Fifteen G Gundam reviews, and we've yet to even take a look at the main character? That cannot stand!
In the world of G Gundam, mankind's elite have abandonned the ruined Earth, moving to orbiting colonies and leaving the poor people to scramble in the dirt. John Galt, Andrew Ryan,
and Zachary Hale Comstock would be proud. Anyway, rather than return to an era of international wars, they decided to hold a giant robot fight every four years, allowing the winner to be in charge until the next go-round. It seems like if you had giant robots at your disposal, that would make war easier, not unnecessary.
Neo-Japan's entry for the 13th Gundam Fight is Shining Gundam, piloted by the colony's martial arts champion, Domon Kasshu. Domon's brother, Kyoji, stole the Dark Gundam and fled to Earth, his mother was killed in the process, and his father was put in suspended animation for his role in things. Domon agreed to pilot Shining Gundam in exchange for his father's freedom, and because it would give him an opportunity to hunt down his brother and take his revenge.
Most of the Gundam designs in the show represent their
home country - or at least, what the animators think of their home country. Neo-America's Gundam Maxter, run by a pilot with pink-streaked hair and a support team of bikini girls, combines football, boxing, surfing and cowboys. God, Japan hates us. Of course, it could always be worse: Neo-India's Cobra Gundam is themed aaround snake charming; it looks like a humongous serpent, it stores in a giant basket, and its main weapon is a pungi.
Shining Gundam seems to get off comparatively easy. Rather than anything super stereotyped, like the other countries get, it looks pretty much like a standard generic Gundam. However, the ur-Gundam (the RX-78-2) was influenced by samurai armor, and Shining Gundam pushes those elements even further; so it is, in its own way, as much of an ethnic stereotype as all the rest.
The original concept for a Gundam would have been a gray and white suit of powered armor, inspired by Starship Troopers (the WWII-allegory novel, not the 9/11 allegory film),
but Sunrise, the animation company making the cartoon, wanted something brighter and flashier, which is why a "plain" Gundam is always white with a red and blue torso. Shining Gundam follows this scheme, but adds massive shoulder pads with red stripes along the edges, a "skirt" around the hips, red-and-blue pods on the outsides of the calves, big blue devices on the forearms, and heavy armor around the ankles. Since its pilot is a martial artist, you can pretend these changes were made to help the Mobile Suit deal with the stresses of a physical fight.
For Western audiences, the Gundam's head is probably the strongest
connection to the design's origins, because it looks very much like a samurai helmet. At a glance, Shining Gundam's head is pretty much standard - white face, yellow crest on the forehead, red bump on the chin - but as you move around it you see five more yellow flaps that fold toward the back. On this toy, the crest is a separate piece that's glued into place, and mine has always been slightly crooked.
The figure almost reaches the 4½" mark (measuring
to the tips of his crest), which puts it in a 1:144 scale. Officially, Shining Gundam stands 16.2 meters tall, which is 53' in a real measurement system, or 9½ smoots. The toy moves at the head, shoulders, biceps, elbows, wrists, hips, knees, and ankles. There's a waist, but it only moves about a millimeter, so forget it.
Since Japan is counting on Domon's martial arts prowess, Shining Gundam doesn't have any crazy weapons. All he gets are two beam swords, Gundam's knockoff lightsabers. The clear pink blades are different lengths, and can be removed from the hilts. The hilts then store in a notch on the figure's left hip.
We also get the transformable core lander. Sort of a stylized flying car, the core lander is part simple transportation and part control module. The lander folds in on itself and plugs into the back of the Gundam, providing a cockpit and rocket boosters.
Shining Gundam may not have any special weapons, but it does have a special attack. Say it with us! "This hand of mine glows with
an awesome power! Its burning grip tells me to defeat you! Take this! My love, my anger, and all of my sorrow! SHINING FINGER!!!" A technique taught to Domon by his master, the Shining Finger is an energized melee attack that allows him to crush his opponent's head, thereby winning the match. The energy turns Shining Gundam's hand green, so the toy includes an alternate hand, molded in translucent green with the fingers splayed.
There's more to Super Mode than a green hand, though.
In Super Mode, Shining Gundam's speed and offensive power are more than doubled, and the panels of its armor open up to reveal a variety of cooling systems, boosters, and field generators. It creates an entirely different look for the Mobile Fighter, and surprisingly, the toy can achieve it! There's an alternate head with the yellow flaps extended and the faceplate open for extra ventilation. The white sections of the shoulder armor slide upward, revealing gold beneath. The blue armor on the forearms extends, the pods on the legs open, and even the armor around the ankles shifts position. The only thing the toy can't do is change the fins on the core lander, but overall, this is some impressive engineering!
Shining Gundam was the star of the show, so it's no surprise Bandai went all out in making the toy. If it was only ever in one mode, it would be a fine offering, but being able to change forms makes it even better!