Ring of Gundam: Tomino’s Final Message?

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As we’re not in Japan, a good portion of Gundam fans in the States wish that they could have been able to attend the Gundam Big Expo this year, as part of this year’s anniversary celebration. Among other things, the expo advertised the premiere of a new CG short directed by Yoshiyuki Tomino entitled Ring of Gundam. As this is the first time Tomino has touched Gundam since the New Translation trilogy, anticipation for this went through the roof. Fans everywhere were dying to see this, people Stateside even moreso as…well…chances are it’d never happen through legal means.

The short was upped online the day afterward for Yahoo.jp, but for Japanese IPs only. As expected, it only took 48 hours for somebody to find a way around this and put it online. On the off-chance that the short will deleted any moment now, I’m not going to bother posting the link. Instead, I want to share with you one rather interesting interpretation of Ring of Gundam.

The short revolves around a young man in a Ring Colony who is desperate to find the Beauty Memory, hoping that it will be the key to finding “Amuro’s Memories”. Standing in his way is what fans believe is a Zanscare Empire-based mecha. His only hope? What looks like the RX-78-3 Gundam.

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After watching it, I didn’t know what to think. My Japanese comprehension is getting there but I was able to catch the major points. Last night, I talked with a friend about it and he brought up an interesting point about a possible underlying message: Tomino is telling us to get a life.

Seriously! In the short, because our hero is so fixated on obtaining Amuro’s Memory, the resulting fight with the enemy mech takes out a good portion of the Ring Colony. The newly retrieved Beauty Memory then reveals that Amuro’s Memory isn’t even necessary for the “new world”. What I think he’s getting at is that by trying to cling so hard to or emulate 0079, we basically screw everything up in the process. [Insert Seed/Seed Destiny Joke Here.] In Tomino’s eyes, too many shows have claimed Gundam as an influence, perhaps maybe he partly blames himself for anime’s current stagnation as a medium. In that case, it makes sense that he’d believe this has gone on far enough. That’s why the message is that of transition–it’s time for us to let go and move on….but this could mean either one of two things: A.) Create more new interpretations of Gundam without retreading on the past or B.) Leave Gundam alone altogether.

The latter would make more sense actually, given that this isn’t the first time he’s called people out before. I mean, where do you go after something like Turn A? Do we really need another Alternate Universe series? Tomino’s trying to say that if we’re going to move on in anime, something else needs to take it’s place. The next big thing needs to happen. Not the next product or batch of fanservice, the next big phenomenon that will inspire kids and fans for years to come like Gundam did. In other words: We as fans, creators, dreamers, we’ve just been called out.

Right now, the message is lost in translation (which hasn’t come about yet) and fans speculation/nitpicking. Even I’ll admit before thinking about it, I was hoping for more of this universe but unless Bandai/Sunrise offers him his own private space colony, this may be the last we see of Tomino touching Gundam for awhile. Lord forbid what will happen to the franchise if/when he passes on. Meanwhile, there are those that call this short pointless and not worth the trouble. If you’re reading between the lines though, I’d say that Ring of Gundam was worth the wait.

7 thoughts on “Ring of Gundam: Tomino’s Final Message?

  1. So when did the RX-78-3 get holo displays?

    I do see the point about letting Gundam be replaced by the next revolutionary title. However, for whatever title does that, I don’t think Gundam would need to be retired or reformed. That title should be strong enough to capture the imaginations of the people on its own. If it has to worry about Gundam overshadowing it, then maybe it’s not as revolutionary or ground breaking as it needs to be.

    • Niko:
      It’s the equivalent of putting KITT in an old car ala Knight Rider 2000? Otherwise, to me it looks like the G-3. That or the RX-78 has taken hints from Prototype Getter Robo.

      About Gundam retired, I personally think that it’s done everything it could have ever done. Alternate Universes can bring about fun ideas but life would go on without them. Really, all that’s left is to just do a complete remake (which I’m betting somebody at Bandai/Sunrise is waiting for, the moment Tomino passes away).

  2. While fan speculation, that message does make sense, if that’s what it was about. But, if that indeed was the message of Ring of Gundam… how exactly can one top the spectaculars of their times such as Gundam, Star Trek and Star Wars? There are several points that I can agree with in that blog entry, but really. What else can anime do? It’s tried practically EVERYTHING. From rewriting history to bestowing magical super powers onto teenagers, to ghosts, to transforming machines, to giant demons, even attempting to bring anime to the age of CGI. Heck, Western movies these days are becoming “yesterday’s news”.

