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.