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 Post Posted: Sat Jan 14, 2012 2:24 am 
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 Post Posted: Sat Jan 14, 2012 4:52 am 
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The short answer: it depends.

Personally, as far as choreography is concerned, the combat scenes in Gundam that really stuck to mind are Norris Packard and the Gouf Custom versus the 8th MS Team, and the first episode of Gundam Unicorn.

The former was grounded, gritty, yet beautiful, seeing one MS take on three others single-handedly with no flashy gimmicks or NT powers thrown in. It was an intense battle to watch from beginning to end, so much so that the following episode after that between the Feddies and the Apsaras III felt like a letdown.

With Gundam Unicorn, first the grunts actually put up a fight even against a NT piloted MS, and second they showed some actual moves beyond shoot and die. It's so rare to see a scene where someone doesn't die in ten seconds as it was, but I was watching Jegans and ReZELs pull moves that not only look nice but actually made Marida struggle. Compared to the 8th MS Team, it was flashier, but no less intense or beautiful to watch.

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 Post Posted: Sat Jan 14, 2012 8:02 am 
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Personally, I've always felt the Gouf Custom battle was the best example of how not to do a combat scene. Now I generally place a lot of emphasis on the characters within the robots as it is what ultimately drives the drama. Norris himself is like a hollow echo of the character he's obviously meant to imitate and that's of course Ranba Ral. Norris is essentially a blank slate with none of the motivations of Ranba Ral other than some token scenes with Aina. This one of many things that hurts the overall confrontation with Mobile Suits. Unlike Amuro and Ranba, Shiro and Norris are very loosely connected through a typical shallow anime romance (between Shiro and Aina of course, not that Shiro x Norris wouldn't be ten times more interesting). In the end my lack of connection to the characters made me lapse into one of the worst things about watching a show, which is pedantic nitpicking.

One of the major points of the Gouf Custom fight is to establish Norris as a cut above your average pilot. Since his previous encounters with Shiro were fleeting and frankly pointless (looking at you, Zaku fight) this is really the only moment he gets to shine. I do feel there are some problems with the presentation. 08th MS Team in general is plagued with its own sense of faux-realism that neither seems practical in the context of Gundam or even in the face of common sense. In fact our heroes seem to stumble through victory more through a shared ineptitude between themselves and their opponents. So much of what is shown is characterized by someone standing around and barely reacting to a situation. See that one Zaku in the designated abandoned city level just walk slowly out past a building and then get shot by Shiro who is right just ahead at an intersection. It's a far cry from the New Yark fight that's for sure.

So with Norris's big debut, he makes a grand entrance by getting his squire to help him pretend he can voice control his MS to make it walk dramatically to the open air elevator, which always adds ten cool points to presentation. So now we're in the classic escort mission where the three Gundams (because we can't have any of the other teams do anything) have to protect a bunch of Guntanks. Now here's one big problem. The Guntanks are never really seen being able to move much at all. In fact most of the time they seem to teleport around depending on where Norris needs them to be for some dramatic kill. They're barely seen fighting back, running away, or even struggling to survive against this Gouf Imitate. They are supposedly the most important thing about this battle and they're treated like set dressings. This hurts the presentation as the audience doesn't get a good sense of where Norris and the 08th MS Team need to move around. For this kind of battle you need to plan things out carefully through story boarding and possibly some extra notes.

Probably the most egregious moment in this entire fight shows is during the final dramatic showdown between Shiro and Norris. Each has their respective melee weapon drawn and are ready to reenact the Gundam vs. Gouf fight because when your narrative is faltering, just borrow from your forebears. Now I don't take issue with the cliche sword class because it is pretty kewl most of the time, but it ends with Norris managing to "win" due to the strangest situation.

So the last Guntank is sitting behind a building, just watching Norris and Shiro duke it out? Why is it there? Was it trying to help out? Why even bother peaking out from behind the building in direct line of sight with the guy trying to kill you? Even if the building couldn't hide the Guntank entirely, wouldn't simply backing up behind the building shield the Guntank from the like five or six super deadly bullets that made it handily explode?

