The Infinite Zenith

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Category Archives: Gundam

Eve of Destiny: Mobile Suit Gundam- The Origin Episode Four Reflection

“Weapons are an important factor in war, but not the decisive one; it is man and not materials that counts.” —Mao Zedong

In the aftermath of the Dawn Rebellion, Degwin Zabi arranges for the Federation to withdraw their military assets from Side Three to avoid future incidents. After being reprimanded for failing to look after Garma, Dozel orders Char to Earth, but grants his request to be a mobile suit pilot. On Earth, Char works as a construction worker and meets Lalah Sune, working for a shady figure. He saves her life and grants her request, taking her into space. Meanwhile, Tem Ray pushes forwards with the RX-78 program to develop a Federation mobile suit. When the Federation learns that Trenov Y. Minovsky plans to defect, they stage an extraction operation that is foiled by Zeon, who deploys their mobile suits to great effect against the Federation RX-77 Guncannons, eliminating them and killing Minovsky in the process. Back at Side Seven, Amuro Ray begins to wonder why his father is sent on frequent business trips and begins reading into his father’s research, learning about the development of the RX-78 mobile suit even as the first shots of the One Year War begin, when Zeon declares itself as an independent Principality and mounts an invasion of the moon. The progression of history in The Origin differs from that of the original Universal Century in some key areas: for instance, the One Year War began originally when Zeon gassed four colonies at the start of UC 0079, and Minovsky dies much later. However, in spite of these differences, The Origin‘s final episode proved to be a solid addition to Gundam origin, primarily following the first deployment of mobile suits against Federation forces.

The main draw in the fourth The Origin OVA is its depiction of the natural progression of humanoid weaponry resulted in the Universal Century from construction vehicles and arming them, in a manner not unlike the development of the earliest fighter aircraft in World War One, which consisted of pilots bringing pistols and grenades with them into the air. Soon after, machine guns were bolted onto the aircraft, and with the development of an interrupter mechanism to prevent the guns from shooting up the propellers, the earliest dedicated fighter aircraft were born. Mobile suits share a similar background, initially being armed mobile workers that saw great strides after the development of a suitable power supply (a Minovsky reactor) and the AMBAC system, which provided unparalleled balance and coordination needed to give the weapon human-like dexterity. The Origin captures the development of fictional military hardware in a plausible manner, allowing mobile suits to gain credence as a weapon, and their first combat operation against Federation forces draws yet another parallel with the introduction of tanks in warfare. Although the first deployment of tanks at the Battle of Flers–Courcelette in September 1916 is widely regarded as a failure, German soldiers initially lacked the means to effectively engage them, falling into disarray when they arrived on the battlefield. Unable to penetrate them with their rifle rounds and grenades, Germans claimed that tanks turned warfare into a slaughter, and it was not until later that they began devising means of confronting these vehicles, using six grenades in a cluster to blow tracks off. The Zeon mobile suits, though far more effective and reliable than Mark I tanks, have a similar effect on Federation Forces, overwhelming them and prompting them to continue development into the mobile suit programme.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • The fourth episode to The Origin comes out nearly a year and a half after the release of the first episode back in March 2015. I was quite excited about the announcement, which encompassed four episodes, and so, imagined this one to be the last release for The Origin. Here, Garma, Zenna and Char participate in a ticker-tape parade after their successful strike against the Federation garrison. The Federation seems to be an inept bureaucracy by this point, lagging behind the Zeons.

  • After Char is dismissed, Zenna is called to Dozle’s study. Subtle details in the animation, such as Dozle trying to straighten his hair out, already hints at what will subsequently happen: Dozle asks out Zenna here, who is completely taken aback. Viewers already familiar with the Universal Century will already know the outcome, as Zenna later marries Dozle and they have one daughter, Mineva, who will go on to play a substantial role in Gundam Unicorn.

  • At a casino, Char watches his higher-ups lose in roulette. Another client appears, winning consecutive matches before the casino staff switch the dealers, causing the same client to lose a large sum of money. Standing behind this man is Lalah, who Char feels is a little unusual. I’m no gambler, and remark that I’ve got no idea of how to play Poker, so whenever casinos are featured in a particular work I’m watching (especially something like Casino Royale), I don’t particularly understand what plays are being made.

  • A young girl from Mumbai, Char and Lalah meet again formally at a dock. This is where things begin, later resulting in Char rescuing her and assigning her as a pilot. While with a friendly disposition, she holds Char in high regard and is willing to fight for him, culminating in Lalah’s death after she takes a blow from Amuro Ray meant for Char during a heated battle. Amuro Ray himself had noticed that Lalah was unique, and her death transforms the rivalry between Amuro and Char.

  • Lalah laments the fact that her only family photo is of a poor quality and is initially distrustful of Char, but Char later offers to help her create a digital image and use software to boost its quality. Scanning an image is relatively easy, as is cleaning it up using photo editing software. Owing to my background, I’ve been sent to help deal with technological issues pertaining to computers and their peripherals, as well as in accomplishing tasks that seem minor.

  • Despite being smaller than his opponents, Char is more than a match for them physically. His death glare is sufficient to send adults recoiling in horror, being comparable to those that Sam Granger and John Clark occasionally field during their operations in order to dissuade local toughs from bothering their work. After Char intervenes and prevents the fellow in the image from striking her for ostensibly disobeying him, a frigate arrives and sinks his boat before firing on the adjacent area. In the chaos, Char makes off with Lalah.

  • Back at the construction site, the fellow from earlier has arrived to take back Lalah, but is decapitated by his bodyguard by means of a chakram, who has taken up a new offer. Char picks up a shovel and fights him, during which Lalah subconsciously calls out to him, allowing him to dodge the chakram and impale the bodyguard using the remains of the shovel. This scene is one of the more explicit depictions of violence I’ve seen in Gundam, although lacking any of the disturbing implications seen in other anime.

  • Even with the assassin dispatched, another party joins the fray. From the casino, they order Lalah be handed over, seemingly aware that she has capabilities that could help them profit. However, while the casino group begins marching on the construction site to find Lalah, Char powers up his mobile worker and destroys most of the party’s equipment, driving them off.

  • Federation brass share with Tem a plan by Minovsky to defect from Zeon. A fair portion of the fourth episode is thus set on the moon as this occurs, which has been colonised by the time of the Universal Century. I’ve never actually seen the moon cities in Gundam before until this OVA, having only heard about it in the passing during Gundam Unicorn, where Alberto Vist suggests that the Nahel Argama bring the Unicorn to Anaheim Electronics headquarters on Von Braun rather than Luna II.

  • Documentation on Tem Ray is not particularly illuminating; The Origin paints him as a skillful but also rigid engineer with a very set vision for his RX-78 program. His interactions with Amuro, coupled with Amuro’s remark that “not even his own father hit him” in Mobile Suit Gundam, suggests that he is more conservative and disciplinarian in nature. Here, he wonders why Amuro had Fraw Bow over without any pants on.

  • The mass produced RX-77-01 Guncannons are the forerunners of the RGM-79 GM series of production mobile suits, which were produced using information derived from the Gundam project. The manufacturers consider the RX-78 unnecessary and are eager to demonstrate the Guncannons in battle. However, these units are designed based on combat footage of the YMS-03 Waff, the first mobile suit to utilise a miniturised Minovsky Reactor.

  • During the operation to transfer Minovsky into Federation hands, a small detachment of mobile suits, led by Ramba Ral, arrives to regain custody of Minovsky. The Federation decide to deploy twelve elite pilots into combat against four Zeon suits, boldly claiming that it will be taking a sledgehammer to deal with a fly, although they fail to account for a fifth mobile suit painted in red.

  • During the Battle of Mare Smythii, Char draws first blood by shooting down one of the Federation fighter craft escorting the Guncannon carrier. Their destruction prompts Miguel Gaia, Ortega and Grade Mash, three other mobile suit operators, to disparage Char. Openly expressing distaste for Char and how he managed to become a mobile suit pilot. These pilots later become the Black Tri-Stars, a mobile suit team legendary for their aggression and efficacy in combat.

  • Equipped with lower calibre weapons and rockets, the Guncannons arrive and organise themselves to fire on the Zaku mobile suits. Despite landing what appears to be direct hits, the mobile suits emerge from the dust clouds unscathed and begin a devastating assault on the Guncannons. Despite outwardly resembling mobile suits more so than the original Guncannon, their loadout appears more suited for dealing with conventional weaponry, such as capital ships and fighter craft.

  • Lacking the same heavy-calibre weapons as the Zakus, the Guncannons are defeated one after another. One of my friends, an expert on all things Universal Century, speculates that the Guncannons lack the AMBAC system, which prevents them from executing melee attacks. The Zakus capitalise on this, closing the distance and absorbing all fire in order to knock down and disable the Guncannons.

  • Some of the Guncannons seem similarly armed to the Titans of Titanfall, possessing a smaller caliber cannon and a shoulder-mounted ordnance pod firing rockets. The mobile suits evade them, and here, Ramba Ral’s MS-04 Bugu charges into combat, firing its 100mm machine gun. Firing shots nearly the size of main battle tank rounds, the sheer volume of shells mobile suits could put down range made them particularly lethal, and even the advanced Chobham armour modern NATO tanks use might not be able to resist firepower of that volume.

