Aim for the Simulwatch! It's Gunbuster

orgun

Death Scythe
I'm going to jump in on this this evening as it's been a couple of years since I last saw Gunbuster and this is a good excuse to watch it again but I'm not going to watch the terrible Kiseki DVD that I still own but a rip of the Japanese Blu-ray with the subtitles from the Honneamise release.
 

WMD

Adventurer
Episode 1

Really enjoyed this. Knew nothing going in but it was fun. I feel like @Neil.T has covered most of it already. Seeing mechs used in different ways at the start was fun. It was also amusing to see Amano presented as this perfect person at the start which is just Takayas perception and after that shes far more realistically presented.

The rival girls descent into madness was well presented if a little jarring that she seemed fine immediately after she lost! This was my favourite shot of the episode:
Screenshot_20190909-170537_YouTube.jpg
It feels so intense!

The science lesson at the end was fun and incidentally there is a Fightstar song titled Tannhauser Gate.
 

Neil.T

Guild Member
It was also amusing to see Amano presented as this perfect person at the start
Yeah, some of the techniques used to portray a mood are really overt, Amano totally being a case in point:



Some of the little flourishes going on with characters' eyes to express an emotion are laid on pretty thick, but they're just another part of the visual language of the medium as it was at that time, really — as exaggerated as it perhaps looks now.

The science lesson at the end was fun and incidentally there is a Fightstar song titled Tannhauser Gate.
I didn't know that. 😯

Fun fact: Fightstar also have an album called Grand Unification, which is apparently a concept album inspired by Neon Genesis Evangelion.
 
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WMD

Adventurer
Fun fact: Fightstar also have an album called Grand Unification, which is apparently a concept album inspired by Neon Genesis Evangelion.
It's a great album. Build an Army in particular is a great song. Never knew it was inspired by NGE! Makes it seem pretty certain Gunbuster was the inspiration for Tannhauser Gate then.
 

Neil.T

Guild Member
It's a great album. Build an Army in particular is a great song.
I've heard "Waste a Moment" from that album, but the only other Fightstar song I've heard is "Palahniuk's Laughter" from their preceding release. This is off-topic for this thread, but I can't help but notice that some of the band's artwork is obviously inspired by one of my favourites, Biffy Clyro — like the gasmask-wearing characters on a couple their front covers resembling the artwork for Infinity Land, and the typeface used for the titles of Grand Unification and One Day, Son also seemingly being drawn from that same album. I think I did once read somewhere that frontman Charlie Simpson is a Biffy fan. 🤔

To bring this (partially) back on topic, look what Wikipedia has to say about Fightstar's most recent LP:

The tracks "Unfamiliar Ceilings" and "H.I.P. (Enough)" are both representations of Fightstar's continued interest in the Neon Genesis Evangelion franchise. The former song title comes from a line that the protagonist, Shinji Ikari, speaks during the series. The latter is an acronym for "Human Instrumentality Project", the goal of the fictional secret society "Seele". The third single, "Deathcar", also contains two b-sides; namely "Nerv/Seele" (named after the 2 factions from the Evangelion series) and the track "Shinji Ikari", after the aforementioned character of the same name.
(This is the album that contains "Tannhauser Gate", bringing us fully back on-topic. 😛)

I will absolutely have a listen to "Build an Army" when the chance arises.
 
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NoSurprises

Straw Hat Pirate
First episode down.

It doesn't matter how many times I watch Gunbuster I never get tired of it, feels like a real passion project and has such a 'can do' attitude towards everything...

The intro song is super catchy, and it always amused me how the backing visuals are all just cuts from episode one. Like others have said, I'm convinced that the robot aerobics are a joke! I've never quite understood how both this and Gundam justify the focus on the ground like design of the giant robots when they do 99% of their fighting in space.

Coach is a madman too, when asked 'But why pick her, she's useless' he responds 'Because I'm in charge!', he makes such a solid point to progress the plot.

