By the year 0096 of the Universal Century, a fragile peace emerges from the ashes of conflict. Sixteen-year-old student Banagher Links visits the Industrial 7 space colony on a school field trip, but because of a broken shuttle, he is left completely stranded.
To Banagher, who has always lived a normal life, war had always been a distant, almost mythical part of history; but within minutes, fantasy becomes reality when he rescues a girl named Audrey Burne, who urgently needs to meet with the leader of the nearby Vist Foundation, Cardeas Vist. She hopes to persuade him to withhold the "Laplace's Box," an object that holds the potential to destroy the world. History is set in motion as galactic forces converge on Industrial 7, each vying for possession of the Laplace's Box. As Neo Zeon remnants clash with Earth Federation Forces around the colony, Cardeas, in his final moments, gives Banagher the key to the Box, a mobile suit dubbed "The Unicorn Gundam."
Packed with explosive action and rising tension, Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn RE:0096 follows Banagher as his conviction is tested and the destiny that has laid dormant for more than a century is finally realized.
Gundam Unicorn started out with a lot of promise and potential. The animation and characters were both excellent when I initially started this series. But over the course of the show, there's a lack of character development over time makes for a slightly weak ending. I don't care for the episode format of Gundam Unicorn RE:0096 the pacing get's broken up and loses the flow and grandeur of the OVAs. The OVAs felt more cinematic, and now they just seem to be edited down to 22 minute episodes which feels awkward.
If only the character development was held as well as the animation, this could
have been an outstanding series.
Gundam Unicorn was still in progress when I first began to delve into the franchise. I told myself that I would watch the whole series when it was complete, yet here I was 3 years out from its finale without having seen it. Seeking out and purchasing the entire OVA series was a rather unappealing option, and as a franchise I care about I try my best not to pirate Gundam anime. Lo and behold, I discovered that the entirety of the TV version was available (Officially!) for free on Youtube. RE: 0096 is a marketing masterpiece chock full of stunning visuals and Gundam fan
fulfillment, but with a story that left me somewhat underwhelmed and which may be inaccessible for newcomers to the franchise.
Having been cut from a series of OVA movies, RE: 0096 has stellar animation for a TV anime. There are (almost) no dips in the budget, as we're presented with consistently solid line art. Spaceships and the lead Mobile Suits are done up in conspicuous CG, and I honestly wouldn't have it any other way. The intermittent hand-drawn instances of the Unicorn and Banshee Gundams are gorgeous, but being animated with 3D models lends them a welcome sense of consistency, especially during their transformations.
The character designs are pretty standard fare for Gundam, with none of them too outlandish and many that are just bland. However, the real reason to watch this (Or any series, if you ask me) is ultimately the robot designs. Gundam Unicorn is absolute Universal Century PORN. Remember that Mobile Suit you liked from Zeta Gundam? That one's here. So are the ones from 0079 all the way to Char's Counterattack, as well as many never-before-animated Mobile Suit Variations. The original designs of the Unicorn, Banshee, Sinanju, and Kshatriya are all impeccable, and look simply amazing in action. The grunt suits are nothing to sneeze at, either.
I've listened to Unicorn's soundtrack on and off ever since 2012, because it's just a damn good soundtrack. The lush orchestral pieces range from sweeping and powerful to moody and atmospheric, with varyingly pounding and eclectic electronic percussion. The opening song gives me a heavy Kingdom Hearts "Sanctuary" vibe, the production of which sounds like something I might do given a song like this to work with. Both ending songs are pretty forgettable, but neither are really bad enough to be bothersome.
From the beginning, Gundam has been host to a vast array of normal folk characters to larger than life egos. Unicorn is chock full of the latter, with a few of the every-man sprinkled in here and there. I find the main character Banagher to be particularly weak as a leading role, seeing as he is honestly a static character, passive in the plot, and worst of all... A pacifist. Gross! His direct opposite can be found in antagonist Full Frontal, an unstoppable, pragmatic, and menacing force. Other prominent characters include inconsistently characterized Mineva, white bread Riddhe, hardass Zinnerman, and--my favorite--tragically powerful Marida.
Being known for it's lengthy plot lines, I was somewhat afraid that Unicorn would try to cram 50 episodes of story into its run time. Instead I was pleasantly surprised to find a plot appropriately paced for its original format, covering just a few key story beats. If I had to describe that plot as succinctly as possible, I could only call it a massive game of hostage hot potato, wherein our protagonists attempt to prevent a war by waging war themselves. I did find the conclusion a bit dissatisfying, perhaps because I'm accustomed to all out, large scale battles capping off Gundam stories.
Every episode seems to have characters on opposing sides brought together for calm chit chat, and while this does facilitate ample characterizing dialogue, it also somewhat deflates the tension that should be tangible in the presence of a mortal enemy. I remained mostly satisfied with the robot-fight-to-episode ratio of .91, being subjected to only a couple of episodes completely devoid of combat. I will admit that the political drama kept me engaged during these episodes such that I scarcely noticed the absence of action until the credits rolled. Speaking of political drama, I hope you're ready for the plethora of ideological speeches our characters love to blurt out at every opportunity. All of those monologues can be a bit tedious, but they do get to the very heart of the Gundam Universal Century's lore.
