The Infinite Zenith

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Tag Archives: OVA

Strike Witches: 501st Joint Fighter Wing Take Off! – Review and Impressions After Three

“Nobody exists on purpose, nobody belongs anywhere everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV.” –Morty Smith, Rick and Morty

Strike Witches: Road to Berlin is coming out in 2020, and then Luminous Witches will air in 2021, it looks like the Strike Witches franchise has returned in full after a slow start in 2007 with its OVA – this series has been polarising for seemingly being an excuse to showcase female soldiers running around without any pants, but as the series progressed, it also matured deeply, showing that elements of world building can indeed far outweigh initial impressions that the series is merely for visual charm. Themes of camaraderie, trust and a determination to protect what one holds dear, plus minor themes about technological advancement, understanding and open-mindedness began making their way into a series to give characters credible growth. Strike Witches‘ 2013 movie, Operation Victory Arrow and Brave Witches represent a maturing series that began focusing more on the human side of the Human-Neuroi War, and of late, Strike Witches has become much more than being a flimsy excuse to full a seam with crotches. It’s now been some two years since Brave Witches, and four years since Operation Victory Arrow; with new Strike Witches on the horizon, it stands to reason that fans have definitely earned something in the meantime to re-light their interest in the series.

Strike Witches: 501st Joint Fighter Wing Take Off! (Strike Witches: 501-butai Hasshinshimasu!) appears to be this “something”: on the surface, it deals with everyday life amongst the 501st. From Yoshika taking up cooking for everyone owing to their incapacity to cook (Minna, in particular, manages to harm her fellow soldiers more than the Neuroi do), to Gertrude’s determination to have Erica maintain a clean room, from Charlotte’s terrifying driving to Eila’s inability to properly express her feelings for Sanya, Joint Fighter Wing Take Off!‘s comical portrayal of the 501st marks a far cry from the series’ typical features. In fact, Joint Fighter Wing Take Off!‘s approach is so unexpectedly different that one would be forgiven if they were to mistake this for a bad joke: the animation and artwork appear as though it was produced by an algorithm that was designed to produce animation on its own, but was overfitted to a poor training data set. The insane premises and events suggest improvisation the same way Rick and Morty improvised the Interdimensional Cable skits. While inherently flawed, Joint Fighter Wing Take Off! also seems to express different relationships amongst the characters: Gertrude acts as a mentor of sorts for Yoshika, while the slovenly Erica seems to be more at home with the lazy Charlotte and Francesca. The dynamics result in odd moments that show the members of the 501st in a caricature form of themselves, and this produces a unique brand of humour that is as outlandish as Interdimensional Cable.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • There is no discussion out there on Joint Fighter Wing Take Off! – I don’t mean that discussions are scant, or that they are light, because there simply is no one else talking about this series. This is unsurprising, given that this Joint Fighter Wing Take Off! is meant to be a bit of a practical joke. The artwork is of a much lower quality than what I usually watch, although the vast blue skies of Strike Witches remain.

  • After becoming a part of the 501st, Yoshika is assigned to cooking duties because she’s apparently the only person on the team who can make anything edible. Gertrude feels badly for her and decides to help out. In Joint Fighter Wing Take Off!, Gertrude has a much closer friendship with Yoshika: she was initially distant, feeling Yoshika to resemble her younger sister, but the two get along quite well in Strike Witches proper.

  • Minna is the commander of the 501st, and while she’s normally gentle and kind, there are some conditions where her personality will harden, usually in regards to everyone’s safety. This will not manifest in Joint Fighter Wing Take Off!, and instead, Minna is presented as being a bit ditzy, as well as having a terrible sense of taste. Her cooking is as lethal as a M829 APFSDS, putting everyone on the floor: when she suggests cooking in place of Yoshika, everyone vehemently objects.

  • The events of Joint Fighter Wing Take Off! are not so clearly determined: while everyone is located at the Britannian base see in the first season, Mio and Minna mention an infamous scene where Minna, concerned for Mio’s safety, holds her at gunpoint and demands that Mio stand down from active duty. This occurred later in season one, and the 501st leave the Britannian base after the season ends. The Sky That Connects Us shows that everyone is scattered around the globe, so Joint Fighter Wing Take Off! might not be really a formal part of the Strike Witches timeline.

  • Charlotte and Erica are perhaps two of the scummiest members of the 501st, if Joint Fighter Wing Take Off! is anything to go by. When assigned to patrol duty, they simply lounge around in swimwear and suggest that Yoshika do the same. It’s a callback to the first episode when Charlotte is seen chilling, but unlike the series proper, the low level of detail means that contours and the like are rendered with a much lower fidelity.

  • Whereas Gertrude usually is content to deliver a verbal tongue-lashing in response to Erica’s slovenly ways, in Joint Fighter Wing Take Off!, she resorts to physical beatings that put everyone on the floor. Yoshika is made to suffer when she decides to do patrol duty properly and is given a heavy jacket that gives her heat stroke. With Yoshika out of commission, Minna cooks for everyone and manages to harm the 501st in ways that even the Neuroi do not.

  • When Gertrude’s patience with Erica’s mess reaches its limits, she enlists Yoshika to help her in clearing out a mess that would defeat even the Konmari Method™: Marie Kondo’s approach to reducing clutter is to use a simple metric in deciding what to keep and what to chuck. If something creates happiness or has sentimental value, it can be kept, and otherwise, it is to be discarded. My parents’ method is simpler and more effective – if something is actively being used, then it should be kept.

  • I would imagine that my parents’ approach, which I’ve adopted, would make for a much more boring approach. Back in Joint Fighter Wing Take Off!, the Konmari Method™ eventually results in a series of accidents that allow Erica’s mess to be cleared, but also causes her to lose a medal. While trying to find the medal, Erica reintroduces the mess, undoing everyone’s efforts. One wonder how such a mess is even possible.

  • I actually had no intentions of writing about Joint Fighter Wing Take Off!, but the combination of wanting to give myself a challenge and the fact that there’s no other blogs talking about this series means a unique opportunity for me to see if there’s anything noteworthy I could say about what essentially amounts to a shoddily-prepared show for something like Interdimensional Cable: the events of Joint Fighter Wing Take Off! are outlandish and zany enough so that they could fit within the realm of what is shown in the multi-verse.

  • Fanservice in is much lighter in Joint Fighter Wing Take Off! than anywhere else in Strike Witches, which started out shoving everyone’s pantsu into the viewers’ faces. AS the series progressed, while such moments were still present, they became secondary to character growth. Here, Erica and Charlotte apologise after Minna kicks their asses for making fun of her dress.

  • The Interdimensional Cable atmosphere of Joint Fighter Wing Take Off! is why I’ve opted to go with one of the more famous quotes from Rick and Morty, where Morty presents a very bleak view of the universe to Summer and suggests that things are what they are, so one might as well enjoy themselves with the time and plane of existence they do have. This is one way of saying that folks should not be so invested into minutiae surrounding their entertainment and take things a little less seriously.

  • After Minna and Mio are invited to a party for officiers, Gertrude and Yoshika overlook duties at the base. They ren’t enough to rein in the undisciplined antics of Erica, Francesca and Charlotte, but it turns out that, in the absence of standards, Erica, Francesca and Charlotte actually have no goofing off to do. They decide to explore the rooms of their squadron mates, but find things that disturb them.

  • Francesca, Charlotte and Erica’s reactions mirror my reaction to the weather yesterday: we’re only a stone’s throw from May, but Winter evidently wasn’t through with us yet and dropped 15 centimetres of snow on the city, bringing everything to a halt. Back in Joint Fighter Wing Take Off!, Yoshika and Gertude explained that nothing special occurred, while the lipstick marks on Mio and blood on Minna imply that something hilarious went down behind the scenes.

  • After Yoshika accepts her paycheque, which features a bonus because her cooking is single-handedly keeping everyone’s spirits up, Yoshika decides to go shopping for new cooking implements. Gertrude decides to accompany her, along with Lynette, but when Charlotte offers to drive, the mere suggestion is enough to strike fear into the hearts of all those who know of her driving. As far as I can tell, Charlotte was not that bad a driver in Strike Witches, and I don’t ever recall a moment where she’s driven anyone anywhere.

  • A part of the humour in Joint Fighter Wing Take Off! stems from implicit moments, as well: leaving audiences to work out what occurred can be as funny as seeing things for oneself. While I’ve not very much to say about things in Joint Fighter Wing Take Off!, I can say that watching the incredible antics of the 501st does bring a smile to my face. One of the genuine criticisms I have of Joint Fighter Wing Take Off! so far is that Lynette hasn’t had much screen time yet. Of the Witches, I’m rather fond of her character.

  • Back at base, Minna decides to make lunch, and Eila somehow gets pulled into things, reasoning that fermented stuff akin to the Japanese-style cooking Yoshika’s been doing must taste better. They whip up pickled herring and decide to add ammonia to it (which, incidentally, is toxic), scaring the living daylights out of Erica. She runs off to find Mio, in the hopes of putting an end to this nightmare. When Mio manages to cut the containers open, their noxious gases incapacitates her, reducing her to a trembling wreck. In any other series, this would be a pretty big deal, but in Joint Fighter Wing Take Off!, all injuries are temporary, and all damage sustained is quickly repaired. Hence, viewers may enjoy a laugh at Mio’s expense.

  • Later, Eila succumbs to a cold and is bed ridden: while Yoshika accompanies Sanya on a night mission, Gertude and Erica look after her. Eila’s feelings for Sanya have formed the basis for many a joke in-series: Sanya is near oblivious to Eila’s feelings even where everyone else is aware of them.

