Superior Defender Gundam Force
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|Superior Defender Gundam Force|
Cover art to SD Gundam Force DVD Vol. 6
(Esudī Gandamu Fōsu)
|Genre||Mecha, Comedy, Action|
|Anime television series|
|Directed by||Yuuichi Abe|
|Music by||Yoshihiro Ike|
|English network||Canada YTV
United States Cartoon Network
|Original run||January 7, 2004 – December 29, 2004|
Superior Defender Gundam Force, or SD Gundam Force (Japanese: SDガンダムフォース Hepburn: Esudī Gandamu Fōsu?), is a 2004 Japanese anime television series produced by Sunrise. The series was released to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Gundam media franchise, and was the first Gundam series to be entirely animated in cel-shaded 3D computer graphics (3DCG), and first full-3DCG series to be broadcast on Japanese television. The show was directed by Yūichi Abe.
A Japan/America co-production, Superior Defender Gundam Force initially aired on Cartoon Network in the U.S. for 26 episodes, and later on TV Tokyo in Japan for 52 episodes, making it the longest Gundam series ever broadcast. The TV show was the first Japanese anime to never have VHS releases and all its home video releases are only available on DVD with each DVD having 3 episodes each. Though the final 26 episodes were left unaired on television in America, fans petitioned for the second half to be released, and in 2008 the last 26 episodes were released in an English-dubbed DVD set.
The title of the show is a reference to the SD Gundam, or Super-Deformed Gundam, sub-franchise, though for this show, SD stands for Superior Defender. It is a crossover series based on the three SD Gundam settings that were used in earlier SD Gundam anime and manga: SD Command Chronicles, a science-fiction-styled militaristic setting; Musha Gundam, a setting with samurai-themed robots; Knight Gundam, a medieval European fantasy-themed setting. It also contains many references and homages to the standard Gundam shows, especially those of the Universal Century, Future Century, and After Colony timelines. In a sharp contrast to the dark nature of most of the other Gundam series, SD Gundam Force is relatively lighthearted, though it does at times get more serious as the series goes on, but it's never as dark as the more "traditional" Gundam series.
The story is set in the futuristic city of Neotopia, a happy peaceful place where humans and robots co-exist, until the Dark Axis, an evil force from another dimension, arrives.
Aware of the Dark Axis in advance, Neotopia established the secret Super Dimensional Guard to combat the invaders while keeping the conflict a secret from the public. A young boy named Shute becomes accidentally involved in the first battle between the Dark Axis and the SDG's Gundam Force robot hero, Captain Gundam. Shute's friendship with Captain is critical to activating Captain's Soul Drive, his mysterious power source that is the key to victory. As the fighting continues, Gundams from other dimensions such as Zero and Bakunetsumaru arrive to join the battle as allies. As the Gundam Force beat back the mono-eyed invaders the battle spreads beyond Neotopia into the dimensions of Lacroa and Ark, leading into a final confrontation with the supreme leader of the Dark Axis - General Zeong.
The characters of SD Gundam Force are split into two major factions- Super Dimensional Guard and Dark Axis. Amongst these are various sub-factions/alliances, usually designated by their members land of origin.
Cast & Crew
- Kibaomaru - Masayuki Tanaka
- Patrol Ball - Kiyotaka Furujima
- Gundamusai, Raimi - Satou Yuuko
- Moukinmaru - Tetsuo Komura
- Ginkaku - Masanobu Kariya
- Kinkaku - Makoto Yasumura
- Britainmaru - Eiji Maruyama
- Kijumaru - Hirofumi Nojima
- His Name is Captain (その名はキャプテン?)
- Soul Drive, Activate! (輝け！ソウルドライブ?)
- Zero, the Flying Knight (天駆ける騎士 ゼロ?)
- Attack the Enemy Musai! (敵のムサイ艦を叩け!?)
- Gundam Force, Team Up! (結成！ガンダムフォース?)
- The Blazing Samurai Comes to Neotopia (炎の武者、ネオトピアを征く?)
- Go! Gunbike! (激走！ガンバイカー!?)
- A Princess, A Cake, and the Winged Knight (姫とケーキと翼の騎士?)
- Bakunetsumaru's Struggle (爆熱丸奮闘記?)
- Gundam Force Triple Attack! (必殺！トリプルアタック!?)
- The Mystery of Lacroa Part 1: Arrival (迷宮のラクロア・前編?)
- The Mystery of Lacroa Part 2: Trapped (迷宮のラクロア・中編?)
- The Mystery of Lacroa Part 3: Return (迷宮のラクロア・後編?)
