The Infinite Zenith

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

Tag Archives: Gundam Unicorn

The Stark Jegan’s Pilot and Über-micro as the Magic Moment in Gundam Unicorn

“Some moments are nice, some are nicer, some are even worth writing about.” ― Charles Bukowski, War All the Time

“Magic moments” in anime are loosely defined as an event or moment in an anime that succeed in convincing the audience to continue watching. Their delivery, style and even presence vary from anime to anime, with some shows presenting their moments within the first few minutes of the episode, while others may field theirs in the middle of or even the end of their run. In the case of Gundam Unicorn, their magic moment comes around six minutes into the first episode, when the Kshatriya engages a squadron of Federation Jegans. Two of the standard-type Jegans are annihilated by the Kshatriya’s funnels seconds into combat, but the Stark Jegan puts up a phenomenal fight. Cinematography depicts the pilot arming his shoulder-fired missiles, the Jegan’s displays tracking the Kshatriya’s funnels and the intricate keystrokes on his touch screen and joysticks required to purge his armour as he closes the distance between himself and the Kshatriya. Long range munitions are expended, and beam sabres are brought out as both mobile suits fight a close-quarters battle, making use of their thrusters to manoeuvre into position. Despite lasting around ninety seconds, this first fight in Gundam Unicorn set the stage for the remainder of the OVA: previously mobile suits in other universes (say, Gundam 00) were generally depicted as nimble craft that moved with the same fluidity as a human. However, Gundam Unicorn chose to depict mobile suits as powerful, but heavy and somewhat cumbersome in combat. Though they are able to mimic human movements by means of an AMBAC system, they nonetheless conform with what is reasonable within the bounds of physical laws. Things like acceleration and deceleration are carefully animated. This is especially noticeable when the Kshatriya makes use of its verniers to slow down and avoid the massive blast radius from one of the Stark Jegan’s missiles. Inertia is also visible when her body is thrown forward from the deceleration.

  • The first weekend of September, I finally got around to building the HGUC 1.144 Stark Jegan that one of my friends had gifted me for my birthday. It was also a fine opportunity to try out the cutters I’d gotten, and they work very nicely. Although the straight-built will require some paint and panel-lining to resemble its anime counterpart, it’s a solid model.

  • It’s been some five-and-a-half-years since I saw this opening scene, and it still manages to impress me in full. Coupled with my construction of the HGUC Stark Jegan, I wondered what it was about this particular moment that convinced me to view Gundam Unicorn as being unlike any other anime I’d seen up until that point. Eventually, it fit together: there were two aspects, and the first had been the incredible, but subtle display of physics as the Stark Jegan and Kshatriya clashed.

  • The second element was watching the pilot manipulate different buttons and elements on his touch screen in the cockpit as he switched weapons and dumped his armour to take on Marida in a one-on-one battle. I absolutely loved watching the perfectly spherical explosions from the Stark Jegan’s missiles, which reflect the idea that without an atmosphere, explosions in space are indeed spherical.

  • Quite recently, I’ve also had the chance to finish Mark Greany’s Full Force and Effect, and alongside that, took a look over the Gundam Unicorn light novel. In general, light novels are not particularly fun to read (OreGairuOreImo and Haganai seem to be fine examples of light novels that start strong and weaken as time wears on), but the Gundam Unicorn light novel feels different. Though lacking the same finesse as a Tom Clancy novel, Gundam Unicorn‘s light novel does pay attention to some of the technical details, and similar to Tom Clancy, does take the time to explain some of the aspects that readers might not be familiar with.

  • The engagement between the Stark Jegan and Kshatriya was written from Marida’s perspective in the light novels, although one must wonder what things were like from the Stark Jegan pilot’s perspective. The only clue from the official documentation state that he’s a veteran of the Second Neo Zeon War (the events of Char’s Counterattack). Quite personally, it would be fun to read a Gundam Unicorn novel penned by Mark Greany; having finished Full Force and Effect, it’s clear that Greany is able to continue the Jack Ryan Junior series in Tom Clancy’s stead.

