Sunrise ("InuYasha") has returned to its roots with the release of the first Mobile Suit Gundam anime in 1979.
Is this a thing that is almost new? The anime filler, which we were permitted to watch in advance with German dubbing, is based on the now legendary original series of the mecha hit, which was not available internationally for a long time. For many local fans, it is therefore a fantastic opportunity to make up for this absence in our film review.
A strange guy and his island
The Witch from Mercury is a game based on Universal Century 0079. Here is a little background: There are many different timelines within the series, with the Universal Century timeline establishing the main universe to a certain degree. There are also other offshoots of the IP, such as the "Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch from Mercury" which was released in 2022.
The plot plunges us directly into the conflict between the Principality of Zeon and the Earth Federation. Also in the thick of it is young cadet Amuro Ray, who takes his seat in the cockpit of a new Mobile Suit Gundam, a powerful fighting machine that has never been fully tested. However, an opportunity to do so should arise very soon.
Amuro and his team are ordered to travel to the so-called "Island of No Return" to deter rebels from stragglers. There are only a few children and an old Zaku Mobile Suit on their way. Additionally, Amuro discovers a strange guy named Curucuz Doan, and things soon reverse.
Mobile Suit Gundam: Curucuz Doan's Island is still a television program with a cinema budget that is substantially higher and more sophisticated than the original. This becomes evident in the final act of the plot, which is significantly larger than the 1979 one.
Studio Sunrise is known for making excellent use of the extra runtime. Amuro becomes a good friend with the kids throughout the film and really wants to take care of them. The slowly rising conflict later in the story is even more dramatic because of this.
As events unfold, Amuro must grow up.
"Curucuz Doan's Island," as the film's main character is dubbed, illustrates how Amuro slowly has to grow up. He is still a boy at the beginning of a great adventure, but we're already seeing some important steps he has to take as part of his development in the anime feature film.
His slugs against other mobile suit pilots, who already have far more experience on the battlefield than him, are particularly striking here. Our protagonist's ability is clearly evident, and something that will be further developed in future episodes and series.
The character of Amuro has been expanded significantly in comparison to the original, as well as that of Curucuz Doan. He killed civilians in the course of his combat duties, which would ultimately result in him leaving the service. Since then, he has taken care of children who died during the battle between Zeon and Earth Federation, and needs help.
Not all of the actors in the latest Mobile Suit Gundam film have the same time to devote to the action. Especially the antagonist's motives and motivations are only insufficiently deepened. This is a pity in particular because the franchise is distinguished by its complex themes, profound questions, and multi-layered conflict parties.
Moreover, some of the other supporting characters get little screen time either, which makes them appear to be a waste of time. For example, the members of a military base that Curucuz Doan has a connection with, are mostly there to have a bearing on the plot. There are also issues with the narrative speed from time to time, due to the fact that some scenes, especially at the start, are quite long.
In 'Mobile Suit Gundam: Curucuz Doan's Island,' other changes made by the responsible crew stand out directly: the drawings and animations. Of course, the artists oriented themselves accordingly to the style and well-known designs of the famous template, but the result is clearly identifiable. Everything appears a lot cleaner than it did back then, while still exuding an old-school charm.
Even for novices, this is a great Gundam adventure?
The crashing staged mecha fights are significantly improved by the revisions, as well as the anime series "Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch from Mercury."
Florian Hoffmann (Taketora Yamamoto in "Haikyu!!") as Doan, Daniela Molina (Fymryn in "DOTA: Dragon's Blood") or Felix Spieß (Piccolo in Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero) as Kai are all notable dubbing actors.
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Before we conclude, a few words on the anime film's beginner-friendly nature: It's primarily aimed at long-term fans of the series who already have a certain affinity to the series. These references will pass by newcomers and will likely have a small question mark over their heads from time to time.
If you like anime or fantastic sci-fi adventures, this one is worth acquiring. It may not be the finest chapter in the long-lived series, but it is nonetheless the finest way to experience this part of the legendary mecha anime, which, in addition to its old-school vibe, knows how to persuade its well-developed main character.
Curucuz Doan's Island is the first film to be released in German cinemas on February 28, 2023.
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