The Eternal Captain: Bright Noa in Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn 04

[TV-J] Kidou Senshi Gundam UC Unicorn - episode.04 [BD 1920x1080 h264 AAC(5.1ch JP,EN) Sub(JP,EN,FR,SP,CH)].mp4_snapshot_32.22_[2011.11.24_11.38.43]

When I was still a Gundam skeptic, I could not get why Bright Noa had such a good reputation among mecha anime fans, if not general anime fans who had the sense to see and enjoy Universal Century Gundam shows.  I really did not see anything exceptional in his actions as a commander, no tactical genius; just a warm body who happened to hit people under his command—without being a bully, and hit on people under his command—without being a creep.

Years later I really think I do get why Bright is special, or at least, can articulate to myself why I think he’s the way he is and why he can fascinate. I’ll get the obvious out of the way: He brought the hammer down on Amuro when the lead character was being a whiny punkass wuss. That was satisfying. To this day we wish the kind of justice Bright Noa brings to every whiny lead character in anime.

With that out of the way, let’s examine the Captain of all the mother ships that carried the Gundams into battle.


Would Bright Noa have done a better job than Bruno Global if he were the Captain of the Macross?

While the Macross was a bigger job which involved a lot of logistics, administration, governance and alien diplomacy, I think it’s really just a blown-up White Base, with a much larger refugee count. Still, I can only speculate on Bright being a macro-leader, to think that he’d have to be the de facto leader of humanity after Space War I.

From a purely military perspective, I don’t see him having that much more of a tough time compared to Global. Hikaru would have to watch out though, because Mirai is nowhere near the hotness and awesomeness that is Misa.


Would Bright Noa have done a better job than Lafiel Abriel if he were the Captain of the Basroil?

I think yes. This is not to say that Lafiel has done poorly, but only that there’s nothing that tells me that Bright would struggle in the situations the Basroil was put in. The White Base was mostly a ship on the run, but it did perform attack roles in Solomon and A Baoa Qu. The Nahel Argama single handedly took on Neo Zeon, but fuck ZZ Gundam. Bright in that show is all about chicken.


Would Bright Noa have done a better job than Okita Juzo/Kodai Susumu if he were the Captain of the Yamato?

I think Bright would’ve done better than Okita from a military standpoint simply by not getting sick. He would then be wholly in his element having an ace pilot in Kodai to command. I think Bright would’ve done well in the Yamato. Unless he gets sucked into a power-struggle/rivalry with the likes of Kodai who would be his age or older. But if we’re talking about Londo Bell era Bright than it would be no problem I think.


Would Bright Noa have done a better job than Holland Novak if he were the Captain of the Gekko-go?

Yes, if Holland would remain on the ship as its ace pilot. This would be a great job for Bright, who emerged from having to Captain a ship of fools (Nahel Argama) to do his best work as the Captain of the Ra Caillum during the Second Neo Zeon war. Without Holland, Charles and Ray Beams would kill Bright, Eureka, and all of them.

Holland would own Bright though in the Talho Yuki sweepstakes. Remember Sleggar Law had to die before Bright could escape his faux-NTR situation.

martian successor nadesico - 006

Would Bright Noa have done a better job than Misumaru Yurika if her were Captain of the Nadesico?

Yes. It wouldn’t be half as funny though, because fuck ZZ Gundam.


Would Bright Noa have done a better job than Yang Wenli?


He’d probably make for a good Dusty Attenborough, or maybe Ulrich Keßler… maybe. He’s clearly no Sigfried Kircheis though, to use someone of comparable age.


Why is Bright Noa such a legend within the Universal Century?

He gets credit for leading the Gundams into battle, and this makes a difference after the First and Second Neo-Zeon wars. After the OYW Bright got zero respect. Who could forget how the assholes like Bask Om and Jamaican Danningham beat the shit out of Bright out of pure bullying bullshit in Z Gundam?

Bright was down on himself because he was a Captain with a sunken ship, who didn’t go down with his own ship. He got his crew out alive and I think that’s a bigger achievement despite plunging into A Baoa Qu itself. But when he met Lt. Quattro Bajeena for the first time, it was Quattro who clearly had the respect for him. Which brings me to this thing I noticed:


In the Universal Century, Bright Noa’s biggest fan is none other than Char Aznable himself. In the first half of Z Gundam you see Quattro give everyone, everyone who was a veteran of the White Base a ton of respect (Hayato Kobayashi, even Kai Shiden, and fuck it… Katz “The Man” Kobayashi). Char was more than happy to launch out of the Argama commanded by Bright. This was a delightful partnership to watch, and is one of the many satisfying things about Z Gundam.