Even though the brass emphasised that this was to be an important mission, Mike “Frost” Wilkins was at ease in the cockpit of his RGM-89S Stark Jegan. Standing at 19.2 meters in height, the Stark Jegan had been conceived as a mobile suit for special operations. When operating without additional equipment such as its armour plating or armaments, the Stark Jegan weighs only 28.2 metric tons. Its propulsion system affords the suit a total thrust of 76600 kilograms, allowing it to manoeuvre even when fully outfitted with anti-ship weaponry, and today, Frost carried an 380 mm hyper-bazooka, as well as six anti-ship missiles mounted in special launchers on the Stark Jegan’s shoulders. Today’s assignment would be straightforward, and Frost knew that he would have no trouble with this search-and-destroy mission in his upgraded Jegan.

A warning tone notified Frost that a smaller thermal signature had split off from their target; Frost knew that this would have to be a mobile suit. The Neo Zeon remnants, better known as the “Sleeves”, were not known for following the terms of a Treaty, and consequently, would have been unlikely to conform with a boarding request. So, instead of trying to board the Sleeves’ freighter, the brass agreed that intercepting it would be the only option. Easing the Stark Jeagan’s throttle upwards, Frost discarded his Geta and activated the master arm to his weapons. A voice cracked in his ear from the ACO.

“Magic Four-One, Bigeye. Single bogey at oh-nine-four, seven-zero klicks. Continue with mission, how copy?”

“Magic Four-One, copy”, Frost responded. Magic Four-Two and Four-Three had broken off to engage the unknown mobile suit. The HUD flashed ominously in red, and his warning system alerted him to a new threat. The unknown had fired what appeared to be missiles, and a glance at the Stark Jegan’s HUD indicated that their time-to-target was six seconds. The missiles streaked past him, and he heard clipped “Going defensive!” from Magic Four-Three. Seconds later, Four-Three’s Jegan had disappeared behind a nuclear fireball. Flashes of laser light told Frost that these “missiles” were, in fact, funnels, weapons that were controlled by a psycommu. In effect, these are remotely-controlled rifles that could take instructions from the operator’s thoughts and convert them into machine instructions. While powerful, and immune to the Minovsky effect, not all pilots could wield them. Magic Four-Two was faring a little better: his beam rifle had been destroyed, and he was engaging the funnels using his Jegan’s 60 mm Vulcan. The chaos of this close-quarters battle meant that each of the pilot’s rounds missed the funnels, and laser fire tore into the remaining Jegan before it too was enveloped by a violet fireball. So much for their original mission.

“Bigeye, Magic Four-One. Magic Four-Two and Four-Three are down. Requesting permission to engage.”

By this point in the game, it no longer mattered if someone hundreds of kilometers away gave him the authorisation to fire: this was now a matter of life and death, and Frost did not fancy being blown out of the sky by a Neo Zeon. He pulled the Stark Jegan into a roll and acquired a lock with his hyper-bazooka as the stars wheeled around him, barely hearing the ACO’s “cleared to engage”. The enemy suit’s funnels were still making their way to his position, and for a few more seconds, would remain open. As the 380mm round left the hyper-bazooka, the green mobile suit suddenly decelerated, narrowly avoiding the spray of particle beams. Frost then switched over to his shoulder-mounted missile tubes. Each missile could melt through the armour of an Endra-class cruiser, and Frost hoped that their combined blast radii would be enough to knock out the green mobile suit. However, the other pilot clearly had tricks of their own, and dodged the oncoming fire. The warning indicators showed that funnels were tracking him, and with his armaments expended, the additional mass of the launchers would impede his ability to manoeuvre.

