Per request and as promised this is Mobile Suit Gundam: Thunderbolt! Set in the original Gundam timeline of the Universal Century the conflict between the Earth Federation and the Principality of Zeon rages on. However the conflict depicted here is far from the adventures of Char and Amuro, no this takes place in the Thunderbolt sector between the Earth forces allies the Moore Brotherhood against Zeon’s Living Dead Division. The Thunderbolt sector is desolate and bleak and full of death if you thought Gundam: Iron Blooded Orphans was dark well it has nothing on Thunderbolt!
As an ONA the episode itself is very different then what we’re used to seeing in Iron-Blooded Orphans. First things first is the fact that the animation is gorgeous if Gundam Unicorn set the standard I’d say Thunderbolt matched it. The battle scenes are top notch and far and away better then anything we’ve seen in a television anime. One thing that is interesting though is that the animation style really captures the spirit of the manga, something I thought would be a little bit difficult to do properly. However the production team did an exemplary job of pulling it off.
As for the plot itself the episode wasn’t that heavy. Instead taking more time to merely set up the pieces for future endeavors. On the side of Moore’s Brotherhood we have Io Flemming a cocky and brash but exceptionally skilled (and lucky) Mobile Suit pilot. Io is one of the unlucky 24 pilots asked to sortie and engage the Dead Mans Division in the Thunderbolt sector. However the Zeon forces have set up long range beam cannons able to snipe and destroy any Earth Mobile Suit in one hit.
However due to the high concentration of Minovsky Particles though from the derelict Mobile Suits the Earth’s forces seem to believe they’re safe until close range. This proves not to be the case as the beam snipers seems to have a way of seeing through the haze which as of now remains a mystery. Io funny enough is actually the first to be hit by the snipers ejecting just in time saving his life (see I told you he was lucky). The snipers then go on a field day and totally obliterate the majority of the opposing forces.
Just as their victory seems complete out of nowhere Io hijacks and shoots point blank one of the opposing forces pilots and steals his mobile suit the MS-09R Rick Dom (showing this is later during the war against Zeon for reference sake). Io then taunts the remain snipers and using the information flies through their blind spots back to the ship as a returning hero. For his heroic action Io is awarded the FA-78 Full Armor Gundam!
Back with the Living Dead Division the sniper force is morning the loss of a comrade. One of the pilots Daryl Lorenz who may or may not be a Newtype in classic Gundam fashion vows revenge on the cocky man who took his comrades life even though ironically enough he never really liked him. From here on Daryl is on the look out for Jazz which Io cockily talk them means he’s coming for their lives. Interesting it seems every member of the Living Dead Divisions strike team seems to be amputees and have robotic limbs, it’s not really clear how this fits into anything though.
Back on the Earth Forces ship we learn that Io isn’t only an elite pilot but he’s also the ships Captains lover. Interestingly enough their relationship doesn’t seem to be a big secret with many people casually talking about. However there seems to be a class divide with the Captain Claudia Plah and Io on one side and lower members of the crew on the other.
Finally for the first time the Full Armor Gundam sorties and demonstrates its enormous power. One thing that people wonder about this story is how powerful everything seems in relationship to the primary time line leading many to argue over its canonocity. What is true though is this is clearly the most powerful Gundam we’ve seen within this time frame in the Universal Century. With a Beam Canon far outclassing anything that should be available at the time and mobility that would make the Nu Gundam or Unicorn Gundam look slow. However I’ll say this I wont be talking about its canon placement in the main article (comments GO AHEAD) as honestly I don’t really care because damn it if it doesn’t look damn cool!
Finally at the end in one of the most beautifully animated scenes I’ve ever seen out of Sunrise as we’re treated to a first person view of a pilot being killed by a Gundam. This is a scene that really requires a shout out as it really captured the fear a pilot must feel as a mobile suit of such a high caliber is clearly coming for your head. It later is revealed its head camera footage being shown to the Living Dead Division. During the presentation Daryl notices jazz and instantly knows if he’s to avenge the death of his comrade he’d need to face one of the deadliest tools of war the Earth Forces have a Gundam.
I’m not going to lie from the cool jazz, the exemplary animation, and engaging fast pace story. Gundam: Thunderbolt blew away all my expectations and I now cannot wait to see the next three episode in this ONA. Especially all the set up seems to be done. Really there isn’t much left to say, what do you guys think? Was it awesome or just kind of good, let me know in the comments. Also I’m thinking of doing these for Gundam The Origin let me know if that is something you’d like to see too. Also for the record this does replace Iron-Blooded Orphans for the week a special double write up is coming next week. Look forward to it! As always thanks for reading.
You can watch Gundam: Thunderbolt legally on Sunrise’s Gundam.Info Youtube Channel