The Purpose of Possibility: What Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn Does for the Universal Century Narrative (The First of Three Posts on Mobile Suit Unicorn 05)

[TV-J] Kidou Senshi Gundam UC Unicorn - 05 [BD 1920x1080 h264 AAC(5.1ch JP,EN) Sub(JP,EN,FR,SP,CH)].mp4_snapshot_34.39_[2012.05.28_06.49.07]

[Mobile Suit Unicorn 04: Sermon From The (Mobile) Suit; The Despair of Zeon At The Bottom of The Gravity Well; The Eternal Captain – Bright Noa; Coffee With a Runaway Princess]

As a human being I put a lot of value at the very notion of possibility. It is to me, what causes action in my life. Possibility is that external thing that one/I choose to act on, that drives me forward to accomplish things. When Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn chose to use the rhetoric of possibility, I was drawn in like no other fan can possibly be drawn in.

Five episodes in, I’ve seen the possibility become real. It is my stand that the Universal Century is, and has always been, the best setting to tell the Gundam narrative. It is my stand that the original Mobile Suit Gundam is the apotheosis of “war is hell” as a theme, and now it is my stand that Mobile Suit Unicorn is the apotheosis of that tension wherein the appeal for peace exists within the pilot of the most destructive weapon in the narrative. It does this better than any other attempt so far, and it begins with the purposeful use of language.

Gundam Unicorn is the Beast of Possibility. In this post I will talk about what I thought was possible, but has since become real.

[TV-J] Kidou Senshi Gundam UC Unicorn - 05 [BD 1920x1080 h264 AAC(5.1ch JP,EN) Sub(JP,EN,FR,SP,CH)].mp4_snapshot_39.36_[2012.05.28_06.55.22]

The Eulogy For the Newtype

When I first started watching Gundam, my attitude is similar to many fans who can be described as “realfags” or “08th MS Team or bust.” I had a violently negative attitude to the presence of magic elements in what I wanted to be a very grounded, down-to-earth, gunpowder and bullet casings kind of military robot show. While I’ve warmed up to the idea of Newtypes by my second viewing of Char’s Counterattack, it was this show and especially this episode that really brought it home for me.

Gundam is spiritually (figuratively) tethered to Star Wars, both in terms of its light saber-wielding giant robots, and its Jedi Newtypes. This is the reality of Gundam that I had to accept. Unicorn made it easier, and lovely even. I never held Jedi magic against Star Wars, and this is the attitude I’ve brought into appreciating Gundam.

[TV-J] Kidou Senshi Gundam UC Unicorn - 05 [BD 1920x1080 h264 AAC(5.1ch JP,EN) Sub(JP,EN,FR,SP,CH)].mp4_snapshot_26.18_[2012.05.28_06.39.27]

The Fetishization of Mobile Suit Warfare

Except for magic elements that I intended to cover when I discuss Newtypes, the combat element of this show is the best contemporary anime can provide; mostly free from the annoying habits that have plagued the tradition of robot shows from the 70s up to present. It’s not as novel as say, Broken Blade; it’s not as dynamically fast as Macross Frontier, but it is the the best as it comes in real-robot anime: land, sea, air, space, fixed installations, urban, beach head, capital ships, asteroid fortress; you name it – this show featured it in a consistently superb manner.

It must be said how this show so effectively brings back and makes highlight reel performances for older, obscure mobile suits and mobile armors. In episode 04 we saw Kapools in proper action, we saw a Byalant cause utmost terror and rack Ace-pilot kill counts. In episode 05 we saw Angelo Sauper bring back the Humma Humma from ZZ Gundam hell and destroy something like a dozen mobile suits, including Mass-production transformable Z-plus mobile suits. Unicorn shows how these suits really fought, using superior direction and production values. This is robot anime heaven.

[TV-J] Kidou Senshi Gundam UC Unicorn - 05 [BD 1920x1080 h264 AAC(5.1ch JP,EN) Sub(JP,EN,FR,SP,CH)].mp4_snapshot_47.13_[2012.05.28_07.05.41]

Completing Characters

Or, at least Bright Noa. It’s amazing how I actually think that some of Bright Noa’s finest moments occurred in the previous 2 episodes of Unicron. Some of it, wordless scenes… like when he stood up just as Banagher transformed the Unicorn into Gundam. That scene was masterfully directed. Bright didn’t have to say anything. But when he had to say something, he made it count.

