The phrases "Robots are cool" and "War is hell" are nothing if not ubiquitous with Gundam. Anyone who fancies himself even a remote fan of Gundam can tell you that. Yet, while most war stories opt for the "war is hell" angle, there aren't that many of them that really feel...human. Sure, we can have something like "Apocalypse Now" and "Saving Private Ryan" which accomplishes that, but most of the time, we get "SEED Destiny" and "00 Second Season" which have it's characters come off as more "idiot/asshat tools for a broken narrative" than truly human characters that make
us feel something good.
Gundam Thunderbolt has always felt human. Yes, it still goes the "robots are cool" angle Gundam and most mecha anime in general have as their bones, and yes, there is a lot of sick jazz to really get the adrenaline pumping when action takes place, but Gundam Thunderbolt feels truly human about expressing war and its combatants, and this second season is no exception. Yet somehow, a lot of people fail to realize this, seeing it as nothing more than pretty action romps with little substance. While in the surface Thunderbolt is another epic war series full of some of the flashiest visuals you will ever see in anime, it presents everything more realistically than dramatically, all the while making perfect sense, effectively becoming more dramatic than most of its much longer brethren. So, how does Gundam Thunderbolt go about being human, and what does this Second Season do to strengthen such a human feel? Well, let's find out, shall we?
It's one whole year after the One Year War, and now Zeon remnants have aligned with this strange religious cult known as the South Seas Alliance to take down the feddies. Once again, we have two stories, two main perspectives to follow, Io and Daryl. The interactions they have with their crew are excellent and really bring the best out of everybody in terms of expressing their character, and their battles are as exciting as always. Then in episode 6, we receive a reminder of just how human this show really is after the epic reestablishing episode 5 did and was meant to do. One Zeon troop lost his newborn son in debris and is now fighting out of grief while all we see is a scene of him crying while swiping through pictures of him and his wife right after her giving birth. Next we see Commander Bull, and in one moment, he flicks the head of a bobblehead baseball player with pictures of him and his son also being in the amphibian mobile suit he’s piloting, and in another scene, him getting ready to shoot himself in his room full of more baseball bobbleheads. I love this kind of human storytelling placed on even grunts we’ll never see again. Whereas any other Gundam anime would've shown them fighting while shouting about their children or not even showing bobbleheads, this one does, and I'm really thankful for it.
Everything this anime teases us with even slightly is tied up perfectly beyond the main plot. In episode 5, we see the old hag chairman (or whatever position she holds) having a sort of incense necklace and in the finale, it turns out this was from her Newtype Facility that the original cultist, Levan Fuu was from before he began his cult. After an awesome session of playing the song “Groovy Duel” before a mission in episode 6, Io and his new jazz aficionado friend Bianca say they'll do another session, and in the next episode, they remark on how they never did and how they'll do that right after the operation that lasts from then to the end of this finale, except it's gonna keep going because this show burns us with a cliffhanger. Before that, a few things I wanna clear up, as well as one minor gripe.
Some people have accused the Groovy Duel scene of being nothing but filler. That is not true. That was there to quickly reinforce that this hobby of Io’s and Bianca’s they share wouldn't be just a one-off aspect of them that never came up again, unlike most anime that have character mutually involved in a hobby unrelated to the show’s narrative. We already know that about Io, but we didn't know that for Bianca, and it was fun to see them do it and then Io reminiscing about episode 1 of last season where he was in space combat before his suit got sniped. I'm also glad that episode 7 reinforced this, though after episode 6, that was set in stone about the two and their friendship. A few issues come up though. Well, actually just one. Apparently, Claudia survived getting shot being in the ship that got destroyed and somehow she was reduced by the South Seas Alliance. How? It's a dismal plot point and a big issue with the second half of the season, but it's not enough to derail my experience with the show.
Io is just as cool as ever, especially in his new Atlas Gundam, and it's nice to see him really worry about Claudia once she shows up, though I already covered him last time. His chemistry with Bianca is damn fine though. Speaking of, Bianca is officially the best girl in Thunderbolt. Going through a lot of crews and being an awesome jazz aficionado was damn fun to know about her, and overall she’s very fun and full of jabs. Some of my favorite moments of her include her threatening to drop Io by calling him a selfish prick and asking if he wants to take a swim when he complained about her being late as his Mobile Suit’s footstool in episode 8, and her covering her head and apologizing after seeing Cornelius grind his knuckles on Io’s head for messing up his mobile suit and saying that she was guilty of it as well. Speaking of, Cornelius is here and doesn't do much but hey, fun to have him and the tissue gag back.
