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Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch from Mercury – Review and Reflection Three Past The Halfway Point

“Technology is nothing. What’s important is that you have a faith in people, that they’re basically good and smart, and if you give them tools, they’ll do wonderful things with them. Tools are just tools. They either work, or they don’t work.” –Steve Jobs

Half a month after the Dawn of Fold’s attack at Plant Quetta, the Benerit Group cover up the incident and life at the Asticassia School of Technology seemingly returns to normal, although Miorine is now absent. Asticassia prepares for an Open House event, and as the Holder, Suletta is duty-bound to participate in a tournament. To Suletta’s great surprise, Norea and Sophie appear; they threaten Nika, only for Suletta to show up and save her. Meanwhile, Shaddiq disobeys orders and plots to destroy the existing system between the Benerit Group and Earth. To save Nika, Suletta challenges Sophie and Norea to a duel. During the exhibition tournament, Sophie and Norea use their own mobile suits to murder several of the participants, and when Suletta intervenes, they blast a hole in the colony wall and forces the combat out into space. Here, the Aerial’s system takes over and disable Sophie’s mobile suit, along with her drones. When Sophie tries to keep fighting, stress on her body ends up killing her. Prospera reveals to Belmoria that Aerial’s unnatural power comes from the fact that her firstborn, Ericht, had her consciousness uploaded into Aerial – the Quiet Zero programme that Prospera had unveiled to Miorine earlier was intended to disrupt the world and usher in new change. Back on Earth, Guel has become a prisoner of war, and Dawn of Fold members prepare to evacuate their base as the Benerit Group commences counter-terrorism operations. Despite having lost most of his motivation, after learning one of the children at the base had also lost her father, Guel decides to save her, but she ends up dying. When Olcott, a former Cathedra soldier, confronts Guel, Guel reveals that he wants to preserve what remains of his father’s memories, and Olcott relents, letting Guel go. Miorine later learns that Quiet Zero had actually been her mother’s brain-child. With The Witch from Mercury‘s second half kicking off in earnest, the latest Gundam instalment has hit the ground running and is beginning to delve into the sorts of topics that are consistent with what Gundam series are able to explore.

Following the attack at Plant Quetta, The Witch from Mercury underwent a dramatic tonal shift. The magical battle school style setting is quickly displaced as the horror and desolation of warfare impacts the students who were present at Quetta; once Sophie and Norea break out their Gundams and use live fire in what would otherwise be a controlled environment, it becomes clear that even at school, there is no escaping the ravages of violence and warfare. Suddenly, all of the things that matter to the students, whether they be studying for exams, participating in extracurricular activities or maintaining one’s social status, become irrelevant – the complexities and adversity present in the real world forcibly present themselves, and this is something that now must force the characters to grow. This is most apparent with Guel, who’s been thrown from his old world and now is filled with a desire to preserve what matters to him, and in Suletta, who’d been quite insulated from what a Gundam can do (during the duels at Asticassia, the Aerial’s weapons have their output reduced). With guidance and support cut out, it does appear that The Witch from Mercury‘s main cast must now make their own decisions and try their own strengths. In Mobile Suit Gundam, Zeon’s attack on Side 7 forced Amuro Ray into the RX-78 II and left Bright Noa the captain of White Base, compelling everyone to grow and repel Zeon’s forces. Similarly, Gundam SEED‘s Kira Yamato was a reluctant pilot to the Strike who stepped up to protect those around him and eventually found his own way to fight without compromising his values. Gundam stories focus on youth as they come to find their own place in the world and decide for themselves what’s worth fighting for; it is through the sum of their actions that one’s identify becomes defined, and Gundam series have always excelled at showing how being put in difficult situations force individuals to grow in ways that duels and navigating social cliqués cannot. With the magical battle school chapter of The Witch from Mercury seemingly over, the hope is that the series will now delve into the aspects that Gundam series are best known for. So far, The Witch from Mercury appears to be trending towards this: with Guel now en route to becoming a new man, and the revelation that the Aerial contains the spirit of Suletta’s sister, it will be curious to see what comes out of Suletta and Miorine’s journey as they strive to push their Gundam away from warfare towards more peaceable applications in medicine and advancement of humanity.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • To very little surprise, when The Witch from Mercury returned to Asticassia, viewers were initially shocked that the series had appeared to brush aside all of the fallout and consequences that followed Planet Quetta: right at the beginning, Suletta is shown as participating in and winning multiple duels as a result of having let requests accumulate in her absence, and for the briefest of moments, I wondered if The Witch from Mercury was going to emphasise the magical battle school elements over what makes Gundam so engaging. This was, fortunately, not the case, and The Witch from Mercury continues to keep the pedal to the metal as more becomes unveiled.

  • For me, the expectation is that any series carrying the Gundam name will necessarily show the interplay between technology and society: the school setting, with its regulations and focus on social interactions, is far too siloed an environment to adequately show these larger themes. Thus, when The Witch from Mercury returns things to Asticassia, there must be a bit of reasoning behind it, and this becomes shown to viewers as the characters in Earth House struggle to come to terms with what happened, and how despite what had occurred, the incident and its following cover-up means that there’s little chance to talk things out.

  • With this in mind, I’ve noticed that a lot of discussions out there are missing the forest for the trees. At both AnimeSuki and Random Curiosity, for instance, people have elected to focus on the implications of what’s happening in The Witch from Mercury at the individual level, such as the Nika’s allegiances or Elan’s intentions. I understand that the characters of any work, Gundam or otherwise, drive the narrative, but at the same time, the precise wording of a conversation isn’t particularly meaningful in a work like Gundam because the characters themselves are only half of the picture. The mobile suits themselves, and the world everything is set in, must also be considered.

  • Hence, trying to pick apart the morality of Dawn of Fold’s methods, or Nika’s allegiances, isn’t particularly meaningful because the situation in The Witch from Mercury exists as a result of the research and development of mobile suits. In order to understand The Witch from Mercury‘s intention as a work, then, one must also factor into account the mobile suits and their performance, as this impacts how the pilots use them. In turn, the pilots’ interactions with both their own machines, and other mobile suits, speak to what a given Gundam series’ goals are. For instance, in Gundam 00, Setsuna treats his mobile suit as the embodiment of peace and achieving an ideal, whereas in Gundam Unicorn, the Gundams are synonymous with possibility.

  • In The Witch from Mercury, the Gundam-types initially represent forbidden technology that Suletta aims to transform into a symbol of hope. Sophie and Norea, on the other hand, see Gundams as devastatingly powerful war machines. The duality of a given technology is a recurring theme in Gundam, mirroring the fact that technology is neither intrinsically good or evil, and that this is dependent on how said technology is used. Here, Sophie and Norea transfer to Asticassia, surprising Suletta and Earth House, ahead of an open house event.

