Turn A Gundam is the 1999 entry into this long running, popular Japanese mecha anime franchise produced by Sunrise. It is also notable for being the first Gundam mecha designed entirely by a foreigner, American conceptual artist Syd Mead, whose designs have been used in such films as Blade Runner.
Set in the Correct Century 2345, which would be a different calendar era from the previous Gundams, Turn A follows the exploits of the male protagonist Loran Cehack. In Collection 1, the Earth is a technologically simple civilization whose development has been stunted by previously devastating events. The moon is populated by Moonrace people who fled Earth to live in more technologically advanced moon colonies until such a time they deemed Earth was fit to return populate the moon. Loran is part of a small group of friends who were sent down to earth to quietly live amongst the people and determine if the planet was fit for the Moonrace to return. Having enjoyed his time on Earth, Loran is gladly awaiting the day when his Moonrace people will assimilate with the people. He is shocked when the Moonrace launches an all out assault on the people of Earth. Loran is able to come to their aid only by coincidence on the night of his coming of age ceremony when the ancient White Doll statue the people worship comes alive and he realizes it is actually a mechanical, humanoid robotic fighting machine – Moonrace technology — that can help him and the people of Earth defend themselves.
In this second collection, as is so often the case with Gundam, the series moves from being very terrestrial to being more focused on space. Guin Rhineford takes the Earth militia into space to confront the Moonrace head-on, but arriving at the Moon reveals further complications. In Queen Dianna’s absence, a power struggle erupted on the Moon and the government destabilized. Meanwhile, Laran, continuing to pilot the White Doll or “Turn A Gundam” grows more and more skilled and piloting the machine, but so too do the dark secrets of the powerful mobile suit become revealed.
The second collection of Turn A Gundam brings all of the best elements of the Gundam franchise to a head. We have the political intrigue of the Dianna Counter, the confusion of Dianna and her double Kihel, romance and lust, power struggles, avarice, the eye-popping space battles between giant robots,, and of course, the young hero embodied on his quest for justice embodied in Laran. While Gundam can at times feel like it is rehashing many of the same stories rejiggered into a new series, it tends to feel refreshed and manages to capture a sense of the broad geo-political topics facing the world in its action-packed fantasy package. Turn A is one of the better ones at that.
The image quality between collection 1 and collection 2 remains consistent. The AVC 1080p encodement framed at 1.33:1 is clean without being too smooth or soft. There is a little bit of speckling in the film source, but nothing distracting and some frames look a little grainier, but that is to be expected. Overall, this is a gorgeous looking restoration given its age.
Just as on the Collection 1 set, Collection 2 comes with only the original Japanese-language mix in LPCM 2.0 stereo and it is the same quality as before offering a reasonable amount of dynamic range, clear dialogue and strong stereo imaging. The Japanese voice cast remains in top form as well across this second half of the series.
The three-part interview with mechanical designer Syd Meade is the real gem included in this set. The veteran responsible not only for some of the classic designs from the auto industry, but films such as Blade Runner, Aliens, and Tron also designed the mobile suits for Turn A Gundam. Much of this is discussed in the lengthy interview.
- Clean Opening 2
- Clean Closing 2
- Clean Closing 3
- Syd Mead Interview Parts 1-3 (1.78:1; 1080i/60)
The Final Assessment
A bombastic and triumphant entry in the world of Gundam that really ties together everything that people love so much about this long-running mecha franchise, Turn A Gundam: Collection 2 is an epic second half to what is a beautifully restored late ‘90s series.
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