In the meantime, I've finished Turn A Gundam.
They do a few cool things with the premise, probably the coolest of which is when they go to a region called Adeska and learn that the people of Adeska have been living around a mountain for ages because according to their legends it was the site of the World Tree and where the giants from the earth fought the giants from the sky over the world tree, which was eventually chopped down but had one branch thrown into the heavens as a reminder. And then you realize that hey, [url]Adeska was the site of an orbital elevator that was destroyed by Mobile Suits and part of the orbital segment was stabilized and turned into a station[/url].
And after they get into space and to the Moon, the revelation that I knew but was mentally separating myself from drops: The Dark History referenced through the series began in the year 0079 of an era called the Universal Century, i.e. with the very first colony drop in Mobile Suit Gundam. Actually though, while most people now
put Turn A Gundam at the end of the UC timeline, that wasn't the intent when the show was made. The intent was that Turn A Gundam is the end of every
Gundam timeline. The images from the Dark History clearly show clips from Gundam Wing and Gundam X, and when they look through designs recovered from the history it includes suits from G Gundam.
(Actually the G Gundam units seen include the horse robot piloted by a horse
and the terrifying Nether Gundam
On the whole, I think that getting to the moon is where Turn A Gundam becomes its best. While the middle of the show had a lot of good character development, it's hard to say that the middle was about
something in the same way the last third or so is. Namely: Human nature. After all, it turns out that the world of Turn A Gundam is built on top of so many wars that no one living can even remember them all. Our heroes see the history as tragic but not damning, that people can live in peace and peace is worth fighting for. Some see the Dark History and say that humanity is inherently violent and everyone whose violent instincts have been awakened has to be segregated or killed. Some just see the chance to recover ancient technology and advance their own power. And some see that humanity has to war and can only develop through war.
The show's ultimate villain is, perhaps, the most meta bad guy Tomino could write into a Gundam show until he makes the cast of Gundam Build Fighters into irredeemable monsters. Gym Gingnham's fleet has been in orbit around the moon practicing war for 2500 years, but never fighting an enemy, just knowing they have to be in perfect form in case. They have been divorced from the consequences of war for so long that they no longer acknowledge them. All that matters is fighting and the highest purpose of someone is to fight. Gym just wants to expand his power to cause more conflict. The man wants to be a warlord. And once he recovers the Turn X
he becomes obsessed with it, risking the Moon Race cities so he can draw enough power to start it up and seeming to think its power allows him to do anything. He vaporizes his own soldiers just to fire the blaster. And he won't let anyone interfere with his fights, killing one of his most loyal officers just because they intruded on a battle between the Turn X and the Turn A.
So war is amazing and the only thing that matters is having the coolest robot.
The bad guy of the Gundam show is is the "Wow Cool Robot" guy.
And one other plus about the end of the series is that the Dark History theme
gets played a whole bunch and it's one of my favorite "You are messing with something that ought not be messed with" pieces of music.
On the whole I think that Turn A Gundam is good and should go into the canon. The War of the Worlds-esque start is fantastic, I think the show does some fantastic character development in the middle, and the last segment is actually pretty meta for a Gundam series. I think my only complaints would be that the show loses its pacing for a while (which I think is just a requisite for a Gundam show???) and that while the show is pretty serious and has some interesting ideas, it's not quite as serious an exploration of the ideas as I'd like. But still, a good show. Deserves to be in the Universal Century. *actually Tomino is serious about his anti-war message but still there's a disconnect between "war is bad" and Kill 'Em All Tomino that's funny to point out