  • For me, I find it quite unnecessary to spend too much time speculating on Nika’s intentions; Gundam series have traditionally revealed the characters’ beliefs, intentions and desires as they progressed, and it’s easier to let the story do the talking. So far, what viewers do know is that Nika is an orphan and was given a chance to enrol at Asticassia, where she was expected to support Shaddiq in his machinations. Shaddiq’s plans seem to be underlying everything that’s unfolding here in The Witch from Mercury, and while it is a tradition to speculate on what might happen, I prefer letting events occur before giving thought to what the story intends to convey.

  • This is why episodic reviews for Gundam are tricky: surprises and plot twists are common, and this renders speculation a difficult exercise. While individual episodes do offer quite a bit to talk about, I find that I can look at a given Gundam work’s themes best once all of the pieces are in play. To put things in perspective, Hathaway’s Flash‘s future directions are not something I’m familiar with, and while I have spoken to my impressions of the first film, my own discussion is limited to what I can see on-screen. Back in The Witch from Mercury, the dynamic between Norea and Sophie resembles Johann and Nena Trinity of Gundam 00, and it was here that I began appreciating the fact that I’ve got some familiarity with other Gundam series.

  • Norea sees Nika as a liability and moves to eliminate her, but Suletta saves her at the last moment, before subsequently challenging Sophie and Norea to a duel. Although duels are a way of life at Asticassia, Gundam series have previously shown that war isn’t fun and games. This clashes with the approach that many magical battle school series out there take. Readers will get the sneaking suspicion that I’m not a fan of that particular genre; this is because the idea of youth wielding extraordinary powers in their navigation of the adolescent social hierarchy comes across as wish-fulfilment and doesn’t show a meaningful journey in how one might overcome their troubles: I’ve certainly never settled my problems with other students through use of a powered exoskeleton or manifested weapons from one’s soul. Conversely, when the magic (or equivalent) is scrapped in favour of real-world activities, the same story can show something much more relatable to viewers.

  • Gundam has never purely been about finding oneself, but instead, weaves this element into the complex interplay between man and machine, as well as society and its challenges. Thus, when characters do grow and find their purpose, they did so as a consequence of their actions, learning through both their successes and failures. I expect that this will happen with Suletta as The Witch from Mercury continues, even as more about the Quiet Zero initiative becomes known. Following the events at Planet Quletta, Miorine’s ditched her studies to look after Delling and continue work on her projects. It’s a clever way of giving her and Suletta some distance for the short term, and this leads me to anticipate that at some point, Miorine and Suletta will need to reunite and reconcile after the former’s shock and horror at the fact Suletta could casually splatter an enemy combatant without batting an eyelash.

  • For me, The Witch from Mercury really earns its stripes when Sophie and Norea enter Asticassia’s open exhibition tournament, but then begin shooting to kill. Norea melts through one of the participants and notches up the first casualty. In an instant, the security and safety of the high school is shattered. The typical magical battle school story never deals with this, so The Witch from Mercury‘s progression acts as a rather creative way of challenging that genre, and how, regardless of one’s social status or skill in an arena, none of those things matter when it’s a fight for survival.

  • To readers, I’ve doubtlessly been remarkably harsh and unfair towards the magical battle school genre; I acknowledge that people do enjoy these series, and note that at some point in the future, it may be worthwhile for me to give Infinite Stratos a revisit, as well as see what Chivalry of a Failed Knight is about. Both are notable representatives of the genre, and it is probably time for me to see if my own criticisms of magical battle schools are warranted. For the present, however, since The Witch from Mercury has stepped away from duels and social circles into the realm of Gundam, I’ll leave all of this behind in favour of my usual modus operandi for discussing Gundam series: focusing on the mobile suits and how they figure into things.

  • The Lfrith Ur and Lfrith Thorn are only Gundams in name: although they are exceptionally powerful mobile suits, their usage stands completely contrary to what Gundams are meant to represent. This is a recurring theme in the Universal Century, Gundams are mobile suits derived from the RX-78 II line and eventually came to symbolise hope and possibility, but by the time of Hathaway’s Flash, the Ξ Gundam had become something that Hathaway would operate as his personal machine, tarnishing the Gundam’s original meaning. Similarly, although Setsuna F. Seiei sought to “become Gundam” in 00, his convictions were challenged with the Trinity siblings’ arrival, and this eventually led Setsuna to do some soul searching, whereupon he decides that a Gundam is a mindset, rather than a machine.

  • The Lfrinths’ actions during the exhibition fight was the surest sign that The Witch from Mercury would be stepping away from the magical battle school environment, and while the devastation Sophie and Norea wrought here leaves major consequences on the students and attendees, it’s also a powerful show of how once conflict arrives, there is no turning back. For the express purpose of destruction, Sophie’s Ur has brought some unmanned drones with her. Although Sophie describes them as GUND-bits, they don’t operate like traditional bits or funnels in the sense that they can’t dock to the Ur and likely have their own power supply.

  • Whenever other universes are mentioned, the classic question that inevitably comes up is how Suletta’s Aerial Rebuild compares to other Gundams. In The Witch from Mercury thus far, the Aerial hasn’t had much of a chance to really shine in combat, since all of its battles were in duels. The Aerial Rebuild has built in thrusters and an improved weapon, so it’s more mobile and hits harder than its original form. Beyond this, Suletta has yet to use the machine the same way more combat-seasoned pilots do. Overall, I would suppose that, ignoring pilot ability, the Aerial Rebuild is probably similar to the 00 Gundam or ν Gundam in relative performance – although lacking a GN Drive, the Aerial’s GUND Format is comparable to the ν Gundam’s psychoframe.

  • After Sophie and Norea blast a hole in the colony walls and forces the fight outside, the Aerial activates a system not unlike the Unicorn’s NT-D, taking control of Sophie’s GUND-bits the same way Banagher had done against the Kshatriya. Amidst the fighting, Sophie reveals her raison d’être here – having been deprived of a normal life, all she wanted was to do the things people of her age had done, and to this end, she’s willing to fight for it. Such a moment, however short it was, gives insight into the wealth gap that exists in The Witch from Mercury. Assuming this to be the case, The Witch from Mercury still has yet to show why there is such a rift between Earthians and Spacians, as it is only implied that Spacians and the Benerit Group may have profited at the expense of those on Earth.

  • Sarius had ended up as the acting head of the Benerit Group after Delling was attacked, and with this, Shaddiq’s plan finally comes into motion; he kidnaps Sarius amidst the chaos, calling upon members of the Grassley House to assist him. Shaddiq had initially appeared to be the well-liked member of the Grassley House with uncommon business acumen, but has proven himself to be a master manipulator who, like Gilbert Durandal and Char Aznable, counts on his charisma to create situations that are conducive towards his plans. It is admittedly unusual to see students being willing participants in Sarius’ kidnapping, at least until I recall Gundam: The Origin, where Char had led a group of Zeon student forces to attack a Federation compound successfully.

