The Infinite Zenith

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

Dawn of Rebellion: Mobile Suit Gundam- The Origin Episode Three Reflection

“It is a principle of diplomacy that one must know something of the truth in order to lie convincingly.” —Tom Clancy, The Hunt for Red October

Around six months have elapsed between now and when The Origin‘s second episode aired. Casval and Char prepare to board a flight outbound for Munzo, but realising that there’s a price on his head, Casval plants an antique revolver in Char’s baggage and offers to swap places with him so the latter won’t miss the entrance ceremony. As Casval predicts, the flight is sabotaged. Now taking on the identity of Char Aznable and shedding his old name, he enrolls at the Zeon military academy and begins his training. His remarkable prowess for both physical and cognitive coursework eventually draws Garma Zabi’s ire, but when he looks after Garma following an accident during a training exercise, the two strike up a cordial friendship. A collision between a Federation and civilian vessel sparks unrest in Munzo, and when the Federation resorts to lethal force, Char suggests to Garma that they directly assault the Federation garrison on Munzo. Garma succeeds in rallying the other trainees, and in what would eventually become the Dawn Rebellion, manages to force the Federation forces to stand down. Char is given his iconic mask here by Lino Fernandez, his former roommate, and although the latter persists in trying to gain Char’s trust, Char views him as a future liability, orchestrating his former roommate’s death during the chaos while they attempt to take the Federation garrison.

This third episode of The Origin illustrates Char as a charismatic leader, whose remarkable talents is matched by a highly intimidating presence and uncommon skill in setting up situations to work in his favour. He views death as a necessary element in realising his plans, and bears sociopathic tendencies, feeling no remorse in sacrificing the original Char or Lino to drive his machinations forward. Despite these attributes, Char never comes across as arrogant; Char maintains a polite manner even while working to manipulate situations. In the original Mobile Suit Gundam, Char’s objective was revenge against the Zabi family, and to this end, he makes extensive use of deception to achieve his means. The Origin illustrates that Char is a deft hand at employing this deception even at the military academy, and in a way, he might be considered to be responsible for the One Year War by encouraging Garma to lead the rebellion against the Federation forces, driving hostilities between the EFSF and Principality of Zeon further. In the background, mobile suit development continues: with Dr. Minovsky announcing a miniturised fusion reactor, the mobile suits come closer to the forms that are seen in the Universal Century.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • As a The Origin post, I’ve got thirty screenshots, rather than the usual twenty, since the episodes are longer and also quite conducive towards discussion: the overall writing and pacing in this episode are impressive, and some have even considered this OVA to surpass some of the classics, such as Gundam 0080, 08th MS Team, and Gundam Unicorn in terms of narrative strength.

  • The Zabi family sabotages the flight, thinking that they’re rid of Casval once and for all. During this explosion, the original Char Aznable dies, and Casval subsequently takes his name, arriving by the next flight and enrolling at the Zeon military academy in Char’s place. From here on out, Casval Zum Deikun will be referred to as Char for consistency’s sake, and any references to the old Char will be clearly marked as such.

  • Right from the beginning, the original Char’s friends remark that Char’s changed quite a bit over the summer: the original Char was more jovial and melodramatic in some places, whereas Casval is more serious, focused and less predisposed for banter. He dons a pair of sunglasses to conceal the fact that his eye colour differs from the original Char’s, and as a cover story, states that the shades are to protect his vision from decay.

  • One of the questions that some viewers have posed is why Federation officiers are present at the Zeon’s opening ceremony, and the answer to that is that at this point in time,Munzo is merely an autonomous colony. The Zeon military academy is training individuals for the militia, a separate element from the EFSF’s main forces that (on paper) answers to Federation officers. On an unrelated note, the page quote for this discussion comes from Char’s deception.

  • With the opening ceremonies past, Char and the others begin training: Char’s academic and athletic performance is impressive, and he quickly becomes noticed at the academy. In fact, his performance makes Speedy Gonzales look like regular Gonzales (this line comes from Futurama‘s “War is the H Word”, where Leela disguises herself as a male soldier to prevent Fry and Bender from dying when they join the army and are sent to neutralise the balls on Sphereon I. Like Char, she also sports a pair of shades and performs very well in physical exercises.

  • During a lecture, Char attempts to help Garma answer a problem backfires, and Garma’s friends threaten Char. Without laying a finger on any of them, Char manages to frighten them with a glare reminiscent of John Clark and Sam Driscoll’s glares: in Tom Clancy novels, some of the characters with extensive field experience are able to defuse an argument or make their intentions clear with a look.

  • Although powerful, Dozle’s mobile suit programme is hampered by the lack of a suitable power supply and Gihren orders the research scrapped, thinking that there is no future for mobile suit warfare. However, Dr. Minovsky himself steps in and introduces a hypercompact fusion reactor that possesses the same output as a standard reactor while having a much smaller size. This power supply further generates Minovsky particles, known in the Universal Century for its electronics disruption and communications jamming properties.

