The Infinite Zenith

Where insights on anime, games, academia and life dare to converge

Interview with Fukui: The Unicorn Banshee

I imagine several people will be curious about why the OVA Banshee has a different loadout compared to its novel counterpart. An interview with Fukui from Char’s Blog holds some of the answers about the Banshee, in addition to giving more insight into the choice to go with a seven-episode series as opposed to the original six. The first order of business is the Banshee’s armaments, and the justification for its change.

  • The contrasts between the Banshee and the Unicorn are numerous, reflecting on the idea that possibility can create and destroy. However, that’s not the purpose of this article. I’m here to show off the Unicorn and Banshee’s signature weapons, and then explain why there are now seven episodes instead of six.

The writers at Sunrise for Gundam Unicorn initially designed the beam magnum to be a highly powerful weapon with its ammunition capacity as its constraint: while capable of a mobile suit in a single shot, its limited magazine size meant that each shot had to be carefully placed. The weapon’s design reflects on Banagher’s situation; when he is given access to this weapon in his first confrontation with Full Frontal, he initially burns through all of its ammunition. Subsequently, Banagher opts to hold back when engaging the Sleeves forces at the Laplace wreckage, citing its power as a liability, and only uses the beam rifle to impede the Shambloo’s movement. Thus, the beam magnum can be seen as a symbol of responsibility in that while each shot is highly damaging, they must also be used wisely. In order to ensure that this point was driven home, the OVA beam magnum cannot be adjusted to fire shots of varying intensity. The end product is a highly powerful but also impractical weapon for situation demanding heavy firepower: indeed, the beam magnum feels more like a sniper rifle, as it is more suited for engaging a single high value target at a time as opposed to multiple targets. These capabilities and limitations make the beam magnum a realistic weapon, which sharply contrasts the beam smart gun wielded by the Banshee.

  • Two screenshots comparing and contrasting the design differences between the Unicorn and Banshee’s primary weapons. Apparently, looking down the barrel of a gun with the left shoulder pointed back is the “in” pose in UC Gundam.

Whereas the beam magnum feels like an anti-material rifle, the beam smart gun wielded by the Banshee is distinctly a more sci-fi like weapon in terms of design and performance. This was motivated by the wish to depict the Banshee as a dangerous, unpredictable machine: in the fifth OVA, the Banshee is capable of firing this weapon constantly, and is initially seen slicing the Shambloo in half. The weapon overpowered for a reason: as the antithesis to the Unicorn, the smart gun is less precise than the magnum and is designed for continuous, unrestrained use. Fukui has stated that the weapon was specifically designed to overpower the Unicorn in one-on-one combat, hence the choice to use an integrated rifle that is reminiscent of the Seravee’s cannons from Gundam 00. While the choice represents a departure from the decidedly realistic nature in Gundam UC, it also reflects on the thematic elements in UC.

  • These two screenshots of the Unicorn duelling the Banshee are from the latest and greatest episode.

The Banshee is capable of wielding beam sabres, although its most powerful melee weapon is a VN Claw is mounted onto its left arm. This weapon was conceived by mecha supervisor Genma, who had wished to like to test a new concept with the Banshee. He got permission from Furuhashi and Katoki. While Fukui was not aware of this decision, he was nonetheless impressed with the results.

  • The Banshee reinforces the notion that UC Gundam is a reference to the Lady and the Unicorn, a famous taspery that is replicated within the anime. Riddhe Marcenas’s role is that of the “Lion”, with Mineva Lao Zabi being the “Lady” and the “Unicorn” being Banagher Links.

The other order of business is the decision to extend the series by an episode. This is a welcome announcement, seeing as the quality in Gundam UC is astounding. The extension was motivated by the plot: writers would have felt rushed to condense the contents of the last few chapters into a single episode, so Fukui secured permission to use an additional episode to tell the story. This accounts for the slightly slower pacing of episode five (I’m citing the interview: episode five blew me away) and acts as a prologue for the final acts. The script for episode seven is still on-going, and as it stands now, its length is uncertain given that there is a lot of material that still needs to be covered. Gundam Unicorn was originally set to fit within four episodes, but it was apparent that the plot could not be condensed into this length, so Fukui negotiated for a six-episode OVA. As evidenced by the presence of a seventh episode, six episodes was still too limiting, bearing testament to the depth and detail of events found within the Universal Century.

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