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Import Report – The History of ‘Mobile Suit Gundam’



Few anime series have the same legacy behind them that Mobile Suit Gundam does. The almost 40-year old series marks a bold turning point for Japanese science-fiction and mecha anime. Prior to Gundam almost every show featuring a robot fell under what was called the Super Robot genre, where larger than life machines would duke it out against other large scale mechs or monsters. Gundam was one of the first to break away from this trend. It featured more political themes and drama, and placed more story emphasis on its human characters and making the mechs more like tools. While Gundam is a celebrated franchise both in and outside of Japan now, it’s had a rough life getting to where it is now.

Mobile Suit Gundam was met with mixed reception when it first aired in April of 1979. Japanese audiences were expecting something closer to the super robot shows they had been used to seeing, and instead got something closer to a space soap opera. The initial bad ratings led to sponsors cutting money from the shows budget, and brought it down from 50 to 39 episodes. Sunrise and series director, Yoshiyuki Tomino, were able to renegotiate and were able to extend it to 42 episodes, which was still 2 months shy of the original plan. Gundam seemed destined to fail. Its TV series was cut short, its toy line was failing, and its biggest sponsors had backed out.

Bandai picked up the Gundam toy rights for cheap after this failed run, and took a stab at turning the Gundam mechs into newer plastic kits (the original line being made of metal). These easy to assemble kits took off in popularity, and by association, revived Gundam when it was given a second chance with another TV run. Gundam was so well received it got a theatrical release, plenty of sequel series’, and popularized the realistic robot genre. Even with all this success there was still some turmoil behind the scenes.

The original vision Tomini had for Gundam had a lot of comparative differences from the final product. He took a lot of these frustrations into his own hands, and penned 3 novels for the series after the original run. Tomino originally wanted the main character, Amuro, to be older. In the anime he’s a 16-year old kid, whose genius in robotics is what allows him to easily get used to using the Gundam. The titular robot was also changed. In the show the Gundam has a distinctive red, white, blue, and yellow color scheme (probably to make it stand out for toy sales), but the novel points out that it was original planned to be gray and white. The novels also get into much darker territory by killing off members of the main cast, and bringing in darker war imagery. However, the widespread love for Gundam eventually brought these types of stories forth as well. There’s several different re-tellings of the original Gundam since Tomino’s novelization, and plenty of official “what ifs” that explore some of the older ideas Sunrise had abandoned. The hard fought battles against lukewarm ratings and sponsors eventually resolved itself in Japan, but outside it’s a different story for the rest of the world.

The Gundam franchise had had some exposure to the west through movies and even an Italian dub of the original series in the 1980s, but the franchise’s biggest Western push was through Cartoon Network in the early 2000s. The animation conglomerate had originally brought over New Mobile Report: Gundam Wing, a series that originally aired in 1995. Cartoon Networks burgeoning anime fandom loved the unique mech design, explosive battles, and decent looking art. Bandai also brought over the line of plastic Gunpla models that went with Wing, and it cemented the franchise as one of Cartoon Network’s anime staples. Bandai followed up Wing with the original, and it was not as well received. The aged animation of the 70s didn’t hold a candle to what the mid-90s Wing looked like. Mobile Suit Gundam is also a bit slower paced when it comes to action, and whole episodes could be dedicated to character growth without much use of the titular mech or any battles at all. The lukewarm reception to Gundam ended up getting the show pulled before it even finished airing. Keep in mind Mobile Suit Gundam aired daily in the US, so it lasted a little over a month. Word of mouth is that the series was originally pulled because of how close it was to the September 11th attacks on the world trade center, but that could easily have been an excuse for floundering ratings.

Gundam’s Western success lived and died by its toy line. There were plenty of different kits and action figures for Wing, and even Mobile Suit had a fairly large amount of figures. It wasn’t until G Gundam and Gundam SEED that things started to get out of hand with Bandai’s toy push. It got to the point where there were normal action figures of all the Gundam units and then those same units beaten and destroyed in a special line called “Battle Scarred.” Needless to say, it was damn near impossible to keep up with everything, and the Gundam market crashed. Stores were so overstocked with units that they refused to carry newer lines of toys and this combined with the mild reception of SEED lead to the franchise’s inevitable collapse.

It’s been well over a decade since the Great Gundam Collapse of the early 2000s. In that time the series has continued to flourish in Japan, but has only recently started to gain traction in North America again. Gundam Versus on the PlayStation 4 marks the franchises first game on a major home console in the west since 2006 (unless you’re counting the Dynasty Warriors spin-offs). The last few major anime series have made their way onto major streaming sites as well, and even Gunpla kits have started to gain traction at major chains like Hobby Town and Barnes & Nobel. Few franchises can claim to have had the same struggles as Gundam, but it’s those struggles that make the series memorable and impactful. In an essay titles “Contesting Traumatic War Narratives: Space Battleship Yamato and Mobile Suit Gundam,” William Ashbaugh talks about how Tomino thought viewers should come to their own conclusions about what the series means. It’s that same thought process that has helped to keep not only Gundam, but also the real robot genre, alive and well to this day.