Bright counseled Banagher Links, who told him he was no soldier, and this allowed him to view the conflict with unconflicted eyes. He did not see people in terms of the friend/enemy binary, but at the same time, he thought little of his own power. This is when Bright stood taller than any figure in the life of any teenage pilot. Banagher said he was just lucky,  he lucked into becoming the pilot of the Gundam. Bright told him that this is the case with every boy who piloted a Gundam. He told him that he believed that the Gundam chose him too. Now, I just finished rewatching ALL of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann in one day last Saturday – and Lord Genome help me if that show isn’t inspiring in a manly way. Still, I found Bright’s understated pep-talk to be every bit as effective as any of Kamina’s blustery epic manly speeches.

[TV-J] Kidou Senshi Gundam UC Unicorn - 05 [BD 1920x1080 h264 AAC(5.1ch JP,EN) Sub(JP,EN,FR,SP,CH)].mp4_snapshot_15.41_[2012.05.28_06.27.06]

The best part was how Bright just had to, had to talk to Amuro’s photo in his office after he coordinated one of the most convoluted plans in robot anime. While I know the novel Hathaway’s Flash exists, but this anime completed Bright, the same way it’s completing the Universal Century, theme by theme, suit by mobile suit.

And this is the purpose of this show, the 30th Anniversary OVA offering for the great franchise. It completes the Universal Century, the saga so many of us Gundam fans truly love. It completes it by making us remember, and by taking the story into its inevitable end. For we know the Zeon will be gone, and without the Zeon, the Universal Century, and Gundam, just isn’t the same.

Posts on Gundam Unicorn Episode 05:

  1. The Purpose of Possibility: What Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn Does for the Universal Century Narrative (Post One of Three) [You are reading this]
  2. When Fighting Isn’t Combat: Banagher Links Continues to Evangelize From The Cockpit While The Rest of The Show Provides The Actual Action (Post Two of Three)
  3. The Most Complicated of Set Pieces: The Battle of The Stratosphere (Post Three of Three)

About ghostlightning

I entered the anime blogging sphere as a lurker around Spring 2008. We Remember Love is my first anime blog. Click here if this is your first time to visit WRL.
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42 Responses to The Purpose of Possibility: What Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn Does for the Universal Century Narrative (The First of Three Posts on Mobile Suit Unicorn 05)

  1. Karry says:

    “Mobile Suit Gundam is the apotheosis of “war is hell” as a theme”
    There is very little actual war in it, innit ? The closest it ever comes to an actual war would probably be in the IGLOO.

    “Unicorn shows how these suits really fought, using superior direction and production values. This is robot anime heaven.”
    It also comes 50 minutes of footage per year, and costs millions per episode. Is it worth it ? Hard to say.

    “Lord Genome help me if that show isn’t inspiring in a manly way. ”
    Its not, in fact it is badly animated and amateurishly directed shit. I think i said that many times before, but it remains honest-to-god truth.

    • jonas says:

      What does production values have to do with a show being manly and inspiring?

    • This comment is a sad attempt at trolling but yes, as a matter a fact it is worth it (and it has not been one episode a year either). Gundam UC is one of the best-selling OVAs in history.

      Badly animated….hilarious.

      On a positive note, this was a great blog post. Can’t wait to see episode 5 for myself soon.

      • lgscd says:

        You are an idiot. So yeah, it is highly succesful and its production values are great, but so what? Is it a story that should be even told? It was perfect with how CCA had closed things with the Zeon, But alas, instead of delving deeper into other more, interesting storylines, they decided to continue this plot that has been basically rehashed in most other Gundam products.
        So yeah, it isn’t worth any penny.

        HELLO, I AM ALSO THE HATER WHO CALLED HIMSELF HAMMA HAMMA X IN PREVIOUS COMMENTS. I LIKE CALLING PEOPLE IDIOTS BECAUSE I GET THEM TO REPLY TO ME, WHICH IS TRULY STUPID BECAUSE I HATE MYSELF.

  2. ces06 says:

    So much completion, so much love, so much win!

