“Certainly, in taking revenge, a man is but even with his enemy, but in passing it over, he is superior; for it is a prince’s part to pardon.” —Francis Bacon
It’s been some eight months since Blue-eyed Casval aired, and in this second episode, three years have passed since the events of the first episode. Casval and Artesia are adjusting to their new lives as Édouard and Sayla Mass, but when an assassination attempt leaves Jimba Ral dead, Don Teabolo Mass (their adoptive father) decides to take them to the Texas colony at Side Five to elude the Zeons. Here, they meet the Aznable family and also learn of Astraia’s death, an event that drives a wedge between Casval and Artesia. Eventually, Casval decides to leave Artesia and pursue a future with Char Aznable at the military academy. Back at Munzo, Ramba Ral consents to be a test pilot for a “mobile worker”, forerunner to the mobile suits later seen, at Dozle’s request. As the Zeons gear up for a war of independence against the Federation, Casval begins pursuing his own path, motivated by revenge against those who destroyed his family. This marks the last time that Casval and Artesia will see one another again before the One Year War begins. In comparison to what might be considered a typical aspect of Gundam, The Origin emphasises the human aspect of each of the characters, favouring conversations and moments that serve to shine more light on each character over grant combat scenes. In doing so, insight into how Char Aznable and Sayla Mass come into being is provided, illustrating that all stories must start from somewhere.
The Origin‘s second episode deals primarily with Casval and Artesia’s reactions to Astraia’s death. Casval takes this news particularly hard, despite not showing any significant outward emotion; this change is noticed by one of his headmasters, who remarks that Casval is quite intimidating. If there were any doubts, a brawl with one of the patrons at a saloon in the Texas colony seems to reinforce that the polite, friendly Casval is gone. A comparison may thus be drawn between Casval and Anakin Skywalker: both lose their mother and turn their emotions inwards, leading them to pursue revenge. Darth Vader and Char’s origins were never explored in both franchise’s first instalments (A New Hope and Mobile Suit Gundam, respectively), but even here, similarities in characterisation may be seen: resolute with taking revenge, Casval’s first step towards this end has him applying for the military academy, leaving Artesia behind. While most of the second episode is devoted to characterisation, there’s also a short section depicting a test of Zeon’s “mobile worker” prototype. The precusors of mobile suits are bulky, unwieldy but powerful, boasting enough armour to repel a Federation gun-tank’s firepower and the physical strength to defeat it. With Ramba Ral’s input, Zeon’s weapons programme is progressing rapidly, showing that they are determined to secure independence and eventual dominance over the ruling Earth Federation.
Screenshots and Commentary
- In the three years that have passed since the first episode of The Origin, Artesia has matured quite a bit and is very vivacious, spending her time volunteering at a makeshift hospital not far from the Mass residence. Meanwhile, Casval studies history with Jimba Ral, although his innate talent means that he has no trouble grasping the material and thus, allows his mind to wander during Jimba’s long-winded lectures about the Zabi family.
- While I was quite tempted to do a shorter post with only twenty images, The Origin consists of sufficient material such that these posts can be accompanied by the full thirty images. I’m well aware that my posting has been quite sporadic and infrequent; my thesis project is now nearing completion, so I’m finding less and less spare time to watch shows, much less write about them as I’m directing more time towards implementing the last of the components to said project.
- Proximity with infected patients means that Artesia herself falls ill. As an older brother, Casval cares greatly for Artesia and promises to keep an eye on her throughout the evening. Throughout this post, I will be referring to Casval and Artesia as their original names, rather than their aliases, Édouard and Sayla, for simplicity’s sake. From the third episode onwards, I will refer to Casval as Char Aznable, and Artesia as Sayla Mass.
- In a letter to Astraia, Artesia remarks that nearly 50 lunar cycles have elapsed, and that halfway to the 100 mark, the number that Astraia promised before they’d be able to meet once again. Careful inspection of Artesia’s letters will show that they’re written in cursive English: though I do not write in cursive, I did learn how to do so during primary school. However, at present, handwriting is deteriorating: compared to the last generation, my handwriting is terrible, and worse yet, it’s considered “excellent” compared to the norm.
- However, the evening calm is broken when a group of terrorists under the Zabi’s payroll break into the Mass residence and massacre everyone in sight, with the intent of taking out Jimba Ral, who was planning on a full-scale war against the Zabi family using his contacts at Anaheim Electronics, along with Casval and Artesia. With the exception of Dozle, the Zabi family is depicted as a power-hungry group, and in the three years since the first episode, they have consolidated control over Munzo.
