It is Universal Century 0153. On the space colonies located at Side 2, the Zanscare Empire has come to power and it holds onto that power through liberal use of the guillotine. With its forces invading the Earth and its space fleets preparing to subjugate the other Sides, the Zanscare Empire has nothing to fear from the weakening Earth Federation. It is opposed only by the League Militaire, whose state of the art mobile suits and young pilots comprise the only real resistance movement. Now, thirteen-year-old Uso Evin has been dragged into the war by a battle near his home in Eastern Europe. As the Newtype pilot of the Victory Gundam, he fights not only to defeat the Zanscare Empire but also to find out what has become of his parents, who left him behind when they went into space.
Story: Without a doubt, V Gundam is the saddest Gundam story to date. And before anything else is said, I think it's worth a mention to say that a lot of people die, and most of the time for no good reason at all. That aside, I have to say I really loved the storyline. However, some of the story arcs in the middle could have been left out, and the story would still be intact; a lot of the time during said arcs I found myself wondering why the characters were doing what they were doing. There's not a lot of narrative glue to
stick the parts together, and to keep one interested during some of the low parts. But, overall it's a nice story, with an emphasis on death, and at least during the last arc, a huge emphasis on the beauty of life.
Art: Very good. V Gundam uses a very simple art style to convey the characters and the Mobile Suits; which is both good and bad. Most of the Suits are very similar to each other, and are very rarely any unique. Characters however, look very nice, and some are just too cool for words, while others are just meh. Battles are everything you would expect from a mecha show, and although somewhat exaggerated at times (or almost all of the time), they're mostly very good. The simple style works here to make the art very nice looking even today.
Sound: Not much to say here. There's an excellent cast of actors working on the voices, and the mecha sounds are great, but nothing really stands out in this category.
Characters: We've got a cast of mostly children and women, with the main villain and one of the main characters being male. The rest of the male cast are either lesser characters or very old men. I can't quite remember why the cast is like it is, but it brings a fresh look on what might be a stale storyline. It also has the effect of removing almost all romantic involvement between the main characters. There's a peace-loving-battle-scarred boy, a princess girl, and a group of what seem to be orphaned children. Interaction between them is what really pushes the story along. Without a doubt, Oliver and Captain Gomez were my favorite characters, both of which received little screen time, but both of whom were very central to the story.
Overall: No where near as good as First Gundam, V Gundam is nonetheless a very nice looking, anime featuring a somewhat lacking storyline that'll get your emotions running if you're not prepared for it. Definitely recommended if you've seen the other UC animes, however, the story is completely separate from the main meta-plot.
Renowned as being the most depressing Gundam show, Victory is an odd sort of a series. At times it evokes the bleakness of Tomino's older works such as The Ideon and Zeta Gundam, while at others it's a humorous space adventure with wacky kids in the vein of Xabungle.
The art is similarly variable, with some episodes looking wonderful and others distinctly less so.
The music is consistently good, however, with a full set of quality OPs and EDs, plus a brilliant, poignant insert song or two.
Essentially, Victory picks up the UC storyline long after even F91 and Unicorn are done and dusted, with the Earth Federation
completely ineffective. Elements of the show work with this, such as the cameo appearance from a Salamis or two in some episodes, but it does stand alone in its own right.
The main character is incredibly likeable - Usso gets on with it, does what has to be done and doesn't vacillate, whine or arbitrarily punch people for making fun of his name (too much.) He has a badass action Haro. He has a likeable dog which survives the whole series.
Contrasting him is Shakti, who is useless and annoying for a good part of the series. The villains are similarly unimpressive, with the only really good ones being Katejina and a few of the minor Zanscare leaders. The rest are fairly forgettable rehashes of UC archetypes (Chronicle is one of the weakest Char analogues in the franchise, notable for being as much of a failure as Zeta Gundam's Jerid Messa)
Mech design is all over the place, from the stylish and deadly V2AB to the plain insane Dodgore and Adastrea, which would be better suited to a super robot show. When it hits its stride, the results are spectacular but unfortunately that doesn't happen too often.
In terms of serious military drama, Victory comes across as a slightly tasteless black comedy rather than a bleak space horror ala Ideon or a depiction of a morally bankrupt hellhole as shown in Dougram. The climactic moments when Usso loses someone close to him are rarely hard-hitting but often ridiculous - almost equivalent to a mecha version of the Saw or Final Destination movies in their overly elaborate and telegraphed natures.
So all this criticism laid bare, what redeems Victory?