    - Angelo’s Rozen Zulu was indeed developed from the Hamma Hamma. +1 for MS pedigree
    - As with the Anksha, clearly the secret lovechild of an Asshimar and Jegan
    - Beltorchika! Kai! General Revil! As a ship!
    - Banagher jumping off one of the Tri-Star’s Jesta! Jet Stream Attack fail!

    Everything’s coming to a beautiful close, and you can really feel it. Feds and Zeons teaming up to beat the final boss that is the Universal Century. Even the shoutouts don’t feel like just shoutouts anymore, they’re every little thread in 30 years of gundam coming together to give a proper sendoff to the Universal Century. Having Bright show up and playing a crucial role in the episode is the icing to the cake. The only thing that’s might be missing here is the actual presence of Amuro himself, although that might be asking too much. Just a voice cameo wouldn’t hurt though.

    The context of 30 years of gundam and the Universal Century aside, I’m just happy there was so much win in this episode, after the fails that happened in the previous 4. I was seriously expecting another poor soul in the cast to be killed off (likely- Zinnerman, unlikely-Audrey), but hell yeah, that wasn’t the case. Zinnerman and Marida got away fine. Audrey’s cleared all her doubts. That scene of herself throwing herself away to be caught by Banagher was gold. Banagher kicked ass and everything was fine. Good things like this need to happen more in gundam, gundamn it!

    • The General Revil was a great touch. The Titansesque colors… priceless.

      Everything’s coming to a beautiful close, and you can really feel it. Feds and Zeons teaming up to beat the final boss that is the Universal Century. Even the shoutouts don’t feel like just shoutouts anymore, they’re every little thread in 30 years of gundam coming together to give a proper sendoff to the Universal Century. Having Bright show up and playing a crucial role in the episode is the icing to the cake

      THIS.

    • Turambar says:

      “the final boss that is the Universal Century.”

      That is a really nice way of putting it. Love it.

    • It would be kind of nice to see the end of Zeon – not because they’re finally defeated in a physical or numbers sense of the word but just because it’d no longer be necessary. As a Zeonic fan I think I’d be cool with that.

      • ces06 says:

        Since there’s little to no mention of Zeon at all in post F91 UC stories, I’d say it’s safe to get our hopes up.

  3. senshi says:

    Just wait till they throw everything out the window in the last episode. (read the novel, terrible terrible ending) – I called it first.

    Unicorn to me is just another 0083 – great mecha porn, failed to deliver in the end. It’s not inspiring either because [REDACTED BY ADMIN DUE TO SPOILER] Sorry but I just have a massive disgust with protagonist invoking super-power only to NOT KILL and talk hippie crap to people who are clearly EVIL.

    Flit would denounce Banagher if Banagher was his son, and I would approve.

    • I’m also not a fan of the pacifistic pilot, and yet I’d argue that some of the best Gundam series have this convention. Turn A Gundam is a fantastic series in which the main character kills only one character in the entire-run (compared to Banagher’s six kills thus far)

      I think its precisely due to these god-mechs that Banagher and Loran wield that the writers go for the pacifistic characters. UC doesn’t look down on killing your opponents; in fact its glorifies the ace pilot and the common soldier, something Fukui has been known for since his WWII what-if novel ‘Lorelei’, or his contemporary military thriller ‘Aegis’. Characters like Marida, Daguza and Zimmerman all espouse their reason for fighting; those entering a weapon of war have to be prepared to take life. It’s you or them.

      But characters like Loran or Banagher are not the common soldier. Banagher can kill a grunt by grazing him with his beam-rifle. Both characters face terrible consequences if they give into the machine; for Loran creating immeasurable destruction with the moonlight butterfly, and for Banagher giving in to the NTD and potentially killing friends, as he did with Gilboa. When characters possess these kind of powers simply murdering grunts and fighting with force becomes lopsided, it lacks drama and is questionable morally. What both series do instead is have the main characters find non-combative solutions to conflict; from the mundane of using your weapon as a washing machine, to the exciting set-pieces of storing nuclear weapons, catching your love interest in mid-air, or brokering an alliance between two factions, pulling their ships together. I can honestly say Banagher pulling the Garencieres out of the gravity well is one of the my favourite Gundam-moments, and there isn’t one beam-rifle fired.

      Great post, Ghostlightning. I agree very much with your point; Unicorn has its faults but the UC-timeline is altogether better with Unicorn as a part of it. Brights appearance is certainly a great bookend to the rather sudden ending of CCA.

