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)

[TV-J] Kidou Senshi Gundam UC Unicorn - 05 [BD 1920x1080 h264 AAC(5.1ch JP,EN) Sub(JP,EN,FR,SP,CH)].mp4_snapshot_21.14_[2012.05.28_06.33.59]

I’ve covered similar ground before, but I feel this bears renewed discussion. By the second episode, I was thrilled by Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn because I felt it did mobile suit combat as well as it possibly could get, and this meant being free from many of the complaints I (and other viewers) have about Gundam and robot shows. One of these things is the moral debate that often happens while the participants are in actual combat.

Cinematic duels, particularly sword fights take advantage of the proximity and pauses between passes to stage debates and/or exchanges of wit. Star Wars is probably the most important work in this tradition as far as Gundam is concerned: Vader attempts to convert Luke into the Dark Side in The Empire Strikes Back, while Luke attempts to convert Vader back in the Light Side in Return of the Jedi. I find it hardly surprising that Gundam has taken this and ran with it, scaling up using mobile suits and their communications systems.

Just as in episode 04, Banagher wasn’t fighting. He was in a battle, but he wasn’t in it to fight. What’s important to note here, and in this episode Banagher identifies and accepts his purpose as the pilot of the Beast of Possibility – is that he’s here to save the people who choose to fight.

[TV-J] Kidou Senshi Gundam UC Unicorn - 05 [BD 1920x1080 h264 AAC(5.1ch JP,EN) Sub(JP,EN,FR,SP,CH)].mp4_snapshot_17.43_[2012.05.28_06.29.37]

Bright Noa gives him confidence, as the pilot that the Gundam chose. But what really made it real for Banagher was when Mineva (having rejected Riddhe’s offer of a life of compromise), threw herself into the air, falling fast and straight to the ground, feeling the massive pull of the Earth’s gravity – called out his name. Mineva performed one of the most powerful leaps of faith in anime here.

And as Bright predicted, because Banagher is a Newtype, he heard her call. He was able to disengage himself from Marida’s confused and angry attacks from the Banshee and caught Mineva in another fine example of the romantic mid-air catches in robot anime. He told her as much, how he heard her, and that he knew – what his power and presence was for. With this she went back to save Marida, because Zinnerman and her must never fight.

And thus we see Gundams grapple with each other anew. In a sense I feel a lost opportunity. The most powerful Gundams could’ve really fought, but didn’t. It would’ve been a better fight than what we saw between Uraki Kou and Anavel Gato in Stardust Memory, but no, it wasn’t a fight. It was a powerful warrior taming a magical beast is more analogous – but it didn’t resolve this way either.

[TV-J] Kidou Senshi Gundam UC Unicorn - 05 [BD 1920x1080 h264 AAC(5.1ch JP,EN) Sub(JP,EN,FR,SP,CH)].mp4_snapshot_32.07_[2012.05.28_06.45.40]

Banagher didn’t turn Marida back. The important thing he did was be that possibility. He dragged the Banshee back in the Garuda’s hangar, where Zinnerman was. It was he, with his courage and conviction that reached into the heart and past the tortured mind of Ple 12. Will she be the first and only Cyber Newtype who will know happiness in life? It’s too early to say, but we know she didn’t die here, and I thought she was clearly doomed before the credits rolled.

In the previous post I’ve spoken about the tension between the pacifistic lead character who happens to pilot the most powerful weapon in the show, and how Gundam Unicorn is the best example of this. I am not a fan of this convention, but it is an important one in Gundam. I’ll let this comment say it best:

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.


What do you get when you have a blatantly non-pacifistic lead pilot? There are extremes; on the one hand you get a horror like Shinn Asuka, and on the other hand you get the sublime Flit Asuno.


And with Banagher and the Gundam Unicorn electing to provide non-combat feats and intensity, it’s left to other characters and mobile suits to provide the things I actually watch Gundam for!

