I am honestly astonished to be writing this review. The best to come from the deal behind the live action Gundam film appearing on Netflix is that Sunrise has allowed Mobile Suit Gundam Hathaway to appear on the Netflix platform. This is only the first act of a three-act story, but it’s here none the less weeks after it appeared in Japan. Yeah, merely weeks. It’s that same sort of good that the Star Wars prequels had on anime back in the day. You know, Outlaw Star and Cowboy Bebop only exist because the Phantom Menace was due to come out soon, so obviously Sunrise needed some shows set in space. It is that level of circumstances leading to positivity. The best part is that this movie is really good. In a week that the disappointing Wonder Egg Priority finale came out, Hathaway also came out and I am glad that it was as high quality as it was. Otherwise, the week would have been a let down.
As with most Universal Century Gundam films, Mobile Suit Gundam Hathaway has a lot of lore behind it. I mean, this is a consistent universe after all. Hathaway takes place twelve years after Char’s Counterattack which was UC 0093. Read my review of Char’s Counterattack right here for information about that one here: Link. It is now UC 0105 and the Axis Shock hasn’t changed anything despite showing the hope in humanity. The Earth Federation is as oppressive as ever and there is only one group that gives the Earth sphere hope. It’s name is Mafty run by the powerful Mafty Erin. A so-called terrorist organization that aims to kill the officials behind the Earth Federation once and for all. Maybe people can finally be free. But who is the real Mafty Erin?
The opening moments of Hathaway are incredible. Wonderfully awkward Tomino dialogue aside, the thought and care put behind every character interaction is amazing. Playing up on the “who is Mafty” question, it takes place on a shuttle, named the Haunzen, headed from space to supposedly Hong Kong. Every major player in this movie and the series is on this plane. Earth Federation officials, Hathaway Noa who is Captain Bright’s son, an attractive, young, and rich woman with great intuition Gigi Andalucia, and the new military commander of the Davao Air Base Kenneth Sleg, are all one place. The fated appearance of the fake Mafty terrorist bring them all together and this is the trio. Oh btw, Gigi found out that Hathaway Noa is the real Mafty Erin if you haven’t figured it out yet.
The encounters in the city that the Haunzen actually landed in due to the terrorist attack, Davao in the Philippines, are pretty interesting. Especially since Gigi clearly has a crush on Hathaway in some way and Kenneth wants Hathaway to be apart of his crew. So obviously there is a love triangle here creating tension into it like the og series with Hathaway as the person who wishes to destroy the Earth Federation, Kenneth Sleg who pushes the Earth Federation’s wishes even harder then before, and the mysterious Gigi who no one knows what her motivations are. There are some ways that they still act like teenagers with the boy’s fondness towards Gigi in their own ways and Gigi forcing Hathaway to be in the same suite as her in a hotel leading to one moment Gigi got caught naked by Hathaway, but it does a good job of collecting the sides all together. The side cast are great in their roles and setting up the mood of it all.
I also really like the subdued nature of Hathaway. It’s a very low key film until the end where it really lets loose in some of the more exciting scenes. While there is a mobile suit attack against the Earth Federation officials in the middle of the film, it’s more of a character beat then anyone else. Only side characters we kind of know were involved in that attack. Hathaway is in the streets running with Gigi in Davao as the carnage is let loose and it creates such a wonderfully visceral feel to it all. I love the use of shadows and darkness with the beams of the mobile suits piercing right through them and right through buildings like they are tissue paper. It spends a lot of time setting up the world around them. The wealth of the Earth Federation through one card that was given to Hathaway, the power of Hathaway’s decision versus the obvious humanity that Gigi represents in that moment. I hope Gigi isn’t continually treated this way and she becomes her own person more, but in the moment it works. Tomino wrote this after all and it has his issues in it.
With the small and excellent moments put into to characterize the side characters in Mafty and in the Earth Federation forces, everything really culminates in the end. A nervous side character helps Hathaway get into the Xi Gundam and then Hathaway’s combat scene against the Earth Federation’s current Gundam to save his business worker to save the day. It all just works and Hathaway has shown everything that he learned and every bit of motivation he got 12 years ago at the end of Char’s Counterattack. The combat scene was great too with so many good tactical bits and energy. I love the way the fights occur in the Universal Century. Not many series feel as genuine as these.
On a visual level, Mobile Suit Gundam Hathaway really is incredible in almost every way. This is a very high quality, premium film that was worth every once of waiting for it. The character designs are the ones from the Universal Century with some great art direction to make them feel much more aged up. Like, this is officially how these characters would have aged from when we last saw them. Plus, the other younger adults look like Universal Century younger adults too. The city that they created at Davao were great too and I love the detail put into the design of the mobile suits. The Xi Gundam had a lot of wonderful moving parts that made it feel so beyond this Earth and incredible. Even the normal mob suits were well designed and thought out too. It just is a really well put together film.
I honestly don’t know what to say here other then, if you have seen Char’s Counterattack and the other Gundam series before it, please check out Mobile Suit Gundam Hathaway. It is an incredible first part to a three part story and I can see it only improve from here. I can’t way to see more of Hathaway’s story in the future. There seems to be so much potential to this series and I want to see it all. It’s so interesting watching this while I was still in the middle of Double Zeta Gundam. Hathaway is actually Bright Noah’s child, but he never treated Hathaway like one while he treated every bit of the teenagers he picked up as children here. It really lays out all the problems with Bright Noa’s parental methods here. He can be a great father in the moment, but he sucks being a father to his own children.