Setting his sensors to ignore the remaining funnels, Frost keyed in the commands to purge his extra armour, and moments later, his Stark Jegan was twenty tons lighter. Unable to compensate for the change in their target’s acceleration, the funnels discharged harmlessly behind Frost. It was time to get into melee range, he thought. He drew the Stark Jegan’s beam sabre, and charged towards the green mobile suit, which had pulled its own sword. However, both suits had accumulated a great deal of forward momentum in their rush to impale the other, and both dealt the other a glancing blow that was parried, so both pilots had no choice but to continue flying, then loop around for another strike. This was a mainstay of engagements between mobile suits: once the long range munitions were expended, mobile suits typically closed the gap and engaged one another in single combat with beam sabres. The lack of air resistance and gravity in space means that thruster exhaust is ordinarily required to change a mobile suit’s inertia. To enhance each mobile suit’s manoeuvrability, mobile suits are also equipped with the Active Mass Balance Control (AMBAC) system to, in effect, make use of Newton’s Third Law to finely control a mobile suit’s limbs and ultimately, direction.

Frost and the green mobile suit continued to exchange blows, parrying each of the enemy’s strikes with his own. He was able to briefly overpower it and created an opening, driving his sabre forwards at the green mobile suit’s chest. It would be an easy kill, but at the last second, the massive wings on the green suit faced him and fired its thrusters, pushing Frost backwards. A green light filled his cockpit.

Fucking Sleeves.

As the Kshatriya’s beam sabre melted through the Stark Jegan’s torso like a hot knife through butter, its pilot died instantly. Pieces of molten titanium-ceramic armour littered the battlefield, and sparks shot from the halves of the now-destroyed mobile suit. The beam sabre had not cut through the reactor, and so, there was no ensuing nuclear explosion. Its mission complete, the Kshatriya’s pilot recalled its funnels and began a trajectory back to the Sleeves’ freighter, leaving behind the wreckage of the Stark Jegan to float in the blackness of space.

  • The sheer attention to detail in things like the HUDs and screens subsequently set the tone for the remainder of Gundam Unicorn, which is packed to the brim with technical details. Later episodes bring out elements such as watching device drivers load for the Unicorn after it commandeers a beam Gatling gun during its escape from Palau, and in Gundam The Origin, the same high-resolution displays make an appearance.

  • The namesake of this post does actually come down to this one single moment, during which the Stark Jegan’s pilot performs a complicated bit of input to purge his armour. The proficiency through which this is carried out reflects on the pilot’s skill and training, so one of my friends remarked that this was the equivalent of über-micro in Gundam Unicorn, and would make a fine visual representation of what über-micro might look like outside of something outside of Pure Pwnage.

  • Whereas in other universes, where technically capable mass production suits stand still and are blasted to shreds (like in Gundam SEED and even Gundam 00), Gundam Unicorn‘s unnamed mass production pilots do put up a reasonable fight against one another for the most part. Watching such pilots hold out against named characters suggest a universe where the conventional armed forces are competent to a degree.

  • Beam sabre clashes in other universes feel much more nimble and agile, with mobile suits flying as fluidly as two dancers on a stage. In Gundam Unicorn, though, the mobile suits feel far heavier, depending on their verniers to manoeuver into position and aim for their targets. This first confrontation visibly demonstrates some of the attention to physics interactions, and as icing on the cake, when sabres clash, they emit a humming sound that is not unlike that of the lighsabres from Star Wars.

  • Despite putting on an excellent fight, the nature of Gundam Unicorn (specifically in reference to how the plot progresses) means that in a confrontation between Marida Cruz and the unnamed Federation pilot, Marida will come out on top. It attests to the anime’s strengths that they are able to keep the audiences guessing right up until the fight is over. With yet another somewhat unexpected post now over, I will aim to push out a short talk on Glasslip‘s opening soon, and return before the month is out to publish a final impressions post for Non Non Biyori Repeat.

