The Infinite Zenith

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

Six Days of Gundam Unicorn, Part Six: Two Worlds, Two Tomorrows

“This is how the world progresses, one tiny bit at a time … if you hold onto your dreams, if you never give up, if you don’t become close-minded, I know your chance will come, and when it does, don’t hesitate. Get into the Gundam.” —Marida Cruz

Full Frontal and Angelo Sauper comes in to rescue the Nahel Argama and the Garencieres as the EFSF flagship General Revil bears down on them. The Londo Bell Tri-Stars chase down the Garencieres, which suddenly blows up as a decoy to buy time for the Sleeves to take over the Nahel Argama. In explaining the takeover, Full Frontal says it was an opportunity to finally open Laplace’s Box, reveals his memories of the events of Char’s Counterattack and his reasons for continuing to oppose the Earth Federation; implying very strongly that he is in fact Char Aznable. He leaves Angelo in charge of the vessel as it heads back to Industrial 7 along with the Rewloola. Angelo has the Nahel Argama crewman send out an SOS beacon, prompting the Federation’s Luna II base to send a Salamis cruiser in pursuit. Captain Otto defies Angelo’s orders to destroy the warship. An ECOAS team led by Conroy Haagensen assaults the Nahel Argama and gradually fights the Neo-Zeon troops back to the MS hangar deck. Banagher activates the Unicorn to aid in the attack, but Full Frontal faces him and threatens him with death if he doesn’t join the Neo-Zeon’s cause, since Mineva already knows where the Box is. With Mineva’s help, Marida reactivates the Kshatriya to prevent Angelo from destroying the Nahel Argama but declares not joining Full Frontal’s plan to use the Box to launch another war with the Federation. As Marida seeks Zinnerman’s permission to fight the Sleeves, he decides to finally let her go and live her own life. Angelo and Full Frontal fly back to the Rewloola in Angelo’s Rozen Zulu. Back on Earth, Martha Vist threatens Bright Noa and Londo Bell with being left out of the pursuit operation if they do not co-operate with her. She also barges into a meeting of Ronan Marcenas and several EFSF politicians to announce her intentions to prevent the Box’s opening. Upon entering the region near Industrial 7, Banagher flies out in the Full-Armor Unicorn Gundam to get closer to opening the Box. A surprise awaits him though – the Unicorn Banshee Norn, piloted by Riddhe Marcenas, who was earlier briefed by Alberto Vist about the origins of the Vist Foundation.

  • The first six minutes of the episode is a continuation of what we saw in the previous episode: the under-barrel rocket launcher Full Frontal carries turns out to be of a moderately low yield, intended to act as a distraction above other functions. The fight sequence was spectacular, with Full Frontal netting countless headshots against the Federation forces and here, pulls off something equally as impressive, firing a shot at what appears to be nothing: a few seconds later, an explosion appears in the distance.

  • The Tri-Stars are sent to deal with the Garencieres following the events from the previous episode, but the freighter self-destructs. Contrasting the other episodes, Two Worlds, Two Tomorrows heavily emphasises all the parties’ motivations, rather than enthralling combat sequences. However, the producers manage to keep this episode interesting through the dialogue and exposition.

  • I immediately picked up and watched Char’s Counterattack following this episode to gain more insight into what was going on. This is the last of the Gundam Unicorn posts I’ve ported from my old website, and it strikes me as somewhat surprising that the Gundam Unicorn posts were written in a tone that hadn’t changed much over the past four years, while I found myself quite dissatisfied with the original text for my Five Centimeters per Second post and changed almost all of them when I ported those posts here back in November.

  • The Neon Zeon forces rescue the Nahel Argama only because the Unicorn is present, and the two sides do not cooperate for a common interest even under trying circumstances. Indeed, this episode’s central focus is on the human aspect pertaining to conflicts, particularly, how perceived injustices from past events may preclude the possibility of cooperation.

