No. I’m not saying this makes up for the entire Kio arc. Also, there’s one more episode for it to all go to waste. But, for 20 or so minutes, I was reminded of the show I loved all year; the show I was so ready to proclaim as the best TV Gundam anime since Turn A Gundam, or even better than it. This episode won’t make sense of all the narrative turns, and stylistic decisions over the last 15 or so episodes, but I will celebrate it.
Yes. I’m reminded of how Mobile Suit Z Gundam completely tanked before the last three episodes… with the high point being the penultimate one (“Casualties of War”), but Mobile Suit Gundam AGE dug itself a far, far deeper hole, and the episode in question does NOT give the same shock and power Z Gundam’s did, despite being more melodramatically named “Flash of Despair.”
Having said all that, I can now celebrate what I really enjoyed watching this weekend. What’s amazing is how it barely involves Flit doing awesome things!
Kio did not get to fight in his own way.
No, the show didn’t “set Kio straight,” but rather the episode took the spotlight nearly completely away from Kio. Thus, I can easily rationalize the defensive move he pulled here as just any other defensive move from a lead pilot in Gundam. What happens when we don’t see Kio fighting?
Characters die, as soldiers do, in big battles.
A whole bunch of people get to do soldier-y, things. A lot of what I like about Gundam happens. That’s what.
She dies, something I know will happen. When it finally does, it was pretty good. Instead of a confession before heading out, which would’ve been very awkward to watch given the sequences surrounding it, we just get to see her farewell to Zeheart just as she gives him the resolve to sacrifice her. This isn’t just one of those girls who stands in front of the beam to save Jerid. Fram was consistently throwing herself at the Federation for Zeheart’s sake.
Zeheart fires, as he accepts her devotion. The beam kills Fram, who was dying anyway, and takes out the “undesirables” like Zanald and his forces. This attack not only was supposed to destroy the Gundams and the Federation vanguard, but also purge the Vagan of the weak-minded. Only that it failed, only accomplishing the latter. It’s all cool, made better by Fram’s sad farewell.
Zeheart and Asem
I’ll set aside my disappointment for Asem’s ascendance as a pilot, as it’s really the payment to purchase this emotional resolution. Asem defeats Zeheart, Gundam vs. Gundam, in a straightforward duel with no gimmicks. Zeheart is interesting because his death offers no apology. He went as far as his commitment took him, and that was all the way. There was no corruption, like say, Char. If Zeheart was a fool, then he was a consistent, valiant fool.
Instead of redemption, we were given something else: the affirmation of love, of friendship. Zeheart remembers youth, and how it really was to be happy. That is what his time with Asem was. It was only right that Asem did him in, to remind him of what he chose to give up for his ideals.
Asem shows up HUGE in this battle. His pirate ship rescues the Diva’s crew. His pirate Gundam takes his father’s and son’s mobile suits to safety away from the Vagan super beam. And only after all this, he defeats Zeheart. Asem and Zeheart saved the Earth from the plummeting Zeon fortress once, and Asem now defeats Vagan’s most valiant warrior.
This episode establishes Asem as major character of worth in the show, a worthy lead, at least to stand beside Flit as an interesting, morally compromised character asked to become a hero standing at the vanguard of humanity.
One more episode to go, and it’s going to be split between Flit, Ezelcant’s avatar, and Kio.