  • One of the Zakus use a heat-hawk to brutally beat down one of the remaining Guncannons, and in the ensuing carnage, Minovsky is killed as a falling Guncannon crushes him. The battle over, Tem observes that the Guncannons are plainly no match for the Zakus and is approved to continue development into the RX-78 project, officially dubbing it a Gundam. The original RX-78 was the first mobile suit to feature beam weaponry: its primary armament was a rifle capable of firing rounds as powerful as those of a battleship and could rend a mobile suit with a single shot, as Char later finds out when encountering the RX-78 for the first time.

  • While Ramba Ral and the others engage the Guncannons, Char himself hangs out in the back, destroying the carrier while evading its anti-air fire.

  • The battle draws to an end with total losses for the Federation forces. It seems almost a tradition that I am able to enjoy a meal out on days where I’ve watched The Origin: with the first episode, it was a family dinner, and on the second episode, I had a ginger-beef poutine. This time, I sat down to a dinner of Russian-style beef on spaghetti with fried pumpkin and carrot, accompanied with garlic bread and tomato soup. A hearty dinner is perfect for a chilly autumn evening, and although this month has been warmer than average, it’s beginning to cool down now.

  • A Zeon official negotiates with the administrator of the Grenada city here as the Principality of Zeon prepares for all-out war. I gathered that her name was Catherine, and that she’s working with Kycilia Zabi.

  • In contrast with Amuro’s sloven ways, Tem is organised and meticulous: this is evidenced in how he keeps his room, and it is here that Amuro discovers the true nature of his father’s work. Schematics for the RX-78 can be seen in the background, and its leg design carries over to the RX-93 ν Gundam. Delving into some of the blueprints, Amuro spends long hours in front of his computer while the world around him braces for the inevitable.

  • The Principality of Zeon is formed in UC 0078, adopting a political agenda similar to that of the Third Reich. While they are designed to be an antagonist faction that makes it very distinct as to who’s who, some folks seem to sympathise with Zeon for reasons beyond fathoming. While there are certainly reasonable characters in Zeon, the Zabi family’s directions lead Zeon to commit numerous atrocities, and as of late, it seems that Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare‘s Settlement Defense Front is organised along similar lines as Zeon.

  • Consequently, as a result of his sleep patterns, Amuro falls asleep in class, and here, is teased by none other than Kai Shinden. I usually try to maintain a half-respectable sleep pattern, hitting the hay at no later than 23:00 local time and waking up at 07:00. In this manner, I am assured at least seven to eight hours of sleep, which keeps me going for the day. Of course, by around 17:00, I’m usually quite tired and ready to call it a day.

  • Later in the day, Kai and his friends insinuate that Amuro and Fraw are in that kind of relationship, resulting in the world’s most hilarious expression from Fraw. Fraw Bow (sometimes Frau Bow in romanisations) is a friend of Amuro’s — she looks after him while his father is away, but their relationship never reaches such a stage in Mobile Suit Gundam as Amuro continues fighting against Zeon.

  • As relationships between Zeon and the Federation further deteriorate, hostilities erupt. Musai-class light cruisers exchange fire with Federation cruisers. While originally outfitted with conventional projectile weaponry, both Zeon and Federation cruisers field mega-particle cannons The Origin: over time, beam weapons render armour useless, so mobile suit development gradually shifts towards a greater emphasis on speed over armour.

  • Overwhelmed with her own helplessness as the Federation and Zeon forces go to war, Fraw Bow bursts into tears after entering Amuro’s room and seeing him reading through weapons manuals. Unbeknownst to either Amuro or Fraw, both will play a role in the One Year War, and it is suggested that his talents for mechanical engineering allowed him to become familiar with the Gundam despite it being his first combat deployment.

  • A Megellan-class battleship explodes after taking fire from Zeon battlecruisers. Depicted as being quite fragile, the battleships in Gundam generally feel more fragile than their counterparts in Halo, lacking the energy shielding that larger vessels have. However, mega-particle cannons might have similar effects on armour as the plasma weaponry that the Covenant uses. Consequently, it would be interesting to see whether or not Zeon cruisers could fight toe-to-toe with UNSC capital ships.

  • Char’s Zaku is seen with a standard 100mm machine gun here, firing at Federation cruisers. With the Battle of Loum unfought as of yet, Char has not made a name for himself in combat, but nonetheless resolves to excel as a mobile suit pilot and eventually, take his revenge on the Zabi family for their actions.

  • Lalah gazes out at the stars from the lunar surface and remarks that their twinkling is beautiful. Char corrects Lalah, stating that, lacking an atmosphere, stars won’t twinkle. The effect is formally known as astronomical scintillation, arising comes from moving air refracts the starlight in random directions, giving the sense that their magnitude is fluctuating. Following Lalah’s remarks, I wondered briefly whether or not The Origin would dispense with physics, but thankfully, it has not, and the moment is probably to suggest that at this point, Lalah is still a bit of a naïf.

  • The fourth OVA ends with Char streaking off into battle as a red comet. Overall, The Origin was a fantastic adventure, and news that it will be continued was most welcome. The fifth episode will be titled “Clash- Battle of Loum” and the sixth will be “Birth of the Red Comet”. For the time being, though, this post draws to an end: I’m quite excited that The Origin will be continuing, and look forwards to seeing where things go. Further to this, unlike Girls und Panzer: The Final Chapter, I will very likely be able to watch and write about The Origin‘s final two episodes in a timely fashion.

The only negative point that readily comes to mind about the fourth The Origin OVA lies in how abruptly it ends: while a fantastic portrayal of ever advancing mobile suits and the growing hostilities between Zeon and the Federation, the amount of space combat was admittedly insufficient. In fact, one of my friends remarked that four OVAs seemed inadequate to cover material leading up to the One Year War, and would only accept the fourth OVA as the last installment if an official source stated thus. Mere hours later, we learned that there will in fact, be a continuation. Split into two parts, with one being released in autumn 2017, and the final in 2018, the upcoming episodes will deal with the Battle of Loum in much greater detail and Char’s journey to becoming the Red Comet. While the dates are a long ways off, the announcement is most welcome, for there will be additional installments that bring the events of the Universal Century to life using the visual styles Gundam Unicorn established. To see pivotal battles, including the One Week Battle and Operation British, in high detail, would be a chilling but instructive experience for Universal Century fans, and I look forwards to gaining more exposure to the most intricate universe in the Gundam franchise. This news also means that, for completion’s sake, I will try to stick around long enough to blog about the two remaining OVAs in The Origin.

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.

Artesia’s Sorrow: Mobile Suit Gundam- The Origin Episode Two Reflection

“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.

Blue-eyed Casval: Mobile Suit Gundam- The Origin Episode One Reflection

“All sins have their origin in a sense of inferiority otherwise called ambition.”  —Cesare Pavese

It’s finally here, nearly two years after rumours and speculation about an animated adaptation of Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin began during 2013. The animated adaptation of The Origin deals primarily with Casval Rem Deikun and his younger sister, Artesia Som Deikun. After Zeon Zum Deikun’s death in UC 0068, the opening episode to The Origin details the chaos and confusion that subsequently spreads throughout Side 3. For their protection, Ramba Ral and Crowley Hamon devise a plan to smuggle them away from Side 3 to Earth, along with Ramba’s father, Jimba, although during their transit, Crowley, Casval and Artesia encounter a battalion of Federation Tanks. Casval manages to take them out, and they escape from the growing political tensions that follow. The Origin also introduces the Zabi family as a conniving group. Shortly after events of the first episode, Degwin Sodo Zabi transforms Side 3 into the Principality of Zeon, a totalitarian system, although Gihren Zabi gradually takes over. By UC 0079, Zeon declares war on the Federation, initiating the One Year War. The ceaseless cycle of violence and vengence isn’t broken until UC 0096, during the events of Gundam Unicorn. The first episode to The Origin concludes with Caseval and Artesia experiencing space for the first time, and as the episode draws to a close, there’s a half-year wait before the second episode comes out.

The Origin retains much of the stylistic elements from Gundam Unicorn, including a first episode that steps back to introduce characters, factions, beliefs and how everything started. It appears that Zeon Zum Deikun was already intending to break away from the Federation: an ardent believer in the Newtype philosophy, he argued that the spacenoids would eventually undergo evolution to adapt for space and that the Earth was sacred for its life-supporting environs. His beliefs meant that, even had he declared war on the Federation, the conflict itself would have been unlikely to have seen the same sort of atrocities that were committed during the course of the One Year War. Conversely, the Zabi family’s portrayal in The Origin fully suggest a group of individuals who are willing to resort to atrocities in revenge for their perceived mistreatment of the spacenoids. Casval’s unwavering, authoritative presence also hints at his future of being a capable leader and pilot: he is fearless even when threatened by Kycilia Zabi, and despite lacking any experience, he manages to disable four Federation RTX-65 Guntanks during their escape. Other well-known characters are also reintroduced; Ramba Ral left a particularly positive impression, with his friendly personality and talent for getting the job done, however mundane it may be (he even rescues Artesia’s cat at one point). The Origin‘s first episode is focused on giving the Zeon characters more background to show the human faces behind all of the events that subsequently transpire in Mobile Suit Gundam, and leaving this episode, I find that much of the One Year War’s events might be chalked up as a consequence of the kind of merciless and ruthless beliefs that led to the outbreak of conflict during the Second World War.

