The manufacturing colony Industrial 7, which is still under construction, floats at Lagrange point 1.
A youth named Banagher Links, who grew up without knowing his father, meets a mysterious girl who has stowed away on a ship bound for Industrial 7. As the white mobile suit Unicorn undergoes repeated tests and becomes the subject of diverse speculations, the hands of time begin to move.
Banagher does not yet know that he has been caught up in the conflict surrounding Laplace's Box.
What is Laplace's Box?
What secret does it contain?
The hundred-year curse of the Universal Century is about to be resolved.
“To my only desire, the beast of possibility, the symbol of hope…” – Banagher Links, Gundam Unicorn episode 1
Since the advent of the original Mobile Suit Gundam 0079, the Gundam franchise certainly has grown to become one of the most iconic shows in anime and has undoubtedly revolutionized the mecha genre itself. Now we take a look at the long-awaited, most recent addition to the Universal Century, Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn.
For those who know the Gundam UC timeline it is obvious, however for the newcomers, it should be known that Gundam Unicorn, despite its name, is not to be taken lightly. For the uninformed about
Gundam history, it would be preferable, though not necessary, to watch other Gundam series in the UC timeline taking place before the date Universal Century 0096 and/or at least understand some basic terminology and history in this vast mecha universe. Summarily, Gundam Unicorn adds a final history of events to the early UC timeline masterfully concluding the first 100 years of UC. Now with everything said, we press forward to take our chance at possibility.
The story opens with the creation of the Universal Century (UC) dating system itself, signifying a new era of exploration, prosperity and possibility. Now jump almost 100 years to UC 0096. Earth and space relations remain tense yet the people in space, the remaining Zeon struggle one last time for freedom after suffering many wars of defeat. A simple premise, but what exactly occurs during this period has potentially complex and profound consequences all humans living in earth and in space.
Possibility. It has been mentioned in multiplicity already but with great reason. Such a powerful yet vague word and that can sum up Gundam Unicorn concisely. Why? The answer lies in Laplace’s Box, a mysterious unknown item to all of mankind that exists, but is rumored to tip the balance of power to the Zeon. As remarked by Full Frontal himself, “Would you believe in the possibility something so ambiguous yet so powerful?” This is why the Neo Zeon rise one last time. This is why they, the spacenoids, fight for the possibility of an object no human being knows about. This is why they must find Laplace's Box in order to break free from the Earth Federation’s grip and the key to the box is none other than the RX-0 Unicorn Gundam, the beast of possibility, the symbol of hope.
The Gundam series has always focused on the philosophical and societal aspects of civilization. War, politics, human development. The Newtype myth, those held down by gravity, the harmony of human evolution. These themes are just some foundations that build the interactions in the Gundam universe albeit it wasn’t always effectively portrayed or was slightly excessive. Unicorn becomes an exception though. These themes still persist in it, and they are executed flawlessy.
For a seven episode OVA, the pacing is nearly perfect. Maybe it is because it was this long(or short) that everything fit together timingly. When it is slow it is, calculating, deliberate and methodical. Likewise, when it is fast, it is quick, action-packed and intense. The only contingency in Unicorn is that compared its original novel counterpart, some events were compressed due to the length issue, but otherwise, Unicorn still manages to deliver and deliver with an outstanding ending.
Typical with many Gundam series, characters in Unicorn are well diverse and developed. Our main protagonist is Banagher Links who finds and pilots the RX-0 Unicorn Gundam. He is your common young, naïve, idealistic protagonist, but just like all the Gundam pilots before him, we see his growth and development into a newtype, aided by friends and enemies. Aside from Banagher, Unicorn contains a multitude of other characters, old ones from previous Gundam installments that will cause a grin of nostalgia, and new ones that certainly become as memorable. Mineva Lao Zabi, Marida Cruz, Bright Noa(!!!). All of them are very unique in their own right and possibly even more enduring than Banagher himself. Of course, let us not forget Full Frontal, the masked antagonist, the leader of Neo Zeon. Certainly he is very unique. His presence and mysteriousness are what makes him so gravitating and his being as a whole is one of the most intriguing aspects of Unicorn, making him rightfully being named the “Second Coming of Char”.