  • I’ve heard that summoning circles are all the rage on social media these days, and after leaving some of the Sanya cutouts so Eila won’t be lonely, the others allow her to rest. These props actually glow in the dark by some unknown mechanism, and actually look quite intimidating. When Sanya returns from her patrol and sees these, she’s a little put off, and once Eila recovers, she immediately hunts down Erica for the trouble.

  • If folks were looking for a proper slice-of-life with the 501st, then Operation Victory Arrow and the manga, The Sky That Connects Us, do a solid job of presenting what goes down between Neuroi attacks. I will be returning to write about Joint Fighter Wing Take Off! towards the end of the season: while nothing substantial, it is something that is fun in its own right. We are at the end of April now, and now is a good time as any to mention that, after a day of delayed flights, I am now in San José, California, where I will be attending Facebook’s Developer Conference, F8. I may work on a few posts here and there, but I expect to be quite busy until my return early May.

While Joint Fighter Wing Take Off! has numerous flaws and very little in the way of themes, its unusual brand of humour brings out the worst of all the characters and gives audiences something to laugh at – I imagine that this is a deliberate design choice to keep audiences busy, and presumably, to lower their guard ahead of Road to Berlin‘s release. Since Joint Fighter Wing Take Off! comes across as weak, Road of Berlin will stand in stark contrast and be more consistent with the increasingly detailed and mature themes that Strike Witches has trended towards. Fans of Strike Witches won’t gain much more than a few cheap laughs out of the characters’ misfortune in Joint Fighter Wing Take Off!, but it does act as somewhat of a reminder that each of Yoshika, Lynette, Perrine, Mio, Charlotte, Francesca, Gertrude, Erica, Minna, Eila and Sanya have come a long way since their initial appearances in 2008’s Strike Witches. The series is no longer dominated by needless pantsu, and there is a deeper, more enjoyable theme to the 501st’ exploits – if Road to Berlin is going to be more moody and reflective than the second season, then for the time being, viewers might as well watch everyone in unusual and strange conditions that exaggerate their characters far more than a proper season would.

Nekopara Extra OVA Review and Reflection

“It is my ambition to say in ten sentences what others say in a whole book.” ―Friedrich Nietzsche

Set a half-year prior to the events of Nekopara‘s first OVA, Nekopara Extra depicts Chocola and Vanilla’s introduction to the Minaduki household and how, despite the other Nekos’ warm reception, struggle to fit in until Kashou reassures them one evening. Later, Kashou, Shigure and the Nekos celebrate Christmas, during which Kashou makes a delicious dinner for everyone to share and also plays the role of Santa. With the Nekos enjoying the evening immensely, Kashou agrees to make their Christmas parties a yearly tradition. This second Nekopara OVA was released to Steam in July this year and, like its predecessor before it, is an animated adaptation of the Nekopara visual novels, which follows Chocola and Vanilla’s life as kittens as they adjust to life with the Minadukis. The Nekopara Extra OVA is simple, succinct and represents twenty minutes of amusement.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • It has been quite some time since I’ve written a post this short: with only ten images and three hundred something words, this Nekopara post was written so I could say I’ve covered the second of the Nekopara OVAs, and because I’ve got a special milestone coming out in very short order that involves reaching a certain number of posts; the nature of this post will make itself apparent soon enough.

  • The first half of the Nekopara Extra OVA can be summed up to “Chocola and Vanilla struggle to get used to their new life”. Right from the start, it’s clear that the other Nekos are friendly and amicable, getting along with the new kittens straight away. I’ve mentioned previously that it’s a bad idea to give cats milk since they’re lactose intolerant, but because Chocola and Vanilla are cat-like, we will suppose that their digestive systems are also more human-like.

  • Kashou’s kindness towards Chocola and Vanilla are the reason why they cling to him by the events of Nekopara. Last I wrote about Nekopara, I made no mention of the title and realised that I did not really have an explanation for the etymology, but it turns out that Nekopara is really just a portmanteau of neko and “paradise”. Given the light, fluffy nature of the OVAs, this seems a fitting title.

  • I’m not sure how many of my readers are big on visual novels, and of those who are, I’m certain that the number of folks who’ve played Nekopara would be even fewer in number. On the off-chance that I do have some Nekopara fans in the wings, I’m curious to know what the game’s draw is and which aspects (the physics slider does not count) makes the game worth buying.

  • For me, the Nekopara OVAs represent simple escapism: there’s nothing terribly thought-provoking about the anime, but there’s nothing wrong with this. The strength of the OVAs lie in their ability to create a very gentle atmosphere, and I am glad that the Nekopara Extra OVA does away with anything risqué. I’ve heard that the games go the whole nine yards with this content, although I’ve long felt the aesthetics and atmosphere in Nekopara to be less suited for this sort of thing.

  • High on the list of things I enjoy about Christmas Day is simply being able to relax and not do anything. Of late, being able to relax in this fashion has been incredibly rare, and over the past weekend, I took a much-needed breather out to the salmon runs a province over. Being able to go on a road trip and relax was most welcoming, especially with how pleasant the weather was. After crossing over the Alberta-BC border, the moody grey skies gave way to blue, and the temperatures warmed. By the time we reached the Adams River Sockeye Run, it was later in the afternoon, but salmon were moving upriver at a steady pace. There was a bit of glare, so I don’t have good photographs to show, but the spectacle was one to behold.

  • The day ended in Vernon, and next morning, we stopped by D Dutchman Dairy near Sicamous, where I enjoyed a maple ice cream (no photographs, as it was so good, I finished it before remembering to photograph it) in an open field beside the dairy shop before taking off for Revelstoke, a quiet town in the middle of the mountains where we stopped for lunch. The final destination was Emerald Lake in Yoho National Park: I’ve never actually been there before until now, having skipped it the last time I was in Yoho because crowd sizes made it impossible to find parking. This time, however, Emerald Lake was deserted, and the lake itself was mirror-smooth.

  • Being offline and away from a computer proved to be exactly what I needed, and at present, it’s back to the grind. The current project is almost over now, and once finished, I’m considering a change of scenery. There are a lot of unknowns here, so I won’t go into too much details, but I think it will be a good chance for professional development. This may have an impact on my blogging, but I think that once things settle down there, blogging will resume in some capacity.

  • The events of the Nekopara Extra OVA culminate with the result that the Minadukis develop a new Christmas tradition of spending time together with the family Nekos. It’s a touching end to an OVA that largely has no conflicts, and the OVA itself is well-suited for a quieter day.

  • In retrospect, I likely should have watched this during Christmas, the Nekopara Extra OVA was light enough so that a shorter post was sufficient, and truthfully, there isn’t too much to talk here. So, I suppose that for the Christmas season, I will likely take a look at something else. In the meantime, I am going to be writing about Irozuku Sekai no Ashita kara, and ahead of a certain milestone, I am going to do another post on The Division: after the past few Global Events, where I’ve completed my six piece Classified Striker’s Battlegear set and got a Bullfrog with solid talents.

Described as a heartfelt comedy, reception to Nekopara‘s OVAs is quite varied; folks who’ve played the game will either enjoy the Nekopara OVAs for bringing the game to life, or else count it as being an inadequate adaptation. On my end, having never played the games myself, the Nekopara OVAs are not something that particularly inspire me to pick the games up: we recall that my interest in games are driven by immersion and strength of gameplay, and while Nekopara‘s supposed to have a physics setting, this alone is hardly an adequate reason to try the game out. With this being said, the OVAs nonetheless remain a moderately amusing way to spend twenty minutes: for a pair of OVAs inspired by games and made possible with kick-starter funds, the animation and voice acting in the Nekopara OVAs is of a solid quality: Nekopara Extra OVA might be shorter than the first, but the quality remains generally high and provides a bit of additional narrative for folks wondering about the Nekopara universe.

Valentines and Hot Springs!: Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid OVA Review and Reflection

“When you have seen as much of life as I have, you will not underestimate the power of obsessive love.” –Horace Slughorn, Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince

On Valentines’ Day, Tohru is unsuccessful in giving Kobayashi chocolates spiked with a love potion. Kanna receives chocolates from her classmates and Kobayashi shares chocolates at work. Later, Kobayashi accidentally consumes the spiked chocolates from Tohru and becomes drunk. Makoto invites everyone to a hot springs; after a busy day spent relaxing and doing the sorts of things one might do at a hot springs, Tohru gives Kobayashi regular chocolates. Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid is a unique entry among my “Terrible Anime Challenge” series in many ways – besides being an absolutely engaging and enjoyable series, Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid also has an OVA that accompanied the seventh BD volume. Par the course for an OVA, it’s an opportunity to have the characters play off one another in romance, and further becomes a thinly-veiled justification to put the characters in a hot springs; traditionally, episodes such as these contribute very little to the narrative. However, this is not to say that OVAs are devoid of value, and my enjoyment of OVAs typically come from presenting characters in a much more relaxed, or even whimsical moment that shows different aspects to their personalities. In Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid, Fafnir is given more exposition: despite his disdain for humanity, that he goes along with customs such as Valentines’ Day and hot springs trips in reasonable accordance with Makoto indicates a degree of begrudging respect for the things that humanity does.

A mile wide and a mile deep, is how I described Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid in my original review: there was enough by way of themes in the thirteen episodes dealing with acceptance of new culture, the importance of family, shifts in perspective through immersion, not taking things for granted, et cetera, such that audiences could relate to various aspects of the show in their own manner of choosing. Without deliberately and forcibly pressing its messages, Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid presents ideas through everyday events, having the characters learn and discover things naturally. All of this is encapsulated in comedy, making the characters more relatable. The OVA does the same in its shorter runtime – it is a miniaturised Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid, condensing the style and sense of the entire series into a single episode and providing the unique brand of humour the series is known for. In particular, Tohru’s attempts to seduce Kobayashi using a love potion, and Kobayashi catching on was quite amusing. It should be no surprise that Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid utilises its world well to set up humour, and the jokes seen in the OVA have lost none of their potency.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Twenty screenshots for a single OVA is usually the norm for a full-fledged series that I’m writing for, and Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid is no exception. Had I done a more conventional review for this series, I would’ve likely given things a thirty-screenshot talk. Even now, I’m impressed that what looked to be a frivolous series could cover so many interesting topics adequately over so short a run.

