Mobile Suit Gundam F91 is set in the Universal Century timeline (the main Gundam storyline) thirty years after the events in Mobile Suit Gundam – Char’s Counterattack. In those years, the Earth Federation built several large space colonies, establishing peace for many years. The Crossbone Vanguard tries to take over the colonies, starting with the one where Seabook Arno lives.
Seabook was a likeable main character and passionate about helping others. Possessed of the almost-supernatural abilities of a Newtype, he has innate Gundam piloting skills, almost like a sixth sense. The Gundam becomes an extension of his own body, allowing him to perform amazing feats far beyond the skills of a non-Newtype pilot.
His good friend Cecily turns out to be Berah Ronah, the granddaughter of the public leader of the Crossbone Vanguard, and the daughter of its actual leader, Carozzo. A very capable Gundam pilot herself, she may also be a Newtype. I really liked how they wrote her as much more than damsel in distress. She was brilliant and driven instead of becoming a limp rag when issues came to a head.
Mobile Suit Gundam F91 was originally supposed to be a television series, and this is readily apparent throughout the story. The film felt rushed, with information seemingly missing or not explained very well. It is very hard to condense a 13-26 episode storyline down into about two hours, and the strain on the storyline definitely shows.
The main bad guy, Carozzo, wears a mask to hid his shame over Cecily’s mother leaving him. His powerful drive and extreme loyalty to the cause of the Crossbone Vanguard almost makes him an interesting villain, but the two-dimensionality wins out in the end. The plot of Mobile Suit Gundam F91 suffered because of it.
First of all, he always goes for the big and dramatic instead of taking the sensible course of action. Second, he makes very bizarre decisions based only loosely in solid reasoning, so I questioned why Cecily’s grandfather let him be in charge of the military side of things. Finally, he broke so many of the rules on The Evil Overlord List that his failure became inevitable.
The character designs were very good, and one of the things that initially drew me to Mobile Suit Gundam F91 was Cecily’s hair (yes, I’m weird that way). I loved the way it was animated. The lighter color used for the outline of the hair made it seem like it was glowing (see above). This is a technique used in many of the first Gundam series, and it’s one of my favorite animation techniques.
The music was decent, but nothing special—not quite as good as Stardust Memory. It was what I expected from a Gundam film, but no more or less than that. If you are a fan of Gundam, you will probably like Mobile Suit Gundam F91. Otherwise, it will be a toss-up whether you like it. If you need some mindless giant robot fare, this is a good film for that. It’s above average, but only just.
Release Date: March 16, 1991 (Japan)
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Original Title: 機動戦士ガンダムF91 (Kidō Senshi Gandamu Fōmyura Nainti Wan)
Language: Japanese, English
Alcohol/Drugs: 1 (social drinking)
Language: 1 (mostly mild, infrequent)
Nudity: 0 (though almost in one bath scene)
Violence: 3 (some brutal violence, children and civilians die onscreen, horrors of war, battle scenes, a lot of death, not graphic)