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 Post Posted: Sun Jan 08, 2012 4:04 pm 
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This is something I noticed a while back in a Zeta topic. It seemed that half of us thought the combat was boring, while the other half was completely dazzled by it. I can't really make heads or tails of that, so I'm going to ask what exactly qualifies as good choreography to you?

As for me, I thought Zeta's combat was boring, and sometimes very bad. It is boring to watch MS sit static on the screen while colorful beams whiz harmlessly by. You know there is no risk of damage, outside of Fa always getting the legs blown off her MS or something. The shots are so inconsequential that oftentimes weapons are fired and you are not even showed who is being shot at or the results of said shooting. (See Char often flying in with the Shiki and firing the vulcans at nothing.) SEED also shares similar problems, albeit with more pointless cart-wheeling than is normal for a Gundam show.

It often felt like nothing was being accomplished, with no real gains or losses after each and every battle.

The melee combat in Zeta was especially bad and awkward. Why grapple pointlessly when you should be attacking or killing your opponent? This was incredibly frustrating.

***

As for what I think is good, I will have to put GW and EW forward. Yes, I have a lot of explaining to do:

Now, GW has a very different type of action that it is selling. This is something that I KNOW gives GW a bad reputation, because viewers often go in expecting one thing and get something else. GW is not the typical story about vulnerable soldiers like you would see in WW2, where everyone has the same equipment and everybody dies in one shot.

Sometimes, choreography is good when you have a strong character and you want to see how badly they can wail on everyone else. You have a lot of this in Eastern literature like the Mahabharata, the Romance of the Three Kingdoms, and Journey to the West. This is also how it works with comic book superheroes.

It's great watching the Gundams go in and mow down OZ MS. You feel accomplished. Things are getting done. It looks good. It's exciting to see powerful weapons at work. (And sometimes I root for the Leos because I know they will lose, but it's more fun to root for the underdog, lol.)

Now, what is the bread-and-butter of this type of choreography? When you have two strong characters fighting. The duels in GW are fantastic. Everybody is competent and knows what they are doing. Everybody is competent with their melee weapons, and it's impressive to watch them display their skill. Similarly in Romance of the Three Kingdoms, you always look forward to when two generals or officers do battle. Or when Spider-man battles Venom. Just wonderful.

So in short (and with some more points), the choreography in GW is good because: 1) things get accomplished, 2) pilots are competent in battle and their use of their weapons, 3) varied combat and weapons that are fun to watch, 4) battles have a sense of flow, and 5) duels are fantastic.

The action of GW is similar to a comic or an epic. You expect the characters to use their strength and abilities to accomplish super-human things. You are not watching your nitty-gritty WW2 documentary.

Your stances? =o

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Last edited by Seraphic on Sun Jan 08, 2012 10:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post Posted: Sun Jan 08, 2012 7:52 pm 
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Quite a lot of your post seems to have nothing to do with choreography. The choreography is just the motions the combatants perform. The term, after all, comes from dance and literally means "dance writing." Whether or not anything is accomplished, for instance, has nothing to do with the choreography. An inconsequential encounter could be beautifully choreographed, while a climactic one could be appallingly choreographed.

Perhaps your question is really what makes a combat scene, as a whole, good? In which case, I very much doubt that there is some set of features that every combat scene must have to be good.

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 Post Posted: Sun Jan 08, 2012 8:23 pm 
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The other issue is that what IS "good" is highly subjective - some people are going to say that something is good, others won't agree.
For instance, I thought that with a couple of exceptions the "combat choreography" in Wing was pretty bad.

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 Post Posted: Sun Jan 08, 2012 8:40 pm 
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For me I judge it based on excitement levels. If I'm sitting there bored to drowsiness then it's not good. If I'm constantly going "Holy crap that was awesome!" then it's good.

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 Post Posted: Sun Jan 08, 2012 9:33 pm 
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There needs to be a logical flow but not to the point of the battle being obvious. This is why I don't care for the battles which amount to "It's a Gundam! Let's all stand in place and fire limply at it, even though we have a numerical advantage!" Part of why I've been enjoying AGE thus far is that's been toying with these kind of moments, staging them so you think the winner is a forgone conclusion before going "AHA, we gotcha!"

There also needs to be a sense of scale. Two of my favourite final battles are Domon vs Master Asia and Setsuna vs Ribbons. In both cases it's two titans going at it, an epic show down which eclipses anything seen thus far. At the same time, both battles feel very personal and important to these characters, a heated clash with their ideologies at stake. That factor wouldn't hold true if the surrounding story and characterisation didn't hold up. Not every battle is going to be a fated encounter but when a battle does kick off, I want to believe it means something to the plot.