Taylor is a writer from Atlanta, GA. His passion for games extends across genres and generations. When not playing or writing about games, he's probably reading science fiction.

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‘Mr. Robot’ Just Changed Everything with a Shocking Reveal

There have been a lot of moving parts put into place over the course of Mr. Robot’s fourth season. Several of them just came together, in devastating fashion.



Mr Robot

There have been a lot of moving parts put into place over the course of Mr. Robot‘s fourth, and final, season. On Sunday night, however, several of those pieces came together for one of the best episodes of the entire series in “Proxy Authentication Required”.

The reveal of a trauma so intense and horrific allows the character of Elliot to make so much more sense – so much so it almost warrants an entire series rewatch, to search for other hints.

Staged like a five act play, and utilizing a cinematic aspect ratio, “Proxy Authentication Required” immediately lets viewers know that it’s doing something a little different. While this may not be a huge surprise for fans (Mr. Robot just did a dialogue-free episode two weeks ago, among other experimental efforts throughout the series) the reason for it is fitting.

Essentially a bottle episode, “Proxy Authentication Required” takes place entirely in the apartment of Elliot’s former therapist, Krista. As such, the five act structure makes it even more like a play than it already is. Moreover, the episode is very dialog heavy, with almost no action.

Mr Robot
Still, with a meaty chess match between Elliot/Mr. Robot and drug dealer Fernando Vera making up the majority of the episode, the dialogue is weighty enough to justify this structure. The first round goes to Vera, who obviously has Elliot over a barrel, having kidnapped both he and Krista. However, Mr. Robot turns the tables in the second round, pointing out the lack of originality or planning in Vera’s drug-fueled, mystically-advised bid to take over New York City.

Finally, the third round comes: the tie breaker. As Fernando orders Krista to have an impromptu therapy session with Elliot, the most shocking reveal in the series is laid bare. After a tense build-up, and against the protests of both Krista and Mr. Robot, Elliot finally digs up the truth behind his alter ego. Mr. Robot wasn’t created after Elliot had an accident, he was created to protect Elliot from a series of traumas that came before it.

In an emotional moment sold gloriously by Rami Malek, Elliot accepts the truth: his father molested him throughout his childhood. In one fell swoop, so much of what we know about Elliot suddenly makes sense – and the fact that Mr. Robot looks like his dad is just the beginning. There’s also the details of the trauma that we’ve had up until now: that Elliot told Darlene to hide when he heard his dad coming; that he grabbed a bat to defend himself – and, finally, that he threw himself from the window when he feared he couldn’t best his father in the altercation.

The reveal of a trauma so intense and horrific allows the character of Elliot to make so much more sense – so much so it almost warrants an entire series rewatch, to search for other hints. Certainly it’s more logical that Mr. Robot was created out of these terrible memories rather than materializing after the injuries sustained during Elliot’s fall. It also lets the viewer know that Mr. Robot had a history of altering Elliot’s perception and memories long before the events of the series.

Even more disturbing is that the creation of false narratives and fake memories is actually a real-life coping mechanism used by survivors of sexual abuse, especially children. As such, the reveal fits naturally into the character of Elliot – but it’s a huge shock to drop on the audience a mere three episodes before the end of the show.

Of course, the reveal will no doubt ignite debates as to whether Mr. Robot creator and showrunner Sam Esmail planned this backstory from the start, or whether it was concocted as a wrench to throw in the gears at the last minute. Either way, questions remain as to how this new information will affect the remainder of the series.

Will Mr. Robot be back or is he gone for good, now that his job of protecting Elliot from the truth has become obsolete? Did/does Darlene know? Will this affect the plan to hack the Dark Army that has been building all season? All of these questions and more will be answered in the next three weeks but in the meantime, we’ll be waiting with baited breath.

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Watchmen Podcast: Breaking Down “Little Fear of Lightning”



Watchmen Podcast Episode 5

This week, Watchmen delves into Looking Glass’s past and revisits one of the biggest events from the comic: the “interdimensional” squid attack on New York that kills over three million people and psychologically damages millions more. “Little Fear of Lightning” the finest hour yet, a focused character study that connects past and present in fascinating ways. And as always, there’s a lot to digest.

Our Watchmen podcast will see Simon Howell and an assortment of guests tackle the entire series (or at least the first season). In this fifth episode, Simon Howell, Sean Colletti, and Randy Dankievitch, take a deep dive into “Little Fear of Lightning” and note some of the more astonishing facts of the episode you might have missed.

And for those of you wondering, in order to keep things simple, we’ve decided to upload each episode to the same feed as our other podcast, Before the Internet.