  • It’s no surprise that at this point in time, Kobayashi has known Tohru long enough so that she immediately suspects that there’s something funny in the Valentine’s chocolates. While Tohru might be a dragon more powerful and terrible than even J.R.R. Tolkien’s Ancalagon the Black, Kobayashi always manages to rein in Tohru with naught more than a glance. During the screen capture session, I managed to obtain a hilarious frame of Tohru pulling the chocolates away from Kobayashi, declaring it to be a defective batch, after Kobayashi warns her about spiking the chocolate.

  • Misunderstandings involving Kanna are always defused quickly in Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid, and after Riko wonders why everyone is so quick to give Kanna chocolates, Kanna asks for Riko’s chocolates, as well. Despite not receiving any chocolates in return, Kanna’s chosen approach, to eat the chocolate straight out of Riko’s hands, sends her into a bliss.

  • Back home, Kanna’s want for chocolate leads her to find the chocolate that Tohru’s hidden away. This is the chocolate spiked with love potion: chemicals that alter one’s brain chemistry to induce sexual desire certainly exist (aphrodisiacs), the love potions of fiction are liquid medicines that can induce feelings of love. J.K. Rowling writes that no artificial substance could recreate something as complex as love: her love potions only induce infatuation over short periods of time. Given Tohru’s reactions while adding love potion to the chocolate, one would suppose that she’s aware of this.

  • According to Pottermore, the countermeasure for a love potion involves, Wiggentree twigs and Gurdyroot mixed with castor oil. I’m willing to bet that magical substances in the twigs and Gurdyroot must interact in some way with the triester of glycerol and ricinoleic acid in castor oil to neutralise whatever agents are in the love potion. The love potions of Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid work differently, and although some claim that the ethanol “cancelled out” the love potion, from a chemistry perspective, this is incorrect. The ethanol present would have been altered in some way (decomposition, or replacement) so that distinct ethanol properties (e.g. inducing drunkenness) would no longer be present. Instead, I’m guessing that the ethanol acted as a catalyst for another reaction with one of the ingredients Tohru added, or else was a non-player in the reaction that neutralised the love potion. Either way, it results in some comedy of the likes not previously seen in Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid.

  • The OVA consists of two distinct acts, with the second being set around the group’s hot springs trip. They reach the onsen by means of the shinkansen. It typifies anime for depicting various aspects of everyday life in Japan with high faithfulness, and one of the stories I frequently hear is that people often will visit Japan with the aim of recreating their anime experiences, right down to riding trains and the like. For me, riding the trains of Japan were no different than the MTR of Hong Kong, or the LRT back home.

  • When I was in Japan last year, one of my favourite experiences was indeed the onsen. While I live fairly close to the Rocky Mountains and the hot springs of Banff, the geothermal waters of our national parks are actually quite mild in temperature. By comparison, the waters of an onsen were perfect, and I melted in the warm waters of the pool. I had the place to myself that evening, and one thing I noticed was that the (female) cleaning staff seem to have no aversions to continuing their work while I changed.

  • Watching Elma enjoying her food in bliss is most relatable: according to meterologists, we’re significantly colder than seasonal, and the past three weeks that I’ve been back home were characterised by non-stop overcast misery, gloom, and snowfall. Coupled with the chilly weather, I succumbed to a cold and spent several hours of each day in the past week sleeping. Despite this, I’m still getting my work done, and I’m on the mend now. Yesterday, I stepped out for dinner under moody skies: having recovered a fair bit, I decided it was prudent to enjoy myself but not eat too much, so I had a chicken steak sizzling plate with mushroom and red-wine sauce, corn, egg-fried-rice and fries at the local bistro. Dark chicken meat is my go-to meat of choice when I’m not at my best – highly nutritious, it’s also tender and tasty.

  • I often feel that, if I had a sauna at hand, I could spend a quarter hour in there upon feeling the onset of a cold. One of the classic methods to lessen the severity of a cold that my parents employ, is to drink 盒仔茶 (jyutping hap6 zai2 caa4, known more commonly as Kam Wo Tea), a bitter herbal tea with centuries of history. I’m personally on the rocks about its efficacy in stopping a cold, since I always end up requiring a day to rest regardless of whether or not I take it, but as far as relieving a sore throat goes, Kam Wo Tea does eliminate it within a day if taken right when one feels a cold incoming.

  • One way or another, with this cold largely behind me, I’m going to return to my routine very soon. I’ve noticed that blogging output for this past month has dropped by half: things have been remarkably busy of late. With this being said, as we move into October, and the fall anime season, posts will come out at a slow and steady rate. A few shows have caught my eye and together with the continuation of my CLANNAD review at the ten year anniversary, I think that this blog will continue to endure for a little while longer.

  • All of the dragons have a noticeable bust, and because my previous Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid post did not do so, I’ll capitalise on this post to feature one of Elma. Her constant bickering with Tohru, weakness in foods and interactions with Kobayashi are fun to watch. Earlier, a short skit in the OVA shows Elma trying to make chocolates of her own, but fails to create anything to give away, as she ends up eating all of the ingredients. Far from Tolkien’s clever and cunning fire-breathers, or Rowling’s untamed beasts, the dragons of Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid are much more human in nature despite their origins being both fallible and adorable.

  • Kobayashi’s decision to chill with Kanna draws ire from both Riko and Tohru, after Kobayashi wonders why all dragons manifest as attractive humans. When asked about what she looks like, the images of Kobayashi in dragon form are not particularly illuminating. It is common practise to drink cold milk after a soak in the hot springs, but during my trip to Japan, I did not bring any change with me for the vending machines, only having small bills the machines did not accept. However, I did have a bottle of cold water, and downed this in the blink of an eye, so I can attest to the refreshing properties of a cold beverage after exiting the onsen.

  • Because I was on a schedule, my next move was to hit the hay so as to be rested for the next day’s itinerary. The cast of Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid have home field advantage: their vacation is the onsen, so they make use of the inn’s amenities, and play ping pong here. After a spirited match between Tohru and Elma, Riko and Kanna play a much slower match that Kobayashi enjoys watching.

  • Shouta immediately hits the hay after growing flustered upon seeing Quetzalcoatl and Elma. The same age as Riko and Kanna, Shouta is portrayed as being typical of boys his age – he is not so good with teasing, and earlier, storms off after Quetzalcoatl asks if he’s interested in a souvenir. Makoto has the sense to understand that Shouta was interested in the sword keychain and buys one for him.

  • While Riko and Kanna are fast asleep, Tohru and Kobayashi share another moment together. Compared to Kyoto Animation’s other works, Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid is comparatively simpler in terms of artwork; the impressive lighting and visual effects of things like Hibike! Euphonium or Violet Evergarden are absent, and the anime is more in line with the likes of Tamako Market in its design. However, the animation itself remains of a solid quality, and I imagine that Kyoto Animation carefully picks the appropriate level of detail for each anime that it does.

  • This is not to say that Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid has poor artwork: a look at the town by night shows that even while working in a simpler environment, Kyoto Animation nonetheless presents it in a rich, appropriate manner to best capture the emotions of a particular moment. The warm lights of the town here stand in contrast with the cool of the night, and sets the mood for a romantic exchange between Tohru and Kobayashi.

  • It turns out that Tohru had made chocolates properly for Kobayashi, and this time, Koyabashi decides that Tohru is being honest with her feelings in this exchange. Audiences will have also picked up on the differences – the Tohru trying to give the spiked chocolates away was more sly and mischievous, whereas here, Tohru exhibits the same nerves that might be seen when giving chocolates to one’s love interest.

  • Kobayashi accepts the gift and munches on the chocolates, before holding her hand out to Tohru and offering to walk back together to the inn. I realise that I am not particularly well-received in some places for my so-called refusal to address yuri in my discussion, and I’ve explained this previously – social and cultural ramifications are not quite as important for me when it comes to addressing this topic, and I only handle it if it is immediately relevant to a show. In shows where romance is present as a central part of or as a natural development in the plot, I will discuss it. However, where it is strictly used as humour (e.g. Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu Ka? and Harukana Receive, for instance), I will typically not go into further details.

  • It was a riot when Tohru asks Kobayashi whether or not this is the part where they breed. It’s the most open attempt from Tohru yet, and while Kobayashi is quick to shut things down, there is no exasperation or frustration. It is doubtful that Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid would ever reach that level, keeping things PG and only hinting at Tohru’s want to take things up a notch for humour, but this is quite okay.

  • On the way, back, Kobayashi speaks with Makoto, thanking him for having organised the tour and feeling that with everyone together as often as they are now, they’ve become friends. It is true that since Tohru’s arrival, Kobayashi’s life has become rather more colourful and exciting: for the challenges dragons bring, they also introduce company and joy that has a nontrivial impact on Kobayashi. With this post as my last for the month, I note here that I’m now six posts away from reaching my next major milestone of one thousand posts, and that I’m opening October with a return to CLANNAD, kicking the party off with ~After Story~. Following my conclusion of the first season, I remarked that I would continue to write about CLANNAD if even one reader expressed interest.