Like Io, Daryl is back and we don't really need to delve much into him this time, except for one thing. Remember when Karla started going crazy and screaming her head off in episode 4 last season? Well, as a result, she has reverted to her prepubescent stage mentally and thanks to the whole 3 metal fingers resemblance her father had to Daryl, he has to pose as her father while she is in recovery, which is insanely bittersweet. His crew and their interactions are pretty alright as well. We don't need to touch up on Claudia either. She’s basically the same except with new people and we already covered that. Including those two soldiers from episode 6, we have a really wonderful and rather human cast. Hell, their dialogue is often great too, especially Bianca’s. I love when a series a built a bit on its old cast while making the new guys just as great, which is surprisingly hard for Gundam sequels to do if Gundam SEED Destiny and 00 Second Season have taught me anything.
The mobile suits and new Gundams like the Atlas Gundam, all look damn amazing, and some of the Feddie suits that didn't look quite right in season 1 now look perfect here. The stellar action is fun and flashy as always, like when Daryl pulls off a maneuver that involves boosting into his Frizzy Yard cloak and it looks shimmering with the red protective cloak and the blue-ish booster flames, and the battle at Ao Boa Qu in episode 5. Despite the mildest of weird CGI, this probably even tops or at least definitely rivals season 1 for the title of best looking Gundam anime. Hell, the Groovy Duel sequence was pretty well animated, and contrary to some people’s belief, has no reused footage other than Io simultaneously reminiscing on the battle in episode 1. Needless to say, this ONA is as eyegasmic as it was before. It is Gundam Fucking Thunderbolt, after all.
Naruyoshi Kikuchi comes back for this season as well, delivering another round of great scores. The elephant in the room is “Pretty Song” for being so upbeat and so different from any kind of music from the series, and it's definitely a cute song, no pun intended. Others such as the episode 6 and 7 ED themes I can't currently find a name for, as well as “Groovy Duel” which rivals “Thunderbolt for Main Theme” from season 1 in terms of being real blood-pumping jazz. I also like the song "War of Sara Yoshida" from episode 8. Now I wish I could find the names for more of these tracks since there amazing and I do like more of the ED themes of this season than those of last season.
With magnificent action and equally fun jazz and music, this series more than satisfied the adrenaline-inducing action junkie in me. With brilliant and real dialogue and subtle and true displays of humanity, I could only appreciate this series even more. It more than fulfills its duty as a worthy follow-up to its predecessor, which is unfortunately rare for Gundam sequels. Even if you don't agree that this series or even this season is great, at least we can all agree on one thing: it's leagues ahead of that piece of shit Twilight Axis which aired alongside this. With all that said, I bid you adieu.
It's bad. It's so bad.
I had high hopes after season 1 (which is an at least 9/10 piece of art), this is just disgusting compared to it's predecessor. I will rate this season comparing to season 1.
literally nothing important happens, that's not saying no plot progression was made. Like season 1 they tried to cram as much information as they could in to 4 episodes, except it was way lighter in season one due to the high quality battles. This entire season is purely exposition, with no mech fights that are remotely comparable to season 1. The intense battles between the 2 main
characters was what drove the show to greatness, this season is just nothing comparison, literally like not watching anything. since none of the side characters ever got any development, none of them matters when they die. the main characters didn't even fight so they had plot shield the entire time, which made none of the battles involving them interesting.things that drives the plot is as pointless as it gets. Things that happens in season 1: Io got captured, Claudia dies, Daryl looses his limbs. How season 2 negated all of these things: Io breaks out first thing for no good reason, Claudia is just not dead, 2 limbs or no limbs, Daryl once in a while clinches his teeth OH NO!
Art: 7/10 not much to say, very stylized way that excelled in season 1 now mostly spent on talking animation. goofy ass fodder mechs and planes ruins the moments (when there are basically no "moments")
Sound: 5/10 remember how much the frantic, scattered jazz pushed the space battles in the asteroid field? well now we have that over slow underwater crap that doesn't ever fit the pace of the music.