  • The Aerial’s power forces Sophie to continue increasing her Permit system until her body is finally overwhelmed, and she dies as a result. The Aerial’s supernatural performance in this battle, and the phenomenon that occurs, is akin to the results of forcing two psychoframe equipped mobile suits together and creating a psychofield. Similarly, it is revealed that Aerial’s internal system actually contains the consciousness of Prospera’s first daughter. This process was likely deliberate, a part of Prospera’s plan to advance the world in a direction favourable for her plans; the same thing had happened to Rita Bernal in Gundam Narrative, but the precise nature of how that happened was never shown.

  • Gundam Narrative had been a sequel of sorts to Gundam Unicorn, and while it shows the fate of the Unicorn line of mobile suits and the psychoframe technology, a conversation with a friend also revealed I missed something fundamental about this story: I originally felt that its story regarding the Unicorn’s future was incomplete, but my best friend, a Gundam expert, suggested that I look at Narrative as a story about learning to find one’s own path amidst adversity, rather than allowing one to be defined by the expectations others have of oneself. This is something Zoltan fails to do, whereas Jona does manage to accomplish this at Narrative‘s end, and with almost five years having now passed since Narrative, I feel that the time is right for me to revisit Narrative.

  • Rita’s consciousness embedded in the Phenix’s psycoframe had given it powers surpassing the supernatural, and when Jona manages to board it, his own feelings allow the Phenix to pull off a miracle equivalent to when Amuro had repelled Axis. While the process was abstracted out so Narrative could tell its story, here in The Witch from Mercury, a little more explanation would serve two purposes: The Witch from Mercury would solidify its world-building and advance its own story further, but at the same time, it may also give a bit of insight into how Rita’s consciousness was transplanted into the Phenix. Gundam series draw inspiration from one another and share similar mechanics, and questions one series may raise can occasionally be answered by another series. As such, I am the sort of Gundam fan who is open to seeing different universes.

  • Earth House’s members subsequently find themselves under arrest for allegedly harbouring a terrorist: after Grassley House outed Nika, the whole of Earth House is suspected of aiding and abetting her. They’re subsequently brought in for questioning, and, having quickly become my favourite of the houses, one cannot help but be concerned for them. This sort of thing would be unheard of in the typical magical battle school setting and is yet another reminder that The Witch from Mercury is a Gundam series, first and foremost.

  • While Sophie insists that the Gundam is a weapon of war, Suletta continues to hold that Gundams can be used to advance humanity. I’m inclined to side with Suletta, since technology is purely dependent on the user, and this is what motivates the page quote. Originating from an interview Steve Jobs had with Rolling Stone Magazine in 1994, Jobs had meant to suggest that people ultimately drive everything, and without people, the technology is nothing. Suletta channels this same spirit: the same GUND Format that Sophie believes to be a destructive tool is something Suletta sees as an instrument of hope. I imagine that in the moment, Ericht’s spirit is reassuring her, and this is what gives Suletta strength to do what she can in the world of the living. Other Gundam fans are likely to disagree with this, as they believe that Suletta will crack from the strain of warfare eventually.

  • The question of what became of Guel is swiftly answered – it turns out the Dawn of Fold captured him, and he’s now being held somewhere on Earth as a prisoner of war. Dawn of Fold suppose that with Guel, they might have a bargaining chip handy. The situation on Earth has only been glimpsed briefly, but from what is shown, it’s apparent that Earth is in dire straits. Although there’s still blue skies, buildings lie crumbling, and the world distinctly resembles the one seen in 86 EIGHTY-SIX: outside of San Magnolia, the world was ruined and slowly being reclaimed by nature. This, I imagine, is the surest sign that there is a massive wealth inequality between Spacians and the Earthians.

  • Shaddiq’s plan turns out to have been motivated by the fact he’s half Earthian, and the idea to dissolve the Benerit Group by redistributing their assets to Earth is his means of taking revenge for what had happened to Earthians. The plan is actually no different than Full Frontal’s plan to create a Side Co-Prosperity Sphere in Gundam Unicorn, in both its simplicity and the consequences that might follow if actually enacted. At this point in time, one might surmise that Shaddiq could be the main antagonist of The Witch from Mercury, but drawing conclusions like these can also be misleading – Lady Prospera and Delling’s programme still remain unknown, and there’s always the possibility that Shaddiq could be allowed to get further so when the time comes, he’s made the scapegoat for whatever follows.

  • In the aftermath of Sophie’s death, the Earthians create a grave for her. The presence of children is meant to reiterate that, despite being terrorists, the Dawn of Fold are still human, and it is moments like these that cast doubt on the fact that the Dawn of Fold are necessarily evil. All sides of a war have their reasons for fighting, and just because the leaders are irrational does not mean the foot soldiers are mindless drones. Gundam has previously sold this idea extremely well, and in humanising the sides of a conflict, viewers are forced to conclude that conflict isn’t as black and white as it prima facie appears.

  • With Benerit Group security forces approaching, the Dawn of Fold prepare to evacuate. While leader Naji manages the evacuating forces, former Cathedra soldier Olcott stays behind with a team, piloting mobile suits to keep Benerit Group forces occupied. Olcott had lost his son following an attack and since then, defected to Dawn of Fold. When Guel hears one of the children demanding to know of his father’s location, the shock and guilt of his own actions come back to him.

  • Unlike the duels of Asticassia, combat between mobile suits outside of a school environment are brutal and gritty. Despite their ambush, Dawn of Fold are quickly beaten back. All of the fighting happens between ground-type mobile suits, and here, they field the HU-45p Prodoros, which is produced by Hanumat Manufacturing Industry. The Prodoros resembles the Zakus of the Universal Century, being limited to physical weapons, and while they do manage to take out a few of the Benerit mobile suits, they are ultimately overwhelmed.

  • Guel’s desire to save one of the children present marks a notable shift in his character: Guel had begun his journey in The Witch from Mercury an arrogant, pompous student who looked down on others, but since Suletta’s arrival, his own ego was thrown into question, and since then, he’s sought to prove himself worthy. However, after the Planet Queletta incident, his losses force him to open his eyes and see beyond his own surroundings; his sense of right and wrong has doubtlessly shifted, and this is one of the reasons why I try not to judge characters until the end of the series, since the events can dramatically alter a character.

  • The physical battles between mobile suits on Earth brought to mind the slow, lumbering combat that occurs between the early mobile suits of the Universal Century and Cosmic Era (Anno Domini’s GN Drives and the fact that the Union and AEU had mobile, transformable suits meant that their fights with the Gundams were still quite swift). Throughout combat, the Benerit suits employ beam rifles to destroy Dawn of Fold’s Prodoros, and one touch that I liked was how, after being shot through the cockpit, the Prodoros crumble to the ground without a catastrophic explosion.