Sceenshots and Commentary

  • The Origin opens up to the Battle of Loum, which began as an attempt to drop a second colony after Operation British had failed. The Federation was able to deal damage to the Zeon forces, but Zeon illustrated the effectiveness of mobile suits in combat.

  • Char’s MS-06S Zaku II is given a red finish and is capable of moving three times faster than standard Zaku IIs. Equipped with a 280 mm bazooka and an anti-ship rifle in place of the Zaku’s signature machine gun, Char demonstrates his talents as a pilot, effortlessly disabling several Federation battleships before running out of ammunition for his bazooka.

  • The opening battle demonstrates what Mobile Suit Gundam could look like if it was completely redone using present animation techniques and tools: the screens and vessel interiors take on a feeling that distinctly feel like earlier generations of what was seen in Gundam Unicorn, and it looks amazing. Char’s Zaku emits an ominous sound as he flies by a Federation battleship here: the monoeye sound is famous for being an intimidating sound, and my first exposure to it was during Gundam Unicorn.

  • Capitalising on the cutting-edge Zaku II, Char flits throughout the battlefield, amazing his allies and striking fear into the Federation forces. Despite lasting only around four minutes, the combat sequence is nothing short of impressive, and while the CG effects are less inconspicuous than they were in Gundam Unicorn, they aren’t terrible, and in all, this segment of the Battle of Loum is spectacularly animated, giving a sense of scale that was not seen in Gundam Unicorn.

  • The sheer amount of activity going on at any given moment is nothing to sneeze at, and even though this Federation battle group is behind the front lines, Zeon’s use of mobile suits allows them to critically damage a number of Federation vessels, including what appears to be a carrier for launching space fighters. While it’s an unconventional comparison, I liken the Battle of Loum to The Disappearance of Suzumiya Haruhi‘s “Day of the Sagittarius” episode.

  • Char uses a well-delivered kick to wreck one fighter, and shoots down another with his head-mounted vulcans. One would wonder if Yuki could effectively coordinate a battle group of this composition against mobile suits: compared to battleships, the mobile suits offer very nearly the same level of power, but have the added advantage of a significantly higher mobility.

  • The Magellan-class and Salamis-class starships comprise the bulk of the Federation forces in UC 0079. The former is 327 meters in length and armed with seven twin mega particle cannon turrets, four internal missile launchers, as well as 14 anti-aircraft machine guns that would later be used to help defend the ships against mobile suit attacks. The latter is 61.3 meters in length and compared to the Magellan-class, is more lightly armed. The onset of mobile suit combat meant that both types of starships were outperformed, and the Federation would race to get their own mobile suits into production. After this point, the Magellan-class would serve as a makeshift mobile suit carrier, and would ultimately be phased out in favour of the Alexandria-class heavy cruisers and the Ra Cailum-class battleships.

  • The level of detail in The Origin matches that of Gundam Unicorn: in the latter, viewers were treated to watching Banagher waiting for a Zeon beam Gatling gun’s device drivers to load, and here, Char is notified that he’s only got one round left in his bazooka, and that his anti-ship rifle, having been handed off to Denim, is out of range. These subtle details add a great deal to the immersion in The Origin.

  • With only a single round left in the chamber, Char flies his Zaku II directly into the heart of the storm. From here on out, the events depicted in the first episode are set eleven years back: befitting of the title, this is truly where everything began. This is pretty much it for the screenshots of the Battle of Loum: I could spend all day praising this opening sequence, but this is supposed to be a post about Casval and Artesia Deikun.

  • Astraia Tor Deikun and Zeon Zum Deikun converse on the eve of Zeon’s speech, illustrating Zeon’s stress concerning his upcoming speech. An ardent proponent of Earth’s significance and the philosopher who proposed the Newtype theory that later became the crux of the Battle for Laplace’s Box, Zeon was the leader of the Munzo Republic, which had declared independence from the Federation but nonetheless maintained a republic government.

  • Zeon suffers cardiac arrest and dies before delivering his speech. Theories on his death in-universe are varied, with some suggesting that his death was a consequence of overwork and stress, while others claim that the Zabi family was responsible. Degwin Zabi would succeed Zeon, and subsequently, Munzo became the Principality of Zeon, a totalitarian regime that mirrors the Third Reich and Imperial Japan.

  • The confusion surrounding the exact nature of Zeon’s death is left a mystery, and source materials do not ever clarify whether or not the Zabi family was in fact involved in his death, leading to much discussion in the real world. What is known is that supporters of the Zabi family then try to pass Zeon’s death as an action from the Federation in the hopes of giving them the justification for declaring war on the Federation.

  • Sasro Zabi is the second son Degwin Zabi, but was assassinated by Zeon’s supporters after suspicions began arising concerning the Zabi family’s implications in Zeon’s assassination. Dozle Szabi survives: his appearance belies a gregarious and good natured character.

  • Ramba Ral and Jimba Ral discuss the circumstances behind Sasro’s death: compared to his original incarnation in Mobile Suit Gundam, who had a calm disposition, Jimba Ral is significantly more paranoid here. Conversely, Ramba is portrayed as a reliable character, similar to his role in Mobile Suit Gundam.

  • The comedy factor is quite strong in The Origin, considering that this is a Gundam series set in the Universal Century. Gundam Unicorn only had one comical moment, set in Black Unicorn after Captain Otto receives orders to collaborate with the Garencieres in order to recover the Unicorn. By comparison, The Origin sees several moments of comedy, including Ramba Ral’s attempts at coaxing Lucifer (Artesia’s cat) out and staging a big deal about his tires blowing out to slow down the Federation forces.

  • Ramba Ral might be seen as a tragic character in the original Mobile Suit Gundam, but The Origin also paints an additional side of him, showing him as a level-headed, caring individual who gets the job done.

  • Artesia reacts to news that Astraia will not be leaving with them; throughout the events of The Origin, Casval retains a stoic personality even in the face of intimidation and danger. Owing to the Zabi family’s actions, it’s decided that Casval and Artesia will be smuggled off Munzo to Earth.

  • Astraia, Artesia and Casval spend one final evening together as a family before the children leave. Astraia promises Artesia that they’ll reunite as a family after 100 moon cycles: if we define a moon cycle as the time it takes to go from a new moon to a new moon, then one cycle lasts 29.5 days. So, 100 moon cycles is roughly 2950 days, or 8.08 years.

  • Astraia waves goodbye to her children after Crowley arrives in a stolen Gun-tank to extract them. Astraia’s fate is after being placed in state custody by Roselucia Deikun is not given in The Origin, but the source material states that she is later imprisoned and dies from a stress-induced illness.

  • The Origin manages to balance out humour with more emotional moments, and in doing so, sends the message that this series is one that knows where to be amusing and where to focus on developing the tenor of a scene. The end result is something that ends up being immensely rewarding to watch.

  • Casval’s intuition and determination to take out his enemies leads him to shoot down four Federation Gun-tanks, hinting at his future career as a pilot. Even under the face of overwhelming odds, Casval continues firing until Artesia cries out for him to stop.

  • The Origin presents Guntanks as obsolete equipment by 0079; presumably, they’re state-of-the-art when deployed in 0068, but appear to lack sufficient armour against its own weapons. Conversely, the modern day M1A2 Abrams has sufficiently well-designed armour such that even the M829A1 “Silver Bullet” APFSDS round from other M1A1 Abrams are unable to penetrate at close ranges, as documented in friendly fire incidents and a case where an Abrams tried to destroy an abandoned Abrams stuck in the mud.

  • It bears testament to just how different things have become since 0068: early on, the Republic of Munzo’s government, though disrespectful of the Federation, can still maintain conversation without the need to resort to arms. Here, Donzle demands that the Federation forces hold their fire until Casval and Artesia are safely delivered. However, the Federation officier appears to fake a conversation suggesting that their orders are absolute, causing Donzle to pop his stitches.

  • The facial expressions surrounding this moment are hilarious, but at the same time, might also seem out of place in a Gundam where the artwork matches the style employed in Gundam Unicorn. All in all, they’re not so overused that they’re distracting, and instead, serve to add an additional side to The Origin that makes it unique from previous instalments of Gundam.

  • Gihren Zabi watches as the Federation forces open fire to destroy the rogue Gun-tank. Likened to the Führer in terms of his beliefs of a master race, his oratory capacity and belief in superweapons, Gihren is the true ruler of the Principality of Zeon, using his cunning and manipulation to seize power. He is executed by Kycilia Zabi later on, and she assumes control of Zeon for a brief period.