Character: 1/10 Whats character development? Season 1 characters you gave a shit about because nobody else mattered: Io, Daryl. Season 2 you gave a shit about because nobody else mattered: just Io. I'm willing to bet that you can't name anymore than Io Daryl and Claudia off of your head because none of them made any kind of impression nor impact on the story. Season 2 characters include: that bald chick, that one chick that played an instrument, the professor chick that has daddy issues
Enjoyment: 1/10 i want my wasted time back. it's a gundam show, there is barely any gundam, plus the only gundam lost it's first legit battle to some dude.
Over all: 3/10 is as generous as I can get
After note: this season shouldn't even be called gundam thunderbolt since it has nothing to do with gundam thudnerbolt. the actual gundam: thunderbolt isn't in here, the "thunderbolt sector" wasn't in here, the shit that happened in gundam thunderbolt didn't matter cause the fact that claudia is alive, and Io escaping immediately negates all of season 1's plot. This is literally a piece of garbage using a superior show's title to gain views.
(This review contains minor spoilers for the second season, along with spoilers from the first. Spoilers from the second season are rather minor details, so they will not affect your viewing of the show.)
The first season of “Mobile Suit Gundam Thunderbolt” is, in my opinion, the defining Gundam entry for this generation. Many Gundam series attempt to convey the message of the brutality of war to its viewers. For an entire franchise centred around the idea of gigantic robots fighting one another, the Gundam series has always had some anti-war undertones amongst its exciting stories. That being said, the first season of “Thunderbolt” was no
exception. It weaved a tale of pain, brutality, and tragedy unprecedented in any Gundam series before it. Not even the dark “Iron-Blooded Orphans,” a recent Gundam series about child soldiers, was close to demonstrating the dark nature of war and conflict like “Thunderbolt” was able to.
So how does the second season fare?
Thankfully, very well. “Mobile Suit Gundam Thunderbolt Season 2” (which I will call “Thunderbolt 2” for the duration of this review) is another look at the struggles of warfare.
In this season, both Io Flemming and Daryl Lorenz, the leads of their respective factions, are given further insight in regards to their lives after their fateful duel. Viewers are given a look as to the aftermath of the horrific events of the first season. Both of our heroes (or villains, depending on your outlook) have to come to terms with their losses incurred. For Io, it is the loss of Claudia, while for Daryl, it is the loss of Karla.
Of course, this season isn’t just about these two characters’ losses. Rather, it is the ongoing conflict between the Earth Federation and the Principality of Zeon. I have one complaint this season however, and that would be that there is an imbalance between the stories of both sides unlike the first season. To put it bluntly, the Earth Federation’s side of the story was far more interesting and exciting than that of Zeon. While this isn’t an issue in itself, I would have liked to have more of a balance between the two, as I felt at many times that the second season was more Earth Federation-centric than usual. The first season really gave us a chance to look at Zeon from a more human perspective, and while that still continues in the second season, I felt that it was rather dampened.
I won’t go into too much detail, but expect the show to begin introducing themes of religious extremism into the mix.
Yes, that’s right. While hints of a religious cult have always been in the shows, viewers are about to see their entry into the series.
“Thunderbolt” has some great animation.
The art style has a rugged look to it that fits with the style of the series. In addition, the fight sequences are well-choreographed and look like legitimate fights. Many Gundam series venture into the fantastical when it comes to combat, but the combat in “Thunderbolt” is realistic, brutal, and well-thought out. By the way, if you like GMs and other grunt units, this is going to be like heaven.
I'd also like to add that there is a jaw-dropping amount of details in regards to the mechanical aspects of the mobile suits. Take some time to pause every once in a while. You'll notice some insane amounts of detail.
Jazz has been a major component of the musical score in the first season of “Thunderbolt.” This continues in the second season as well. Some might disagree, but the dissonance between upbeat jazz music and the brutality of war depicted on screen is perhaps one of the best things to come out of this series.
The voice-acting is great. I’ve never been able to articulate my opinions adequately in regards to voice acting in general, but I will say that the voices behind Io and Bianca are outstanding.
For this section, I will be focusing only on Daryl (who I feel has had the worst characterization this season) and Bianca (a newcomer who I felt was a fantastic addition to the series).