This leads into one of the bigger problems with the fight. Norris is again supposed to be like Ranba. Yet whereas in Gundam, the Gouf was an extension of Ranba's sheer gravitas and charisma amongst the characters and audience. He and the Gouf had an air of confidence and menace that genuinely frightened Amuro, who had previously been relying on the Gundam's outstanding abilities to save him from death. However the superiority of the Ground Gundams is never established and they never touch on their connection, if any, to the original Gundam's reputation as "the White Devil." In fact them being Gundams is largely cosmetic, which I find a confusing idea. And again, much of their previous victories and losses game through contrivances and a lot of bad decisions. Which brings me back to my biggest point: Norris isn't winning because he's a better pilot, he is winning because everyone else is setup to fail against him.

The Gouf Custom and its pilot do not seem to be reflections of each other's character. In fact most of what the Gouf Custom does stretches the apparent "realism" of the overall story. As an animated series, Gundam is of course not bound by any laws of physics. However even in the OYW setting there is a sense of weight and practicality to almost every move a Mobile Suit makes. It's why scenes such as Amuro and Char fighting in the Texas Colony still hold up as an excellent combination of style mixed with realism. Even as these two machines bob and weave through sword thrusts they have a feeling of weight that exudes a sense of physical power. By contrast the Gouf Custom seems to perform feats that seem too extreme and out of place. For example, despite it's presumably immense size, it seems to be capable of swinging around on its grappling hook like some Jonesian adventurer. This is true even when whatever it grabs onto, be it a crumbling piece of building or a flying jet fighter. Anything can support its weight. It stretches the "rule of cool" to the point of "well someone thought this might look cool even if it makes no sense in context." As the fight wears on, the Gouf Custom seems to employ tactics and movements that we've seen in earlier Gundam series, which only hurts the presentation as it makes one wonder why the Gundam team neglected to do any of these things. Again it paints the image of Norris being an average pilot who is decimating people who are said to be experienced veterens.

In the end the real goal of the battle was to force Shiro to kill Norris because it would push Aina over the edge if she lost someone who (we are told) was very close to her. While Norris's death does seem to affect Aina, the fact she never connects his death with Shiro's actions makes the whole thing seem like cheap drama. As the fight eventually ends with the escape shuttle being shot down by a nameless GM Sniper, the whole battle appears completely pointless as the audience was given little chance to truly connect with Norris. We're meant to care about him because Aina cares, but she abandons her love for him as soon as Gihnius takes center stage as villain. So all we're left with it a somewhat pretty looking battle that is just as pointless and unfocused as the rest of the OVA.

Now you may argue that soldiers make mistakes often and that it's part of the OVA to have people messing up all the time. However one must remember to have consequences for mistakes. There are very few lasting impacts made by the mistakes of Shiro and his team. Despite their position as frontline fighters, their Gundams are repaired into working order between episodes with little consequence. Sanders's and Karen's Gundams are both repaired offscreen just for them to do very little during the Gouf Custom battle. Perhaps if they had sustained lasting damage their relative inaction would be more acceptable during the battle. In the end we're wondering just why any of these characters are in this fight outside of them being the main focus of the OVA. There's little basis of comparison to the other MS teams because they do nothing of note.

If I had to compare Shiro and his gang to another common soldier turned robot pilot, I'd pick Shin Kudo from Macross Zero. Despite being shot down twice (possibly three) times during actual combat, Shin constantly struggled to adapt to his new environment of jet with arms warfare until he started learning from the world around him. He showed that even in the most desparate and bizarre situations that he could use the resources available to him to achieve his goals. Be it exploting a feature of his VF-0D to fight an underwater enemy, flying his burning Gerwalk into another Gerwalk to cause it to crash, or hopping on a mysterious flying totem to save the girl the guy is remarkably competent even when his whole world changed over the course of a week. Shin isn't a particularly unique character in terms of looks or personality, but his actions show again and again that he maintains the basic idea of a protagonist who struggles against an increasingly hostile world to an eventual end to his plight. He is a common soldier and a human being who when thrown into a jet with arms, manages to come out unscathed by the skin of his teeth not because the plot demanded it, but because the situation forced the character to adapt to using his common sense.

At least that's how I see it.


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 Post Posted: Sat Jan 14, 2012 10:39 am 
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I vaguely like some of the fighting scenes in Dragonar, though I couldn't find a scene that is totally superior to SEED or OO fighting scenes. Anyone else who watched Dragonar?

