This is a series in which I’ve watched the beginning episodes an infinite amount of times. This series appeared in 2010 when I was in college and going through my Gundam binge. I used to watch these episodes as they came out in a very illegal manner and then buy the discs of the episodes to support it when they came out. Even as a poor college student, I wanted to support my Gundam series. That’s how I’ve watched episodes one and two so many times. The disc I have for that episodes is fully functional, but that disc and the disc for episodes 3 and 4 are as scratchy as hell. The discs for episodes 5,6, and 7 however are rather untouched and are in perfect condition. I should mention that this dvd set also told when Bandai stopped producing DVDs from the back of the discs? That’s the reason why I haven’t upgraded to blu-ray for Gundam Unicorn Yet. Like Gundam Unicorn’s story, the disc set has a lot of history to tell that I don’t want to get rid of.
The story of Gundam Unicorn takes place three years after Char’s Counterattack. You know, the last major war between the Earth Federation and Neo Zeon where Char managed to successfully drop asteroids on Earth before dropping a huge one. The one where he completely disappeared with Amuro Ray in a giant shock of energy from humanities well of not wanting to destroy the Earth by it’s good will. That’s the recap. UC 0096. Some students at Anaheim Electronics are learning about colony construction at a colony called Industrial 7. One of those students is named Banagher Links who stares constantly into the distance for one reason or another. Unfortunately, this is the same colony that a new Gundam is being tested and the same colony that a major deal is about to go down for the Universal Century’s future. A deal for something called Laplace’s Box which the Vist foundation has owned for years.
That’s the beginning of the tale and it only gets more exciting and yet worse at the same time in the first episode. The last living member of the Zabi family, Princess Mineva Lao Zabi, escapes from her sleeve (Neo Zeon) holding ship on the ship’s way to Industrial 7 to discuss the Laplace’s box. While Mineva was falling inside the gravity of the colony, Banagher Links saved her in a ship that crash landed in the colony. The two get to know each other while Banagher learns on how the future could be torn apart by the deal that is about to go down. The Earth Federation and the Zeon fight outside the colony, Banagher finds himself in some complicated family matters he is secretly apart of, is given the Unicorn Gundam which transforms that is the key to Laplace’s box, and the journey starts.
From that point on, the rest of the story is about Banagher Links and his Unicorn Gundam with some random “friends” traveling from one point to another of different and important land marks of Universal Century history. The Earth Federation/Anahiem Electronics and Neo Zeon reacting at every turn of the plot. It’s basically a scavenger hunt through out space with a lot of mecha, space ships, lots of shouting and pointing, and death. There is even a Char Aznable figure by the name of Full Frontal (you may laugh) in the picture who adds a lot of complications by his appearance, leadership, and piloting skill. Full Frontal wants to use the box for his own nefarious purposes against the Earth, the Earth Federation and some members of the Vist Foundation to keep things the same, all while Banagher finds the courage to stand up to both of those sides for the Earth’s future. He sets out with Mineva Zabi at his side to save the Earth Sphere with the mysterious power of Laplace’s Box.
Gundam Unicorn is the first direct sequel to Char’s Counterattack. It wasn’t until now that someone was bold and strong enough to even approach something sacred and change the setting around a bit. That’s opening a Laplace’s box of its own in a meta sense. The thing is that Gundam Unicorn did that in the most respectful manner possible. To me, the plot is brilliant because the plot looks at the Universal Century while new characters change things. The points for Laplace’s Box display the horrid world of the Universal Century presented by other UC works. Besides famous Gundam characters and mobile suits that exist in that series, each plot point unraveled something in the people of its universe with Banagher’s appearance and push for change. He really is the one person who doesn’t fit with the universe and it’s for all the better. Only a stranger can wake people up to how bad things are.
