The Infinite Zenith

Where insights on anime, games and life converge

Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch from Mercury – Initial Impressions and Reflection

“Many of the dangers we face indeed arise from science and technology – but, more fundamentally, because we have become powerful without becoming commensurately wise. The world-altering powers that technology has delivered into our hands now require a degree of consideration and foresight that has never before been asked of us.” –Carl Sagan

To advance humanity’s ability to colonise space and travel beyond the solar system, the Vanadis Institute built the GUND system, which allows the mind to communicate with machinery. After Vanadis Institute was acquired by Ochs Earth, GUND was utilised to build highly advanced mobile suits known as Gundams. However, the platform places extrem strain on the pilots and in some cases, have even resulted in fatalities. Elnora Samaya is a test pilot for the Lfrith, but has been unable to get the Lfrith operational. When the Mobile Suit Development Council (MSDC) decides to suspend the Gundam programme at leader Delling Rembran’s behest, they deploy special forces to Fólkvangr and kill off the entire staff. Elnora manages to escape with her daughter, and in the process, her daughter activates the Lfrith’s weapons systems and destroys the attacking mobile suits, although her husband, Nadim, dies in the conflict while attempting to buy Elnora andn their daughter time to escape. Twelve years later, Elnora’s daughter, now going by the name Suletta Mercury, enrolls at the Asticassia School of Technology, an institute funded by the Beneritt Group. After encountering Miorine Rembran, Suletta arrives at the academy and learns that here, all matters are settled via duels. When Guel Jeturk, son of Vim, challenges Miorine to a duel, she promptly steals Suletta’s mobile suit, the Aerial. Suletta manages to regain possession of the Aerial and destroys Guel’s mobile suit, although the Aerial’s performance leads the MSDC to suspect that it may be built using GUND technology. Suletta is promptly arrested, and Delling takes an interest in the case. He orders Shin Sei Development Company, who had built the Aerial, to a hearing. Their representative, Lady Prospero, appears and insists the Aerial’s performance stems from utilising drone technology. When Miorine barges in on the proceedings and demands to duel Delling, Vim, who’d also been sitting in on the hearing, comments that the Aerial’s capabilities might be what the Beneritt Group needs. Delling agrees to Miorine’s terms, and Miorine sets off to implore that Suletta must board the Aerial and fight again to save both her enrollment at Asticassia, and the Aerial: Miorine had set the terms of the duel to be such that, if she lost, Delling would be able to do as he wished. With this, Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch From Mercury (The Witch From Mercury from here on out for brevity’s sake) has started. Marking the first time in fifteen years since a Gundam series had caught my eye, The Witch From Mercury represents a unique and new approach to a franchise that’s been around for a shade over four decades.

Gundam series have all dealt with unique topics. Gundam 00 considered the implications of activism and how superior technology can be applied to shake people out of their apathy: the appearance of Celestial Being and their overwhelmingly powerful Gundams would force the world to unite under one banner, and when this unification resulted in the formation of a secret police, the A-Laws, Celestial Being returned to the front lines to correct an unforeseen consequence of their actions to prepare humanity for a hiterto unknown contact with extraterrestrial life. Gundam SEED spoke to the socio-political dangers of genetic engineering, and how warfare is born of resentment for fellow human beings based on their status and abilities. Following the events of Char’s Counterattack, Gundam Unicorn and Gundam Narrative both dealt with forbidden technology, and whether or not possibility outweighs the curse of tapping into a power that is barely understood. Here in The Witch From Mercury, the GUND system and Gundams appear to be in keeping with the recent topics of new technologies, as well as the hazards they present. However, much as how Gundam Unicorn indicated that every negative had a positive (the psychoframe could be used to manifest resilience and resolve as well as fear and anger), The Witch From Mercury aims to argue that all new technologies come with this danger, and that it is the responsibility of those who would develop and use this technology to wield it in a beneficial manner. On top of this, the presence of numerous large corporations in The Witch From Mercury speaks to the problems associated with unregulated capitalism: here, corporations appear to have displaced the government as the main entity with judicial, legislative and executive power. The interplay between corporations and the GUND System in The Witch From Mercury would suggest that the dangers this technology posed is only one of the factors behind why Delling created the Cathedra Agreement: one cannot rule out the possibility that the GUND system was deemed illegal on account of revolutionising humanity’s capabilities for long-term space travel and putting current companies loyal to Delling at risk of being unable to compete, in term harming Delling’s position. From the start of The Witch From Mercury, it becomes clear that, while the setup is quite novel, there remains a very strong story that could be told during The Witch From Mercury‘s run, one that speaks to contemporary issues (such as the ubiquitous nature of smartphones and how they’ve made communications easier, while at the same time, creating a world where discourse is increasingly polarised) in the same way Gundam 00 had been a commentary of the social-political landscape of the War on Terror era and its implications on humanity.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • I still vividly remember watching the second season of Gundam 00 at this time of year, near Thanksgiving, so being able to watch Witch From Mercury marks the first time I’ve watched a full Gundam series since 2007’s Gundam 00. This year’s Thanksgiving saw yesterday spent on grocery shopping and housework, before a fantastic Thanksgiving dinner of turkey and stuffing, ham and pineapple, garlic prawns and an asparagus-carrot medley, capped off with a Crème Brûlée, enjoyed under a vivid sunset and golden foliage. What appealed most to me about Gundam 00 had been the implications of introducing a radical new technology to disrupt the status quo, and the consequences that followed. I Here in Witch From Mercury, the GUND System is this technology. From what the prologue provides to viewers, it’s a system for controlling prosthetics produced from Permet, an exotic metal.

