The SaiPilot Delusion: Why it’s totally okay to vote for the Master Gundam

Round 1 of Colonies Side in SaiMecha is out! One of the more relevant matches for me is Zaku II versus Master Gundam. I’m writing this post because some people are counter-campaigning against the Master Gundam because it leans too much on its pilot, Master Asia.

Therefore, if you vote for Master Gundam, you are invoking SaiPilot, which is the cancer that is killing SaiMecha.

This is completely wrong.

The Master Gundam is notable in Gundam mecha design as being the progenitor of the “Villain” breed of Gundams. I’ll exclude the Devil and Psyco Gundams, because they are more of behemoth machines that don’t inspire rivalry, which is needed in a hero-versus-villain dynamic. While the GP02 Physalis precedes Master by a few years, the GP02 does not look evil enough. Its atypical Gundam head and hulking shoulders make it especially formidable and imposing, but it was still essentially a hijacked war machine.

[model provided by Chag of Hobby Hovel]

The Master Gundam isn’t just formidable and imposing, it looks like a bad guy’s mech. Its black paintjob puts it in a stark contrast with the Shining/God Gundam, which is predominantly white. The head is elongated, giving off the image of horns. Its fingers are sharp talons, and its wings fold into an extra-cool cloak. And the haughty folded-arms-and-legs-together pose makes it a very arrogant-looking robot.

Much of these design elements are seen later on in future antagonist Gundams, which also saw it fit to employ darker colors and more beastly appearances. Epyon and Virsago are clear-cut examples of this, Providence and Legend are gray rather than white, and Reborns inherits the horned head shape.

It was also a useful tool that lent credence to Master Asia being the villain. Without it, the Undefeated of the East is merely an old Kung Fu master in the peak of health. But when he gets inside the Master Gundam, you know he means real villainy.

While it may not seem like it (mecha fans usually just write off G Gundam when it comes to mecha design because of ugly stuff like the Nether Gundam), Master Gundam plays a key role in the evolution of Gundam design.

That said, vote Master Gundam! Because it’s cool and villainous without trying too hard, and is the more exciting choice over the Zaku II. Darkness Finger!

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25 Responses to The SaiPilot Delusion: Why it’s totally okay to vote for the Master Gundam

  1. Shinmaru says:

    The unicorn alone is enough reason for me to vote for the Master Gundam.

  2. Chag says:

    Bah, my photos for that review were so bad! I can’t believe you didn’t pick the one with the darker backdrop =P

    Ouch, Master Gundam is up against the Zaku II? This one might be too much for Master Asia to handle. Sure, The Master Gundam is the father of the villain gundams, but the father of all grunt mechs is not to be trifled with. Personally, I am slightly conflicted about the concept of the villain gundam as a whole. I like it very much in G-Gundam, but when it became overused in the SEED and SEED Destiny, the magic and novelty of the gundam-type becomes cheapened. I am reminded of the comic in which Char remarks that if the original MSG were to be remade today, all of the enemy suits (including the black tri-star doms) will have to be gundams, to the horror of his companions. Exaggerated, yes, but I think it’s a valid point.

    • schneider says:

      Aw shit, I didn’t catch that one with a darker background. Excuse me while I edit a bit.

      The problem with most villain Gundams is that a lot of them aren’t well-designed. I like Epyon (but it has a lot of questionable things going for it), but the Virsago? It’s ugly. Don’t get me started on the Providence and the Legend. Reborns just has an unsightly paint scheme, too.

      Lol I love that comic, because it is so true.

    • Psycho Gundam is the mother of villain Gundams and came almost a decade earlier.

  3. Too late. Already voted for Zaku II.

  4. DoctorBaronvonEvilSatan says:

    Zaku II is mono eye.

  5. JoeQ says:

    Trying to separate the pilots from the mecha is bullshit anyway. Awesome pilots make any piece of shit they choose to pilot inherently and irrecovably cool, while emo LOL-pacifistic pansies can make even the coolest metal beasts fail. See Earth Side Round 2, when Gunbuster utterly destroys Eva-01.

  6. Skribulous says:

    The O is displeased at not even given a mention.

    Then again, the Zeta is the reak villain of that show.