  • A prototype Zaku I is shown here: Minovsky states that the future of warfare, in the face of Minovsky particles, will be a departure away from long-range precision munitions and return to close-quarters confrontations. Despite having inferior numbers to the EFSF military, the mobile suit will change the face of warfare forever: after the One-Week War forces a ban on WMD, the mobile suits that Zeon possesses proves superior to anything the Federation has, tipping the war seemingly in favour of the Zeon forces.

  • It’s now been a little more than two years since the finale to Gundam Unicorn aired; that episode was a veritable masterpiece and resulted in the largest blog post I’ve ever written up until now, spanning some 9000 words and featuring 75 images. That feat will be matched by the upcoming Girls und Panzer Der Film. I had written the Gundam Unicorn finale post after a memorable Victoria Day Long Weekend in 2014, and this year, while I spent much of the Long Weekend working on my thesis (the first draft is about a half-day from being finished now), this break was also quite enjoyable.

  • This year, my Long Weekend started on Friday, which I took off to get the figures into the paper and, after stepping out for a chicken-and-bacon melt sandwich, spent the afternoon playing through Star Wars: Battlefront‘s trial to experience the heroes and survival gameplay. A more detailed post will come out on that at some point in the near future. Saturday was spent gathering and inserting the remaining figures into the thesis, but there was also enough time to watch Hai-Furi. We had honey garlic and buffalo boneless wings, plus a supreme and Canadian pizza for our evening meal. Then, I spent most of yesterday out shopping for new clothing and went to the China Palace for dinner. Today was dedicated towards wrapping up odds and ends in the paper. The rain persisted for most of the Long Weekend, but it’s much-welcomed, and overall, I’m quite happy, since I was able to push the thesis paper’s first draft to near completion, enough to find time and write the review for this episode of The Origin.

  • The prospect of highly maneuverable platforms carrying nearly as much firepower as a battlecrusier is most appealing to Dozle, hence his support for the programme. When Gihren learns that the matter of a power supply has been solved, he rescinds his order and demands that mobile suit development be given full priority, to Dozle’s joy. This head start allows the Zeon forces to have the advantage in the early days of the war.

  • While participating on a 40-kilometer hike, Char and Garma are neck-and-neck for first place. Whereas Char is merely determined, Garma grows tired of being out-performed by Char on all occasions. A scheduled rainfall forces both to stop, and while Char is resting, Garma pushes ahead but falls into the ravine, injuring himself. Char arrives, and while the camera angles imply that Char will follow Garma’s taunts and finish the latter off, Char merely is fashioning a makeshift shelter to keep the rain off Garma.

  • Char makes it clear that he has no intention of mocking Garma, and although Char is driven by revenge against the Zabi family for assassinating Zeo Zum Deikun, Char is patient, waiting years to reach a position where he is able to take revenge. While both Char and Talia al Ghul of The Dark Knight Rises utilise plans that involve manipulating the individuals around them, the latter’s plans are much more complex and therefore, more prone to failure: Char uses more direct approaches to defeat the Zabi family.

  • Thus, after this exercise, Char and Garma come to be on friendly terms: the latter even requests that the two be roommates, and in spite of Char’s sharp remarks, seems okay with Char’s personality. However, Char’s friendship is merely a sham: by the events of Mobile Suit Gundam, he finally reveals his deceit, deliberately misinforming Garma on the position of White Base, and Garma dies in the resulting attack.

  • Back at the Texas Colony, Artesia has also matured and resolves to be a medical doctor: touched by the sorrow and losses she’s experienced, she feels that a career in medicine would allow her to perhaps help others out and reduce the sorrow in the world. She enrolls at a medical school at Side 7 and meets Amuro Ray here when Char leads an attack on Side 7.

  • Artesia feels that it is unlikely that Casval could have truly died on board the sabotaged flight and wonders if he’s not alive somewhere. Char and Artesia do not meet again until the One Year War starts, and despite the time that’s elapsed, Char still cares greatly for Artesia, giving her the funds to move away from the conflict.

  • After an immensely successful mock-combat exercise, Char asks a commanding officer whether or not their forces, training in asymmetrical warfare, are merely scapegoats meant to accentuate the superior firepower of the other Federation forces to dissuade other Sides from considering independence. The officer strikes him across the face for alleged insubordination, but Char’s calm resolve and the other students eventually force the officer to recover Char’s sunglasses. Both instances show the charisma that Char radiates, and for this reason, he becomes a very effective figure in a leadership role.

  • Things further worsen when an EFSF battleship and civilian vessel collide: the battleship’s main engines detonate and propel it straight into an agricultural coloney, leading to its total destruction. Char and Garma are on duty, clearing away the debris, when they notice a Federation troop-carrier deployed. Char immediately deduces that their objective will be to use force to pacify the growing unrest at Munzo.

  • The protests arising on Munzo come in response to the Federation’s refusal to take responsibility for the destruction of an agricultural colony, and soon turn into riots when the Federation begin employing lethal containment measures, opening fire on the rioters with small arms and even main battle tanks.