In this episode I thought I’d be shortchanged. While the complexity played by the Londo Bell Tri-Stars is something I appreciate (as I will discuss in a succeeding post), the restraint required in their operation did not lend to intense destruction as was seen in the previous episode. What provided the much needed and anticipated MS battle action was the show-stealing turn of the Sleeves: Angelo Sauper and Full Frontal.

[TV-J] Kidou Senshi Gundam UC Unicorn - 05 [BD 1920x1080 h264 AAC(5.1ch JP,EN) Sub(JP,EN,FR,SP,CH)].mp4_snapshot_47.27_[2012.05.28_07.06.07]

The Rozen Zulu’s stomping of the Zeta+’s is quite similar as to how the Byalant tore apart the Zeon remnants. The difference here was how the Torrington battle involved older suits (and in the Zeon’s case, antiques), Full Frontal’s counterattack on the The General Revil’s MS Teams involved state-of-the-art machines. The assault by Angelo does not resemble the carnage usually associated with overpowered Gundams as can be seen with the likes of Heero Yuy, Tieria Erde, etc. wiping out large numbers in a single beam attack, or its variation in Kira Yamato who fires multiple beams in a single attack to wipe out masses of enemies (or disarm them, whatever). It is consistent with how the Byalant, and earlier, Marida Cruz’s Kshatriya took out multiple opponents – which in turn is consistent with how Amuro Ray did in the Battle of Solomon in the OYW, Char Aznable in the Zeong in A Baoa Qu back in the OYW, Uraki Kou and Anavel Gato respectively in the 2nd Battle of Solomon – all amazing runs where a single unit shoots down many.

It’s a treat here because I can feel that the Zeta+’s aren’t chumps, just as the Jegans from the Nahel Argama weren’t when Marida ripped into them. It was really the pendulum swinging towards the Zeonic strategy of fielding a mass-killing machine against the Federation inclination to deploy mass-produced units. None of the machines were weak in this case, the Rozen Zulu just had some nasty surprises, to think Full Frontal’s Sinanju didn’t have work to do until it faced down The General Revil flagship itself.

[TV-J] Kidou Senshi Gundam UC Unicorn - 05 [BD 1920x1080 h264 AAC(5.1ch JP,EN) Sub(JP,EN,FR,SP,CH)].mp4_snapshot_48.16_[2012.05.28_07.07.25]

It was that moment in the theater where nostalgia, the popular red suit, and the scene-stealing cliffhanger came together in the theater where I had the privilege to watch this episode. The crowd went nuts, affirmed by the number of people I saw wearing Sinanju hoodies after the show. It was a great way to finish the installment, letting us take the earnest attempt to make Banagher who he is, without shortchanging us with what we came to watch Gundam for.

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)
  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) [You are reading this]
  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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33 Responses to 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)

  1. Thanks for using my post! Big fan of your blog so it’s nice to be a part of it in some way.

    Gotta say I agree with you that its the balance between Banagher’s dramatic negotiation, and the more choreographed action scenes that help make his pacifism tolerable. I’m particularly fond of Sinanju equipping a rocket launcher AS he is dodging beams from the General Revil. And then firing.

    ‘None of the machines were weak in this case, the Rozen Zulu just had some nasty surprises, to think Full Frontal’s Sinanju didn’t have work to do until it faced down The General Revil flagship itself.’

    This is important. The Jegans are still shown to manoeuvre and react to Rozen Zulu’s attacks, one even managing to fire a volley of missiles in its direction. It’s the dichotomy between Zeon’s use of newtype weaponry and the Federation’s insistence on more regular weaponry (as they still continue deny the existence of newtypes) that allows the smaller numbers of zeon to have an upper-hand.

    I don’t love all the combat in this episode. I had trouble keeping track of where everyone was at some points, and I would have liked more of the Geara Zulu with a giant-skuire. I attribute those complaints to time issues (which is really where the brunt of Unicorns faults come from) Yet there’s something special about the choreography in Unicorn, it’s the spirit of the 80’s with the techniques and sensibilities of modern mecha anime – which is really at a sight to behold. Those last five minutes in particular pull this off brilliantly.