I kind of miss some of the quirks of older anime, the fact the screen is constantly shifting since none of the cells line up, or that you can have both proper Coke and Pepsi in the same shot! they just don't care!



Trying to spot all the little references is fun too, like Noriko disabling her targeting computer, or any scenes where she's in her room there's always a poster for something around the same time period.



Think there's some trivia in episode 1 in that depending on which version you're watching, you'll get different music over the training montage. The original was a composition of Chariots of Fire (because of course it is), but due to copyright concerns subsequent releases just used the main theme again.

Looking forward to episode two.
 

Neil.T

Guild Member
Think there's some trivia in episode 1 in that depending on which version you're watching, you'll get different music over the training montage. The original was a composition of Chariots of Fire
Ah, that answers the question of which episode the Chariots of Fire pastiche was originally used in. 😀
Excellent.

Yeah, I can imagine how that'd fit with the kind of tongue-in-cheek playfulness with awareness that the series has already shown. I started thinking about the coach and his aviator shades after posting earlier on and realised that it's simply down to Top Gun, isn't it? That was released only two years before Gunbuster was, so... zeitgeist and all that.
 

ayase

State Alchemist
Being confined to a tablet on constantly dropping one-bar wifi in a literal cabin in the woods will not stop me from participating in this simulwatch. Hard work and guts! But also no screencaps, sadly.

Gunbuster is clearly an absolute labour of love from the very start. The animation is beautiful, and a shining example of what, for me at least, is the golden age of anime. I'm not sure animation will ever look better than a late '80s OVA. See the best character designs. Observe the greatest colour palettes. Witness the very birth of Gainaxing [gif goes here]. It's all just so damn good.

The story, yes, is a combination of things that went before. It is intentionally ridiculous. But it's also wonderfully original in that the future of Gunbuster seems oddly more believable and relatable than a lot of sci-fi stories. Besides the giant robots and the space planes, things are not so different. Perhaps that's partly down to the recognisable brand names and technology that still exists alongside the futuristic elements, but it's also down to the characters and their experiences that will always be relevant - Noriko is an idealistic youngster but plagued with self-doubt and preyed upon by the cynical and arrogant. Coach is a hard-ass, but because he knows potential when he sees it (and doesn't want to see it wasted) and he's wise enough to understand that attitude can be more important than pure skill. Amano... can wait for another episode. But these are the kinds of people who exist throughout time and across genres and while you might be able to date Gunbuster's visuals, its story is timeless. Characters are important in that respect and I think Gainax and Anno always understood this, which is the main reason Eva is remembered and revered the way it is.

The very idea that Noriko could pilot her machine better with the monitor turned off is ludicrous, and all pretty dumb, silly fun, really.
I think it's pretty pertinent to note that Gainax were a studio of total geeks making and homaging what they loved (even the subtitle of the show, Top wo Nerae, is a reference to popular tennis anime Ace wo Nerae and goes some way to explaining the sports/mecha genre mash-up). I think @NoSurprises is correct that particular sequence is a pretty blatant Star Wars reference to Luke turning off his targeting computer and trusting in the Force. It is somewhat depressing that this kind of loving, knowing homage and genre parody (see also: Slayers) seems to have died a death and been replaced largely by straight-up shameless imitation and trope regurgitation (see: just about every isekai ever).
my favourite was the design of this shuttle:
Likewise, I'm 90% sure that space plane is modelled on the Fireflash from Thunderbirds. Which you'll have to look up, because for whatever reason my tablet won't allow me to copy from the address bar (I miss my desktop PC already).
What do you reckon? Patlabor dates from spring 1988, and Gunbuster from autumn of the same year.
Aaand I think perhaps a cool, shades wearing mecha mentor in the form of Four Vaginas Quattro Bajeena from Zeta Gundam might have been a more likely influence (and while I really can't say so with any certainty, I feel like Dominion was the greater influence on Patlabor, and it's perhaps not surprising Oshii eventually adapted Shirow's Ghost in the Shell).
 
