Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Mike’s Top Fifteen Favorite Mecha from Gundam

Just what it says on the tin!   My top fifteen favorite mecha from my second-favorite mecha-heavy franchise!


15. Gelgoog (MSG)

Ah, the Gelgoog.  Arriving far too late in the One Year War to make a difference for the Zeon.  It always seemed to me like a mix of a Gouf and a Dom.  Obviously has Zaku/Gouf-stylings on the upper body, but it has the flared skirt and legs of a Dom.   In whatever case, I always thought it looked cool and had nicely-designed weapons.

While Char and Gato both have custom-colored Gelgoogs, I do prefer the standard color the most.

It is also a fun name to say.  Gelgoog.  Gelgoog.  Geeeeel-goog.  GelgoogGelgoogGelgoog.

14. Gundam Age-2 Dark Hound (Age)

A pirate's suit for me!   Sure, the Dark Hound is just a homage/rip-off/whathaveyou of the Crossbone guys, but I just like its design better.  The pirate-hat shaped head with an “eyepatch”, the anchor weapons, and the lance (Do pirates use lances? Whatever.) all appeal to me.

Asemu was my favorite of the three protagonists from Age too, and I did like the Age-2 Gundam as well, so this badass-looking darker variant of it was a sure thing for this list.

13. Kshatriya (Unicorn)

The deadly flying metal palm tree.   The Kshatriya undeniably looks cool, but I think what earned it my favor was that first mobile suit fight scene in Unicorn episode one.  Talk about making a great first impression; I knew Unicorn was going to be really enjoyable and high-quality from that scene on.

This Queen Mansa offshoot has a cool assortment of weapons (I'm particularly fond of the hidden arms within its “wings”) and quite the menacing silhouette.   And heck, it even looks good being trashed by Banagher's Unicorn Gundam in the third episode.

Marida Cruz is probably my favorite character in Unicorn, so that helps too!

12. Brave Commander Test-Type (00: Awakening of the Trailblazer)

Graham Aker's my favorite character from 00, and his custom Brave is the ultimate expression of his character's final evolution.

Obviously bearing a large resemblance to the Flag and borrowing a couple hints from the Masurao/Susanowo, this suit has quite the proud lineage.   I always liked the Flag the best out of 00's grunt suits, and its final descendant doesn't disappoint in design or performance.

Graham certainly puts it through its paces in the movie, pulling off some of his trademark insane maneuvers that border on masochistic.

It was fitting as the final suit Graham Aker would ever fly.  Also, one wonders if the blue coloring was in homage to Graham's eternal rival, Setsuna F. Seiei.

“I wish to embrace you, Gundam!” indeed.

11. Duel Gundam w/Assault Shroud (Seed)

Purge-able armor is a common gimmick amongst mecha in general, and the Duel is my favorite version of this in Gundam.

Some might think the Duel is a bit boring, even with the Assault Shroud armor attached, and maybe they're right.   However, I think it looks pretty cool, and rather fitting for its pilot, Yzak Joule.  Yzak initially started the series off as a bitter rival and sort of “Bizzaro” version of Kira Yamato.  The Duel is basically the testbed for the Strike Gundam, so it kinda makes sense thematically for Yzak to be piloting an “evil” version of the Strike.

Plus, Yzak's my favorite Seed character and he gets some awesome moments in the final battle of that series, taking out both the Forbidden and Raider Gundams with his plain old “boring” Duel.

The Duel wielding the Buster's rifle is also my favorite scene from that show.

10. Gundam Physalis (0083)

I like the distinctness of this Gundam design- there’s only a handful of Gundam altogether that are this bulky and the Physalis is my favorite one.  And “evil” Gundams are usually always cool; you can see throughout this list that I’m particularly drawn to them.

Despite its bulkiness, Gato made a good show of it piloting this suit in one-on-one combat.  I also really like the menacing head design and the oversized shield.  

And of course, Physalis has got a giant bazooka that fires a nuke.  NEAT.

9. Gundam Sandrock Custom (Endless Waltz)

Katoki Hajime took what I felt was the most boring Gundam design in Wing and made it my favorite in Endless Waltz.  And all he had to do was change the colors and double the size of Sandrock’s blades.

This Sandrock’s a little sleeker-looking than the TV series version too, which also improves its overall appeal.  Plus, it wears a cloak, and the ridiculousness of a robot wearing a large piece of cloth somehow comes full circle and makes the end result pretty badass. 

I don't much care for its pilot though; Quatre's too much of a whiny little pacifist.   But at least the Sandrock Custom carries his regal bearing.

8. Arche Gundam (00)

Ali Al-Saachez’s second season suit is a monster, just like the man himself.   It has the “Gundam” qualifier in its name, but it doesn’t look like a Gundam very much.  That’s why I find it so appealing.

It looks like the Throne Zwei bred with Ali’s red Enact, resulting in a suit that is simultaneously bulky and slim at the same time.  It is much more massive than Celestial Being’s Gundams, yet it manages to be more agile.  Also, it has four eyes, which is awesome. 

The Arche is the perfect vehicle for Ali’s fighting style too; able to use deceptive moves that are fast and overpowering.  To me, it kinda looks like some flailing angry red four-eyed dragon in motion.

