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Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin, Vol. 1- Activation Hardcover – March 26, 2013
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"It’s a good book. Very good, actually. Very good war comics, requiring no prior experience with anime or mecha or Gundam – just a well-made, old-fashioned war comic, full of thrills and spills and lucky breaks and narrow escapes and preening villains you’ll love to hate and pigheaded heroes you may hate to love, and expert drawings by a master craftsman, and hard, sturdy violence." - Joe McCulloch, The Comics Journal
"It's not often that I bother taking up space just to discuss the presentation of a book, but this is certainly one of Vertical's finest releases. Both the graphic and actual material design of the cover is special, and the interior is of a much higher quality than your average manga. This especially holds true throughout the healthy handful of color sections, which look absolutely gorgeous on the glossy paper stock...The whole package is an absolute must for fans of Gundam, but I'd say there's plenty to enjoy in this nearly 450-page monster for anyone remotely interested in mech action and sci-fi storytelling." - Otaku USA
"This is the root of all the tropes and themes of Gundam but with a loving layer of refinement that cleans up a lot of the rough edges of the original...It many ways this is the clearest vision of the original story and a great place to start as well as revisit." - Reverse Thieves
"From the painted opening prologue, the storytelling is of an incredibly high standard, with Yasuhiko’s touch servicing action scenes especially well. Visual highlights abound... It’s a dazzling, action packed ride, and I’d recommend it highly." - Anime UK News
About the Author
Hokkaido native Yoshikazu Yasuhiko (1947-) is a Japanese animator and manga artist. His career as a character designer has spanned over four decades, creating famed characters for such anime as Super Atragon, Brace Raideen, and the widely known Mobile Suit Gundam. Considered a pivotal player in mecha and sci-fi anime, Yasuhiko's characters, stories and illustrations are unmistakable in their style and serve as timeless examples as pioneers of manga and animation in Japan.
Yasuhiko began his career as an animator in Osama Tezuka's Mushi Productions, and later on decided to go freelance to work for a number of animation productions for both film and television. In the late 70's, Yasuhiko would turn his attention to the world of comics, as he has since penned nearly two dozen titles since.
In 1981 he was awarded the Nebula Award by the Japanese Sci-Fi Association.
In 1990 his work Namuji won the Japan Comic Artist Association Grand Prize
And in 2000 he took the Japan Media Arts Award for Best Comic with his title A Revolutionary Dog.
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So, the Origin returns in America. Before, it was released by Viz comics in a soft-cover form but here we have a more traditional manga form with a beautiful, sewn-binding hardcover format. It collects the story from the beginning to the Earth entry operation and includes the full color pages as well as all the black and white material. Essays from various writers like Ryusuke Hikawa and Shinichiro Inoue are also at the end. The book basically covers the first two volumes and the writing here is obviously very well done and the translations, although not perfect (and contain a spelling error or two), work well and are fairly easy to read while trying to conform to the original Japanese speech bubbles. The art here is beautiful and especially takes its full form when in the nice, brush-stroked, warm colors. Seeing the Prototype Gundam emerge from a cloud of dust and obliterate a Zaku or seeing the White Base crew freaking out over one of the Zakus going three times the speed of the others just gives goosebumps and brings a feeling that even the original anime didn't quite invoke. This is truly a book to behold and while it'll look nice with your mangas, (just a couple inches bigger in dimensions) it is still above and beyond the rest of the US Gundam manga releases and, if you're a fan, definitely one to own.
The first book in the series, Activation, introduces the main characters and the conflict. Varied circumstances all combine to result in a scenario where a space warship filled with refugees and manned by a mixture of inexperienced military officers and civilians is being hounded by a relentless enemy. The allies are green and outgunned with older tech—except for one key difference: they’ve managed to obtain the Federation’s new prototype Mobile Suit: Gundam.
The depth of the story was actually a welcome surprise to me. This is quite a mature and realistic work. The characters all feel real and three-dimensional with their own personal struggles and mysteries. The villain, Char, is ambitious, shrewd and enigmatic. He’s a master of manipulating people and events to his plans, which becomes even more evident in book two. The main character and emerging hero, Amuro is the classic reluctant hero, slowly emerging from inexperienced youth to tried-by-fire soldier.
The artwork is great and mostly easy to read. The artist definitely understands cinematic, visual storytelling and translates it superbly to a multi-panel, book format. Sometimes you have to look closely and study a frame or two to figure out exactly what’s going on, but for the most part, the images just flow. The harder to read parts I think are just the consequence of trying to convey complex motion in a still-frame format, which most of the time is handled perfectly. I also really love the water-color full color sequences spaced regularly throughout the books.
The first volume was enough to make me want to read the second, but it wasn’t enough to hook me on the whole series. After reading volume two, I was definitely hooked. Each volume has been full of surprises. I’m now reading volume 7. My appreciation for this series has just skyrocketed with each successive book. The political maneuvering, character drama and military tactics are all so masterfully plotted! Read the first two books and you’ll be crazy about Mobile Suit Gundam too!