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Mobile Suit Gundam F91 - The Motion Picture (DVD)

 

Universal Century 0123. After a generation of peace, the Earth Federation had begun to build new space colonies to house humanity’s growing population. But a new force, the aristocratic Crossbone Vanguard, plans to seize the colonies of the newly constructed Frontier Side for itself.

 

As their home becomes a battlefield, a handful of young civilians struggle to escape the conflict. To save his friends and family, the reluctant warrior Seabook Arno becomes the pilot of a new Gundam, which bears the code name F91.

 

It’s nice to start seeing all of these Gundam movies in North America on DVD finally, -- even a title, which is now 14 years old. (Damn, I just made myself feel old again.) My favorite Gundam series have generally been the main timeline stories like Gundam 0079 and 08 MS Team so this movie is a treat for me.

 

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The movie follows the actions of the Crossbone Vanguard’s attempt to take sole control of the Frontier habitats, and opens with one of the most impressive battles in the Gundam series. The home station of the main character, Seebook, is attacked and we get to experience the carnage that takes place from the civilian perspective during a pitched battle between Mobile Suits. So devastating is the attack on the general populace, that even a spent shell casing turns into a lethal object for an unsuspecting non-combatant. The opening fight in and around Frontier 4 is probably one of the most impressive fight sequences that I’ve ever seen in Japanese animation. Although all based in two-dimensional animation, the animators do an excellent job of portraying the three-dimensional battles that take place in the Gundam universe, where you can be attacked from any direction.

 

Seebook and his friends rush through the Habitat towards any available ship to escape the carnage. Along the way, they end up increasing their group by saving children and other people and eventually find an appropriate ship to commandeer. Just as they are about to escape the Habitat, their friend Cecily is taken by the leaders of the Crossbone Vanguard who claim that she is daughter of the leader of their organization.  (Only in Gundam does the evil empire fill their ranks through nepotism or sociopaths). The organization is centered on the ideals of nobility and bloodlines (hmm… where have we heard this before…) and how leadership by the exceptional should take precedence over democracy and individual freedom.

 

The ship full of young refugees heads towards Earth, and ends up heading to Habitat 1, the natural resource asteroid. There they end up linking up with a test-bed carrier missing most of its’ command staff. This carrier is moving a new Federation Mobile 

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Suit namely F91, and it turns out that the computer system for the Mobile Suit was created by Seebook’s mother. Seeing his innate piloting ability, he helps bring the suit to active condition and is chosen to be the primary pilot for the suit.

 

Back on Frontier 4, the Crossbone Vanguard has started to indoctrinate Cecily into their fold and she has even agreed to become a Mobile Suit pilot for their forces. 

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Being the daughter of the organization’s leader, she is made a commanding officer despite her inexperience and is now a member of the special force division. Her first major sortie is to help a beachhead of Crossbone forces onto Habitat 1.  However, the organization has much bigger plans than mere military conquering of this station – the leadership plans to test a new weapon on the station, codenamed “Bug”. This new weapon is the perfect anti-personnel weapon – a swarm of killing machines that relentlessly attack all people (especially civilians).

 

The final arc of the story features not only a confrontation between Seebook and Cecily, but a massive space-battle above Frontier 1, a series of smaller Mobile Suit battles, the “Bug” units being tested on the general populace, and a final climactic battle between Seebook and the leader of the Crossbone Vanguard.

 

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The animation quality is simultaneously amazing and old-school. One moment you are impressed by a really cool visual then you are thrown back to reality by something that just looks terrible by comparison. It’s the movies’ age, I suppose, especially when you compare it to mainstream CG animation today.

 

All in all, Mobile Suit Gundam F91 does require a little bit of suspension of belief but it certainly is a movie with some really cool scenes. This release would have been better served as a series (with all of the characters running around all of the time and all of the little side stories going simultaneously), but as a stand-alone movie, it isn’t too bad.

 

- Tazman

(January 3, 2005)

 

“We're dead Gil.” *squeek*

- Tardy the Turtle (Greg the Bunny)

 

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