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Professor Irony

Cursed Image
Moderator
Episode 1

This is the first time I've watched something on VHS in quite a while, and it seems strange to say that I feel like that has a sense of occasion now. The Kiseki tapes have no trailers, sadly, but there is a warning screen before the film starts advising you to connect your VCR directly to your TV, and not to link multiple VCRs together. Quite why you would do this unless you were trying to copy the tape, I'm not sure - there was already an anti-piracy warning before this too. One other strange detail that also caught my attention is that the tape is mistakenly copyrighted for 1980, not 1990. I'm not sure what the general opinion of Kiseki must have been back in the day, but between this (admittedly very small) gaff, printing the wrong number of episodes on the sleeve and their rather uninspiring box art for the collected tape set, it's not a great advert for their attention to detail.

Other than that, yeah, wew. I have seen the first two episodes of Gunbuster before, but not since I was very small. What strikes me the most seeing it again now is how sumptuously animated it all is. Pour one out for the bubble economy. I'd completely forgotten it was Haruhiko Mikimoto who provided the character art for this series though. I was never a huge fan of his designs for the original Macross, but I think his art looks absolutely great here - it's crisp and defined, but still has that characteristically delicate touch. The high-contrast colour design really makes it pop too.

The rival girls descent into madness was well presented if a little jarring that she seemed fine immediately after she lost!
That got a laugh out of me. I'll miss her though - she had the ojosama laugh and was just a great heel in general. She even had a bit of hair in her mouth during the fight (matron!).

Think there's some trivia in episode 1 in that depending on which version you're watching, you'll get different music over the training montage. The original was a composition of Chariots of Fire (because of course it is), but due to copyright concerns subsequent releases just used the main theme again.
The VHS has the sound-a-like track, although it surprises me that they'd remove it - it's reminiscent, but I wouldn't have thought it was close enough to trouble the lawyers.

Yeah, some of the techniques used to portray a mood are really overt, Amano totally being a case in point:

This floral, shoujo-style framing in particular, I strongly suspect, is a direct nod to Aim for the Ace, which Ayase beat me to the punch in mentioning. Something I'd meant to do before we started Gunbuster but didn't have time for (although I do intend to get it in before we finish) is to watch the Aim for the Ace movie. It's often talked about how Gunbuster heavily references it (and I already have a fair idea of its main beats), but I've never actually seen it, so I'm curious to see how closely related they may be. I do imagine though that a big part of what makes Gunbuster a success is that you don't need to spot all the in jokes to get it - it works perfectly well in its own right.
 

ActionFaust

Thousand Master
Episode 1
An interesting if kinda rushed start, though understandable seeing as it's a 6 episode series. Noriko is already a pretty good MC being optimistic despite the situation she's in. Production looks pretty promising and the Mikimoto character designs are always good to see.
 
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orgun

Death Scythe
I enjoyed watching the first episode again, it does a nice setup job with the scenario and main characters and I really like the poignancy of the opening scene with Noriko and her father and although what comes after the opening looks at a bit lighthearted it ultimately sets the tone for the latter part of the series. Lots of little touches like the Star Wars nod with Noriko turning off the computer did make me smile.

The training montage music was close enough to trouble US lawyers as Bandai Visual had to remove it for their US release on their Hommeamise label. I imagine it wasn't the type of thing that troubled the likes of Kiseki in the 90s 😂 Watching it again, I didn't think it was that close either!

Episode 1

What strikes me the most seeing it again now is how sumptuously animated it all is. Pour one out for the bubble economy. I'd completely forgotten it was Haruhiko Mikimoto who provided the character art for this series though. I was never a huge fan of his designs for the original Macross, but I think his art looks absolutely great here - it's crisp and defined, but still has that characteristically delicate touch. The high-contrast colour design really makes it pop too.
Yeah, GunBuster has spent that bubble economy money well and like with most anime OVAs from this era Blu-ray does that gorgeous animation justice.
 

