Autumn 2011: First Impressions (Gundam AGE & Mirai Nikki)
Last week of first impressions! Today it’s Gundam AGE and Mirai Nikki (Future Diary).
You know what? I really liked this! I mean, sure it’s not really giving us anything new – it’s basically the usual opening episode for a Gundam show, but it was done in such a solid way that I can’t really hold that against Gundam AGE. It’s clear that this is aiming to be the Gateway Gundam show for a new generation, it’s most definitely pitched at a younger age group than 00 or SEED. It feels like this Gundam series is going for a more adventure type feeling than the usual politics & angst – mainly because of our protagonist Flit. Flit isn’t forced into the cockpit of the Gundam, he takes that duty upon himself when there isn’t any other pilots about to fill the role. As the designer of the mobile suit Flit knows the controls and capabilities of the machine inside out, it’s not like he fell into the cockpit and instinctively knew how to pilot it which makes a refreshing change. Flit also seems pretty mature, his tragic back story forced him to grow up quickly and his genius level intellect also puts him on another level (bewildered by why he still has to go to normal school though). There are things I’m not overly fond of though – the enemy is so far faceless & not all that interesting and the adults in general are portrayed as incompetent idiots who fail to take the defense of their colony seriously. Hopefully these issues are addressed in a more even-handed manner down the line.
On the production front, I’m still not convinced by the cartoonish character designs (and I don’t think the show is either – art styles kind of shift depending on what character is on-screen). However the background art and animation itself is fabulous – the wide shot of the colony in particular was amazing. The mecha designs are quite simplistic, but the clean lines work well with the simple character art. Not sure about those enemy transforming dragon mobile suits though, odd choice for a Gundam show – bit more fantastical than I’m used to. I’m very impressed by the music, however OP is a strange choice for a Gundam show, the band previously provided OPs for AnoHana & Oofuri, so it’s a much more soothing kind of song than I’m accustomed to for Gundam, very nice song though. Voice acting is reasonable, Flit just about avoids being too whiny which is a relief……..pity about the Haro.
So a much better start than I was anticipating, definitely sticking with Gundam AGE for the duration.
Mirai Nikki (Future Diary)
I’m pleasantly surprised by how asread didn’t balls this first episode up – it was actually pretty good! Sure the entire episode was given over to spelling out the plot, and the villain didn’t really have any impact, but it was still a pretty solid opening episode and established the world & main characters very well. I’ve read the manga so I know whats in store for us, and I felt that this episode stayed pretty faithful to the source material so I’m not panicking as much about adaptation decay now, however I do wonder how the anime is going to deal with the more disturbing elements of the plot further down the line.
Now the animation budget obviously isn’t wonderful for this anime, and its very apparent in the wide shots – hella derpy character models there. The direction is decent enough, although I’m not sure about the use of block colour filters over certain scenes – the purple/pinkness of the Deus scenes just looked weird. Deus himself is completely rendered in CGI, which makes him look completely out-of-place in the series – but that kind of works in this instance because Deus is meant to be otherworldly; he’s the God of Time & Space after all! I also liked the music used in the show – pretty decent OST it seems. On the voice cast front there are some excellent choices in the extended cast (Wakamoto as Deus is perfect), but I’m not completely convinced by Yukiteru & Yuno’s seiyuu – they aren’t very experienced and sound a touch too young for the characters; this is a minor quibble though & they have 26 episodes to grow into their characters.
So far so good for Mirai Nikki – the manga is finished, so the anime team really should have had ample time to sort out the pacing for the series; I’m looking forward to following this one!