  • The Vanadis Institute is researching applications of the GUND System and produces mobile suits known as GUND-Arm. These mobile suits are extraordinarily powerful by forming a neural link with the pilot, but the connection also places considerable strain on the pilot.  While the Mercury family celebrates Suletta’s birthday, a special forces team (analogous to ECOAS) infiltrates the Vanadis Institue at Fólkvangr after the Mobile Suit Development Council deemed the GUND System unethical for resulting in deaths of those who would operate it. The technology appears to have taken some inspiration from the psycho-frame in the Universal Century, which similarly converted thoughts into physical energy but, being a highly experimental technology, was also exceptionally dangerous and difficult to control.

  • Gundam series are fond of drawing on their predecessors for inspiration, and long-time Gundam fans will spot callbacks to earlier series. The Witch From Mercury continues on with the Universal Century’s themes of utilising novel technologies and their inherent dangers. These themes are nothing new in science fiction, and Gundam series tend to be ambivalent about said technology; while they are not without benefits, depending on how they are applied, they can be quite deleterious. The Witch From Mercury shows the consequences of pushing forward with the GUND System: pilots are pushed to their limits.

  • While Gundam 00 made it clear that it was Celestial Being versus the Union, AEU and HRL at the onset, it seems that The Witch From Mercury is going to be a little more complex; this universe is still divided into Earthnoids (“Earthians” from here on out) and Spacenoids (“Spacians” from here on out), but there doesn’t appear to be a massive war between the two sides. Instead, the universe is set up so that there’s multiple large corporations that are self-regulated by the Mobile Suit Development Council (MSDC). This universe’s emphasis on corporations suggests that capitalism, and the folly in the blind pursuit of profits, will be a central part of The Witch From Mercury. Here, Delling Rembran gives a speech about the importance of how weapons should not take their operator’s lives, and it is on these grounds that Vanadis Institute’s GUND System research is to be halted.

  • To this end, the MSDC have deployed a strike team to neutralise Vanadis Institute and its assets. Suletta’s father sorties in a prototype mobile suit, the XGF-01 Lfrith, to fend off the Grassley Company’s Heingras. While successful, the Lfrith has more trouble against the CEK-040 Beguir-Beu, a custom machine with a GUND System Jammer. Suletta’s father is taken out of the fight by a Beguir-Beu, while MSDC forces spread out in the facility and take out Vanadis Institute’s staff. So far, as we’re still early in The Witch From Mercury, specific performance and handling traits surrounding the series’ mobile suits are not known. In previous Gundam series, I would use mechanic information to see how mass production suits would fare against Gundams, but even without this information, it should be clear that Gundam-types always tend to have the upper hand early on in a series.

  • The lead researcher at Vanadis Institute, Cardo Nabo, had been a major supporter of the GUND System research, and here, she’s surrounded by hostile special forces unit. She refuses to back down and is ultimately executed. The manner in which the MSDC conduct things in The Witch From Mercury is deliberately meant to signify how corporations in this universe have become powerful enough to control aspects of society as tightly as a government might, and one might reason that allowing corporations to have this level of influence is plainly detrimental and it would be interesting to see if down the road, The Witch From Mercury will touch on topics like the tyranny of corporate governance and how when misused, it can be used to favour companies with certain agendas over ethical and sustainable practises. By arbitrary shutting down Vanadis Institute, Delling demonstrates the sorts of abuses that may occur if corporate governance is self-regulated.

