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Royal Gundam

G Gundam
by yo go re

Yes, I've run out of Transformers again. But not out of robots!

G Gundam, on its surface, seems a little comical. ["A little"?! --ed.] Every four years, Earth's orbiting colonies send a representative planetside with a gigantic robot. These robots then battle each other, and the winner rules humanity until the next Gundam Fight. And sure, that's ridiculous, but the story does show a deeper level of intelligence than you might expect.

When the show starts, it's the year of the 13th Gundam Fight, Future Century 60. You may, however, notice that 13 quadrennial events don't add up to 60 years. Even knowing that the first Gundam Fight was in Future Century 8, we're still off by one, no? FC60 should be the 14th Gundam Fight, not the 13th. But there's a reason for that: Neo-England won the 9th, 10th, and 11th Gundam Fights, which pissed off the other countries so much that the 12th had to be postponed until peace could be restored. And then they almost won that one, too.

Befitting a series that is best described as "Ethnic Stereotype Olympics," each Gundam Fighter's design represents its home country - or at least, what the animators think of its home country. In America, we get Gundam Maxter, the surfing football cowboy boxer rockstar. Is that really the image we project to the rest of the world? It could always be worse, though: Neo-Nepal's Tantra Gundam wore a robe and a turban; he defeated Neo-Siberia's Mammoth Gundam, which looked exactly like you think it would.

Neo-England's Royal Gundam ("John Bull Gundam" in Japan) is piloted by Gentle Chapman, the same bloke who won three consecutive titles, and it's designed to look somewhat like a Buckingham Palace Guard. The colors seem to have been reversed - red legs and a black upper body - but perhaps they felt doing it the other way around would have been too "on the nose."

Honestly, they can swap all the colors they want, but the head would still give it away. The face is a pretty typical Gundam offering, with a white mouthplate, green eyes, a red point on the chin, and the usual big yellow crest on the forehead, but then on top of that he's got a tall black hat. No, it isn't as furry or as bulbous as a royal guard's, but if you've got a British Gundam (not to be confused with "Britain Gundam," the name of the mobile suit Chapman used before this one) and it's got a black tube on top of its head, everybody is going to recognize its origins.

The body is designed to look rather like he's wearing a coat. Other than the big, poofy shoulder pads with their vertical plates mimicking an upturned collar, it has long tails that reach down to his mid-shins. The design even goes so far as to have pockets on the sides. Big, robot-sized meal pockets. What possible purpose could those serve, other than decorative elements meant to make a robot look like it's wearing a coat? It's distinctive, yes, but hardly logical. (Then again, isn't "distinctive but illogical" G Gundam's entire raison d'etre? Who are we to judge? You live your crazy life, Royal Gundam!)

Thanks to his silly hat, Royal Gundam stands just about 4½" tall. The official specs for the show say that he is 16.4 meters high, which translates to a little less than 54 feet - and since the Moble Suits in Action line is done at 1/144th scale, this toy measures up perfectly! There are joints in the ankles, knees, hips, wrists, elbows, biceps, shoulders, and head, and although Royal Gundam doesn't have a core lander vehicle that can plug into his back, his two jet boosters are balljointed. There is a joint at the waist, but it doesn't turn far enough to be worth counting, thanks to the shape of his coat.

As we mentioned above, G Gundam is often smarter than it's given credit for. Just like airport security is always focussed on stopping the last threat, not the next one, nations are always trying to win the last war. Gentle Chapman won his first Gundam Fight thanks to his marksmanship and the long beam rifle Royal Gundam carried; in every subsequent Gundam Fight, the other countries were playing follow-the-leader, trying to match his winning strategy - until Master Asia's defeated him in the Kowloon Gundam using melee attacks (and then, four years after that, Domon Kasshu was selected as Neo-Japan's champion specifically because of his martial arts prowess, proving that some people never learn).

Royal Gundam isn't as jaw-droppingly stupid as a lot of the other G Gundam designs (and if he's really supposed to look like a palace guard, his colors should be the other way around), but don't hold that against him. It might have been interesting if they'd leaned into the "John Bull" name and made him fat and be-muttonchopped with a low topper, but this is still good fun!

-- 06/06/17

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