Superior Defender Gundam Force
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|Superior Defender Gundam Force|
(Esudī Gandamu Fōsu)
|Genre||Mecha, Comedy, Action|
|Anime television series|
|Directed by||Yuuichi Abe|
|English network|| YTV
|Original run||January 7, 2004 – December 29, 2004|
A Japan/America co-production, SD 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 until the arrive of the Gundam Seed universe. 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.
Unlike previous SD Gundam series, SD stands for Superior Defender. It is a crossover series based on the three SD 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 extremely 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.
SD Gundam Force was the least-watched Gundam title in Japan, having averaged a 2.1% share of the viewing audience throughout its broadcast. It beat the previous record holder, After War Gundam X, which averaged at 2.8% during its run.
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
- Shute - Romi Park
- Captain Gundam - Hiroshi Kamiya
- Bakunetsumaru - Susumu Chiba
- Zero - Mitsuki Saiga
- Guneagle, Hogaremaru- Daisuke Namikawa
- Gundiver - Kazuya Nakai
- Genkimaru -Yumiko Kobayashi
- Cobramaru - Kiyoyuki Yanada
- Daishogun - Juurouta Kosugi
- Sayla, Nana - Akiko Nakagawa
- Keiko - Aya Hisakawa
- Mayor Margaret Gathermoon - Rei Sakuma
- Elmechu - Sawa Ishige
- Mark, Chief Haro- Takahiro Yoshimizu
- Commander Sazabi - Shuichi Ikeda
- Zapper Zaku, Gunbike, Gunpanzer - Eiji Yanagisawa
- Grappler Gouf - Mantarô Iwao
- Destroyer Dom, Patrol GM - Hiroshi Matsumoto
- Tallgeese, Epyon - Taiten Kusunoki
- Deathscythe/Deed, Entengo, Zako Soldier - Kentaro Ito
- Kibaomaru - Masayuki Tanaka
- Ashuramaru - Katsuyuki Konishi
- Professor Gerbera, Madnug - Akio Ōtsuka
- Leonardo, Pawn Leo Commander, Zako soldier, Zakrello gate - Takashi Nagasako
- Patrol Ball - Kiyotaka Furujima
- Gundamusai, Raimi - Satou Yuuko
- Moukinmaru - Tetsuo Komura
- Battle, Zako Soldier - Tamotsu Nishiwaki
- Lilijimarna - Miyu Matsuki
- Ginkaku - Masanobu Kariya
- Kinkaku - Makoto Yasumura
- Nataku, Pawn Leo - Takayuki Kondou
- Britainmaru - Eiji Maruyama
- Kijumaru - Hirofumi Nojima
- Zako Soldier - Hisanori Koyatsu
- Zako Soldier - Daisuke Kita
- Operator - Kaoru Morota
- Koa - Erino Hazuki
- Rock - Takuya Kirimoto
- Shute - Deborah Sale Butler
- Captain Gundam, Grappler Gouf, Fenn, Zaku Hour co-host - Doug Erholtz
- Bakunetsumaru - Yuri Lowenthal
- Zero, Bell Wood, two Zakos - Aliki Theofilopoulos
- GunEagle, Deathscythe/Deed - Dave Wittenberg
- Genkimaru - Wendee Lee
- Sayla, Koah - Michelle Ruff
- Keiko, Juli, Princess, Doah - Kate Savage
- Mayor Margaret Gathermoon, Noah - Philece Sampler
- Chief Haro / Mark, Destroyer Dom - Scott Jasper
- Commander Sazabi, Ashuramaru, Grey Doga, Prio, Zako Red, Young Train - Dominic Joseph
- Zapper Zaku, Kao Lin, Entengo - Danny Katiana
- Tallgeese, Zakerello Gate, Gunbike, Leonardo - Paul St. Peter
- Allan Peters
- David Lelyveld
- Taylor Henry
- Professor Gerbra/Madnug - Michael McConnohie
- Kari Wahlgren - Princess Relejimana
- Dave Mallow
- John Smallberries
- Danny Katiana
- George C. Cole
- His Name is Captain
- Soul Drive, Activate!
- Zero, the Flying Knight
- Attack the Enemy Musai!
- Gundam Force, Team Up!
- The Blazing Samurai Comes to Neotopia
- Go! Gunbike!
- A Princess, A Cake, and the Winged Knight
- Bakunetsumaru's Struggle
- Gundam Force Triple Attack!
- The Mystery of Lacroa Part 1: Arrival
- The Mystery of Lacroa Part 2: Trapped
- The Mystery of Lacroa Part 3: Return
- Undercover Mission! Learn the Gundam Force's Secrets!
- Mach Wings: GunEagle!
- Masters of the Deep Sea: GunDivers!
- Ashuramaru: The Old Rival Returns
- Fly, Captain! The SDG Base Hangs by a Thread!
- Showdown! Bakunetsumaru vs. Ashuramaru
- Fenn's Disaster
- Awakening! Feather Dragon
- Attack of the Big-Zam
- Fire Up! Captain System
- Trouble! Stolen Soul Drive
- Neotopia's Moment of Truth
- The Final Battle! Commander vs. Captain
- Into the Dark Axis!
- Ways of the Warrior
- No More Ultimate Techniques! Terror of the Minov Boundary Sea
- Big Comeback! We're the Heroes?
- Evil Sword Epyon
- Epyon's Assault!
- Rescue Operation: The Cursed Princess Lacroa
- Princess in a Black Dress
- Genkimaru, Samurai Number One!
- Rice Balls and the Garden of Wisdom
- Fierce Fight! Deathscythe the Knight of Darkness
- Princess Rele, Revived!
- Gerbera's Invitation
- Kibaomaru's Attack!!
- Shute and the Princess Captured!
- War-torn Ark
- The Ultimate Challenge! Kibaomaru vs Shute
- Bakushinmaru, Flare Up!!
- Gundam Force, Assembled!!
- The Tears of Cobramaru
- Musha Daishinshou Unleashed!
- Tenchijo on Fire! Genkimaru's Roar!!
- Prelude to Destruction: Gerbera's True Identity
- Total Annihilation?! The Threat of the General
- The Final Battle! The General vs Everyone!
- The Voyage Home
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 version
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.
- GAiden Fumoffu OP and ED Song:
- Gaiden Saddrac Knight Saga Op and ED Song:
- 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.
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.
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.
Manga & Side Stories
SD Gundam Force has received a few manga interpretations. These include a serialized retelling of the show, a prequel manga and a loosely connected sidestory. 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 sidestory, SD Gundam Force Emaki Musharetsuden, is set in the land of Ark and focuses on a band of heroic Musha Gundams.
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. Meanwhile, in Japan, SD Gundam Force scored a 2.1% viewership - the lowest viewer rating of all Gundam titles. This is despite having the most number of episodes for a Gundam title (52 compared to the 51 episodes of 1993's Mobile Suit Victory Gundam). SD Gundam force currently holds the record for the worst rated series on Anime News Network at 2.69/10.
Mobile Suit Gundam SEED
|Gundam metaseries (production order)
Mobile Suit Gundam MS IGLOO