  • I do not find myself agreeing with Zeon sympathisers; while Gundam Unicorn excels at being able to paint all sides of the conflict in a fair light, I subtly support the Federation, given that Zeon’s existence has become dependent on their leader’s intent, and moreover, Zeon intentionally draws parallels with the Third Reich to illustrate the dangers of blindly following leaders whose intents and goals end up being more harmful than beneficial.

  • Full Frontal announces his plan for a Side Co-prosperity Sphere. Conceptually, it is a more modest approach against Char Aznable’s original plan to depopulate the earth via a nuclear winter, reflecting on Full Frontal’s role as a symbol for self-governance amongst the spacenoids. Mineva’s counterarguments against such a plan would only provoke rebellion, thereby repeating an endless cycle of war and terror, while Full Frontal believes that such a dramatic option is the only means to halt the years of terrible hardship experienced by both spacenoids and earthnoids.

  • While detractors question Riddhe’s signifiance in this series, more optimistic parties tout his role as a vital character, representing the lion in the Lady and the Unicorn. Riddhe is seemingly entrenched in the chaotic neutral camp as a result of his unreciprocated love, but the role he will serve has yet to fully be determined.

  • Marida’s character is fully brought-out through her interactions with Banagher and Zinnerman, revealing a side that viewers can easily sympathise with. Subsequently, the exchange between Zinnerman and Marida reveals the true extent of Zinnerman’s hatred for the Federation, and his willingness to finally move on when he gives Marida one final order: follow your heart.

  • Viewers get a glimpse of Full Frontal’s new mobile armour, which resembles the MSN-02 Zeong, on board the Rewloola; Zinnerman comments on how the unit has no legs, mirroring Char’s reaction to the Zeong. The dialogue between Full Frontal and Zinnerman suggest that the former retains all of the memories that Char Aznable once had, although discussions about whether or not Full Frontal can be thought of as the “real” Char has gotten nowhere, and I personally do not believe that this distinction is particularly significant in the grand scheme of things.

  • Hostilities between the Sleeves and Nahel Argama’s crew finally break out in Full Frontal’s absence. The Federation forces manage to drive off the Sleeves, and Captain Midas delivers a brilliant verbal beat down on Angelo, commenting on how the Sleeves are terrorists and how their short-term alliance has effectively ended.

The depths of Full Frontal’s beliefs and aims are finally revealed in episode six, painting him truly as being Char’s ghost. Viewing himself only as a vessel whose existence is to carry out the people’s hopes and will, Full Frontal unveils his plans for a Side Co-prosperity sphere, a construct with a name not dissimilar to Imperial Japan’s “Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere” (Dai-tou-a Kyoueiken). Under this system, the colonies in space are unified by a political and economic coalition, with the intent of excluding the Earth Sphere in the hopes of starving the planet dry and forcing a migration into space. Lead by a leader whose charisma could motivate an entire people, this would eventually allow Newtypes to become a reality and fulfil Zeon Zum Deikun’s original aims, although the plan also opened itself to the potential of creating a crisis on Earth. Necessity is correctly referred to as the mother of invention, and Full Frontal’s plan, had it gone through, would have probably created enough hunger and dissent on Earth for the peoples to find a new means of survival, potentially leading to another war. As such, rather like Char Aznable, Full Frontal demonstrates a lack of empathy for humanity and is unaware that his machinations won’t really solve the problems between the Earthnoids and Spacenoids in the long term. Moreover, Princess Mineva (Audrey) points out that this plan, rather like Full Frontal himself, is only a shadow of what the original Char Aznable was capable of conceiving, recalling Char’s impassioned hatred against how humanity’s souls were still bound by gravity, and resorted to dropping asteroids onto Earth to render the planet uninhabitable. Listening to Full Frontal’s monologue provides insight into his motivation and purpose: he’s a multi-faceted character who embodies hope for a better future from the Zeon perspective, while the Federation perceives him as a mere terrorist whose aims are to disrupt the peace. Banagher wonders if there’s any point to such a system, when it would be preferable to create the future together using human hands; while admirable in sentiment, historically, there have been situations where futures created by the people wind up backfiring such as the French Revolution, where after disposing of the French Monarchy, Maximilien Robespierre initiated a Reign of Terror, leading to the executions of thousands in 1793. This produces a dichotomy: on one hand, there is a future created by a single, strong leader under a grand vision, and on the other, a future that people build together. The lessons of history have shown that both methods have yielded results, although the systems are also subject to failure; where such failures occur, catastrophic consequences arise, and lives are lost. This raises the question: can Full Frontal and the Zeon remnants really be viewed as the “bad guys”? Similarly, can the Earth Federation necessarily be considered to be the “good guys”? The answer is not readily apparent amongst the intrinsic narrative, and in fact, the correct answer is that no one is truly right or wrong until how they choose to carry out their visions are known.