My only regret is that this suit really doesn’t get to shine much in the series.  Its first fight is its best, and the other battles it has aren’t much to speak of.   This is likely due to Ali’s reduced role in the second season of 00.  Oh well.  At least I get to do all crazy break-dancing beam saber moves with it in Gundam Extreme VS.

7. Neue Ziel (0083)

I don’t think much of Gundam 0083 as a series, but its mecha design is superb.   And my favorite mecha from it is the only Mobile Armor on this list; Neue Ziel.

As Anavel Gato once described it, the Neue Ziel looks “like the goals and spirit of Zeon given form”.  This is probably my favorite “final boss” of any Gundam series; the thing just screams sleek menace and overwhelming power.   And as Gato pointed out, you can tell it is unmistakably a Zeon suit just by looking at it.

Heh, the Gelgoog, the Physalis, and this- Gato’s got great taste.   Except in women.


 6. Zeta Gundam (Zeta)

As you might be able to tell, I’m a fan of the unconventional, and the Zeta Gundam was the original unconventional Gundam.

This was the first Gundam to fully transform from one distinct (non-cheaty) mode to another, and also the first to break with the standard Gundam head design.   Even the Psyco Gundam and the Mark II’s heads were clearly based off the original RX-78.  But Zeta’s head design is much more distinct, while still obviously a Gundam.  This Gundam also started the trend of the protagonist getting a completely-different, more powerful Gundam later in the series.

And it can summon the ghosts of dead people and do its patented Waverider Crash!

For all these reasons, as well as the fact that it just looks cool, Zeta makes this list. Because Kamille is a man’s name. And he's a man.

5. Gundam Exia (00)

Setsuna F. Seiei’s first Gundam and my favorite of the three main models he’s used.   Exia proves that one can never have enough swords. 

While the 00 Gundam is the “title” suit of the show, Exia’s probably more distinct and recognized amongst the fanbase.   It certainly is more keyed to Setsuna’s fight style and general…upbringing than his later suits.  Plus, that original GN Sword/Gun has never been surpassed as Setsuna’s primary weapon of choice.

Oh, and it passes one of the ultimate tests of mecha…it looks EVEN MORE BADASS when it is battle-damaged!  Damn, I love it when robots wear cloaks.

4. Strike Noir Gundam (Stargazer)

A variant of the Strike Gundam, and undoubtedly its coolest one.  I guess you can argue this is the “evil” version of Strike.  It doesn’t get much screen time, but what it did get made it one of my favorites.

It has got a couple of really neat and unique weapons, like the grappling hooks in its palms and feet (which its pilot, Sven Cal Bayan, uses to great effect in the animation), and dual beam pistols.  The Noir Striker backpack gives it a distinctly-menacing silhouette, which totally works in its favor.

Most importantly, it can do all these pistol-fu poses and not look stupid.  That’s totally key.

3. Master Gundam (G)

Yep, yet another “evil” Gundam on the list.  The Master Gundam manages to look awesome, even with a head that is vaguely-shaped like a heart.  It looks awesome whether it is mimicking Master Asia’s arrogant arms-folded poses or his combat stances.

It uses energized CLOTH as a weapon.  And its wings unfold and become a METAL cape for it to wear.  And it rides a giant robot HORSE controlled by a REAL horse.

Oh and its head is vaguely-shaped like a heart, did I mention that?  Still, it is one of the manliest giant robots with a head-shaped-vaguely-like-a-heart one could hope to pilot.

2. Destiny Gundam (Seed Destiny)

I know what you’re thinking.   “Mike, how could you like the Destiny Gundam so much?  Seed Destiny sucks, and Shinn Asuka sucks, and the Destiny’s so boring/not Strike Freedom/a bunch of rip-offs stapled together!”  Well, guess what?   I like it BECAUSE it steals a bunch of gimmicks from Gundams from other series.

It has the Wings of Light and beam shields from Victory Gundam, the “Destiny Finger” taken from G Gundam, and the rest of its stuff is mostly nabbed from its own series.  I really like the “jack of all trades” feel of it.

The Wings of Light on Destiny make it look almost like some kind of scary bird of prey to me, and not angelic like V2 or Strike Freedom’s similar effects look.  Which is how it should be, really.  You SHOULD be scared of the giant sword-wielding robot flying on LASER WINGS towards you.

I also really like the head design on Destiny, with the grooves cut into the faceplate under the eyes.  Cuz Shinn is a frickin’ emo, HAHA!!!  Hilariously awesome.

So if liking the Destiny Gundam makes me wrong, then I don’t want to be right!   Huh, I guess you COULD consider this yet another “evil” Gundam on this list…but I’ve never been sure Shinn’s been always and totally in the wrong.

1. Gouf Custom (08th MS Team)

Huh? All these over-the-top powerhouses, and my number one favorite is a fancied-up grunt??  Well, it is.

Norris Packard’s special Gouf here is my favorite mecha from the Gundam franchise for a number of reasons.  One, it’s the coolest variant of my favorite grunt suit in Gundam.  Two, did you see it in action in the series?   Holy crap!  Yeah, that’s probably my favorite animated mecha fight of all time- Norris versus the 08th team in that abandoned city.

And of course, 08th MS Team is my favorite Gundam series, so this was just a shoe-in.

The Asshimar.

Just because it looks like a flying hamburger and that makes me laugh.

-Mike P.

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