「ファーデーンの光と影」 (Faadiin no Hikari to Kage)
“The Light and Shadow of Fardain”
I’ve seen some quick Gundam deliveries when they’re catapulted from a launch pad, but they pale in comparison to the instantaneous speed that Vargas can deliver a unit on the back of a truck. While I’d like to believe that more time passed than the thirty-odd seconds shown, there really wasn’t much to suggest that it did. If I had to nitpick about something, it would be that and the shortly-after-disembarking explosion of Fardain underground resident Iwark Bria’s (Nomura Kenji) construction mobile suit — two overly convenient developments in an otherwise good episode that continues to establish the Advanced Generation (A.G.) timeline.
More specifically, we finally learn some details about the Colony Nation Wars that took place prior to the Silver Chalice Treaty (Gin no Hai Jouyaku 「銀の杯条約」). At war with one another were the Zalam Union and Euba Alliance, which unlike the wars in the Universal Century timeline, doesn’t appear to be a conflict that stems from a division between Earthlings and Spacenoids. Decades of fighting before the start of the story were already mentioned in the official Gundam AGE synopsis — something I sort of alluded to in the Fall 2011 Preview — so it doesn’t come as too much of a surprise that it would come up at some point. What I do find noteworthy is how the Silver Chalice Treaty involved the disarmament of mobile suits and other weapons of war, which probably explains why there’s such a disparity between the Earth Federation’s technology and the UE’s. It could also explain why the military isn’t all that experienced compared to those seen in other Gundam series, as there hasn’t been an actual war for generations. The technology is dated and the military personnel are likely trained during times of peace — a combination that doesn’t bode well for “external” threats.
Incidentally, this revelation does continue to support the idea that the UE are attacking to force mankind to further their arms development. It’s been seven years since they first appeared and destroyed Colony Angel, so if the UE were really intent on annihilating mankind, it’s probably safe to assume that they could’ve easily done it by now. The fact that they haven’t and continue to only harass mankind in small numbers suggests that they have an ulterior motive in mind. Quite honestly, I like the idea that the UE are from the future to prepare mankind for an upcoming threat, because it borrows ideas from our own history, where some of the fastest technological advances happened during times of war. The need for them becomes the difference between life or death, much like we’ve seen already.
As for some concrete developments, the most significant was undoubtedly Grodek’s backstory. He never once gave off an antagonist-like vibe despite all his insubordination, but I’m still wary of his desire to rid the world of the UE by any means necessary for killing his wife and child. While there’s been plenty foreshadowing to suggest that he lost some loved ones to the UE, as well as further implication here that he joined the military just for the opportunity to fight the UE, I can’t shake the feeling that he’s banking most of the success of this operation on Flit’s Gundam. I’m not a huge fan of how the Diva is a renegade ship either, because it’s not packing the same mobile suit firepower as the Archangel, Eternal, or Ptolemaios, which instilled overpowered confidence to take to a battlefield alone. What’s more, Grodek is seeking out the help of a shady weapons dealer, Don Boyage (Miyake Kenta), and plans to take whatever warships and mobile suits he provides him in exchange for classified military information from the Colony Nation War, “Folder EZ7”. Woolf does a little better, using his own connections to get a new suit from Mukured Madorna (Shirokuma Hiroshi) and his wife Lalapearly Madorna (Nagasawa Miki), but it’s still only one extra mobile suit.
Frankly, I have a hard time understanding the rationale behind how this is supposed to take down the stronghold of an enemy who didn’t have a single unit destroyed until Flit’s Gundam was created seven years later. I say Grodek’s plan is suicidal at best, especially now that the UE have adapted to the DODS rifle. I expect the add-on to the Gundam will help turn the tides, transforming it into the bulky red form seen in the opening sequence (i.e. Gundam AGE-1 Titus), but I don’t see that being a part of Grodek’s plan. Anyway, I’ll wait and see how it pans out before I cast judgement on the Diva captain’s actions.