  • Crowley Hamon is Ramba Ral’s aide and lover, helping him with a variety of requests. She participates in the One Year War as well, and ever faithful to Ramba Ral, even continues fighting on after he is killed in action, making use of a Magella Attack Tank’s turret to very nearly destroy the RX-78 II, but is killed when Ryu Jose crashes into the tank.

  • After cargo workers hear a cat in the containers, Lieutenant Tachi, one of Ramba Ral’s subordinates, tries to draw the workers off by claiming the cat could be in another container. Bumbling but reliable, he fights for Zeon once the One Year War starts and greatly admires Ramba Ral, helping Crowley with her plans to avenge Ral’s death but is killed during combat with Amuro Ray.

  • Aside from Donzle, Kycilia and the other members of the Zabi family are presented as evil right from the start; the other Zeons, and Char himself, are shown to be reasonable people with a human side. Kycilia herself dies at Char’s hands when the latter uses a rocket launcher to score what is considered to be one of the greatest headshots of all time, even surpassing FPS_Doug’s talent for obtaining awesome headshots.

  • As the cargo freighter leaves Side 3, Artesia and Casval see the stars, sun, moon and Earth itself for the first time, finding themselves awestruck at the astronomical beauty in spite of themselves. The next episode is dubbed Artesia’s Sorrow and is supposed to air somewhere in Fall 2015, a little more than a half-year from now. This episode will focus on Artesia and Casval’s separation, as well as Casval’s transformation into Char Aznable. From the next The Origin post onwards, I’ll refer to Casval as Char, and Artesia as Sayla after the two assume new identities on Earth.

  • As the episode draws to a close, Yu-Yu’s “The Stardust of the Hourglass” begins playing. It’s a hauntingly beautiful song that captures all of the sadness and loneliness of not just space, but the One-Year-War itself. With a harp and slow melody, this song captures the mood of the Universal Century perfectly. The soundtrack was released three days ahead of The Origin‘s premier on Feburary 25, and despite its short length (only five tracks), the music is beautifully composed.

While The Origin might be animated in the same style as Gundam Unicorn, there are some subtle differences: The Origin is more liberal with its application of humour, whether it be the style employed while Ramba Ral recounts his attempts to secure Artesia’s cat to Crowley or when he claims his jeep’s broken down, stalling a column of Federation tanks. Similarly, Dozle Zabi manages to (quite literally) pop a seam after Federation soldiers tell him that they intend to fire on the Guntank carrying Casval and Artesia. The Origin has a slightly lower animation quality, with some facial expressions appearing less polished than they had in Gundam Unicorn. Beyond this, here, we have a thrilling opening to The Origin that excels at world-building to tell a story about the people on the other side of the One Year War: their monstrous acts during the war itself serve as a reminder that humanity can be capable of horrors to one another, but also that no evil ever begins this way. With the second episode set for release somewhere in Autumn 2015, it appears that Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin is releasing on a similar schedule as Gundam Unicorn did: assuming no unforeseen delays occur, this series will finish by September 2016.

Over the Rainbow: Gundam Unicorn Finale Reflection and Full Recommendation

“No matter how deep the despair is, hope always rises out of it. You are light. You can even use sadness as fuel to light the way.” —Marida Cruz

Readers looking for the screenshots will need to do a small bit of scrolling, or ctrl-f “Screenshots and commentary”: there’s quite a bit of reading before the screenshots are reached. To kick things off, the opening quote is taken from near the finale’s ending, painting Gundam Unicorn as an optimistic series about human nature. Suggesting that people will always continue to find a way, the core message in Gundam Unicorn might be seen as standing directly against the message in Puella Magi Madoka Magica, which emphasised the notion that despair was inevitably born from hope. However, despair and hope are yin and yang: neither can exist without the other, and so, while there can be no despair without hope, there is also no hope without despair. Contrasting Puella Magi Madoka MagicaGundam Unicorn demonstrates the power of the human will, suggesting it is strong enough to endure and move forward to embrace the future. Gundam Unicorn‘s closing act and swan song weighs in at 90 minutes, composed of a superb combination of pulse-pounding mobile suit combat paired with immensely emotional moments; from the episode’s opening at the Cheyenne base in Colorado, to the Mineva’s final speech, the finale acted as a fitting conclusion to the Gundam Unicorn OVA series. Every moment, combat or dialogue, was so powerful it raised the hairs on my neck and left me on the edge of my seat. The last anime to have successfully done this was Girls und Panzer, putting the Gundam Unicorn finale alongside Skyfall and The Dark Knight Rises as something that has elicited such a reaction from me in recent times.

While the ending was by no means flawless, the final outcome is consistent with Gundam Unicorn‘s major theme of possibility and breaking away from the status quo, making it a fitting conclusion to the series. Even then, possibility was only one of the main elements: Mineva’s final speech suggest that possibility can only be capitalised upon if people understand one another. Understanding was the core theme to Gundam 00: and its execution in the Awakening of the Trailblazer movie ultimately produced one of the more controversial endings in the Gundam franchise. Gundam Unicorn‘s finale, pushes the limits for what is reasonable and in fact, there are a handful of elements that are reminiscent of Awakening of the Trailblazer (such as the Unicorn’s supernatural performance and how its psychoframe takes on an ELS-like appearance). Nonetheless, through a fine balance in its presentation, this finale ultimately succeeds in wrapping up Gundam Unicorn, leaving viewers with just enough to piece together what is going on without yielding too many details. Throughout this episode, aside from the concept of possibility, there were many other overarching themes that were also explored, ranging from the futility of existence to yet another warning about how seemingly small lies can still have significant consequences.

Major themes in the finale

Besides possibility and understanding, two main issues comes to mind in this finale. The first is the idea that the entire Laplace Conflict was over something trivial, propagated by a falsehood. Nonetheless, while the target, Laplace’s Box, might have been trivial, the fact was that lives were lost over it. Laplace’s Box has long been known to have held the Vist Foundation and Anaheim Electronics together with the Federation, acting as the leverage to maintain the status quo via fear. However, when the Box’s contents were revealed, it turns out that the only difference was that the original UN Charter was simply to promote greater Newtype involvement in the government. This statement is benign in and of itself and means exactly what it says. However, by concealing the original charter and allowing the Federation government to re-write it, Syam Vist created a system ruled by fear, based on a lie. Recall the classical children’s song, “There Was Once an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly”: the song shows that culmination of things like lies eventually create an end result that greatly exaggerates the original state. In most variations of the song, after swallowing a horse, the old lady succumbs to the Grim Reaper, acting as a caution to children about how things like dishonesty, if allowed to propagate, ultimately end up causing more harm than good. This is no different in Gundam Unicorn, where the Earth Sphere Federation was bullied into accepting a lie to save themselves, and in doing so, allowed factions like Zeon to rise up. The Federation, in short, created their own worst enemy, and fought them in wars that devastated the human race, because of this lie. Had honesty and truth prevailed early on, much conflict could have been avoided, but because it was not, the Federation and Zeon would both pay the price. However, for all the damage that had arisen from this lie, Syam Vist nonetheless believed that the time was ripe to turn over a new leaf and allow the world to hear the truth, illustrating that, however unforgivable some lies are, it is never really too late to let the truth have its day: this truth, regardless of how difficult to accept it may be, would allow people to move forward in a way that is precluded by the alternative of allowing the lie to persist.

Syam Vist’s choice in choosing Banagher and Mineva as worthy possessors of the Box, along Ronan Marcenas’ dialogue, illustrate the inevitability that the new generation will eventually assume control of the world, and for the previous generation, this is the time to step back and allow the new generation to run it as they see fit. Through Syam Vist and Ronan Marcenas’ dialogues, it becomes apparent that the whole of the Universal Century was built on ideas held by the previous generations; progress and possibility were stifled because the cost of revealing the truth was perceived to be much too great. In the end, after the revelation that the Box had been of little value, Banagher and Mineva go on ahead to forge into the future with the aims of bettering it. For its realism, Gundam Unicorn illustrates that even in a world governed by a desire for stability and a general trend to avoid changes, sometimes, all it takes is a determined individual to act as the dramatic example that shakes people out of apathy. Banagher Links, having undertaken the mantle of bearing the forerunner’s duties, finds that he wears the responsibility surprisingly well. In accepting this duty, he is acting as the first of his generation to push a path into the future, striving towards a world where an understanding amongst human beings and Newtypes can be accomplished. This notion brings to mind historical accounts related to the naïveté of youth; the former are usually at the frontlines whenever dissidence is involved, whereas adults typically stay back and adopt a more moderate perspective. This ends up producing a double-edged sword; on one hand, the youth act with good intentions, while the adults act based on their experiences, and as such, youth actions are usually of limited impact, since those in charge may not necessarily agree with dissenting ideas, especially where they conflict with their own. On the other hand, Gundam Unicorn is suggesting that, in a world ruled by complacency and a desire for the status quo, more hotheads might be precisely what the world needs to get the ball rolling towards making the better futures that our forerunners had envisioned when founding our nations.