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 Post Posted: Sun Jan 08, 2012 10:20 pm 
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I liked the battle sequences of 00 because they are very fluid and varied (I'm looking at you Seed battle footage). I liked the fact that even if the gundams overwhelmed everything in the first half of season 1, they got neutraled for most of the last battle of S1 and S2 until the God Raiser showed up.

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 Post Posted: Sun Jan 08, 2012 11:03 pm 
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Dark Duel wrote:
The other issue is that what IS "good" is highly subjective - some people are going to say that something is good, others won't agree.
For instance, I thought that with a couple of exceptions the "combat choreography" in Wing was pretty bad.


I have to agree with that sentiment.

That said, in some attempt to answer the question...

Seraphic wrote:
It's great watching the Gundams go in and mow down OZ MS. You feel accomplished. Things are getting done. It looks good. It's exciting to see powerful weapons at work.


As I mentioned above, I agreed with Dark Duel's stance that Wing's fights were generally bad, mainly when grunts are involved, and that's part of the reason. The first few times, yeah, it is interesting to see the Gundams go and mow down waves of the enemy, but the effect quickly wears off (Within a few episodes). It gets boring when the Gundams come out of every fight without a scratch and the pilots are sitting there as if nothing happened. I guess you can say most of their fights lack a sense of tension, or that the Gundams are in any real danger, which is what I find makes the fighting in other shows more interesting. By contrast, I liked the fights in Zeta because it had that sense that sometimes the nameless grunts were a real threat. I'm well aware they aren't in many cases in the series, but for whatever reason it seemed like the average Hizack was more of a threat than the usual mob of Leos we see standing around in Wing. The battles in Wing that involved the named people tended to be better, but those aren't as common, and I think that how one feels about a fight between two major characters also depends on what they think of those characters, so obviously that will vary from person to person and from series to series (I know it certainly does for me).

And as far as fight choreography itself goes, I think one needs to keep in perspective the age of the show in question. You can't go into an older show like MSG or Zeta expecting to see the kind of fast paced action found in more modern shows...

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 Post Posted: Sun Jan 08, 2012 11:06 pm 
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Oh gee, another semantics battle. I have attempted to change the title to make it more appropriate. I'm pretty sure you all know what I am getting at, although there is no perfect wording that will encompass the entire topic into one short line.
Dark Duel wrote:
The other issue is that what IS "good" is highly subjective - some people are going to say that something is good, others won't agree.
For instance, I thought that with a couple of exceptions the "combat choreography" in Wing was pretty bad.

That's the entire point of this thread, Dark Duel. What everyone personally finds to be "good" IS highly subjective, so I am asking everyone what their personal qualifiers would be. It will not be possible to come to a consensus on what is "good". I just want to see the various points of view.

On that note, can you please elaborate on your opinion of why Wing's battle scenes are bad in your eyes? Like, what did it do wrong? What could it do better? What is an example of what you would say is a good battle scene, and what makes it that way to you?

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 Post Posted: Mon Jan 09, 2012 12:25 am 
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mcred23 wrote:
And as far as fight choreography itself goes, I think one needs to keep in perspective the age of the show in question. You can't go into an older show like MSG or Zeta expecting to see the kind of fast paced action found in more modern shows...


That's a good point. Old shows preferred ranged combat, as it simplifies footage recycling.

It is also interesting, how newer shows prefer close combat. Things like Titus, Sparrow or even Exia would have been silly in the eighties with their animation technology. I suppose CQC makes for more flavorful battles, but it is fairly illogical for the risk involved.

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 Post Posted: Mon Jan 09, 2012 12:44 am 
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There are actually many ways to accomplish this, in practice, but for me the basic idea can always be described as simply making it interesting to watch. Everything else can vary, to a greater or lesser extent, as long as that core principle is understood.

As it has already been discussed, one method is to place emphasis on the actual combat choreography or, for that matter, on detailed mechanical maneuvers as well as on the use of a variety of different weaponry, which is something that Gundam Unicorn in particular has done consistently and exceptionally well. Just as well, another variant of this approach would be to present a tactically or strategically interesting situation, even if most of the robots don't have a particularly exciting set of weaponry or physical movements.

