Glorious Gundam Goodness:

This is the Gundam we truly deserve – gorgeously animated and harrowingly cruel. First thing’s first, like the previous episode, this was stunning from start to finish. Whether the camera was spinning around the space warfare or shifting through the past and present, the art was crisp, the laser beams ever colourful, and the animation constantly fluid and filled with character. There’s no other way to describe it: this is glorious Gundam goodness. While the politicking is a large part of the franchise, Thunderbolt focuses on the aspect of war and how truly horrible (and stunning) it is. It could be argued that Thunderbolt gets so carried away with the visuals that it fully embraces the epic nature of war, but this episode showed that it can be beautiful and horrifying all at once. For every action thrill, there are moments of pure terror in the eyes of the soldiers. I admit that I haven’t watched as many Gundam shows as I’d like, but Thunderbolt may have the best action of any that I’ve seen. The stellar production sure helps, but the balance of thrills and horror is what makes it so impressive.

Flashbacks, Trauma, and Severed Limbs:

I think it’s fair to say that this episode spoke for itself, and what it did have to say was both powerful and emotional. Last time I mentioned that if anything the Zeon side of the conflict is who we can sympathise with more – after all, it was those men who were battle-scarred with their robotic limbs. I expected we’d see more of Fleming’s perspective this time around (we did get a brief glimpse into his bloody past), but this episode made Daryl seem like the tragic hero. I keep forgetting he’s on the ‘bad guys’ side, especially after seeing him fighting in the wars of the past, losing his legs, fighting once again in the present, and then losing his left arm. It’s hard not to feel for him and (some) of the people aboard his ship. Fleming gets to be the badass with his Gundam, getting saved by lucky lightning strikes, and grinning his way to victory; but Daryl has to suffer the hardships of war.

While the action was great, the aftermath is what stood out most of all. Karla Mitchum’s (Ohara Sayaka) part in the story is just as heartbreaking as Daryl’s. Clearly, she hates this war – and now we know her father’s safety is being used to keep her aboard. Seeing her being forced to cut off Daryl’s one remaining arm was truly awful (I can only wonder what was going through Daryl’s mind in that moment). She had to betray her friend, and you can tell that it broke her to do it. This whole situation is terrible, but damn, this is war drama at its finest.

Overview – What’s Next?:

Wow, what an episode. The action was slick, epic, full of life and vibrancy; in comparison, the flashbacks to earlier wars and assassinations, and the after effects of the current battle, were truly devastating. I don’t hate Io Fleming by any means (he is fighting for the good guys, after all), but Daryl’s story is so much more haunting and gripping to watch. With only two episodes left, and all his limbs gone, I can only imagine that good things don’t await this unfortunate soldier fighting on the wrong side of this war.



  1. I’m not sure I like how they changed this part of the story. In the manga Daryl used that flashbang grenade to get away mostly unscathed. He lost his hands when their ship got shot up and in the manga it showed how shitty is being inside those ships during those battles as they were confined to their bunks and where basically waiting for the battle to be over. The aftermath shows a lot of dead people, holes where some of the bunk compartments used to be, etc… The manga felt less hyperfocused on the Daryl vs. Fleming conflict.

    1. It’s not surprising that the anime is more focus on Daryl vs Fleming. It makes for a strong central plot (though I’m sure there is more to it in the manga), considering this is only a 4 episode adaptation.

  2. I don’t want to preach too much here but in the context of this series, Zeon are not viewed as the ‘bad guys’. It’s true that they’ve done reprehensible things in other Gundam media but the mangaka of this series was told he basically could do whatever he wanted, Gundam canon be damned, and he chose to frame this conflict in a balanced manner. For all intents and purposes, Thunderbolt is just a story of two opposing sides in a brutal war, and war is Hell.

    Sled Head
    1. The “bad guys” bit was because this is all interconnected via Mobile Suit Gundam, where the Principality of Zeon were undoubtedly the “bad guys”, and that good individuals from their side appeared more like an exception rather than the rule. The Universal Century OVA series’, however, have always been far more grey and realistic than the main series’ are in terms of the realities of war (0080, 0083, The 08th MS Team) and I believe it helps that they have also always focused on the ordinary soldiers of the war rather than any sort of “special” individual(s) ala Newtypes and such.

      1. The more nuanced and grey aspects in UC in Gundam, apart from going beyond the black&white original story, also seems to follow a certain trend about adressing wars, the “war is evil, everyone is more or less the same in them” narrative. Which can be a bit disturbing once you see a similar trend appears in Japanese WWII narratives.

        Also, Imperial Nostalgia and Rooting For The Empire can play, depending on the case.

    2. I only mention ‘good guys’ and ‘bad guys’ because that’s how the two sides are framed in the original MSG. Like HalfDemonInuysha says, I found the side stories focused more on the grey area between good vs evil, like Thunderbolt does. It’s a tricky situation because in the original canon it’s pretty clear that Zeon are horribly evil, where as the OVA/ONAs take a different approach (which I prefer).

      1. And even during times when it does show the darker side to the Federation, those times usually, at most, just made you facepalm or even seeth in anger, but a lot of the things Zeon(-related groups) did, and without care, were far beyond anything the Federation ever did; nuking/gassing colonies, dropping three colonies (Operation British, Operation Stardust, and the one dropped on Dublin by Neo Zeon in ZZ Gundam) and several large asteroids (Char’s Counterattack) onto Earth, forcing out a colony’s entire population so they could turn it into a Colony Laser (and then their true leader turning it on his own father just to prevent him from being able to begin peace talks with the Federation leadership), and so on.