- In a scene straight out of what could be reasonably expected from a movie made in the 1930s, an assassin in Knight armour attacks Casval and Artesia. Casval eventually manages to beat the assassin in single combat and drives his own sword into the assassin’s visor.
- Don Mass was able to escape an assassin when he fell out of a window: although injured, he manages to survive, and here, listens to Shu Yashima’s suggestions about moving to Texas Colony. Depicted as being very loving of Casval and Artesia, Don was friends with Zeon Daikun, hence his choice to adopt Casval and Artesia.
- Mirai Yashima is Shu’s daughter and later becomes Captain Bright Noa’s wife. Like the first The Origin episode, this episode features plenty of cameo appearances for characters seen in the original Mobile Suit Gundam: what Gundam Unicorn did for mobile suits of the Universal Century, The Origin does for characters, serving as a welcome aspect for those who know the Universal Century well.
- The Zabi family prepare for a public announcement, and the atmosphere surrounding Munzo plainly resembles that of Nazi Germany: the Zeon flag itself bears similar designs with those of the Third Reich’s, and it appears that Federation control here is generally diminishing, even if the Zabi family still allows them to maintain a presence here for the present.
- After a Federation officer steals the microphone from Hamon, Ramba Ral engages all of the Federation soldiers in a fist fight, damaging half of the bar in the process. Dozle arrives to break up the fight and request Ramba Ral’s presence for a favour.
- It turns out this favour is to test out the experimental weapon, “mobile worker”, a massive exosuit that fundamentally resembles The Matrix‘s APUs: with a massive claw arm and manipulators lacking dexterousness, these prototypes also have an open cockpit that offers a pilot with minimal protection. These scenes reinforce the idea that Zeon was the first to devise the concept of a humanoid combat platform, and their weapons are typified by fitting components within heavy armour.
- Against the Federation Guntank, the prototype mobile worker’s armour can resist the machine gun fire without much difficulty, and its main shield can survive consecutive rounds from the Guntank’s main cannon. During testing, the Guntank is torn apart by the mobile worker’s claw arm, and this prototype already exhibits some of the features that will carry over to the Zaku line of mobile suits.
- These past few days have been quite hectic, as I began implementing C++ blueprints for my simulation. I finished watching this second episode yesterday while enjoying a ginger beef poutine: the savoury cheese-and-gravy of the poutine, mixed with the tart, sweet sauces and crunch of the ginger beef made for an excellent, if somewhat unconventional poutine, and the day before, I was out and about, picking up a new MacBook Pro and iPhone 6 to aid my thesis work (I will be developing a variant of my simulation for iOS, and also am working to become more familiar with iOS app development in Swift 2.0). Short reviews of both devices will come out in due course, of course.
- A young Amuro Ray is seen with his father, adding to the list of cameo appearances. Still a child, Amuro is playing with an early Haro: originally, Haro were custom-built by Amuro, but in The Origin, they appear to be commercially-available toys. This is the closest that Amuro and Char get in The Origin, as the latter is travelling with Don Mass and Artesia to their new home in Texas Colony.
- The rationale for moving to Texas Colony at Side 5 was to demonstrate that the Deikun children posed no threat to the Zabi administration and would be willingly placing themselves in close proximity to Munzo. While not shown in this review, the second episode does show that space colonisation is quite mature, with large numbers of colony cylinders organised at the different Lagrange points.
- Astraia’s health is in decline; she’s visibly aged since the first episode while imprisoned, and longs to see her children again. While technically a prisoner, Hamon gains permission to visit per as a result of Ramba Ral’s agreement to help Dozle out.
- As another clever call-back to Mobile Suit Gundam, Ramba Ral’s mobile worker is painted blue, and he destroys a mobile worker another soldier is piloting during testing. With most of its sensors disabled, the testing comes to an end, and Rambal Ral remarks that the unit’s performance against another mobile worker is limited by its lack of dexterity, as well as the unsafe cockpit design. This feedback eventually leads to the design of an enclosed cockpit, and superior manipulators for the mobile suits.
- I’ve become quite accustomed to demonstrating prototypes for my supervisor and the university’s higher-ups: over the past few months, we’ve had interviewers, camera crews and the Dean of Science visited our lab. While not quite ready as a thesis, I had a reasonable amount of content to demonstrate for these events.
- As a developer, I value feedback, and always incorporate suggestions into the next version where applicable. This was the case with the Giant Walkthrough Brain, and last weekend, I spent most of Saturday making the Unity project more adaptable: because Jay Ingram’s presentations often undergo changes, I decided to write several wrappers to expose some parameters without compromising encapsulation elsewhere. The new changes make the project far more adaptable (and easy to adjust without inadvertently altering mission-critical functions).
