The plight of Zeon forces on Earth is best chronicled in anime form as Gundam 08th MS Team. It is a fun show to watch and it’s a series I would recommend over other UC Gundam, with exception to maybe the trilogy form of the original series. It is in this space that Gundam fans appreciate the glorious Zeon fanservice in the form these whacky mobile suits in Gundam Unicorn, which is the only other exception that I would recommend alongside with 8th MS Team. As the clumsy Zeon units clash against their angular Feddie counterparts in the heat of the battle, it feels like I’m watching a bunch of Syd Mead designs rolling back and forth like a certain episode of Mawaru Penguindrum.
Even better, Gundam Unicorn 4 is more than the sum of its parts. The fourth installment in a six-part series brings to it a certain turning point. It is an emotional episode; you know the emo protagonist schtik works when you can empathize with him. Banagher’s issues come out, and while we can take home the conclusion that he is now invested enough to want to change the world using his powers, it is done in a way that is convincing. I think it is especially noteworthy because it isn’t some lame flashback that gets used way too often; we get a little too philosophical for my tastes, but I realize what Banagher’s going through.
Perhaps more importantly, these youths need someone to guide their way. I think this is ultimately one of the key themes in episode 4; the way such people make mistakes are not resolved by the charming quotable lines the likes of Full Frontal would quote his subordinates. It takes something a little more spiritual. I guess berserk psycommu powers can count?
The problem is that time waits for no one. Kids grow old in a blink of an eye. Just because one may be lost in a Timeless moral dilemma of Epic proportions(and I mean both Timeless and Epic) , decisions have to be made, people have to be saved, and action scenes need pilots. Indeed it is through action, when Captain Zinnerman took him on a desert stroll, that healed Banagher’s soul. Or for example, the events leading up to Minerva’s nice up of coffee (also in the desert, for that matter–or the wilderness for those of you who study the Good Book). But actions have consequences. Or rather, thankfully, they do. (And that is Ensign Riddhe’s cue.)
If anything, you can trace this theme back to episode one. It is not unlike how Zinnerman and the rest of the Vist guys lamenting on the dead man’s quest that they are on–everything is kind of going towards whatever Cardeas Vist is originally scheming. To paraphrase Char, it’s like they’re on the flow of time. In that sense it is very apt to recall not only that the Unicorn symbolizes Banagher’s parents’ will (kind of like World’s Number One Mom here), but Cardeas had actively done things to improve Banagher’s future. (Kind of like World’s Number One Dad.) I mean, making sure he didn’t die in a blast of flaming space inferno is a good start. But we did get a glimpse of Cardeas’s attitude to Banagher in episode one and it may be telling to revisit it.
The emotional climax in this episode is both built on some simple soul-searching and on the notion of having a clear vision of the problem at hand. I thought the point about Char is head on. FULL FRONTAL. So I too appreciated the philosophy lesson even if it’s kind of overdrawn. To the degree that it is, too, it makes me realize that these were originally concepts lifted from a light novel series, so that much can be forgiven. It really is much better handled here compared to what you saw in, say, Fate/Zero.
The animation, the music, the visuals, the fight scenes, the composition of things are all top notch. At this price point, you sort of expect that (I mean I’m paying over $200 over 3 years here, for just 6 episodes). But I did not expect being able to be emotionally connected to a stereotypical UC Gundam protagonist. Perhaps that is due to the fact that my jaw was slacking from all these prolonged battle scenes with gorgeous robots going at it, thus lowering my resistance to sappy emo kids. Seriously, there was just way too many awesomely animated battles in this episode.
I look forward to the battle in 2012 when Banagher tries to reason with our human soldier. I wonder if Shinji fights Rei, who will win? Maybe Alberto Vist’s conscience?
PS. If I was a certain posh, semi-ero blogger I would probably start this post off with a quote with this theme. I chose this particular version for the use of the word curse. I believe it can be fairly interpreted to the context of Unicorn ep4.