「ラプラスの亡霊」 (Rapurasu no Bourei)
“The Ghost of Laplace”
I love Universal Century. As much as I enjoyed Gundam 00, Gundam Unicorn reminds me of everything that I loved in the older series and presents it in glorious high definition. The somewhat older yet more realistically proportioned character designs, the upgraded versions of the original mobile suits from the Jegans to the Delta Plus (i.e transformable Hyaku Shiki), and a storyline that expands on everything that’s happened before. The female characters in particular look absolutely gorgeous with their smaller eyes and simpler hairstyles, be it Audrey/Mineva, Marida, or Micott, whereas the plot itself touches upon various aspects of U.C.’s history, changing my very perception of the entire timeline. After watching this episode, I was left with a single resounding thought — this is Gundam.
I wouldn’t necessarily say the story between the Earth Federation and Neo-Zeon (a.k.a. Sleeves) is overly complex, but it does feel rather substantial with the equal portrayal of both sides and no clear indication who the good guys are. There’s also a lot of foreshadowing on what’s to come, from Full Frontal’s analysis of the Unicorn Gundam’s Newtype Destroyer (NT-D) System and Alberto’s contact with his aunt Martha Vist Carbine (Shiota Tomoko) at Augusta Labs. However, therein lie the beauty of Gundam’s depiction of war in space, where main characters like Banagher believe that war is never justified while good people like Daguza Mackle (Touchi Hiroki) and Gilboa Sant (Chou) have their own reasons for fighting. Even the second coming of Char is far too rational and cool-headed to be labeled outright as a villain, as I find myself receptive to both sides’ struggles and concerns for their comrades.
In U.C. series prior, I often felt that the Earth Federation is in the wrong with their oppressive stance towards spacenoids, and it usually wasn’t until the Zeon pulled off something extremely terrorist-like — such as Char dropping Axis on Earth to cause a nuclear winter — was it a lot easier to side with them. In Unicorn, I feel like I’m at a standstill so far, as the characters I currently perceive as the protagonists appear on either side. Mineva and Riddhe are two such characters, since they’re technically betraying their respective sides in hopes of putting a stop to the fighting once Mineva speaks with Riddhe’s father, Ronan. To that end, Micott had a character-defining moment when she decided to let them go, preventing her from becoming one of those adamant Gundam girls who simply can’t be reasoned with.
Then there’s Marida, the twelfth clone of Elpeo Ple — better known as Ple Twelve — who had served under her master Glemy Toto and narrowly escaped death when they rebelled against Haman Khan during the events in Gundam ZZ. What was only hinted at was the life of prostitution Marida was thrown into afterward, which led to her heavily-scarred body and constant abortions until she could no longer bear children. After learning how Suberoa saved her from that miserable life and how she views him as her new master, all I could see her as is a very unfortunate victim of war whom Full Frontal didn’t hesitate to use to draw out Unicorn’s NT-D System. She may be a Cyber-Newtype soldier, but that came off a bit too cold-hearted with Suberoa watching on as she was about to be killed by Banagher.
Luckily, Banagher is showing growth as a Newtype (presumably) by suppressing the NT-D system and reaching an understanding with Marida, much like the evolutionary telepathic ability that resulted from mankind’s migration to space is believed to be for. Whether or not he’ll truly be able to break free from the flames of war is another matter though. Daguza’s death had an unbelievable amount of sentimental impact after he acted like a fatherly figure to Banagher, encouraged him to pursue his heart, and entrusted all his hope in him. Gilboa’s inadvertent death was simply disheartening in comparison, since he had a family to return to and showed concern for Banagher just prior. Their deaths are probably going to weigh heavily on Banagher’s mind, so it’ll be interesting to see if he’ll be able to overcome the feelings of hatred and remorse that have consumed his heart. It’s almost as if the NT-D system thrives on those emotions too, which may bring about the disastrous result from opening Laplace’s Box.
Incidentally, there are still no real indications as to what exactly Laplace’s Box is even as the La+ Program continues to guide Banagher. All I got was an eerie feeling when Unicorn Gundam’s at the Laplace colony’s remains triggered the speech given by Prime Minister Ricardo Marcenas at the beginning of the Universal Century calendar (U.C. 0001), as shown in episode one from Siam Vist’s recollection. Thus far, the series has done an impeccable job building up the mysterious surrounding the box and making me both eager yet apprehensive about learning what it is. After all, it’s a hundred-year-old artifact that no one really understands but the Vist Foundation, yet everyone is unanimously fearful of opening since it can supposedly lead to the destruction of the world. It may as well be called Pandora’s Box if it weren’t for the belief that it can change the world in a positive way.
Due to Martha’s desire to maintain it for the prosperity of the Foundation and her interest in Marida, she could very well be perceived as an antagonist to the story. She’s proven to be a lot more cunning than her nephew Alberto, so much that I found it agreeable for Marida to save him. I’ll reserve further judgement of her character until the black Unicorn Gundam, a.k.a. Banshee, makes its appearance though. I sometimes forget that Banagher and Alberto are half-brothers, meaning that Martha is also his aunt.
The ending theme by CHEMISTRY was like the perfect outro to this episode, which showed a shuttle departing Nahel Argama with Alberto and Marida aboard, and the Garancieres making an atmospheric re-entry going after Full Frontal and Banagher. It also gave a sense of helplessness, alluding to how everyone’s getting swept up in the flow of things.