2018/03/22

#AGundamForUs

Delta Plus
This could be your Gundam, even though it's not technically a Gundam.
Writer Bradford Walker concurs with yesterday's post on the need for a Western answer to the moribund Japanese mecha franchises and adds his own rallying cry.
Left unsaid is this: fixing the issues is on us. We have to step up to fix the problem, and that means "culturally appropriating" the HELL out of this genre. Just as we've now got #StarWarsNotStarWars going on, it's time for #GundamNotGundam (or whatever your show of choice is) and that means it's on the indie world to write the stories (with proper pacing and other elements noted as too-often lacking) that blown up good and hard into the next revival wave (something not seen for over a decade).
As astute readers will note, Gundam is definitely my show of choice. And while I find the hashtag #AGundamForUs preferable to #GundamNotGundam--since it captures the spirit of #StarWarsNotStarWars without stepping on Nick and Jason's toes while being more aspirational and pointing out a way forward--public opinion has the final say.
While it's not all wrack and ruin, it's clearly not as good as things once were and the institution lacks the ability to renew itself at this time due to entirely external influences holding down any good will from more than a few established franchises. The same tells of an ailing culture are in play here, most importantly being the persistence of retrenchant dominant franchises and other established IP while original works are more miss than hit.
Many of you reading this will remember when Cartoon Network found themselves with a respectable hit on their hands when Gundam Wing aired back in the late 90s. It was the breakout the Gundam franchise needed to finally establish a foothold in the American market.

Bandai, Sunrise, and Cartoon Network share the blame for the comedy of errors that ensued. Instead of releasing Wing's natural successor Gundam X--which also would have made a nice segue into the main Universal Century timeline--they followed up with China Beach Emo Love Triangle and Mecha Pokemon. I'm given to understand that this total cluster resulted from the fact that Gundam's most profitable market segment is its model kits, Bandai wouldn't release Gundam X models stateside for some reason, and Sunrise was therefore hesitant to give CN the goods.

Combine that kind of brand mismanagement with TV executives' compulsion to play it safe, and you get the current mecha anime malaise.
The new shows feel a lot like the anime versions of a Fantasy Heartbreaker tabletop RPG. They have a gimmick, but otherwise build around a feel from one of the dominant franchises, so you're looking at "Like Gundam, but (x)." and that sometimes isn't enough. (The Super Robot era of the 70s had this problem something bad, which is why the original Mobile Suit Gundam was such a welcome change.)
The current situation reminds me of the upheaval in role-playing video games a while back. Japanese developers dominated the market for years, got lazy, and their output dwindled from a torrent to a trickle. Which gave resurgent Western RPGs the opening they needed to swoop in and fill the JRPG-shaped void.
But we don't need to wait for Japan to unfuck itself. We can do this ourselves now, starting with the writing and publishing of the novels a lot of anime (of all genres) use as source material.
If I read Bradford's post correctly, he's not just armchair quarterbacking. We can all look forward to his own foray into the wide world of mechs. And you all know I'm not one to tell others to do what I'm not willing to do myself. My #GundamNotGundam novel series is coming along quite nicely. Something else I'm not prone to is wild hyperbole, and I can tell you right now that what's coming has the strong potential to make the Dragon Award-winning Soul Cycle look like a small press poetry anthology.

You should totally check out the Soul Cycle, though--if only to serve as a benchmark for how brain-meltingly awesome my next series is gonna be. #AGundamForUs will once again make you believe that a Gyan can fry.

27 comments:

  1. Count me in. I will do my part to make sure we have #AGundamForUs.

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  2. Brian,

    To repeat myself: the neoGundam series need to focus on the 3 act arc set in a 2-4 year timeframe using the 30-45 minutes Star war Rebels format. Then a new sequel or series

    The one thing that I can't stand with Asian storytelling is the pointless riverboat plot interspersed with really lame comedy followed by despairing weariness caused by vain deaths and wanton destruction. They don't advance the story and frankly leaves me very unimpressed.
    The question that must heart of neoGundam: what's the purpose of the show? My own answer to explore the human condition where war, peace, love, friendship, loss, sacrifice but above all hope are the driving forces for the characters to grow.
    Personally I want a happy ending; yes there's some sobriety at the loss of friends and lands but ultimately, the sacrifices have brought a peace à la Return of the king.
    I've had enough of the pagan woe the world is a circle of life where everything starts over at zero and repeats ad nauseam tropes.