One aspect of Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid that I did not cover in great depth was the overt attraction Tohru has for Kobayashi: I do not give romantic love between female characters much consideration unless it is present in a way that affects the narrative. In the case of Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid, the absence of this romance would mean that notions of family and discovery would not be as straightforward. Often, the strong feelings in romance drive profound changes in individuals, and Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid is convincing in using this as a reason for why Tohru and Kobayashi change over the course of the anime. Further to this, a lack of romance would deprive the series of its ability to convey humour: in its absence, many moments would feel much drier. With this being said, it is quite unnecessary to read too deeply into this; past discussions on romance from an academic perspective have proven to be, quite frankly, a waste of time that yielded little more than hurt feelings. I’m in the business of watching and enjoying anime, not persuading closed-minded people to stop attempting to treat every series as a work demanding literary analysis and comparison with classical Japanese, after all. We step away from this matter and note that the OVA for Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid was released a shade more than a year ago, and with this OVA in the books, I imagine that this is the last time I will be writing about Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid in the foreseeable future.

Survival Camp!, or Surviorman’s Pacific Island meets Yuru Camp△: An OVA Review and Reflection

“No one wants to find themselves in a survival situation; you just want to go home, but sometimes, the ordeal becomes long-term survival, longer than seven days. Whether in a life raft, on a mountain, in a desert, or on a tropical island, long-term survival is always about maintaining the will to live, and then becoming familiar with the surroundings.” —Les Stroud, South Pacific, Survivorman

En route to Australia for some winter camping, Nadeshiko and her friends find themselves bailing out of their private jet when the pilot reports that the controls have become unresponsive. They land on an uninhabited tropical island, and after getting themselves oriented, set about trying to find food. They are unsuccessful, and morale plummets, although the girls do their best to remain positive. The next morning, Chiaki is able to find a large number of bananas, and Rin succeeds in catching a large fish that the girls cook later that evening. As they explore other options for cooking their food, they girls also enjoy the tropical weather, but when Nadeshiko begins recanting phrases and terms that remind them of home during a game of Shiritori, Chiaki and the others realise that they need to be rescued. Sprinting to an outcrop, the girls desperately shout out for rescue while Ena sleeps on. Running for half the length of a conventional episode, Survival Camp is a fun addition to Yuru Camp△ that sees Nadeshiko and the others stranded on a beautiful island, reminiscent of Survivorman‘s second season, where Les Stroud survives on a week on an island. I’ve long drawn comparisons between Survivorman and Yuru Camp△, a complement to Yuru Camp△‘s attention to detail and providing practical information on top of a highly relaxing adventure for audiences. While this comparison is not unique to me, the other, perhaps unintended, consequence of comparing Yuru Camp△ to Survivorman is that this blog is prominently featured any search whenever keywords pertaining to Yuru Camp△ and Survivorman are used in conjunction with one another. As a result, upon viewing the contents of the latest Yuru Camp△ OVA, I cannot help but wonder if C-Station’s staff have seen discussions on the ‘net, especially from here, about Yuru Camp△ and decided to take a look at Survivorman, then realised a tropical setting, akin to Les Stroud’s time on a Pacific island, would provide a suitable opportunity to portray a novel story within the latest of the OVAs.

Yuru Camp△‘s original run was an impressive showing, but the Survival Camp OVA takes survival to the next level, drawing numerous parallels with real-world presentations of survival; despite featuring high school girls in place of an experienced outdoorsman, Yuru Camp△ never strays far from reality, and as a result, the Survival Camp OVA is all the more enjoyable for it. After a bailing out of a plane and landing on a tropical island, the girls immediately take stock of their surroundings, and build a shelter. In every episode of Survivorman, Les Stroud runs through the tools and materials he has available to him, before constructing a shelter. Because the island Stroud landed in had a sizeable rat population, he builds a shelter from a derelict boat to keep him off the ground and also, away from the blistering tropical sun. He subsequently creates a rain trap for water, and explores the island in search for food. In Yuru Camp△, after they handle shelter and gain a better idea of their situation, the girls are faced with the struggle of finding food and the attendant decrease in morale: Stroud notes constantly that in a survival situation that a lack of food is one of the biggest struggles he faces, as the reduced energy can impede judgement. Nadeshiko and Chiaki are particularly hard-hit by the initial lack of food, but immediately after Chiaki’s discovery of bananas on the island, and Rin’s success in fishing, the mood turns around immediately. In the South Pacific episode, Les Stroud is in a rare situation where food is not a major concern: he finds coconuts and birds on the island, as well as clams and palm shoots. Once the matter of food and shelter are dealt with, both Stroud and the girls of Yuru Camp△ have the energy to further their situation. This is where Yuru Camp△ deviates somewhat from the Survivorman approach: Nadeshiko and the others take it easy, nearly forgetting that they still need to be rescued, while Stroud will either set about creating a signal for escape or craft transportation to facilitate an exit out of the area. In spite of this, the methods that are seen in Yuru Camp△ is largely consistent with the basics that Stroud recommends in Survivorman. It is important to note that while assessment, shelter-building and finding food is common sense in a survival situation, the aspects that Yuru Camp△ excels in depicting are the subtleties: from notions of morale, to the incredible rush of finding food, Yuru Camp△ captures highly realistic responses amongst the characters, which really gives the sense that Yuru Camp△ could be seen as another take on Survivorman.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • I open with an apology: my last post on Harukana Receive was a bit of a tirade about people acting like they know more than they actually do. So, to make up for that, this post will deal with none of that. Featuring thirty screenshots, I will delve into the latest Yuru Camp△ OVA and bring some fun to the table. Ena outwardly does not seem to be wealthy, and the only indicator otherwise was that her father bought her a four hundred dollar sleeping bag so she could camp with her friends in Yuru Camp△ proper, but this OVA seems to suggest otherwise: the girls are on a private jet here en route to Australia. However, when the plane suffers from an unknown problem, Chiaki immediately bails out, prompting the others to follow.

  • The pilot is a rather comical fellow, speaking English, but the girls’ reactions to the plane’s malfunctions are even more over-the-top. Evidently, none of Chiaki, Rin, Nadeshiko, Aoi or Ena have read Patrick Smith’s Cockpit Confidential, an excellent book that explains all of the withertos and why-fors of air travel (specifically, that some “big deals” for passengers are routine for pilots). With his wit and approachable manner, Smith’s book provides insight into why air travel is the way it is and is a reassuring companion for anyone who dislikes air travel.

  • Shortly after their landing, Aoi discovers that she has no cellular signal, and Chiaki concludes that they are on a remote, uninhabited island. This is the proper depiction of a desert island: comical portrays show such islands as being only a few metres across, with a single palm tree and just enough room for two people. This particular visual gag originated in the 1930s and became quite popular in the late 1950s, a consequence of trying to fit an entire island into a comic panel. The image has since endured. However, such islands physically cannot exist: islands in the Pacific are part of atolls and belong to chains of islands.

  • While the others managed to make it to the ground, Rin finds herself stuck in a tree. When Nadeshiko and the others find her, they are immensely relieved. The process of getting Rin down is never shown, although from the height seen in this image, it should be clear that extricating Rin is probably not an easy feat. Nadeshiko’s crying is absolutely adorable, and one of Yuru Camp△‘s most distinct features is being able to capture the almost child-like innocence of youth while simultaneously providing a solid series on camping.

  • The first order of business is setting up shelter to provide cover from the elements. In Survivorman, Les Stroud mentions that tropical islands may have a large rodent or insect population, standing in contrast of the paradise image that such islands typically conjure, and so, having ground coverings or something to elevate one above the ground becomes important in a shelter. For Yuru Camp△, we can suppose that such hazards are not present, allowing the girls to put a simple lean-to shelter together to cover them from the tropical sun.

  • Both Nadeshiko and Chiako become a little loopy from the lack of food. On some of his more difficult survival challenges, Stroud has minimal food, and the impact on his psyche is immense, equaling the physical fatigue. The act of finding food is an energy expenditure, and is very frustrating to come up empty-handed. In some episodes, a lack of food also impacts Stroud’s ability to clearly communicate to audiences what he’s doing: during one survival challenge in the Colorado Rockies, Stroud begins swearing after messing up his sentences, before saying that his goal now is simply to get some food energy before continuing.

  • In almost all episodes of Survivorman, Stroud emphasises the importance of having a good fishing tackle in one’s kit. Having the right equipment allows one to catch fish for survival, and in many of his experiences, from his time in the Colorado Rockies, to the South Pacific and Baffin Island, having fishing lines has proven critical to helping Stroud survive. In Baffin Island, for instance, a narwhal corralled Arctic Char closer to the shore, allowing Stroud to catch four fish back-to-back.

  • While Rin focuses on fishing and is initially unsuccessful, Chiaki and Nadeshiko make to gather wild edibles. Ena and Aoi gather firewood. Unlike Stroud, who does many of his Survivorman episodes alone or with one other companion, Rin and the others are together, which makes possible the division of labour. Yuru Camp△ also removes the necessity of having to haul sixty pounds of camera gear around, allowing the girls to focus entirely on survival.

  • When Chiaki and Nadeshiko recover some of their provisions, it turns out that there was a single cup of instant noodles (and perhaps, a bottle of water, since they are able to cook the instant noodles) that the girls provision. By the time the cup reaches Chiaki, it’s nearly empty. She attempts to open a coconut and only gets a limited amount of juice out of it. One of the aspects that Survival Camp did not depict is the acquisition of fresh water; surrounded by ocean, desert islands do not always have a readily-available supply of fresh water for use. However, some islands have a freshwater lens that can be reached by digging a well, and other islands may be large enough to have flowing water, so it stands to reason that there’s freshwater somewhere on the island that the girls are on.

  • As food stores are depleted, the girls wonder about their odds of survival and become gloomy in disposition. Stroud notes that one of the biggest make-or-break factor in survival is the will to live, and as morale fades, so does the desire to continue living. Contributing to this is boredom, which is why in some episodes of Survivorman, where Stroud has a few free moments, he spends it making makeshift items, such as oil lamps or fishing floats that can help him out. Besides occupying his time and giving him focus, crafting things also gives him additional tools for survival.