      • Reid says:

        HORY KRAPPU! You mean to say that the Sleeves and the Ra Cailum are gonna team up to defeat those corrupt Earther goons and their crony system that steals essential liberty from their fellowmen? Is that what Ghost meant when he said Bright formulated a really convoluted scheme? WHO WILL SURVIVE?

      • MrUnimport says:

        Gundam UC gets a lot of flak for Banagher’s pacifism mid-battle and also for how much more powerful the RX-0 is than anything else on the battlefield. I think these elements work well mainly because they temper each other: if Amuro got in the Unicorn, the Sleeves would cease to exist within a week and the story would have no tension, if Banagher got in the RX-78 he’d be dead at the end of the first episode. It’s the fact that Banagher could crush his opponents at any time that makes his choice not to meaningful. Similarly, it’s the fact that he chooses not do that restores conflict to the story. In any case, it’s the pacifism that elevates Unicorn from a “and then they killed all the Zeeks forever”, CCA-style, to something that transcends both sides in a fashion that’s appropriate for a story that seeks to be the endpoint for Early UC.

      • Thanks, and wonderful comment overall. I’ll be using this for the next post. Wait for it.

      • senshi says:

        Sorry but Loran is a much better pacifist than Banagher.

        Case in point is that Loran always acts in a way that stops the conflict – he doesn’t just talk. Banagher’s “talk” with what’s-her-name in episode 4 is the breaking point – it shows the typical “I care more about the person I meet than the hundred other lives being killed” that is littered in anime – it’s a screwed up priorty and anyone who claims they are a pacifist while doing something like this is a hypocrite. And Banagher falls right into the same trap.

        • SilverInfinity says:

          You’re ignoring the fact that Banagher took a very big risk by airdropping early (the characters comment on this) to – surprise! – stop the massacre. He believed that by just simply breaking the seal, Zeon would have to stop and withdraw (assuming they have good sense). Somewhat naive, yes, but totally in line with his defining trait and central theme – Possibility.

          And many more lives saved (except for some poor dudes who got caught in the psychofield) by keeping the Shamblo’s attention towards the Unicorn. The delay may have even given time for some more of the straggler civilians to evacuate the danger zone.

          His failure to save her in EP4 is significant. ghost comments on this in one of the entries here. But it simply steels his resolve to secure the possibility of a future without conflict.

          In EP2, he goes out to try and neutralize Full Frontal. Didn’t work out very well, but then, it is Char.

          In EP3, he escapes (or is allowed to escape) Palau with the Unicorn to eliminate the need for Londo Bell / Neo Zeon to fight over the Box’s key. Sure, that part was partially scripted by FF, but then it sure did put a quick end to that skirmish. In a nice show of defiance of FF’s expectations, the Unicorn did not slaughter Marida.

          TL;DR He’s ALWAYS acts to stop the conflict, in ways that harm as few people as possible.

          • SilverInfinity says:

            Typo: “He ALWAYS acts to stop the conflict”

          • lgscd says:

            Seriously, all of you Banagher fans are idiots. If you really buy into his crap, then just rewatch SEED. There’s a Banagher there under the name of “Kira Yamato”.

            HELLO, I AM ALSO THE HATER WHO CALLED HIMSELF HAMMA HAMMA X IN PREVIOUS COMMENTS. I LIKE CALLING PEOPLE IDIOTS BECAUSE I GET THEM TO REPLY TO ME, WHICH IS TRULY STUPID BECAUSE I HATE MYSELF.

          • SilverInfinity says:

            And you should, for real, get over your whining about pacifist pilots.

            Whinerbaby.

    • 0083 is my favorite Gundam OVA before Unicorn happened.

      Also, Banagher — to me even more satisfying than Loran, is how to do the pacifist tension right. Don’t lump him with fricking Jesus Yamato. Anyway, more on this in the following post.

      • senshi says:

        Well now I know which way you swing – so to speak.

        Banagher is no different than Jesus Yamato. I’d like to see you try to separate them and their actions.

  4. Shining_Bard says:

    Well we have two more episodes coming and the next one will have the Unicorn become an example of More Dakka. That, and it’s gonna lose its usual pink NTD colors for green.