You’ll see this again in CCA, when Char realizes that his plans were becoming undone, he’s the first to credit “That Bright Noa” for the effective countermeasure. Char Aznable was the device (an powerful one given his role and stature) to give Bright a favorable, and legendary reputation within the Universal Century and especially in the eyes of the viewer.

In Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn, Bright finds himself being tasked to capture the Gundam, or destroy if he can’t. He wonders at the honor, which I find strange given the success of Londo Bell in stopping Char. I’d think that was pretty significant, stopping Char meant stopping the Axis asteroid from destroying the Earth. But Bright seems both not promoted and at the same time highly regarded. Where does the EFSF get their commanders?

[TV-J] Kidou Senshi Gundam UC Unicorn - episode.04 [BD 1920x1080 h264 AAC(5.1ch JP,EN) Sub(JP,EN,FR,SP,CH)].mp4_snapshot_37.20_[2011.11.24_11.40.58]

So what did Bright do in this episode? Nothing truly noteworthy. He puts Riddhe in his place, without having to slap him. But otherwise, he did what he pretty much always did – deployed the mobile suit squad to the field. Instead of being a tactical commander he is often a manager of personalities in the history of the UC. In this I find him comparable to the most victorious Head Coach of the National Basketball Association’s history: Phil Jackson.


Phil won 11 championships as a head coach, a staggering achievement. A big part of thhis result is how he had the greatest players of not only their era (Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman, Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal), but he had one that was the greatest player ever—Michael Jordan.

[TV-J] Kidou Senshi Gundam UC Unicorn - episode.04 [BD 1920x1080 h264 AAC(5.1ch JP,EN) Sub(JP,EN,FR,SP,CH)].mp4_snapshot_33.25_[2011.11.24_11.40.24]

Bright had the Gundams, with pilots like Kamille Bidan, “The One, The Only” Judau Fucking Ashta, and Amuro Ray himself. He had the best mobile suits and the best pilots relative to their competition (hard as it is to think of enemies who sucked worse than Beecha Oleg, Elle Viano, and Roux Luka, but seriously, fuck ZZ Gundam). Bright was enough of a stabilizing force for the young stars that they were able to get the job done.

Char himself flew out from his command, like he did under no other. This is really what makes Bright bright.

Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn 04 Post Series

1. Sermon From The (Mobile) Suit
2. The Despair of Zeon
3. The Eternal Captain: Bright Noa [You are reading this now]

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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46 Responses to The Eternal Captain: Bright Noa in Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn 04

  1. Pingback: The Despair of Zeon At The Bottom of The Gravity Well–Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn 04 | We Remember Love

  2. Pingback: Sermon From The (Mobile) Suit: Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn 04 | We Remember Love

  3. schneider says:

    Leadership is a strange thing. I’ve been wondering the same thing as well, having come into Gundam through AU shows. What struck me with Bright is his, well, reliability. While he doesn’t inspire fanatical devotion like Reinhard, or possess the tactical genius of Yang, one look at him and you know that he gets shit done. Sometimes that’s all we ask from a leader. At the end of the day, he’s just a dude with a job to do, at that earns him the adulation of fans.

    Interesting how you would put Bright in the Basroil. For me, the reason why Lafiel clicked in her captain role was that her crew knew all too well of her inexperience and royal blood, but she worked earnestly and didn’t consider her crew beneath her. In a way, she’s kind of royal moe? Bright would probably lead better, but would lack Lafiel’s flashes of brilliance. (I especially enjoyed the “stranded in subspace” episode in Banner I.)

    • Bright and the Basroil could’ve very well died in subspace. After all, there was no reason for the other ship to sacrifice itself, no reason for the other captain to sacrifice itself now that the Basroil did not have a gorgeous, young imperial successor as its captain. We may see Bright sacrificing himself instead, with some angst about losing his ship all over again.

      A year ago I’d have compared Bright with Jeffrey Wilder, who perhaps had more conviction in opposing the Frontier government than Bright being recruited into the AEUG, but otherwise their profiles are similar. But not anymore. Jeffrey is much, too much fun, especially after “Big Wednesday.” Suck it Holland.