        (And no, I don’t count the Titans. The Titans may have been started by the Federation, but it’s pretty clear by Zeta Gundam that they have already become their own little rogue group following their own rules and agendas and not the Federation’s.)

        The worst the Federation tended to do was ignore obvious threats or even justify inaction against such threats. (Even in the OVAs, it tends to come down to individuals who are the “evil” ones rather than the entire side.)

        Like in terms of the colony drop on Dublin, Federation bigwigs chose to do nothing to prevent the drop and did nothing to try to evacuate the population, opting to use the destruction of Dublin as a means of “population control”. While that’s definitely a very horrible thing to do, on the other hand, you then had Neo Zeon forces outright PREVENTING anyone from successfully evacuating; destroying civilian vessels that were attempting to evacuate on their own all so they could maximize the damage of the drop and make the Federation look worse.

    3. Speaking of good and evil sides in war, future historians will judge U.S. as evil for being the first country to use nuclear bombs on civilian targets. But as a American, I am obligated to say that those nuclear bombs saved American lives so it was a good decision.

      1. Unfortunately, history has already been made regarding that and I don’t even read anywhere that the US was/is evil for doing. Hell, the Japanese don’t even care about it. It’s water under the bridge. Only time people say the US is evil for that event is usually an individual voicing their personal opinion.

        The reason we can be apathetic to it is because currently, we have information and communication. And we know neither side is (as in currently as of 2016) is evil. While if you were to put yourself in the Gundam universe, if you are Zeon, you would not know much, or have communication with the Federation. Likewise vice-versa. So they only have propaganda to go off of.

        Goodwill Wright
  3. I find the story’s focus on Daryl kind of schizophrenic. We’re supposed to symphatise for him, but at the same time, it’s
    -Fleming who got pushed into the war by Zeon in the first place (the attack in the opening minute)
    -Daryl&co had no qualms murdering dozens and dozens of other pilots either, without giving them any shred of a chance

    In the end, I don’t really feel sorry for Daryl. He’s suffering the same sort of deal he was dishing out – those who live by the sword should be prepared to also die by the sword. I was more upset at Garma. It’s one thing to get killed in combat, but to get betrayed by a friend…

  4. I’m dropping this… The main character is generic and annoying. The other main character from the Zion side is also generic and annoying. They both have pretty cliche backgrounds. One lost his father in a battle and the other one lost his legs, and now he’s so sad. LOL.

    We’re two episode in and pretty much nothing happened. We have no idea what the story is about and where the plot is going. All we got are two boring protagonists with madatory traumatized backgrounds.

    But the way, two episide and we still didn’t have one single scene with some interesting dialogue… Good lord, this is bad.

    This Gundam looks old school and adult, like “The 08th MS Team” or “Stardust Memory”, but it’s generic and superficial as fuck. Beside the “look”, there NOTHING to it.

    Also, the soundtrack… Holy crap, they’re trying to shoving up our throats a bunch of American music because they think having characters lesting to old jazz make them look cool. I’m not against it, but damn, pretty the whole episode had those songs playing. Is this a Gundam anime or a MTV music video?

    1. It’s a shame you feel so negatively about it. You can’t expect an intricate plot in something which is only 18 or so minutes per episode. Also, there’s only 4 episodes in total, so you’re already half way through.

    2. One lost his father in a battle

      Didn’t his father commit suicide?

      My little gripe with Thunderbolt is that somehow I’m supposed to believe that the mass-production RGM-79 has a Core Block system just like the RX-78-2 Gundam. AFAIK the Core Block system was one of the first things to be removed in order to lower costs and simplify construction.

      Magnus Tancred
      1. I’m torn on the issue.

        RGM-79s are, in general, ‘throw away before use’ level of quality for sure. However, these aren’t actual 79s; they have those fancy shoulder-binders we never see outside the Brotherhood. Also, in the manga, it’s shown that the core-block system of these RGMs is a lot cheaper and simplified compared to the RX-78; they have no real thrusters, only two flimsy ones on the side, mounted on binders.

        I guess it’d make sense for an organization whose sole tactic is SUICIDE CHARGE THE SNIPERS, otherwise they’d be out of pilots after the first few days.

    1. This may be the best season of Gundam? I feel that is what makes the purest and raw essence of season. A chill, emotion and sadness that touches your soul. The music is perfectly placed. It is a shame that most people do not know this.
      Here uploaded a video with the final song of the episode 2. I got so excited I did haha https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SbCf0EDBv_k

      I hope the output of OST,it is wonderful

  5. That’s Zeon for you. Take crippled soldiers and throw them back into the battlefield. Then force doctors to amputate the guy’s last remaining limb just so he can pilot yet another protype system that will not make a difference in the war.

    1. Thats a way to reduce the “Input Lag” of the Human Body. There will be no muscles that need to bend, just an Switch that react faster then the human muscle… reminds of the WW2 Human concentration camp tests

      But they wanted it, an Gundam War. Dark, Violence (where even the “good guys” make an Evil face), Blood and Deaths. This is a Gundam for the old fans, that are Adults now. But then what will come next? Rape? Genozid scenes? oh well… as long the fans love it


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