  • Because Nadeshiko and the others are in a group, however, this confers on the girls an advantage: they can support one another and boost one another’s morale. Watching Ena sleeping peacefully also gives everyone a sense of normalcy: that Ena can rest easily reassures the girls, as well. Aoi mentions that their situation is no different than camping, albeit with less gear and in a place they are not familiar with, giving everyone a second wind and taking their minds off hunger for a moment.

  • The next morning, Rin awakens bright and early to fish. Meanwhile, Chiaki’s found a massive store of bananas somewhere on the island. A member of the musa genus, Bananas are native to tropical Indomalaya and Australia, and are thought to have first been domesticated in Papua New Guinea. Rich in starch, bananas become sweeter as they ripen, and are good sources of potassium. It is my go-to fruit when I’m in a hurry.

  • One of my biggest questions is how Chiaki is able to go bananas finding seedless bananas: in commercially-available bananas, the seeds are tiny, but in natural bananas, there are large, tough seeds that would prevent the bananas from being eaten as we normally would. This inconsistency is a minor detail I am willing to overlook, since this is a Yuru Camp△ post and not a post on the history of banana cultivation in human civilisation: the fact is that Chiaki has found bananas and this gives the girls renewed energy.

  • Rin, meanwhile, succeeds in catching a very large fish, enough to adequately make a delicious dinner. Different fishes have different flavours and textures, and similarly, different fishes have different nutritional contents, as well. However, in a survival situation, most fishes are an excellent food source, being rich in protein and fat, and survival guides also note that fishing is less energy intensive than setting up traps or going hunting for small game or birds with makeshift weapons. Les Stroud would say that one should always be mindful of their surroundings and do whatever is necessary: proactive survival is how one gets through difficult situations, and just because one has fish does not mean they can’t continue finding alternative food sources, as well.

  • With Rin’s catch, the finding of suitable coconuts and a steady supply of bananas on the island means that food’s been taken care of. The process of cleaning out the fish is likewise skipped over in Yuru Camp△ because it’s a bit of a bloody operation, and Survivorman has a disclaimer saying that gutting a fish might not be suitable for all audiences. In a survival situation, almost all parts of the fish can be eaten, including the heart and liver. The intestines, on the other hand, should be discarded or recycled as bait.

  • Because Chiaki received the short end of the stick earlier, I’d figured that I’d have a screenshot of her taking a bite of fish and savouring the moment. Nadeshiko suggests using the banana leaves to cook the fish in, and it’s shown that the girls managed to find some coconuts with more edible components than they previously had. At different stages, coconuts may provide oil and meat that both can be consumed. Rich in carbohydrates, fats and proteins, coconut meat is also high in manganese, zinc and iron.

  • The last time I saw people eating fish by night on a beach in a survival situation was in the Costa Rica, where Stroud survives on a coastal beach. Here, he uses a deliberately broken ballpoint pen and fashions a makeshift spear that he uses to catch a fish. Cooking it and enjoying it under moonlight, Stroud remarks that one of the hazards he faces while preparing fresh meat and fish for consumption is that the smell of blood can attract predators to his location. Yuru Camp△ again abstracts out this element, allowing the girls to enjoy their dinner in peace without imminent threat from sharks.

  • After their fish dinner, the girls decide to cook some bananas over the fire, and end up with a melt-in-your-mouth dessert that is delicious beyond words. Chiaki is elated that her bananas are delicious and fashions herself a Pacific-style dress, dancing about joyfully. While grass skirts are long associated with Hawaiian culture, they originate from the Gilbert Islands and Samoa, being brought to Hawaii by immigrants. The banana crown and staff are a bit excessive, and are likely present in Yuru Camp△ to indicate the girls’ carefree approach to all things.

  • Nadeshiko is seen here holding a frisbee made from banana leaves, attesting to their versatility. Besides their applications in cooking (banana leaves leave food with a slightly sweet flavour), their resilient, flexible, waterproof structure means they can be fashioned into a variety of things, including roofing materials and plates. Natural materials are often well-suited for human constructs; being able to use the environment so well (and communicating what works to future generations) is what allowed people to inhabit every part of the world.

  • Early trailers for the Yuru Camp△ OVA portrayed Chiaki, Aoi, Rin, Nadeshiko and Ena running around in swimwear on a tropical island, leading folks to wonder if fanservice was going to be a major component of the OVA. However, with the OVA in the books, it’s quite clear that Yuru Camp△ has no intent of going down that route. Consider that the well-endowed Aoi is wearing a shirt, and so, despite the opportunity for animators to draw in viewers, their choice not to signifies that Yuru Camp△ is very much about camping, not unnecessary fanservice.

  • In Yuru Camp△, the fanservice is largely confined to the variety that viewers find enjoyable; besides a high attention to detail, Yuru Camp△ also presents various environments beautifully. Here, Nadeshiko swims underwater adjacent to corals, with reef fishes visible in both the foreground and background. Although I cannot readily identify the fish in the foreground, it is clear that these are coral reef fishes; these fish are characterised by a flat body, which is evolved for maneuverability and sharp turns among corals.

  • The imagery seen in Survival Camp’s latter half is what most people think of whenever tropical islands are mentioned, being warm paradises fitting to live on. However, as Les Stroud constantly mentions, beautiful settings often hide danger underneath. Tropical islands may be surrounded by shark-infested waters, or else lack a good water source. Intense sunlight can quickly lead to a heat stroke, and food may be scarce.

  • Of course, strict adherence to realism makes for a much less interesting work of fiction. This fiction presents sound in space, fireball explosions and uncommonly distinct gunfire noises. Similarly, had Yuru Camp△ elected to go with a completely realistic approach, the series would not have the same appeal that it did: Yuru Camp△ is realistic to a reasonable extent, but is completely authentic. In fiction, authenticity refers to how faithfully things create (or recreate) an environment, design or feel for something, while realism is how faithfully behaviours, conditions and situations are. Works can be authentic without being realistic, and for the most part, an authentic and unrealistic work would typically be very enjoyable.

  • Yuru Camp△ is a series that is very authentic and largely realistic, which contributes to its entertainment value. The OVA is a lot less realistic, but being an OVA offers writers some creative freedoms that end up giving viewers twelve minutes of fun. Here, Chiaki displays a hitherto unknown skill in surfing, riding a wave on a piece of driftwood as a makeshift board.

  • Enough time has passed for the girls to craft comfortable beach chairs for themselves. Here, they begin playing Shiritori, a word game where players form the next word using the previous word’s kana. It’s frequently seen in anime and requires at least two players. Players can only use nouns, and using ん or repeating a word results in an instant loss. More sophisticated versions of the game involve using specific subsets of words or kana patterns, and the most similar equivalent in English is called “word chain”. Variations of this game also exist, and it’s typically used as a teaching tool.

  • Amidst the warm tropical weather, Ena’s fallen asleep again. What was a survival situation has turned into a very laid-back camping trip for the girls, and it is perhaps this reason that high school girls are more able to create a highly relaxing atmosphere in an anime version of SurvivormanSurvivorman episodes can be a bit stressful to watch, especially when Les Stroud finds himself in difficult situations brought on by weather conditions, wildlife or bad luck.

  • As tempting as a tropical paradise would be for a vacation spot, and as much as I enjoyed Cancún’s unparalleled weather and waters, I find that my ideal vacation spot would be the West Coast Rainforests and Inside Passage of British Columbia, coastal Alaska, or the Fjords of Norway. There’s a charm about coastal mountains, and having visited Alaska some fifteen years previously, I would love for an opportunity to go back.

  • When the girls realise that they’ve been stuck on the desert island for some time, they immediately make to get help, leading to the scene seen in the episode’s beginning where Nadeshiko, Aoi, Rin and Chiaki are running through the forest, seemingly in a panic, for some unknown destination. The ending of the OVA makes it clear that the girls are trying to be rescued, and so, after sprinting to the island’s outcrop, where Rin had been fishing earlier, they shout out in an adorable manner for help.

  • The incidental music is intended to remind audiences, who remain unconvinced otherwise, that they are supposed to find this moment funny and pitiful, as well. The English seen in Survival Camp is passable, and while I know that folks may criticise Engrish (a phenomenon where a lack of familiarity causes a speaker or writer to butcher English, often in hilarious ways), the fact is that people should be commended for trying to use a language they aren’t familiar with. For instance, I have great respect when people try to speak Cantonese when they are learning it.

  • The episode closes by zooming out and revealing that Nadeshiko and the others are located quite close to Mount Fuji, suggesting the island is located in the Sagami-nada Sea. Given the proximity of the coast, and the shape of the island, I would guess that the desert island of Yuru Camp△ is modelled after Hatsushima, which is located six kilometers off the coast of Japan and in real life, is home to around 215 people, a resort and no volcanic mountain. From the air, at around the same angle the island of Yuru Camp△ is shown in, Mount Fuji is indeed visible. This brings my talk on Yuru Camp△’s third OVA to a close, and not a moment too soon: it would turn out there’s another closed alpha for Battlefield V starting later today.

