Comic Picks By The Glick

Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin vol. 4 — Jaburo

January 30, 2014

After three volumes, and many hard-fought battles the crew of White Base finally makes it to the Federation’s South American base.  There’s plenty more hardship to be had as key members of the supporting cast find their moment to shine… before being snuffed out.  “Gundam” has been an engaging read up to now as it’s been a pleasure to see the story unfold through mangaka Yoshikazu Yasuhiko’s measured, deliberate storytelling and wonderfully expressive art.  Yes, there are plenty of tropes and cliches in the narrative, but Yasuhiko’s work is captivating enough to carry you through most of these issues.  Even if it is rough going accepting the presence of characters who betray the origins of this series as an anime that was originally intended for kids.

I’m talking about Katz, Letz and Kika, three orphaned children who should’ve been moved off the ship at the earliest opportunity.  They haven’t and have now come to regard the White Base as their home, causing more mischief than help in the process.  Yasuhiko clearly loves drawing them and builds one of the book’s artistic highlights -- a two-page mostly silent escape sequence that features more panels than a page should logically hold -- around them.  However, they’re ultimately annoying ciphers and their role in averting disaster at Jaburo feels like something straight out of a kids’ movie.  It’s particularly jarring given that the series is clearly geared towards a more mature audience and you’re left with the feeling that the only reason they’re here is because they were beloved characters from the original anime and doing a new “origin” story without them would’ve been heresy.  Not having any reference for the love the original Japanese audience must feel towards them, I can only hope that subsequent volumes find them out of the spotlight and fading into the background where they belong.

Jason Glick

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