I often gush about Turn A Gundam‘s first episode, particularly its ending scene because I find it to be a beautiful and significant moment that’s stuck with me over the years. This is a little post detailing why I feel that way.
Turn A Gundam is a Gundam series which sets itself apart from the rest of the franchise. It is—if memory serves me well—the only TV Gundam not to feature a Gundam in its first episode. This is important to note because, as a result, more time is allotted to set the tone and atmosphere and introduce the setting and characters. It’s not beholden by corporate pressure to include a giant robot activation scene and shoe-horned battle.
Tone and atmosphere are important aspects to Turn A, and its music composer Yoko Kanno does well to exemplify that. Kanno previously worked with Tomino on Brain Powerd (1998), so she had experience dissecting his directing style. In an interview, she mentions it took her half a year (essentially, Brain Powerd‘s airtime) to truly understand Tomino’s philosophy and compose “real” music that could become a part of the show’s identity. And it shows: Turn A‘s soundtrack is extremely fitting. The first episode’s ending scene is accompanied by an insert song titled “Moon”, which is composed and sung by Yoko Kanno herself. “Moon”‘s melody and chord progression define Turn A Gundam‘s soundtrack, as many tracks later on reuse motifs from it. It’s a song which to me invokes a lot of ethereal emotion; it’s slow and majestic and paints a picture that is unexpected from Gundam norm.
Loran’s proclamation is, of course, equal in importance, because it is so damn raw. He’s caressing the FLAT he’s just dug up and laughing almost-maniacally. Then he gets up and proclaims to the Moon that the Earth is a wonderful place; that the Moonrace need to “come back soon!” It’s a plea filled with heartfelt emotion, a sort of no-barrels moment where he lets his feelings out to the night sky. There’s actually an interesting story regarding the recording session of this scene: Tomino wasn’t satisfied with the way Romi Park was delivering the lines, so she kept exasperatingly raising her arms (like Loran himself!) as she shouted until he was satisfied. This is not uncommon to Tomino’s style in the studio; he pushes his voice actors & actresses to be more loose and natural with their emotion and delivery. Using an unfiltered raw take, I think, is fittingly apt to what Tomino was trying to convey with this scene.
It’s the intertwined combination of Yoko Kanno’s music and Loran’s emotional outburst that does it for me. It’s a magical moment of power and immersion establishes the mood for the remainder of the show. There’s even a bit of an eerie aspect to it as the music diminuendos and the viewer is left with a shot of the Moon and the sound of wind. The scene is significant in many ways and honestly just leaves me awestruck every time I think about it.