Firstly that it's different to a lot of Gundam despite deriving from it. It's at times fun, at times kind of bleak and frequently unpredictable.
Secondly, its likeable characters are really pleasant and nice to watch.
Thirdly, while the pacing is a little wacky and sometimes not ideal, the ending arc is very intense and powerful. One moment, where the insert song is used perfectly to accompany a moment of sacrifice, will stick with you.
By all means give Victory a good go before giving up on it. Just be prepared to accept it is very flawed.
Victory gundam is a series that catches quite the bad rep with it often being regarded as one of the worst entries in the franchise, when I was going into the series I was embracing for the worst , but what I ended up seeing wasn’t the travesty some see it as but rather a solid series that was able to convey some truly beautiful moments and messages that can even act as a entry level gundam as its pretty much stand alone from other gundam despite being a universal century entry. Now don’t get me wrong, victory gundam has flaws that has garnered it
infamy, many of the negatives attributed to victory gundam come from its supposedly forced deaths and odd placement of goofy and absurd moments. And those flaws are sadly quite true as there are many deaths that frankly felt forced and didn’t need to happen in addition to some downright bizarre scenes that feel completely out of place with the show’s generally dark and depressing tone. However while victory gundam has its weak points I also believe it does so much right that it can outweigh its faults in the end, that is if one’s tolerances for what it does wrong is strong enough and this is going to greatly determine whether victory is for you or not.
As unconventional and potentially dissuading as this may be its probably best to address the negatives of this series first before getting into what the show does right so try not to get dissuaded dead on arrival, Like I said I believe one's tolerance of the following things are really going to determine whether victory gundam is really for them and knowing what to expect is best in determining this:
-Deaths: lets tackle this one right off the bat, victory gundam is billed with the largest body count in the franchise, and frankly there are quite a few deaths that didnt need to happen. Victory gundam has a bad tendency to introduce a character and give them focus for an episode only to kill them off immediately that same episode. Many of these deaths feel very formulaic and can create a disconnect in emotion the series should be conveying during these death scenes and instead makes them feel sloppy and lacking in impact. It really can make the deaths seem predictable and there are more than a few times where the reasons they die are completely avoidable. The worst case of this is a heroic sacrifice about halfway in of a semi important character up to that point where he/she kamikazes into a enemy to supposedly save another character....however the enemy is completely unaffected and the person they supposedly were saving was just fine without their sacrifice ultimately making their death needless.
HOWEVER! Whilst victory gundam has its poorly executed deaths not all of them are bad, actually there are some truly well done and powerful death scenes. In fact most of the dumb and absurd death scenes are only done on really small and unimportant characters (admittedly sometimes as a result of the dying after being introduced complaint above) but whenever a generally major character dies (and alot of times even really minor one off characters) have some really impacting deaths. Its poorly done deaths are a big issue with the series but there is still really well done ones in there and Id actually argue there is more well done ones than bad and the good actually play a major part in developing the main character uso which ill get into in a bit. If you cant possibly forgive a series for dumb mistreatment of (mostly minor) character's mortality then victory gundam may irk you in the wrong way but if your willing to forgive the series in favor of the ones it does right than it may be more up ones alley
-Absurdity: Victory gundam is a really dark series depicting the most brutal and at times disturbing imagery in the series; in some regards victory gundam is the most realistic gundam in the sense that the true brutality of war and the destruction these mechs are capable of causing are most accurately displayed in this series. And it’s for that reason these random absurd scenes can really hurt the show. Now you’re probably wondering what I mean by absurdity, what I mean by that is Victory gundam has a handful of really out of place goofy scenes that distract the dark tone of the show, worst of which is when the main character fights a squad of jetpacked bikkini soldiers who he unsurprisingly obliterates cause he is in a fucking mech (this scene is on youtube under the name "Bikini Babe Assault in Victory Gundam" if you don’t believe me). They are pretty rare but their appearances are memorable (but not in the good way) so that they will stick around in your mind and potentially hurting the series’ image. These scenes are generally pretty funny but when the show’s point is to be a dark and serious war drama being funny is not a good thing.