  • Seeing that Guel has found his resolve, Olcott decides to let him go. Guel promises to fight to protect what remains of his father’s legacy, and this will likely bring him on a collision course with his younger brother. One element of The Witch from Mercury I’ve not mentioned until now is the soundtrack – it’s set to release in July, and with four disks, it will retail for 4400 Yen. The incidental music in The Witch From Mercury has range from unremarkable to breathtaking, par the course for a typical Gundam series. Gundam SEED00Unicorn and Origin have excellent soundtracks with iconic pieces, and while The Witch from Mercury doesn’t appear to have a distinct leitmotif for Suletta or the Aerial yet, I imagine that as the Aerial and Suletta is forced to sortie more, viewers will yet have an opportunity to appreciate Takashi Ohmama’s compositions for this series.

  • With Miorine wondering about what Prospera and Delling have in mind, The Witch from Mercury‘s second half has hit its stride. Since The Witch from Mercury still has many of its mysteries unresolved, anticipation mounts regarding what happens next, and I am reminded of the importance of keeping an open mind. Having gotten my start with Gundam 00, and then becoming a fan of both the Universal Century and Cosmic Era, The Witch from Mercury initially felt far removed from what made Gundam enjoyable for me. However, as the series progressed, hints of something bigger have begun manifesting, capturing my interest, and I am hoping that The Witch from Mercury will stick its landing. On this note, I do feel that I’ve not given Iron-Blooded Orphans a fair chance, either, and it will be worthwhile to make my own decision as to whether or not the series earns the praise that the community have given it.

In the past three weeks, discussions surrounding The Witch from Mercury at some venues have quickly devolved into arguments about morality, resulting in cyclic arguments on every topic from Shaddiq’s plans, to whether or not the Dawn of Fold are a sympathetic faction. Although Gundam series always generate interesting conversation, remarks on morality are always counterproductive because what constitutes as ethical varies so widely between different individuals, and moreover, when one’s survival hangs in the balance, many assumptions about the simple nature of right and wrong are lost. However, what makes Gundam series especially noteworthy is the interplay between morality and technology; morality does not exist in a vacuum, and in The Witch from Mercury, the most important questions to ask lie precisely with the matter that is Quiet Zero. So far, Prospera has revealed that her first daughter, Ericht, was uploaded into the Aerial, similarly to how Rita’s consciousness became a part of the Phenix in Gundam Narrative. The complex interplay between consciousness and machine, in both cases, results in a machine of supernatural performance, and Gundam Narrative had suggested that, because such technology is far above humanity’s comprehension, it is dangerous to use it. This is because the implications are not fully understood, and as such, emerging technologies should not be used until humanity matures enough to handle things safely (i.e. for the betterment of one another rather than one another’s expense). The Witch from Mercury has laid the foundations for a similar conversation, although the distinction here is that, since the setting and characters are different, there’s an opportunity now to see if it’s possible to reach a different conversation. Hints that humans can learn and grow, to an extent where they can be trusted with emerging technologies, are present in The Witch from Mercury: Suletta insists that Gundams can be machines for helping, rather than harming, and even after she witnesses Sophie’s death on the battlefield, she continues to hold that Gundams aren’t necessarily instruments of death and that new technologies can be used to advance humans as a whole. Previous Gundam series had their lead machines become symbols of hope, and in particular, Gundam 00 had shown how the extraordinary power conferred by a GN drive could ultimately be used to expand humanity’s understanding. If The Witch from Mercury goes down this route, the series could very well provide an answer to the question that the Universal Century raised and suggest, through the GUND Format, that the psychoframe technology is something that humanity could have mastered and safely wielded if the concept had been further explored, in turn showing how, even if emergent technologies can be abused, humanity can mature to make use of its advances in a productive manner.

Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch from Mercury – A Reflection After The First Half

“What would you do if you know you could not fail?” –Eleanor Roosevelt

As Suletta settles in to life at the Asticassia School of Technology, she continues to try and fill her list of things she’d like to do. Suletta eventually befriends Earth House, and after making a name for herself upon defeating both Guel Jeturk and Elan Ceres with the Aerial. The Aerial’s performance eventually catches notice of the Benerit Group, who move to confiscate the Aerial owing to its status as an illegal Gundam. Miorine ends up making a bold proposal during the Incubation Party – to form a company with the aim of purposing the GUND Format for safer applications. Lady Prospera makes an appearance, and while Miorine ends up securing funding for such a company from her father, Prospera informs Suletta that Aerial is technically a Gundam. Miorine kicks her company, Gund-Arm Incorporated, off, and determines that medical applications of the GUND Format will most likely succeed – she’s discovered that this is what the technology had originally been used for, and remaining faithful to the original applications would allow the public to learn the benefits of the GUND Format prior to its usage in military systems. Although Gund-Arm Inc. is successful in building their prototype, Suletta becomes distant when she begins to feel that Miorine is ignoring her. Meanwhile, Shaddiq’s interest in the Aerial leads him to try and duel for it: Suletta and Earth House manage to beat him, but in the aftermath, Shaddiq contacts an Earth-based terror group, Dawn of Fold, to assassinate Delling after learning that Vim and Sarius intend to take over the Benerit Group. In order to demo their prototype to stakeholders, Earth House and Miorine head over to Plant Quetta in order to pick up the Aerial, and along the way, Miorine and Suletta reconcile. However, Dawn of Fold choose this as the location and time to execute their attack. Delling is gravely injured in the process, Guel accidentally kills Vim, who had sortied to fend off Dawn of Fold, and ultimately, Suletta ends up fighting Dawn of Fold’s Gundams before the defensive fleet arrives, forcing Dawn of Fold to retreat. Suletta ends up locating Miorine, killing a lone terrorist in the process and frightening Miorine. This is where The Witch from Mercury sits after its first half has concluded – while the series had initially given the impression that it would be a Gundam series with elements from Revolutionary Girl Utena, which similarly had an emphasis on the “battle high school” elements, the moment Dawn of Fold appear and strike at Plant Quetta, it becomes apparent that The Witch from Mercury is decisively Gundam as concepts of right and wrong, the nature of warfare and the dangers of new technologies swiftly return.