Neil.T

Guild Member
Witness the very birth of Gainaxing [gif goes here].
AmusingInsignificantAmericanshorthair-size_restricted.gif
Done. 👍

I'll miss her though - she had the ojosama laugh and was just a great heel in general.
That's actually the perfect description. 😆
I'd be able to hear it in my mind even if I hadn't seen the episode.

even the subtitle of the show, Top wo Nerae, is a reference to popular tennis anime Ace wo Nerae and goes some way to explaining the sports/mecha genre mash-up
This floral, shoujo-style framing in particular, I strongly suspect, is a direct nod to Aim for the Ace
See, this is something else I enjoy about simulwatches. I knew that the title is drawn from Aim for the Ace, but I don't know anything about the show itself to be able to spot the crossovers. That would've remained lost on me otherwise. 😀👍

It is somewhat depressing that this kind of loving, knowing homage and genre parody (see also: Slayers) seems to have died a death and been replaced largely by straight-up shameless imitation and trope regurgitation (see: just about every isekai ever).
It actually is when you get down to it. Anime as a medium has largely descended into otaku-servicing box-ticking, and that's very sad. It's a far cry from how it was when the likes of, say, Yoshiaki Kawajiri was putting all his effort into making something engaging and artistic like Ninja Scroll.

I'm certain I won't be watching "In Another World with My Isekai Anime" when that inevitably gets made one day.
 

Neil.T

Guild Member
Episode 2

"It's strange. Six months have passed here on Earth, but for us it all happened only one hour ago."

So, here we're introduced to a spaceship named the Excelion — the name of which was reused in Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water — and to its captain, a jovial man by the name of Tatsumi Tashiro (voiced by the late Tamio Ohki, whom you've likely heard before as Section 9 boss Aramaki in Mamoru Oshii's pair of Ghost in the Shell movies). His voice is always a very welcome addition to any anime for me.

We also meet @ayase's "proto-Asuka", Jung Freud, and it's abundantly clear that she and Kazumi Amano do not exactly hit it off at first. 😬

The outstanding design work of this series continues with the livery of Freud's Soviet RX-7 robot, and Noriko and Kazumi's uniforms with the little Japanese flag on the left breast of their jackets.

Another thing I noticed was something on this monitor display showing Noriko's location inside the Lukushiyon:

IMG_20190909_175543004.jpg

Look at the letters at the upper left of the gauge at the bottom right corner of the screen. They read "CHINCHIN". In Japanese, that's a colloquial word for "penis". 😅


Coming back to the quote from the episode at the start of this post, the Science Lesson for this episode is absent on Kiseki's DVD, so I had to look up time dilation for myself. I once read about it in Jonathan Clements and Helen McCarthy's Anime Encyclopedia under the entry for Makoto Shinkai's short film Voices of a Distant Star.

Main idea taken from the Wikipedia article linked above:

The faster the relative velocity, the greater the time dilation between one another, with the rate of time reaching zero as one approaches the speed of light(299,792,458 m/s). This causes massless particles that travel at the speed of light to be unaffected by the passage of time.

Theoretically, time dilation would make it possible for passengers in a fast-moving vehicle to advance further into the future in a short period of their own time. For sufficiently high speeds, the effect is dramatic. For example, one year of travel might correspond to ten years on Earth.



For the record, Kiseki's DVD ends this episode with unsubtitled previews for episodes 3 and 4 instead of the Science Lesson. 🤨
This would've originally functioned as an advert for the next VHS tape in the series.

Lastly, some animation's been cut from the bath scene in the Kiseki release, hasn't it? The editing and frame rate are odd as it cuts away three times to an external panning shot...

IMG_20190910_151003101.jpg

... that's actually footage from the following scene, leaving only the characters' dialogue and a conspicuously off-screen splashing sound for us to hear. (Notice also the cackhanded punctuation in those subtitles above. 🙄)
 

WMD

Adventurer
Episode 2

Really tragic at the start watching Takayas father watching the video from his daughter over and over as he waits to die. For a show that seems to put quite a bit of effort into being light and fun it certainly knows how to turn on the heavy and emotional!

