「虹の彼方に」 (Niji no Kanata ni)
“Over the Rainbow”
It’s been quite a journey with Gundam Unicorn–a four year journey in fact–but the seven-part movie-like OVA series finally comes to a close. Was it worth the wait? The short answer is yes, especially for a longtime fan of the franchise like myself, whose perspective of the Universal Century timeline has been forever changed.
While Captain Otto put it best when he said “For something as trivial as that?”, the weight and implications of the omitted article on the Charter of the Universal Century that promised to prioritize the involvement of “a new space-adapted human race” in the government resounded loud and clear. After all, the charter was signed by all of the world’s leaders when humans started migrating to space in U.C. 0001, including the first Prime Minister of the Earth Federation, Riddhe’s great-grandfather Ricardo Marcenas. Had the original charter not been hidden away from the world after Syam Vist assisted Georges Marcenas in the assassination of his father during the Laplace Terror Incident, (Gundam) history would have been drastically different than it is now. There would have been no need for the One Year War, when the Republic of Zeon led by Zeon Zum Deikun fought for independence from the Earth Federation because spacenoids where treated as lower class outcasts. Instead, once Zeon Deikun’s Newtype theory was proposed, the Earth Federation would have made strides to acknowledge the emergence of a new human race and entrust the future of the mankind to them. Unfortunately, Ricardo’s omitted article, which was added as a sort of atonement for “discarding” Earth’s excess population to space once it was clear that the planet’s resources could no longer sustain everyone, changed from prayer to the curse the moment war broke out. And of course, all the subsequent wars in the U.C. timeline only made it that much harder to reveal the truth.
Putting that into perspective, everything else that transpired in the finale came off as more of an unfortunate consequence. This of course includes Marida’s death, which had death flags all over it when she left the Nahel Argama and didn’t say anything to Suberoa. While I was pretty irked that Riddhe killed her, I surprised even myself by the fact that I didn’t hate his character for doing so. Like everyone who gets dragged into war, he’s also a victim in a way. Also, once he awakened as a true Newtype, he repented for his mistake, revealed the true identity of Laplace’s Box to Nahel Argama crew, and risked his life with Banagher to save Industrial 7. Last but not least, he even screamed out to Banagher to return to his body for Audrey/Mineva’s sake when the latter “transcended” (for a lack of a better term) to a “perfect Newtype” who no longer needed his physical body. Admittedly, part of me found it rather cliche to have Banagher live in the end, but given that Gundam pilots have a tendency to sacrifice themselves to save everyone and disappear in a huge flash of Newtype phenomenon light à la Amuro Ray in Char’s Counterattack, I actually like the fact that he returned to Audrey’s side like he promised.
As for themes, I really like the emphasis on children being born innocent and entrusting the future to them. We had Cardeas Vist, who designed Unicorn Gundam to lead a true Newtype to Laplace’s Box, and Syam Vist, who stayed alive with the help of cryonics to see this through. Then there was Full Frontal, a multi-faceted antagonist who had the original charter within his grasp and could have used it to unite all spacenoids against the Earth Federation, but tried to convince Banagher and Mineva to use it wisely and not simply reveal it to entire world. This subsequently led to the whole scene where Full Frontal used his overpowered GP03 Dendrobium-like Neo Zeong to take Banagher through space and time to see what lies in mankind’s bleak future, which albeit far-fetched even by Gundam standards, echoed the same theme when he also gave up on his aspirations for a Side Co-Prosperity Sphere (a.k.a. Side Kyou-eiken). Granted, we did have a “transcended” Amuro Ray, Lalah Sune, and Char Aznable to help convince him–the former two of whom were voiced by their original seiyuu, Furuya Tooru and Han Keiko, in uncredited cameos.
As for the conclusion itself, I like the fact that Banagher and Mineva decided to reveal the original charter to the world, simply because it wouldn’t sit well with me to build a future based on lies regardless of how difficult it may be to accept the truth at first. Most important of all, it places hopes on the “possibility” of the human race to understand one another, acknowledge our mistakes, and move beyond them to a better future.
Note: For those wondering, Mineva’s broadcast about the omitted article in the original charter ends conflicts between the Earth Federation and Republic of Zeon until U.C. 0120, when some Zeon remnants start a new movement.
ED7: 「Star Ring Child」 by Aimer
After seven spectacular OVA episodes and countless deaths that could have been avoided if Laplace’s Box was revealed to the world 96 years ago, this is what Gundam Unicorn culminated to. More specifically, the series reiterated to me how behind all the mecha action, the Gundam franchise is deeply rooted in philosophical and political conflicts at its core. I find it very intriguing to learn about how their wars started and even more so, how they could have been avoided. At the same time, it doesn’t lessen the importance of the events that transpired in the original Gundam, Zeta, Double Zeta, or Char’s Counterattack, because those series showcased the repercussions of the decision to hide the original Charter of the Universal Century. In addition, they remind me of the mistakes that we make as a species and how we need to learn from them so that we don’t repeat them, which may very well be the underlying theme of Gundam. As always, the first step to ending a conflict is to understand one another, so it’s probably no surprise that Newtypes have a telepathic sixth sense to do so and we often view the story from their perspective like we did here with Banagher.