The Infinite Zenith

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

Six Days of Gundam Unicorn, Part Five: Black Unicorn

“Just like every Gundam pilot there’s ever been, I truly believe you were chosen by it. This was the only possible outcome for any of you; whether that be good or bad, who knows? The rest is up to you. Don’t let the situation get the better of you. Be brave enough to fight off despair. If you’re a Gundam pilot…a Newtype, you can do it.” —Captain Bright Noa

After neutralising the Delta Plus, the newly-arrived Banshee captures the Unicorn and returns it to the Ra Cailum, where Riddhe encounters and attempts to question Alberto Vist of Anaheim Electronics’ motives, only to be ignored. Meanwhile, on the Garuda, Martha requests Mineva’s assistance to coerce Banagher’s cooperation in disclosing the location of Laplace’s Box. On the Ra Cailum, Bright speaks with Banagher and comes to terms with the latter’s actions, before learning of the Federation’s covert deployment of the new Dogosse Gier-class battleship General Revil. He sends orders to the Nahel Argama, instructing them to rendezvous with the Garencieres. The Tri-Stars, Riddhe, Marida and Banagher are assigned to provide cover while the Unicorn Gundam is transferred back to the Garuda. However, combat between the Garuda and Garencieres’ forces breaks out, and in the ensuing chaos, Banagher restrains the Banshee long enough for Zimmerman to board the Garuda. Riddhe enters the Garuda’s rear docking bay and confronts Anaheim staff to rescue Mineva, but before he can do so, Zimmerman begins firing on them. Mineva takes advantage of the distraction to reach Zimmerman, who gives her a parachute. An exploding Anksha damages the docking bay and incapacitates Zimmerman. Riddhe pleads with Mineva to no avail; she leaps off the Garuda and is caught by Banagher, who activates the Unicorn’s NT-D system. After he brings Mineva to the Garencieres, Banagher forces the Banshee into the Garuda’s hangar. Marida identifies the Delta Plus as a Gundam and decimates it with the Banshee’s Armed Armor VN claw. Having regained consciousness, Zimmerman reaches out to Marida and implores that she return to the Garencieres. Realising her identity, Marida falls out of the Banshee’s cockpit unconscious. The Garencieres undergoes the next phase of its mission and attempts to link with the Nahel Argama as per the original mission. However, an engine malfunction causes the ship to fall out of its designated trajectory. Despite this, the Nahel Argama fires its tow cable, which is caught by the Unicorn; the forces exerted on the machine threaten to pull it apart. The spirits of Daguza Mackle and Gilboa Sant appear, resulting in the Unicorn’s psycoframe producing a green luminescence, helping the Garencieres achieve orbit. Both ships find themselves under heavy fire from the General Revil. Flast believes that this was orchestrated by the Federation, but Mineva notes that the Federation attack patterns imply their intent on destroying the Garencieres and the Nahel Argama. Banagher attempts to engage the forces, but the Unicorn has exhausted its fuel supply. Angelo Sauper and his YAMS-132 Rozen Zulu appears and lays waste to the Federation mobile suits. He buys enough time for Full Frontal to head straight for the General Revil and open fire with his under-barrel rocket launcher.

  • When the Banshee first appeared in the ending of episode four, crowds watching this at the cinema cheered. The beam smart gun wielded by the Banshee is more practical combat-wise compared to the beam magnum, apparently having no constraints on ammunition, and is able to slice through the Shambloo’s armour with ease. When I posted this back in 2012, this was the first time I’ve gotten a review out ahead of the writers at Random Curiosity regarding Gundam UC: previously, they were highly efficient at getting reviews out, but as of late, a change in the writers has caused a shift in their priorities.

  • Whereas the Unicorn’s beam magnum could only punch a hole about halfway into the Shamblo, the Banshee’s smart gun is powerful enough to cut the Shamblo’s claws clean off, causing the pieces to create a sort of trap for the Delta Plus.

  • In a series where the conflict’s morality is in shades of grey, it’s a little interesting to note that Anaheim Electronics appears to be sliding towards the immoral side, as their actions are largely motivated by self-interests. Martha’s words to Mineva suggest that Anaheim Electronics is more concerned with its own objectives rather than the fate of the world.

  • While Gundam Unicorn is largely a serious anime, this scene served to add a bit of comedy to things. When Captain Midas receives his orders to participate in a joint operation with the Garencieres from Captain Bright, he spews out his tea in surprise, shocking the officers.

  • Captain Bright proves his skill as a commander and leader when he tells Banagher to retain hope and continue to work towards what he believes in. Banagher’s refusal to disclose the next set of coordinates from the La+ Program results from the fact that the new location is at Magallanica, better known as the Snail, a colony building structure. He confides in the latter that Gundam pilots have a tendency to be chosen by their machine, a clever callback to Amuro Ray’s days as a Gundam pilot. It is here that Banagher makes his decision to take responsibility for his actions.

