It makes Judge Joel Pearce a sad bear when he sees robots cry.
Gundam Force, Fall In!
This third volume of Superior Defender Gundam Force contains three more episodes of the animated children's show. As Judge Rob Lineberger reviewed the first two volumes, this volume was my first introduction to the show. His reviews of the first and second volumes offer a good explanation for the series, which I will not attempt to repeat here. The only difference in this disc is the addition of a menu with each episode broken into several chapter stops.
It was immediately apparent why the series was passed off to me. The plot of these shows is nonexistent, they are illogical and silly, the script is aimed at young children, and the voice acting is shrill and obnoxious. In other words, it is a show with little appeal to anyone over the age of twelve.
With so young an audience, the makers of SD Gundam Force needed to watch the violence levels. Only the most conservative parents would be bothered by the light skirmishes between the Dark Axis and the Gundam Force. None of the characters are killed, and the robotic characters are never even really damaged. This is a problem, though. This is the story of a force defending the city from intergalactic invaders. It's a storyline that requires violence, or else there's nothing at stake. The Dark Axis has already defeated several other planets, but based on what I've seen, I don't know how they did it.
As with the previous volumes, the plot of each episode is basically the same. The bad guys send several henchmen and one of their warrior robots to do something mean. Then one of the good guys arrives on the scene and fails to stop them. The others show up, they use some special power, and the bad guys limp back to the other dimension in shame. Because these episodes focus on the new allies in the series, Shute and Captain Gundam are no longer the focus of the show. The variance of characters does help to make each episode a little different from each other.
Some moral lessons are introduced in each episode, but they are basic enough that there doesn't seem much point. Without spoiling any plot details, this is the moral core of these three episodes:
• Working together is good.
Surely children in the target audience are ready for slightly more complicated moral lessons than this. The show does a good job of setting up Neotopia as a land where humans and robots have developed this peaceful equality, which sets up the possibilities of lessons about tolerance and understanding differences. The show ignores this idea though, and the problem is compounded by the fact that the robots are really just metal people. They are emotional beings that act exactly like their human counterparts. They even cry. Both the good and evil robots are often training, which should be unnecessary for robotic warriors. Look, I am not expecting an Asimov novel here. But a little consistency with the enormous body of science fiction that has come before it would be nice.
Which brings me to another point. I haven't seen much from the Gundam universe before, but it doesn't seem that this show has any connection whatsoever to the Gundam canon. In his review of the second volume, Judge Lineberger noted that Bandai includes advertisement for the toys on the insert. Although this is annoying, the biggest product placement of all is the rest of the Gundam shows and movies. This show is meant to hook another generation of Gundam fans, starting at a young age.
Not everything about the show is bad. There is enough action to keep the attention of the target audience, without ever being inappropriate. The animation is crisp and clean, and although there are some problems with lines intersecting due to the computer animation, the series looks at least as good as any low budget show I have seen that uses conventional animation. The backgrounds are sparse and dull, but the characters look detailed and consistent.
There is nothing about this series to recommend it to older anime fans. There is an unending stream of robot battle shows out there, and all of them that I have seen are more interesting and engaging than this. In the end, though, children could do worse than SD Gundam Force. It does not have much value, but it is light and clean, and has lots of bright colors. Just as long as we don't have to watch it with them.
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