Turn A Gundam – My Favorite Anime

Turn A Gundam (1999-2000) was a TV anime produced by Sunrise that commemorated the Gundam franchise’s 20th anniversary. It marked the return of franchise creator Yoshiyuki Tomino, who had been absent since 1993’s Victory Gundam, as chief director. It is my favorite anime.

If you’re interested in reading quick production history and notes, I suggest this storify that I put together a while back.

Turn A Gundam is special to me. I’ve seen it many times, with my first watch being in 2008. I grew up in the late-90s/early-00s Toonami era, so my first exposure to Gundam was with Gundam Wing, which I absolutely loved at the time. Years later I would watch Gundam SEED, and that was a series that I unhealthily obsessed over. However, it wasn’t until 2007’s Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann that I truly gained the desire to seek out and learn more about mecha anime and anime in general. I began playing Super Robot Wars Alpha 3 and browsing 4chan. Both were instrumental in introducing me to several classics I had never even heard of. This eventually led me down the path of tackling the Gundam franchise’s illustrious Universal Century (I had previously only seen the original Mobile Suit Gundam) and other Alternate Universe series. I watched the MSG trilogy, 0080, 0083, Zeta, ZZ, CCA, F91, Victory, G (re), and X all very quickly. Turn A had been introduced to me as the “best” Gundam that you could “only watch after you’d seen all the rest” (a sentiment I do not share, by the way), so I was fixated on doing it the “proper” way. Around this time, Gundam 00 had begun airing so I was also busy watching that. It wasn’t until after 00‘s first season finished that I finally watched Turn A Gundam, and I loved it.

The remainder of this post is not a review, nor is it an attempt to get somebody to watch Turn A by listing everything I find good about it. There are already plenty of articles out there that do this reasonably well. In this post I simply aim to discuss why Turn A Gundam is special to me and why I’m passionate about it.

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Debunking Rumors – Loran as a Girl

One can spend hours analyzing all the various things Yoshiyuki Tomino may or may not have said or done, but I’m going to focus on just one in this post. This is a rumor that used to be widespread in the English-speaking fandom but has since died down in recent years. It’s always been something that’s annoyed me, so I’m here to stomp it to the ground.

RUMOR: Tomino originally intended for Loran Cehack, the protagonist of Turn A Gundam, to be a girl but Sunrise/Bandai didn’t let it happen. What resulted was Tomino acting in “backlash” and having Loran cross-dress on multiple occasions. Some characters in the show even consistently refer to him by his female persona “Laura Rolla”.

Okay, so as far as I am aware this has only ever been speculation. I feel that if there was any backing evidence to this claim, it would’ve been brought up in some capacity by now, especially with the advent of major fansites like Tominosuki and Japanese subject-matter experts on Twitter and other outlets. The idea of Tomino “lashing out” due to corporate meddling is nothing new (see: Zeta Gundam, Victory Gundam), but Turn A Gundam‘s existence is almost entirely an antithesis to that. Now, I won’t deny the possibility that Tomino at one point may have expressed some desire to create a show with a female protagonist and was shot down, but that doesn’t necessitate any connection to Turn A.

The speculation stems from the opinion or idea that it simply “makes sense” – that Loran is more effeminate than the usual Gundam protagonist, that “Laura Rolla” is very attractive as a female character design, and that the story would’ve still flowed well had Loran been a girl. Now, I don’t necessarily disagree with any of that. Personally I’d have liked Loran to to be a girl; IMO not much of the story or Loran’s character would need to be altered if so. But the “should’ve” or “could’ve” are irrelevant here – there is little substantial proof that it was ever a thing, outside of hearsay and wish-fulfillment.

I’m going to go into some detail disclaiming this rumor with some facts and drawing-of-threads:

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Loran Cehack as a Protagonist

Hey guys, my first post is going to be something simple. I’ll be addressing a question I received on Twitter from SonofEmhak a few months ago; it’s an interesting topic that’s brought up often so I figured I’d consolidate my thoughts into a short blog post.

SPOILERS may follow. Continue reading at your own discretion!

Q: “So I’ve been thinking about this for a while, and I’m wondering about your thoughts. Is Loran Cehack too good as a protagonist? To elaborate, it seems like most of his conflict arises out of his relationships, and very little from within. I can’t decide if this is good or bad. The rest of the cast seems to have plenty of internal conflict to make up for Loran.”
(source: https://twitter.com/SonofEmhak/status/648648285545041920)

A: Here’s how I see it: it depends on what the viewer wants out of a main character and how they perceive what the show’s intentions are. I see Loran as a point-of-view protagonist; unlike characters like, say, Amuro or Kamille, the story of Turn A Gundam does not necessarily revolve around him. Many of Turn A‘s conflicts do not arise from within him–as noted–but rather from his interactions with the rest of the cast and their overarching storylines. This is why you don’t see him go through many of the typical growth and development cycles common to the standard Gundam protagonist, something I feel is intentional.

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