Guest Author - Lesley Aeschliman
When the first Mobile Suit Gundam series aired in Japan between 1979 and 1980, it wasn't popular and it was almost cancelled; fortunately, Sunrise was able to produce 43 episodes and tell a complete story. In 1981, the series was re-edited into three theatrical films; the first two films were released in 1981, and the third film was released in 1982.
The Mobile Suit Gundam Trilogy DVD contains all three of the films: Mobile Suit Gundam, Mobile Suit Gundam II: Soldiers of Sorrow, and Mobile Suit Gundam III: Encounters in Space. There are a total of three DVDs in the set, with each movie being on its own DVD. Unfortunately, there are no bonus features included on any of the discs. When it comes to the audio, the only option is Japanese with English subtitles.
One thing that I thought was done right in these re-edited films was the fact that the Newtype concept was emphasized much earlier on in the story. In the original television anime series, the Newtype concept wasn't introduced until rather late in the series' run and then it was rather "in your face" for the remaining episodes.
Another thing that I think these films got right was downplaying the three kids that are on board the White Base. In the original series, they were seen very regularly and were meant to be some "comic relief," but they came across more annoying than comedic. In the first film, we see that they're there, but they aren't a major part of the action. The kids do show up more in the second and third films, but they don't come across nearly as annoying as they did in the television anime series.
However, since I already had familiarity with the television anime series before watching these films, there were times when the flow of the films felt a little choppy in places. This was probably the most evident in the first film. For example, in the original television anime series, we saw the civilians on board the ship officially become part of the military. However, in the first film, they're seen in civilian clothes, and then suddenly start appearing in military uniforms, with no explanation that they had officially joined the military.
Overall, though, I think this trilogy of movies serves as a good starting point to introduce viewers to the Mobile Suit Gundam franchise so they can see where the story begins. Between the movie trilogy and the original television anime series, the films require a much shorter amount of time investment than the 43-episode series.
If you're trying to acquire Mobile Suit Gundam for your home video collection, then this is an item you need to try to track down in order to have these three films. Unfortunately, Bandai USA has ceased distribution in North America, so this DVD release has become much harder to find. If you're wanting to acquire this item for your home video collection, I would recommend searching around various sites that are selling this DVD and trying to find the best deal that you can.
I wrote this review after watching a copy of this DVD that my husband purchased for me as a gift.