Listen here on iTunes or listen here on Stitcher. 

You can also catch our show on Pocketcast and on Spotify, or simply listen via the player embedded below.


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The Career of Seth Rollins: From Face to Heel at Lightning Speed



It wasn’t that long ago that The Shield debuted on Survivor Series, setting the main event careers of three talented wrestlers in motion. Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns, and Seth Rollins all came to the WWE through NXT. In and out of The Shield, each man has held multiple championships and has had great success.

Seth Rollins
The Shield stands together.

These days, look a lot different for the former Shield members. Dean Ambrose left the WWE for AEW to wrestle again as Jon Moxley and Roman Reigns took a step back from the spotlight after warring with cancer. Meanwhile, the career of Seth Rollins has taken a turn of its own.

Becoming Seth Rollins

Colby Lopez joined the WWE in 2010 as part of Florida Championship Wrestling under the name Seth Rollins. He was there when it was re-branded in 2012 as NXT and became their inaugural champion. Seth Rollins turned heel in epic fashion by betraying The Shield and embarking on a huge singles career after his main roster debut.

Seth Rollins heel
Rollins turns heel and betrays The Shield.

Rollins hitting his Shield brothers with a steel chair still rates as one of the most shocking turns in WWE history.

More recently, Rollins had two wars against Brock Lesnar over the Universal Championship. Rollins won the Royal Rumble, using the title shot he earned to beat Lesnar at WrestleMania. Then, Lesnar somehow won a Money in the Bank match he wasn’t technically involved in. He used that shot to get his belt back. Rollins would then reclaim the title at SummerSlam.

Rollins defeats Lesnar at WrestleMania.

It was a repetitive feud.

Rollins vs. Lesnar Into Infinity

The back and forth between Rollins and Lesnar became exhausting to fans. Not shockingly, WWE viewers were already sick of Lesnar being an absentee champion by the point that Reigns finally took him down. When he reclaimed the belt after Roman’s cancer announcement, the focus turned to Rollins hunting Lesnar.

Even when someone else like AJ Styles or Baron Corbin got in the mix, fans knew they wouldn’t win. It was always going to be about Lesnar and Rollins so fans started to turn on Rollins. His Hell in a Cell match against ‘The Fiend’ Bray Wyatt was the final nail.

Top Face or Top Heel?

There was a time long ago that fans over the age of eight cheered for John Cena when he came out to the ring. At some point, it became cooler to boo him. The same is true of Roman Reigns, who had to go through a traumatic personal experience to get fans to ease up on him. In both cases, they were the corporate champions chosen to lead the brand.

In reality, fans didn’t really care if they were good wrestlers or not. It’s just something they chafe against.

The boos echoing through the arena are growing louder and louder for Seth Rollins for similar reasons. That’s due in no small part to the long, tedious promos he’s sent out to give to personally connect with the audience. Play that card too often and the opposite becomes true. WWE was frequently guilty of the same thing with both Cena and Reigns.

Rollins cuts another promo.

Watch the video from the night when Reigns made the announcement of his hiatus to fight cancer. Fans were reflexively booing him because they figured they were in for another long promo. The mood changed quickly when Roman started talking about leukemia.

Things Go Wrong at Hell in a Cell

All of this was already building to a head when Hell in a Cell came along.

Rollins faces The Fiend.

Universal Champion Seth Rollins was set to defend his title against ‘The Fiend’ Bray Wyatt in the titular main event. Unfortunately, WWE had painted themselves into a corner. They wanted Seth to retain, which he did, but couldn’t use the traditional DQ or count out to do it. Instead, WWE went for some weird finish where Seth hurt Wyatt so much so the ref stopped the match.

Essentially, a DQ in a no DQ match.

Rollins became the focus of much of the rage for the bad finish but the feud between him and Wyatt would continue. Wyatt finally won the Universal Championship and took it back to SmackDown. The side effect of this would be Lesnar returning to Raw with the WWE Championship.

It’s inevitable that Rollins and Lesnar will cross paths for the WWE Championship. Unfortunately, fans will have to choose between the two. They’ll end up cheering Rollins on as the lesser of two evils from their perspective.

The main miscalculation that WWE made at Hell in a Cell is the same one they made with Reigns and Cena. They assumed that being the top face in a match makes you the fan-favorite. Bray Wyatt is, by far, the most over wrestler in the company. People love Firefly Fun House and they love ‘The Fiend.’ Rollins simply couldn’t compete as any ending that wasn’t Wyatt with a belt would not be satisfactory to fans.

Seth Rollins’ Next Phase

Now, Rollins is stuck in a weird limbo. The top face on Raw for management that’s morphing into a heel based on fan opinion. His heel run alongside Triple H was some of his best work and he is still a superb in-ring performer. WWE should let what’s going to happen by letting Rollins perform to his strengths.

Let Rollins burn it down as a heel one more time.

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