Daryl Lorenz is my favorite character, but I felt that his story this season was severely underdeveloped. I am aware that strong character development should not be expected in a four episode net series, but this does not hide the fact that he had relatively little growth. Many may disagree, but it is my opinion that Daryl was somewhat inconsequential in this season, which is disappointing given his massive role in the first.
While there are many new characters in this entry, the most notable would be Bianca, who is a fellow Earth Federation pilot alongside Io Flemming. Her chemistry with Io Flemming is some of the best I’ve seen. Their combined love of jazz and their impressive piloting skills make them a fun pair to watch on and off the battlefield.
The rest of the characters are pretty great as well, but it was Daryl and Bianca that really shaped my score for this category.
This show is a blast to watch. There’s more intrigue and action than you can shake a manipulator at. The gritty and mature plot will certainly appeal to those looking for a darker version of this beloved franchise, while the excellent animation will definitely appeal to those simply wanting some mecha fighting action.
Story (7/10) Good
More Specifically (7.25/10) Good
The story for Mobile Suit Gundam Thunderbolt 2nd Season was good, it definitely explained what was going on in the struggles of war far better than it's manga counterpart during the sections that were covered. Although even with that being said the concept of the struggles of war were indeed present you can tell that it was definitely more laid back (at least until the last episode) than season one. This arc slowly but surely introduced the monks and their realization of newtypes but I did feel it did it take a bit
too long to address where all these monks came from and what their plans are even for 4 episodes. One thing Season 1 focus and portrayed were 1) The Struggles of war and what humans are willing to sacrifice to get their way and 2) Rivalry between not only the Zeon and The Earth Federation but Io and Daryl the two main character. This season 2 did still has confrontation between Zeon and the Earth Federation (as it should) but the paths that Io and Daryl have taken did not clash once (as far as I remember) this entire season and if it did and I can't remember (because you know we got one episode a month) it wasn't memorable. Anyway my point is if there's one thing that from a story standpoint that I feel Gundam does better than most anime is the rivalry story and how it plays out between the main character and antagonist, with that missing I can't sit here and say this from a story standpoint is superior or even on the same level as season 1 but it's still good nonetheless.
Art and Animation (10/10) Outstanding
This is one thing that Sunrise just can't go wrong with especially when it comes to this series the amount of detail in the art style and animation just looks so outstanding you pray that everything they do Gundam related brings this type of quality to the table, nothing bad in my opinion can be said about this section.
Sound (8/10) Very Good
The Sound effects and still very good and distinct but the BGM this time around was hit or miss for me. I feel (especially for the final episode) the whole happy go lucky music vibe that they were going for during grueling and painful scenes of death during battle felt just a tad out of place. I feel they were going for a happy/sadistic vibe of happy music during death scenes but like I said I don't feel it meshed too well although the actual music playing was good I felt it didn't really fit as well as the other BGM.
Characters (8/10) Very Good
The characters that were focus one were very good, not a lot of characterization or development that happened during these four episodes. It doesn't really hurt them as characters but as far as vast and noticeable improvements in comparison to season 1 nothing really is showcased. Now Io does have some what of characterization during the last few minutes of episode 7 and the entire episode 8 as he show how much he truly cares for Claudia, which is something that was borderline unclear in season 1 so credit there is given.
Enjoyment (8/10) Very Good
My enjoyment was very good for the majority of this season although I do definitely believe this pales in comparison to my enjoyment of season 1. Because like I said for me personally I get a unique high off of the quality rivalry that Gundam also presents in it's stories so when it's not present or not good my enjoyment takes a big hit. (It's probably why I didn't enjoy the MC of Ironblooded Orphan's Mikazuki he lacked a worthy rival). Nonetheless I still enjoyed it just not as much as season 1 and feel the same will be the case if this gets a season 3.
Overall (8/10) Very Good
More Specifically (8.25/10) Very Good
Mobile Suit Gundam Thunderbolt 2nd Season just like Season 1 blows it's manga adaptation out the water and proves that Gundam is far better watched than read, that can't be said about every series. The sound effects in Gundam battles is something that can't be missed and it's so unique. Although I feel this isn't as good as Season 1 this is still a very good season I feel that the pacing of Thunderbolt is going to stay at the pace that it's at if do get a season 3 which it would behoove them to make one, they can't leave this story like this plus that have enough manga content to adapt it so it's only a matter of time.