Survival Camp’s runtime, at twelve minutes, might be shorter than that of a standard episode, but nonetheless manages to fully occupy its runtime with the high-energy, adorable antics and adventures that Rin, Nadeshiko, Chiaki, Aoi and Ena find themselves in while on a tropical island. The premise of ditching a plane and landing on an tropical island within visual sight of Mount Fuji is a little whacky, and the OVA’s place in Yuru Camp△ proper is difficult to pinpoint, but none of these elements seem so relevant when audiences see the girls doing their best to survive in their own way, all the while making the most of the moment to have a good time. Yuru Camp△ has long been counted as one of the strongest anime of the Winter 2018 season, and while we’ve had two modestly enjoyable OVAs following a solid finish to the first season, the Survival Camp OVA demonstrates that Yuru Camp△ is a series whose characters and set up are versatile enough such that they can be applied to a variety of situations and settings. That Nadeshiko and the others’ time on the tropical island progresses with equal measure hilarity and adherence to what is realistic shows that the sky is the limit for what OVAs in Yuru Camp△ can be about. Of course, I do not anticipate that C-Station would have the rights to remake Survivorman and switch out Les Stroud for the likes of Nadeshiko, Rin, Chiako, Aoi and Ena, but the fact remains is that clever writing and resourceful use of camping as a premise has allowed for Yuru Camp△ to remain highly engaging. I greatly enjoyed the OVA, and strongly recommend it for everyone who has seen Yuru Camp△ and found it agreeable: given the strong sales of this series, and the fact that the manga is ongoing, a continuation seems very likely, but until then, OVAs such as Survival Camp will be a fine way of extending the fun from watching this series.

Rise of the Red Comet: Mobile Suit Gundam- The Origin Finale Reflection

“We have always held to the hope, the belief, the conviction that there is a better life, a better world, beyond the horizon.” —Franklin D. Roosevelt

Dozle’s fleet retreats after sustaining damage, but the mobile suit groups push into the Revil fleet, inflicting heavy damage on Federation forces. The Black Tri-Stars destroy the Ananke and capture Revil himself, while Char single-handedly destroys several Federation cruisers on his own. The Battle of Loum thus becomes a victory for Zeon, and Zeon prepares to mop up remaining resistance elements in space. While Degwin feels that their objectives have been fulfilled, Giren and Kycilia conspire to continue the conflict, desiring to totally annihilate the Earth Federation. Meanwhile, Dozle gives Char his own battlecruiser, asking him to investigate the Federation’s Project V. Char accepts the assignment and sets about bringing his subordinates up to speed. While on a training exercise, Char runs into a Federation cruiser and boards it, learning that Revil had been freed. He chooses to let Revil go. Amuro later attempts to gain access to his colony’s military section and get an answer to what Gundam is. He meets William Kemp, who discloses nothing and warns him to never speak of the Gundam to anyone. Returning home, Amuro finds that his father’s research has been removed from their home. When the Antarctic conference begins, Revil makes a live speech on the state of Zeon, encouraging his men to continue fighting and enraging Degwin, who asks Garma to crush the Federation forces. Sayla Mass prepares to transfer to Side 7, away from the conflict, and the Federation sends out the Pegasus-class assault carrier to take delivery of the RX-78 II, an instrumental weapon against the Zeon mobile suits. This is the scope of what happens in The Origin‘s sixth and final instalment: from here on out, the events of Mobile Suit Gundam begin, and The Origin thus comes to a close a shade more than three years after its first episode was released. Over its run, The Origin‘s primary focus has been on Char Aznable and his rise to prominence, as well as portraying the events that led to the formation of the Zeon and instigation of the One Year War.

By the events of Mobile Suit Gundam, Zeon had already been established as a fanatical, war-warmongering group spurred on by the Zabi family: The Origin explains how things reached this state and in doing so, humanises Zeon to some extent, similarly to how Gundam Unicorn had blurred the lines between justice and evil. Zeon had not been born of a desire to eliminate Earth-born humans, but rather, to establish an independent government in space for their people and promote exploration of what would later be referred to as the continued evolution of humanity. After Zeon zum Deikun’s death, Degwin Zabi’s rise to power and his subsequent actions with the Zeon armed forces suggests that his intentions had been to make it clear to the Federation that Zeon should not be treated lightly. Throughout The Origin‘s finale, he is presented as being moderate compared to Gihren and Kycilia; having felt that their goals have been accomplished, he arranges for Revil’s release such that peace negotiations can begin. Degwin’s disgust for Gihren’s blood-lust is apparent in the finale: he openly compares Gihren to Hitler and Napoleon. The complex dynamics within the Zabi family show that even here, there is a divide as to what the proper course of action for Zeon is. However, when Revil publicly proclaims his intentions to continue the war, Degwin is shocked and immediately renounces Revil, ordering Garma to smash the Federation despite his own desire to end the conflict. The complexity of war is a central theme to most Gundam works (save spin-offs like Build Fighters, which deal with sportsmanship and craftsmanship): within the dialogue, characters wonder openly if it is in our nature to fight, as well as whether or not humanity can ever be free of war. There is no easy question, and The Origin shows that once a conflict has started, it can be very difficult to stop things from spiralling out of control: much as how the world was dragged into two World Wars within the past century, once things reached a tipping point in the Universal Century, bloodshed became unavoidable, with the only inevitability of war being that suffering and loss results.

The horrors and futility of war notwithstanding, The Origin‘s other focus is on Char Aznable. While a fearsome pilot, Char’s ultimate traits are his charisma: he has a powerful ability to inspire and also deceive those around him depending on his intentions. Char’s subordinates respect him, while his superiors place their faith in his ability; he is trusted and wears his roles well as a leader and pilot. Seeing Char wield these while outside of a mobile suit show that he’s also a terrifying individual to be around. The combination of these attributes make him the perfect foil for the more selfless Amuro Ray — The Origin can be seen as showing the milestones in Char’s life that set him apart from Amuro. Merciless and utterly focused on achieving his goals, Char only fights for himself and stands in stark contrast to Amuro, who, over the course of Mobile Suit Gundam, comes to fight for those around him and in the process, mature as an individual. Because The Origin offers additional insight into how Char came to be, seeing the endpoints for both Char and Amuro’s journey throughout the Universal Century suggest that one’s worldviews are deeply influenced by their own motivations and raison d’être — those who fight for others, for a selfless reason will continue to fight for the hope of a better future, whereas those who fight for themselves end up losing sight of what their goals are and succumb to despair, as Char does by the events of Char’s Counterattack. Watching the two clash provides a powerful visual metaphor for the conflict between two opposites, and this dichotomy, vividly portrayed within The Origin, is why the Char-Amuro rivalry remains such an enduring one.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Despite a delay of two and a half months from the original release date for this finale, the wait between episodes four and five for The Origin still remains longer by around a half-month. There’s quite a bit that happens in The Origin‘s finale, and as such, I’ve chosen to extend the post by ten images for a total of forty. We pick up where we left off last time, with Char flying into the heart of the Revil fleet with weapons at the ready. I open with the note that the fight depicted in The Origin‘s finale deviates considerably from what was seen in the first episode: Char sorties with a bazooka rather than an anti-ship rifle here, and while originally flying into combat with wingmen Slender and Denim, The Origin revises him to flying into the enemy fleet on his own.

  • Befitting of the finale, the space combat is fierce and vividly animated: the Battle of Loum far surpassed anything of Gundam Unicorn in terms of scale, and here, Tianem smashes through Dozle’s forces. The Federation initially believe themselves at an advantage – the Magellan-class ships are more heavily armed and have a higher broadside capacity compared to the Musai-class (a maximum of fourteen mega-particle shots per broadside against the latter’s six), and with their initial defeat of Dozle’s forces, victory seems straightforwards. Broadside mass is not the singular determinant of superiority in naval combat, especially considering that different factors, such as projectile energy and fire control accuracy, also impact a battleship’s effectiveness, as well.

  • As the engagement continues, Admiral Tianem loses the position of Dozel’s fleet. In order to facilitate the unique space combat of the Universal Century, writers imparted unique properties into Minovsky Particles to justify the necessity of close range combat and the ineffectiveness of long-range sensor arrays in space combat, as well as the presence of mobile suits. In the absence of this limitation, capital ships exchanging fire from a distance would be the norm, and doctrine would center around tactical manoeuvres and fire control, similar to battleship combat during the Second World War.

  • Degwin and Garma watch the Battle of Loum unfold in a cruiser on the front lines. Garma’s inexperience is mirrored here, when he begins panicking as Zeon forces begin folding under the Federation bombardment. Garma’s great weakness is a thirst to prove himself, and this comes into conflict with his inexperience.

  • Dozle’s gambit to smash into the Revil fleet unexpected is successful, catching the Federation forces completely off guard. The page quote for this talk is another line from Franklin D. Roosevelt: sourced from his Address on Hemisphere Defense in Dayton, Ohio on October 12, 1940, this speech was made more than a year before the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbour and referred to the European conflicts, as well as the Japanese conquests of Asia at the time. While the Americans were reluctant to enter the Second World War at this time, Roosevelt was planning to build up his Arsenal of Democracy with the aim of assisting Allied forces in Europe and Asia. With the attack of Pearl Harbour, Roosevelt formally declared war on the Axis nations.

  • Dozle’s fleet reappears amidst the Revil fleet, and at extreme close ranges, they deal serious damage to Federation vessels. It is here that I am more impressed with both Musai and Magellan class ships: they do not explode in one salvo and it takes sustained fire to damage them. This brings to mind situations in other Gundam series where some large vessels could be destroyed in a few shots. Gundam 00 was notorious for this: during both seasons, the Virginia-class explode immediately after being hit, and the 00 Gundam was capable of destroying the Federation’s Baikal-class cruisers in one shot. This is probably meant to accentuate how powerful Gundams in general are, similar to how military hardware is useless against extraterrestrial forces in other films.

  • The vast differences in how Federation and Zeon ships are designed is meant to remind viewers that different environments result in radically different capital ship designs. Zeon forces have more skeletal ships, a consequence of their need to maximise the number of ships built given a finite amount of resources, and also to reduce their profile in combat engagements. By comparison, Federation vessels resemble ocean-going vessels given modifications to operate in space. These larger vessels can carry more firepower but ultimately present a larger profile for enemies to shoot at, as well.