    Am I asking too much? I sure hope so!
    xavier

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    1. Enter the arena with us. I'm sure you can pen an excellent giant robot saga.

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    2. Rawle,

      Thanks for the encouragement! :) I'm not very well read in meca. I would mash up a mix of Prisoner of Zenda/Tom Clancy/Brad Thor/Barcelona during the pistolero period (1910-1936) with a touch of diesel punk and belle epoque fashion.

      My biggest obstacle is what would the story be about?
      xavier

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    3. And that is perfectly fine. The anime Escaflowne and Aura Battler Dunbine mixed giant robots with medieval European fantasy settings.

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  3. >If I read Bradford's post correctly, he's not just armchair quarterbacking

    I believe the "Galactic Christendom" stories he's writing on his blog involve both real robots and super robots.

    I myself have a few mecha stories in me. I'm actually debating doing a super robot series, but I need to do more research to see if there is market for it.

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    1. Based on what I've seen, the market definitely exists.

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  4. Nope, I'm getting into the arena. I'll talk more about this at the Study in a few days.

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    1. Bradford
      Where can I read your mecarobot stories?
      xavier

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  5. Weird part of that video for me is that 2000s giant robot shows seemed really bland to me, with one or two exceptions, and that was about the time I gave up on watching new Mecha shows.

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    1. They are boring. I'm not sure what Gigguk was talking about there.

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    2. Looks like it's mostly Gurren Lagann nostalgia.

      And yes people, it's 11 years old, you can have nostalgia for it.

      Also I have a hard time seeing Code Geass considered a classic, but to each their own I guess.

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    3. Geass was heavily criticized at the time, and the second season was hot garbage. I can understand the nostalgia for it, but it was not hailed as any sort of masterpiece at the time. At most it was considered simply good with great moments.

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    4. It's probably considered a classic by anime fans whose only exposure is what they could find on Cartoon Network and the single Anime shelf at Blockbuster.

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    5. Gurren Lagann was touted as Gainax "fixing" the mecha genre that they broke. YMMV.

      And that single anime shelf at Blockbuster better have had some Bubblegum Crisis.

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    6. Only if the section was called "Japanimation". There you could find things like Doomed Megalopolis, Akira, Robot Carnival, and Bubblegum Crisis.

      If it was just the anime section then it was probably full of DBZ and Ranma tapes.

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  6. Also, man, I do not know what is up with blogger's comment system for me lately... (Cirsova here)

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    1. Word around the campfire is there's been an influx of bots that they're cracking down on. Sometimes innocents get caught in the crossfire.

      Also, if you've ever been spammed on any Blogger site, it can affect your ability to comment everywhere on the platform.

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  7. They also need to ditch CG mechs. Nobody likes them and they look terrible. The new season of Full Metal Panic is even specifically touting that they're using 2D mechs. They wouldn't need to advertise it if people wanted it.

    As someone who actually used shonen manga as a base for Knights of the End I might end up trying mecha at my own at some point. I have ideas, but not the time right now.

    I look forward to what you cook up.

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    1. Let's just say I haven't been this motivated in years.

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    2. I'd say the CG work in the new Netflix Voltron series is pretty good. ID-0 is decent, too. There's room for improvement, of course, but they work well in their shows.

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  8. >You should totally check out the Soul Cycle, though--if only to serve as a benchmark for how brain-meltingly awesome my next series is gonna be.

    Hopefully this means you are busy working on the next series, which I eagerly anticipate.

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    1. Yep. I was going at a pretty good clip when inspiration hit hard. 1st book outline's almost done. Already in talks with a fantastic artist for technical drawings.

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  9. #AGundamForUs, yes please. Bring on the mecha.

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    1. The mecha are coming.

      Of that you can be certain.

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