In the year Universal Century 0096, three years after Char Aznable's failed attempt to force human migration into space, life continues in the colonies orbiting Earth. One such colony, at Side 4, is home to Banagher Links, a 16-year-old who lives a quiet life among his classmates.
Audrey Burne, the last descendant of a great tyrannical family, takes it upon herself to steal the key to a mysterious device known as "Laplace's Box." It is said that the Box has the power to shape the course of the universe, and Audrey travels to Side 4 in an attempt to take it from its current holder and keep it from the Sleeves, the surviving remnant of Char Aznable's Neo-Zeon. In her search, she stumbles across Banagher and changes his life forever.
When Side 4 comes under the attack of the Sleeves and its prolific fighters Marida Cruz and Full Frontal, Banagher takes control of the newly built Gundam Unicorn to defend his friends and protect the fate of humankind.
“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.
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
The long awaited 4 years for the conclusion to the Unicorn series has finally made contact and landed. To many others, impatience grew to what made people become frustrated with the series. Have they never heard of the saying, good things come to those who wait? Was it worth the wait? In my opinion I’d like to dwell on in this review, it is very well worth it for a Gundam fan.
For the 4 years of long waiting, it’s just a wild cat and mouse game coming from space, then to Earth, and all the way back to where it
all began. With only 7 episodes to follow on where Banagher Links went from a civilian life to maturing towards the end of the series, it’s very subtle how one could quickly progress that far. The storyline continues three years after the events of Char’s Counterattack, and the space drama continues on with what remained from then. It wouldn’t hurt a new viewer to start watching this series without the previous, but there will be a lot of gaps of missing backstory and terminology to figure in while watching. What was probably the most important deal is let a friend or whoever will start watching the series is to watch CCA first before hitting the last episode. Major spoilers there, and that’s what will really giveaway their interpretation to the mysterious events happened in CCA. Overall though about the story, it wasn’t too hard to follow, but the only complaints was the hyped up revelation revealed to be controversial and surprisingly metaphorical in a sense in the end.
For being the highest budget Gundam series Bandai put serious money into, their staff definitely knew the kind of return on investments they were getting back from their hard work. Each and every mobile suit deserved their fair share of detailed brilliance. With every new kind of mobile suits revealed in every episode, it’s a sign for hobbyists to go out and just buy, buy, buy gunpla kits for their collection. The art quality reached its peak once you watch episode 7. The staff went all out on it to even do the unexpected, redoing some famous Gundam scenes in HD. As a Gundam fan, this is one very pleasant gift to all fans and veterans who have been watching since nearly 40 (35 to be exact from 2014) years ago.
Unless you’re just a music hater, the overall soundtrack made for this series are truly a masterpiece. From the majestic triumphant of the UNICORN piece, to the epic journey of nostalgia through the BEGINNING piece, all the tracks plays accordingly well with each and every scene of all the episodes. As an incredible fan favorite to many, “merry-go-round” was an ace in the hole as to how it was cut into the ending to Episode 3. Just to note for all readers, give the OST a try with the hooks I recommend: MOBILE SUIT, FULL FRONTAL, MOBILE ARMOR, and last, but not least, UNICORN.
From the very first episode, I focused most of my attention to the mechas and their battles. The characters on the other hand, they’re the key plot to this whole space drama the Gundam universe is famous for. To be fair, the expression of emotions displayed during the series were humanistic and not just monotonous. Let’s start with Banagher, the 16 year old high school student who got dragged into the conflict led by the adults from the previous wars. His pacifism morals is almost typical like any other hero who doesn’t want to bring on many pointless deaths. In comparison to other most notable pacifist heroes from alternative Gundam series, Banagher’s case is bearable unlike one who says he wants the fighting to stop but still kills or the other who goes as far as to protect the enemies and let his comrades die. And one who opposes him is the Second Coming of Char, Full Frontal. Resolve above all, the ghost of Char still plays the cool and collected leader who seeks to change what the world must come to. The jealousy, the sense of duty, and tragedy that plays along that reaches out well from this this series that’s more than just mecha porn, but the space drama that it is.
For the 4 years of wait that it has been, I’ve better to enjoy this since otherwise that wait would have been for nothing. What I’ve particularly enjoyed most were the incredibly details in mecha designs, the amazing work of the OST, and the art and animation running throughout the series. The mecha designs and displayed in the series inspired me to go out and purchase a few model kits to build, despite the serious lack of time for me to do anything due to the university life now. Although I was not much for the story or characters, what did hit me like a truck were the tragic moments throughout the series. The deaths that occurred, incredible feels from when the hero cried for them. And this is what makes the characters enjoyable, the emotions.
For this OVA series, it’s not the perfect series out there, but it’s outstanding. The scoring of nearly a 9 and a half is what I think this deserves as it serves decent closure to Universal Century conflict. It doesn’t answer everything, but that leaves it to how the viewer’s would like to interpret that with their imagination. Possibility is what drives humanity forward, and anything is possible if you truly put your mind to it. Give this series a chance, especially now since all of the episodes are available to marathon it without waiting those hellish half to a full year of waiting in between each episode. After watching it the first time, give it a rewatch to actually grasp everything the series gave out in case you might not have understood all of that happened the first time.
Every human has possibility, give some of that possibility to try Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn out!
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.
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.