Even that general concept can be interpreted and implemented in radically different ways, however, as seen by comparing and contrasting recent TV anime like Gundam 00, Macross Frontier or even Code Geass. That last case is a bit ironic because the second season usually didn't have good choreography or maneuvers after flight technology was fully adopted, but the first season did regularly include things like battle damage, agile ground-based machines, tactical moves and multiple types of weaponry. Less recently, 08th Mobile Suit Team and even 0083 would be particularly noteworthy for me. Going much further back in time, the original Mobile Suit Gundam could be surprisingly good at this for its time period too, compared to the shows which preceded it.

But there's a fairly common yet non-intuitive method, which is all about making the surrounding emotions, drama, character dynamics and tensions the true underlying focus of the battle, regardless of whether the actual exchange is well choreographed or makes for an inherent military/technological challenge on paper. With the right storytelling and cinematographic tools, you can make a pretty good combat scene out of something as simple as two pilots chasing each other around, even if it doesn't stand up to extended critical scrutiny, as long as it means something for the cast and/or the audience.

For what it's worth, I'd say a number of Zeta Gundam's battles tend to fall under the previous category, as well as several of the less detailed fights found in all the previously mentioned titles, but you can also find good examples in many Super Robot shows such as Gunbuster, Gurren Lagann and especially GaoGaiGar, where raw emotion or personal investment can literally make up for obvious stock footage or otherwise one-sided encounters. I am not saying Super Robot series can't have good choreography, mind you, but only that they simply tend to make it less of an overall priority.

And finally, there's always the attempt to go for mood and atmosphere, first and foremost, where not only music but also art and animation quality play a central role, as a way to enhance either of the above approaches. After all, the best battles benefit from combining as many of these elements as possible as well as many others, which is easier said than done.

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 Post Posted: Mon Jan 09, 2012 2:57 am 
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Quote:
On that note, can you please elaborate on your opinion of why Wing's battle scenes are bad in your eyes? Like, what did it do wrong? What could it do better? What is an example of what you would say is a good battle scene, and what makes it that way to you?

In Gundam Wing, a Gundam shows up, someone yells, "It's a Gundam," and is immediately killed along with 50 of his comrades. The Gundam pilot then walks away as if nothing happened. This scenario happens over and over again from the very first episode, which is why it gets redundant and tiring. Then came the mobile dolls, which were supposed to challenge the Gundams, and they did for a couple episodes, but then eventually became cannon fodder like the grunts. The primary problem is that most of Gundam Wing's battles are predictable and formulaic. There is no reason to be on the edge of your seat since most battles can be predicted before they start.

Another issue is one that I raised on a thread last year, and it has to do with a lack of human pilots who can challenge the Gundam pilots. The only human adversaries they had who could legitimately threaten them were Zechs and Treize, and the latter only did so in the last couple episodes. No one else came close to being even a possible threat. Gundam 00 handled this aspect a lot better than Wing. As good as the Gundam pilots were, there were others like Graham, Soma and Sergei, who at times were able to steal the spotlight from them. Battles involving them were interesting, and they could keep you at the edge of your seat. It left you wondering who will live, who will die, and how their characters will be developed because of it. You can't get that from cannon fodder grunts and mobile dolls.

Some of the best battles in Wing were the ones between Heero and Zechs, Treize and Wu Fei, and Heero and Trowa vs Quatre. Not only did these battles contain the human element, but they were battles between skilled pilots whose lives were on the line. The emotional aspect is lost when putting 50 Leos in front of a Gundam so it can mow them down. Gundam Wing too often lacked that.


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 Post Posted: Mon Jan 09, 2012 4:41 am 
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I would like to address some thoughts of mine on CE as a whole.
SEED and SEED Destiny mainly.

I think what both series did wrong, repetetive use of stock footage for attack animations in some fights.
I think what it did right though was during the later half of SEED when things were upped.
Earth Alliance getting Strike Daggers and showing how GINNs became obsolete via beam sabers going through armor with ease.
One too many times I did get bored somewhat of Moebius mobile armors get mowed down by GINNs.
That got somewhat noticably worse when the other 4 GATX ZAFT machines got in to fights.

Obviously later on also during SEED we got to see better fights as technology on both sides improved.
A good example was the Guaiz and Duel vs Strike and Buster.
In that same episode you also had the fight of Kira and Athrun vs the 3 druggies.
(although this seemed short lived once the METEORs got put in to use)
Another good fight was obviously Rau vs Kira, one of the final fights.