  • While Char sorties with only a bazooka, one of the Black Tri-Stars utilises an anti-ship rifle during the Battle of Loum. This high-powered weapon distinctly has an anti-materiel role and resembles the M39 EMR, albeit one sporting a distinct muzzle brake. It’s been seen with a fast firing rate for a weapon of its size and appears to fulfill the equivalent of a designated marksman weapon. The anti-ship rifle that comes with Char’s Zaku II High Grade model is apparently large enough to be comfortably wielded in the hands of a Master Grade and feels more akin to a mobile suit-sized Barrett Light Fifty.

  • Details such as using rocket motors to provide additional cutting power are incorporated into The Origin: here, the Black Tri-Stars finish off the Ananke. While the finale’s portrayal of the Battle of Loum differs from what was seen in The Origin‘s first episode, the general order of events are the same, with Char racing onto the battlefield and the other mobile suit forces following suit. With only space fighters and anti-air defenses available to them, Federation capital ships are completely outmatched, becoming little more than sitting ducks for the agile mobile suits.

  • Char destroys a Federation space fighter with a well-placed kick, and earlier, fighters launch very similarly as one might see fighters taking off from the deck of an aircraft carrier. The Origin is similar to Gundam Unicorn in the presentation of details – from things like operation of various switches to change a mobile suit’s configuration to the loading of ordinance into chambers for firing, The Origin is very similar to a Tom Clancy novel, depicting even minor elements to show that everything has an engineered, mechanical nature to remind audiences that even among the horrors that arise from war, the incredible engineering that goes into the design of war machines mirrors humanity’s great capacity for inventiveness.

  • Ultimately, however, Gundam intends to show its viewers that impressive engineering notwithstanding, war is fought by people, and that the impacts of warfare on people are very real. Tom Clancy holds a similar belief: his portrayal of competent HUMINT and individual soldiers are meant to show that at the end of the day, people ultimately make the difference, as well. Back in The Origin, Char earns his moniker, “Red Comet”, during the Battle of Loum, after streaking about the battlefield at three times normal speed, drawing the Black Tri-Star’s attention: they begrudgingly dub him the Red Comet after seeing his exceptional speed.

  • The last time I anticipated writing about The Origin‘s finale, I had just come back from a fantastic steak dinner at a local restaurant, and it was a beautiful spring evening. I was unaware that the finale was unavailable for simulcast, and so, it is nearly two and a half months later that I’ve finally had a chance to watch it. By a curious turn of fate, this coincided with another delicious steak dinner earlier today. Under warm summer skies, I enjoyed a cheesecake in the afternoon, as this time of year is a time of celebration and of excellent food. As afternoon turned to evening, I went to The Keg during their Lobster Summer event, during which they import fresh Atlantic lobsters from the East Coast. I ordered their eight ounce sirloin with half-lobster – their steaks are as good as always, and the freshness in the lobster was apparent. On its own, the lobster meat was tender and lightly sweet, but with clarified butter and a dash of lemon juice, the flavour can only be described as heaven on earth.

  • With naught more than a bazooka and his wits about him, Char eliminates several vessels on his own, firing rounds into specific areas and making use of his heat-hawk to slice open vulnerable areas. While the Black Tri-Stars are savage in their attack, Char is much more pragmatic and conservative with his ammunition, only dealing enough damage to cripple ships and in one instance, carefully targeting a cruiser’s magazines that triggers secondary explosions which subsequently tear a Magellan-class cruiser apart.

  • Kycilia and Gihren discuss the need to continue their war after witnessing the Zeon victory at Loum. Dozle, on the other hand, orders a moment of silence for the fallen in combat in the aftermath of the Battle of Loum. Kycilia is counted as one of the more enigmatic of the Zabis – tasked with handling intelligence, Kycilia resents that Gihren holds more responsibility and power. While demonstrating loyalty to Zeon and the cause, Kycilia also secretly plots a military coup to seize power, and to this end, created her own secret police. Her death comes at Char’s hands years later, when he kills her with a man-portable shoulder-fired rocket launcher in a scene that is counted as one of the greatest headshots of all time in fiction.

  • The likes of Adolf Hitler are rarely mentioned in anime: besides The Origin, the only other time I’ve seen Hitler was in Makoto Shinkai’s 2011 film, Children Who Chase Lost Voices From Deep Below, where the Führer is seen in a tapestry depicting the world’s incursions into Agartha. Gihren’s thirst for blood and conquest here brings to mind the sort of thing that Odin worried seeing in his son, Thor, in Thor – Odin had previously contended with Hela’s lust for destruction and imprisoned her. Fearing that Thor would turn out no better, Odin banished Thor to Earth until such a time when he was ready to return. However, with the turmoil in Zeon, Degwin’s unable to reign in Gihren’s bloodlust, and eventually is reduced to little more than a figurehead.

  • Garma confesses that he feels under-accomplished, asking Dozle to help him transfer to the front lines rather than remain behind as an officier, where he may earn his own stripes and prove himself worthy of his position. Of the Zabi family, Dozle is perhaps the most reasonable – even while dedicated towards Zeon, Dozle cares for those under his command and does not share Gihren’s genocidal tendencies towards the Federation. His daughter, Mineva, would play an important role during the Laplace Conflict of Gundam Unicorn, helping Banagher Links uncover the secret behind Laplace’s Box.

  • At a gala celebrating the Zeon victory at Loum, Gihren gives a speech about his intentions to utterly destroy the Federation. Of the various Gundam universes, I’ve heard that Gundam SEED‘s story was built off the Universal Century, and so, the villains in SEED seem to inherit the worst of Gihren’s traits. By comparison, Gundam 00 is said to have drawn inspiration from Gundam Wing, although by the time Innovation and the ELS come into play, the divergence becomes large enough such that the similarities are superficial. Gundam 00 was the first Gundam series to feature extraterrestrials, and so when I began watching Gundam Unicorn, I thought Unicorn to be much better grounded (at the time, we were only up to episode three).

  • The verbal exchange that Char and Garma have draws stares from onlookers, and here, the contrast between Garma and Char could not be more apparent. Calculating and calm, Char steers Garma into playing right into his hands, infuriating Garma and encouraging him to stick to his path simultaneously. Char’s grudges against his enemies are carefully concealed behind a veneer of charisma, to the point where Char can betray his foes without giving them any indication that they have been had.

  • Degwin and Revil share a conversation after the latter’s capture, where Degwin admits that he has no appetite for warfare. Such conversations are very instructive, and as important to the development of story in Gundam as the combat sequences themselves, as they give insight into how individuals within the Universal Century see things when faced with a fellow human being, rather than when seated behind the cockpit of a mobile suit. The Origin places a bit more weighting on conversations and details than it does the combat sequences, to reiterate that war is more about the humans fighting them, rather than the hardware itself.

  • Kycilia speaks with M’quve, a Zeon commander whom she tasks with heading the negotiations. M’quve has a particular liking for cultural artifacts and is earlier seen stating to a museum curator that his relics are fakes. The scene was reminiscent of a similar moment in Black Panther, when Erik Stevens (birth name N’Jadaka) is browsing at a British museum and informs one of the curators that their Wakandan artefact is made of vibranium, prior to stealing it. Back in The Origin, despite his aristocratic nature and preference for trickery over direct confrontation, M’quve is a devoted Zeon who will step onto the battlefield when necessary.

  • Dozle summons Char for a private discussion on Zeon’s knowledge of Project V, or Project Vinson. This Federation project became known informally as Project Victory, intended to produce the first Federation mobile suit. Much as how the Soviets held the advantage early in the Space Race, Zeon’s advancements with mobile suit technology gave them a significant edge over the Federation. However, with time and the efforts of capable scientists (Wernher von Braun for the United States, and Tem Ray for the Federation), the technology gap would eventually be closed and then surpassed: the RX-78 II was far more sophisticated than any Zeon machine, mirroring how the Saturn V rocket would be the only rocket that brought man to the moon.

  • Dozle assigns Char his own Musai-class ship and staff. While the staff are initially reluctant to wear their roles, feeling that Char is a superior commander, Char makes it clear that he still sees himself as a pilot, first and foremost. His captain’s struggles to lead effectively are the object of humour, but in spite of his initial ineffectiveness, Char (somewhat sardonically) guides him towards leading his men more effectively.

  • During the covert operation to break Revil out of Zeon captivity, Federation soldiers can be seen firing bullpup rifles resembling the modern-day FAMAS, a French service rifle with a distinctly-placed charging handle (visible in this screenshot). Throughout The Origin, real-world weapons can be seen alongside fictional weapons. In earlier episodes, Federation forces are seen using the Colt M72A1, a fictional 4.8mm bullpup rifle. However, the carrying handle and sight assembly seen in earlier episodes differs than the ones seen here, as does the placement of the charging handle.

  • Revil’s escape is revealed to have been an inside job: Federation forces manage to “infiltrate” a Zeon prison and spring him with limited resistance, but this was deliberate so that Zeon had a justification to invade Earth. While a bit of a messily-explained aspect, it is worth noting that the whole of the Universal Century can be inconsistent in places owing to the number different stories, rather similar to how there are contradictions in the Star Wars Expanded Universe as a consequence of the sheer amount of material. Large franchises invariably will pick up inconsistencies as a result of authors not being fully aware of existing materials or else deliberately introducing discontinuity to better suit their narratives: this is the nature of the beast.

  • Char’s crew panics when they find themselves face-to-face with a lone Federation vessel. Ever composed, Char offers the acting captain suggestions. In the English dub, Char is voiced by Keith Silverstein, who had previously performed Full Frontal’s voice in Gundam Unicorn and absolutely nailed the role, presenting Full Frontal as charismatic and focused as Char is. In the original Japanese dub, Shūichi Ikeda repraises his role as Char, having voiced Char in his previous appearances.