  • Suletta’s mother had been working on the systems to the XGF-02 Lfrith, which possesses a GUND-Bit system. I believe this is the first time I’ve seen a starting Gundam to come with remote weapons: in the Universal Century, Amuro Ray’s RX-78 II was only equipped with a beam rifle and beam sabres (it wasn’t until the RX-93 ν Gundam came that Amuro gained access to Fin Funnels), while in Cosmic Era, the GAT-X105 Strike Gundam similarly lacked remote weapons, and Kira only piloted a mobile suit with the DRAGOONs by the events of Gundam SEED Destiny, and likewise, Setsuna F. Seiei’s Exia and 00 Raiser was not equipped with Fangs (Setsuna gains access to the 00 Qan[T] and its Sword Bits by the events of Awakening of the Trailblazer)

  • Previously, funnels appeared much later in Gundam series as the technology improved. That the Lfrith features an advanced bit control system is therefore meant to show the sophistication in the technology that Vanadis Institute had developed in conjunction with the Ochs Earth Corporation, which was responsible for constructing the Gundams. At a young age, Suletta had synchronised with one of the Lfriths, and although she doesn’t know it yet, she’s able to act as a conduit for the Lfrith’s remote weapons. When her father comes under fire, she unconsciously uses the bits to disable the mobile suits attacking her father’s Lfrith prototype, but he perishes anyways.

  • Twelve years later, Suletta has become a student who’s been admitted to the Asticassia School of Technology. On her first day, she spots someone floating in space and decides to rescue them. The moment brings her into a meeting with Miorine Rembran, daughter of Delling Rembran, and the manner in which Suletta uses her current Gundam, the Aerial, was quite reminiscent of how Banagher Links retrieved Mineva during the events of Gundam Unicorn‘s fifth episode. Curiously enough, I’ve not heard any viewers mention this, or any of the elements from earlier Gundam works that have made their way into The Witch From Mercury.

  • Anime fans have universally indicated that The Witch From Mercury is technically a successor to Revolutionary Girl Utena, a series that began life as a manga in 1996 and received an anime adaptation a year later, on the grounds that Ichirō Ōkouchi wrote the story to The Witch From Mercury. Back in 1998, Ōkouchi had written two novels for Revolutionary Girl Utena, but in addition to this, Ōkouchi has also written the story for Code Geass. Consequently, I am wondering where the Utena pieces comes in: Ōkouchi might have a few callbacks to Utena here and there, but at its heart, The Witch of Mercury is a Gundam series.

  • As such, I will be drawing upon related Gundam moments to discuss my impressions of things here in The Witch From Mercury and remark that, even if I have no background in Utena, I still expect to be able to keep up with The Witch of Mercury without any difficulty. Here, the various corporations’ higher ups discuss their earnings, and one of the companies, Parneo has reported losses for three straight quarters. As a result of this, Delling moves to ejected Parneo from the Benerit Group. In recent years, corporate greed has become an increasingly noticeable problems: for instance, players of games have found that of late, games are shipping as shoddy products with an excessive microtransaction emphasis.

  • Compared to previous Gundam pilots, Suletta has no equivalent: she’s shy and has weaker social skills, but possesses a modicum of skill with her Gundam. After it turned out that Miorine didn’t want saving and had been trying to escape, things between Suletta and Miorine become quite awkward. Gundam is no stranger to pushing adolescents into the cockpit of an extraordinary machine, but in previous series, wars have been so disruptive that youth are forced to fight. The fact that Suletta is able to attend a school where mobile suit piloting is part of the curriculum therefore speaks to the differences in this universe.

  • Admittedly, it is pleasant to see a Gundam universe where the conflict isn’t brewing because of grudges born of past atrocities. The Universal Century and Cosmic Era had already covered those topics (and done so well), so it makes for a novel experience to see how mobile suits, and Gundams, can be used in different contexts. The idea of mobile suits being used to settle personal disputes is far removed from what I’d previously seen, and it emphasises that this universe has a unique set of rules and customs. Of course, the last time I saw an anime where military hardware was utilised so casually, it would’ve been Infinite Stratos.

