Well, I’ve finished up one giant robot manga (at least until Neon Genesis Evangelion Vol. 14 gets a US release). So, it’s time to start up another one – Mobile Suit Gundam, The Origin – a manga which, like Eva, is an adaptation of a show that is in our Greatest Science Fiction TV Show Tournament.

Title: Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin, Volume 1
Written and Illustrated by Yoshikazu Yasuhiko
Based on the series created by Yoshiyuki Tomino
Mechanical Design by Kunio Okawara.
Translated by Melissa Tanaka
Published by Vertical Inc.

Available from Amazon.com & RightStuf

The Premise

In the year 79 of the new “Universal Century” dating system, the space colony of Side 3, located at the L2 point, secedes from the government of the Earth Federation, declaring themselves the Principality of Zeon, founding themselves on the principals of spacenoid superiority and supremacy. This leads to a bitter war between Zeon & the Earth Federation, with a catastrophic death toll, including the loss of 18% of Australia’s land mass and the destruction of Sydney, Australia when it was hit by a Zeon colony drop.

As the war goes on, the forces of the Earth Federation attempts to develop suits of power armor or “mobile suits” to counteract Zeon’s more technologically advanced mobile suits. The Earth Federation builds their prototype, the Gundam, at the colony of Side 7. When the colony is attacked by a Zeon commando force, Amaro Ray, the son of the mobile suit’s designer, Tem Ray, pilots the Gundam in defense of the colony. As the only person who knows how to fly the thing, it’s up to Amaro to defend the prototype mobile suit carrier, the White Base, which is carrying the refugees from the colony. The White Base, commanded by Lt. Bright Noah (not Noah Bright, Bright Noah), and its refugee passengers flee to Earth, while evading attacks from Zeon forces, lead by the infamous Zeon ace, Char Aznable.

High Points

The art here is significantly more brutal than the original series, and conveys the horrors of war much more effectively then the show did (or could get away with). Considering Tomino’s later work, like Ideon and later Gundam series, I suspect that the show would have been a lot more like the manga if he could have gotten away with it.

Low Points

The Earth Federation as a whole (in terms of their officers), feels a lot more aggressively dickish then they did in the show.

Scores

Originality: This is an adaptation of a TV show, but one which makes some modifications, generally for the better. 4/6

Story: The story of the original series (at least for this part) was solid. The adjustments for the adaptation only make it better. 6/6

Characterization: Most of the characters are well written, though by this point in the series, they’d teased Char’s true identity as Casval Deikun (though not what his true identity means yet) more effectively. 4/6

Emotional Response: The art here makes the story much more intense. Especially when Fraw Bow’s mother is killed. 5/6

Artwork: The art here is gorgeous, especially the mechanical design. 6/6

Flow: 6/6

Overall: This manga is excellent, and I’d definitely consider it recommended reading for science fiction fans, whether they like anime and manga or not. 5/6

In total, Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin – Volume 1, gets 36/42.

EDIT: Corrected some grammar errors caused by transcribing the review late at night, while also contending with Auto-Correct.