I love Gundam, especially the Universal Century, and this film adaption of the long-lost fifteenth episode of the original series is a charming addition. The episode of the same name was never dubbed and is pulled from subbed copies, with Gundam creator Tomino Yoshiyuki refusing to address it. After watching Mobile Suit Gundam: Cucuruz Doan’s Island it makes sense as it doesn’t help the forward momentum any more than the crew’s salt crisis story. But what it does add is a ton of world-building. Other merits of the film are the great art, animation, and score.
World-building is massive in Gundam, with the planet Earth and the space colonies being totally different in how they go about everyday life during the countless wars and conflicts. Mobile Suit Gundam: Cucuruz Doan’s Island builds on the already growing legends of the soldiers of the One Year War. Cucuruz Doan is quickly identified as one of the Zeon force’s greatest mobile suit pilots on par with the legendary Red Comet himself, Char Aznable, before the former deserted. It is also shown that Amuro Ray has already become a boogeyman to the Zeon Forces despite his age and how long he was active in combat. Remember this is set only at the fifteenth episode of a forty-three-episode series, so the main character is shown to be making early waves in the enemy ranks. But outside of the character mythos, it adds a good bit to the franchise’s anti-war sentiment as it shows the consequences of war on civilians. This is specifically shown as Amuro comes upon a group of war orphans.
I genuinely love the art and animation of Mobile Suit Gundam: Cucuruz Doan’s Island, which is the same as Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin. For the characters and regular environment, it is all hand animation, but for the mobile suits, it is a well-done CGI to really get the combat to pop out at you. The art style is reminiscent of the original series but feels influenced by other installments in the universal century timeline like Zeta, 0080, and Unicorn, all of which I adore. It is a clear evolution of the main timeline. The style really is able to convey just how young characters like Amuro are with their rounder features that still feel realistic enough for anime.
I don’t talk much about scores in film, but there were a lot of good pieces in this. Most importantly there’s a scene when Amuro gets into the Gundam and guitars just start playing, perfectly hyping you up for the boy’s entrance into battle. The other scores are big and help drive momentum without sounding too much like each other, so they grab your attention.
All that said Mobile Suit Gundam: Cucuruz Doan’s Island is a great addition to the Gundam franchise and you should go see it when it hits theaters on September 27th, if you would like to learn more about the original series of Gundam listen to me bully my brother into watching the compilation films!
The Film is Releasing in the U.K. on September 21 and 22; the U.S. on September 27 and 28; Canada on September 29 and October 1; and a special one-week run in Australia beginning on September 29 from Crunchyroll.