The use of Utena elements in The Witch from Mercury is a particularly innovative means of storytelling: for most of The Witch from Mercury‘s first half, traditional elements associated with the “battle high school” genre are seen, with youth slugging it out in arenas while enjoying their halcyon days and jousting for dominance both within their cliques and for social supremacy. Discussions for these sorts of shows gravitate towards analysing character traits and interpersonal dynamics as people strive to figure out how duels and story progression may unfold based on how characters act around others, and their internal thoughts. However, all of this falls away once Dawn of Fold begin their attack; this has far-reaching consequences on the remainder of The Witch from Mercury and reiterate the idea that reality is dramatically different than the environment that schools provide their students with. This is where The Witch from Mercury‘s genius is – up until now, Miorine’s world had been defined by a rocky relationship with her father, and a chance to earn his approval through Gund-Arm Inc. Guel had similarly wanted to maintain his status and restore his honour through duels, and Suletta herself yearns for a fun-filled life with classmates. Disagreements between students are settled in a structured and relatively safe manner, and students are more concerned with things typical of youth, whether it be coursework or social status. However, in reality, all of these assumptions evaporate; schools abstract out many of the difficulties in reality to instruct on a concept, and while one may perform well in a classroom or arena, reality is different because it will introduce situations where there are multiple, often conflicting variables. In The Witch from Mercury, for instance, duels at the Asticassia School of Technology are initiated by pilots who know one another, and battles end when the v-fin on an opponent’s mobile suit is destroyed. In actual combat, the only rule is to survive. Enemy combatants won’t have a full-fledged knowledge of one another’s capabilities, and instinct matters as much as skill and one’s machine. All notions of honour and fairness quickly disappear; while in a duel, pilots don’t aim for their opponents’ cockpits, a live combat situation demands one must be prepared to shoot to kill. Suletta seems to adapt quickly to this, allowing her to save Miorine in the final moments to The Witch from Mercury‘s first half, but at the same time, Miorine, being completely unaccustomed to the harshness of reality (and the fact that had Suletta not acted, she and Delling would be corpses), panics in response to Suletta’s actions. By having a terror attack force Suletta’s hand, viewers are reminded of the fact that the real world isn’t as black and white as textbooks make things out to be, and similarly, Guel’s accidentally slaying Vim in combat following a misunderstanding shows how things won’t always be cut and dried. In this way, The Witch from Mercury shows that there is a dramatic difference between school and real life. In the latter, the horrors of warfare leave none unscathed, and that extraordinary situations may demand people act in ways they wouldn’t otherwise consider. Similarly, one’s identity and beliefs matter little once the bullets and beams start flying – who one believes themselves to be is irrelevant next to how one acts; the choices that on Suletta, Miorine and the others make will will doubtlessly have far-reaching consequences as The Witch from Mercury enters its second half, and excitement mounts to see what exactly goes down now.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Before delving any further into this post, I will remark that I had been following The Witch from Mercury with regularity since its airing, even if I haven’t otherwise been writing about it. Gundam series are inherently difficult to write for in an episodic fashion because episodes only show more pivotal moments, and it is the sum of narrative progression over several episodes where one begins gaining an idea of what a given series aims to convey. Here in The Witch from Mercury, the first half is almost entirely set at school and apparently deals with business, with a side of duels.

  • However, in the first half’s final moments, The Witch from Mercury completely blows away everything from earlier and sets the expectations for what’s possible. Admittedly, the use of war machines in settling what are otherwise petty squabbles between students felt immature, a waste of the vast potential behind mobile suits, and in particular, Gundams. Here, Suletta fights Guel, who’s rocking the MD-0064 Darilbalde from Jeturk Industries. These mobile suits seem to emphasise close-quarters combat, and the Darilbalde comes equipped with an AI that helps a pilot react to changing situations on the battlefield.

  • I found that the duels in The Witch from Mercury limits the show’s ability to showcase a mobile suit’s combat capability – students might be going all-out in a duel, but parameters are turned down so pilots don’t vapourise one another or damage their school grounds. In this way, seeing the result of a duel, while impactful for the students, don’t give viewers an accurate look at what the mobile suits can really do, or the greater implications of one’s actions. The Witch from Mercury is not impressive in its earlier episodes for this reason, but on the flipside, the reason why the mobile suits are given less emphasis is to give the characters more shine time. Suletta initially feels like the most unlikely Gundam pilot with smiles and mannerisms more befitting of the lead character in a slice-of-life anime, but this also endears her to viewers.

  • The first bit of The Witch from Mercury also gives viewers a glimpse of the discrimination and mutual dislike between Earthians and Spacians (basically the Earthnoids and Spacenoids from the Universal Century). Among the students, this sort of dislike manifests as sabotage of other student’s work, disparaging comments and the like. Miorine tends to take the high road and avoids involving herself in these things – she prefers to focus on her garden, and while other Spacians make life difficult for the Earthians, she handles things with maturity; during one drill, she continues to walk Suletta through things until the latter passes in spite of some other students’ actions.

  • For now, I’ve not bothered learning all of the different factions that exist at Asticassia School of Technology, and instead, I’m mainly interested in Earth House because they represent Earthians, whereas the remaining students are Spacians. Because the conflict between these two groups define Gundam series (such as the Universal Century’s Spacenoids and Earthnoids, or Cosmic Era’s Coordinators and Naturals), seeing how the conflict is portrayed gives insight into how extensive conflicts are. In the environment of a school, things seem restricted to bullying, but later down the line, news clips also show that the divide is much more severe than The Witch from Mercury initially shows.

  • The Aerial’s performance, a product of the GUND Format, is prohibited technology, and from what The Witch from Mercury has shown viewers so far, it allows for the mind to interface with hardware more readily. In practise, the Permet System is most similar to the Pyschoframe from the Universal Century with one important caveat – it only converts thoughts into motion and cannot otherwise create extraordinary phenomenon. Use of the Psychoframe in Gundam Unicorn and Gundam Narrative had made it so that mobile suits could perform otherworldly feats, such as travelling at speeds faster than that of light, and even turning time back.

  • With the GUND format, it would appear that here in The Witch from Mercury, the definition of a Gundam-type machine is that any mobile suit capable of using the GUND format is counted as such. Suletta had spent most of the series convinced that the Aerial was not a Gundam and that she just was attunemed to its systems. The definition of what makes a Gundam varies from series to series: Universal Century Gundams are powerful mobile suits with a special kind of armour that make them quite resilient to damage, and in the Cosmic Era, Gundams have a special OS. On the other hand, Anno Domini’s Gundams are equipped with GN Drives, which offer nearly limitless energy.

  • Gundam-type mobile suits in The Witch from Mercury are especially powerful because they allow pilots to run remote weapons, but duels have shown that mobile suits also equip counters for them. Peil Technologies’ FP/A-77 Gundam Pharact uses the same technology as the Aerial, and some mobile suits have jammers that prevent the GUND format from working. This renders the mobile suits balanced against one another, a sharp contrast with how Gundam 00 had presented its lead machines. The GN Drives in Anno Domini were said to be up to twenty years more advanced than anything the rest of the world had, and for the first half of Gundam 00‘s first season, Celestial Being carried out armed interventions without any resistance.

  • On the other hand, Gundam SEED had Gundams be constrained by their battery life, which forced pilots to use them strategically. Kira had to work within the Strike’s operational time until he became responsible enough of a pilot to utilise the Freedom, whose internal reactor gave it a limitless operational time and increased performance over conventional mobile suits. In every Gundam series, the mobile suits themselves speak to the pilot’s intentions and aims. The Freedom represents Kira’s maturation as a pilot and gives him the power he needs to fight on his terms, while in Gundam 00, the Gundams symbolise a tool for opening a path to the future. Here in The Witch from Mercury, Suletta’s Aerial appears to represent family and protecting what’s important to oneself.