  5. The Gundam universe, to me, is a world cursed with war, but its the wars that shows humanity at its best, and its worst.
    The gundams choosing their own pilots is actually true, for some gundams, their design/functions matches the traits of the pilot(for the best example, those 00 s1 gundams had designs that actually matches the pilots), some can only be piloted by that “chosen” pilot, and the one chosen is the person that stumbles upon the gundam, climbs into the cockpit, and with a noble purpose, pilots it.
    Unicorn has always been great to watch, great animation, great dialogues, great battles.
    And its Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn that gives us this quote
    “Humanity alone possesses a God. The power to transcend the now… the inner God called “Possibility.””

    • This is also why the previous UC OVAs are so precious. The pilots were not chosen by their Gundams: Christina McKenzie, the entire 08th MS Team, Anavel Gato, Uraki Kou… they had their moments but they never had that thing that makes even Judau feel right for the Gundam.

      • Turambar says:

        “they had their moments but they never had that thing that makes even Judau feel right for the Gundam.”

        That’s a low blow and you know it.

        • Matt Wells says:

          He’s still right though. Christina was just a test pilot for Amuro’s ace custom, the 08th MS Team used grunt edition Gundams, Gato used it as a means to an end, and poor Kou never mastered either machine. I’d say it’s due to the shows they come from being more realistic in their portrayal of warfare; a soldier isn’t “chosen” by his weapon, to him it’s just a tool. To paraprhase Setsuna, they were not Gundam, they were just people who used them.

          For all his flaws, Judau made Double Zeta utterly his own. Same with Domon, Heero and even Garrod. It’s something of an attitude, and not just magical Newtype plot superpowers. The heroes of the UC OVAs weilded them, but they didn’t “master” them.

  6. Matt Wells says:

    “And this is the purpose of this show, the 30th Anniversary OVA offering for the great franchise. It completes the Universal Century, the saga so many of us Gundam fans truly love. It completes it by making us remember, and by taking the story into its inevitable end. For we know the Zeon will be gone, and without the Zeon, the Universal Century, and Gundam, just isn’t the same.”

    Until Gundam The Origin is animated, and we can fall in love all over again, just like the first time. With AGE and Unicorn the franchise can take no small pride in moving towards the future with its face glancing back towards the past. Great stuff Ghost, Unicorn does have a tendency to bring out the best in your writing, but the material deserves it. Fingers crossed the ending and the feature film epilogue don’t disapoint and squander the goodwill it’s earned so far.

    • Man if I love a show, I set out to write the living shit out of it so that no one else out there can compare. I don’t mean no one else can do better, that’s far more likely to happen. But no one will have posts like these in terms of volume, frequency, and overall faggotry.

  7. Reid says:

    All I got out of this was “there are Z Pluses in Ep. 05″ and that’s enough for me.

    Siiiiiiiiiiiiiike ^.^

    Good stuff, Mr. Lightning. I’m just about ready to watch these episodes in all kinds of illegal ways (or download the on PS3 if I can do that…) what what I’d really like to do is to buy them on Bluray. I’ve only seen episodes 1 and 2 for this reason. Perhaps that’s foolish of me, as I’d really like to contribute to the discussion herein contained. There is simply so much meat to sink one’s teeth into when it comes to UC Gundam shows, and this one in particular, as it is by far the best of them all (yet). However, I will disagree with one thing about this post…THE SPIRIT OF ZEON WILL NEVER DIE. FREEDOM (via genocidal colony drops) LIVES FOREVER!!!!!

  8. Pingback: I See What You Did There AKB0048 Episode 05, and We Cool | We Remember Love

  9. Turambar says:

    The moment I liked the most, despite all the glorious references, cameos, and mecha porn, was when Banagher attempted to resist the NT-D. And he succeeded! It speaks volumes on the integrity of his pacifist personality in a far more profound way than any other similar Gundam pilot.

  10. Pingback: When Fighting Isn’t Combat: Banagher Links Continues to Evangelize From The Cockpit While The Rest of The Show Provides The Actual Action (The Second of Three Posts on Mobile Suit Unicorn 05) | We Remember Love

  11. banagherlinks says:

    The first thing that sprang up in my mind upon seeing beltorchika is “Where is Amuro’s son?” XD

  12. Pingback: The Most Complicated of Set Pieces: The Battle of The Stratosphere (The Third of Three Posts on Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn Episode 05) | We Remember Love

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