    I don’t know where the medium can go next.

    And while I do agree with those points, to simply retire Gundam would have a devastating effect on the world. Or at least, the world that fell in love with Gundam. I mean, I would understand if upon Tomino’s death they retired Gundam as a whole, built a Core Fighter coffin for Tomino and dedicated it into space; just as they did with the guy that played the original Spock. But… Sunrise as a studio is too money-greedy. They wouldn’t simply let go of their biggest cash cow. If ‘Moving on’ is indeed the theme of Ring of Gundam, as it seems to be, then it can be interpreted as several different things.

    One way is to give Gundam a nice rest. With year after year of Alternate Universes, the franchise doesn’t seem as innovative as it once was. They should follow the path of Star Trek. After realizing that ideas are terribly hard to come by, just put the franchise into a deep sleep, only to return EPICLY after 5 years or a decade or so. The same can be said of Disney and Mickey Mouse; what with the “Epic Mickey” project they have coming on, as well as the long awaited return of animated drawn movies, with the coming of “The Frog Princess” in production.

    Then there’s the “Stop following the example of Gundam 0079. Try something that hasn’t been done before, or something that hasn’t been looked into for more than once.” statement. Trying to take and twist around Gundam 0079 to a point where nothing is unrecognizable is nothing more than a fad these days. While staying true to one’s roots isn’t a terrible idea, it kind of wears off after originality is no longer applied. So yes, creating more new interpretations of Gundam without retreading too much on the past is another good idea.

    Another way, is to probably see what the West can do with the franchise. Except not do what they did with G-Saviour. Give it to people who KNOW what they’ll be doing instead of just handing it off to the moochy hands of Hollywood. I mean heck, I’ve seen some impressive war movies told by good directors; Saving Private Ryan, Black Hawk Down, Pearl Harbor, and some of the other greats. Even though we’re lazy, we can tell some damn good war stories without having to resort to adding in super psychic powers or melodrama that takes itself much more seriously than “Days of our Lives”. Not to mention that we have great TV dramas of our own; even if they are Live Action, the likes of CSI, NCIS, and Law and Order are quite powerful stories. Let’s admit it; the Japanese are running out of solid ideas for Gundam and anime itself; it’s all about children nowadays simply because of Tomino’s “Adults are the Enemy” shtick. Which has run itself dry.

    Then there would be to retire Gundam indefinitely, but that would probably cause mass rioting and histeria in Japan. As Star Wars is quickly turning into a way to earn money; despite what George Lucas says about himself being like a “kid that wants to fulfill his dreams”, Gundam has been a ploy to sell model kits ever since the decline of well told Alternate Universes.

    That or just see if Japan can come up with the next huge craze that’ll sweep 3 decades. Which is hard these days.

    As for other ideas, I wouldn’t be sure. But that’s up to more fan speculation. I have been wondering as to what the West could do with Gundam; G-Saviour was a decent attempt, but it was rather lacking. I’ve always looked forward to more ‘Down to Earth’ Gundam; where Mobile Suits fighting under gravity was explored extensively in 08th Ms Team. Space combat has worn out its welcome.

    tl;dr: That was an interesting read.

  3. Whoop. Made a mistake there. The guy who’s body was committed to space was Gene Roddenberry. Awesome way to be buried.

    • Thanks, Dustin!

      There really are several ways to look at this short. Two to one, we’re all overlooking something simple but I doubt Tomino would just do this for the hell of it! I do invite you to check out my follow-up to this where I give another interpretation of sorts following ANN’s posting of the Foreign Correspondent’s press conference. Thanks for reading and take it easy!

  4. I agree with Tomino’s message in that Gundam fans need to move on. I’m not saying we should abandon Gundam, but we can’t cling on to it like parasites. We Gundam fans have drained it of it’s life. I still remember how I started liking Gundam, and it started out with Transformers. How did I start liking Gundam because of Transformers? I like robots, pure and simple. I’ve collected Transformers figures and Mobile Suit models because of my love for robots. I’ll still collect models and figures, but not just because of they are from Gundam or Transformers, but because I like robots. In truth my favorite anime and U.S cartoon are not Gundam or Transformers. My favorites are Bio-Booster Armor Guyver and the Boondocks.

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