  • Contrasting most forum-goers, I do not spend my time getting hung up over the small stuff, preferring to focus on the bigger picture. Now, while I was porting this episode’s content from my old website, I came across a chance article at Cracked.com, which seems to be a response to ZenPencil’s “Artist vs Critics” post a ways back. I myself have some thoughts on that matter, although that will be left as an exercise for the future. The points raised (though insufficient in detail and poorly written) correctly points out that most reviewers who output negative reviews do not understand why some works appeal to a particular group of people.

  • This act is the episode’s climax, with Mineva denouncing the Sleeves’ intents, and Zinnerman coming to terms with his past. Continuing on from earlier, the biggest offenders in the realm of anime reviews are those who feel that anime of a certain genre are “harming the industry” and “lack intellectual value”, especially when dealing with anime such as SoniAni: Super Sonico The Animation and K-On!. Writing with an excessively formal tone and pulling words from a Thesaurus to intimidate their readers, these “reviewers” strive to drive off individuals from series they did not personally like, believing that their approach to anime is the only correct one.

  • Banagher steps into the conflict: whereas he was hesitant before about piloting the Unicorn, his experiences with it has led him to realise that the Gundam represents not destruction, but possibility, the series’ tag line. His character has undergone a similar transformation: no longer a pacifist bound by unrealistic ideals, Banagher is willing to give humanity the benefit of the doubt and allow them the opportunity to understand one another. Thus, his optimism and motivations are now sufficiently mature for him to be a worthy possessor of Laplaces’ Box.

  • I think this is the first time viewers get to see Marida smile; the execution of her character growth is yet another instance of how Gundam Unicorn is able to drive character development forward and humanise them. While Marida might’ve been seen as a cold, efficient operator for the Garancieres after one episode, by episode six, she’s become a fully-fledged character with a tragic background, who, despite being a Cyber-Newtype, is as human as everyone else in the series.

  • Captain Midas delivers a brilliant speech to the Nahel Argama’s crew while they prepare for the final race to Industrial Seven. The evening this episode came out, I was finalising my honours thesis, and this speech reminded me of the things I still needed to do before I could graduate. Midas rightly states that their actions now will be for their children and grandchildren to evaluate, and that it is imperative to finish this operation without losing their lives unnecessarily.

  • My favourite subtle element in episode six is the clearly shifting relationship between Micott and Takuya, implying that they’ve become closer as a result of all that has happened since episode three. In the finale, I look forwards to seeing how everything fits together for Micott and Takuya: if memory serves, the events in Gundam Unicorn happen over a period of a week or so. If this is the case, it would subtly hint that warfare, for all of its horrors and atrocities, can bring people together, giving them the strength to rise above their challenges and find peace once again.

  • The events in Gundam Unicorn come full circle, and now, Industrial Seven marks the spot where Laplace’s Box is located. Initially, after Cardeas Vist’s actions in the first episode, it was quite clear that Industrial Seven could be the only suitable home for Laplace’s Box. Given that the Unicorn Gundam is considered the key to the Box, Full Frontal’s bold declaration of a race is somewhat nullified by the fact that the Unicorn is probably required to actually open it.

