think G Gundam has done something great here. It looked in the face of a stock romance, after having multiple other stock romances, and said no: Chibodee Crocket has four Mums.
(G Gundam’s DVDs have been out of print for a while, and I don’t believe it is available for streaming anywhere. However new, gorgeous, blurays are coming out and those may have an English release)