    • Nah man, it’s a great comment and put what I wanted to say in the best way.

      I would say that it’s the spirit of the 90s more than anything. The 80’s were more HUGGING IN SPACE until CCA came along.

  2. 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

  3. Shinmarizu says:

    To Ghost and andrewgraruru: when you write stuff like this, everyone comes and comments, and the result is very enjoyable commentary. It reminds me of the similar amount of discussion that arose from Ghost’s posts for Sayonara no Tsubasa. I am ashamed that I missed the first Episode 5 post and the opportunity to contribute.

    So many elements of awesome in this one episode, which a lot of people have previously mentioned. I was especially happy with how Banagher himself didn’t save Marida; he used the power of the Unicorn to bring her to the one person who could. To think he did that after taming, and placing his trust in his mythical beast, and pulling off that splendid midair catch. (That never gets old for me!)

    To me, I saw someone who easily could have adopted a ham-handed “hero / white knight” approach to his newfound peacemaker role, but didn’t. And that is probably why many people, including myself, can tolerate or appreciate Banagher’s stance in the overall conflict of Gundam Unicorn: he backs up his stance no longer with drawn-out speech, but with swift, decisive action.

    • Thank you… and yes, the mid-air catch doesn’t get old when it’s done this well.

      Re: Banagher’s decisive action…

      Banagher doesn’t differ from other STOP FIGHTING pilots in the sense that he performs non-lethal attacks. This is a pet peeve of mine that Broken Blade really did well to comment on. The key thing here why this isn’t obnoxious is how few opportunities he’s given to do this. Renton in Eureka SeveN did this to bunches of enemies with ease. Kira Yamato well… yeah.

      Banagher also tries to Newtype his way into the heart of the violent adversary, there are three instances:

      Marida in the Kshatriya… somewhat successful but then again the NT-D pretty much tore apart her MS.
      Loni in the Shamblo… an important failure.
      Marida in the Banshee… he couldn’t NT his way into her heart, but instead let Zinnerman complete the turning.

      Let’s not forget that Banagher has love for Marida. She is, I think just as important as Emma was to Kamille; and more important than Shanalua was to Kio.

    • ces06 says:

      I agree, stuff like Unicorn brings out the best writing and discussions out of everyone. Good stuff!

      • ces06 says:

        Oh, and, I say, the mid-air catch was one the best scenes (out of a lot of really good scenes!) in the episode. It’s a great moment for both Mineva and Banagher, and one of the finer ways they handled relationships in gundam.

        As for Minerva, how the jump started made this mid-air catch different from the start. it doesn’t come from unfortunate circumstances beyond her control, nor desperation. She jumped off herself on her own accord and circumstances… which is mad, lol! But it shows just how she’s cleared of all her doubts, a culmination of how she met Banagher and all the diner talks along the way. The princess drops all of her guard and worries, and shows her love and determination to live by letting herself be saved by her white knight. She wants to be saved, and she calls out to him.

        As for Banagher, he’s won the hearts of the Grancieres team, a traumatized cyber-newtype, the feds, good ol’ Bright, and finally the Zeon princess. it’s a great show of character, and a really great “hero saves girl” moment that avoided being cheesy.

  4. sadakups says:

    The way I see it is that Banagher did in Episode 5 what he tried to do in Episode 4, and I’m more convinced here that he knew his Gundam’s potential that he had to find a means to work it out without losing himself like in Episode 3, considering that he has that connection with Marida. I mean, the easy way out is for the Unicorn to go Destroy Mode and fuck the Banshee. That would have been nice watch, but of course, that’s not exactly what they’re aiming for.

    I guess Bright’s coaching really helped a lot. That’s the Eternal Captain for you. I just find it creepy that he keeps a mug of Amuro in his office though.