Coupled with the constant closeups of the Stark Jegan pilot’s actions during the sequence, Gundam Unicorn succeeds in illustrating the intricacies of mobile suit combat; more than a mere sword fight with mechanised weapons, the operation of a mobile suit is an elegant dance between pilot and hardware, as well as between the mobile suits themselves. Very few universes pay such close detail to the weapons and their operators, let alone present mobile suits in a more plausible light. Consequently, when all of these elements come together, the first battle of Gundam Unicorn does more than just depict a fantastic fight between Marida and an unnamed Federation pilot: it sets the tone for a large majority of the remainder of Gundam Unicorn, and this sort of attention to detail subtly reminds viewers of the complexity involved with piloting a mobile suit. Watching the Stark Jegan pilot’s engagement with the Kshatriya, one concludes that he must have über-micro (in this context, a high standard of training) to be able to satisfactorily react to what Marida initially throws at him. Though not a cyber-Newtype and therefore lacking superior reflexes, the Stark Jegan’s pilot does illustrate that having über-micro allows one to put up a reasonable fight even against cyber-Newtypes, which is a remarkable feat considering how standard pilots are typically shot down in seconds, rather than minutes, in other Gundam universes. Granted, this is often done to illustrate the vast skill disparity between named pilots and standard forces, but it is rather more realistic, and quite refreshing to observe armed forces whose standard pilots and soldiers demonstrate competence consistent with what one might expect in reality.

A personal reflection on Gundam UC, the aptly named “U of C” Gundam and Future Directions for the Infinite Mirai

“You don’t have to worry. I’m not going tell you pack of lies to make you feel good. I’m just going to tell you what happened.” —Yuri Orlov, Lord of War

Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn began when I began my undergraduate program, but unlike most anime, this one released every half year, and for its final two episodes, at yearly intervals, accompanying me as I went through my undergraduate program. The lessons and themes surrounding each episode seemed to fit with what I was doing at the time, and in that sense, Gundam Unicorn became something I associated very closely with my experiences in university. It began on a chilly night in November 2009, when I finally finished one of my linear algebra assignments and handed in a lab write-up for chemistry. Midterms were nearly over, and while on a break, I decided to look up information surrounding the then-unreleased Gundam 00: Awakening of the Trailblazer movie. Details were scant, but in the related results sidebar on YouTube, something intriguing caught my eye: the first Gundam Unicorn trailer. A space station appeared on screen, exploding, and soon after, the Kyshatriya began engaging ReZELs inside a colony. In space, a pilot aims his rifle at a distant target, and as the battle rages through the colony, a pure white mobile suit with a Unicorn’s horn prepares to sortie. This captured my interest immediately, and when the trailer finished, it announced a release in March 2010. As Winter 2010 began, my coursework meant that Gundam Unicorn fell to the back of my mind, but by mid-March, news had reached my ears surrounding the Gundam Unicorn soundtrack. A thought stirred in my mind; this meant Gundam Unicorn‘s first episode was out. After watching the episode, everything about Gundam Unicorn felt appropriate for university: the themes discussed felt more mature. Mobile suit combat was intense, feeling heavier and more powerful than those fights in Gundam 00.

  • This post is about Gundam Unicorn and the blog’s future, and so, I’ve decided to add some more screenshots from the finale, starting with one of the most moving launch sequences I’ve seen in Gundam. The composition of this moment is perfect: as the later segments of 20090522or0311 play, Marida prepares for sortie, with the Earth and sun in the distance.

  • Admittedly, the figure captions won’t really have much to do with the images; instead, I will take some time to thank the viewers I’ve had. At present, my site traffic is significantly greater than that of my old website in its prime, and similarly, when I averaged around 700 views per month during the blog’s first year. The change in site traffic corresponds to when I slowly began transitioning from my old site to this blog.

  • On my old website, I did promise that I would write a talk about the finale before formally closing the site. I’ll probably get around to doing that before the summer ends, and will aim to build a smaller review there.

  • For me, blogging is ultimately not too dissimilar to maintaining a diary, albeit one that is public. As such, many of my posts do allude to some personal moments I experience. From the reader’s perspective, they aren’t frequent enough to take away from the post’s core message (such as recommending a show or pointing out the best features in a game); from my perspective, they’re frequent enough to remind me of what was going on around me when I first wrote the post.

