This year is the 35th anniversary of Gundam, Japan’s storied robot anime franchise, and a livestreamed event in Japan began promotion for the occasion in earnest ahead of the start of the AnimeJapan trade fair on March 22nd. A trio of animated works were spotlighted at the event, one being seventh and final chapter of the Gundam Unicorn DTV project due this spring. There was also first trailer and a “spring 2015″ date presented for the long-awaited anime project based on Yoshikazu Yasuhiko’s Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin manga – a retelling and reimagining of the classic 1979 Mobile Suit Gundam TV series. But there will also be a brand new animated work on time for 2014 this fall, from none other than Gundam creator Yoshiyuki Tomino himself: a new series entitled Gundam Reconguista in G. Read on to the end for a screenshot gallery for its teaser trailer, as well as the video itself.
As reported by Anime News Network, besides Tomino a few staff members for Reconguista are confirmed: Musical composer Yuugo Kanno (Birdy the Mighty Decode, Psycho-Pass), character designer Kenichi Yoshida (Eureka Seven, Overman King Gainer) and mecha designers Ippei Gyōbu (Sacred Seven), Akira Yasuda (Turn A Gundam, Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion) and Kimitoshi Yamane (Overman King Gainer, Cowboy Bebop, Escaflowne: A Girl in Gaea). ANN also identifies the male lead as “Beruri Zenamu”, a rookie pilot who joins an organization tasked with protecting a space elevator. If nothing else, the Gundam tradition of using bizarre names for important people is in no danger of vanishing anytime soon.
This project of Tomino’s has undertaken quite a journey since it was simply codenamed “G-Reko” several years ago. As accounted for well at the Gundam Guy blog the “bald wizard” conceived it as a distinct and new kind of robot anime, actively avoiding use of the Gundam name as something that he considered a “total nuisance” and a kind of barrier in the way of his objective. Then it underwent “full production” in 2012, and now here we are with final confirmation that it is coming to life sporting the Gundam name after all.
So then, a fan might reasonably ask, what does that mean? Does it follow from this that Tomino’s vision been altered to conform to the conventions of original Gundam? Perhaps, but I daresay the answer is probably not based on reasons beyond Tomino’s spoken sentiments time and again. While it’s true this new series is said to be in continuity with the original “Universal Century” timeline of Mobile Suit Gundam, it also takes place under a new “Reguild Century” calendar. This is a distinction heretofore used only for original and independent “Alternate Universe” Gundam tales, and moreover this conception of a new era in history is actually a holdover from Tomino’s early ideas. Other elements seem consistent with initial concepts as well, such as the body design of the main mecha itself and the importance of a space elevator to the storyline. There is no indication to date that any specific individual besides Tomino has played an integral role in laying out the scenario for Reconguista. Finally, Tomino’s sentiments notwithstanding, he has already proven his capacity to do something different with the Gundam name with his last original Gundam series, 1999’s Turn A Gundam, which was centered around the concept of an aptly-named “Moonrace” of humans that enroaches upon an Earthling civilization that’s initially regressed to technology no better than what existed in the 19th century. It’s not unreasonable to consider it the most unique Gundam anime in existence, or at the very least a serious contender. That Tomino is accompanied by several staff involved in either that work or his distinct Overman King Gainer may be instructive.
Given all this, the best explanation is likely the simple commercial one: Gundam is such a juggernaut franchise in Japan that it crosses over into the realm of being a bonafide cultural phenomenon, and a flagship title like this will by default be easier to market and merchandise with that name attached to it than otherwise. Yet in truth Tomino hasn’t made a entirely new “traditional” Gundam story in over twenty years, and the examples of his latest original work show that for him being tied to this brand is by no means the same thing as being bound by or beholden to the conventions that he participated in forging. Time will tell soon enough just how special Reconguista is, but existing Gundam fans craving something fresh and curious viewers alike should take comfort in the fact that Tomino has set his own admirable example to follow.