Destiny did things interesting where at first it was 3 against 1 Gundam wise.
BUT at least the grunt units ZAFT had could hold their own.
Also not sure how it worked in Destiny but it had some very good battles in the first few episodes or so.
The Orb fights did get kind of repetetive, this also goes for the fleet battles to an extent.

There also others which vary from person to person.
Such as the battle where ZAFT take over Heaven's Base was actually interesting at the start seeing a fleet of ships blown away, but then you see in the same episode, how easily Destroys are picked off.
When the first one gave so much trouble for 1 whole episode.
Before I forget it though Freedom vs Impulse was an example of a good fight.
But then Destiny's problems get worse as times goes on.
I think the way to fix problems has been answered before.
They did try to improve some things with FINAL Plus.

But I can't add much more.
I just think that the ending should have been more creative or show the Orb/Clyne faction actually suffer some loses maybe during things.

Not sure if anyone else wants to add anyting to that.


Last edited by Mu La Flaga on Sat Jan 14, 2012 2:15 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post Posted: Mon Jan 09, 2012 4:45 am 
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 Post Posted: Mon Jan 09, 2012 6:45 am 
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Spoilers abound.

I'm an animation buff. I love really nicely animated battles, like the ones in 0083. Loved the Heero-Heavyarms vs Zechs-Tallgeese fight in Wing. Another lovely animation is Loran's Shoryuken in Turn A.

One thing we look for in animation is anticipation, so I always enjoy a nice build up. Sure, when Kamiyu takes out Raira Mira Raira in Zeta, it's not amazingly animated, but that sitting in silence scene that precedes the shot and Raira's freeze frame where she realises Kamiyu is not someone to be ZOINKED with, makes it a powerful scene, just like in First when Amuro fights the Zugock, and instead of jumping in the water, Kai waits patiently for the Zugock to surface and nails it like a pro.

I also am a martial arts buff, so I like stuff that is at least somewhat logical. For example, in SEED Episode 2 when Miguel takes that swipe at Kira, I absolutely hate that awkward bounce he does before he strikes. I also hate how in SEED Destiny, Kira can take a single swing and Chaos Gundam falls apart in several different spots.

I do understand how we love to see awesomeness. One of my favourite battle scenes is 08th MS Team episode 10 - Shuddering Mountain Part 1, also known as the Norris Packard Show. Everything about the episode contributed to the fight, and the fight contributed to the episode. The fight didn't distract from the story, but was there to move it ahead. It was great, but if I'd seen Gouf Custom stab 10 Guntanks using the same animation, the way I always see those same 3 Space Leo explosions in Wing, I would have gotten sick of it eventually.

What I don't like are anticlimaxes. Best example is in SEED episode 23 when Morassim gets distracted by an explosion and TAADDAAAAHHH!!! Kira skewers the ZnO with his huge friggin sword. But the ZnO is so friggin badass it doesn't even go down. Kira has to pull out the knives and stab him some more, but Morassim's like YAAAAARRGHH you think that'll take down mah ZOINKIN ZnO boy?!! .... Oh wait... what? The ZnO just flopped over and died. Making Morassim look weak only devalued Kira's win rather than making it look like he'd just beaten an ace. If Morassim managed even just one more attack, that would have been an amazing fight, because it would have sold the ZnO as being really tough, and made Kira's win look that much more impressive.

Zeta had one of those anticlimaxes too. After a HUGE build up, Quattro missed his Mega Bazooka Launcher shot on Dogos Gear. However, the event helped sell Scirocococo as a legitimate threat to even Char, so the rewards of the anticlimax ended up even better than the kaboom.

While anticlimaxes are bad, I don't like are fights that are too predictable. Others have stated this in a slightly different way too. Sure, we know Gundam will always win, but at least make it a fight! How is it Kira, Athrun and Mwu all finished Destiny Final Phase all nice and shiny without a scratch on them? The fights involving Kira weren't interesting in SEED Destiny because you couldn't believe anyone else had a chance. The famous stabby scene was a nice surprise but then they just gave Kira a more powerful MS and we're back to where we started. Wing and 00 season 2 also suffered from this. Sure the animation was nice, but you already knew how most of the fights would end, and it got boring seeing "Gundam owns everything" week after week.

Zeta's fights were still interesting to me, because there were many which Kamiyu couldn't actually outright win. He had to be saved on occasion, and even Jerid the eternal loser managed to hack off a Gundam leg in one episode.