Four years have passed now since episode one was released: after the finale had released, I recall a journey filled with memories. Gundam Unicorn has accompanied me for the entirety of my undergraduate career, and each episode brings to mind a very specific set of memories from each of the years I was on campus. The second episode would recall my efforts to stay up to speed with SN1 reactions, TATA boxes and algorithmic complexity during Fall 2010. Every time I watch the Nahel Argama’s rescue operation or the fight between Banagher and Full Frontal in episode three, the challenges I faced in my Winter 2011 semester return to me, as clear as day. On a November weekend in 2011, I returned to the lab to work on a project, listening to the soundtrack to the fourth episode even as Otafest Lite 2012 was happening, seven floors below. Banagher’s actions during the Garuda transfer and determination to see his duty through in episode five remind me of the summer I directed towards studying for and writing the MCAT. When episode six came out in March 2013, I was gearing up for a thesis defense and was close to submitting my thesis paper. RE:I AM was released on the first day of Spring, the same day Left 4 Dead 2 went on sale and the same day I was offered an NSERC. I entered my thesis defense and finals with the same emotional tenor as Banagher and Riddhe had in episode six’s final moments, ending my undergraduate career on a solid note.

  • I typically strive to write only positive reflections, and where particular anime fail to impress, a fair assessment of why it was less successful than it could have been, as well as some of the merits that do exist in said anime.

  • For those who wonder why I never review something I disliked, the reasoning is rather simple. If there is something, say an anime or game, that I did not like (that is to say, for those who prefer quantitative assessments of their entertainment, anything that scores less than a four on a ten-point scale), I see no reason to revisit it and retrieve specifics about the series such that I may fairly discuss it.

  • For the shows that I do enjoy, I take care to provide an explanation as to what elements made it particularly enjoyable for me, and which audiences would similarly find it to be enjoyable. I don’t provide a quantitative scale for my reflections because I enjoy anime and games for how each possesses different components fit together to form the elements that are noteworthy and unique.

  • Under this approach, something like K-On! and Super Sonico would be assessed differently than Gundam Unicorn, for instance. Under anime of different genres, I look for different things, making it difficult to adopt a single one-size-fits-all assessment system for everything.

  • What future directions lie ahead in June for this blog? I will be looking to get a talk on Metro: Last LightAudioSurf and Trials: Evolution out, as well as a talk on Love Lab, which I picked up this week and are presently finding to be most entertaining. Once June ends, I will do reflections on Gochūmon wa Usagi Desu ka? and Sidonia no Kishi.

The conclusion of Gundam Unicorn is now irrevocably tied with Otafest 2014 and coincides with my admission into graduate studies for computer sciences. Starting in September, I will begin a new journey as I work towards the future. It’s very exciting, and in order to make the best of this opportunity, I have decided that I will gradually slow things down here at the blog. For the past two-and-a-half years, I have been writing about anime and games here. This was very rewarding; I’ve been able to converse with other anime bloggers and fellow fans here. However, writing blog posts is a time-consuming process. An average post does take around two to three hours to plan, prepare and proofread. Posts pertaining to movies typically take around five hours, while the larger posts (or multi-part series) take anywhere from eight to twenty-five hours of time. Considering that this blog is maintained by one person, there is a substantial time commitment involved: I spend roughly seven hours a week preparing posts. I throughly enjoy blogging, but there are a limited number of hours in a day. As I settle into the graduate program, I will prioritise getting my coursework and thesis project finished. In my downtime, I will continue to pursue my hobbies as I have previously. To keep a fine balance between work and rest, sacrifices must be made somewhere, and I have decided that spending less time blogging will allow me to maintain harmony in my schedule, translating to a reduced frequency in posting, especially once the summer draws to a close.

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.

Operation Eternal: The Joys of Otafest 2014

“Success or failure depends more upon attitude than upon capacity successful men act as though they have accomplished or are enjoying something. Soon it becomes a reality. Act, look, feel successful, conduct yourself accordingly, and you will be amazed at the positive results.” —William James