  7. Turambar says:

    Fuck Darkness Finger. I vote for Master Gundam because it has a combo attack with the God Gundam in SRW A Portable.

  8. Stormshrug says:

    I have to disagree about the Physalis not looking evil enough. At a cursory glance, yes, the giant “horn” fins and black wings of the Master Gundam are probably more traditionally “evil”-looking, but a deeper look reveals some very interesting subtle things about the design of the GP02a that give it a villainous look. The Master Gundam doesn’t rely on subtlety in this way to get its point across (but, hey, G Gundam is NOT about subtlety, nor does it want to be).

    Here’s a decent picture:

    Take a look at the GP02a’s head. Really take a look at it. Notice the sunken pits of the eyes, the red gap at the “nose” and the highly defined “jaw” line. The GP02a’s head is basically a skull, though the face is far smaller than it should be, which only adds to the creepiness.

    There are other little things in the design, too, that tell you something is off. The toe-hooks, absent in other mobile suits, are wickedly curved. The sheer weight of the design, too, is a strong contributing factor – the GP02a is brutal in a particular way that a more lithe mobile suit can’t be.

    The GP02a is an armored revenant – a very appropriate machine for a pilot who is also in many ways a dead man walking, fighting for a deceased but restless cause.

    Anyway, sorry, that was a bit off topic. Nothing against the Master Gundam or anything, though I did vote for the Zaku myself. Go monoeye!

    Re SaiCancer, here’s a question: Does it really matter which particular subjective factors lead people to make their choices?

    • schneider says:

      Okay, you got me there. I think the GP02’s design is interesting and unique, too bad I can’t write a post about it! Few mobile suits have emulated the “strong” look of the GP02, most of the attempts fall flat and look bulky or fat instead, like the Gundams that Tieria Erde pilots in Gundam 00…

      I really appreciate this comment. I have much to learn in the ways of looking at mecha design.

      Well, SaiMecha is a poll for robots, so I’d like to decide using robots. There are good robots that are hampered because their pilots are whiny little bitches, so I’d like to not look at who’s inside the machine while deciding my vote. Plus the Bonus Rounds are enough to take care of meatbags, anyway. I’m not presenting my criteria above others’ own, but it’s my personal code to approach the mecha as purely as I could.

    • aptkane says:

      I’d agree with most of this, great points! I would point out though that the “toe hooks” were designed to stabilize the shield when defending. Kind of a long shot on the designers part, but in the end, yes, they add a bit more ‘brutality” as you put it. Then again, you rarely see a UC machine “kick”, lol.

  9. aptkane says:

    I think the issue is that for the most part, the machines in UC tend to be a little less apparent in terms of “Good guy/ Bad Guy”. That’s also why I didn’t really like G Gundam, the plot is kind of goofy. The Zaku II, while displaying classic “bad guy” features, like the whole “Mono-eye Cyclops” thing, is pretty vague at best. The EFSF even begins using them in 0083, at least for training ops. The GP02 may look “evil” but if you take Gato’s vengeful passion out of the machine and put in, say, a stoic EFSF pilot, then it becomes like the big “quiet” warrior guy stereotype. So I guess I do agree with what you’re saying, the Master Gundam was clearly designed as “evil”.

    • Stormshrug says:

      Mechanical design and pilot characterization, and the way the two do and don’t reflect each other, is a really fascinating topic. The two clashing can be used to great effect, too (like the (fairly) typical UC OVA protagonist Bernie using the grunty, “villainous” Zaku II to fight a largely selfless battle at the end of War in the Pocket, or the heavyset, muscular Misha piloting the nimble Kampfer in the same series). Heck, the study of this topic with Char (and his many, many mobile suits) alone could be pretty good food for thought.

  10. Matt Wells says:

    Master really is a great design but I went for the Zaku due to my foolish and misguided dream of seeing a Scopedog VS. Zaku match up. When I saw God Gundam fall (inevitably) to Gurren Lagann, there went my hope of a Gundam FIGHTOOO! match. And Nether is inherently the greatest Gundam design of all time. Its a windmill with a legs and arms slapped on it, and against all logic and suspension of disbelief, it flies. With its windmill. LIKE A HELICOPTER. That design is so indefensibly silly, it defines G Gundam for me.

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