So you know how I was saying writing about Gundam is very time consuming due to the density of the series and there was no way I was going to do Unicorn. Ya... discard that as the opening episode pulled me back into one of the best stories in all of Gundam. So buckle your seat belts and lets take a ride into the Universal Century!
I will have to say something though as a Universal Century anime I will be making references to other series. I’ll try to keep it basic and explain context but for best viewing of this anime a passing familiarity with Mobile Suit Gundam and Mobile Suit Gundam: Char’s Counterattack is recommended. However if not still stick around as I said this is an amazing story all told. Also while I do know the ending and the story itself pretty well I’ll try to write these impressions in my usual style and stay spoiler free.
Following a tease opening inside the Unicorn Gundam the main series begins with a flashback following the opening. The final year of Anno Domini has occurred and the first Prime Minister of the Unified Earth Sphere Ricardo Marcenas declares the beginning of the Universal Century from his residence in space, symbolic as Humanity moves to the stars. However as he is declaring the laws of the new century terrorists attack killing everyone, following their attack they too are betrayed as their ship explodes as well seemingly by planted explosives. Yes even at the very beginning the Universal Century was one of bloodshed.
That day which is later known as the Laplace Incident history is written. With the death of Ricardo Marcenas’ the future is drawn to a path of war starting the largest and most complicated of all Gundam timelines. However out of everyone involved in the Laplace Incident only one, a terrorist survives, he is Syam Vist.
Flash forwarding nearly one hundred years its now 0096 UC and Syam wakes up and is talking to his grandson Cardeas Vist. The two share a cryptic conversation regarding the world order and the future, one natable cryptic piece of information is a mention of the “Laplace Box”. This conversation sets up the seeds for conflict within Gundam Unicorn. Furthermore during their conversation they keep referring to “Them” as starting to emerge. For those up to date on the Universal Century it’s a clear reference to Newtypes. A concept we’ll come back to shortly.
Moving away for these characters and into space, the episode transitions to a intense space battle. As one transport ship is under fire they release a non-mass produced Mobile Suit by the name Kshatriya piloted by Marida Cruz. Using the multi-directional blast Funnels of the Kshatriya she makes quick work of her mass produced enemies. Interesting this also sets her up as a Newtype as its been stated in previous series only a Newtype has the spacial awareness able to use Funnels at an acceptable level in battle.
Now before we move on was this battle not amazing? I mean seriously while Iron-Blooded Orphans had some good land based battles, with one exception their space battles were lacking. This reminds me of how amazing Gundam can be in space. Fast, powerful, and all around exciting. While it was clear IBO was trying to avoid power creep after nearly two decades of war by this time Mobile Suits are powerful and damn it Gundam Unicorn is going to show them off! If you dont like overpowered Mobile Suits this isn’t for you.
Moving on the episode shifts focus again now to a classroom where some important world building information is going on. For fans not aware this series takes place three years after the events of Chars Counterattack which essentially saw Zeon and its ideology defeated along with its most capable commander Char Aznable. However tension is still high as the idea of independence for the Spacenoids (Humans born and raised in space colonies) from Earth is still a tempting idea.
Furthermore the professor speaks on Zeon Daikun’s Newtype ideology a common theme of this story, as well as the Universal Century as a whole. While I wont say too much less we get into spoiler territory for a whole bunch of Universal Century stories, I will say though Newtypes are an incredibly important part of the history of the Universal Century and one of the driving ideological impetus of the conflicts that permeate this timeline.
From here we again see our series protagonist Banagher Links an honourable if a bit spacey teen. Indeed one of his first introductions has a fellow classmate commenting on how he tends to gaze out longingly into space. A telltale sign of a Newtype if there ever was one.
However this time Banagher is actually seeing something rather important. He witness’ the testing of a new Mobile Suit the RX-0 Unicorn Gundam. The tool of the Vist Foundation that was mentioned previously near the beginning of the episode. As the test ends Cardeas is told that students could potentially have seen the test he brushes this off saying they could only see a glimpse due to their speed. However Banagher clearly saw the Unicorn with his superior vision.
As the episode begins to come to a close the young girl who was on the ship attacked by Mobile Suits enters the colony where Banagher is located. However she quickly falls into trouble literally tripping falling into the void of space between the arms of the colony. Banagher somehow (Newtypes can sense other Newtypes) feels her and quickly sets out the rescue her.
Although he is successful in saving her from the void and suffocating to death. The spacesuit he was using runs out of fuel and plummets to the colony, only with his superior piloting skills are they able to survive. Following this the mysterious girl enlists Banagher into helping her get to her destination by stating she needs help. She needs help to stop a war.
Well that was some first episode wasn’t it? I mean it was good enough that I came out of my temporary Gundam hiatus after only a week... so ya. Honestly though I was very pleasantly surprised by this adaptation, also while it’s been a while since I’ve seen Gundam Unicorn it feels oddly fresh. I am not sure yet if this is the definitive version of Unicorn however at this moment it doesn’t feel like the waste of time I thought it was poised to be. However if you haven’t seen Unicorn you have to watch this I’ll even help you with the Universal Century mubo jumbo. I promise this will be a fun ride, lets take it together at least until IBO Season 2.
Gundam Unicorn Re: 0096 Airs every Saturday on Crunchyroll with both Japanese and English Dubs
Gundam Music of the Week:
So ya that Opening was pretty awesome wasn’t it? I’m not going to lie this opening with it’s crisp animation and really fun song really pushed me into covering this. It showed that there was some thought and effort (also money) put into this production. However really at the end of the day it was a great song and the visuals reminded me how much I enjoy this story.