As of writing, I’ve managed to sit through 28 episodes of Turn A Gundam; satisfied that I’m just over half way there. I won’t lie – it feels like an achievement because I’ve struggled through the series; at one point I literally had to stop an episode half-way and take an energy boosting nap, such was the weary spell it cast upon my tired eyes. I’m only aged 24, supposedly a fully-fit man, not some tired old geezer!
To be honest, I’ve encountered the same struggles with a lot of Tomino-directed Gundam anime. His stories offer some fascinating ideas and exciting situations, his characters are unpredictable and interesting, yet the plot-heavy dialogue and non-stop “stuff happening” leaves little room for reflection and recovery; it’s like I’m constantly playing catch-up with what’s on screen, what’s blowing up, who’s attacking who. Damn it, its hard work.
Now then, I suppose it sounds like I’m not enjoying Turn A. That’s not the case, and indeed, I’ve never been one to subject myself to something I dislike (in Black Cat’s case, I gave up after the unacceptably generic opening theme of the first episode). As is typical of Gundam, Turn A’s quality lays in strongly defined political agendas and personal morals; people rising and falling, risking their hopelessly small lives for borderline impossible ideals; ambitions that capture the dreams of a nation. It’s not just mecha porn.
I suppose I’m writing this because the last five episodes have featured a number of exciting scenes. Kicked off by Lady Teteth’s bitter demise, things take a further turn for the worse when a foolish battle over newly discovered nuclear warheads ends with an inevitable mushroom cloud; even in animated form, the terrifying power of such a reckless weapon reveals mankind’s ugly thirst for power will stretch beyond even self-destruction. In this sense, Turn A is great for exposing the utter futility of war; the perpetual cycle of an “eye for an eye” that sees thousands killing each other for the sake of some mundane grudge. People fight for honour, loyalty, pride and even revenge; fabricated and arrogant human emotions that see us waging pointless wars for selfish reasons. All of this seems clear through the shining eyes of an innocent like Loran, yet it’s hard to see past the red mist when fighting for a loved one.