Gundam: Reconguista in G, or G-Reco, is the first “typical” Gundam series on TV since the very unpopular Gundam AGE (discounting the sidestory OVA Gundam Unicorn). “Typical” here means a full-length televised program, with a science-fiction plot (for although Gundam Build Fighters is now in its second series, it is nowhere near comparable to other franchise entries being a “games” animé taking card-game animé cliches and applying them to miniatures gaming). Yet, three episodes in, G-Reco is interesting in a way few Gundam series really are; it would have been easy for it to rest on its laurels with franchise recognition, to go through the motions in uninspired ways – as parts of AGE did. AGE too often dressed interesting concepts in uninspired, predictable execution that robbed dramatic turns of any emotional impact and made much of it feel empty. It was unable to, arguably, properly stand as its own series and simply repeated – via its three-arc structure – expected developments in increasingly ineffective ways.
The central plot conceit of much of Turn-A Gundam is that two central characters – the victim of war Kihel Heim and the leader of the invading Moonrace Dianna Soriel – switch places, taking advantage of their similarity of appearance to experience life from another perspective. The lonely queen of the moon initially sees this as a joke stemming from an emerging friendship with a confidante of the leader of earth forces, but as the events of the war develop – and Moonrace and Earth Militia forces both escalate the conflict ignorant of attempts at peace – the switch becomes a much more significant thing as Kihel, a civilian, ends up having to do more than look like her counterpart but also fulfil Dianna’s role as a military leader.
Considered as an entire series, Overman King Gainer works to an extent as a distillation of the coming-of-age story into its basest form; its protagonist begins his journey the epitome of apathy and unwillingness to engage with the world around him and has to be forcibly dragged into action. What follows is his awakening into not a warrior, as would be expected of many series in King Gainer‘s vein, but simply a better person.
Overman King Gainer is one of my favourite animated series despite its issues in terms of pacing and ultimate overreliance on exposition early in the series. Indeed, at times the series feels like it is doing the viewer a favour in explaining great swathes of the story to them, self-consciously adopting the cliches of science-fiction in a reliance on expository narration and awkward dialogue. Yet this I would say is most likely intentional; despite its over-the-top tone and colourful cast of characters giving it the impression of being a simple comedy series, it is a very self-aware piece of fiction that through mockery highlights the weaknesses of its genre.