In 1979 “Mobile Suit Gundam,” the first Gundam series, and the first ever “real-robot” anime was released. Unlike many works of science fiction the original Gundam was actually very well thought out and in many ways very believable (there was science actually present amongst the fiction). Unlike many war dramas, Yoshituki Tomino had a great talent for writing complex war strategies and relatable characters on both sides of the battle for us to deeply relate too and care about. Unlike almost every Gundam series that followed the original “Mobile Suit Gundam” is intelligent, mature and just fantastic.
You know who else is a fan of “Mobile Suit Gundam?” Andrew W.K.
If there was ever a youtube.com moment that demanded a double take of my attention it was discovering tracks from Andrew W.K.’s “Gundam Rock” album. I was browsing youtube.com trying to find a good version of “Char the Great,” (he is by the way) when I found a link to Andrew W.K. – “Char the Great.” Thoughts like “what really?” ran through my head, and sure enough it was real, and it was awesome. To my surprise, and delight, Andrew W.K. had not just taken a random anime song and done a random cover, no, he took a classic anime and redid the entire soundtrack.
The original soundtrack to “Mobile Suit Gundam,” is good. Perhaps the original Gundam’s soundtrack is not so amazing that I would consider it a must listen, but it is good enough that if you watched the show I am sure you would enjoy the score that went with it, very jazzy songs, and as I understand it, a cult classic in Japan; a cult classic in Japan, not in North America.
It takes a special kind of nerd to make an all metal, all English, version of the “Mobile Suit Gundam” soundtrack and that is exactly the kind of person we are dealing with. After discovering the album “Gundam Rock,” and taking a few moments to realize that I was in fact not dreaming, the craziness of it all really sank in, and I realized that Andrew W.K. is probably the world’s most badass nerd... ever.
|Char Aznable (The Great)|
In my personal opinion the best song from the “Mobile Suit Gundam” soundtrack has always been “Char the Great,” now I am biased since like most people Char Aznable is my favourite character. Every time Char appeared in his red Zaku that steady drum beat would play and the trumpet would lead the violins in, and the violins would lead that sassy saxophone in. It was always so cool, the song was a like a quick salsa instrument in space, and for some reason that really seemed appropriate for Char the “Red Comet.” Again I am biased but I feel the best song on “Gundam Rock,” is still “Char the Great,” but if I am to share only one song with you it should be the main theme, “Fly Gundam!” I just thought it necessary to give “Char the Great,” an honorable mention.
“Fly Gundam!” is the main theme from the original Gundam series, and predictably the song is about the Gundam itself. Now like any cover we have to ask if it honoured the original, and Andrew W.K. being the fan that he seems to be has stayed very true to the original, he even pronounces Gundam “Gundamuo” like the original, which is something I’ve never understood, “Mobile Suit Gundam’s” opening theme “Fly Gundam!” has always pronounced the mobile suit as “Gundamuo.” Just the way it sounds works for the song, and it has always been charming in its own silly way, but always a tab bit mysterious, why is the show’s opening theme pronouncing its own title incorrectly? There was a passion in the original that Andrew W.K. has matched in his cover, and sure, it may seem funny for a singer song writer, to get passionate about a robot cartoon, but again that has always been part of the charm, and at this point Andrew W.K. getting excited should be assumed.
Now the second question that needs to be asked of any cover, did Andrew W.K. make the song his own? He translated all the words into English and made it into a hard rock song, enough said right? Those actions are interesting and awesome, and in that order.
Basically all I have to really say is “Andrew W.K. ‘Gundam Rock,’ this exists.” This is the kind of person we are dealing with, and now you know the extremes of Andrew W.K.’s rock craziness.
Until next month keep on rocking in the free world.
- Colin Kelly
Honorable mention, "Char the Great"