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 Post Posted: Sun Jan 15, 2012 6:54 am 
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VF5SS wrote:
Personally, I've always felt the Gouf Custom battle....
At least that's how I see it.


That was a good read. You make a lot of good points there, especially on how people tend to stand around derping in that series. I've always seen the Norris Packard fight as the mini-boss fight of 08th MS Team before the last boss, or the opening match in a fight night, and as that, it does a good job of building the hype. I too thought the Super Deadly Bullets that hit the last Guntank were a bit over the top though.

The positioning errors in that battle didn't bother me too much, as I always thought of it as Norris repositioning himself in the most inconvenient place for the poor Guntanks. How he got there, I was willing to give it benefit of the doubt because urban combat does tend to be haphazard and confusing. However, after reading your post and watching it again, you're absolutely right, there's some funny ass hijinks going on there.

I still love the fight, but now I'm gonna snigger everytime I watch it, darn you. :lol:

I think this makes an example of how we tend to nitpick more when we're not as emotionally connected to characters. I liked the characters more and thus concentrated more on the emotions and less on the actual scene. You who didn't think much of the characters could spend more time analysing what was actually happening.


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 Post Posted: Sun Jan 15, 2012 7:14 am 
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Quite simply the best way I can put it is fights that let you know the animators and writers put some thought into it. There are of course different levels of this. Strike Freedom catching Destiny's sword was a pretty "holy crap" moment, but it was tainted with the difficult to ignore odor of plot shielding and plot favouritism. In that case the thought put into that sequence was negated by the quality of that thought.


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 Post Posted: Sun Jan 15, 2012 7:59 pm 
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A good combat scene is a pretty deep topic, as seen by the numerous, well thought out posts. For me, I see three things that stand out more than anything else: 1. Feeling, plot, WHY are the characters fighting and what are they feeling. This is the most important component to a good combat scene, although it isn't required.

2. Second, there needs to be well choreographed fighting movements. I think there is a bit of ambiguity on this, so I will just use the fightning style for Gundam Unicorn as my personal favorite example.

3. Climaxes and or surprises, such as the Byarlant custome wreaking havoc (even though I had issues with the whole battle as a whole)


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 Post Posted: Tue Jan 17, 2012 4:38 pm 
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I'm going to list some of the same as people before me:
1) lack of repetition, in footage and in conclusion. Having the same forces clash and then conveniently withdraw when the episode draws to a close is just boring, lack of it is good.
2) grunts make an effort and have an impact. If grunts only exist as fodder, I tend to root for the grunts to overthrow the elitism of the Gundam-pilots. :P
3) drama (and music). If these two exist in fittingly setting up the fight, it has awesome stamped all over it. It also calls for the fight to have meaning. It doesn't automatically help when someone dies, but it at least can be used to support 1). Set-up for the final battle in Seed, for example.
4) consistency. The big bad doesn't get suddenly devalued if there are two of them. Looking at you, Destroy Gundam.
5) strategy. I like it when the fight looks like some thought has gone into it, as opposed to wordless screaming and hot-blooded gattai-ism. Then again, I root for intellectual baddies who tend to make so convoluted plots they are doomed to fail. :D
6) meaning. This link to 3), but I wanted to give it it's own point when I recalled Mwu La Fllaga. Deaths have meaning, massive battles leave scores of people widowed and/or orphaned. Any anime that takes the effort of showing the context and consequences of war deserves respect.
7) pretty. While 5) can replace eye-candy in my book, I have to give this one due credence too. If the battle is just cuts of flashy lights and stuff moving really-really fast, it is entertaining but ultimately forgettable. But at least you're entertained during that time if you can reach out to link with 3), as in the final battle of G'00 S1.

In composing this list I mainly thought about moments where CE has failed and succeeded and failed, with some from AD thrown in too. And about moments where LoGH mostly just succeeded. ;)

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 Post Posted: Wed Jan 18, 2012 3:59 am 
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If I were to boil it all down what makes a good battle scene to me is a feeling of "Tension" The writers need to show that the enemy is competent and dangerous to our heroes, we need to feel like it is possible or even likely for our heroes to fail.