Art & Design
Once again, I digress into the original Mobile Suit Gundam. In retrospect quality of animation was decent but due to budget constraints it was lacking towards the end, but it is not the same situation for Gundam Unicorn. Given it being an OVA and its lengthy release, art direction and design most definitely outdid itself. The production values are absolutely off the charts. Animation is simply one of the best out there in modern standards. In keeping with the style of the Universal Century, the universe retains the sense of pseudo-realism and scale. Old and new mobile suits alike make an appearance that will absolutely steal and capture the moment. With all its military conflicts, battles occur decisively and are executed wonderfully. Animation of the mechanics and movement are fluid while destructive battlefields are viewed from every perspective. Attention to realism and detail is nothing short of perfect.
Now one of the more disputed opinions is the use of CG at certain parts, particularly during the transformation sequence for the Gundams. However, it was probably necessary and appropriate to implement CG during these specific scenes to properly display the high level of detail in mechanical transformations while the Gundams themselves are not enacting human motions or actual movement.
While the actual mechs are amazingly crafted, likewise can be said with the character design. Reminescent of the original Gundam style, it maintains a retro design on the characters. Keeping a mix of both old and new, the character designs are distinct and retain the qualities of earlier decades with updated modern animations that show the same level of detail on characters just as with the mechs themselves.
Aside from the music, it should also be noted that voice acting itself is stunning. Both subbed and dubbed both deliver without fail and because of this the characters are very approachable and can easily be resonated with.
Instaneously from the beginning, one can understand that the music is one to be remembered for Gundam. Sawano Hiroyuki has certainly outdone himself for the Unicorn soundtrack in particular even compared to his past and recent works. His music is very distinctive in its epic-like sounds and tones that effectively gives a rollercoaster sense of the moment that is occurring. Contrastingly, there are also the beautiful, memorable scenes where they become engraved in us and his music sets the tone and fortifies that. Hiroyuki has managed to give Unicorn a proper soundtrack that emotionally provokes and hypes us like no one else. That sense of longing, that feeling of hope, that chance at possibility. All those emotions are present in Sawano Hiroyuki’s Unicorn soundtrack.
What this is, is a closing, an ending to the last years of the first century of Universal Century and Neo Zeon’s final actions. Has Unicorn solved all the problems of earth and space? Certainly not, but its happening and conclusion has done justice to itself and the UC timeline as a whole. Unicorn takes the best from Gundam UC and refines all of it skillfully. The characters, the plot, and the mobile suits make it worthy of a being Gundam. For those who might only see this one series individually, Gundam Unicorn is still well worth its time, but more consequently, as part of the Universal Century, it is a masterpiece and an integral addition to the Gundam series.
In short, take a chance at possibility and go watch Gundam Unicorn.
Hey, Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn is finally a complete package and it's great, but who wants to read gushing? Not me, and I baselessly suspect I'm not the only one who combs through reviews for the most critical ones instead of the most adoring ones. With that said, this review will explore what makes Unicorn either worth mounting or nay, so saddle up!
Let's start with disclaimers: watching previous entries in the Gundam Universal Century is optional, but it is a highly advisable option if you want to get the most out of Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn. You will be able to follow the story, but
scenes will definitely be lost on you. Also, for newcomers, the ending will make your brain leak out of your britches, so prepare a fresh set.
With that out of the way, the story begins like most mecha shows in that a young boy, in this case Banager Links, lives in a nice little space colony. After everything that happens to a nice little space colony happens, he finds his way to a super awesome prototype mobile suit, a weapon called the Unicorn Gundam. The one who possesses the Gundam has the key to Laplace's Box, a mysterious secret that has the power to turn the tide of the war. Hence, since both the Earth Federation and the remnant peoples of the outer space nation of Zeon desire Laplace's Box, Banager becomes the fulcrum of the conflict by default. What a conflict it is!
The fights and action in Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn are spectacular, making several minutes of clashes between nameless grunt mobile suits highly entertaining to watch. This is doubly true when the battles are set against the grand sound track or the commendable, if sometimes long-winded, backdrop of the philosophical character dialogue that this series loves.