But other than just the scene, I think the emotion and story behind a scene can carry a battle to something bigger. Kate Bush in Victory holding up the mass driver was one of those powerful scenes for me. One of the most memorable battles in any Gundam series for me not because of the action choreography, but what the battle stood for. I was so hoping for someone to die in 00 while holding up one of those space elevators...


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 Post Posted: Mon Jan 09, 2012 6:53 am 
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2NA: Your thinking of Saviour Kira sliced up in on right handed directional slash ;)

Anyway, Chaos itself getting taken out by punk Murasumes was kind of cool.


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 Post Posted: Mon Jan 09, 2012 7:22 am 
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No, the Saviour one was pretty bad, but at least the actual slash was from offscreen for that one!

There's an episode where Kira slashes Chaos onscreen and somehow both arms fall off. WOOOWWW!!!!


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 Post Posted: Mon Jan 09, 2012 6:12 pm 
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Same as DestinyGundam, if there's something that's like, "Woah, that's so cool!", I consider it a great scene. Regarding AGE, they almost seem to pander to people like me by adding in at least one of those moments per battle.

Choreography-wise, I don't notice fights in mecha shows that much, other than that the action of the newer shows (say, from Seed onward), is smoother than the rest. That's more because of advances in animation than anything. For other types of shows, I notice that clever uses of 'sets and props' can really crank up the action. For example, the short-lived Spectacular Spiderman show had great scenes where Spiderman was using his web lines to grab all sorts of objects (concrete walls, electric wiring, etc.) to try and block or outwit his stronger opponents... it really captures the essence of what Spiderman was supposed to be, and as a result, makes for great action. There was also a ~2000s cartoon called "Fillmore!" that parodied old cop dramas, and each episode included a really clever chase scene. I remember always thinking, "Ahh, that was pretty neat that they used that...." whenever the scene was executed well.


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 Post Posted: Mon Jan 09, 2012 8:46 pm 
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Seeing as how I am designing a game which is based on grunt vs grunt action this is something I have thought extensively about. Personally i feel there are several points that are needed to make up a good action scene.

1) If it is a grunt vs grunt battle like there were in seed or unicorn we need to see that some of the participants are actually skilled in combat and know how to use their weapons and vehicles. To elaborate: If grunts are given weapons like beam sabers, beam guns, head machine guns, or the ability to perform melee moves without weapons, we should see them being used. Do not give a vehicle cool weapons if they serve no purpose and not all of the grunts should be ass pilots.
Know what I mean though? Lets see some moves!

2) A majority of the battle should never be completely one sided. Self explanatory but we should never really be seeing only a "Strike Freedom" rape everything or it is not really a battle. Im not saying these scenes shouldnt be included but this should not take the place of all battles or what is the point of watching.

3) If it is a real battle with dangerous heavy weapons and laser doom guns we should feel the stress of the battle. This can be done by showing characters we know get injured or things getting destroyed in crossfire. they should show us that every shot and every step carries some kind of weight. A stray beam which looks seemingly unimportant should at some point in the battle be shown as an inconvenience to civilians or spectators or anything we are not used to seeing get destroyed. A mobile suit step or landing should break the ground. The battle should scar the battlefield. Stargazer, G gundam, V gundam and unicorn have done a nice job at this.

4) Lastly my favorite thing to see is an unexpected strategy or blitz. This is good because not only are we surprised to see a turn in the battle but we (if done well) should get to see a variance of attacks. For example if there is a line of ms firing with range weapons and they are blitzed we get to see melee combat and a switch from squad combat to 1 v 1 combat.

Anyway I could go on....

Edit also one last thing
The "Gundam" should never be so powerful that strategy isnt needed. For example if there are like 5+ ms the gundam should never be able to own all of them in a standoff gunfight. The scene should shows the gundam pilots skill be showing them use combat strategy and skill. An example of this kind of fight can be seen un gundam 0080. Watch the scene here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=il4g3gf62WM

While this is not a perfect example because its like 4/3 on 2 it shows how the ms while at a numerical disadvantage use cover strategically to pick off one at a time. This is also done in Mobile Suit Gundam when Amuro out maneuvers like 8 Doms in space. The point is that it shows the pilots skill and doesnt make it look like a 6 year old could do the same

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 Post Posted: Sat Jan 14, 2012 12:00 am 
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 Post Posted: Sat Jan 14, 2012 1:04 am 
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yazi88 wrote:
Women's breasts bouncing while in combat.......

hawk of endymion wrote:
Lots of explosions.


Wow, you guys don't ask for much, do ya? :D

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