Reviews: Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin Vol 8 & 9, Monster Tamer Girls 1 & 2
Updated: Dec 17, 2020
I've fallen into the Gundam franchise pretty hard these past couple years, absorbing the Unicorn, Origin, and Thunderbolt anime series pretty quickly. The anime for the Origin only focuses on the background story of Char, which is understandable because he's a fascinating bastard. It's worth picking up this whole series though as it's a retelling of the original 1979 anime and it's beautifully done by Yoshikazu Yasuhiko.
If you're into socio-political thrillers and also a mix of some hard sci-fi with your giant mecha fiction then it will probably pull you in as it did for me. The world building is top notch, the action is engaging, and the focus on a unique range of characters really pulls you in. While some of the other series really expand on the idea that there is no simple good or evil in war, this series does an interesting job of balancing out different perspectives. While the side of Zeon commits some pretty heinous war crimes (gassing the population of an entire giant space station to death and using it to blow up a portion of Earth by launching it like a meteor comes to mind), the Federation also has some pretty shitty acts under its belt. There's a real sense that there are heroes and monsters on both sides, and even the monsters have engaging motivations. As mentioned with the character of Char, while he's a terrible person who will do anything to achieve his nebulous and eccentric goals, he is a very charismatic character and seeing his life fleshed out really gives some weight to the universe as a whole.
The Gundam franchise is huge with a lot of timelines and different realities, so it is a pretty intimidating endeavor to find an easy entry point. I would say this is a really strong series to start with and expand on, not only because it's the core timeline and story that launched the franchise but also because it will help absorb all the basic concepts you'll need to move forward and enjoy more Gundam.
Monster Tamer Girls 1 & 2
A nice bit of fluff with some kaiju to kill some time, but otherwise not too much else to see here. MTG is a two volume series that takes place in a world where monsters appeared in 1999. Humans found out that monsters are generally controllable, especially by young girls who sing to them. So schools were founded where young girls can learn to be monster tamers and we're following the exploits of a couple first year students.
It's all an endearing enough concept as our main characters Ion Hidaka and Sora Misumaru are tasked with caring for the monster that sleeps behind the school. He's a relatively indifferent chunky boi that Ion eventually names Blue, but he starts to take a liking to them. As the series progresses they introduce a few more girls, a few more monsters, and we get little episodic chapters with minor plot and character developments.
Most of the chapters are fairly simple yet sweet bits of story, but there are some more interesting sub-plots. An elderly ex-government official who had a 'kill 'em all' mentality regarding monsters is currently having memory issues, and is actually visited by a small monster who he mistakes as his son who passed away. In another odd chapter there's a large pointy monster (named Pointy-Sama) sticking out of the ground doing nothing, which brings about people far and wide to leave gifts and make wishes.
While there are some interesting ideas and cute takes on old tropes, it doesn't really achieve much more than being a pleasant distraction. Sometimes that's all we really need though, so overall I thought it was enjoyable.