Gundam Unicorn – 04
「重力の井戸の底で」 (Juuryoku no Ido no Soko de)
“At the Bottom of the Gravity Well”
The eight-month-long wait for the fourth episode of Gundam Unicorn has been a grueling one, but it was well worth it. The movie-like production quality of this six-part OVA series hasn’t disappointed yet, nor has the complex and intricate story involving the search for the lucrative Laplace’s Box, during which Banagher tries to break the cycle of hatred between the Earth Federation and the Zeon. To that end, there was plenty of action to go around from a myriad of old mobile suits — some dating back to the One Year War of the original Mobile Suit Gundam — but surprisingly, it was the exposition that caught my attention the most.
I have a new-found appreciation for good exposition thanks to Fate/Zero this season, so I was fascinated by the in-depth dialogue in Gundam Unicorn that reflected upon mankind’s migration to space and the mistakes they’ve made as a species. Some of the best reflection came from Mineva’s talk with the old diner owner (Mori Katsuji), who wasn’t aware that she’s the last surviving member of the Zabi family and heir to the Principality of Zeon. It was an open-ended discussion about our humanity, and a very depressing one at that since there are no simple answers to a war that’s dragged out for so long. Their conversation left with me a real sense of hopelessness and sadness, because there they were, an Earthling and a Spacenoid, talking over a cup of coffee and reaching a mutual understand of the mistakes mankind’s made — and continues to make — but are helpless to do anything about it. It also made me feel sorry for Mineva, because she should be in a position to put an end to the fighting, but continues to be used by both sides as a political figurehead in their ongoing conflict. She doesn’t expect any sympathy though, which is why I absolutely love her character. She didn’t outright reject Riddhe’s feelings, even after learning that his father Ronan (Ogawa Shinji) intends to leverage her pedigree to prevent the opening of Laplace’s Box, making her a perfect example of the powerful female heroines that have graced this franchise, and one of the best to roll around in anime altogether in recent years.
Naturally, Banagher provides the other half of the exposition after descending to Earth with the Garencieres Team. As suspected, the deaths of Daguza and Gilboa weigh heavily on his conscience and serve as the driving factor behind his desire to stop the needless fighting. His interactions with Captain Suberoa Zinnerman (Tezuka Hideaki) and Flaste Schole (Koyama Rikiya) in the desert were character-defining, as they opened Banaher’s eyes to the same suffering experienced on the Zeon side but didn’t sway him from his neutral stance. That wasn’t all that unexpected given the balanced portrayal of both sides up until now, but their conversations did reiterate the sadness expressed from Mineva’s talk and further depicted the war in a tragic light. That in turn made the attack on Torrington by the Earth Zeon Remnants from all over disheartening to watch, especially since the dated mobile suits made it feel like a throwback to the beginnings of the war. However, it definitely set the mood the story was going for, as well as the stage for Banagher to feel powerless to save a single person despite how hard he tries. The pain of loss is an all-too-familiar theme for UC Gundam pilots, so it’s not all that surprising that Banahger isn’t exempt from it.
That’s not to say I didn’t feel bad for him, as his desire to save Loni Garvey (Ise Mariya) — daughter of the late chairman of Garvey Enterprises, Mahdi Garvey — wasn’t out of feelings of love, but simply from not wanting to see the senseless fighting take another victim. It was surprising to see the focus of this episode shift to a newly-introduced character and her commander Yonem Kirks (Ishizuka Unshou), who quickly displaced the attention on both Full Frontal and the search for Laplace’s Box, but boy did it leave an impact with the mobile armor Shamblo’s similarities to the Psyco Gundam and other units that take advantage of Cyber Newtypes with their Psycommu system. I really got my hopes up when Banagher refused to fire, so I can’t help but hate Riddhe a little for pulling the trigger right when Loni came to her senses. I couldn’t help but sense some disappointment in Suberoa either, who deep-down inside, was probably hoping Banagher would prove him wrong and free him from the hatred in his own heart. Their back-and-forth jostling on the Garencieres’ bridge made it pretty clear that Suberoa knew Banagher was right, but was simply in denial since he’s too caught up in the flames of war to escape them. Flaste’s refusal to help spoke volumes about how he thought so too (though I did have to question the vicious stomping Banagher delivered). There tends to be a lot of lecturing to superiors in Gundam series, but that had to be one of the most convincing I can recall.
As for some other developments, the sight of the Ra Cailum and the “Captain of all Gundam Captains”, Bright Noa (Narita Ken, replacing Suzuoki Hirotaka), instantly brought back memories of Char’s Counterattack, whereas the picture of Amuro Ray on the wall (in glorious HD) took me all way back to when I was a kid. That sense of nostalgia kind of overshadowed Ronan’s personal request to Bright to retrieve or destroy Unicorn so that the Marcenas can maintain their prestige as “caretakers” of Laplace’s Box. At the moment, that kind of pits the Earth Federation against Anaheim Electronics, due to Martha’s insistence in obtaining the box for herself. Her nephew and Banagher’s half-brother Alberto will be someone to watch for, as brainwashing Marida, a.k.a. Ple Twelve, into piloting Unicorn Banshee is clearly weighing on his conscience, seeing as she saved his life. I can see him redeeming himself later on and freeing Marida, but I don’t anticipate he’ll betray his aunt altogether. Anyway, I didn’t really mind the cliffhanger this episode left off on, as there was plenty of other things that I needed time to soak up. It was quite an episode when I consider the bigger Universal Century picture.
ED4: 「B-Bird」 by earthmind
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