  • Infinite Stratos‘ failure was that it overemphasised Ichika’s relationships, so here in The Witch From Mercury, using a similar setup and dispensing with the poorly-written romance could provide a chance to show how such worlds operate: as conflicts and strife escalate, I imagine that the characters will no longer be able to maintain their everyday lives as students and step up to face whatever challenges face them. Here, Guel Jeturk prepares to square off against Miorine after the latter refuses to marry him: he’s a skilled pilot, but has the arrogance and temper to match. As it is early in the game, I’m tempted to say that Guel will probably fulfil a role similar to Top Gun: Maverick‘s Jake “Hangman” Seresin.

  • While Suletta is normally hesitant, she becomes much more assertive and pushes Miorine away from the cockpit: as a child, Suletta was told that the Gundam was like another part of the family, and Suletta’s taken this to heart, even twelve years later. Although perhaps in a different way, Setsuna F. Seiei regards his Gundams the same way, becoming visibly enraged when enemy pilots suggest taking back a piece of his machine or replacing him as a pilot. This aspect of being a Gundam pilot is quite understandable: Setsuna felt he was entrusted to act as the Exia’s operator and comes to view his machine as a part of himself. Gundam SEED Destiny similarly had Kira feeling down after the Freedom was destroyed.

  • The reason why Suletta and her peers are more likely to be in a sympathetic position is because Gundam‘s choice of featuring younger pilots in lead roles is meant to parallel the fact that youth represent the future, whereas older characters would be more conservative and therefore, more resilient to change. Without any major conflicts at this point in time, I am especially curious as to how things will unfold in The Witch From Mercury, and for the present, one of the challenges I face will be learning all of the characters’ names.

  • When Suletta takes over from Miorine, she’s able to utilise the Aerial’s capabilities completely: the Aerial is able to cast off armour parts and utilise them as funnels, bringing to mind a more refined version of 00 Qan[T]’s Quantum Burst mode. Unlike 00 Qan[T], which simply discarded its outer armour, the armour on the Aerial has thrusters and beam rifles built in. As this occurs, the Aerial’s exposed frame glows red, similarly to the Unicorn when its NT-D was activated. The similarities between the GUND System and the psychoframe becomes more pronounced here, and despite Guel’s prowess as a duelist, the Aerial’s funnels promptly waste him.

  • Having seen the Aerial in a combat situation now, I’m curious to see how this Gundam stacks up against lead machines from other series. The GUND System gives it an edge over other mobile suits here in The Witch From Mercury, but because previous starting lead machines all have their constraints (the RX-78 II’s beam rifle had a limited capacity, the Strike has an operational time capped by its battery, and the Exia’s poorly equipped for longer-range operations) to parallel the pilots’ need to grow into their role as Gundam pilot, I am curious to see how Suletta’s abilities will grow over time, and in turn, whether this shows its limitations as a Gundam or unlocks more of the Aerial’s potential (as Banagher had with the Unicorn).

  • In duel’s aftermath, Miorine states that by law, Suletta must become her partner, to the latter’s shock. I will note here that traditionally, I do not place much emphasis on romance in Gundam series: between the mobile suit mechanics and social-political aspects, Gundam series offer a lot to talk about. With this being said, in the past, I have been branded a heretic because yuri and yaoi topics are things I don’t spend a great deal of time on in my discussions; my counterargument is that I see no reason to focus extensively on romantic relationships in an anime unless romance is a key part of the theme.

  • The Aerial’s performance is immediately suspected to be the result of using prohibited technology, and Suletta is detained, pending expulsion, while the Aerial is immediately slated to be dismantled. In the twelve years since the prolog’s events, GUND System technology was banned, and while Delling had done so under the pretense of ethics, one immediately gets the feeling that the GUND System threatened the status quo he and other business leaders were accustomed to. This stands sharply in contrast with concerns raised over the Psycoframe technology in the Universal Century: research and development on Psychoframes had been stopped because the technology resulted in uncontrollable phenomenon manifesting.

  • One aspect of The Witch From Mercury that was especially impressive is the soundtrack: Gundam music has always been excellent, and I’ve immensely enjoyed the incidental music for Gundam 00Gundam SEED and Gundam Unicorn. Here in The Witch From Mercury, the music has cues from Gravity. The choral elements has a very powerful and visceral tenour about it, and this stylistic approach is one I associate with life. Through the music, it does appear as though The Witch From Mercury is speaking to the significance of life and what it means to be alive. Miorine’s love of botany might be seen as another hint to these ideas: she’s especially proud of the tomatoes that she grows, and that she gives one to Suletta may foreshadow the deeper connection that the pair will share later down the line.

