[Men OP Destiny] Gundam AGE OP1 (Asu e)

Gundam AGE OP1 title card

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.

Young Flit Asuno in a pilot suit

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.

Gundam AGE-1 Normal, Genoace, and Genoace Custom flying towards the battlefield

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.

Flit, Emily, and Dique running inside the colony

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.

A bunch of Gafrans flying in their weird dragonesque form

When this peace is threatened by unknown invaders, however…

Flit turning to face the sunlight

…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.

Gundam AGE-1 about to shoot the Zedas

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.

A grim-faced Grodek Ainoa looking on.

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.

Flit running to and from the Earth

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.

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11 Responses to [Men OP Destiny] Gundam AGE OP1 (Asu e)

  1. Reid says:

    Good idea for a series of posts. I toyed with doing something similar at one time, but never followed through with it. I’ll be interested to see what you make of it the idea. We’ll see if our thoughts ran along similar tracks or if it will become more of a case of divergent rather than convergent evolution.

    As to this theme song, I think I like it the least of the four from Gundam AGE. I really really like #Sharp though. I even used the lyrics (translated into whitey) as the inspiration for a poem I wrote to a special somebody – I even came shamelessly close to cribbing the line “I want to be your star” outright, but I somehow managed to rein myself in.

    • schneider says:

      You wrote a poem inspired from sharp#? Uguu~

      I don’t really have many out-of-this-world opinions on Gundam OPs (or so I think), but I’ll try to explain myself as much as possible. Thanks!

      • Reid says:

        Sure did – and she loved it too. Just thought some of the lyrics of that song are really good is all. It’s not like I copied and pasted the whole thing 🙂

  2. Taka says:

    I gave up on Gundam Age not 10 episodes into the season but the OP was not one of the reasons. In fact I love the OP (though I also love Galieo Galiei who sings it). What’s interesting is you are right about this not being the typical OP for a show just getting started. Musically it has far more in common with a show on it’s way to a conclusion which I suspect is a way of conveying how the story stretches over multiple ages. The particular repetition in the chorus and the wall of sound effect of the voices singing in the background hint toward a show entering it’s final act. It’s not just those 2 factors but it has far more in common musically with E7’s final OP Sakura http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YGxIILZSilA than with it’s 1st OP Days http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sYyQZPqYCKg.

    Another example is this coda from K-On!!’s 2nd OP http://youtu.be/to7N3WK8mxI?t=1m15s

    The feeling is reinforced with how the visuals match up with the lyrics as well. The bridge appears when Flit is walking through the field with his back to us and certain key characters translucently flash across the screen (note: the Yurin appears at the lyric “mune no itami” which means “chest pain” or “heart ache” (the site I got the lyrics from translates it as stabbing chest pain)). Lastly one of the first images we see of the chorus is the static Grodek looking rather grave followed by the repetition of the “haseru”s as more characters flip by individually on each “haseru”. By showing each character individually on each beat the images reinforce a separation and the possibility that these characters always be there. A similar effect is used in World’s End the Code Geass R2 2nd OP http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=raAh0J4jmX4. Lastly I would argue that the choosing to show battles for the final bit of the chorus emphasizes the idea that the fight continues on through multiple ages.
    Of course this is all massively subject to hindsight bias.

    Combined with the lyrics about Evolving, running, and changing (and the kiddy nature of some of the visuals) it’s clear that Gundam Age was just too darn honest about it’s content. I think the OP is brilliant in context but for first time viewers not sure what GA is going to be about it is strangely final.

    • Taka says:

      ugh that is so typo ridden.
      to correct one: “and the possibility that these characters WILL NOT always be there”

      • schneider says:

        As someone who’s kept up, I can confirm that you’re correct, not everyone from the 1st arc reappears. The better part of them do, but there are still departures from these characters in the 2nd arc.

        I didn’t really think of the song to be more of a winding-down or tying-story-threads-up thing… I believe it doesn’t really work as a final OP piece because it’s more soothing and hopeful than “here’s your glorious payoff”… But you make a good point about it suited for a multi-generational story. I wish I wrote more about the song!

  3. r042 says:

    Fun fact, this OP animation syncs up really well with W-Infinity from Dendoh.

  4. Matt Wells says:

    Great idea for a blog series! Looking forward to dissecting the hugely innapropriate openings for Victory Gundam given the actual content of the show. Fun fact: Don’t Stop Carry On syncs up surprisingly well with Zeta Gundam’s second op.

  5. sadakups says:

    This is a neat idea of deconstructing the OPs of every Gundam show.

    As far as AGE’s first OP is concerned, I feel that the theme sounds too “joyful”. I wasn’t that hooked on it.

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