  • With this being said, it’s still a little early to say if this holds true, but what is known is that Suletta has a perfect record with the Aerial. When Elan decides to challenge Suletta to a duel, he does so with the aim of securing the Aerial for Peil Technologies to study. The corporations of The Witch from Mercury are competitors even though the operate under the Benerit Group, and this is what motivates corporations to use any means necessary to gain the leg up. Having had limited social interactions, Suletta assumes that Elan wants to be friends with her, and while she makes an admirable attempt to do so, corporate interference means that the Elan Suletta knows ends up being discarded.

  • The “profits ahead of everything” mindset in The Witch from Mercury is a criticism of contemporary views on capitalism: companies out there have increasingly put profit over all else. What’s seen in The Witch from Mercury might be an exaggeration, but it does speak to how such a world can rapidly devolve if corporations are allowed to operate outside regulation and government oversight – pursuit of quarterly growth means that people are inevitably sacrificed. Elan’s fate is a tragedy in this sense; the relative seamlessness of his replacement by another iteration speaks to how little regard there is for his well-being, and Suletta’s efforts come up to naught.

  • While a majority of the community seems to be quite interested in the possibility for a yuri relationship here in The Witch from Mercury, I’ve chosen to skate over this because for me, the core of any Gundam series is the complex interplay between man and machine. How the Gundams are used, and how their pilots respond to warfare inevitably drive the story, and while romance plays an ancillary role in how characters may act in a given moment, the type of relationship doesn’t matter. Instead, other elements in The Witch from Mercury take centre stage, and I find these aspects to be significantly more noteworthy.

  • During a start-up gala, Miorine ends up making a proposal to both show up her father and save Suletta’s Gundam: given the Cathedra Agreement’s terms, a weapon that kills its operators is unfit for use, and the Gundams have done this. However, Miorine demands that the underlying technology be investigated further before it should be dismissed, and to this end, she suggests the Gund-Arm Inc as a company for proving that the GUND Format is safe to use. Surprisingly, Delling ends up acting as an angel investor, and his actions give the other investors confidence to follow suit, giving Miorine 240 billion dollars of starting capital.

  • In the aftermath, Lady Prospera congratulates Miorine and clarifies that the Aerial is in fact, a Gundam. I’ve never actually seen a Gundam series deal with start-ups before, so this was actually a refreshing approach to the story. For the next few months, Miorine sets about trying to prove her concept, and upon reviewing enough videos, learns that the GUND format was actually once intended for use in medicine. Because medicine is the study of human health and healing, it is universally regarded as a benevolent field, and associated discoveries always draw interest in their applications.

  • The early days of Gund-Arm Inc. brings to mind the humble beginnings that start-ups usually go through, reminding me of when I had worked for my first startup. The excitement is real, and Miorine’s natural talent for leadership means that under her, the Earth House members begin trying to figure out what their value proposition will be in earnest. However, Shaddiq develops an interest in Gund-Arm, believing the Benerit Group will benefit from the study of the GUND Format. His efforts to take control of the company fails thanks to Miorine’s iron resolve, and Shaddiq eventually resorts to altering school regulations in classic Utena-style student council meddling to shut things down with the hopes that Miorine will transfer everything to him to keep Gund-Arm alive.

  • I’d been worried that The Witch from Mercury would derive more elements from Utena than Gundam when things started out. Utena is counted as a classic for its surreal imagery and encouraging themes: viewers agree that Utena is about accepting one’s identity and learning how to deal with internal conflict. Although well-suited for describing a youth’s journey of self-discovery, Gundam‘s dealings with the real world beyond school means that Utena‘s themes are better suited as a starting point here in The Witch from Mercury. Since Gundam series have long shown how people change and respond to drastic things like warfare, characters are usually thrown onto the battlefield and pushed into a situation that draws out their best (or worst).

  • While it is important to find and accept oneself, and a school environment is oftentimes suited for this because it abstracts out many complexities of reality, what matters in life beyond school is how one acts, and what motivates one’s choice. The Witch from Mercury therefore has the chance to build upon this and separate itself from Utena: I would argue that one does not truly understand themselves until they’ve been put in a situation where they’re compelled to make a difficult decision using their existing experiences and whatever knowledge and facts are available to them. The arena, being a contained environment, simply cannot offer this, and so, even when Shaddiq challenges Miorine to a six-on-six duel for Gund-Arm Inc., the stakes aren’t too high for this reason (and I remark that having people comment on the course of a battle diminishes the weight behind the combatant’s actions).

  • Shaddiq himself wants Gund-Arm, but his lackeys from Grassley House only seek to prove their superiority to Earth House. Conversely, Earth House, Miorine and Suletta are fighting to protect that which is dear to them, and in their arrogance, Grassley’s pilots underestimate Earth House. Even though Suletta is eventually boxed into a corner, a well-placed shot from Chuatury brings the match to a close. The outcome of this duel was never in the question because at this point in The Witch from Mercury, Gund-Arm Inc. hasn’t even built anything of note yet, so the story must proceed in a way as to allow for some tension as the company gets further along with its development.

  • Of all the groups at the Asticassia School of Technology, I am most fond of Earth House because Chuatury, Nika and the others feel the most authentic, down-to-earth, standing in contrast with the arrogant and conceited members from the other, wealthier houses. In past Gundam series, whether or not viewers aligned themselves with the Earthnoids or Spacenoids depended greatly on the series. I found that in the Universal Century, the EFSF are more sympathetic than Zeon, and similarly, ZAFT was easier to root for than LOGOS. In Gundam 00, however, it’s Celestial Being versus the world, so rooting for Setsuna and his team of Gundam Meisters was the obvious choice. Of course, in classic Gundam fashion, not all Earthians are agreeable, and not all of the Spacians are arrogant in The Witch from Mercury.

  • The prosthetic legs that Gund-Arm Inc. develop under Miorine’s leadership is a solid prototype that shows that the concept of using the GUND Format is viable, and during a test run, Suletta proves that their first draft is able to secure various medical certifications. Unlike Theranos’ Edison machines, Gund-Arm Inc. actually has a prototype that Miorine is willing to show to authorities; while Miorine briefly gave off Elizabeth Holmes vibes early in Gund-Arm Inc.’s history, the gap between Gund-Arm Inc. and Thernaos is massive: Miorine isn’t motivated by anything beyond a desire to show the Gundam as a safe, legal technology and stick it to Delling. However, with a good team in her corner, progress is made within the space of two months.

  • Suletta is, for the lack of a better word, adorable – she’s unlike Gundam pilots that come before her. Previous Gundam pilots have varied greatly: Amuro Ray and Kira Yamato both were civilians who eventually accepted their duty and found a way to fight for what mattered without inflicting wanton destruction, and Setsuna F. Seiei came to realise that there was more to his life than being a soldier. However, each of these earlier characters took time to become the pilots they’re best known as, and it is appropriate to give Suletta this same opportunity. With this being said, Suletta’s resemblance to the average military moé protagonist is what makes her unique, and one hopes that the battlefield won’t change her into a Heero Yuy or Setsuna F. Seiei.