  4. Myssa says:

    I can’t remember where I read about it, but it was mentioned that one of the reasons Bright was never promoted beyond line commander was because many in the Federation felt threatened in some way by him. His reputation aside, having him promoted to more than full-bird (in army lingo) would mean not only the loss of a captain that actually gets things, done, but put him in a position where he can likely make changes in how the Federation military work, or at least influence them in ways that the other top brass would (very likely) not want.

    • Well, Bright is better in the field perhaps… but after the 2nd Neo Zeon war there’s less to do tactically. He’d be given a different challenge behind a desk, and there are many ways to make a difference.

      I mean, just look at us.

      We have never been in a great war since WW2 but there’s lots to do in the military. The many insurgencies can be seen as analogous to the Zeon remnants issue. But what this really is, is how the narrative needs Bright in a white ship. He’s a crutch. You don’t get the same effect with captains like Synapse, Otto, Henken, etc.

  5. KrimzonStriker says:

    Essentially Bright shines in his role as a supporter, a soldier who manages at the front-line, whether it be to the pilots under his command or the upper brass of the Federation that makes use of him. That sturdy rock/fixed star people turn towards in order to get their bearings. In many ways I think he could have gone on to be the next General Revell had he been allowed to move higher up in the ranks and applied his management style on a larger scale, if not in Revell’s genius then in his ability to see that things get done. It almost reminds me of Hilda Marendorff’s remarks about not needing to be a specialist herself, just needing to specialize in getting other specialist to do the tasks for you.

    • Interesting how you brought Hilde von Mariendorff into the discussion. I think she’s beyond Bright in terms of strategy, and a galaxy beyond him in terms of politics. But yes the comparison makes sense.

      I do feel that Hilde isn’t the steady competent fixed star in the empire, even as the other admirals don’t mind her being so close to Reinhard and actually respect her contributions. She’s an adviser, a consultant, a staff manager as opposed to a line one. The captains and admirals are just that. They have accountability and command responsibility.

      As much as Hilde “won” the war by outmaneuvering the FLA and capturing Heinessen and saving Reinhard’s life in the process, it’s the admirals who actually give and execute the orders.

      • KrimzonStriker says:

        Just specifically in terms of that quote, and on a much smaller scale, I do understand the difference between the two in terms of their respective abilities.

        She was a fixed star in the sense that she kept Reinhard focused and on the right path, I don’t quite think the other admirals could have done so or been in a position to do so. You could say Bright does the same for his pilots, not something you can compare based on scale I admit but I think it seems apt anyway.

        True, true, but I think we can work our way down in saying the same for the soldiers and captains who serve under those admirals in turn and once again the same can be said of the pilots under Bright. All any of them needed in that case was the right direction.

  6. Matt Wells says:

    Regarding Bright being sidelined after the One Year War: perhaps this had something to do with White Base’s reputation as a Newtype ship? Bright himself was no Newtype, but in those days the very concept was something the Federation had trouble comprehending, as I recall in the movie trilogy he refutes a dozen times over that he isn’t a Newtype. His case certainly wasn’t helped by the fact that he married a Newtype, he was close friends with the most famous Newtype of the Universal Century, and his son was the poster boy for whiny bitch Newtype antics.

    That might account for all the shit he got from Bask and Jamitov in Zeta: those two eliteist, racist dickholes got a kick out of pushing around the renowned Captain of the Newtype ship. Amuro was definitely held back out of fear for his Newtype abilities, so perhaps Bright endured a similar prejudice, completely unfounded though it was. The definite impression I got of the Federation post-Zeta was a deliberate neutering of their armed forces, they didn’t want another armed coup likew the Titans. Hence why his advancement was accordingly limited.

    What makes Bright unique amongst The Captain types in anime is that he is, like you say, more of a manager than a tactician. In the pilot lead UC era, whoever can best control the volatile teenagers on his ship wins the most battles, because Newtype magic = No need for tactics or rational thought. Slap the shit out of them at regular intervals to keep ’em in line, and you’re golden. Laughed my ass of at the thought of the Macross Triangle being between the ship’s captain and his Skull Leader, Minmay would have a decent shot at Hikaru that way.

    Pretty much the only other Captain I can think of that you neglected was Captain Tatsumi Tashiro from Gunbuster, though his lack of screentime dones’t give him much room for development. Like Bright he has to deal with enormous shifts in the scope and planes of the battlefield, while simultaneously managing a fleet of emotionaly vulnerable teenage pilots. Oh, and the knowledge that if he screwed up, humanity gets wiped out by giant space monsters. Shame Bright never got a chance to be a Mobile Suit pilot, but internet meme logic is clear: he would have won the One Year War single handedly. “IT’S THE FEDDIES’ BRIGHT DEVILLLL!!!”