  • Here, Nika shares lunch with Chuatury and another Earthian. Discrimination and mutual dislike between the Earthians and Spacians is present in The Witch From Mercury, manifesting in what psychiatrist Chester Pierce characterises as micro-aggressions, which refers to actions that casually degrade certain social groups. Spacians see themselves as superior, and Earthians resent them for their attitudes as a result: Chuatury is especially vocal about this, but Nika is more composed and willing to overlook the Spacian’s actions. I have read that the term micro-aggression has been misappropriated and creates a culture of victimhood, in which every perceived slight is misinterpreted as a personal attack, and some experts are critical of the concept, suggesting that is is insufficient to merely recognising when something’s happened, but rather, one must identify how to address such behaviours.

  • The sharp contrast between the lives of students and the larger corporate quagmire surrounding this series is a point of interest in The Witch From Mercury: elements aren’t just introduced into stories for the sake of being introduced, and where The Witch From Mercury is concerned, excitement stems from seeing how all of the pieces come together. The politics and mechanics are what I enjoy Gundam most for, and there isn’t a right or wrong way of watching a given franchise. People can focus on any aspect they wish to and will likely still derive meaning from what happens.

  • After reprimanding Guel for losing a duel despite possessing a top-of-the-line mobile suit, Vim turns his attention to the matter at hand: Shin Sei Development Company’s representative. I have noticed that parental figures in Gundam aren’t exactly the most warm or inspiring, further accentuating the themes of how the future tends to be driven  by youth, and how the experience youth possess will impact how they come to handle problems in ways the adults do not think of. Gundam portrays this in a positive manner, and I’ve found that, so long as youth are pursuing something of their own accord, without interference, they will tend to find their footing, whereas those whose causes are corrupted by shadowy influences will lose their way.

  • Twelve years after Delling shut down the Gundam programme and implemented the Cathedra Agreement to prohibit the use of GUND System technology, Shin Sei Development Company appears to provide a suit with Gundam-like traits. One of their representatives, Lady Prospera, appears to a hearing, and Prospera acts as The Witch From Mercury‘s masked character. Her explanation is that work conditions cost her her face. Masked characters are a staple in Gundam, originating from Mobile Suit Gundam‘s Char Aznable, and traditionally, all masked characters have been ferocious pilots.

  • Elan Ceres ends up visiting Suletta while she’s confined and delivers her a meal. Elan is also a skilled pilot with Peil Technologies, and while he’s emotionally distant and reserved, he takes an interest to Suletta and her Gundam. Because we’re still early in the game, I am having a shade of difficulty keeping track of characters beyond Suletta, Miorine, Guel, and Delling, but typically, as I continue to watch a series, I will become more familiar with the characters. The Witch From Mercury establishes Nika, Chuatury and Elan as potential allies to keep an eye on, and because Suletta seems to be a novice with some things, she could do with a few friends in her corner as she learns the ropes and comes to understand what she’s fighting for.

  • The definition of what makes a Gundam is unique to a timeline, and here in The Witch From Mercury, a Gundam appears to be any mobile suit equipped with the GUND System. Curiously enough, the back and forth between Prospero and the MSDC reminded me of a similar scene in The Dropout, when John Carreyou faced down David Boies about Theranos’ non-existent technology and ended up gleaning the fact that Theranos operated their tests on concealed Siemens machines. Here, Prospero manages to smoothly handle the MSDC’s questions and eventually creates doubt amongst some of the corporation’s members. Watching Prospero denying that the Aerial is a Gundam was quite amusing: she argues that the Aerial uses drone technology that is being developed to improve mining processes, and since the Beneritt Group is in need of something to change their fortunes, Vim takes an interest in what Prospero has to say.

  • The second episode proper, third overall, concludes with Miorine barging into the council chambers and demanding to duel Delling (if she wins, Delling must stand down and accept Suletta, but if she loses, then she will agree to whatever terms he has), before retrieving Suletta and giving her an update. Since the Aerial appears to hold the key to driving things forward, the next battle’s outcome is preordained. However, as with any anime, what I’m most excited to see is where The Witch From Mercury ends up. Over the past three episodes, I’ve only covered a small amount of the thoughts I’ve had about things so far, and here, I will remark that with Gundam series, it’s actually quite difficult to be a fair judge of events and characters based on what’s seen so far. I therefore will be writing about this series again once it has hit its halfway point, and then again when it has concluded: having more episodes will afford me with a better perspective on what The Witch of Mercury does well, and what messages it has that allows it to stand out from its predecessors.