  • As the situation worsens, Char decides to take action, motivating Garma to lead the other recruits in a daring assault against the Federation compound. This scene demonstrates another aspect of Char: he plans his actions meticulously to ensure that things will go accordingly to plan, and even when the unexpected occurs (such as Lino deducing his identity), he remains quite calm, taking time to assess the situation and devise a suitable solution that works best in the long term.

  • Lino gives Char a prototype of his iconic mask here to continue concealing his identity, and while Char appears quite grateful, he also suspects that Lino could be a liability in the long run. Char’s mask later matures into the version seen in Mobile Suit Gundam as he grows accustomed to wearing one, and I imagine that come the fourth OVA, audiences will have a chance to see Char in full combat (i.e. a scene lasting much longer than what was seen in the first episode).

  • Hiding his own doubts and rallying the other recruits, Garma orders everyone to sortie in their APCs. Resembling modern day APCs, the vehicles used at the academy are outfitted as self-propelling mortars and also have a heavy machine guns. Both weapons are used to great effect in the recruit’s assault on the Federation base: catching them completely by surprise, the trainees manage to disorient their enemy.

  • Zenna Mia holds Dozle at gunpoint while trying to buy the others enough time to reach their objective and begin the operation, but Dozle quickly overpowers her and demands to know who’s leading this unauthorised operation. He relents when he learns that Garma is in command of the entire operation, and Zenna’s words suggest that no one is aware that Char had planned out the entire operation. Zenna later marries Dozle and they have a daugher, Mineva Lao Zabi (Gundam Unicorn‘s Audrey Burne).

  • Back in the heat of things, lead by Char, the trainees mount a terrifyingly effective assault against the Federation forces, making use of shoulder-fired rockets and assault rifles to damage facilities and take down foot mobiles. Char orders Lino to commandeer an enemy tank after losing one of their APCs, and takes advantage of the chaos to order the other trainees to fire on this tank, culminating in Lino’s death.

  • For higher mobility, Char and the other trainees use a jetpack to maneuver quickly around the base. The coordination that the trainees fight with attest to Char’s leadership and organisational qualities: while plainly useful in a military setting, these skills are also applicable to any setting involving management, and one of my aims is to eventually take on more project management experience.

  • While Lino takes heavy fire from blue forces, Char remarks that he is no longer Casval, having fully taken on his identity as Char Aznable. He reaches the command center and negotiates a surrender with the Federation officers, who are completely bewildered that the trainees could coordinate and organise a successful assault of this scale.

  • I generally found Federation forces to be depicted as reasonable throughout other Gundam set in the Universal Century (save Zeta Gundam), and so found it easier to support their causes and goals. Their presence in the third The Origin episode, however, felt distinctly cowardly and complacent, and so, it became quite easy to see why Zeon was pushing for independence. 

  • With the operation complete, Dozle is relieved to learn that Garma is safe, and Char remarks that there’s a nice quality about the colour red. The Federation eventually withdraws their forces, and the narration states that this is perhaps the first element that sparks the One Year War only a year later. This is what the fourth episode of The Origin will depict; besides Lalah, it is possible that several major combat operations and even the RX-78 II will be depicted.

  • As with Yu-Yu’s “Hourglass of Stardust”, the third episode of The Origin has a fantastic ending song in Ko Shibasaki’s  “Eternal Astraea”. At this time, I have no idea when it will come out, but I do know that I loved the song. After the credits finish rolling, the focus switches to Amuro and his father as they travel to Side 7, which is under construction. Amuro’s father asks him to help out with the family, since he will be quite busy.

  • Once their flight arrives, Amuro steps out into Side 7 for the first time: the colony is filled with construction cranes and is where Amuro will call home until the events of the One Year War. Nine months after its start, Char pursues Federation forces carrying a Gundam, the Federation’s answer to the Zeon Zaku IIs. With this last image, this post comes to an end, and over the next few days, I’ll aim to roll out a post on Valkyria Chronicles, which I’ve finally finished. The upcoming weekend, whether or not I will have a post for Hai-Furi out on time will depend largely on the timing for when my copy of Girls und Panzer Der Film arrives.

The Origin‘s third episode firmly establishes Char’s new-found identity, and as such, the stage is now set for Char to demonstrate his skill as a mobile suit pilot. Moving into the fourth and final of the OVAs, titled “Fateful Eve”, it’s likely that rumours about how it will follow Operation British and the Battle of Loum will hold true. This is logical; the third episode of The Origin wraps up during UC 0078, and the One Year War began in UC 0079. Although this war devastated both the EFSF and Zeon forces, it will be thrilling to watch the opening salvos of the One Year War (and perhaps even the One Week War) remastered. With a total of only four OVAs announced, it’s unlikely that all of the major battles during the One Year War will be shown, but given that Amuro Ray’s now made an appearance in two of the last three The Origin episodes, and the fact that the fourth OVA will cover a bit of Lalah’s background, as well as the RX-78 II’s development, it is possible that audiences will be treated to an HD, modernised version of Char and his Zaku II squaring off against Amuro’s RX-78 II. There is quite a bit of possibility as to what will actually happen in the fourth OVA, but at present, the fourth OVA’s release date is only enigmatically set as “early 2017”, which puts the release date as being at minimum, seven to eight months away.

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