On a whim I decided to pick up Gundam X, even though there’s a lot of other stuff I should be watching instead, since Hero Legends is releasing it in DVD quality in easy to digest releases of five episodes. Gundam X has always been maligned as the weakest of the Non-U.C. gundams, all based on the fact that it was cancelled after 39-episodes. People think that this must mean that there’s something wrong with its quality, even though it was actually cancelled because of executive meddling. But if the first five episodes of Gundam X are anything to go by, then this is actually one of the stronger gundam shows.

The show seamlessly opens up by introducing the world of After War 15. Fifteen years previously the Seventh Space War ended with dozens of colonies falling on the Earth, killing almost all of its ten billion inhabitants and inducing a nuclear winter on the world. Fifteen years later the environment is only just beginning to stabilize and the rest of humanity lives out a meager existence among the rubble. One of the groups that has formed in this post-apocalyptic world are the Vultures, scavengers of lost technology from the war, including the most valuable of prizes: mobile suits. Gundam X is the story of the young gundam pilot Garrod Ran, his relationship with the innocent newtype Tiffa Adill, and the efforst of the Vulture group Frieden to protect all newtypes from the military.

Garrod Ran is probably the most refreshing gundam protagonist in a while. He’s outgoing, confidant, skilled even before he starts piloting the Gundam X, and immediately goes after what he wants, that being the cute Tiffa. Unlike many other couples in gundam history these two actually have chemistry together that’s apparent from the first time they meet. Garrod breaking out of his jail cell nightly just to bring Tiffa flowers is one of the sweetest moments in gundam history. The rest of the cast has only been introduced so far but they all provide a unique twist on the formula. There’s the two gundam-for-hire pilots Roybea and Witz, both much older than the usual gundam pilots and possessing much more maturity (well, Roybea does). There’s Jamil Neate, the captain of the Frieden and a very cool mix of Bright and an older, more war hardened Amuro. He doesn’t just slap people, he punches them square in the face! The Frost Brothers are the other gundam pilots introduced so far, both suitably creepy villains in a yaoi-incest kind of way.

The animation is pretty good considering when the show was made but I don’t really find the mecha designs so far all that interesting. The gundam designs feel very derivative by this point. Leopard is just a slightly boxier Heavyarms, the Virsago is the lovechild of Epyon and Altron, and the Ashtaron is just kind of dull. The grunt units are similarly dull with the requisite knock offs of the zaku and GM. The only two suits that are really interesting are the Gundam X, which has the awesome satellite canon and a unique beam sword design, and the Airmaster, mainly cause I like how its two guns hang off the body.

The show immediately hits you with just how good its musical score is. The opening scenes of apocalyptic destruction are accompanied by a powerful orchestra that breaks into the catchy OP Dreams by Romantic Mode. Elsewhere the music always kicks in when most appropriate and always in a way that makes you stand up and take notice. I love the soundtrack for Zeta Gundam, but even it only had a few tracks that really made themselves noticeable in-show. All of Gundam X’s music is like that. If the rest of the show can stay as strong as its beginning is then I’m in for one good gundam experience.