However, the biggest problem with Banager Links as the protagonist---and indeed the show itself---is that he rarely involves himself in the conflict at all. It becomes obscenely common for Banager to strap himself into his machine and fly into every battle to make emotional pep talks with absolutely nothing of consequence happening as a result. He feels his way out of situations and screams his chipmunk-esque head off about how everyone is wrong. This, of course, solves nobody's problems, fails to advance the story, and even agitates the situation, as it should. The problem is that it can quickly irritate the viewer, too. If you are a mature viewer intrigued by the war drama aspect and practical conclusions to conflict, Banager's naivety will infuriate you almost incessantly until you will have to get your enjoyment from the other characters. Finalizing on that, if you enjoy your protagonist to best opponents through strength, skill, or smarts, you'll be gravely disappointed by Banager's complete reliance on his mobile suit; it's to the point you'll be surprised the Gundam doesn't brush his teeth for him before bed.
Thankfully, the other main characters tend to make up for Banager's lack of depth. A renegade princess who actually has a goal, a desperate young soldier at odds with his station in life, and an adoptive father trying to atone with his daughter make great highlights of the show. They bring forward one of it's strongest aspects: emotion. Gundam tends to utilize emotion well, even exploiting it heavily, but this entry revels in that fact, making every main character a hook for your empathy and investigation. Side characters are a different story, though.
Sometimes, a character that another character met only once conveniently becomes extremely important to them for no real good reason other than presumably horniness, love at first sight, or advanced understanding. In the Gundam's Universal Century timeline, evolved humans called Newtypes are much more in-tune with those around them, as well as other dimensions. Becoming invested in someone hastily makes sense for a Newtype, but it doesn't work for the viewer, who cannot appreciate these side characters without proper development. You might be dissatisfied to hear yourself ask "who was that?" during an apparently important scene, not knowing why it was important or why they were there, no matter how keenly you were watching. It isn't too frequent, but it does happen more than once, and it doesn't so much mar the show as much as it seems like missed potential, which is a sentiment that it shares with the plot.
As everyone searches for answers to Laplace's Box, the viewer is along for the ride, but never allowed to speculate because placement and destination is ambiguous. Outside of the concept of Laplace's Box, its identity not revealed until very late in the progression; for all you know it could be slang for a part of a female's anatomy. So, make no mistake: your enjoyment of Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn mostly hinges on how willing you are to indulge in an elongated, science fiction action-movie with sappy themes. Although each of the large scale action scenes could serve as a climax, it plays out exactly like a movie with one goal and little development. If that's up your alley or if you like mechs, space, or high technology then you'll likely find the show extremely compelling. Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn is compelling, it just needed a little more to spur it ahead of its glaring flaws.
Thank you for reading, now it's time for me to...hoof... it.
Gundam Unicorn is one of the more recent additions to have been made in the Gundam franchise, this being the first installment taking place in the Universal Century timeline since Victory Gundam's airing over 20 years ago. Taking place years after the events of Char's Counterattack, Unicorn features several factions in conflict with one another to gain possession of a mysterious item called Laplace's Box that is said to hold enough power as such that it can shake up the power structure between Federation and Neo Zeon forces. This conflict has our teenage leads, Banagher Links and Audrey Burne, caught up in the mess as
Banagher becomes the unwilling pilot of a new powerful Gundam unit called the RX-0 Unicorn that is a key element of obtaining Laplace's Box and Audrey's ties to influential leaders in the Zabi family are seen as something that the factions wish to exploit for their personal gain.
What makes Unicorn stick out compared to many Gundam titles is the tight and complex story it is able to tell within its 7-episode OVA run. Many Gundam titles are notable for having 50+ episode runs to tell their stories of conflict between opposing factions yet Unicorn is able to pull the same thing off in much shorter time. Within this time, you are able to get complex story development and character depth as Unicorn delves into the personal ideologies, back story and goals that drive the factions and many of the major characters seen throughout the course of this series. The various ideologies seen through characters such as Neo-Zeon leader Full Frontal, Federation lieutenant Riddhe Marcenas and former Zeon soldier Suberoa Zinnerman serve to conflict with the idealistic beliefs that Banagher has that are pushed to their breaking point as he confronts the realities concerning the tensions between the Earth Federation, Neo-Zeon and other organizations trying to obtain or seal any details concerning Laplace's Box. The fact such complicated storytelling conveying the normal themes you would expect from a Gundam title is able to be told within a quarter of the time of many past Gundam titles is an impressive feat from Sunrise.