The journey to the moon base and meeting a new rival/friend was somewhat standard fare but still fun to watch. Although why on earth (or why on a space station) would the bath have floor to ceiling windows?

I was starting to wonder about the aliens as I dont remember seeing or hearing much about them and was starting to think will it be the aliens are another race of humans trope? But then we get to see a giant bug monster. I would not want to meet that thing alive!

Screenshot_20190910-165635_YouTube.jpg

The light speed stuff was all really well presented. Another show of this animation styles strength! Why she was surprised going at lightspeed would entail so much g force was a bit silly though!
Screenshot_20190910-170353_YouTube.jpg

And the twist of it being her fathers ship actually surprised me and the emotional weight of that whole final section of the episode was well handled!

This was my fave image in the episode though. The use of colours helped make it feel really intense!
Screenshot_20190910-165741_YouTube.jpg
 

Professor Irony

Cursed Image
Moderator
Episode 2

Revisiting this one is a slightly strange experience for me. Back when I first saw Gunbuster, something in this episode was enough to stop small me wanting to see any more of it, but I'd struggle to tell you exactly what that was. It's certainly a big change in setting, now that we're in space and have left the highschool tropes back on earth, and I remember being upset by Noriko getting her hopes up that her father might still be alive, only to have them dashed again immediately afterwards. Maybe my younger self may have just thrown his toys out of the pram at the realisation that we weren't getting a goofy high-school comedy about sport robots, at least for a little while longer.

Perhaps now it's also just easier to appreciate that the show is purposely moving at about a million miles a minute. Gunbuster is probably one of the purest examples I've seen of what I think a pastiche actually is, as opposed to a spoof - the creators are clearly aware that a large chunk of their audience knows all the genre cliches, so why waste time on them? With a knowing wink and a nod, it feels like that first episode alone tackled what other shows would probably have spent an entire season on. It's the same with episode 2 - we hardly need to know why Amano and Jung Freud are rivals all of a sudden. We know it's just the sort of thing that happens in this kind of show.

Speaking of Jung Freud, I like that her leitmotif is a little snatch of the Soviet national anthem. I find it quaintly nostalgic now when we see these kind of positive depictions of Soviet characters in pop-culture from the late '80s and early 90s, it's like a reminder of a time when it looked like the world was genuinely getting that little bit better. It certainly didn't apply to everything (Rambo 3 was a bit hit in the same year Gunbuster came out), but it seems like an indicator that, as the cold war finally thawed, maybe people were more open to reconcilliation with the USSR, as opposed to painting the Soviets as the nazi-stand-in villains they're so frequently characterised as, so it's nice that they've pushed the boat out all the way with Jung Freud's crimson hair and hammer & sickle decals. Then again, maybe I've got this all wrong and Japan was just never as hawkishly anti-Soviet as the US was. Either way, it does seem a little odd that she would wear a crucifix though.

Likewise, I'm 90% sure that space plane is modelled on the Fireflash from Thunderbirds.
Funnily enough, the first thing I thought when I saw Coach Ohta's recovery unit was, 'isn't that Thunderbird 3?'

For the record, Kiseki's DVD ends this episode with unsubtitled previews for episodes 3 and 4 instead of the Science Lesson. 🤨
This would've originally functioned as an advert for the next VHS tape in the series.
Can confirm this is exactly the same on the VHS tape. It's also followed by a mailing address for US Renditions, whom we presumably have to thank for those slightly iffy subtitles. "Lightening Kick", anyone?

Lastly, some animation's been cut from the bath scene in the Kiseki release, hasn't it? The editing and frame rate are odd as it cuts away three times to an external panning shot...
I wasn't particularly aware of anything that looked like an obvious break, but I dunno - would be interesting to get some input from someone watching a different version on this. I feel it's unlikely? I'm not aware of Kiseki trying to market their titles to kids, so it seems odd that they (or indeed US Renditions) would go to the trouble of cutting something for the sake of getting a PG certificate.