    I can answer for Garrod at least. It’s more of him trying to survive given the dog-eat-dog world setting of the After War era where people kill to live, but and also didn’t. There were times he held back, and there were times he had to go for the kill or else he’ll end up dead, and he never wanted death especially that he met Tifa.

    I think Kio is in the middle ground between Flit and Asem. So far, Kio has killed a bunch of Vagans with Flit constantly guiding him, but I won’t be surprised if he shifts later.

    • The Banshee had an active NT-D for the most part. We can suppose that the Unicorn’s is stronger just as Banagher is stronger as a Newtype to Marida’s CyberNT.

      Who needs photos of Mirai and kids? Delicious Amuro fills the hole Char left in his heart.

      Kio is going to be stuck between the returning father he never knew and who is sympathetic to Vagans… and well, Flit.

  5. Turambar says:

    As previously stated, I very much enjoyed the the method of presenting Banagher’s pacifism. Perhaps one of the largest problem I have with most forms of pacifism is that it is invariably feels too easy. That the protagonist can simply sit there and scold and nag the opponents into submission, or worse yet, become the god of non-fatal incapacitation as Kira was, removes the sense of physical tension and confrontation that a battle should have. The enemy after all is philosophical and psychological.

    So how does Episode 5 differ? Banagher’s enemy is not only the ideas espoused by those that choose to fight, it is his own steed. He puts his own physical muscles to use, reining in the beast of possibilities as it attempts to transform. Physically eschewing the easy path and stopping the NT-D to deal with the situation in his own way, the entire event gives a far greater sense of effort than the amount of fancy aiming Kira showed off.

  6. zetatrain says:

    And here I was expecting you to compare the Rozan Zulu to the Freedom Gundam.

    While I wouldn’t say it was on the same level of Kira taking down 50 mobile suits in 2mins, the battle was closer to that rather than the feats performed by Amuro, Char, Marida, etc., IMO. While both Amuro and Char had impressive kill counts during the Battles of Solomon and A Baoa Qu those where battles that lasted for hours and they racked up their kills over time rather than at once. Marida and the Bylant pilot took on multiple units at the same time but their unit count was no more 10 units or the low teens. As for Gato…well nuclear weapons are called WMDs for a reason. Angelo and the Rozen Zulu are able to take on 20+ mobile suits, at the same time, and take them down almost effortlessly in 2 mins. Not only that he also managed to only disable them (which begs to question why).

    This being said I don’t hate the ending battle, probably because I don’t mind the whole Kira downing X amount of MSs in X amount of time and I realize the battle played out the way it did probably because of time and money constraints. I do however feel that the battle was a bit lacking. Personally, I think it would have been better if sunrise took the time and resources from the ending battle and used them for the stratosphere battle. The episode should have then ended with the appearance of the General Reval and its mobiles suits closing in on the Nahel Argama. This way we get a more fleshed out battle in the stratosphere , the animators get more time to craft a better battle with the Rozen Zulu, and the episode still ends on a cliffhanger.

    Despite the fact that this episode was lacking in action, its handling of the story is arguably the best so far in the OVA series and moments like Bright’s talk with Banagher, Audery’s leap of faith, and Banagher pulling up the Garanceier easily rank among my favorite moments in the Gundam franchise. Overall I’d rank this episode 2nd among the OVA episodes with episode 1 still being my favorite. Now the only problem is that we have to wait one whole year for episode 6 and with the fall of Bandai Entertainment I now have to shell out the big bucks for the Blu Ray.

    Anyway nice post on Banagher’s pacifism and the same goes for Andrewgraruru’s comment. However I really have wonder how sunrise is going to approach Banagher’s no-kill/pacifism stance in the final two episodes because pacifism is the last thing that comes to mind when you look at the Full Armored Unicorn.

    Looking forward to the third post.