Choreography doesn't need to be stellar (though it helps) you can use some stock footage, transformation, signature attacks or repeated actions (so long as it's not too overdone or obvious). Your villain doesn't need to be deep and complex (though that 'generally' helps if s/he avoids being a Villain Sue) I do, however, have to care for our heroes and feel like they are being pushed (which is why having competent grunts is a major plus).

A good fight is much like a well told story the heroes must struggle against adversity to obtain a fulfilling victory. If not it would seem bland and ultimately pointless.

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 Post Posted: Wed Jan 18, 2012 10:43 am 
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To make good combat just don't do any thing like macross 7's combat. Also the DBZ style of combat that is finding its way into gundam where the camera pans out far away and all you see two flaming figures just flying around colliding with each other then flying away and doing it over and over again is also lame.

The best combat I have seen in a while is from episode 13 of gundam age when flit tears up those suits in the spiegel age.

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 Post Posted: Wed Jan 18, 2012 1:19 pm 
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The best example of combat in my opinion was the 6 minute showing of episode 4 (where the gms were fighting the water ms in the city) of unicorn. Its almost like you really didnt know who was going to win. Another good example was in trailor for the gundam senki 0081 game (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0BYezFrlRms. Also with this kind of choreography you can make some sense as to why certain moves are done, something which is lacking in all of Age.

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 Post Posted: Wed Jan 18, 2012 4:14 pm 
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Antares wrote:
3) drama (and music). If these two exist in fittingly setting up the fight, it has awesome stamped all over it. It also calls for the fight to have meaning. It doesn't automatically help when someone dies, but it at least can be used to support

OH GOD YES.
Music can have a massive impact on how well a combat scene comes across - the right music can make a great battle even better. The wrong music totally kills the scene, either by being massively inappropriate or by being a distraction from the battle itself.

For example, the second part of the battle against the Alliance just outside Orb in Seed Destiny.
In the series, that had a really nice, very dramatic orchestral score that really complemented the action going on as Shinn first tore the Zamza-Zah(silly name :lol: ) a new one, then proceeded to hack to pieces half the enemy fleet.
Great battle, great music.
Then in SE 1, the same scene is instead set to a remix of Zips by TM Revolution. Now, don't get me wrong, I love the song and I think it's badass. And it works to an extent for the scene.
However, the song is actually IMO kind of distracting, so rather than enhance the drama of the scene the way the original background music did, it instead kind of detracts from it.
Great battle, great song - but it's lousy as BGM.

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 Post Posted: Sat Jan 21, 2012 3:59 am 
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I think victory gundam (particularly in the second half, and especially in the last 10 or so episodes) probably had the best overall combat in my opinion. My opinion of this has certainly changed as I've gotten older, but I re watched gundam wing a few months ago and while enjoyable also came across somewhat cheesy at times with the "we are unstoppable bad asses vibe".I actually am a bit nervous to watch 00 as I've heard it is a lot of Grunt massacre which sounds like a bit of a turn off as far as combat scenes.

I think victory gundam has excellent scenes that Are well done. Uso's battles with Fuala were particularly impressive. I was particularly taken aback by the scenes in general through out the series when the color in the background would switch to a sort of psychedelic coloring when beam rifles went pierced suits or beam saber clashes occurred. Also almost any seen where the wings of light are used in a combat situation is arguably the coolest thing from all of Gundam. There is also a scene in the early 20's were Uso is fighting against some ace that he had previously ran into, and they are constantly emerging from different directions among space debris or something was also very memorable I just can recall the character involved. It was one of the cooler times the core fighter separation was used.

I think zeta and even Double Zeta in the later half especially have some cool scenes (ZZ vs Psyco MK II is awesome! Giant Beam saber slice thank you.) Amuro vs Char in texas was very good as well. The first time Amuro shoots a beam rifle through the stomach of a zaku in space is one of the most awesome, and memorable scenes as well.

I do love Tall Geese II vs Altron though (the altron battle vs wing zero atmospheric reentry was cool as well). G Gundam is cool, but I feel it is more comparable to combat from other anime genres.

Holy ZOINKS i cant believe I forgot Unicorn. That almost has to be near the top. It is so well done and gorgeous. Every movement feels flashy and interesting yet heavy and believable which I particularly like.


