“Mobile Suit Gundam” is a Japanese animated (anime) franchise that has existed since 1979, which makes it older than other popular series such as “Pokemon” and “Dragon Ball Z”. It spawned many other anime series, manga (Japanese comics), movies, games and more, the latest of which was a movie called “Mobile Suit Gundam: Cucuruz Doan’s Island”.
When most Americans think of giant combat robots, their minds probably go to the Transformers franchise, but “Mobile Suit Gundam” was about five years ago in Japan. The basic concept of each iteration of the show is that in the distant future, humanity will build city-sized satellite communities known as colonies where people have migrated by the thousands.
Along with those dwellings, humanity has also invented great mechanical weapons for warfare piloted by people. They are called mobile suits, with the most powerful being called the gundam. Common themes in Mobile Suit Gundam shows include pacifism, war, Earth vs. Colonial conflicts and the negative effects of active battles on adolescents who become involved in the conflict.
“Mobile Suit Gundam: Cucuruz Doan’s Island” fits perfectly into the middle of the original “MSG” series which first aired in 1979. In fact, the original premise of this film was included in an episode of the TV series, but when the show arrived in America, the Cucuruz Doan’s Island episode was not included. Fast forward to today, and the material is now expanded into a film that Western audiences will have a chance to see in theaters, courtesy of Crunchyroll.
The story of “MSG: CDI” follows a group of civilians mostly from a destroyed space colony who find themselves on a prototype ship called White Base. The main conflict of the narrative lies between the Earth Federation and the Principality of Zeon, which declares its independence from the federation and is composed mainly of people living in space colonies.
Zeon agents discover that the White Base is visiting a space colony called Side 7, where a powerful new mobile suit, the RX-78 Gundam, is loaded onto the ship. Those agents destroy the colony, killing most of the civilians and military. In desperation, a teenager named Amuro Ray flies the gundam to protect the few remaining civilians who end up on the White Base, fleeing the destroyed colony, their lives now embroiled in a bitter war.
“MSG: CDI” is set on a small island off the European coast. The White Base has landed on Earth and is ordered to investigate why the Earth Federation mobile suits traveling to the island never return. Amuro Ray (Toru Furuya) is sent with a few others to land on the island and see what is happening. While exploring the island, Amuro is attacked by a mysterious mobile suit and defeated, his gundam falls off a cliff into the sea. As a giant storm erupts on the island, his companions flee to regroup, leaving him behind.
Amuro wakes up in a bed, his wounds bandaged, and discovers that a group of children live on the island with a woman named Cara (Fu Hirohara) and a Zeon deserter named Doan (Shunsuke Takeuchi), who uses her mobile. suit to attack the intruders and defend the island from all sides, be it Zaft or the Earth Federation.
“MSG: CDI” is a classic example of humanizing the enemy and showing the main character that there are good people on both sides of the Zaft / Federation of Earth conflict. Up to this point in the story, Amuro has gone from battle to battle, being pursued by Zaft’s forces, watching them destroy his home and injure his friends. Yet here he finds a former Zaft soldier who not only spared his life, fed him and bandaged his wounds, but also cares for a dozen apparently orphaned children.
For a day or two, Amuro goes back to being a normal teenager, doing housework around the island, watching the kids do normal things like washing dishes, gardening, milking a goat, and more. He repairs their water system and runs electricity back into the lighthouse they live in. The film has a nice mix of action and slower moments where the characters and the story can breathe.
The complex ethics of war and what it means to be a soldier, as well as being forced to fight to defend loved ones, are at home in the narrative of “MSG: CDI”. Fans of the original show should be happy with the film, which raises a certain level of nostalgia for “Mobile Suit Gundam”.
Perhaps the most impressive thing about the film is its animation. Familiar characters look like they’re straight out of the 1979 TV series, and that’s a refreshing choice, instead of giving them updated designs or a new art style. Staying true to the original 2D animated art style demonstrates fidelity to the show that started it all.
Meanwhile, the mobile suits themselves are updated and are beautifully rendered in 3DCG and mixed with 2D backgrounds in a wonderful mix of old and new. The explosions and fire of each battle look spectacular and the mobile suits move with an intense glow that will excite any Gundam fan.
“MSG: CDI” is not a film made for newcomers to the series. Since the central story is taken directly from an episode of the original TV series (albeit with welcome expansion), viewers who haven’t seen the original show (or at least the first third of it) will be pretty lost and unfamiliar with. the amuro hero.
“MSG: CDI” will be in theaters on Tuesday and Wednesday, so those who want to see it on the big screen will have a limited window to do so.
Mobile Suit Gundam: the island of Cucuruz Doan
86 Cast: Satomi Arai, Misato Fukuen, Toshio Furukawa, Toru Furuya, Megumi Han
Director: Yoshikazu Yasuhiko
Duration: 1 hour and 49 minutes
acting in the theater