  • Half the combat sequences in this episode are focused around the rescue operation on the Garuda. Banagher stays true to his word, and tries tirelessly to break Marida’s brainwashing to prevent her from firing on the Neo Zeon forces. I’ve heard back-and-forth arguments between viewers in forums concerning the performance differences between the Unicorn and Banshee. I’ve mentioned this countless times, but to clarify, the Unicorn and Banshee are functionally identical as mobile suits. The Banshee simply has had its operating system modified for atmospheric combat and wields more aggressive weapons, giving it a slight edge over the Unicorn in an atmosphere.

  • By a curious turn of fate, episode five’s release coincided with the running dates for Otafest 2012: I did not attend in 2012 because of the MCAT. The third episode in 2011 released well before Otafest. During this time, I had prior commitments (read “LAN party” and “day trip to the mountains for hiking and grill burgers”), so I did not attend that convention and instead, purchased the HGUC 1/144 Unicorn Gundam in Destroy mode with a 1/48 Unicorn head display mount.

  • Episode five’s strongest visuals occur in the aerial combat set in the upper atmosphere around the Garuda: the cinematography involves sweeping camera angles and panning motions to highlight the scales and scope involved in this high-altitude battle.

  • It’s been a little less than two years since I wrote the article explaining why the OVA Banshee has a different loadout compared to the novel incarnation. Besides providing a discussion on this difference, it was roughly during that time that I had also found out that Unicorn would be getting a seventh episode. However, after episode five came out, I had an MCAT to write two months later, and even after that was done, I had reached my fourth year, where I would need to write an honours thesis.

  • If poorly executed, CG breaks the flow of things in anime, making things look blocky and pixelated, like the low settings in a game. Where done properly, as with Gundam Unicorn, it adds to the scene composition. CG is mainly used in the transformation sequences, giving the Gundams a very metal-like, three dimensional feeling that amplifies the scene of power associated with the NT-D, and contrasting other anime, the animation and art quality in Gundam Unicorn is so high that the CG doesn’t interrupt the flow of events.

Carpe Diem, a phrase from Odes by the Latin poet Horace, is part of the longer phrase “Carpe diem quam minimum credula postero“, which encourages individuals to “Seize the day, put very little trust in tomorrow”. While youth misinterpret this as “you only live once” (a poorly-received concept that is not endorsed by the Canadian rapper who popularised it!), leading to reckless behaviours. The original phrase simply means to make the most of one’s present circumstance with the aim of making one’s future better, and focus on taking action today for said future. Youth culture may have corrupted an age-old concept, but this is thankfully not the case in the fifth episode to Gundam Unicorn. After being captured and taken on board the Ra Cailum, Banagher meets with Captain Bright Noa for the first time. Contrasting the cold treatment he receives at the hands of the Anaheim Electronics staff, Captain Bright shares a meaningful conversation with Banagher, learning that while the latter is not willing to disclose the location of the next coordinate, he is fighting for a purpose: to protect Audrey. These words of encouragement from Bright serve to remind Banagher of his raison d’être, subsequently giving Banagher a renewed sense of motivation to carry out his duties. As the Garuda transfer progresses, Banagher is able to rescue Audrey and Marida in one fell stroke without taking any lives. By making the most of his situation, Banagher contributes to the operations meant to keep Laplace’s Box out of the Vist Foundation’s reach, and in doing so, he is able to rescue the people who have helped give him perspective beyond what he was accustomed to. In particular, resolve has allowed Banagher and Audrey to finally reach an understanding with one another: insofar, viewers have not seen Audrey smile yet, but the fact that Banagher has brought out this side in her suggests at their trust in one another now. By choosing to solve things to the best of his ability while refusing to compromise his principles, Banagher demonstrates that he is worthy of being the Unicorn’s pilot, reflecting on the principles behind the original meaning in the phrase Carpe Diem.

  • Having an extra few images in each post means that this time around, I have enough space to really showcase Audrey’s smile, a rare but much welcomed moment in Gundam Unicorn. Watching Banagher complete his responsibilities in episode five emphasise his newfound resolve to see his tasks through. Of course, with Audrey choosing Banagher over Riddhe, Unicorn also explores (lightly) the effects of unrequited love. Having experienced the same last month, I can say that it is an immensely unpleasant experience, but even so, Riddhe’s reaction seems a little over-the-top.

  • Banagher gracefully catches the falling Mineva with the Unicorn, contrasting the more impromptu rescue he executed when the two had first met. Mineva found that she was able to call out to Banagher, reflecting on the unusual connection between the two; the latter expresses his happiness that he was able to hear her voice, and finds a new resolve in carrying out his responsibility.

  • The Delta Plus is wrecked in a brutal fashion when Marida goes after it upon realising its resemblance to a Gundam. Riddhe was targeting Banagher for having taken Mineva from him, but in a turn of events, is rendered combat ineffective by the Banshee’s VN Claw.

