The Unrecognized Potential That Was Gundam F91

I rewatched Gundam F91 earlier today, having first watched it just three years ago. The reason for this was to remind myself of my love for the F91 era, which is made of Beam Flags , Space Aristocrats and Kicking Jegans In the Face. I also wanted to remind myself why and how the movie was a beautiful, if flawed job.

The story is as goes: Tomino wanted to make another Gundam series, which would last for 50 episodes or so. He wrote enough material for 13 episodes when the TV project was scrapped, and put a movie together instead. Now, I don’t have to tell you what happens when a 50-episode TV anime gets condensed in the span of 2 hours.

The sloppiness of the story shows. Tomino writes terribly enough, putting in characters whose motivations are something like “I ADMIRED YOU BEFORE BUT NOW YOU’RE SPENDING TIME WITH THAT NEW CHICK AND NOW I WANT KILL YOU”. People are introduced and are never heard of again. Some even die offscreen. The main villain’s motivation is explained in the span of a few seconds and one sentence. This movie has more holes than actual plot threads.

But as far as mobile suit action goes, Gundam F91 is excellent. Taking place entirely in space, it depicts a brutal battlefield inside a space colony, where a dozen or two civilians are harmed every time a mobile suit does as much as fire a shot. The Crossbone Vanguard mecha look menacingly Imperial, yet still retain a functional appearance. The Gundam F91 itself is a highly distinct design that lends itself highly to agile maneuvers.

Having read Crossbone Gundam, which continues Seabook’s and Cecily’s story, I’ve found a new appreciation for this film. In Crossbone, they are older and more restrained than they were in here, but their love has only tempered strongly throughout the years. I think it’s one thing F91 managed to do right: having a nice couple with just the right amount of drama.

Which leads me to ask: what could have happened if F91 wasn’t shafted by production disputes? Could we have had another Zeta Gundam in our hands? I would have loved to see more about the interesting Crossbone Vanguard, who are unlike the utter stupidity that is the Zanscare Empire from Victory Gundam. The SNRI-Anaheim feud which has been lovingly expounded in fluff and obscure media could have been fleshed out more, to satisfy total mechasexuals like myself.

But all of that would have been made without the glorious production values that the movie has. Maybe for that, I am just thankful.

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7 Responses to The Unrecognized Potential That Was Gundam F91

  1. Iron Mask, Star Wars Imperial March, Tentacle Flower Mobile Armor…

    I tried rewatching this and failed.

    • schneider says:

      I can imagine why you can’t rewatch this movie–it doesn’t have good rewatch value if you don’t feel strongly towards it, which I guess is the case for you.

      But man, shot lancers should replace machine guns as grunt weapons everywhere.

  2. IKnight says:

    It seemed to me that the noises of MS footsteps in F91 are different and better than anywhere else in the franchise. This might just be my ears going funny — but if it isn’t, it’s the result of nice work by, if I have my terminology right, the foley person/people.

    The beam flags are great, aren’t they? It’s probably hindsight but I can’t help seeing them as a forward-looking anticipation of the Crossbone look.

    • schneider says:

      I noticed it. Overall this show had some really good sound, and the dub is actually not bad.

      I like how the beam flags were limited to mobile suits at first, and then in Crossbone you have a pirate ship with a beam mast… in space.

  3. ToastCrust says:

    Yeah, F91 pretty much stands as one of my biggest mecha “what if”s, especially after reading Crossbone.

  4. r4ytrace says:

    OK I’ll admit it’s em ‘messy’ to say the least story wise, but my god the art in this is beautiful, so much detail per frame.

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