It’s not often that I serially watch TV shows, but the new Gundam Series has blown me away. I’m definitely going to be following this one!
Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch from Mercury is the newest installment in everyone’s favorite realistic mecha war franchise. And it forges a new path in a whole bunch of ways.
I love me some Universal Century, the main shared universe Gundam timeline. It’s been running for almost 45 years and 15+ TV series, movies, and OVAs, so it’s almost as fleshed-out as friggin’ Star Trek. However, it’s so dense that only the initiated are gonna care, so the franchise has faded a bit from public consciousness over time. The mecha anime genre, in general, is WAY less popular than it was twenty, even ten years ago.
So the new Gundam series is doing something different. It’s pulling out all possible stops to craft the ultimate show.
First off, it’s the first Gundam show to ever have a female protagonist. Yep, 18 full series in and it’s the very first one. And this girl is nothing like the typical mecha anime protagonist. She’s a stuttering, awkward girl who’s completely unprepared for being an extremely skilled pilot in an elite world.
Also, she’s in the middle of a lesbian romantic subplot that starts off with a BANG just in episode 1.
If you’ve heard about the new Gundam series at all, it’s probably that.
That’s right… The new Gundam series is gay, too!
It’s also got a prime story setup. It’s an elite battle school, where the rich and the skilled go to school to fight each other and become friends and make out and stuff. You know, like Fire Emblem: Three Houses, but with giant robots this time. The cast is openly diverse, with characters from all national backgrounds. Kids in Japan really love the whole “dark skinned long hair buff guy” thing, and this show’s got a bunch of ’em already.
Clearly, the creators want to appeal directly to younger audiences, and to Western ones. They looked at stuff like Boku no Hero Academia, like Hibike Euphonium, like Houseki no Kuni, like Trigger’s many hit animes. And they absolutely nailed the opening episodes. EXACTLY what they needed to do to make the internet go wild.
I mean, if you’re on certain spheres of the internet, you didn’t stop hearing about Arcane daily until recently. Heck, you’re probably still hearing about Lycoris Recoil which ended less than a month ago! Those two shows combined great production values, diverse casts, thrilling stories, and queer romance into excellent packages. And now the new Gundam series is following right in their footsteps!
The Witch from Mercury is a reinvention of the Gundam franchise. Not a complete radical reboot, but a big enough shift that it’s probably throwing some die-hard fans off. That’s OK. They already lived through Gundam AGE, so this is nothing. It means newer fans can get into Gundam without having to know the language of mecha anime tropes, and that’s a great thing.
You can tell the creators are pulling out ALL the stops here. I mean, they got friggin’ YOASOBI and supercell on for the opening and ending songs! That’s huge!
It’s gonna have an uphill battle coming at it, though. I’ve talked to several of my teenage students, ones who professed loudly their love for Lycoris Recoil and got me to watch that lovely show. But after I heard this show is similar and asked them about it, they just shrugged and said, “Nah, not interested.” Maybe that’ll change as the fire spreads that this isn’t your dad’s Gundam. Or your weird kid brother’s Gundam. But they’re gonna have to do a lot of work to get that message out there.
If you like action-packed TV shows with thrills and just enough cuteness to keep you going, make this your next watch. Great animation, great music, great character design, great representation. All that combined is going to make this THE anime of the Fall 2022 season.
…Oh, Chainsaw Man already got crowned that? Damn it, shounen manga adaptations always win…
Well, ignore that one for now. Take my word for it. The Witch from Mercury is going to rock our collective socks off.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Don’t forget to watch Episode 0! It’s a really good stage-setter. And emotionally brutal…
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