Gunbuster – Anime Review

Japanese Title: Top o Nerae! Gunbuster

 

Related: Diebuster (sequel)

Similar: Voices of a Distant Star

Gurren Lagann

Martian Successor Nadesico

 

Watched in: Japanese

Genre: Mecha Science Fiction Action Drama

Length: 6 episodes

 

Positives:

  • Brisk pacing.
  • Detailed art.

Negatives:

  • The characters, protagonist in particular.
  • Weak science.
  • Too much stupidity.
  • The final scene is laughably atrocious.

I have heard some decree Gunbuster as ‘the epitome of classic mecha anime’ and ‘the standards to which all future mecha anime should be based on.’ After seeing this for myself, I can only laugh at the absurdity of those comments. If Gunbuster was the classic mecha pinnacle, then damn was anime rubbish back then.

Gunbuster centres on a high school girl called Takaya, who lost her father to a space war. She is in training to be a mech pilot to find him and she is ultimately set to operate an almighty mech against the alien invasion.

I can’t go further without deconstructing Takaya, for I can’t imagine picking a worse character to play protagonist. See, her “endearing” quality is being rubbish. She’s rubbish in Mech School; she’s rubbish at controlling a mech; she’s rubbish at carrying the weight of the world on her shoulders. And yet, despite all this, we are told she is the best person for the job. What we are shown is someone who has no discernible talent, especially for one who has to protect the world almost single-handedly. She can’t do the basics of mech control, but is one of two trainees selected to pilot Gunbuster, the giant mech capable of repelling the aliens. First, why didn’t they select veteran pilots who already knew what they were doing? Second, she’s bottom of the class. We are told that the reason for her selection is because the coach has “faith” in her. Truly? That is what you are going to base the world’s fate on? It gets worse.

An envious and superior classmate challenges her for the spot, and get this, Takaya turns off her monitor to ‘trust in the force’ Luke-style, somehow knows when to dodge an attack she can’t see, and despite having no combat training, she pulls off some supposedly incredible kick and wins. The rubbish can only pile so high in a story, and yet, this is only the first episode. It gets worse.

Before her and Onee-sama (the series has a fetish for that word) control Gunbuster, they undertake smaller missions. Guess what happens? Takaya still sucks and gets people killed. Now guess the coach’s reaction. Yep, he doesn’t have a problem with her whatsoever. How does she end up controlling Gunbuster to battle fleets of alien ships in the end? I don’t know…magic, I guess. There is never a point where she learns competence. She simply succeeds because the writer said so. Takaya has to be one of the worst protagonists I have ever witnessed.

This magical transformation makes even less sense when you see what passes for training here. They learn to fight by – can’t believe I am saying this – doing laps and push-ups while inside the mech. These mechs aren’t like Escaflowne’s Guymelefs, where the user’s strength creates movement; no, Gunbuster uses electronic Gundam-type mechs. This logic is so stupid that I couldn’t even muster enough energy to care about them wearing stripper swimwear as spacesuits, despite knowing of side effects from space travel. I wasn’t laughing with the anime, I was laughing at the anime – maybe that’s why some databases have the ‘Comedy’ genre tag.

Gunbuster could have been good – it doesn’t drag at six episodes long, the art is detailed, the scope is galactic – but when the very core is as corrupted with rubbish as this, it eclipses the rest, no matter how good it may be.

Art – Medium

Art was so close to a high rating for its detail – love the mech interiors – and good animation, but the final episode ran either out of time or out of money, resulting in a black and white episode where the key action scene is a series of concept stills. Dull mech designs, but the ships and aliens look interesting.

Sound – Medium

Audio quality sounds old from its cheery pop music to the tinny voice work. Not bad, but if oldness bothers you, this will be a problem. Overdramatic style of voice work, which is valid, but not to broad tastes. The coach in particular speaks as though every line is of utmost importance, you must understand him right now! The script is the biggest letdown here.

Story – Low

A girl is tasked with piloting a world destroying mech to fight off the alien invasion of our galaxy. An implausible, poorly developed protagonist coupled with collectively stupid decisions from humanity one after another leads to a disappointing story.

Overall Quality – Very Low

Recommendation: For those interested in seeing old mecha anime. For its time, Gunbuster would have been impressive with its animation and visuals, but bad characters and idiotic story will have always been bad. Worse than the sum of its parts.

(Request reviews here. Find out more about the rating system here.)

 

Awards: (hover mouse over each award to see descriptions; click award for more recipients)

Positive: None

Negative:

DissapointingInduces StupidityMary Sue

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