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 Post Posted: Sun Jan 22, 2012 8:59 pm 
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I'm really gonna have to read more of this topic, but for me, what makes a good fight scene is a feeling of danger on both sides. Seraphic, your pick of Gundam Wing was a good one for me to counter because out of all of the Gundam shows I've watched, Gundam Wing was the least exciting for me because it seriously lacked a feeling of danger on the side of the heroes outside of the duels. They just seemed too overpowered, like gods of death raging destruction upon some rather useless and under-characterized foes. Did this make the duels more exciting? Yes, very much so - two people who have been characterized as extremely strong are now going at eachother, and suddenly these untouchable gods of death seem vulnerable, and there we feel a sense of danger, and with it, a sense of excitement. You don't know what's going to happen, you don't know who is going to win, and you most likely want to see how it all goes down, especially if they are characters you're invested in.

And there in the duels we have a great fight scene. Unfortunately, in Gundam Wing the duels were few and far between. In most of my favorite Gundam shows, enemies are more than just cannon fodder most of the time, and duels tend to be more frequent, so there's a sense of danger more often. It makes it exciting to watch and makes one look forward to the next episode. Pretty much all of Tomino's shows were like that, and Gundam X was like that, too.

Now obviously not everyone will agree with me, as DarkDuel said, "good" is subjective, and there are other qualities to judge action scenes such as choreography, variety, and a sense of empowerment, among others. It's just that I personally think that a sense of danger is what matters most.


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 Post Posted: Mon Jan 23, 2012 3:58 am 
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Mac's pretty much on what I was thinking.

Good combat is like sports. There has to be some sense that it could go either way, it has to make sense within the rules established in the story so far, and it has to be a close victory that relies on the victor's skills. There also has to be a reason for the viewer to care about the outcome, which means that good combat also depends on the virtues of the entire story.

Or, you could go the Mazinkaiser SKL route and rely on sheer, stupid manliness. :P

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 Post Posted: Mon Jan 23, 2012 5:06 pm 
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Kenji wrote:
Mac's pretty much on what I was thinking.

Good combat is like sports. There has to be some sense that it could go either way, it has to make sense within the rules established in the story so far, and it has to be a close victory that relies on the victor's skills. There also has to be a reason for the viewer to care about the outcome, which means that good combat also depends on the virtues of the entire story.

Or, you could go the Mazinkaiser SKL route and rely on sheer, stupid manliness. :P


I'd dispute the "victory relies on the victor's skills" part - there have been any number of close-fought sporting contests where an arguably more skilled player or team lost because they were just plain unlucky.

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 Post Posted: Mon Jan 23, 2012 5:09 pm 
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Not to mention that in sports there's also the major blowout or few over the course of a season where one team curb-stomps the other.

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 Post Posted: Wed Jan 25, 2012 3:34 pm 
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I've given the subject a fair bit of thought - I want to do some mecha battle animations, and I want to make them good.

nacho-wan wrote:
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...


Actually, there was that one notable exception that I really enjoyed... Episode 10 I think? The one where the HRL almost captured Kyrios and we saw Nadleeh the first time...

One of the really good things about that fight was that after all the time spent establishing the Gundams as more or less invincible, this fight gave us some tension, demonstrated that the Gundams weren't quite so unstoppable as they first appeared. CB's advantages were smartly countered and as a result they nearly lost. (Though Alelujiah's brain-lockup thing was also a factor, and in a way it's disappointing that it came to that.)

To reach beyond mecha for a bit - it tends to annoy me when fighters are so powerful that they can toy with their enemies, or take on impossible odds. For instance, River Tam in "Serenity". It can be fun now and then to have a fight scene like that, where the fighter goes through some huge peril and basically dances their way through it. In Macross it's called the Itano Circus, and it's a good thing. But it's something that has to be balanced out, I think. There have to be reminders that this character really is in peril, and the style of combat in general has to reflect that as well. I eye-roll every time a character does that thing where an enemy is sneaking up behind them and the character casually hits them or shoots them without looking... I don't like the idea that the attacker can be taken on so effortlessly. It really kills the tension.

