For as long as words have graced the ears of those intelligent enough to understand them, so too have stories. Those yarns spun of fiction and facts that teach all lifelong lessons or simply grant a respite of joy. From this incalculable run, it is also quite easy to believe that form has been honed and that certain stories have come to be known far beyond their point of origin. However, complacency is tantamount to sin in the eyes of some and so tales never told continue to be born from the foundations created by those who came before. Yet, despite the twisting of form and alteration of lessons, there is one law that should always remain standing; in its own way, a story should make sense. For a story to break this unspoken rule comes at its own detriment. After all, what point is there to lesson that none can learn? To a message that cannot be understood? The short answer is none. The long answer is the same, with an example.
Oh boy, where do I start with this one? Truth be told, I actually began to watch Reconguista in G during its initial broadcast run back in 2014, began being the operative word. I think I made it three episodes before I threw in the towel and watching it again made me understand why all over again. To cut a long story short; this series is confusing. Like really, really confusing. And before you think it, I don’t mean in an artsy, make you rethink what you know about existence kind of confusing. I mean in a straight, cut and dry, the storytelling is kinda terrible kind of way. Cards on the table, I have never seen a Gundam series before, so I expected that I might miss some references here and there, or that some mech names would get thrown around without a proper introduction, but boy howdy does this series not give you any sense of footing. From the get go, G-Reco (as I have read is the abbreviation) just unloads terminology on you. No warning, no obvious exposition, stuff just happens and you’re expected to take it all in and make sense of it. Of course it doesn’t help that this is a sci-fi series, meaning that character’s names are just as far fetched as those of the Mobile Suits. For a main cast we’ve got Bellri Zenam, Noredo Nug, Aida Surugan, Klim Nick, Raraiya Monday and Captain Mask to name a few (that last one isn’t complicated, just kinda funny). G-Self, G-Arcane, Recten, Catsith, Wuxia also help flesh out the Mobile Suit side of things, though the list extends far beyond that. Politics also make an appearance with the plethora of cities, countries, regions, stations and whatever else people can live on, granting us terms like Ameria, Towasanga, Capital Tower, Capital Guard and Capital Army (the last two, believe it or not, are very different). So, from this little cross section, you might be able to understand how this series spiral out of control from the very beginning. Look, I’m all for dropping into a plotline in media res, it’s a simple way to build a believable world, but this most certainly is not the way to do it. You have to try so hard to figure out what name goes where and what is happening in general that the series itself loses any sense of fun. Hell, it isn’t until halfway through this release that you learn that Kuntala, a word that gets thrown around a fair bit, is a pretty horrible racial slur. Is it entirely relevant to the plot? No, just another term to confuse you as you try to adjust to what the hell is going on in the Capital, or the Under Nut, or wherever the hell these people actually are. Now that I mention it, it took me a while to actually grasp that society is still functioning all across Earth in this series. Due to the heavy focus on the area surrounding the giant space elevator, and the talk of other countries like they are close knit colonies, I didn’t even think that the world was robust enough for widespread life. Which is not the best vibe to be throwing out, from a world building perspective at least.
Jumping back to the lack of fun comment a few lines up, this series is oddly goofy. Now, that might not sound like the most descriptive term out there, but that’s just what G-Reco is. Despite the political plotline that lies underneath all of the pointless terminology and rhetoric, the series constantly crams in random slapstick and, quite literally, toilet humour. I mean it, at least twice a shot has drawn attention to the fact that the Mobile Suit cockpits are equipped with a bathroom. Now, in a completely factual and intrinsically detailed series, I can understand this, but this is a show where giant robots use swords and sometimes refuse to be piloted by people they don’t like (or something). Sure, that last one is a unique example, but an example nonetheless. The constant sequences of characters drinking water also strike me as excessive and stand out more than I think they should. Perhaps its just the connection to the other pointless moments of detail within the Mobile Suit cockpit, something about those sequences just seem disjointed to me. On the subject of slapstick, this series goes beyond the typical anime zone where an obtuse protagonist gets playfully punched on the top of the head or slapped on the back by his comrades. No, in this series’ zone there are multiple shots of jungle animals falling out of trees with cartoony expressions on their faces and Mobile Suits almost falling off of their support jets before battle. Again, in another series I could completely understand this style, but it doesn’t lend itself well to this series. for every attempt to create a tense political atmosphere, some mechanic leaps onto G-Self and slams their face on their subsequent fall. It just destroys any sense of consistency within the environment. From opening a plot thread with Aida crying over the death of her comrade, the series draws on this roughly two more times before completely ignoring it, effectively ending the drama there. Bellri himself takes less time to get over the second person he admits he killed, of course ignoring the faceless cannon fodder that explodes every episode, almost immediately leaping back into battle and another fight with Aida over some nonsense. Noredo herself also encapsulates this problem, as she alternates between actually caring about Bellri and getting angry at him because he may have feelings for Aida despite her choosing to be his future wife maybe? Or they were childhood friends? Or something else? I just don’t know, which leads me flawlessly into my next paragraph…by which I mean rant.
