Ooooh, boy, this was a slog. I think my expectations going in were to blame for that, but my expectations were not unreasonable. I have not seen the TV show version of this, and I checked out the movie in the hopes that it would be more condensed. I’ve heard the show itself was condensed, so that may have presented an issue, but I also know this is going to be a series of 5 films, so getting a headstart on the story here would mean that they could do more in the later parts. Instead, I feel like this movie, the length of about five standard anime episodes, is just the first five episodes of the show. Why. What possible reason could there be to do this in this way? What could you possibly have wanted to say except “come see it and give us cash for stuff we did a few years ago?”
Because it’s 5 fairly distinct episodes, there isn’t even a strong through-line for us to follow all the way. There aren’t any character arcs. The battles go absolutely nowhere except for the one major death that seems to BEGIN a character arc, but which is left unresolved by the end just like everything else.
The most interesting (and good) thing about it is its feel, for lack of a better word. This show is distinct from every other Gundam show I’ve seen in that, while the pacing was quite bad, something is always happening. It’s not content to have anyone just do anything; there’s always a wrinkle or imperfection or something to react to or a shot that lingers a bit to long so something unrelated can come into the frame or cheerleaders. It’s an interesting choice and I would be embracing the chaos if there were any interesting characters or story elements for my mind to latch on to.
The art is mid-to-high TV quality most of the time, and there are a bunch of mid-range shots where characters are noticeably off-model. Why is this a movie?
As long as the next four movies keep up in this quality, Reconguista in G will be fixed.
Some Background: When I went to see it at AnimeNYC I was fully prepared to regret shelling out $90+ for the trip up to New York to see 3 panels and leave. I was fully prepared to regret getting my hopes up for another movie. I mean I was hyped for Hathaway's Flash until they showed that the dude adapting it wrote Bible Black and Bible Black Gaiden. My hopes for good Gundam works were pretty low at the time, from Narrative, to HF, to F90FF. It seemed pretty ridiculous that condensing a story already condensed would only serve to exacerbate the problem.
Pacing was the biggest problem I had with G-Reco. It took minutes to comprehend what was happening in 3 seconds because they decided to waste half the screentime on Rariaya being a vegetable. Though when I came out of the theater, and then re-watched it after buying the perfect edition, I found that Tomino waved his wand and fixed the pacing.
So far a majority of that has been rectified. While it moves quickly from scene to scene, they properly explain what's going on through dialogue and along with added scenes, it clearly presents exactly what the characters are doing. When Aida "kidnaps" Bellri and crew, it's shown, and fleshed out later on why the church leader lets her escape. It's finally comprehensible. And the final product looks good.
Lauding it with all of this praise, it’s story is still the same as the Greco series. Though it’s presented remarkably better, it still has some of the same flaws that were inherent to the original. The example that sticks out to me is Aida’s character in the film. While it's not terrible, it's not hard to call Aida a baby for the amount of times she cries in the film.
The film has similar, if not improved animation quality compared to the TV show. There are four fight scenes throughout the movie and since it moves at a relatively quick pace, I’d be surprised if someone complains about being bored. Most of the soundtrack is re-used from the TV series but there are new tracks added when needed. It’s by the same composer who did the music for JoJo parts 3 onward, Psychopass and Birdy the Mighty Decode.
I am very excited for the next 4 movies and I hope they keep up the good work. I would very much suggest skipping watching the TV series and choosing to follow the movies. It's one of the good compilation films so far.