Alright so if your still reading and shaking your head in disapproval from how I started off a review for a series I’m recommending by immediately shit talking it then its time to get into the part where I actually say why people should watch it. Victory gundam has its flaws but I believe victory also does much right:
-Characters: This is by far the strongest part of victory gundam, for starters Uso erwin our protagonist has an instantly likable personality, to top this off the way his development is handled is truly excellent. His development is dependent on him coming face to face with the horrors of war and changing as a result of them ultimately becoming a scarred but matured character similarly to zeta gundam's protagonist Kammile Bidan. His character development was very visible and by shows final 10 episodes he felt entirely different than he did at the start. He was a character I really grew attached to and he showcases a real display of humanity, he’s a 13 year old boy experiencing true hell, many of his actions feel genuine like a 13 year old boy would do, he has his naive moments which may or may not be a turn off to some but that just makes him feel more genuine as when you’re young you are naive, To top this off the series isnt sugar coating his maturing nature as he shouldn't be maturing and experiencing what he is at his age, its the loss of innocence due to tragedy which really sums up uso's character as a whole. Out of all the gundam this kid probably goes through the worst experiences and that really is saying alot in a franchise like this, and this hell he goes through really makes him a compelling character.
Uso is a strong pro but he alone doesn't carry the show, he wasn't alone in his likability as the entire supporting cast(minus the doa characters mentioned above) was generally quite lovable and also experience a fair share of development with interesting and enjoyable personalities. Victory gundam still has action every single episode like the ones before it but the show felt like it has more focus on slower and contained moments of characters just interacting and talking, this really helped make the cast easier to grow attached to. I legitimately gave a shit about most of the cast and this really is what made victory gundam for me. The relationships between characters were actually enjoyable to see interact. Shatki the series heroine will get some differing opinions depending on the viewer though, she makes a few dumb decisions during the series that have led to some people disliking her but if you take a step back from our perspective her actions are more logical in her shoes and to her knowledge than to us the viewer who see the entire picture, I personally really liked her just like the rest of the cast but I will not deny some will find her off putting. Marbet and Odello whom make up the guardian archetype and the best friend archetype respectfully to the protagonist uso are particularly really memorable and undergo quite alot of development themselves.
-Pacing: One of the things I immediately loved about victory gundam was its pacing, not because it was always exciting moving from one event to another but rather the complete opposite. It was able to slow down instead of jumping into one traumatic situation after another. This is something that really helped me appreciate the world, characters, as well as made it less tedious as this made victory gundam feel more dynamic as a series progression wise. It’s not a super slow series but it has a good sense of when to slow down and when to speed up. Though it must be mentioned that the pacing in the first 4 episodes is off because they are told out of order due to a classic case of executive meddling, long story short the gundam originally wasn’t meant to appear until episode 4 and the execs didn’t like that so they placed episode 4 first in its broadcast with the 3 episodes before that being told in a “how we got there” type of story.
-Sense of morality: to me gundam 079's greatest strength was is showcase of how both sides of a war have people just fighting for what they believe is right, they have their reasons for doing what they do as well as have their own loved ones goals and ambitions. This strong aspect of 079 was immediately discarded come time for zeta and ZZ in favor of inhuman and absurd villains of zeta’s titans whom lacked any sense of humanity while ZZ was being....well ZZ. Victory gundam was a return to form for this theme and it does it extremely well. Just like 079 it does have a small number of "hurr durr im evil" characters usually as higher ups giving order but it does an exceptional job humanizing the enemy army regardless. You’ll see enemy soldiers talking about their families, showing genuine care for fellow soldiers and civilians, and one thing I absolutely adored me was showcasing how they also express fear of death as well. This humanization of the enemy is also the main reason victory gundam is such a heartbreaking series as the deaths of such enemies (as well as allies) only make it more and more depressing, which in turn I believe makes victory gundam truly sell the horrors of war more so than any other gundam (aside from war in the pocket). Though there is one elephant in the room I must mention while praising its depictions of morality. That elephant's name is katejina loos. Katejina is essentially evil incarnate and her reasons behind why she is such a disgusting human being isn't really touched upon aside from her relationship with one other major antagonist. To me she’s like ghilren zabi from 079, in the midst of this army that share humanity among its soldiers is this unnaturally evil and insane one that your just desperately waiting for the protagonist to squish them with their mech. At the very least she does end up being an entertaining and effective villain as her sheer brutality and unstable nature leads to interesting conflicts but I still wish they at least tried to give her some sense of humanity as there is another character that goes batshit psycho by stories end and acts similarly to katejina but was more a tragic outcome of his/her experience that made them what they were in the end, katejina is just a bitch.