Speaking of Macross, Max and Milia are perhaps a template worthy of study. In the TV show and movie, both of them were basically unequaled. Apart from each other, they never faced any worthy opponents. This could be a real problem if the characters got too much exposure. Either they would be seen constantly dominating the opposition, or else their reputations as ultimate aces would be ruined. (Though the overall scenario of Macross does help - the Zentradi fleet is so huge that )

In DYRL, Max is in two fights: in the first one he demonstrates how awesome he is, and in the second he's basically demonstrating how awesome Milia is. In that Max vs. Milia fight, there's the Itano Circus thing going on with missile swarms and dramatic evasion - and I thought the succeeded in keeping that tense. Both pilots act as though they're performing at their limit, and as the fight goes on, both machines accumulate damage until they're wrecked.

(Damage accumulation is a problem in cheap anime - it's easier to animate if you don't show damage accumulation, because it saves you the trouble of checking continuity and lets you reuse footage without worrying about continuity. So typically damaged units are either destroyed immediately, or they withdraw quickly, or else the damage simply isn't shown. You get this a lot in Gundam Wing: Leos go down quickly, and while dialogue does establish that the damage inflicted on the Gundams by large groups of Leos actually is a serious threat, there's no visual indication of this, which is part of why the Gundams in Wing have a reputation of invincibility. Endless Waltz had much more elaborate animation - as a result there's the Altron vs. Zero fight where Zero gets picked apart for a while, and when the Gundams are fighting the Serpents on the ground, the damage inflicted by the Serpents does add up after a while...)

The type and amount of exposure is very important, as is the story's build-up to a good fight. In the end we all know that the fight is going to play out according to the basic structure of the story - the heroes are almost certainly going to win, and probably not die, and so there's not a lot of suspense when it comes to the actual outcome of the fight. But the story and preliminary, lesser fights build up to the big confrontations, generate excitement about them, and give you a sense of how tough the big bosses ought to be.

In Gundam, Char is built up pretty well over the course of the series - as a result his appearance in the Z'Gok at Jaburo and then with the Gelgoog at Texas colony are highly anticipated fights. The fights aren't just "another enemy ace" - because Char's involved they're more like payoff after dozens of episodes of suspense and delay. (I suppose one of the problems with Char's Counterattack is that it attempts to capitalize on Char again without first building him back up after his various defeats toward the end of MSG and Zeta.)

So I guess generally the fights I like best are the ones that give a feeling of suspense, that the threat the hero is facing is serious (even if it's not a major fight, and even if the hero has overcome similar threats many times - it's the difference between Amuro taking out nine Rick Doms and Duo Maxwell taking out nine Leos.) - I think suspending that for the sake of eye candy (a ballet across the battlefield) can be fun but it's critically important to not overdo it... And the build-up to a major fight can be worth as much as (or more than) the fight itself.


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 Post Posted: Fri Jan 27, 2012 1:06 am 
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Since everyone has covered most of what i think ( actual threat in battle,tension,damage) i will point to one piece of Gundam history, Char's Counter Attack. Can't put it into words, but every battle in that movie was stunning and left me at the edge of my seat.

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 Post Posted: Fri Jan 27, 2012 3:47 pm 
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Cardboard Leo Ace

Joined: Thu Nov 03, 2011 3:32 pm
Posts: 43
Let me preface my preferences by saying as far as I loathe the type of fighting in Gundam Wing and I vastly prefer the fight sequences in Zeta despite the very dated animation.

In Wing I never ever felt the stakes, every unit seemed to move slow and the Gundams were so overwhelmingly powerful that they didn't really have to do anything in the fight sequences for the first half of the show then plod through waves of fire that couldn't damage them until they shot their enemies.

There's also no rules to the combat in regards to the power of weapons, the Buster rifle switches between annihilated colonies to being easily sidestepped at mid range. Beam Sabers either cut easily through a suit or bounce harmlessly off it's armor. Specifically in Wing all of the combat essentially comes down to who can give the most dramatic speech. There are never any stakes.

With Zeta, the first time through imo there were plenty of stakes. Kamille had multiple rivals and allies all of which were fodder for death. Even Jerid his most consistent rival was a grunt at best and there were quite a few of his appearances that made me think he'd die. In fact there were some battles I was actively cheering for him to die!


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