    • Myssa says:

      The heck? There’s just no way Bright could tank Perfectio. Armor was, in a word, lousy in SRW D, which is why gameplay was skewed towards Reals in that one… Whose armor values sucked even MORE than their Super peers.

    • LOL that video is funny. It’s interesting to imagine Bright the MS pilot though I’m glad that he isn’t, the same way Amuro was never made a captain of a ship. Leave the dual roles to Char and his clones.

      Hayase Misa is vulnerable and insecure enough to fall for Bright, though I think it’d be better if he found himself captured with them and stood in for Hikaru when Golgy asked for a kiss demonstration.

      I find it very interesting how Bright wasn’t given the Albion to command, though technically he has the same rank as Synapse. Then again the GP series Gundams are supposedly top-secret LOL.

  7. -chii- says:

    I don’t really have much to add here as this post is just too awesome!

    Bright plus Holland make this happen somehow. I think it would be amazing!

  8. Whatsht says:

    I would want to see Bright commanding the Macross. How would he handle being abandoned by the Earth? Bruno Global gave a tearjerking speech that reminded me of the first prime minister of Singapore who also gave a speech on TV where he also cried. Oh well, gotta continue with Higurashi.

    • I think Bright will be fine, though not as inspiring. Bruno was a great public figure. He is a fatherly figure for an orphaned population. It’s going to be a lot more difficult to trust someone so young because it’s no longer just about command but it involves governance and administration as well.

      Well, the Ryvius survived despite degenerating into Lord of the Flies, and the Macross has a more mature and adult population.

      • d3v says:

        What Bright does best is something that in Macross tends to be reserved more for CAGs like Fokker and Ozma in Macross. They’re the ones clearly shown as having to manage the pilots personalities. The captain serves a more tactical and political role. The only possible exception would be Millard Johnson from Plus since he seems to fill in both roles at once (though New Edwards is a base, not a ship).

  9. kureshii says:

    “Dusty Attenborough, or maybe Ulrich Keßler”? I always thought he was more a Murai kind of person, heh.

    In a nutshell, Bright Noa is a memorable captain because, given a choice among the candidates here, most of us would probably pick him as our captain ourselves. He’s no brilliant tactician like Yang, no aspiring figure like Bruno/Okita. But he performs. Without launching into an essay on leadership, we always see him as the picture of calm (and yeah, fuck ZZ).

    Each UC series that features him shows us another side of him, and he’s still unflinchingly the same picture of calm. I remember in particular his early appearance in Z, when he is sent out in an abandoned space shuttle, and controls the crisis on board before getting picked up by the Argama. When asked how he feels about leaving his family on Earth, he replies with complete faith in his wife (I forget the exact line). What a man! Char felt the same way, judging from that conversation, and one can’t help but place immense trust in such a man.

    In a genre that has too many incompetent, overly sentimental, heartless or downright broken commanders, Bright Noa was, and still is a refreshing face. To have such stress placed upon oneself, to perform to expectations without betraying one’s ideals, to still remain human (and to have an awesome wife): I think that’s something many of us can aspire to be.

    • Well said. One of my favorite moments is Mobile Suit Z Gundam 21 “A Sign of Zeta” where Kamille and Torres escalated their asshattery against each other.

      Bright ever so calmly stopped the violence by punching everyone in the face. It was Emma who said the wrongest of things when she tried to tell Bright to relax and let the guys release some steam. Bright was TOTALLY relaxed.

  10. megaroad1 says:

    “Holland would own Bright though in the Talho Yuki sweepstakes. Remember Sleggar Law had to die before Bright could escape his faux-NTR situation.”

    Really had me LOL’ing.

  11. I wonder if Bright will stay around for the next two Unicorn episodes. If he does, it’ll be interesting to see if his characterisation factors into his actions during Hathaways Flash, where he seemed pretty unforgiving.

    And Riddhe, c’mon, don’t act like you’re hot-shit when you’re standing next to a photo Amuro Ray. He deserved a Brightslap for that.