-Tone/atmosphere: Thanks in part to its absolutely excellent ost which utilizes alot more softer sounding string driven music (youtube songs like "the white ghost" and "shakti" to get an idea of its feel) victory gundam does a great job of setting its tone. It can create a very dire atmosphere as well convey the depressing nature of the series whilst also leaving room for a feeling like not all hope is lost. The soundtrack is beautiful and in part really makes the series itself feel beautiful. As stated before this will occasionally be thrown off by some absurd moments here and there but ultimately I felt like victory gundam continually retains its feeling of dire and depressing atmosphere whilst not losing the prospect of there being the possibility of a better future, and that itself leads into one last thing that really makes victory gundam for me…
-Hope for the future: I think its ironic how victory gundam is frequently regarded as the most grimdark in the franchise when it has the most focus put on how there is a hope for a more peaceful future, it goes out of its way to try and say that all these sacrifices and horrors experiences are not all for naught. The series is depressing and has a body count through the roof but it goes out of its way to showcase how the possibility of a better life is not lost. The way it expresses this is through the idea of the younger generation being able to carry the future from the ashes of war which is the main reason the cast is made up of large portion of young kids. People are not dying for nothing they are dying for the prospect of a future where the next generation wont have to experience the suffering the current one has, it idolizes the idea of new life and really sells through how this isn’t some hopeless situation but rather an opportunity to help those in the future. One specific scene in the 2nd to last episode which gets its own insert song specially for this one scene is the best example of why this theme of hope for the future is so important to the series and also stands as one of the best scenes in the entire show.
I am not going to say victory gundam doesn't deserve the flack it gets as I hopefully made clear it does do things really wrong and those that label it with such a infamous label are fairly justified, its not for everyone but I do truly believe there is alot Victory does right and even exceptionally, its just a matter if you can tolerate its shortcomings. Its got its faults that will ruin the experience for some but I believe there is truly a beautiful story to be found here for those that are capable of forgiving its shortcomings. Speaking personally victory gundam was a heartbreaking and powerful story that was able to evoke legitimate emotions from me and while yeah I really wish parts of it were better handled or cut entirely I cant deny that after finishing the series looking back on it there was just so much of it I appreciated and loved about it, and hopefully there will be others willing to give this a shot and experience it the same way I have.
Gundam has always been a series I watch. I've always been drawn to the Mecha Genre, the newer series are usually awesome in sound/animation but that doesn't mean we shouldn't give a chance to the older ones. Luckily for me Victory Gundam was actually enjoyable (unlike Z or ZZ)
Story and Characters
Story wise, Victory Gundam follows the generic gundam story line. Young hero, happens to "fall" into piloting the "latest and greatest" suit. Gets conscripted into fighting for adults whether willingly or unwillingly. Grows up, finds his own reasons to fight/not fight which usually includes a love interest somewhere. Goes to space, comes back to earth,
goes back to space and there is the inevitable big battle to end it all.
Victory Gundam succeeds for three reasons.
First - the character development is very well done. Unlike some heroes, Uso is actually both identifiable and likeable. The supporting cast of characters all have their own storyline and despite the fact that there are a lot of supporting characters somehow you grow to know (like or dislike) each and every one of them even the dog and baby. That's a smart dog. I want one just like him. Throw in a Haro too while you're at it. By the end of the series the baby is actually walking and starting to talk. How is that for true to life?
Second - This portrays war in a realistic manner. It isn't one of those gundam series where people escape death all the time in fact, if I were to give a tagline to this series it would be "In War People Die". I felt bad at 90% of the deaths and cried more than once. That is effective storytelling.
Third - although there was the slow part, the story really picked up in the last 5 episodes and I probably enjoyed those more than the preceding 46. The ability to surprise, move the viewer and entertain at the end is the mark of good anime.
Very dated with a lot of frame reuse, so was ok for its time but compared to current anime it really shows its age. Nothing special here and one reason why I couldn't give this anime a higher score.
Pretty average OP/ED songs although Shakti's song was very catchy and the sad music really works. Sound effects were ok also.
I only had 2 issues with this anime. First - Katejina (ugh!). Secondly, why is it in every Gundam Series the adults are all too willing to give their latest and greatest suit to some young, irresponsible fighter pilot ace? Ok the second reason is applicable to all gundam series but seriously if I were a captain I would NEVER let them pilot those suits until they were mature.
That being said, although it took some time to finish it I liked this a lot. Completionists should watch this series.
The ultimate fantasy for any anime fan is the anime crossover. How cool would it be if one of your favorite anime characters teamed up with another one of your favorite characters to make animated magic? Very, indeed. Let's explore some of the most creative anime crossovers of all time.
Gundam is one of the largest anime franchises today, made up of more than a dozen TV shows, as well as movies, OVAs, and more. With so many stories split up into multiple timelines, it can be tough to know where to start. But don't worry. This comprehensive Gundam guide will help light your way.