Mobile Fighter G Gundam Episode 1: Let the Gundam Fights Begin

During the 1990s, three Gundam programs with their own unique non-Universal Century timelines debuted – G Gundam, Gundam Wing and Gundam X. The first of these, G Gundam, was broadcast on TV Asahi between April 22, 1994, and March 31 1995; its premise centers on a collection of space colonies that send representative mecha and pilots to Earth every four years to participate in a fighting tournament for political control of space. One of these pilots, Domon Kasshu, represents Neo Japan; as seen in the first episode, he currently searches for a mysterious individual (whose identity will be revealed as his brother Kyoji in a later episode), asking people for any information on that man’s location. When the first episode opens, a narrator reveals that numerous mobile suits have arrived on Earth, ostensibly in preparation for the Gundam Fight tournament – one of them, Domon Kasshu’s unit, veers off-course, landing in Italy, showing a country that had been devastated by decades of conflict and Gundam Fights. This opening segment also reveals the episode’s antagonist, Neo Italy’s representative pilot Michelo Chariot – one of the children shown in the episode later explains that Michelo is a former mob boss turned pilot, which echoes a fairly stereotypical association between Italy and the Mafia. He is presented as a threat to the community, lording himself over other as a bully willing to harm others for his own goals; he kidnaps a girl in hopes of forcing Domon to acquiesce to his demand, demonstrating his callous indifference towards those around him as he desire power and control.

Domon Kasshu, by contrast, exhibits a desire to protect – while he shows an initially indifference to the affairs of others, he is willing (and able) to oppose any oppression, defying Michelo and ultimately defeating him in mecha combat. His time in Italy exposes him to the harsh reality of life on Earth, where people subsist however they can in an environment demolished by previous Gundam Fights – one character, a police office, laments the devastation caused by the colonies, whom he sees as displaying disregard for the planet. This delicate socio-political situation is a common theme in various Gundam works, as each show within the franchise establishes a distinct social conflict between the Earth and her colonies; inhabitants of the colonies typically agitate for independence and recognition, while the Earth is seen as unconcerned for the well-being of its satellites. Domon’s willingness to protect those around him, regardless of their status, shows him to be a considerate pilot who recognizes the value of all life; his opposition, Michelo Chariot, wishes to rule over others, and sees power as a means of asserting his authority over powerless individuals. Thus, the first battle of the series illustrates a conflict to rescue oppressed peoples from their oppressor; Michelo represents arrogance and lust for power that can motivate someone to engage in horrible deeds, and Domon actively opposes the man’s attempt to establish control through demonstrations of power.

The second half of the episode depicts the actual battle between Michelo (in his Neros Gundam) and Domon (in his Shining Gundam); it has some reflections of Super Robot forebears, as the Shining Gundam has its own unique special attack in the form of the Shining Finger, which it uses to destroy the Neros Gundam’s head. Mecha anime in the Super Robot subgenre typically have a grand conflict between a massive, technologically-advanced robot (sometimes the combination of numerous smaller units that merge) and an extraterrestrial menace; Mazinger Z helped establish many of the common elements in the genre, especially the special attack and the concept of a piloted mecha created by a reclusive scientist. Gundam shows before G Gundam helped introduce the idea of robots as a mechanism of war, where the average soldier pilots a mass-produced unit; G Gundam combines that idea with some Super Robot conceits, depicting mecha fights as a means of resolving conflicts ostensibly without resorting to an all-out war for political dominance. The series focuses on the colonies’ representatives as the engage in bouts with well-defined regulations, which Domon mentions throughout the series; in the first episode, Domon introduces the first two articles delineating Gundam Fight rules, which explain that the destruction of a mobile suit’s head disqualifies its pilot, and that participants must never aim for another’s cockpit. Such regulations help provide a sense of sportsmanship that pilots are (at least on paper) obligated to follow – Michelo’s actions demonstrate that pilots may disregard social conventions if they are sufficiently mean enough, as he is willing to put civilians in danger to further his goals of social dominance.

Domon, however, has no patience for those who violate such social expectations; he wants to protect at all costs, and he would put himself in danger to prevent an enemy from doing harm to others. Thus, he comes across as more chivalrous than Michelo – he abides by the rules, as he recognizes their values as a means of upholding social cohesion and protecting people from those who wish to spread chaos. In the episode, Domon appears as a wandering figure who intervenes when any conflict arises; Michelo, by contrast, is presented as the leader of a gang, someone who resorts to violence and terror to achieve his motives, but he is ultimately unable to compete with Domon’s sheer force of will and combat prowess. While Michelo demonstrated his desire to hold hostages, Domon defended those around him from Michelo’s aggressiveness; Domon would not stand for such a callous disregard for life, and he will do what he can to save those threatened by disorder and violence, even if it means placing himself in the path of a former mob boss who would likely kill him if unopposed. The image of the Shining Gundam destroying the Neros Gundam’s head makes a powerful image of Domon’s might – he can overwhelm his opponent, showing his superiority as a Gundam Fighter.

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