Aside from the story, the other aspect in The Witch From Mercury I am looking forwards to seeing is the mobile suit combat. Having entered the Gundam universe through Gundam 00, which marked the first time Gundam was broadcast in HD, my standards for mobile suit combat has been set by the fluid and dynamic clashes between mobile suits and fleets. Battles in Gundam 00 were tense, high-paced and detailed, making use of unique footage to ensure that every battle was visually distinct. In this way, Gundam 00 would come to set the bar for what I’ve come to expect when mobile suits challenge one another in combat. Gundam Unicorn would raise the bar further: Universal Century mobile suits are significantly heavier than their Anno Domini counterparts, and this additional mass is shown in battles, as suits must constantly make course adjustments, and deliver heavy strikes in order to deal damage. The mobile suits of The Witch From Mercury appear more sophisticated than their counterparts in Anno Domini and the Universal Century, being as commonplace as those of the Cosmic Era, and the battles seen so far indicate that mobile suits are not a new technology. They fly smoothly, fight fluidly and resemble a mature technology rather than a concept in development, so to this end, it is clear that, with more mobile suits present in The Witch From Mercury, to the point where they are used among youth and adults alike to settle disputes, there will be plenty of opportunity to see how The Witch From Mercury presents its incarnation of the Gundam universe’s most iconic weapons of war. Animation technology and techniques have doubtlessly advanced in the fifteen years since I first watched Gundam 00, so beyond telling me a compelling narrative with a meaningful theme, the scale and scope of mobile suit combat in The Witch From Mercury is also going to be something I’m keeping an eye on. Beyond these two elements, I am very open-minded to the directions this latest iteration of Gundam is taking: so long as Suletta’s journey is tied to speaking about how technology and people can be reconciled, alongside how a healthy dose of youthful idealism might set in motion improvements in an aging system is presented, and well-animated mobile suit combat, I anticipate finding enjoyment in The Witch From Mercury to the same extent that I had fifteen years earlier, when I was marvelling at Celestial Being’s brutal intervention at Ceylon and the change their actions would subsequently bring to the Anno Domini world.


6 responses to “Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch from Mercury – Initial Impressions and Reflection

  1. Michael E Kerpan October 10, 2022 at 17:11

    Never watched any prior Gundam shows — but everyone said that this one required no prior familiarity. Since the prologue was available early — when there were few old or new shows airing, I gave it a look — and I decided to give Ep. 1 a shot as well. As it turned out, I liked the two main characters a lot — which made this a pretty instant keeper.

    I think categorizing this show as yuri is premature at this point. Time will tell. But, at this stage, what seems most important is that Suletta has definitely never had a same-aged friend before — and it seems more than likely that neither has Miorine. So it makes that the intensity of the bond they have formed already could be the emotional equivalent of “hatsukoi” — regardless of whether there are romantic feelings (yet) or not.

    So, in any event, here I am committed to watching a show that was totally off my radar — and loving it so far (even though I expect things to get dark — very dark).

    Liked by 1 person

    • infinitezenith October 10, 2022 at 21:34

      Gundam 00 is also remarkably beginner-friendly: the first season’s first few episodes open with a bit of a monologue explaining why the world is where it ended up, and how Celestial Being (the organisation with the Gundams) are acting. The series did boldly go where no Gundam went before with its film, but the first and second seasons were remarkably well-grounded (the first season, especially so, while the second season was a bit more black-and-white but remained quite engaging). It’s a bit more “traditional” in this sense, while The Witch From Mercury is, sure enough, more in keeping with the anime that I am more likely to pick up now.

      “Shipping” has always been a part of Gundam: even in Gundam 00, where romance wasn’t an integral piece, viewers were speculating on whether or not the lead pilot would get anywhere in this department and, when the ending came, they complained bitterly about how the series was being “cowardly” for not satisfying things. As far as I can tell, viewers will find anything to complain about. In The Witch From Mercury, the friendship aspect has merit, and similarly to how Kukuru and Fūka of The Aquatope on White Sand lifted one another to new heights, it does feel that this is something that would be valuable in The Witch From Mercury. Of course, if yuri comes into play, I’ll discuss it if appropriate: as a Gundam fan with a keen eye for tech and mechanics, I always have the most fun talking about the mobile suits and their usages, so my posts tend to focus on the tactical and strategic implications of the mobile suits’ various strengths and weaknesses.