    • Those battles in the OYW lasted for hours, but Amuro’s run when his NT powers began to awaken was godly fast. It’s slower due to the lone beam rifle he used, but otherwise it went by pretty quick. As for A Baoa Qu, look back at the Zeong’s initial run. That’s what I’m talking about. As for Gato, look for his first outing with the Neue Ziel; Feddies were butter to his hot knife, including capital ships.

      I’m fine with “partial casualty” in this case because it’s truer to actual combat — not all hits are lethal, but many will incapacitate. Now this is different from intentionally disarming opponents like Jesus Yamato does.

  7. The dialogue between Bright and Banagher gave us a reason why Banagher didn’t feel threatened when he was on board the Garencieres, he don’t group people as “friend” and “foe” because he is not a soldier. Banagher was right, a civilian doesn’t treat both sides of a war as allies or enemy, they are like the bystander of an argument between 2 person.

    Marida trying to kill Banagher while saying “Gundam is the enemy” was ironic since she is piloting a gundam herself, but if we interpret it as symbolic representation, it’ll mean something around the lines of being able to see how others are like, but unable to see how you are like. To see how you yourself are like, you will need others to tell you.

    The entire battle between Unicorn and Banshee was as though the Unicorn was trying to help the Banshee defeat the demon inside the NT-D.

  8. Shining_Bard says:

    Unfortunately no, I don’t think Marida will get a happy ending here.

    • zetatrain says:

      Considering the fact that she died in vol. 8 of the novel series I think there is a pretty good chance that she won’t get killed off.

      • hamma hamma x says:

        What makes you think that? UC is for insensitive mysoginists who can’t stand watch attractive girls like her kick ass. That’s why Riddhe is getting the Banshee: because Fukui has homolust for Riddhe. For him, Marida is “damaged goods”. That’s why he killed her. I find that pathetic.


  9. Reid says:

    Waitaminute, Ghost…those are just recolored ReZELs aboard the General Revil, aren’t they? Not Zeta Pluses, I think.

  10. ces06 says:

    Watching CCA the other day showed how well crafted the dialogue in Unicorn is. CCA’s dialogue was… well, I somehow managed to get the gist of what they’re trying to say, but it felt like a string of convoluted arguments and one-liners that felt completely disjointed from the battle scenes.

    Unicorn’s dialogue, meanwhile, was structured, balanced, went along great with the battle, heartfelt, and most importantly, felt natural. For the trap in gundam that is the pilot preaching from the mech, I’d say they nailed it with this one.

  11. Anonymous says:

    >Not Pulu

  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

  13. angelslayer says:

    Dear god, heero Yuy and a pacifist? IVf he could get a hold of the Turn A…. dear god, no, just no, WORLD WOULD BE DESTROYED IN FIVE SECONDS!

    Asemu is kinda pacifist, but he gets his revenge on Desil quite brutally (come on, firt rip it apart and then shoot whats left?).

    And Garrod from X? I didnt see whole season, but judging by the mass destruction the suit can do, dont know if hes a Heero or a Banagher.

    • hamma hamma x says:

      He’s neither. Garrod is the best Gundam protagonist precisely due to this: he is neither a preachy fag like Banana, nor is he a stoic, mass murdering idiot robot like Heero. Garrod is sensitive, wise-cracking, badass and awesome. Heero is just bland, although I’ll give him that he sure knows how to kill people. Banagher, in contrast, just talks, and talks, and talks, and talks…until it gets old and wants to make you choke that little fucktard. This whole Banagher love makes me sick.


  14. banagherlinks says:

    Hate to burst your bubble but marida according to the novel [REDACTED BY ADMIN DUE TO SPOILER]

  15. eddardpage says:

    setsuna = LoL? what are you talking about? –“

  16. Garrod Ran says:

    the admins and his minions of this blog are idiots. Praising Banana fag is pure stupidity. Banana is the second worst pilot in Gundam. He simply don’t deserve to pilot the Unicorn.

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