- Undercover Mission! Learn the Gundam Force's Secrets! (ガンダムフォースの秘密にせまれ?)
- Mach Wings: GunEagle! (音速の翼 ガンイーグル!?)
- Masters of the Deep Sea: GunDivers! (深海の覇者 ガンダイバー!?)
- Ashuramaru: The Old Rival Returns (新たな刺客、その名は阿修羅丸?)
- Fly, Captain! The SDG Base Hangs by a Thread! (S.D.G.基地 危機一髪!?)
- Showdown! Bakunetsumaru vs. Ashuramaru (決闘！爆熱丸対阿修羅丸?)
- Fenn's Disaster (フェンの災難?)
- Awakening! Feather Dragon (覚醒！フェザードラゴン?)
- Attack of the Big-Zam (ビグ・ザム強襲?)
- Fire Up! Captain System (発動！キャプテンシステム?)
- Trouble! Stolen Soul Drive (ピンチ！ソウルドライブ強奪?)
- Neotopia's Moment of Truth (ネオトピア最大の危機?)
- The Final Battle! Commander vs. Captain (決戦！コマンダー対キャプテン?)
- Into the Dark Axis! (突入！ダークアクシズ?)
- Ways of the Warrior (三つの道?)
- No More Ultimate Techniques! Terror of the Minov Boundary Sea (必殺技封印！？ミノフス境海の脅威?)
- Big Comeback! We're the Heroes? (復活！俺たちが主役だ！？?)
- Evil Sword Epyon (魔剣エピオン?)
- Epyon's Assault! (エピオン強襲！?)
- Rescue Operation: The Cursed Princess Lacroa (奪還！呪われしラクロア姫?)
- Princess in a Black Dress (黒き衣のラクロア姫?)
- Genkimaru, Samurai Number One! (天下一等！元気丸〜っ！の巻?)
- Rice Balls and the Garden of Wisdom (おにぎりと英知の園?)
- Fierce Fight! Deathscythe the Knight of Darkness (激突！闇のデスサイズ?)
- Princess Rele, Revived! (リリ姫、復活！?)
- Gerbera's Invitation (ガーベラの呼び声?)
- Kibaomaru's Attack!! (騎馬王丸、襲来!?)
- Shute and the Princess Captured! (囚われたシュウトとリリ?)
- War-torn Ark (戦乱の天宮?)
- The Ultimate Challenge! Kibaomaru vs Shute (究極の一手！騎馬王丸対シュウト?)
- Bakushinmaru, Flare Up!! (爆心丸、炎上!!?)
- Gundam Force, Assembled!! (ガンダムフォース集合!!?)
- The Tears of Cobramaru (虚武羅丸の涙?)
- Musha Daishinshou Unleashed! (起動！武者大神将?)
- Tenchijo on Fire! Genkimaru's Roar!! (炎の天地城、元気丸の叫び！?)
- Prelude to Destruction: Gerbera's True Identity (破滅への序曲、ガーベラの正体?)
- Total Annihilation?! The Threat of the General (世界消失！？ジェネラルの脅威?)
- The Final Battle! The General vs Everyone! (大決戦！ジェネラルvsみんな?)
- The Voyage Home (帰り道?)
Each episode title is presented over a card, the art of which changed over the series to reflect the evolution of the main cast:
- A simple shining Gundam Force badge
- The three main Gundams assemble and Captain fires his rifle directly at the screen. After the glow subsides the Gundams are seen together and Shute leaps into frame and joins them.
- The three Gundams stand in the background as Shute leaps up in the foreground, doing a triumphant pose.
- The Gundams appear in the regular forms before the card spins around to reveal them in their most powerful forms.
Differences between English and Japanese versions
Although SD Gundam Force was designed with US standards in mind, there exist subtle differences between the English- and Japanese-language versions of the show. These include:
- Various specific eyecatches are used in the Japanese version, while the English release uses only one. Examples of differences in the Japanese version include one featuring Mayor Margaret with the various Neotopian Ball mecha and subtle changes to the standard animation such as Bakunetsumaru tripping over, causing his helmet to fall off.
- The Japanese version has a set of specific OPs and EDs while the US version uses scenes/screenshots from the show. While the Japanese version uses similar for its OPs, the EDs are mostly new animation:
- OP 1 ("Sunrise" by Puffy AmiYumi) (eps. 1-13)
- OP 2 ("Love & Peace" by Little by Little) (eps. 14-26)
- OP 3 ("Taiyou ni Kogarete" by Harebare) (eps. 27-52)
- ED 1 ("Shinjiru Chikara" by Whiteberry) (eps. 1-13) - A Zako soldier steals Sayla's umbrella, prompting Shute to give chase. Initially unsuccessful, Captain convinces him not to give up and Shute finally manages to retrieve it.