      Assuming we go off past Gundam series, things do get more serious and grim at times, but this franchise has always been about optimism. The Gundams themselves embody hope, possibility, change for the better and working harder for a better future (the exception being Hathaway’s Flash, but that’s a topic for another time), so no matter how backed into the corner the protagonists are, they tend to pull through. The fun part is the how, and this is where The Witch From Mercury excites most. While I intend to follow The Witch From Mercury closely, I won’t be writing about things until the winter break, when the halfway point passes, but I do hope you’ll also be enjoying this series.


  2. Fred (Au Natural) October 10, 2022 at 18:35

    I haven’t watched a Gundam series since watching Gundam Wing on Adult Swim with my son back in the late 90s. I give this one a couple of episodes.

    Liked by 1 person

    • infinitezenith October 10, 2022 at 21:36

      I think Gundam 00, at least the first two seasons, would be worth your while if you found Gundam Wing enjoyable; both series start on a similar premise (with Gundam 00 going in a different direction, and its film is radically different, so I’m reluctant to recommend it unless one was a die-hard Gundam fan).

      As I am quite fond of Gundam, I plan on sticking around: the story is promising so far, but what I’m really interested in are the mobile suits and how they fit into things. I’ve found that understanding the technology often offers insights into why the story is unfolding the way it is (at least, for the best Gundam series), and this always generates the kind of discussion I have the most fun participating in.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. David Birr October 11, 2022 at 10:35

    “…arrives at the academy and learns that here, all matters are settled via duels.”

    Oh, gods. Some years ago, I outlined a story idea that I intended to mock/deconstruct the way that students, especially girls, fighting duels came up in various animes; I specifically mentioned Freezing and My-HiME. Infinite Stratos would be another one, of course.

    “Something threatens Earth — demons, zombies, extraterrestrials, Hello Kitty, what-the-hell-ever — and a special schooling program has been set up to train teenage girls who’ve [Handwave] somehow gained more-than-human, available-only-to-females abilities that may be enough to defeat the menace.” But they’ve let their new powers go to their heads. Humanity’s “‘best defense’ is a bunch of conceited kids who don’t show enough foresight to even play real politics.”

    And then the secret police representative arrived. I cynically remarked that “no properly-run government doesn’t have a secret police.”

    “The power-training program is under secret police authority, after all — who else would be put in charge? — and … his agency is tired of the lack of progress in weaponizing the girls. … [I]f he thinks it’s grown too inefficient to be salvaged … closing down will also require executing all the teens who were improperly trained; undisciplined Persons of Mass Destruction can’t just be let loose among a relatively helpless populace.”

    “Since I’ve no interest in this being a dystopian tale of pretty teenagers getting put to death, the new supervisor will succeed in turning things around for the program, the girls will learn to work together effectively, and they’ll save the world, yay.”

    I used the phrase To Sir (Who Can Have Me Shot), With Love as a sardonic description of this plot.


    • infinitezenith October 16, 2022 at 21:38

      The entire “high school duel” set up is one I’m not fond of because it creates scenarios that are unrelatable. When I was a secondary student, disputes were sorted out through discussion and where necessary, mediation. The whole genre suggests that cockiness and over-analysing a foe is how one wins in real life, whereas in practise, compromise and meeting a middle ground is what people should be prepared for. Consequently, I wouldn’t entrust a lawn mower to youth who act like the characters from Infinite Stratos, much less politics and national security.

      Now, in The Witch From Mercury, the duels are said to be of Delling’s invention. Delling, being a Social Darwinist, sees duelling as an appropriate means of sorting out conflict since it conforms with his view that the strongest individual calls the shots. Even at this stage, Delling has the makings of an antagonist (in fact, I feel that he resembles Gundam SEED‘s Patrick Zala), and consequently, I get the sense that The Witch From Mercury‘s duels are probably meant to be seen as a barbaric practise, one to be questioned rather than celebrated. If this is true, then The Witch From Mercury could be mocking the approach and hinting at its obsolescence, and that would be quite welcome.


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