It actually is when you get down to it. Anime as a medium has largely descended into otaku-servicing box-ticking, and that's very sad. It's a far cry from how it was when the likes of, say, Yoshiaki Kawajiri was putting all his effort into making something engaging and artistic like Ninja Scroll.
To be fair, I'd watch a Kawajiri-helmed isekai...
 

Neil.T

Guild Member
To be fair, I'd watch a Kawajiri-helmed isekai..
That would make it actually worth the journey.

I'd still have loved for that Ninja Scroll follow-up to come to fruition, but that's a lament for another thread.

I wasn't particularly aware of anything that looked like an obvious break, but I dunno - would be interesting to get some input from someone watching a different version on this.
Not sure what version @ayase's watching, but we know that @orgun's watching the Blu-ray content, so...

The frame rate is honestly so choppy during that duplicated footage that it's just highly suspicious.

The intro song is super catchy, and it always amused me how the backing visuals are all just cuts from episode one.
I think so, too, just to throw that in there. I'm also enjoying the illustration-based ending sequence. They're by Mahiro Maeda, according to the credits, which list him as "Masahiro" Maeda, as per the end credits of Nadia.

Think there's some trivia in episode 1 in that depending on which version you're watching, you'll get different music over the training montage. The original was a composition of Chariots of Fire (because of course it is), but due to copyright concerns subsequent releases just used the main theme again.
The training montage music was close enough to trouble US lawyers as Bandai Visual had to remove it for their US release on their Hommeamise label. I imagine it wasn't the type of thing that troubled the likes of Kiseki in the 90s 😂
The VHS has the sound-a-like track, although it surprises me that they'd remove it - it's reminiscent, but I wouldn't have thought it was close enough to trouble the lawyers.
I went back and checked episode 1 on Kiseki's DVD for that and, right enough, it's survived intact. I agree with the Prof; even listening to it again, there was only the vaguest of resemblance at one point nearer the end for me. It honestly never twigged when I first watched the episode at all.
 
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NoSurprises

Straw Hat Pirate
Episode 2 down

As others have said time dilation is used to great effect throughout the series, I've not really seen an example done better to more conveniently expedite parts of the plot, like the construction of the Exelion. Jung Freud (unsure why they went for the psychology references!) is also great, she's cut almost entirely from the compilation film which is tragic.

I can't get over how good the space based interior cockpit shots look, with the mono colour characters offset by the neon instruments.


Also pretty sure Gunbuster was the original concept for Vine.


And this guy in his knock off sportswear robot...


Lastly, some animation's been cut from the bath scene in the Kiseki release, hasn't it? The editing and frame rate are odd as it cuts away three times to an external panning shot...
I wasn't particularly aware of anything that looked like an obvious break, but I dunno - would be interesting to get some input from someone watching a different version on this. I feel it's unlikely? I'm not aware of Kiseki trying to market their titles to kids, so it seems odd that they (or indeed US Renditions) would go to the trouble of cutting something for the sake of getting a PG certificate.
I'm re-watching the Blu-ray set I bought a while back muxed with some fansubs, there is a LOT of full frontal (not the Gundam kind) nudity in episode 2 around the bath scene
 

orgun

Death Scythe
Episode 2

I thought this was a really good episode and I was pretty much gripped by it from start to finish. I really like the way it introduces and builds up the rivalry and tension between Amano and Freud, especially with the letterboxed eye shots and how it brings the time dilation into the story and it's effect on the characters.

I'm re-watching the Blu-ray set I bought a while back muxed with some fansubs, there is a LOT of full frontal (not the Gundam kind) nudity in episode 2 around the bath scene
You're watching it the same way as me and yes there is a lot of nudity during the bath scene. I also like how Freud changes her attitude towards Amano and Noriko in this scene now that they have 'proven' themselves to her.
 
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