  12. Bright’s still the man who can damn fly a tabletop and a fan, bar none.

  13. Lokey says:

    Something i noticed while watching ZZ. Since i had the misfortune of watching it directly after Zeta (That is, i finished Zeta, then popped in ZZ right then), I think i stumbled onto why Bright is so laid back in that show, besides the whole tone reversal thing. He got to know, and cared about the original crew of the Argama. He sits and talks with the pilots a lot, especially Char and Emma. And then they all died or are missing. It’s a common thing among soldiers to distance themselves from replacements in squads and whatnot so they don’t feel as bad when said replacement dies. Bright is doing this. He doesn’t care, and doesn’t want to get to know the new pilots, and i don’t blame him, cause they need to have their faces introduced to a brick. Anyway, because he doesn’t want to get to know them, he doesn’t discipline them into being decent people, as that takes too much time learning their personalities to learn how to correct them. But he gets the shaft by having the script say he gets to know them. And by then, doesn’t have any real credibility to his discipline, because he didn’t do anything earlier.

    I find it funny that almost immediately after, he says Fuck this, and gets out of the show for the last ten episodes or so.

  14. ces06 says:

    Bright himself doesn’t really stand out much both in skill and personality for me either. Well, he’s certainly accomplished a lot, but his skill doesn’t seem like it’s super exceptional or anything, just above average.

    But maybe that’s what makes him special, in a show with Newtypes, emo kids, flashy pilots and stuff. Even with the circumstances that put him in the captain’s seat in the first place, (In which he’s thrust into the situation, like a lot of other gundam protagonists), he just takes it all in and does it. He doesn’t bitch around and actually gets the job done, without any BS. (Unlike some gundam protagonists….)

    • Well, he’s a side character, who doesn’t really get a lot of opportunity to emo. At most he falls in love and gets to be a wuss about it. He owes Dozle Zabi a big one. Then he becomes the object of admiration of a hot Anaheim employee, and proves himself an honorable husband LOL. That’s pretty much what we get out of Bright.

  15. JoeQ says:

    But would he have done a better job than Dayakka if he were the Dai/Chouginga Gurren???

    Actually, propably yeah. Can’t really remember Dayakka doing much other than standing on the bridge and being mildly fatherly. He didn’t even slap Simon!

  16. Vendredi says:

    In a sense Bright makes me think of the straight-shooting soldier that gets the job done and doesn’t give a damn about office politics – and that goes a long way I think towards explaining why he’s the perpetual Captain. A manager of personalities is actually a really good way to describe high-level command positions in the military since their responsibility is more for logistical planning rather than direct execution. Bright is certainly captain of only a single ship but the White Base is more of a Mobile Suit carrier at heart than a battleship.
    Take Hugh Dowding, who presided over Fighter Command during the Battle of Britain; he forged very strong working relationships with the fighter wing commanders in the southeastern heart of the country, and very crucially didn’t try to micromanage – he let individual wing commanders develop tactics on their own initiative. Unfortunately he bruised a lot of very large egos on the way and eventually lost his position once the immediate danger passed.

    • I’d like to imagine a few HUGHSLAPS administered here and there…

      I imagine that after the Battle of Loum, capital ship design became more focused on MS transport. Thus, every ship was a hybrid carrier.

      I don’t see the point at all of having an attack ship/destroyer that can’t get as close to a carrier due to the carrier’s own defenses not to mention being ripped to shreds by mobile suits.

      • Anya says:

        They’re cheaper to build than carriers, so would be used to complement carrier battle groups. Though you don’t see fleet warfare much in Gundam, I would imagine they would place the carrier in the middle with the destroyers ringed around it to act as a line of defense for the carrier.

  17. Anya says:

    I didn’t get the references of the various captains except for Global, so I can’t really comment on that. I will agree though that Bright is famous because he did what everyone wanted him to do (ALL HAIL THE BRIGHTSLAP!), and because of the respect he receives from the pilots – the characters we care about. It’s the brass that hate him, but we ALWAYS hate the brass in Gundam shows anyways.

    • The senior leadership in Gundam are almost always portrayed as evil. If not that, they are portrayed as weaker, or morally compromised characters. Bright remains the “good guy” even throughout ZZ.

  18. Axel Vant says:

    I just loved when you wrote “he had one that was the greatest player ever—Michael Jordan.” and inmediatly afterwards, you post a picture of Amuro. Kudos!

  19. Michael Casanova says:

    I’ve always had respect for Mr. Bright as a commander. A very level headed guy who just does what he has to do. He’s also not afraid to get down and dirty with his men (fighting hand to hand with the Zeon at A Baoa Qu), and puts them first. He’s the epitome of a great naval commander.

  20. Pingback: 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) | We Remember Love

  21. Star Saber says:

    What if we fused Bright Noa and Bruno Global together? “Bright Global” or… maybe “Global Bright”.

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