I don’t care about these characters. Seriously, after thirteen episodes I can barely make heads or tails of these guys. You know what? That’s not true. The problem is that I can perfectly make heads or tails of these guys and have been able to since the beginning. Bellri is a genius who is still immature due to him skipping two grades in the academy. Naredo is a cheerleader who is part of some self created tradition to find a capable man and lock that down toot sweet. Raraiya is a mysterious girl who acts four because amnesia. Klim is an idiot. That’s it. No real development, no twists and turns in characterisation, nothing. These guys are just tropes with names. Sure, every character is that in every series, but at least they hide it by making you actually care about that particular iteration of personality jigsaw pieces. I couldn’t give two damns about these guys, in no small part because I don’t believe any of them do either. In three or four episodes, I don’t care to remember how many exactly, Bellri is captured by the enemy. They immediately treat him well and let him test out the near impossible to pilot G-Self simply because he can. He of course agrees an immediately ends up fighting beside them against his own side. Now, the story would have you believe through one line of dialogue five episodes later that he’s just doing this to gather information…except for the fact that never comes up ever. Hell the reveal that the Central Army is abusing their power and are in fact the true enemy happens so far in the background that I don’t even feel like I have to dance around it like a spoiler. Bellri’s own mother, a goddamn high ranking official, treats the breaching of everything her administration/country/town stands for more like a slightly nettled citizen than an official member of whatever governing body run the place that it’s laughable. Seriously, she notices Mobile Suits within city limits and pretty much just shakes her head. It is remarkably underwhelming and absolutely hilarious. This trend carries on a touch further when she stupidly chases after her son, showing no signs of actually doing anything to halt said infractions on the law. She even almost fails doing that, by burning up on re-entry no less, which kind of makes her later stance in the negotiations about being in charge seem, once again, laughable.
At it’s core, Reconguista in G has a fairly decent, if well trodden story. Unfortunately, that core lies beneath layers upon layers upon layers of confusion, incessant terminology, pointless scenes, stagnant characters, a go nowhere plot and a severely repetitious formula. An enemy appears, G-Self turns up with a shiny new backpack, nameless soldiers die, named soldiers survive and retreat to fight another day. Again, formulas like this can work in certain situations, but G-Reco almost pursues an environment inhospitable to its own tropes. It also does not help when they simply try to tell you how you should be feeling. I don’t care what you say, I cannot see Captain Mask as a capable pilot. He loses every battle he’s in, he acts like an insane person for no discernible reason, his subplot about raising the Kuntala’s position is society cam out of nowhere and, unsurprisingly, goes nowhere as well. The racism doesn’t even make sense. Ten or so episodes in we find out that the term refers to those who were apparently used as food during some century in the past, which is goddamn horrible to say the least. So why the hell is it still a phrase used in this society? Who the hell knows? It’s not consistent, the strength of the slur varies in each scene and people seem to care or not care about these origins whenever the story calls for it. It’s just so pointless, which is one of the words that this whole review, by which I mean rant boils down to; pointless and confusing. Now look, I consider myself fairly open minded when it comes to series and I honestly go into everything with the hopes of liking it, because everything is so much better when you like something and can convince others to like it too. But this one just drained me. I wanted to give it a chance, but as the episodes dragged on and the story did little to help me understand what was going on I just cared less and less. To the point that I couldn’t care less, which I’m pretty sure is the origin of that phrase. There’s just so much nonsense in this series. Stories are suppose to draw you in, stoke your curiosity and keep you wanting more, not hold you at arm’s length and bombard you with factoids it demands you memorise. It’s an anime, not a goddamn literacy test.
So, if you saw how long this review was and decided to skip down to the end let me just say this; Gundam Reconguista in G is not a good series. I don’t even like writing that, but it’s how I feel. I enjoy mysteries and I enjoy series that leaves you wanting more, that don’t give you every piece of the puzzle and have faith that you’re smart enough to put it together. What I don’t enjoy is leaving a series with more questions than anyone would care to answer and a distinct notion that I myself don’t care either. And this isn’t even the whole series, there’s still a Part 2 yet to be released. Maybe when that day comes I will discover that this series is brilliant and I am the fool who could not see that. Should that day come a cacophonous cawing will fill my kitchen as I prepare to eat crow in a most fantastical way. But as it stands, I do not believe that day will come. However, since we are on the topic of food (in the vaguest sense possible) I will leave you with all the sweetness I can muster and say this; G-Reco is not a bad series to look at, with colours and action that deals up more interest than any spoken words and finally, as my greatest compliment to the series, I like the intro song. That’s about it…and that makes me kinda sad.
An insane situation sometimes calls for a Madman…and a lot of lasers