Banagher Links is one of my favorite characters in anime. If you have followed my blog since the beginning, you would know Banagher Links used to be the face of Mechanical Anime Reviews. The reason why I can say that because in the face of everything that he was and everything that he used to be, Banagher rose up to so many other types of adversities to find a way for the future to stop being controlled by oppressive groups of people. He was torn away from the Vist family while escaping with his mom, lived on the streets after his mother died, had to face so many problems regarding killing people in war accidentally, and the consequences of war itself because he thrown himself in a complicated situation. He had a lot of mentors to keep him focused on the way, but he had to choose to do things himself. Like a vessel of the unspoken and tired people of the Universal Century itself.
There are also more characters that I haven’t even brought up that fill the cast. Banagher is an optimistic person and his optimism was constantly challenged by a certain Riddhe Marcenas who was born in a rich family and only sees cynicism at every corner until it’s too late. Same with Mineva’s usual way of handling politics with false boldness and escaping from things resulting in only making things worse. I could talk about the entire Nahel Argama crew who were just doing things the way they usually do until things were too late, Zimmerman who captained a stealth freighter named the Gariencieres with his adopted daughter (a cyber newtype clone from Double Zeta grown up) and crew, along with so many other people in this cast that ended up helping Banagher out whether they wanted to or not. The only person who didn’t was Bright Noa who has a long history with Gundam pilots so he’s ready for a change.
Gundam Unicorn is the series that brought the Universal Century to the modern age of anime. Yes, it had all the history and love of the Universal Century in it in terms of technology, people, new types, cyber new types, ships, political alignments, and even the psycho frame technology that showed up in Char’s Counterattack. If anything, that technology is far more prominent here then that movie because there is more of it put into Gundam units. That’s where the modern sort of anime story telling techniques show up. We could talk about the modern cinematography that didn’t appear in the original UC shows like drinking the cup symbolism or a person’s mood radiating from the Earth’s atmosphere. All really cool things which add a lot. There is also the fact that the Gundams are very close to being like Eva units. A very interesting blend of old and modern in the best sort of way.
If you look at the character designs, mobile suits besides Gundams, space colonies, and everything else, you can just say that this is the updated universal century and just go with that. I mean really. Sunrise worked very hard to get that feeling of 80’s retro future back and I think they did that extremely well from the ground up. Banagher Links and every single character design fits into that fancy 1980’s Gundam Design aesthetic with the hair that has tons of volume in it so it feels like the only things that have been updated. Add in some great character animation that makes each character feel more alive alongside excellent character vs character action scenes and you know that you have something special. It’s the appeal of seeing something you love being elevated to the next level. With the Gundams, we can talk the elements of current anime leaking into a well sorted out universe already.
There are so many given units like Re-Zels, Jegans, Geara Zulus, Sinanju, and so many others that are advancements in Universal Century mobile suit technology. All of which move around in space so well and have some weight. The Gundam Units are something unique and special like usual. Very simple designs with colors radiating out of them when they are transformed. This is the area where we can talk about in the Eva range. Not too much, just the fact that we can talk sync ratios, units that can be powered through thought, and even berserk modes that the pilots need to conqueror with their own mental fortitude. We can also talk about the merging of CG and traditional animation which is obvious after many repeat viewings. Same with some stock footage. I love the RX-O and it’s sleek but elegant design with red radiating out of it until that changes. It’s really cool. The Banshee unit is the better design with black with menacing yellow energy radiating from it. Such a perfect duo of units that I wouldn’t want to fight which also represent the pilot’s points of view.
This is a solid journey of an ova series for people who are fans of the Universal Century, not newbie fans like Sunrise is trying to sell it. Ova, not the TV series cut which tears the story to shreds. I mean it can be watched it if one haven’t seen any UC Gundam, but not many elements would speak to anyone as much as those who have. The journey is a bit of a mess though. I think the first three episodes are almost perfect in terms of story, escalation, characterization, fights, and general execution. This OVA was meant to be six episodes, but the fourth episodes knocks it off course a little bit which results in some course correction which takes the following episodes a little bit to achieve. That being said, I think Gundam Unicorn sticks the landing regardless. There is some new time weirdness which permeates through the finale which can throw some people off for some reason? I don’t get it, because that is weirdness that’s been there since Zeta. Have people complaining about that have actually watched a Gundam series before?