Thematically, I think it still works. Asemu is not an X-Rounder. He suffers emotionally due to the pressures he puts on himself to be the pilot his father is, to become a match against Zeheart, both X-Rounders. It’s pretty good, actually – as a character conflict. It engages us with a story about accepting one’s limitations without selling out one’s possibility. After all, Asemu can still pilot the beast of possibility, can’t he?
The rather brilliant counterpoint to this is Woolf Enneacle himself, now an old hand, an exceptional veteran who is a match for at least an “artificial” X-Rounder while piloting an inferior, if customized, mobile suit. Woolf accepted who he was, who Flit was, without feeling bad for himself. Instead, he worked on getting better and over the past decades became an accomplished pilot and squad leader.
Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, I’m going to dump on the presentation of the whole thematic conflict. Why? It’s because the content is not enough, it’s the storytelling via moving illustrations – most importantly the battles. Because what is a goddamn robot show if it can’t do battles right?!?
I’m not asking for much. I can hang with this episode taking pages and pages from Mobile Suit Z Gundam where Desil basically Jerids the place up and Zeheart does a Paptimus and lets him get fucked up. Just like Jerid, Desil gets his subordinates killed, but unlike the charismatic Mr. Messa, his subordinates have no love for him, and he has no love for them in return. He’s just pure buttmonkey in this show.
Now, the very idea of the mobile suit is for it to be a tactical threat to battleships and carriers. A slow and large target like a capital ship is at a tremendous disadvantage to a fast-moving mobile suit that carries comparable weaponry. I keep mentioning the Battle of Loum in UC 0079, but it’s the perfect example: Char destroyed 6 capital ships with basically a tommy gun and some grenades (albeit gigantic ones). The gun arrays of the ships can fire continuously and miss, but the ships themselves cannot evade short range fire.
Given this precedent, and what should be definitive in all Gundam (actually, it’s very rarely enforced, even in Z Gundam because capital ships have plot armor BUT STILL), the Diva should not have punked Jerid like that. I don’t care if Flit was X-Rounding the gunnery. The ship still cannot evade Desil’s weapons if only he actually got to shoot them. This is not difficult. If you want to see, an entertaining MS vs. Capital Ship battle, watch the Sinanju vs. the Nahel Argama in Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn episode 02. That is the shit right there.
I suppose the important question is: is it fun watching Desil get punked again by Flit, in ever escalating levels of indignity? Yes. I love shit like this. But the battle itself is not to my liking. More importantly, Asemu is at the heart of the story again, and given Woolf’s intervention, he’s going to enter the big battle next episode with the right attitude.
And yeah, the next episode brings us the big battle. I think blondie assistant is going to die.
Am I asking too much from the show? Maybe. I know I’ve watched something like 30 episodes of Legend of the Galactic Heroes over the last 48 hours, but I promise I don’t mess up my perspective in evaluating Gundam AGE’s space battles. Still, the X-Rounders did not even score ONE kill amongst the grunts. NOT A ONE.