Welcome to Men OP Destiny! This is a post series about the Gundam OP. Why? Gundam shows tend to be long, and OPs tend to be the face of a show. And because of the nature of its thirty year-old franchise, the Gundam OP has turned into its own kind of beast–you’ll pick up recurring themes and visuals across them all. Most importantly, I love Gundam and I love OPs!
And what better OP to start the series with Gundam AGE’s OP1? I find it interesting because I believe it has a lot to contribute in the show’s dismal sales and ratings.
Why, what’s exactly wrong with the OP? Let’s watch it and take down some notes.
Flit looks really young in a pilot suit. Even younger than Usso Evin, but that’s a by-product of the Level-5 character designs.
This scene of the Gundam and its
friends allies moving into the battlefield feels relaxed, like they’re on leisurely patrol. There’s no sense of urgency, and the pink explosion even looks like a happy afterthought.
The meadow scene is shot at length. To me, this evokes Flit’s idyllic days with his friends. I like the panning shot of the colony interior; it evokes a brief sense of wonder. Simple, but effective.
When this peace is threatened by unknown invaders, however…
…Flit rises up to the challenge. Some nice visual consistency here. In the previous scene, the UE come from the left, and Flit here is literally facing them. This is enforced throughout the entire OP–the Diva and the AGE-1 emerge from the right as well–but I think it’s best demonstrated by this scene.
In the actual battle, Flit is alone. This is to set him up as a savior. He is the sole hope standing against annihilation. To further promote this image, he locks swords with an enemy, shoots it, and then the scene cuts. The shot hitting is not actually shown–Flit is a hero, not a killer. He’s protecting people, not destroying enemies. This is fully explored in the show proper.
So what’s the problem again? If you’re a Gundam fan who didn’t get turned away by the promo art of three young boys, the OP is one of the first things you will see. And the OP is as kiddie as it gets. It’s been thirty years, but some people still think that Gundam as a franchise is made of serious war stories for serious people. AGE deviates from this ideal, therefore it’s something that’s undesirable and should be written off as a pointless aberration. How sad, because when AGE gets good, it gets really good.
Going back to the OP. What is it essentially trying to convey? That the show is about this pure-hearted, kind boy who rides a robot to fight off evil robot monsters disturbing his peaceful land. However, this first arc of Gundam AGE is much more than what its OP shows. Flit is a good kid, but it’s Captain Grodek, a rather dark character, who is the major plot mover in the story. Grodek doesn’t figure in more than a panning shot in the OP. Flit also loses his home as early as episode 3–some defender he is! He becomes more of an uniting figure, like a prince in exile who’s traveled far and wide to warn others of an impending threat.
If you’re a long-time (and adult) Gundam fan, chances are the OP will turn you off, as it’s made for kids. If you’re a kid, the OP is made for you, but the actual meat of the show is darker than the OP lets on. It gives the wrong impression to one set of viewers, and sets false expectations to another.
In this respect, I think the OP fails in its aim of getting the viewers invested and hooked in the show. It’s still pretty good–the chorus part has a nice rhythm to it (quick shots of the side characters), and I like the song despite it not really being Gundam OP material (if that makes sense). It just doesn’t work very well.
What do you think?
I’ll talk about OP2 (sharp# by negoto) in the next post for this series.
PS: There’s a minor change in the OP starting episode 12. The Diva is replaced by the silhouette of the Gundam AGE-2 (I first thought it was the Diva’s transformed form, but it’s too thin to be the ship). The AGE-2 doesn’t actually appear in the show until episode 19! As to why, I have no idea.