For three days of the year, the University of Calgary undergoes a dramatic shift in atmosphere. Rather than being an academic institution home to some of the most cutting-edge research labs in the world, hallways and lecture halls are adjourned with signs of festivity. Conversations about physiological fly-throughs and optimal UI paradigms are displaced by spirited talks about anime and games. Instead of quietly illuminating corridors after hours, the evening sunlight falls into busy hallways and open areas brimming with excitement, throwing the cosplayers and convention attendees into sharp relief. This is Otafest, an anime convention that is aimed to promote Japanese popular culture and encourage community charity. This event had humble origins in 1999: since then, has become Calgary’s (and Southern Alberta’s) premier anime convention. My first time attending was last year, right when Otafest was celebrating its fifteenth anniversary. I had a wonderful time, even though my day lacked any sort of real coordination. I have since attended Otafest’s winter incarnation, Otafest Aurora, and subsequently, a pin-trading party. With an overwhelmingly positive experience, I convinced a greater number of friends to attend Otafest 2014, and, after my last exam ended late in April, I pre-ordered my tickets. Soon after, my work with the research lab began. Before this, though, I had an opportunity to dine at the Levilla Chophouse. As a gentle drizzle fell outside, I sat down to lobster bisque and the Steak Neptune, a charbroiled beef tenderloin filet topped with seared scallops and prawns. The steak brought to mind the steak I was thinking of a year ago, in The Matrix, and that evening turned out to be most pleasant. With a week left to Otafest, I fixed some of the bugs in my iOS version of the physiology software, and over the past week, I’ve been working on importing the brain model from the lab’s in-house physiology software suite into Unity.

  • Why was this one called “Operation Eternal”?  Project Eternal is an initiative that appears to be working on introducing new angels in the Otafest world, with June-sensei being one of the first to be showcased. June is Seph and Aurora’s old instructor from their high school days. I only became aware of the June pin after the pin trading party, and decided that this was a challenge I would undertake, giving rise to the cryptonym “Operation Eternal”.

  • I know that readers might just be looking for images of me attending the convention, but I don’t have enough images to populate this post: as with Otafest Aurora 2013, I was having too much fun to be photographing things. With that said, I did manage to get photographs of what matters (i.e. myself with Yuu Asakawa, Brad Swaille and Chris Cason, plus some of the Puella Magi Madoka Magica cosplayers). Otafest 2014 was timed perfectly with Gundam Unicorn‘s finale. News has reached my ears that people are already beginning to upload images of the final episode online, and while I’m normally very accepting of spoilers, this finale is one of the few exceptions where I’m refusing to see any spoilers. If current trends hold, I think that I should have access to the episode over the next two days, and I’ll be able to get a review out a few days after that.

Of course, this isn’t a talk about my work, and so, on Friday, I committed my first prototype to the repository. As I was working to ensure the first prototype could work out of the box, the first of the attendees began arriving, forming an immensely long line for registration. Cosplayers became more frequent, and soon, my friends would arrive for registration. All of us had pre-ordered, and I picked up my wristband on Thursday evening. While I was waiting, I purchased three Otafest pins, looking to trade them. Registration proved prompt, so we made it to the opening ceremonies in time to get good seats. As I entered the lecture hall, I recalled the fact that not more than a month ago, I sat just a few rows below, jotting down notes about magma compositions and differentiations between stony and iron asteroids. On the first day of Otafest, though, the lecture hall held a different atmosphere: relaxed and excited. The opening ceremony saw the clarification of convention rules, exciting new events, and the special guests. The emcees delivering this presentation did so with a humorous flair, and after the events finished, I had the fortune of acquiring one of the “Angel of Time” pins via trade. I would leave shortly after, preparing for the second day.

  • The beauty of Otafest’s timing is that I had something highly engaging to participate in while waiting for the Gundam Unicorn finale to come out. Pictured above is the Prairie Chicken statue. This picturesque spot is more informally known as “Cosplay Hill”; on the days where Otafest is held, it is packed with people. The page quote above refers to my end thoughts with Otafest 2014: the event’s success is motivated by the team of staff and volunteers, whose enthusiasm and passion make Otafest the top-notch event that it is.

  • The lecture halls where the voice actor panel and opening ceremonies were held are visible in the image’s right side. There is a sculpture in the middle of this hallway, called the “Zipper” (not visible, on account of Haruhi and Kyon covering it) that undergraduate students have various superstitions about. I’m in the camp that believes touching it prior to a final is a curse; I touched it prior to my first midterm in first year and promptly got wiped out by the exam. Every subsequent exam that I would write, I avoided the Zipper. While there’s probably no correlation, my performance was much more consistent with my usual standards after that.