Personal thoughts on the finale

With some of the more technical aspects considered, the time has come to look at the positives and negatives that characterise this finale. In the same manner as one of my favourite Gundam model kit reviewers, I’ll begin with the some shortcomings in the episode. The first thing that comes to mind would be Full Frontal’s presence in the finale. Lacking any development beyond being Char’s ghost, Full Frontal’s ultimate raison d’être is never resolved. This outcome suggests that Frontal is quite literally a ghost, a fragment of Char’s old will, lessening the weight of his objectives. This could reflect for why his final duel with Banagher and Riddhe was less climatic than originally anticipated. Elements from other final duels were dispensed with in favour of providing more exposition surrounding the major events that occurred in the Universal Century, and while it does succeed in providing a fair amount of background surrounding earlier events (the remastered scenes from Char’s Counterattack and Mobile Suit Gundam are brilliant), it does leave Frontal as feeling more underdeveloped than he could have been. Naturally, there are possible explanations for why this could be the case: the first one that comes to mind is the deliberate aim of painting Full Frontal as ultimately being little more than a ghost of Char. Evidence for this claim may be found during the psychofield phenomena, where Frontal met with the spirits of the original Char Aznable and Lalah. Subsequently, Frontal’s willpower appears to crumble, along with the remains of the Neo Zeong. After Char’s spirit appears, Frontal does not appear to have any more reason to exist. The Neo Zeong’s ultimate fate suggests that humanity’s constructs are only as strong as their wielder’s will. The other aspect that may be problematic for some audiences is the over-reliance on the psychoframe’s power to rectify things; this was a similar limitation in Gundam 00. This matter is particularly challenging because it assumes that being a Newtype (or Innovator) permits for one to take in the thoughts around them, which removes doubt and ambiguity. The fact is that, even if humans know of someone else’s motivations, they may or may not be willing to accept their ideas or compromise.

Full Frontal’s characterisation and fate, plus the decidedly optimistic endings, are only the shortcomings about the finale, and ultimately, the entire series. Even then, there is a reasonably well-reasoned account for why this might be the case, so it’s not a critical matter, and when the biggest negatives are only small negatives, it speaks volumes to just how masterfully the finale was executed. Right from the episode’s opening, excitement mounts as mobile suit combat begins. Most of the battles showcased the pilots at their finest, whether it be Commander Conrad’s defense of the Nahel Argama, or Marida’s efforts in holding Riddhe back for Banagher to punch through enemy lines. Marida’s sortie would result in her death, and after seeing her character gain so much development over the series, it was disheartening to see her path end here. Nonetheless, her death was not in vain; she becomes a source of guidance for the characters and offers wisdom to everyone. These moments also mark Banagher’s first time deploying the Unicorn’s shields as remote-controlled weapons. The Unicorn itself might not have had any funnels, but by now, Banagher’s Newtype powers have finally been realised, and these shields are used liberally, to great effect, throughout the episode’s remainder. Riddhe’s role in these events cannot be ignored, either: abandoning madness for reason, it takes Marida’s death by his hand for him to turn around. Once Riddhe’s internal conflicts are sorted out, he proves himself to be a worthy Newtype, lending his powers to help Banagher resist Full Frontal and repel the colony laser. While Riddhe no longer bears the innocent appearance he did in the first few episodes, the vengeful aura that clung to him in the previous episode is gone; other viewers may disagree, but through his actions, Riddhe has indeed found redemption, and this is marked by a glorious transformation of the Banshee’s psychoframe from its typical golden hue to the green that was seen on the Unicorn. Together, Banagher and Riddhe are able to deflect the laser blast from Gryps 2, allowing Mineva to give her speech to the world pertaining to the truth. During these last moments, subtle details, such as Takyua and Micott holding hands, and Otto inviting Zinnerman out for drinks after the dust settled, add to the sense that characters did indeed grow and change during the Laplace conflict, finding newfound respect for one another as fellow human beings. Lastly (and perhaps controversially), more so than any other anime out there (even Puella Magi Madoka Magica), Gundam Unicorn is sufficiently well-thought out such that elements can be treated to a proper (if more informal) literary analysis because of how Gundam Unicorn always takes the bigger picture into consideration. The characters’ experiences, words and actions yield lessons and morals that have roots in real world society. Whether it be the consequences of human advancement and the imbalances civilisation has imparted on Earth following the Industrial Revolution, or the cycles of revenge and injustice that drive wars, the matters characters talk about parallel real-world events. By comparison, other anime that lead to what some consider meaningful discussion are limited in scope: the character’s experiences in relation to something only affect them and a small group of individuals, but the implications of said experiences on society as a whole are not considered. The entire point of an analysis is to understand how different factors of society are represented by the characters: while other anime may fall somewhat short, Gundam Unicorn excels in this department, taking the care to tie in how the character’s actions and beliefs have an impact on the world around them.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • This is quite possibly the largest single post I’ve ever written: with almost 8300 words in total and 75 images, this final reflection will be an amalgamation of my thoughts on the episode and the entire Gundam Unicorn series. Writing the paragraphs took roughly two hours, including proofreading. Gathering the images took nearly three hours, and captioning them required an additional four hours, so writing this post required a total of nine hours over a week.

  • The seven minute preview to the finale was released on April 25, nearly a month ago. It was the morning of one of my exams, and I had arrived early to sort out a few things with one of my courses. By around eleven, one of my friends dropped by the lab, and I showed him this preview, as well. Opening with Martha Vist Carbine and Ronan Marcenas being escorted to an underground bunker, the episode’s opening is spent covering a variety of scenes.

  • Gryps 2 is a colony laser that was built by the autonomous task force, Titans, and was powered by a network of solar panels. Used extensively during the Gryps conflict, the facility was later abandoned, although between UC 0087 and UC 0096, it was rebuilt and becomes operational in time for the events of Gundam Unicorn.

  • Fourteen months ago, audiences were left with a cliffhanger as Banagher and Riddhe clashed swords to RE:I AM. The ending song itself released on the first day of Spring, when they announced the NSERC results, and Left 4 Dead 2 went on sale for 75 percent off. This year, events haven’t lined up on the same day, although good news happened anyways: the ending song, StarRingChild, came out after a glorious Otafest ended, and I pre-ordered my tickets after QEII scholarship results were announced. The battle resumes several minutes into the preview, finally presenting to the world the progression of a battle that Banagher has little desire to fight, but the audience doubtlessly has every desire to watch this confrontation.

  • An AMX-107 Bawoo engages a ReZEL Commander type here in close-quarters combat after the Bawoo Nutter (the lower, unmanned portion) fires its payload unsuccessfully at the ReZEL. The first half of the finale is a long sequence of battles involving a bewilderingly diverse group of Zeon mobile suits that far surpasses what any remnant group is expected to have.

  • Upon hearing more of Riddhe’s dialogues later, it would be quite unfair to say that Riddhe was purely motivated by Mineva’s rejection: his conversation with Ronan yielded several new revelations, and Riddhe takes it upon himself to preserve a system for the world’s sake, even if it costs him his life.

  • It’s reached my ears that the Full Armour Unicorn will be getting a traditional colours HGUC release, as well. With the episode now under my belt, I suddenly realise that the state represented by the HGUC Full Armour Unicorn (Destroy mode) model actually never appears anywhere in the finale: when the Unicorn has all of its weapons, it’s in regular Destroy mode, and only achieves the green psyhcoframe later on in the episode, when it only has its shields.

  • Commander Conroy pilots an ECOAS-colours Jeagan and mans a mega-particle cannon, successfully sinking numerous mobile suits during the course of the battle. Even after the weapon is destroyed by Angelo, Conroy demonstrates exceptional piloting skills.

  • Despite being twisted by single-mindedness that is far removed from Walt Whitman, Angelo’s (English) dialogue brings to mind “O Captain! My Captain!”, written to mourn and honour Abraham Lincoln. His devotion to Full Frontal transcends madness, and he shoots down both Federation and Zeon suits alike in his attempts to best the Unicorn Gundam.

  • A Stark Jegan is bisected by Angelo here. In the beginning, there were many rumours surrounding the finale; among these rumours included the claim that no CG would be used in the finale. It turns out that this was correct: the Gundam’s transformation sequences appear to be done traditionally, but in spite of this, visual quality was not compromised, and the finale proved to be on par with the other episodes in most places. Other places simply surpassed the previous episodes with respect to visual impact.

  • My anticipation for the finale grew to the extent where I memorised all of the lines from the English trailer. I watched all of Gundam Unicorn in English simply because it was easier to listen to the dialogue and watch the visuals on screen, rather than try to read everything while simultaneously watching the visuals.

  • As far as the whole “dub vs. sub” debate goes, I’m a pragmatist, so I typically pick what works better. In most cases, the original Japanese voices sound better than their English equivalents, although there are exactly two cases I’ve experienced where the English dubbed version is of excellent quality: Gundam Unicorn and Azumanga Daioh.

  • With Banagher’s Newtype powers at their height, much of the episode involves psychofield-related phenomena, giving the Unicorn access to abilities some might consider to be unnatural. Elsewhere, I’ve heard that some are comparing the Newtype powers to Dragon Ball Z, which is a strange comparison. Given that I haven’t seen the latter since I was six, I cannot comment whether or not that holds true.