  • The Federation officers, after the initial shock wears off, attempt to eliminate Char. This backfires when Char uses his own weapon, a ceremonial-looking rifle resembling a saber, to fire a disabling shot that knocks the sidearm from one of the Federation officer’s hand. Before Char can press forward with his questioning, Revil himself appears on the bridge. In response, Char promptly apologises, wishes Revil safe passage and heads off. When he returns to his allies, he explains to his men that he feels as though he stepped into some sort of political game and has no inclination to interfere.

  • One touch in The Origin I particularly liked was how there are short moments depicting all of the classic Mobile Suit Gundam characters in their lives prior to and a short ways into the One Year War before they become involved with White Base. Mirai Noa (née Yashima) is a pilot for a civilian transportation service by the events of the One Year War, and following the attack on Side 7, she joins the White Base crew. Here, she meets Bright Noa and helms the vessel. From a quiet young woman of a wealthy family, Mirai’s presented as being more confident now, although she’s still susceptible to moments of embarrassment.

  • Amuro’s curiosity about the Gundam project leads him to try and enter the military installation on the far end of Side 7. The guards manning the front post turn him away, but when Amuro mentions the Gundam, they take him in and bring in William Kemp, who warns Amuro to never discuss the Gundam with anyone. In the original Mobile Suit Gundam, Amuro was presented as a skillful mechanic and had an innate understanding of machinery, which, coupled with the RX-78 II’s overwhelming combat performance, allows him to stand toe-to-toe with the likes of Char in combat. The Origin reveals that he studied his father’s work extensively, which would explain his ability to operate the RX-78 II later on.

  • In order to prevent a future leak, military intelligence units pay a visit to the Ray residence and clear out everything related to the Gundam. The Origin ultimately makes several changes to the progression of events in Gundam, but overall, I never found them to be terribly disruptive towards the existing flow of events that I am familiar with. Compared to most folk, I am a freshman when it comes to the Universal Century, having first taken an interest in it through Gundam Unicorn and Char’s Counterattack – my story with Gundam began with 00 back eleven years ago, and I ended up skipping over AGEReconguista in G and Iron-Blooded Orphans, which I personally felt to have deviated from the stories that made the Anno Domini and Universal Century so engaging. In particular, my friends advise against watching Iron-Blooded Orphans because of the series’ excessive focus on drama over meaningful themes.

  • The Antarctic Treaty is so-named because it was signed in Antarctica. A climate-controlled geodesic dome houses a large metropolis, a far cry from the present-day Antarctica that was seen in the likes of A Place Further Than The Universe. The treaty of the Universal Century has nothing to do with the real-world Antarctica Treaty, which was signed in 1959 and bound signatory nations to the terms that the southernmost continent was only to be used for scientific research, and that no country may claim sovereignty over the continent.

  • With instability brewing, Sayla mass is offered a chance to transfer over to Side 7, away from the conflict. This sets in motion the events that lead her to cross paths with Amuro Ray. At this point in time, Side 7 is far removed from the Zeon-Federation war, but once the events of Mobile Suit Gundam begin, Zeon attacks Side 7, and Sayla boards White Base. She eventually becomes the second pilot for the RX-78 II and develops feelings for Amuro.

  • The negotiations begin at Antarctica: they were originally intended to be a discussion of the surrender terms, but when Revil appears and delivers a speech ordering the Federation to continue fighting. While not as memorable as John F. Kennedy’s “We choose to go to the Moon” speech or George S. Patton’s address to the Third Army, Revil’s “Zeon is Exhausted” speech is very well-known in the Gundam community. Realising the condition of Zeon, the Federation regroups, and rejects the surrender terms. The end result is a ban on WMD and colony drops: the Zeons are left with an advantage, as they possess mobile suits.

  • The abruptness and unexpectedness of Revil’s declarations anger Degwin, who had been anticipating a transition to peace once the surrender proceedings had concluded. He orders Garma to crush the Federation, continuing the war. Zeon forces subsequently launch an invasion of Earth itself. The Origin ends with the message that the story continues in Mobile Suit Gundam, and while there have been a handful of depictions concerning the events of the One Year War in other series and games, I would love to see a modernised adaptation of Amuro and his time as the RX-78 II’s pilot.

  • As Revil’s speech is broadcast, it is listened to by many, including Kai Shinden. Here, Fraw Kobayashi (née Bow) frolics in a pond with other children and invites Amuro to join her, but Amuro declines, his mind weighted down by thoughts of the Gundam project. A longtime friend of Amuro’s, Fraw looks after him in The Origin, but he seems unaware of her feelings for him. As the One Year War progresses, Fraw and Amuro grow apart: Fraw eventually marries Hayato Kobayashi. Her fate in the original Mobile Suit Gundam and retelling differ.

  • On board a flight to Side 7, Sayla listens to Revil’s speech. When accosted by some unsavoury men, she manages to cool their advances with little more than a cold glance. Sayla has since reached her aspiration to become a doctor, and despite the dramatic difference between her and Char’s careers, the two siblings share the ability to intimidate with a look. During the One Year War, Sayla searches for her brother and later meets him again, where he explains his desire to avenge their father. The two will cross paths again as the war continues, where Sayla reminds Char of his goals to destroy the Zabi family.

  • While The Origin does not show the Gundam, White Base is shown en route to take delivery of the Gundam following the credits. White Base, officially SCV-70 (although it is known by a few other designators), was commissioned to act as a mobile suit assault-carrier and was capable of independently exiting and entering the Earth’s atmosphere without additional equipment. Besides carrying a maximum of six mobile suits (including the Gundam), White Base also had comparable firepower to a Musai-class. The deployment of White Base is reminiscent of the gradual change in naval warfare doctrine during World War Two: whereas battleships and long-range guns dominated previously, aircraft carriers soon displaced them. This is mirrored in Mobile Suit Gundam, where engagements between mobile suits become the staple of space combat.

  • Seeing the interior of White Base’s bridge in a modern form was superb: the remastered designs are entirely faithful to the original layout as seen in Mobile Suit Gundam. On its inaugural mission, White Base is state-of-the-art and will serve as the home base for the RX-78 II, participating in numerous operations throughout the One Year War until its destruction at the Battle of A Baoa Qu, which would also see the defeat of the Zeon forces. However, unresolved hostilities resulted in Operation Stardust, which saw a second colony drop. The Titans were formed to prevent another Zeon incursion, but the group became worse oppressors than those they sought to stop, resulting in the Gryps Conflict. Zeon itself splintered into factions that sparked the First Neo Zeon War and later, the Laplace Conflict.

  • Bright Noa is one of the most famous commanders in all of Gundam, and in The Origin, his career with the Gundam and their pilots is just beginning: he is an ensign at this point. A dedicated leader, disciplined and forward-thinking, Bright exhibits all of the traits of a capable captain, preferring simple and effective tactics over flash. Best known for his Bright Slap, Bright guides many Gundam pilots throughout his career to follow their own hearts: by the events of Gundam Unicorn, Bright is able to convince Banagher Links to confide in him and follow through on a mission to keep the RX-0 away from the Vist Foundation.

  • With Project V finishing and the Gundam operational, Tem is overjoyed and remarks that he’d made life rather difficult for Amuro. While he might’ve been short with Amuro because of pressure from his research and development, Tem genuinely cares for Amuro. The Gundam’s completion marks a moment of hope for the Federation, and the post-credit scenes in The Origin exude this sense through and through – Gundam marks a point where the Federation finally had a weapon to match the Zeon mobile suits, and hope is kindled. The music in the final scenes accentuates this feeling, as does the positive atmosphere on White Base’s bridge and above all, Tem’s optimism.

  • When The Origin‘s first instalment was shown, it was March of 2015. I was nearly done my second term of my graduate studies, and had supposed that The Origin would be the Gundam series I would watch throughout my Master’s programme, much like how Gundam Unicorn was something that I watched during my undergraduate studies. I predicted that the fourth episode, then assumed to be the finale, would finish by September 2016, which was when I had expected to defend. However, I ended up defending my thesis a full three months earlier, and The Origin had two extra instalments to showcase The Battle of Loum in greater detail. I thus ended up finishing The Origin well after my Master’s thesis: the finale meant that the series wrapped up nearly a year-and-a-half later than expected, but the wait was one that was worth it, as I enjoyed The Origin much more than I thought I would. With The Origin behind us now, I remark that Girls und Panzer: Das Finale‘s second episode also has a known première date now, being set for June 2019. A little extrapolation shows that the sixth episode will likely be available on Blu Ray by September 2025 at the earliest.

The Origin ends up being a solid animated addition to the Universal Century for showing Zeon’s perspective of the war and how the situation became what was seen in Mobile Suit Gundam. In addition, it also solidifies Char’s character, giving more exposition as to what motivates and drives him, as well as what makes him a suited opponent for Amuro Ray. While the artwork and animation in The Origin is not as impressive as what was seen in Gundam Unicorn, it nonetheless remains of a very high standard, capturing the scope and scale of major battles in the Universal Century prior to Mobile Suit Gundam and giving viewers a modernised glimpse into the events that precipitated the formation of Zeon and the One Year War. Through details, from control panels to watching munitions being chambered, The Origin succeeds in presenting the early weapons of the Universal Century was being proper pieces of military hardware rather than cannon fodder. Coupled with its concise narration, the end result of The Origin is a greater understanding of why Zeon undertook the actions that it does, which enriched my appreciation of the story in the Universal Century. Consequently, I would recommend The Origin to folks who are fans of the Universal Century. The Origin is also suited as a gateway into the Universal Century: how the different factions and mobile suits came to be are explained in excellent detail, so those unfamiliar with the first Gundam timeline would be able to see a very succinct presentation of how things come to be. The only real disappointment is that the RX-78 II itself does not appear in a combat role, only appearing in blueprints: anyone looking to see a modernised RX-78 II in The Origin will not find that in The Origin, but beyond this, the solid origin story and modern visuals make The Origin an excellent experience overall.