Being contained within the UC timeline is both one of Unicorn's strongest assets and a curse all the same. The entire story is written as a finale to a nearly 100 year conflict that has been the underlying cause of every Gundam story chronologically prior to it, and one's understanding and experience of Unicorn may be diminished without a decent familiarity with UC history. That said, the UC timeline contains stories of wars fueled by the same motivations far into the future, undercutting much of what Unicorn hopes to accomplish.
You may find yourself wondering if RE: 0096 is worth watching if you've already seen the OVA series, and I would have to say... Probably not. As best as I can tell, there is no new animation contained within the episodes (Excluding the OP and ED), so I hope you're not expecting any new content. Compared to my attempts to watch the OVAs, smaller segments of story were actually easier to digest. Additionally, due to the run time of each OVA episode, the pacing is very unusual for a TV Gundam series. Action climaxes can be found every 2 or 3 episodes, and the writing does not feel forced to accommodate unnecessary robot battles (As if there is such a thing!).
The requisite TV anime elements which were added made this a more enjoyable experience for me, but may be off-putting for others. For starters, nearly every episode begins with a recap of the previous ones. Some of them are lengthy, even reaching 4 minutes! In an easier to follow story this might be grueling, but in such a dense and sometimes understated plot I found the recaps to be a welcome addition. The opening and ending themes add a nice touch of familiarity and repetition even if they are a bit underwhelming, with the visuals feeling largely phoned in. All in all, everything they added pushes the total run time from 7.25 hours to 8.8!
When considered strictly as the toy commercial it is, RE:0096 is a work of pure genius. With a budget only large enough to account for opening and ending sequences, editing, and bit of extra voice work, Bandai managed to create a perfect advertisement for their already colossal line of model kits from Gundam Unicorn. Using almost entirely pre-existing footage, they produced a nearly full length TV series to air in front of people who never had the interest or volition to seek out the OVAs. On the Gundam Info uploads of the series, each episode even has 5 straight minutes of ads showing off every kit from the series! If that ain't genius, I don't know what is.
So who should watch RE: 0096? I would recommend it if you've never seen Gundam Unicorn before, are a hardcore Gundam fan, or enjoy gritty robot warfare and pacifistic ideals. If you're in a rush, the shorter run time of the OVAs may be more suitable.
WATCH IT, IT’S AWESOME! Do you really need to read reviews to determine whether or not you're going to watch this?! While there’ve been many incarnations of Gundam since Char's Counterattack none of them take place in the universal century. UNICORN is the universal century in HD! This kids is return of your parents Gundam. This is why Gundam is approaching 40 years of airings. All the things we love about Gundam are here. Also, despite it being the sixth (don’t fact check me that’s off the top of my head) entry in the universal century You don’t need to watch all of that first.
All the important characters are explained here. It seems unapproachable given the history, large cast and terminology but once you get into it none of that will matter; you’ll go with the flow. I don’t know what ornamental words could convince one to watch this; you knew from the second you saw Gundam & 0096 whether or not you were going to watch it. It teaches the futility of war all over again including the roles corporations play in perpetuating war. What else can I say? If you love the universal century Gundam, watch it. If you love other forms of Gundam, watch it. If you’re curious what this Gundam thing you keep hearing about is, watch it. If you love the mecha genre, watch it. I recommend this series for everyone! The only people I can imagine not liking this series are people who don’t like Gundam in the first place.
OK, this anime is OVERRATED. I would prefer Gundam Seed over this. The storyline is rushing, and it has a lot of reused elements.
22 episodes just can't contain all of the greatness of Gundam. The interactions between the characters are sometimes weird. Characterization was extremely limited. Banagher is always too emotional to strangers. He is almost as crybaby as Shinji Ikari from EVA. Daguza Mackle, who shot Sinanju with a bazooka, Gilboa Sant, who was killed protecting Full Frontal from Banagher's attack, and Loni Garvey, the pilot of the big red mobile armor, are all under-characterized. Banagher's empathy with them would be more understandable
if they were given more screen time interacting with Banagher.
Its reused element is everywhere. Falling down to earth with the Gundam was used in 0079, Gundam Seed, and Zeta Gundam. Walking through the desert was used in 0079 as well. Going into a small restaurant in the middle of the desert and getting captured back was used in 0079 as well. Preventing a disaster from happening with psycho-frame was used in Char's Counterattack. Finally, a killed newtype becoming a ghost in the space was used in 0079, and Char's Counterattack. The list goes on. Please don't argue that it's a tribute to the original series because reused plot elements are just boring and non-innovative. It almost contains as much reused plot elements as Gundam Seed Destiny, which has a pathetic storyline.
Overall, I do not recommend this for Gundam fans. To any regular anime-watcher, this series is not too bad for you.
Gundam is one of the largest anime franchises today, made up of more than a dozen TV shows, as well as movies, OVAs, and more. With so many stories split up into multiple timelines, it can be tough to know where to start. But don't worry. This comprehensive Gundam guide will help light your way.