  • Despite the Kshatriya not being in top condition, Marida manages to hold off the Banshee and becomes the first person in the series to damage a Gundam substantially, when she makes use of the Kshatriya Repair’s missiles to blow off the Banshee’s right leg. As the last big Gundam post for the next while, I’ve included an array of references to other Gundam works, Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Batman BeginsThe Dark Knight RisesStar Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, a children’s song, and some YouTube channels in this talk to liven things up a little (even with the understanding that this is probably the only talk in existence to talk about Gundam and Madoka Magica in a side-to-side manner).

  • Conroy puts up yet another impressive showing in fighting off a AMX-101E Schuzrum-Galluss that manages to take down several allied mobile suits, before detonating a series of mines to damage one of the Nahel Argama’s catapult hatches before taking on Conroy. Despite Conroy’s quick thinking, the armour is too strong for blasters; timely intervention from the Unicorn finally dislodges the blue Zeon mobile suit from the Nahel Argama.

  • In Japan, Hong Kong and Taiwan, the finale’s premier was an extravagant event, feeling like a mini-convention in its own right, with plenty of Gundam Unicorn merchandise and exclusives available, along with cosplayers. My own screening of the finale was much more low-key, taking place in the afternoon of May 19, a day after Otafest had ended.

  • Otafest 2014 turned out to be a perfect convention experience, and its coincidental timing with the Gundam Unicorn finale meant that my own private viewing of the finale felt very much like an extension to the convention itself. During Otafest, I was able to purchase the HGUC Full Armour Unicorn (Destroy Mode); I had predicted that, since the HGUC Full Armour Unicorn (Unicorn Mode) was available at last year’s Otafest despite having a later release time, it stood to reason that the Destroy Mode model would have been available. My prediction turned out to be on the mark, and one of the vendors did indeed have the kit available for purchase.

  • The Unicorn finds itself disabled after Angelo deploys its Psycho Jammer, which inhibits the Unicorn’s NT-D and shuts it down. I was quite interested in seeing how the Psycho Jammer in action, and the OVA delivered that rather nicely. The incom claws’ lasers, while powerful enough to melt through most mass-production suits with ease, do not have much of an impact on the Unicorn’s shields, even when their I-fields were disabled.

  • The Banshee’s Psychoframe projects images of Takuya, Micott, Mihiro, Zinnerman, Mineva and Alberta into his cockpit, each expressing concern for Riddhe’s well-being. Despite being a Newtype himself, Riddhe’s consciousness has not been adapted for handling such volumes of information, and he rejects them, considering them as hallucinations.

  • On the morning of May 19, I was able to acquire my copy of the episode, ahead of the Blu-Ray release in June. However, I was also set to go on a shopping trip of sorts to purchase summer attire and a beautiful new wristwatch to replace my aging Roots watch, which I’ve had for the past twelve years. Thus, watching the episode would go on hold for a few more hours, but having waited for this long, a few more hours would ultimately be trivial.

  • Overwhelmed by the Banshee’s psycommu, Riddhe fires on Marida with the Banshee’s beam magnum out of a desperate bid to stop the visions, outright vaporising the Kshatriya. In the finale’s most emotional moment, the resulting psychofield allows Marida’s final thoughts to propagate across the battlefield. Even though I had known that Marida’s path might end in the OVA, a part of me was hoping that this was not the case.

  • Reality is hardly fair, though; the intensity of emotion following Marida’s death is such that the Unicorn is able to reactivate its NT-D and rejoin the battle. Research on psychoframe technology was said to have been halted owing to too many unknowns following the events in Char’s Counterattack, although research had resumed to produce the Unicorn. It is likely that, after the events in Gundam Unicorn, psychoframe research eventually produced the bio-computer used in the F91 Gundam.

  • Marida’s final words to Zinnerman are those of gratefulness: she addresses Zinnerman as her father, reinforcing the two’s father-daughter bond. Following Mineva’s words in the previous episode, Zinnerman is finally able to let go of his past. He spends most of the episode assisting Captain Otto in the Nahel Argama’s last mission in Gundam Unicorn, working with the other Nahel Argama officers to prevent Full Frontal from securing the Box.

  • For their shortcomings, the original novels did a superb job exploring Angelo’s background: during the One Year War, Angelo’s father was murdered by rioting Federation soldiers and Angelo himself barely managed to survive along with his mother, who was broken in spirit and committed suicide soon after. After stealing away from a foster home, he met Full Frontal and has since served him with utmost devotion. As such, his nightmare is the day Full Frontal refuses to acknowledge him.

  • The events in the novel paint a more satisfactory picture of what happened in this scene: Banagher is able to understand Angelo’s past, but the latter’s jealousy of Banagher leads him to try and commit suicide with the Rozen Zulu’s incom claw. In the OVA, the Unicorn turns the incom claw against the Rozen Zulu, disabling it, although Banagher’s control of the Unicorn means he is able to prevent the Psycommu from outright killing Angelo.

  • Alberto reacts to news of Marida’s death. He expresses genuine concern for her after she saved his life during the third episode, and following this point, begins doubting the moral worth of his cause, becoming more hesitant to step into the conflict surrounding Laplace’s Box. This stands in stark contrast to his personality in the series’ early stages, when he is much more interested in the operation to find Laplace’s Box. Thus, while I saw Alberto as an unpleasant character throughout the series, I nonetheless found myself sympathising with him in the finale.

  • The Nahel Argama’s hyper-megaparticle cannon makes a glorious return in the finale to devastate the Zeon fleet. With the shopping done, I made a stop for a light lunch of chicken fingers and fries before hitting a bookstore at the mall. Last year, there were quite a few books that I bought over the summer, although I’ve accumulated a backlog since then and still have yet to go through everything, so this time, I chose to buy nothing.

  • Last time we saw firepower of this magnitude, the Nahel Argama was pushing the two halves of the Palau colony together. This time, Zeon battle cruisers are sunk: in Gundam Unicorn, after being hit by laser fire, metal elements actually melt and deform, only exploding if vital components are hit afterwards, again, standing in contrast to other universes, where things explode on the slightest provocation.

  • The Banshee places a severe amount of strain on Riddhe, who writhes in pain following Marida’s death.  Up until now, I’ve made no mention of the music at all, but the fourth OST was released on May 21. The first disk consists of tracks from the finale, while the second disk is a “best of” compilation. On the first disk, every track is astoundingly good. It is the perfect soundtrack: normally, I pick and choose the tracks I like for my playlists, but with this soundtrack, I included all of the songs in my anime music playlist.

  • Back on earth, the Tri-Stars disable the forces defending the Cheyenne facility after Captain Bright orders a search of the facility for illegal activities. The Tri-Stars effortlessly secure the airspace against mobile suits who were instructed to shoot to kill, putting on yet another impressive showing. Contrary to what discussions at forums are stating, the Tri-Stars are using the minimum amount of force needed to secure the area after the facility’s forces demonstrate hostility.

  • The base jabber (included with the Master Grade Full Armour Unicorn) makes an appearance. From what I’ve heard, the Master Grade Full Armour Unicorn is a nightmare to transform and pose, whereas its HGUC counterpart is significantly more stable; while the HGUC does not come with a hyper beam javelin or the base jabber, it is more stable (less frustration in posing it) than the Master Grade and costs much less, ultimately making it the better deal.

  • Despite Full Frontal declaring a race to Laplace’s Box, Banagher and Mineva do manage to arrive ahead of him. In the anime blogging community, there is somewhat of a race to get posts out to optimize search engine performance in some cases. Infinite Mirai is a one-man project, so sometimes, getting large posts out (such as this one) is difficult. I’ve had requests from guest bloggers previously, although since I’m still waiting for their writing samples, this blog will remain a one-man project for the present.

  • Zinnerman remarks that it’s the adult’s turn to protect the children, alluding to how much Banagher and Mineva have done for them since the series’ inception. I understand that since Christopher Nolan’s movie in 2010, people have been using the term “inception” interchangeably with “recursion”. However, this is wrong. “Inception” means “the beginning of”, rather than “process of repeating items in a self-similar way”.

  • The average movie-goer isn’t a software developer, computer scientist or linguist, so this mistake might be forgivable. However, thanks to the propagative powers of social media, it appears that the incorrect usage has stuck, and reversing the effects of social media is no trivial matter. One would argue that retrieving Laplace’s Box or solving the NP-Complete problem might be easier.

  • Captain Bright finally arrives at the underground Cheyenne facility, where he discovers the true extent to which the conspirators are willing to go to defend their own interests. At the time of writing, as with the Puella Magi Madoka Magica: Rebellion movie review I posted a ways back, I think this is the only proper review of the finale out there online, featuring a full-length discussion and screenshots (the screenshot post at GundamGuy doesn’t count, since there is no content pertaining to the author’s impressions of the finale, and my screenshots are of a higher quality).