This being said though, Unicorn is still another entry in the Gundam franchise that revolves around a young and idealistic teenage lead being given a powerful mecha to make use of in a heated battle between factions. It still carries a few of the Gundam franchise's notable weaknesses with its male lead being overly preachy at points with the ideals he expresses and the Unicorn is overpowered as such where it is never seriously challenged in many battles that it fights in, which kills much of the suspense one would hope to get out of fearing if Banagher will prevail or not. The Newtype power is also used in some moments of deus ex machina later in the anime's run when Banagher does find himself seriously challenged in the final conflicts of the series. The ending is still mostly satisfying with what is revealed about Laplace's Box and some ideological clashes during the finale, but the use of Newtype power to create sudden power upgrades is still a lazy way of resolving story conflict.
Visually, Unicorn is easily one of the best-looking entries to have come out of the Gundam franchise to date mixing around CG and hand-drawn animation to depict settings both in space and on Earth. There is vivid color and plenty of detail to convey the various settings seen throughout the series such as space colonies, spaceships and cities or military bases on Earth. Mecha designs retain many of the standard gimmicks you would find from a Gundam title with design aesthetics being similar to Gundam and mook enemy units from past titles, though the design of the Unicorn in its normal state is a unique one that sticks out from many Gundam units from past titles. The animation here is very fluid, with mobile suits and battleships naturally moving about as they clash with one another during heated battle scenes without any noticeable animation shortcuts, errors or loss of detail. CG animation does get employed during some of the Newtype or Unicorn unit gimmickry that gets shown off such as the Unicorn employing its NT-D System or mental communication between Newtypes which is mostly integrated with the hand-drawn animation, but has its moments where it can stick out like a sore thumb.
Despite a few issues, Gundam Unicorn is easily among the best offerings I've seen for the Gundam franchise thus far as it is able to smoothly tell a typical UC Gundam story in a fraction of the time that many of its past offerings could convey. It does require one to have familiarity to many aspects of its themes from earlier installments of the franchise that get mentioned. But if you have seen your fair share of Gundam titles from the Universal Century timeline, you shouldn't miss out on this latest offering.
There aren't a whole lot of proper reviews for Gundam UC on MAL, which is sort of upsetting. I'm not one to write incredibly detailed reviews because for that, just watch the damned thing. For me, this review, or rather a reflection would serve as a tool to cure my anime hangover that Gundam UC left me with. This is also for those who need proper intuition with this epic metaseries. *Spoiler Free, duh*
The issue with Gundam Unicorn is that it sort of sits at a paradox. As a standalone, it's a hell of an anime; but your experience greatly depends on whether you have
the knowledge of the Universal Century (you know, Mobile Suit Gundam) to fully grasp the scope of the anime. Unicorn serves as the penultimate conclusion to the Universal Century story that started back in 1979 in the timeless tale known as Mobile Suit Gundam 0079, the OYW (one year war).
Growing up with Gundam, the story seen with my eyes absolutely differs from those who wanted to simply watch "a mecha" or "a gundam". Go find a Gainax anime or Studio Bones anime, for Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn is a direct continuation of CCA (Char's Counter Attack) rather than a new high budget Gundam project. It's not simply a Gundam... it's THE GUNDAM, and the final chapter for that matter.
An example, those who rate this lowly also believe Banagher Links is a whiny two-dimensional cookie-cutter protag, and that Riddhie is an emo cry baby, and Mineva Zabi is a lifeless zombie, and Full Frontal's a bad guy who has evil/bad intentions and everyone should die. Those are associations created by those who do not fully comprehend the story told.
If you haven't watch the previous TV series, and many times before for that matter, you're better off not watching it at all because it's not meant for you. This is an entirely exclusive experience, and you're not welcome to watch or rate unless your a fan of Mobile Suit Gundam... because Unicorn is simply not meant for you. If one plans to watch this improperly, you'll be taking back about a tenth of the experience (that being animation and ost), while Gundam aficionados are getting the full 100%.
On a brighter note, it's never too late to watch the classics, because you're missing out on the most important anime of a lifetime. Go back an enjoy the masterpieces that are MSG 0079, Zeta, ZZ, CCA, even the OVA's 08th MS, and 0080. Go ahead and enjoy the metaseries and immerse yourself in it's rich universe. I may have came off as pretentious or discouraging, but truth be told, it is what it is.
On a side note, don't you dare read this and think you're ready
Sometimes you want to watch a show but there just is not enough time for a full-fledged television program. That is where OVAs come in and we here at MAL are ready to highlight some of the best independent(ish) OVAs out there 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.