- Texas Colony apparently was planned as a Wild-West themed amusement park, reproducing the landscapes and town of this age. In my province, ranching and cattle are large industries, and we’re known throughout Canada for having the best beef around: I enjoy driving through the foothills in the south of the province because they evoke a very Wild-Western feeling.
- To the left is the real Char Aznable. His similarity to Casval is stunning (this is precisely why I insist on referring to Casval as such until at least next time), differing only in the colour of their eyes. On Tuesday, I was at a networking event, and was surprised to learn from one of the attendees that there’s apparently someone on campus who looks quite similar to me, but is of the opposite gender.
- Tensions ease immediately after Char and Casval meet: they’re shown to be getting along just fine, and several of the adults remark so, as well. While Casval is outwardly studious and friendly, he’s also got a darker side that seems to intimidate those around him.
- Quill pens haven’t been widely used since the 1820s, when John Mitchell developed the fountain pen. Prior to this period, quills were widely used for manuscripts, and have been in use since the sixth century.
- The mood of the moment changes dramatically when Casval arrives with news of Astraia’s death. This marks the turning point in the episode: while still quite dark with assassinations and the Zabi’s ever-increasing control over Munzo, the second episode of The Origin remained quite cheerful as Casval and Artesia settled into their lives under Don Mass’ care.
- Casval decidedly evokes memories of Riddhe Marcenas; his limited reaction to Astraia’s death stands in contrast with those of Artesia, and ultimately, contributes to a change in his character and motivation that endures throughout the One Year War.
- The Aznable family administers the Texas Colony, and later attempt to migrate to Zeon in UC 0079 while the Battle of Loum was raging. The shuttle they were on was, in a stroke of irony, destroyed by Casval, who will have assumed the identity of Char Aznable by this time, and when the dust settles, the entirety of Side 5 was destroyed.
- Whereas other review sites declined to comment on this moment, Casval’s fight with another cowbow seems to be his taking out his frustrations. I’m actually not too sure if this fellow here is on Zeon’s payroll, but Casval’s immediate disapproval of him might be a very subtle hint of his low-level Newtype capacities manifesting. The fight was surprisingly one-sided, and Casval very nearly inflicts a fatal wound with the classic “nails through board” until Artesia intervenes and crys out at him to stop.
- Char celebrates after he is accepted into the military academy. Char appears to be an idealist, readily agreeing with Zeon doctrine. Roger Aznable disapproves of Char’s decision, and Casval, who likely knows full well of what joining Zeon entails, keeps his opinions to himself.
- While Artesia appeared to be recovering from Astraia’s death, Lucifer’s death and Casval’s decision to leave shortly after deal a double blow, lending itself to the episode’s title. From here on out, Casval and Artesia part ways. The next major Gundam project in the works is Gundam: Thunderbolt: at present, I’m not following Gundam: Iron Blooded Orphans, but the premise behind Thunderbolt is intriguing: set in UC 0079, concurrent with the Battle of Loum, it will depict the forgotten war at Thunderbolt sector, a boneyard of abandoned colonies and space vessels.
- There’s no information on what Thunderbolt will entail, beyond a 15-second trailer boasting some Cowboy Bebob-style jazz music, and even for The Origin, all that’s known is that the next episode will be aired in Spring 2016. The ending song to this episode doesn’t quite capture me as Yu-Yu’s “The Stardust of the Hourglass”, but there were some interesting pieces of background music in the episode, so I’ll be keeping an eye out for the second soundtrack volume.
With the second episode now over, eyes now turn towards what will happen next in The Origin, as Casval experiences another assassination attempt that allows him to claim the identity of Char Aznable and eventually become Zeon’s most respected pilot. This upcoming third episode will likely depict Casval’s time at the academy, and renewed Zabi efforts to finish him; consequently, the third episode is something to look forwards to. The official description states that it will be titled “Dawn of Rebellion” and, in addition to the aforementioned plot points, also deal with the continuing mobile suit development and rising tensions between Zeon and the Federation. In continuing to build up the history in the Universal Century, The Origin continues in presenting a tangible story behind Char Aznable, and it will be interesting to see how he fits in with the events of the Universal Century’s history before the One Year War. The release date for the third episode has not been provided: a poster only yields that it will come out somewhere in Spring 2016. While this looks to be quite a ways away, I imagine that the time will disappear in the blink of an eye: there might be a wait, but I reassure readers that this won’t be a long wait.