Another Men OP Destiny post! To tell you the truth, I got into a funk from writing these, because I was unsatisfied with how Gundam AGE ended. ‘Course there’s nothing preventing me from writing about other Gundam OPs, but my inner completist kept me in a state of inertia for a long time.
But really, the OPs are far from what made Gundam AGE bad. As long as I keep that in mind, I can reconcile with myself on writing about its last two OPs!
OP3 is markedly different from its predecessors. Masami Obari storyboarded and directed it, and the end result is something very solid, in my opinion.
“Obari who?” Kraker from The Vanishing Trooper Incident has written a lot of words on The Man, and I’ll let him do some talking:
It is often forgotten that Masami Obari’s major break into the anime industry and ultimately what made him popular was mecha anime. His talents lay in bringing giant robots and other gigantic creatures to life through his animation. Specifically his work on the Metal Armor Dragonar opening cemented his brilliance among his contemporaries, an opening animated entirely by himself at the astonishing age of 22. From there he went onto forge a career into many different genres but one thing he remained strong at was creating anime intros.
By directing the 3rd Gundam AGE opening Obari brings together many popular mecha opening clichés and remixes them into something very fitting for Gundam. So sit back and enjoy the breakdown and analysis below.
The timing of the visuals to the song is great. 胸 (mune) means chest, and here Kio does something appropriate.
Oh man. Wendy. It feels like the show shelved her before she got the chance to do anything interesting. She just turns and stares up the sky in this scene but the camera makes it dynamic and breathtaking.
Here, Kio opens his eye in time for 声 (koe), which means voice. It seems like he’s actually responding to a voice he’s heard.
In this scene, Kio changes from his civilian clothes to his pilot suit, revealing that he’s in the Gundam’s cockpit all along. The line in the song really means “it’s not a dream; in reality–“. The message is clear.
I didn’t catch this while I was watching the show, but the title card is animated. The words “Gundam” and “AGE” smash together like two halves combining. There’s even some neat effects thrown in. Fantastic.
The previous two Gundams appear a few seconds later, providing a nice blue-and-red background. (See the first screencap) Blue and red are the quintessential super robot colors, and this OP really screams SUPER in a wonderful way.
The sequence with the Seric team is beautiful. This shot is from a Veigan soldier’s POV. He’s got a target lock on the Clanche, which then transforms and pounces on his face. Look at how his own mobile suit is reflected in the visor of his enemy. It’s an amazing blink-it-or-miss-it detail.
If you’ve been watching the show, you should be able to recognize the silhouette without any problems. The Pirate AGE-2 (Dark Hound) is fully revealed in the OP after Asemu appears again, who also appears in the shot. I just love it when OPs evolve to reflect plot points in a series.
Oh man. Classic Gundam imagery. A panning shot of the enemy army, with elite units making as if to pounce the viewer, and then a surprise guest appears. Before it’s revealed in the show, it’s rendered in a classic Obari silhouette.
Here’s a standard OP trick. We’ve known Zeheart for a while, but do we know him as a Char? I like how the transition is made when Fram turns around. To tie in with the previous scene, the two “pouncing” mechs belong to these two characters (Zeheart’s on the left, Fram’s on the right), adding visual consistency.
Old Flit gets his own scene. More lyric-to-visual goodness: the light appears as 光 (hikari) is sung. The meaning should be obvious.
These shots during the fill-in to the chorus tell a quick and effective story. Shit’s about to get real, the Gundam’s gonna go and save the day! It leads on to a lovingly-made combination sequence that’s so good I can’t find a single screenshot to give it justice.
Instead, have the end result. I love the pose. We’ve seen this many times before, but I still love it. The Gundam AGE-3 Normal is a homage to the ZZ Gundam, and it looks slick here.
The following scenes show off the AGE-3’s variant forms, the Fortress and the Orbital. Their strengths are made clear–the Fortress can hover on the ground and fire a lot of beams, while the Orbital is very, very fast. (I had to go through its part a few times to get a proper cap!) They feel like a real evolution from the AGE-1 series of variations.
It’s the mecha standoff! I don’t have much to say here, except that the shading and exaggerated movement make Obari’s hand very clear.
I really like this OP. For me, it wins over OP2 by a small margin, because of its overall polish. Obari has had decades of industry experience after all, and you can tell he had a lot of fun making this. I sure can’t accuse OP3 of being uninspired, because it uses standard mecha OP tropes very well in a Gundam manner. It’s just a shame that the actual story arc that OP3 covers isn’t up to its quality.
I’ll talk about OP4 (AURORA by Aoi Eir) in the next post for this series.