The weather forecast had predicted thundershowers for Saturday, although upon waking up, the skies had been as pleasant as they were the day before. Making my way to the University of Calgary, I was able to make reservations for the Maid Café, which my friends had expressed interest in attending the previous year. This promise was made a year ago: at the previous Otafest, a lack of knowledge on my part meant that by the time we tried to reserve, all of the tickets had been distributed. Fortunately, with knowledge of how things worked, I was able to obtain tickets for all of the party (a grand total of seven members). With that done, I made my way to the vendor hall in the same manner as I had last year. Back then, I had nothing in mind, but this time, there was a single item I was aiming to purchase: the HGUC 1/144 Full Armour Unicorn Gundam (Destroy Mode). The Unicorn Mode was available last year, I decided against buying it, as it wasn’t the Unicorn Gundam’s ultimate form. I would not be disappointed: after circling around some of the vendors, I encountered a vendor who had the model in stock. The transaction was made, and I rendezvoused with the main party. We decided to walk around the campus; during this time, I was able to make three more successful pin trades, acquiring rare pins in the process. As with last year, the food trucks were available: this time, I opted for Tao Rex‘s bratwurst on a bun, as that could be finished more easily. The rationale for this was to be on time for the voice actor Q&A panel, featuring Yū Asakawa, Brad Swaille and Chris Cason. The venue this time was my old primatology lecture hall, although morphological differences between Old World Monkeys and New World Monkeys fell from thought (for reference, New World Monkeys have prehensile tails), as my attention turned to the voice actors’ responses to the audience’s queries.

  • On the warmer days, the fountain at the centre of campus comes to life, providing an oasis not too far away from the Prairie Chicken statue. It’s a rather peaceful place to be, especially during the summer months, when there are fewer students on campus. However,  the fountain is only active during the summer months of the year, and for the most part, the fountain is dry.

  • It was a surprising when I learnt that there are actually sakura blossoms on campus grounds (and I’ve been a student here for five years now). Throughout May and early June, it’s quite possible to partake in hanami on campus. By July, the blossoms are gone, and it’s just greenery everywhere.

The next hour saw some of the most amusing answers from the voice actors as they replied to questions from the audience, who were treated to entertaining and informative stories and answers. Yū Asakawa’s English proved excellent, and she answered questions expertly. Our group dispersed to pursue independent activities, and then reconvened at the Maid Café for a milk tea, tiramisu and dance from the maids. Once this concluded, my friends decided to visit the vendors: having informed them of the lines, they had set aside a two hour slot to explore the vendors. The hours elapsed on short order, and soon, it was time to attend the most anticipated event: the voice actor autograph session. This proved incredibly taxing, and even though I’d arrived fourty minutes prior to the event to secure a spot, the line was already massive. However, the wait yielded returns: my K-On! Artbook now bears signatures from all three of the voice actors. Returning to the office space to pick up the stuff I’d left up there, I returned home, closing off Otafest 2014. By now, it should be immediately apparent that I only have good things to say about Otafest. Even though I myself don’t cosplay, I find absolute enjoyment in sharing a friendly environment with fellow anime fans. This year, owing to superb coordination and communication (thanks, Nokia Lumia 520!), my friends and I were able to visit a vast majority all of the events and venues, more so than last year, illustrating the difference that preparedness and open-mindedness makes in a convention. All in all, I attended two of the three event days: today, I took time off to rest following the previous few days’ excitement, and spent the evening at a local Japanese restaurant, where tonkatsu, beef yakiniku, takoyaki and tempura were amongst the things I enjoyed during dinner, acting as a fitting close to a weekend celebrating Japanese culture. I end with the remark that, while I’m not sure whether I’ll be available to attend in a year’s time, I am certain that next year’s attendees will experience an event that will be equally (if not more) spectacular, thanks to the efforts put in by the staff and volunteers. ありがとう、皆さん!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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