- ED 2 ("Kokoro Odoru" by nobodyknows+) (eps. 14-26) - Various members of the cast dancing.
- ED 3 ("Kimi to Boku" by I WiSH) (eps. 27-38) - The Gundamusai flying through the Minov Sea.
- ED 4 ("Koishikute..." by Les.R) (eps. 39-52) - Scenes of Princess Rele.
- In the episode 'Cobramaru's Tears', Cobramaru attempts ritual suicide to repent for failing his master Kibaomaru. As the issue of attempted suicide in a children's show would be controversial in most English-speaking countries the dialogue in the English-language version is changed to imply that Kibaomaru is ordering Cobramaru to kill himself and/or go into exile.
- In the Japanese version, certain characters are voiced by the voice actors of the past Gundam characters they are referencing. As the Gundam dubs have used various voice acting casts this homage was not used in the English-language version.
Adaptations & spinoffs
SD Gundam Force has received a few manga adaptations. These include a serialized retelling of the show, a prequel manga and a loosely connected side story.
Similar to most TV-to-manga adaptations, the 3-volume adaptation makes various subtle but notable changes for pacing reasons. Examples include the complete absence of Gunbike/Gunpanzer and Madnug managing to override his brainwashing, only to be killed by Zeong for his betrayal.
The prequel manga presents untold stories of Captain Gundam, Bakunetsumaru, Zero, Zapper Zaku, Grappler Gouf and Destroyer Dom. The side story, SD Gundam Force Emaki Musharetsuden, is set in the land of Ark and focuses on a band of heroic Musha Gundams.
Two games have been released based on the show; a side scrolling platform game for the Game Boy Advance and a 3D action adventure game for the PlayStation 2. The GBA game retold the story of the first 26 episodes of the show and allowed players to play as either Captain Gundam, Bakunetsumaru or Zero the Winged Knight. Characters could be switched at any time (for the cost of one bar from the special attack meter) and players would need to use each character's strengths to successfully complete the game.
The PS2 title was a much grander affair, presenting a brand new story. The mysterious Dimensional Halo appears in Neotopia and creates mirror versions of Neotopia, Lacroa and Ark. The Gundam Force are forced to battle their way through these copy dimensions and even face their own evil doppelgangers to reach De Scar Road and defeat the Dimensional Halo. Each Gundam Force member had a variety of new forms they could achieve including one super secret form for each which could only be unlocked by a code (the code was presented on a Japanese trading card and eventually filtered to the Western fandom). The game even eventually allowed the player to play as a Zako soldier.
The Dimensional Halo and it's minions were based on the weapons of the Zanscare Empire in Victory Gundam. The game also featured further references to the earlier UC, FC and AC timeline in the form of new villains to populate the mirror dimensions.
During the show's run in Japan, a limited time attraction was opened. Titled SD Gundam Force: Destructive Daishogun Appears!!Zako?, the twenty-minute show used a special theater to present a whole new SD Gundam Force adventure which the audience could interact with. Seemingly set in between episodes 26 and 27 (although overall it is best treated as being non-canon), the stars of the show are the Zakos who have been forced to become the SDG's cleaning crew. The Lacroan villain Da Jarle, Knight of the Hammer and the Ark Destructive Daishogun Hakaimaru seek to unify the world with the mysterious Zakarello Mobile. Da Jarle is able to change the appearance of others and Hakaimaru has a bath fetish that leads to him creating a 'Super Bathhouse' command station. The audience and the Zakos join the Gundam Force as they attempt to stop this new alliance.
Original characters were created for the show by Masato Ichishiki, author of the SD Gundam Musha Maruden/SD Gundam Force Emaki Musharetsuden/SD Gundam Musha Banchō Fūunroku manga. Motion capture data was taken from Japanese pro-wrestler Shinya Hashimoto for Hakaimaru's movements. While Hakaimaru appears to be a generic Musha Gundam, Da Jarle resembles an OZ-12SMS Taurus.
The video portion of this attraction is included as an extra on the complete Japanese SD Gundam Force DVD box set.
Season 1 of the series aired in the U.S. four months ahead of the Japanese release. This was the first Gundam series to ever air in North America before Japan. However, North American markets did not receive Season 2 due to the first season's disappointing ratings.
SD Gundam Force currently holds the record for the worst rated series by viewers on Anime News Network at 2.63/10.
- Official SD Gundam Force site (Japan)
- Superior Defender Gundam Force (anime) at Anime News Network's encyclopedia
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