  • As The Witch from Mercury progressed, I got the distinct feeling that Delling, despite his Darwinist viewpoints and cold treatment of Miorine, was someone who is distant with his daughter because of something that happened in his past. He acknowledges Miorine’s successes and indicates that as long as she can continue to maintain her course, he’ll keep backing Gund-Arm Inc. The Gundam wikia at present lists him as the main antagonist of The Witch from Mercury, but traditionally, Gundam series have always introduced the actual antagonists later on – Gundam 00, for instance, didn’t unveil Ribbons Almark as the true antagonist until the final episode of the first season. After Alejandro Corner is defeated, Ribbons comments on how everything’s fallen into place and that he’ll inherit the world Ribbons created.

  • I imagine that the real antagonist will be made known in due course, and if anything, I feel that Grassley could be the real foe: following his own failures, Shaddiq hires a group of Earth-based terrorists with the aim of shaking things up and securing his own position amongst the Benerit Group. Shaddiq is motivated by a desire to prove himself, and the constant power struggle amongst members of the Benerit Group means that greed could be a motivating factor. Of course, with how Gundam series unfold, I expect to be surprised as things unfold. Here, members of the Dawn of Fold discuss their latest assignment, which sets in motion The Witch from Mercury‘s rising action: as soon as Dawn of Fold are introduced, The Witch from Mercury finally begins to feel like a full-fledged Gundam series.

  • On paper, multiple sparring corporations had the potential to create some complex conflicts and provide writers with a chance to portray the dangers of unregulated capitalism, as well as corporate interference with democratic systems. While this is a topic that is often ignored, the Universal Century’s Anaheim Electronics and Luio & Co. both played instrumental roles in supplying arms and armour to both the EFSF and Zeon alike, as well as engineering under-the-table deals to provide both sides with increasingly lethal weapons with the aim of prolonging the conflict between the Federation and Spacenoids for maximum profits.

  • The Benerit Group and its internal conflicts would have represented a great way of showing another side to things, and in The Witch from Mercury, glimpses into these elements are shown from time to time. However, most of the first half was devoted to building up the characters, and over the course ten episodes, Suletta and Miorine both receive solid development to establish their traits. Suletta is still quite unsure of herself, and after a full episode of miscommunication, Miorine finally confronts Suletta and reassures her that she matters. Once the character growth is firmly established, The Witch from Mercury can finally step towards that which makes Gundam so enjoyable.

  • The halfway point of a given Gundam series is when things tend to get exciting: in Gundam SEED, the Archangel suddenly find themselves under fire from both the Earth Alliance and ZAFT after arriving in Alaska, while in Gundam 00, the world lures Celestial Being into the Taklamakan Desert in a massive operation to capture their Gundams, which in turn led to the Throne Gundams appearing. Here The Witch from Mercury, once Dawn of Fold appear, they bring the Lfrith Ur and Thorn to the party. These Gundams are based off the Lfrith, which was developed into the Aerial, and far outstrip any of the mobile suits that Jeturk and Peil produce.

  • Dawn of Fold’s Gundam pilots, Sophie Pulone and Norea Du Noc, are polar opposites in temperament. Sophie is brash and impulsive, while Norea is more reserved and focused. Despite differing personalities, the pair get along well enough, even if Sophie’s nature occasionally jeopardises missions. I imagine Sophie and Norea’s names are references to Gundam 00: Sophie’s family name is similar to the GNY-004 Plutone, predecessor to the GN-005 Virtue, and Norea’s name might be a callback to Sumeragi Lee Noriega, Celestial Being’s tactician and the de facto captain of the Ptolemios. Once Norea and Sophie start firing on Plant Quetta, prompting an evacuation.

  • While evacuating, Miorine runs into Delling; she’s surprised he’s here, and even more so when he asks her to accompany them. With this, The Witch from Mercury suddenly begins to feel a great deal like Gundam Unicorn: in the first episode, during a transfer to hand off Laplace’s Box and the Unicorn Gundam, the Sleeves (Zeon Remnants) attempt to infiltrate and capture the Gundam for themselves. Students find themselves among the carnage, and like Gundam Unicorn, The Witch from Mercury also portrays the belligerent forces as dealing collateral damage to their surroundings.

  • Earth House’s response to the unexpected incident is a natural one, and everyone wonders if they’ll make it out, especially as the Dawn of Fold Gundams begin firing on the docks. Norea makes to neutralise all of the vessels present, but at the last second, notices a light signal from one of the ships. It turns out Nika was able to transmit something that saves them, and the implications of this are that she knows something about Dawn of Fold. Beyond this, viewers will have to wait for The Witch from Mercury‘s second half to learn more.

  • Meanwhile, both Vim and Guel have sortied with the aim of taking out Dawn of Fold’s other machines. Unbeknownst to each other, they end up clashing when assuming the other is a hostile, and Guel inadvertently kills Vim. There is a degree of dramatic irony in this scene, and viewers are now reminded of the fact that in warfare, many things cease to matter. Guel had spent much of The Witch from Mercury as the punching bag, losing status and prestige after Suletta had defeated him. All of this feels trivial now; while Guel probably disliked Vim to some extent, no part of him had wished for this outcome.

  • Female pilots that aren’t sound of mind are a longstanding element in Gundam series – from Louise Halevy and Quess Paraya, to Nena Trinity and Stella Loussier, the Gundam franchise is littered with pilots that deserve pity more than dislike. In this knowledge, I have a feeling that Sophie probably has a background that contributed to her becoming the person she is presently. Sophie has the same temperament as Nena, but in terms of story, is doing what Marida Cruz had done at the beginning of Gundam Unicorn.

  • Dawn of Fold fighters enter Plant Quetta’s interior and prepare to slaughter all in their path, but Lady Prospera guns them down, saving Suletta in the process. She explains that in this moment, acting allows her to save Suletta. The line “gain one by running away, gain two by stepping forward” is reiterated at several points in The Witch from Mercury, and this mindset is ultimately what led me to suggest that The Witch from Mercury is building on top of elements from Utena: knowing yourself is only the stepping stone, and it is ultimately how one acts that defines them. Suletta has always thought about this line, and even when frightened or confused, tries to act with the aim of bettering her current situation.

  • Much as how Banagher uses the Unicorn after Cardeas Vist entrusts the Gundam to him before perishing, encouraged by her mother’s words, Suletta sorties in the Aerial. The entire sequence was a homage to Banagher’s first sortie as the Unicorn’s pilot: after activating the Unicorn, he uses it to drive the Kshatriya out of Industrial Seven. In The Witch from Mercury, Suletta uses the Aerial to push the Ur out of Plant Quetta. Out in space, the two Gundams separate and clash with their beam sabres, similarly to how the Unicorn draws its swords after the NT-D kicks in.

