A lot of things went down, and most likely a number of red herrings in terms of character deaths. I’ll let you guys bring these up for discussion in the comments, as I’m going to step away from discussing them in the post proper.
The fundamental dissatisfaction I have is the failure to iron out the details at how Asem reached a level of combat piloting beyond that of X-Rounders. Am I unnecessarily upset/obsessed with this? Maybe. But hey, after the robots themselves, the particulars of the pilots and how they go about combat is of paramount interest to me in Gundam. Characterization and the stories themselves exist as justifications to pit pilots and mobile suits against each other in glorious illustrated and animated combat. Why else would I want to watch anime so much?
Sometimes, these justifications are engaging indeed, and at times quite compelling. Bright hit Amuro twice. Mineva spent her time as a princess mostly in hiding. Char for all his force of personality reveals himself a small, small human being… all these contribute to Gundam being the way it is as a franchise, but the important thing here is the spectacle of mobile suit combat. Still, I will mention a few things about Gundam AGE here.
Zeheart is a hero.
For now at least, he is unwavering in his goal, that is to achieve the vision of his idol and benefactor. And he does this without being underhanded towards his opponents. He fights in a straightforward way, and is unerringly devoted to, if condescending towards, his beloved friend Asem. We see this play out when the Vagan operation was lost, and the space fortress was going to hit the Earth with the force of a colony drop, Zeheart himself would stop it. This was fortuitous because it was the same choice that Asem made, that would be his first and definitive heroic act in the eyes of his peers and his father.
Thus, instead of seeing Char hunting down Amuro in Axis, we find Asem and Zeheart working together to save the Earth.
I don’t know about you, but this gave me thematic heart tugs and filled me with bro-ness and love. This was Kira and Athrun all over again, only not made of suck and fail. I’m serious. Asem confronted his father just as Athrun did, only that Asunos are made of far better quality than Zalas. Zeheart may not be the forced perfection that is Kira Yamato, but he is far more interesting in his villain role. He does not “turn” into a hero here. What happened is far more interesting. The Vagans are not Char. They do not intend to preserve the Earth by scorching it free of Humans, no matter how butthurt they are from their oppression.
Asem is a man(‘s name).
Previously mentioned hangups about pilot skill and power levels aside, Asem is an interesting character, albeit not as interesting as Flit. This is fine. Flit’s been around since the beginning and has never let go of the narrative as its driving force. Asem is the upstart, the pluck in the machine. It works out.
In the heat of battle in space, Gundam leads awaken or find their Newtype powers. Asem instead found his purpose in fighting. This is the magic that made him more powerful than “inherent” “inherited” “artificial” powers that make X-Rounders formidable in battle. Purpose and inspiration made Asem break through. The narrative runs with this and takes us along with Asemu facing down his father not in a contest of who’s more powerful as a pilot, but in terms of achieving something great by means of the Gundam.
Flit destroyed enemy mobile suits with his Gundam. Asem prevented an ecological and meteorological cataclysm with his. The battle of Ambat was where Flit distinguished himself, but that was Grodek’s fight and Grodek ended it, and completed it. This was Flit’s defense of the Earth, but it was Asem who saves the planet. Flit failed to pull the trigger to execute his enemy. Asem felt compelled to agree to those terms – this is war after all, but achieved his objectives with virtue, friendship, and love.
Next episode, TO EARTH!