  • Full Frontal prepares to sortie in the Neo Zeong, a monstrosity that is some 116 metres in height, 59 meters in width and marks a return to the outdated concepts behind the original Zeong. This mobile armour ultimately reflects on Full Frontal’s own narrow-mindedness, representing a desperation to cling to old ideals and the notion that brute force is the only solution for problems.

  • Ladies and Gentlemen, I present, Laplace’s Box. As Banagher laments, far too many lives have been lost in trying to claim an artefact that, in the end, is only valuable as a bargaining chip and otherwise, only holds symbolic value because of a single line: that should Newtypes exist, they should be given an increased role in politics. This statement is actually quite vague, and was interpreted as giving Zeon full autonomy over humanity. Such an interpretation gave the Federation an excuse to wage war against Zeon.

  • Mineva and Banagher meet Syam Vist and Gael Chan for the first time in the depths of Magallanica. Here, the last pieces of the Laplace puzzle are pieced together, and while Syam does his recollection, Riddhe provides his own account of what he had heard from Ronan. Riddhe’s conversation with Ronan occurred back in episode four, attributing to his decisions in episodes five and six. While some discussions find it difficult to forgive him, oftentimes, people tend to forget that they also make rash decisions that have detrimental consequences. While in reality, said decisions probably won’t have the same severity as Riddhe’s, the fact is that such things can happen, especially under times of stress.

  • Full Frontal arrives to seize Laplace’s Box for his own ends, although, in a manner reminiscent of Aeolia Schoenberg from Gundam 00, Syam Vist foresaw that outside forces would interfere with the Box’s transfer and installed a security system that is subsequently used to push Full Frontal back.

  • While I typically don’t mind spoilers, Gundam Unicorn is probably the sole exception: it’s something that I’ve been following for the past four years, and as such, I wished to experience its full impact without having a priori knowledge of how the episode went. Thus, I abstained entirely from reading any websites or forum posts with such discussion. In the end, this resulted in an exceptional experience with the finale.

  • The Neo Zeong begins ransacking Magallanica’s interior after Syam refuses to yield the box to him. Its weapons include numerous mega-particle cannons, a Psycho-shard generator for disrupting enemy beam weapons, and has thirty wire-controlled bits that can be used to take control of enemy mobile suits. Its profile gives it a maximum weight of 324.3 metric tons, with a typical weight of 153.8 metric tons. These numbers are surprisingly small for an entity with such a great volume: an M1A2 weighs roughly 61.326 metric tons despite being significantly smaller (being 9 meters in length compared to the Neo Zeong’s height of 116.0 meters), although metallurgy would have doubtlessly come a long way since the present day, yielding stronger, lighter alloys.

  • Releasing somewhere in June 2014, the HGUC 1/144 Neo Zeong is a monstrosity that matches the HGUC GP03 Dendrobium in size and price: the former will go for 27000 Yen (roughly 290 CAD), while the latter sold for 28000 Yen (300 CAD) when it released back in 2002. I can’t imagine anyone but the most dedicated of Gunpla builders actually purchasing the model, given that there are a host of other things one could do with 290 dollars.

  • Gael Chan pilots an ARX-014 Silver Bullet, a quasi-psycommu mobile suit derived off the ARX-014 Döven Wolf. Despite Gael’s efforts to hold off the Neo Zeong using the Incom weapons and wired hands, the Silver Bullet is totally outmatched. Before Full Frontal can finish him, Banagher remotely activates the Unicorn Gundam, making use of his pysho-waves to remotely move the shields and deflect the Neo Zeong’s fire.

  • This image gives a sense of scale between a conventional mobile suit and the Neo Zeong, bringing to mind the tale of Goliath in the Bible’s Book of Samuel. The original account saw David, king of Israel, defeat Goliath, who represented enemies of God. Originally, Goliath was only “four cubits and a span” (roughly 6’9 in height), but later versions scaled him up, and popular media makes him a being of gargantuan proportions. Presently, David and Goliath is told as a story to suggest that large, seemingly unbeatable challenges still can be overcome.

  • The final confrontation resumes back in the vacuum of space, after the Neo Zeong uses its cannons to produce a laser show and force its way through Magallanica. Despite the damage sustained, it appears that Industrial Seven itself is still in okay condition.

  • This is the moment everyone’s been waiting for: the Unicorn and Banshee team up to engage the Neo Zeong, whose I-field is strong enough to completely negate the beam magnum rounds from both Gundams. Throughout the finale, the music is absolutely astounding in terms of quality, and even though the tracks are strangely named (for instance, the first song on the OST is named 2009522or311), the pieces are amazing, conveying the sense of urgency, power and grandeur in each of the moments that they accompany.

  • The particle beams from the Neo Zeong don’t resemble the narrow, focused beams that have been the norm in Gundam Unicorn; instead, the blasts fired look like concentrated magma blasts. Earlier, the Banshee was pushed out of Industrial Seven by the brute force from these cannons. Despite deflecting the beams, the sheer amount of energy from the beams melts the colony walls behind the Banshee and forces it back into space. Even then, while the shoulder-mounted mega-particle cannons on the Neo Zeong pack a major punch, Banagher and Riddhe will pack the Neo Zeong’s suitcase.

  • Unlike traditional funnels, the Unicorn’s shields lack a propulsion system and are only armed with a pair of beam Gatling guns each for limited firepower, but project a powerful enough I-Field to defect full-powered shots from the Neo Zeong and can move independently thanks to the inclusion of a psychoframe. While the inclusion of three shields is not particularly impressive from a visual standpoint, three mobile, I-field equipped shields offer the Unicorn near-total protection from beam weapons, justifying the designation of the Unicorn as “Full Armour”.

  • Upon activating its Psycho-shard system, every weapon on the Unicorn and Banshee overheat and explode, leaving both units unarmed. One of the most impressive moments here is watching the Banshee’s 60 mm Vulcan cannons melt and explode, and then noticing that this does not happen on the Unicorn. We recall that earlier, Banagher expended the Unicorn’s 60 mm rounds on missiles, potshots against Zeon mobile suits and Angelo’s Psycommu jammers. This attention to detail is but one of the reasons why Gundam Unicorn is worth watching.

  • With their weapons gone, Banagher and Riddhe rush the Neo Zeong head on; the mobile armour’s massive claws ultimately prove to be inconsequential as the Unicorn tears through the Neo Zeong’s armour (which is tough enough to survive direct hits from missiles) as if it was composed of tofu. This aspect brings back the sort of brutality I might expect from another mecha series, such as Neo Genesis Evanganlion, and although it might be a little unconventional, it was nonetheless a thrill to watch.

  • The sheer energy from Banagher’s emotions produce a psychofield that takes him and Full Frontal on a trip down memory lane. This is the part where I’ll dare to rock the boat and bring an unusual comparison to bear. In Puella Magi Madoka Magica, the emotional energy released from magical girls who succumb to despair (apparently, the transition from hope to despair is a thermodynamically favourable  process) is captured as an energy supply for the incubators, but the precise mechanism is never explored. In Gundam Unicorn, pure emotional energy from the human consciousness is converted by the psychoframe into physical energy, capable of controlling a mobile suit with greater precision or even produce psychofields; unlike Puella Magi Madoka Magica, elements in the Gundam universe are more grounded in science.

  • In episode six, footage was taken straight from Char’s Counterattack, but the animators have taken the effort to fully re-animate timeless scenes in HD for Gundam Unicorn; here, the Nu Gundam repels Axis in the climax of Char’s Counterattack. Longtime Gundam fans will rejoice at seeing these moments, which will bring back memories of seeing these moments for the first time many years ago.

  • I entered the Gundam franchise in 2007 through Gundam 00, and as such, I had very little familiarity with the Universal Century until Gundam Unicorn. The extensive history in the Universal Century means that one would need to have some background to appreciate what is happening in Gundam Unicorn. Knowledge about the One Year War, the Gryps Conflict and Char’s Counterattack are required to understand the history, while additional knowledge will allow for more mobile suits and weapons to be identified. Here, a Pegasus-class carrier is destroyed by laser fire.

  • This moment happens quickly, so capturing this screenshot was quite difficult, but it was worth it; while Amuro Ray never made an appearance in Gundam Unicorn beyond a portrait in Captain Bright’s office, the RX-78 2 does show up for a few moments, plunging its beam sabre into the Big Zam mobile armour. Watching these moments in HD quality makes me wonder what a remastered Mobile Suit Gundam, à la Halo Anniversary Edition, would look like.

  • One episode of Futurama involves Fry, Professor Farnsworth and Bender travelling to the end of the universe in a time machine, eventually reaching the point where the last proton has decayed and the universe has achieved a true heat death. This the future that Full Frontal speaks of, questioning why humans fight so hard for what they believe in when this is the final state of the universe. Banagher fights this idea, and through further Newtype phenomenon, cause Char and Lalah’s apparitions to appear in the Neo Zeong’s cockpit.