  • Captain Zimmerman is able to bring Marida back, completing the Garencieres’ mission on the Garuda. Having rescued Mineva and Marida, Banagher demonstrates his capacity as a Gundam pilot; in fact, despite being largely unarmed the entire time, he is able to successfully carry out his objectives.

  • Episode five is a continuous series of events where the excitement increase by orders of magnitude with every passing moment. I consider this scene to be one of the most awe-inspiring moments in Gundam Unicorn: as a result of the emotions resonating within the psycoframe, Banagher is able to draw out the very same phenomenon that was produced in Char’s Counterattack, albeit at a much smaller, controlled scale. The accompanying music for this scene is spectacular; this can be said for the entirety of the third OST, which features, amongst other solid compositions, a five-movement symphonic suite that must be heard to be believed.

  • If one thought that it was time to break out the campaign following the Nahel Argama’s completion of its mission, they were mistaken. When I first watched the episode, it was in raw format without any subtitles or dubs. Thus, I was chilled by the General Revil’s arrival. I later rewatched the episode in English dub, and realised that its objective was to neutralise anyone associated with Laplace’s Box to preserve the Federation’s interests. When they show up, Banagher makes to defend the Garencieres, but is prevented from doing so, as the Unicorn has exhausted its fuel supply. This is yet another nice touch that reflects on the realism found in UC.

  • Before the Revil can make Swiss Cheese out of the Nahel Argama and the Garencieres, Full Frontal and Angelo arrive to, surprisingly enough, save the day. Angelo is piloting the shiny new YAMS-132 Rozen Zulu, a mobile suit based on the concept of the experimental Newtype mobile suit AMX-103 Hamma Hamma. It was designed as an Anti-Newtype warfare mobile suit and is a heavily modified Geara Zulu equipped with INCOM Claws, a pair of wire-guided weapons equipped with a mega beam cannon of adjustable output.

  • I’ve casually noticed that Angelo is shooting to disarm and disable rather than to kill. During the period of intense beam spamming, it appears that not one suit had its Minovsky reactor destroyed. In a matter of seconds, over 20 ReZELS are disabled, and Angelo politely bows to indicate that Full Frontal is ready to complete his own objective.

  • The Dogosse Gier-class battleships were originally used by the Titans in Zeta Gundam. At over 600 metres long, they are among the largest warships fielded by the Earth Federation and sported the highest number of weapons and mobile suit carrying capacity of any Earth Federation warship. The General Revil is the second vessel in this line and was deployed as the flagship of the Federation fleet, carrying four battalions’ (48) worth of mobile suits and a 1,500-strong workforce.

  • Full Frontal fires on the General Revil. Check out his expression: it totally reflects his excitement to fire that weapon. Truth be told, the size of the weapon does not appear to be capable of destroying a 600-metre long vessel, although the warhead might have unique properties. That will remain a matter to be seen in episode six, which is set for release in Spring 2013. The fifth installment in an OVA characterised by high quality in almost all regards did not disappoint at all. With well-choreographed combat sequences and careful exposition of the plot, the fifth episode was absolutely brilliant, and the cliffhanger leaves viewers in great anticipation of the next episode.

In a series where the only major fault against it is its release schedule, Gundam Unicorn continues to deliver a powerful experience with its flawless integration of storyline and action. If episode three was about the Unicorn’s symbolic downfall, then episode five sees the Unicorn rise back into space. Previously, the Unicorn was seen as a machine capable of great destruction; Banagher is hesitant to use it for fear of taking lives unnecessarily after Gilboa and Daguza’s deaths, but after trying to turn this around in episode four, Banagher finally masters the Unicorn’s power. Throughout episode five, Banagher is able to successfully use the Unicorn to save lives, and even where his own is threatened by the Garuda’s defenses and the Banshee, Banagher’s determination to fulfil his duty without killing someone never wavers. This kind of moral character is precisely what makes Banagher worthy of the Unicorn, as he will intend to use such powers only to help others. Near the episode’s end, this determination and resolve manifests as a green light, similar to that of the Nu Gundam’s in Char’s Counterattack, allowing Banagher to haul the Garencieres back into space. The machine intended to destroy Newtypes (according to Full Frontal, anyways) has demonstrated that it is more than capable of being used to set in motion those events that can also build the future. All of this action is set in the Earth’s upper atmosphere, where the skies meet space; the aerial choreography is beautiful, and the rescue operation was a delight to watch. Gundam Unicorn never seems to miss a beat, although as with episode four, ending again on a cliffhanger meant that a long wait will result to the next episode: what Full Frontal’s rocket launcher would do would have to wait ten months. Episode five was released in May 2012, and owing to technical matters, episode six was pushed back to March 2013. Originally, Gundam Unicorn was intended to be six episodes long, but Kazuhiro Furuhashi requested an additional episode’s worth of space to satisfactorily conclude the series, and so, a seventh episode was announced. While this announcement was welcomed, the release date to this finale was unknown at the time, and thus, audiences were left with an incredible episode that answered some questions, raised new questions and built anticipation for the remaining two episodes.

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