I may need to relook at my plans for Gundam series and OVAS centered around The Year War by the end of the year. My current schedule isn’t working. There are a few things that I haven’t didn’t include on my list for some reason when making 2020 the year of Gundam. I didn’t include Igloo or the Gundam Origin ovas. I have never watched Igloo before because I didn’t have access to it, but I have a dvd set of it now. That means I’m going to have to watch it soon. As for the Origin OVAS, I don’t have an excuse. I just completely ignored them, but I think they are in need of some sort of review on here at some point. So my plan is to make 2021 another year of Gundam, but a little slower one with a focus on Igloo, Origin, Zeta, Double Zeta, and Turn A Gundam. I am sure that no one will be mad at this randomness. For now, let’s continue this year of Gundam with some Thunderbolt.
As I’ve already hinted at before, Gundam Thunderbolt supposedly takes place during the One Year War. Supposedly, this chapter is taking place around the final battle in Mobile Suit Gundam, the battle for A Baoa Qu. December Sky focuses on a larger battle in the Thunderbolt sector. An area of space with a lot of communication jamming and is also very necessary supply route for the Zeon to their space fortress A Baoa Qu. You know, for some reason. This is a battle between the defending party the Zeon’s Living Dead Division vs the attacker’s, The Earth Federation’s Moore Brotherhood. It’s a chaotic battle that almost no one will know about in the Universal Century. Still, that doesn’t mean that it won’t affect human lives at all though. Well, that provides some area for creativity.
To possibly push some flack towards the concept of this series, it’s pretty clear that Gundam Thunderbolt: December Sky doesn’t care anything about Gundam cannon at all. To me, that’s why I think that’s why it’s great. This is a newer take on Gundam with modern animation, but using standard 0079 Gundam technology and character designs in a different way. I can’t tell you guys how much I sincerely dig that. So many creators and writers on the Gundam side are scared about stepping on Tomino’s sand box a little too much. Some experimentation is nice and Thunderbolt is the series that does this while sticking close to a lot of Gundam themes as well. It’s just so refreshing.
Now to the chaos of the war inside the Thunderbolt Sector. Oh my gosh, it’s such a horrible war. A war centered on the adults who wanted to fight, but didn’t ask for this nonsense. Neither side expected this conflict to get so heavy in death counts and sacrifices. There is a griminess in the atmosphere of December Sky which feels like the writer must have at least had some war buddies to talk to. The Living Dead Division are all about sacrifices. They hold the Thunderbolt Sector, but each person slowly loses their humanity as they give away a limb or two or all of them in order to pilot their mecha better. The Ace, Daryl Lorenz, is a possible new type sniper, but is one of many which gave all their limbs to fight better just to survive. This small conflict will change his life forever.
Things are certainly not much better on the Moore’s Brotherhood side. Especially since the Federation’s attacks are almost meat grinder like in quality for them. As in, almost no one comes back forces are sent out on the attack. Something that has strong effects on the current captain, Claudia, as she drinks and drugs herself to oblivion when she isn’t on duty. She is sending her men out to die, so I completely understand why she does it. The stress and pain of war are something that permeate on everyone on that crew. Even the lead Earth Federation pilot, Io Flemming. A seemingly confident ace pilot, but the only pilot that gets special treatment. Possibly because of his relationship with the ship’s captain or possibly because he’s good. It’s a faceoff between Daryl and his Psycho Zaku vs Io and his fully armored Gundam.
The most experimental thing is how Daryl and Io’s rivalry is handled. It mostly comes in the form of music because they never meet each other until the end of December Sky. Before then, they only know when the other shows up through the music they play while flying through shock waves and asteroids. Daryl’s theme music is pop music and it works because he is a very grounded guy that snipes at people from deep distances. On the other hand, is Io and his free jazz style. Io playing his music through the asteroids and lightning is so cool. It also matches his chaotic piloting style and I just really dig it. He is one cool cumber playing to keep his nerves. The balance of foundation music like Pop with chaotic music like free jazz against each other creates a natural friction between them.
That gives away to how somewhat experiment the show is in its animation. In the art design from characters to mecha units, to space technology, looks a lot like technology one would have in 0079. All with faster and smoother, modern animation. You know, instead of Gundam 0079 where it all started which has definitely aged. That aspect just shows how much Sunrise has grown since then. The experimentation with the grimy ship hallways and more visceral mecha combat scenes. Holy crap, it’s so easy to feel sorry for all of those pilots when facing a superior unit. There are a lot of perspective shows from cockpit view. It’s so rate that the audience can can feel what it’s like fighting against a Gundam. A great way to show how powerful that unit is. It’s crazy and works with how hard everything is.
Mobile Suit Gundam Thunderbolt: December Sky is un-distilled Gundam in 70 minutes. In a very limited situation and a limited time span with a lot of creativity, this is Universal Century Gundam in a nut shell. It is also very creative and visibly horrifying for anyone watching it. Almost like a war film in which a lot of people just end up dead for one reason or another. If you get the chance to watch this, even if you aren’t a Gundam fan, do it. It’s only a small amount of time and it’s not connected to a lot of other Gundam elements. Things that could be scary. So, a solid watch here. Please come back on Friday for Gundam Thunder: Bandit Flower. See you then.