  • Set to Symphonic Suite Fifth Movement: GUNDAM” on the third soundtrack, the Full Armour Unicorn soars onto the battlefield with its full loadout (minus the beam magnums and beam javelin). In May 2013, the HGUC Full Armour Unicorn (Unicorn Mode) was released and sold for 3150 Yen. I saw a few at Otafest 2013, although I decided against the purchase, reasoning that the HGUC Full Armour Unicorn (Destroy Mode) would release with the finale. In fact, it was released a few weeks ago and retails for 3456 Yen. The local stores did not have it when I checked a few weeks back, but they should be present at Otafest 2014.

  • In Riddhe’s hands, the Banshee effortlessly disarms and disables the Jegans and ReZELs sent to handle it. Re-christened the Banshee Norn, the unit carries the standard beam magnum with a revolve launcher and the armed armour, a massive shield that boosts the Banshee’s performance. We note that all of my speculation from the previous episode turned out to be correct: we do in fact see the Full Armour Unicorn, and Laplace’s Box is in fact located at Magallanica, or the Snail.

  • The last scene in the episode has quickly become a classic one, with Banagher and Riddhe clashing sabres as the credits roll. When I finished watching the sixth episode. I felt that it provided a reasonable degree of exposition with respect to Full Frontal’s motivations: he is attempting the same as Char, except his means are through economic warfare rather than the total annihilation of Earth. With this in mind, Laplace’s Box becomes a trump card to buy time, and the hunt for it carries all parties back to Industrial 7, where everything had originally started. Now, with all this exposition done, I fully expect the finale to be non-stop combat and awesomeness. Moreover, having taken a look at the novel’s ending, I am hoping that the OVA will end things differently, as the novel’s ending proves a little difficult to accept, even with a willing suspension of disbelief from my end.

Besides raising a challenging political question that has even the most well-read Universal Century fans going in circles, episode six also explores the interactions between the characters further. Most notably, Zinnerman’s past is marked by an undying desire to avenge his family, lost during the Federation occupation of Side 3, although after everything he’s seen during the course of Gundam Unicorn, he finally lets go of the past, telling Marida to follow her heart. He views Marida as his daughter, and thus, letting her go represents his hope for a better future, as well. Zinnerman was originally a difficult character to sympathise with, but his interactions with Marida ultimately bring out his human side, one that is not cursed by the injustices of the past. Conversely, Riddhe appears to have devolved from his original role as a friendly pilot to one haunted by what has transpired. Lacking any deeper reason to fight beyond his own personal gratification, Riddhe’s role seems almost trivial. Granted, having experienced it first hand, heartbreak and disappointment can be very debilitating, although channelling the resulting despair and anger towards destruction ultimately results in a motivation that will not hold up against Banagher’s will, who is fighting for something bigger than himself. Elsewhere, the Vist Foundation (and Martha Vist Carbine) appears to be the true antagonists: whereas Full Frontal and Banagher hold onto hopes for humanity’s future (albeit via methods that are polar opposites), the Vist Foundation is bent on maintaining the status quo at any cost. Recalling that Gundam Unicorn is about possibility, it would follow that stifling possibility for personal benefit is probably the most contrarian to Gundam Unicorn‘s central message. All of these different pieces represent interesting directions in the story, and while their significance might have not been easily understood, this episode clears up some of these elements. By providing a breather that ties up loose ends for all of the individual character’s and factional motivations, audiences are given a chance to understand what everyone’s fighting for, and how all of these narrative fit into Gundam Unicorn. With these elements now in place, the board is set for the finale. As the episode ends with Banagher and Riddhe clashing blades to Aimer’s RE:I AM, the finale’s outcome might be anybody’s guess, but one thing is for certain: set for release tomorrow, this is the long-anticipated conclusion to what has thus far been one of the most intricate and exciting instalments to the Gundam franchise.

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