  • Lalah was Amuro’s first true love and also loyal to Char in Mobile Suit Gundam. During the heat of battle, Lalah took a fatal shot meant for Char, and her death escalated the Amuro-Char rivalry to personal levels. Her spirit occasionally haunts the two, but ultimately, Banagher’s actions paired with Char’s spirit relieves Full Frontal of his grudge. In an interview with Fukui in Gundam ACE:

When Char turns up at the end, he’s coming to reclaim something he lost. Frontal was created to resemble Char, and although his soul was supposed to be empty, something was dwelling there. That might have been that person’s ego, or it might have been the grudge that Char was holding. In the last scene of “Char’s Counterattack”, when Char’s soul is dispersed, it’s not strange to think that part of him consented to die peacefully, but another part might have been unable to consent to dying and remained in the world as a kind of grudge. Then, after having his grudge appeased by Banagher, and after reclaiming that part of himself, he was asked by Amuro “Are you sure?”, and he was finally able to move on to the next life. The novel was still partly showing restraint, but the movie project went this far, and they even got Shuichi Ikeda to perform the voice, so I think it was right to go this far.

  • No longer bound by this duty, Full Frontal’s will fades away, and the Neo Zeong symbolically decays to dust as a flower would wither after its life had expired. If memory serves, some viewers were left shafted; they were expecting the Neo Zeong to explode with the Praxis Effect, but received a much more figurative representation of Full Frontal’s end. Sans understanding the symbolism in this scene, some complaining ensued.

  • A guilt-striken Alberto confronts Martha, asking why she’s willing to go to such lengths to protect a cause that is ceasing to be relevant as their generation’s time has passed. He reveals that Riddhe is the Banshee’s pilot, shocking Ronan, who had authorised Gryps 2 to fire moments earlier. Too late to recall the firing order, visions of himself and Riddhe begin haunting him.

  • After Full Frontal’s spirit leaves with Char and Lalah, Banagher and Riddhe set out to finish one final assignment: prevent the Gryps 2 laser from destroying Magallanica. Notice the holographic UI here and its angelic wing-like pattern. The last mobile suit that had such a UI was the 00 Qant[T].

  • Captain Bright orders the firing procedure for Gryps 2 to be aborted as Ronan comes to term with the costs associated with his decision. One of the officers protest that aborting the procedure would result in a thousand casualties at Gryps 2, which is a manned station.

  • Gryps 2 is surprisingly similar to the Darksaber project from the Star Wars expanded universe. The Darksaber was constructed by Duega the Hutt 12 years after the Battle of Yavin, who had intended to use it to further his own power, although stymied by poor construction methods and inferior components, the Darksaber never fired a shot, being annihilated by the Hoth’s asteroid field shortly after it was completed. On the other hand, Gryps 2 is fully functional, and fires a terrifyingly large laser beam that instantly destroys the Rewloola, burning away one of the last vestiges of the Neo Zeon war.

  • The seventh movement in the finale suite, 20140517, sets the mood here as the Unicorn and Banshee conjure up three massive I-fields to negate the particles from the Gryps 2 colony laser. The elements near the end of the song sound similar to the song “Facing the Truth” in Puella Magi Madoka Magica, and the song is, curiously enough, titled similarly to [5161814], the cryptonym one of my friends used in referring to Otafest 2014. Empowering and haunting, this last section in the song conveys the sense of surprise expressed as the two Gundams manage to negate the laser, and was every bit as chilling as when Homura forcibly returns Madoka to their world before rebuilding the universe in her image in Rebellion Story.

  • After coming to terms with his status as a Newtype, Riddhe is able to captialise on the Banshee’s full potential; in response, its psychoframe begins emitting green light. Their combined power triumphs over a weapon powerful enough to decimate colony-sized objects, and with this achievement, Magallanica is safe enough for Mineva to begin her broadcast.

  • Mineva’s speech is quite ornate and goes into depth surrounding the true nature behind Laplace’s Box; by watching it in English, I could take in everything all at once. I deliberately chose to omit images of the Unicorn’s psychoframe crystals expanding in a manner not too dissimilar to that of the ELS in Awakening of the Trailblazer; it’s a rather surprising moment and has the greatest impact when watched.

  • Mineva’s speech is broadcast around the world, recalling yet another stylistic element from Gundam 00, whenever announcements were made to the world surrounding Celestial Being or new political reforms following the disbandment of the A-Laws. One location, a rooftop location downtown, was prominently featured in Gundam 00, during the aforementioned speeches, chalking the total number of similarities between Gundam Unicorn and Gundam 00 up to five ( the other four include: a final message about understanding, ELS-like crystals, über-powered Gundams and extremely powerful psychofields).

  • Char’s Counterattack depicted Earth as a desolate desert world ravaged by colony drops, overpopulation and climate change. In Gundam Unicorn, more hospitable environments are shown; the oceans are still intact, and the air still seems reasonably clean, enough for Earth’s population to spend time at the seaside.

  • In the original novels, I believe one of the Tri-Stars are shot down in combat, but in the OVA, all of them are alive and well by episode’s end. I rather enjoyed their presence; they are reminiscent of the squad in Bad Company, being highly skilled at their trade but also retain a sense of humour. The Tri-Star pilots were once candidates to pilot the Unicorn until the Vist foundation requisitioned it, but nonetheless, are able to put the Jesta to its full potential.

  • It seems that Martha is finally able to let go of their own past; she is taken away for questioning at the episode’s end for her involvement in the hunt for Laplace’s Box, but appears to be able to finally let go of the injustices in her life. This is Martha’s first genuine smile in the entire series, and she complies with Captain Bright’s request without resistance.

  • Angelo finds Full Frontal’s body in the remains of the Sinanju, but his reaction is somewhat ambiguous, as is Full Frontal’s ultimate fate. Both their fates are up for speculation, although what Angelo sees here should probably be left as an exercise for the viewers. The General Revil is still active, though, and deploys massive formation of mobile suits to destroy Magallanica. However, they are quietly disabled by the Unicorn.

  • The moments between Takuya and Micott were very heart-warming to see: subtle signs may have been present in the previous episode that the two had become closer together, but if there was any doubt before, this moment will remove any doubt. Romance in Gundam Unicorn is done properly: it is inconspicuously integrated into the story but never tries to take centre stage.

  • One wonders if a Unicorn Banshee with green psychoframe will be released as a model kit later on. As the episode’s final moments approach, forum discussions turned to whether or not Zeon’s actions were justified in the grand scheme of things, even after Riddhe explicitly notes that the Zeon-Federation conflicts were the result of Laplace’s box, rather than fault on any one side. Rather like the First World War, the causes of the One Year War are complex and cannot be attributed to any one side, but rather, the state of the society.

  • Within the psychofield, Banagher shares a moment with Cardeas, who motions to Audrey and allows Banagher to be at her side. Unlike OVA specials and an infamous anime called Yosuga no Sora, which I picked up for reasons that escape even my understanding and will probably review in due course, Gundam Unicorn‘s psychofields (and Gundam 00‘s quantum fields) manage to keep things G-rated. All of the fan service in Gundam is in the form of mobile suit combat and call-backs to older series…the best way to showcase some fan service.

  • The finale has concluded, and as the opening notes of StarRingChild play, the electronic synthesizer elements briefly remind me of Otafest. After my first watch-through, it’s evening, and I sit down to a homemade steak worthy of the one in The Matrix, with thoughts of the finale still on my mind. This is an ending that viewers deserve at the end of four years: I openly recommend Gundam Unicorn to all audiences for its balance between story, character growth and combat, as well as its superior graphics and audio, and last but not least, the fact that it does leave viewers with things to reflect on afterwards. This is a Gundam series that gets everything right, and the hiccoughs it does make are not enough to take away from the anime. Overall, the entire Gundam Unicorn OVA series earns a ten out of ten.

Whole-series reflection and closing remarks

A four-year journey has come to an end, and the time has now come to provide a final verdict on Gundam Unicorn as a whole. Throughout the four years, Gundam Unicorn delivered a powerhouse performance in each episode, masterfully balancing out the story with spectacularly choreographed moments. I enjoyed every moment I spent watching Gundam Unicorn, being captivated by the thought-provoking elements raised in the dialogue and superbly animated combat sequences. Every episode is immersive and brings the Gundam Unicorn universe to life, captivating audiences with breathtaking artwork while leaving them with a substantial amount to think about well after the episode is over. Through it all, a first-rate soundtrack from Hiroyuki Sawano accompanies the scenes exceptionally well, varying from more modern electronic music to orchestral pieces that convey the Unicorn Gundam’s powers. All of these elements come together to yield a masterpiece that rivals Lord of the Rings and The Dark Knight trilogies in terms of quality. Watching Gundam Unicorn should be a no-brainer for current Gundam fans (of any universe: I entered the Gundam franchise through the Anno Domini universe), and even those who are unfamiliar with Gundam will find much to enjoy from Gundam Unicorn, although for these individuals (like myself), a bit of background reading would be necessary to fully comprehend all of the nuances that go on within Gundam Unicorn. Having been with me for the past four years, Gundam Unicorn will continue to hold a special place in my heart as a reminder of all the memories and events I’ve experienced since it first began airing back in March 2010, culminating in a finale that serves as a proper send-off for a series that definitely deserves to be considered as one of the very best in the science-fiction/mecha genre, not just of this decade, but of all time.