  • The fact that Dawn of Fold have access to Gundams brought to mind Hathaway’s Flash; traditionally, a Gundam is a mobile suit that comes to represent something more than just warfare, and so, when terrorist factions gain access to them, this sullies the notion of what a Gundam is meant to symbolise. Looking back, both Gundam SEED and Gundam 00 had done this: Cosmic Era Gundams are any mobile suit with a special kind of OS, while in Anno Domini, Gundam-types possess a GN Drive and a specific head design. The mobile suits thus become secondary to the beliefs that their pilots hold, and indeed, this was a secondary story in 00: once the world begins to gain access to GN Drives, Setsuna must re-evaluate what Gundam means to him.

  • With this as precedence, what Suletta ends up doing as the Aerial’s pilot will shape its image and legacy within The Witch from Mercury: while the arena-style duels haven’t been able to convey this, throwing Suletta and the Aerial onto the battlefield will. One aspect I’ve not yet covered in my discussion too deeply is the Aerial itself. So far, Suletta has had a pretty solid performance with it, and looking at the Aerial’s GUND Format and GUND Bits, it feels decidedly like a combination of the 00 Qan[T] and its Sword Bits from Gundam 00: Awakening of the Trailblazer, which could assemble into a large sword, with a plausible version of the RX-0 Unicorn Gundam’s psycoframe, and as a result of the GUND Bits being able to configure themselves into a rifle or shield, the Aerial has the GAT-X105 Strike’s versatility.

  • This combination of functionality makes the Aerial a contender, and in discussions where fans compare what different Gundams can do, I would hold that the Aerial is an excellent suit capable of performing well both against individually powerful units and groups of mass production units from other universes (in fact, it would probably give even the 00 Raiser and Freedom some trouble). To keep things balanced, The Witch From Mercury has jammers for the GUND Format, and this means that as a pilot, Suletta would have room to improve and maximise what she can do with the Aerial. Here, after Suletta uses her GUND bits to form a powerful rifle and forces both the Ur and Thorn to make distance, Plant Quetta’s defensive fleet finally arrives, forcing Dawn of Fold to retreat.

  • Although Delling is still alive as far as Dawn of Fold can tell, a single terrorist manages to survive. Before he can do any damage to the already-injured Delling, Suletta arrives and pulverises him with the Aerial, turning a former human being into a pile of blood, flesh and bone. In the aftermath, Suletta is all smiles, since she’s just rescued Miorine, but all Miorine sees is a blood-splattered Suletta. Graphic violence is not foreign to Gundam, speaking to the horrors of warfare; Gundam SEED had shown in vivid detail what happened when people were hit with the Cyclops System and GENESIS weapon, while Cucuruz Doan’s Island had Amuro trample a Black Tri-Star pilot with the RX-78 II.

  • In the case of Cucuruz Doan’s Island, Amuro’s expression had been one of regret and revulsion – he clearly did not wish to kill the Black Tri-Star pilot, but the moment had demanded it. Suletta, on the other hand, sees things quite differently, a consequence of realising that saving Miorine is more important than trying to sort out the terrorist with a non-lethal approach. The community’s been quite divided as to whether or not this moment breaks Suletta’s character. On my end, I find that it’s appropriate because an indecisive Gundam pilot tends to be ineffective; Gundam series often portray a pilot who’s reluctant to fight, but once they find their resolve, they go on to contribute towards protecting what is dear to them. Here at The Witch from Mercury‘s halfway point, my main remarks are that the series has laid down the groundwork for what could be an excellent series.

  • If The Witch from Mercury decides to focus on warfare and its implications in the context of corporations and their actions, this series will meet expectations and be enjoyable. If the series wishes to return to the school environment and fall back on exploring identity over actions and their consequences, The Witch from Mercury will become a disappointment. Innovation and trying to tell a story in a different way is an admirable pursuit, but in a given story, what makes for a worthwhile experience is whether or not something can leave viewers with a definitive message to walk away with. For the present, my thoughts on The Witch from Mercury‘s first half draw to a close. The second half is set to continue in April, and I’ll be following this one with interest. While the break does break the momentum up (Gundam series typically ramps things up after its halfway point), it also gives viewers a chance to pause and reflect on what’s happening.

  • I’ll admit that writing this post was difficult: The Witch from Mercury is quite unconventional in its execution, and while things were quite slow to start, once the series hits its stride, it has its moments. It took me some time to figure out which topics The Witch from Mercury were the most noteworthy, and this is why my thoughts on the series comes out nearly a month after the first half concluded. I remark that not everyone is going to agree with how I approach things or the conclusions I reach, but at the same time, I’m also not going to agree with the notion that using a Revolutionary Girl Utena setup in Gundam makes the series more revolutionary, either. A revolutionary Gundam series explores the implications of technology, warfare and society in different ways, and here in The Witch from Mercury, the corporate piece, coupled with how novel technology is presented, is what’s innovative and in turn, holding my interest.

With The Witch from Mercury raising the stakes, elements from past Gundam series return. Gundam has always raised the question of whether or not taking a life is justified, and different Gundam series handle things differently. Gundam SEED, for instance, has Kira learning how to shoot precisely enough to take an enemy pilot out of the fight without harming them, and in Mobile Suit Gundam, Amuro reluctantly accepts that taking a life is a necessary evil in war. He shoots to kill where needed but otherwise doesn’t go out of his way to kill his foes. Similarly, Celestial Being’s Gundam Meisters typically aim to disable rather than kill unless circumstances force them to do so otherwise. The gap between right and wrong is a narrow one, and over the years, Gundam series suggest that the answer to this question is situational. At the same time, the series also reminds viewers that passing judgement may not always be feasible: although Suletta probably will have a difficult time explaining things to Miorine once The Witch from Mercury resumes, the fact is that the blurring boundaries between right and wrong, and making decisions that are consistent with one’s beliefs will be a core part of this Gundam series, as it has with previous instalments. Learning to set aside one’s judgement of others, and instead, focusing on doing what one can, is a core part of the Gundam franchise. Although The Witch from Mercury is slower than its predecessors to reach this point, the fact that the series is beginning to step up and expose both Suletta and Miorine to the horrors and desolation of warfare means that the second half is going to be an interesting journey to follow. Beyond stepping into the realm of what makes Gundam stories so engaging, The Witch from Mercury also has begun to hint at how mobile suit combat looks. Until Dawn of Fold’s appearance, the arena environment greatly limited what the mobile suits in this universe could do, but outside of the constraints that is school, viewers are given a chance to see what mobile suits can do. The combat sequences outside of the duels are of a respectable quality, and as the conflict extends well beyond the boundaries of Asticassia School of Technology, optimism for thrilling, well-animated mobile suit combat scenes is not misplaced. Changes to anime production in the present means that viewers won’t be continuing with things until the spring, and while this may dampen some of the momentum the first half had built up, if The Witch from Mercury can present a meaningful message about how there is merit in doing what one can by learning and adapting to the moment (versus clinging to things like the past, social status and the like), the series will make for an excellent addition to the Gundam franchise. At this point in time, however, it’s anybody’s guess as to how things will unfold, and this means that entering The Witch from Mercury‘s second half, one will need to enter with an open mind.

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

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

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

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

Screenshots and Commentary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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