In the 1990’s, anime started to find an audience in the US. Most of us got our first fix on the Toonami block on Cartoon Network. For some, the first exposure to that type of media was Dragonball Z, others it was Tenchi Muyo!, but for many of us it was the defining franchise of the mecha subgenre. Skyscraper-size robots dueling it out in cities and space while political themes we didn’t understand quite yet catapulted characters into complex matters of war, patriotism, and morality. Otherwise known as the Gundam franchise. A franchise that would lead to other animes such as Neon Genesis Evangelion and live-action films like Guillermo Del Toro’s Pacific Rim. Now, for better or worse, it was announced at the Anime Expo that Legendary Pictures will co-produce with Sunrise, the studio that created the Gundam franchise, a live-action adaptation of it.
There are several different installments of the franchise, although best bet is it will take it’s inspiration from the original Mobile Suit Gundam TV series that launched in 1979. This iteration told the story of a war between the Earth Federation and the space colonies of the Principality of Zeon. In one of these colonies, the Earth Federation is storing and testing a new piloted robot for use…the experimental RX-78 Gundam mobile suit. The series follows a civilian pilot who is forced to take on the responsibility of transporting it to the Federation’s HQ on Earth with an untested crew.
All that is known is that Legendary’s Cale Boyter will oversee the project. Frankly though, I’m not too excited because it’s the same old story every time. What we’ll get, to satisfy a general audience, will be a streamlined film that misses most of what made the story so great to begin with. Could it be good? Sure! If they adapted all those little details. Like how the pilots in the Gundam stories are usually younger men who are barely teens (An excellent commentary on war!). Or the complex political aspects of the story. If you don’t water it down, it could be great! But let’s be honest. It will be watered down. And they’ll probably up the ages of the usual teen cast to early 20’s so they can get some more sexuality thrown more in the mix. Well…more direct than the subtle stuff they put in the original anime. And the effects will be passable but not great. So personally…I want this franchise left alone. Since it won’t be, I will simply cross my fingers that they somehow get this right. Stay tuned!