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.
So for me this was really hard to watch as I am a HUGE Gundam fan, most specifically of the UC timeline, which for some reason this takes place in. Why was it hard to watch? Well It completely mutilates the message of UC as a whole and tries to make Zeon, the bad guys since the first series who have done some REALLY bad stuff, seem like good guys and that every atrocity they committed was justified and okay. Aside from UC this just in general sends really mixed signals in terms of motivations and what is even happening. I'll include a spoiler section
at the end after my overall to go more in depth to what I meant at some points as it's hard to describe why I disliked this some things without spoilers. If something I say seems vague it's probably because I'm trying to refrain from spoilers, so assume I explain it there.
Easily my least favorite thing about Unicorn was the story. Concerning the story I really have not much to say because aside from it being what I disliked the most, it's also one of the weakest things about this show in my opinion. The show honestly has fan fiction tier writing at some points. First off, I have no idea why they decided to shove this right in between CCA and F91 and put it so close to CCA while leaving it really far from F91. Secondly, the attempted justifications of Zeon and trying to make them look like good guys makes absolutely no sense in UC due to every series before it (the original, Zeta, ZZ, and CCA) all portraying Zeon as terrible people. Also another thing that really dragged this down a ton for me was a lot of plot conveniences, ESPECIALLY in the last episode. Another thing is that it never portrays the overlying "war is bad" theme in every series before it, instead it just gives off more of a "I need to stop war because I don't like it" feel. Aside from a story that tried way to hard to be complex which ultimately made it confusing, the ending was god awful and atrocious.
I will give Unicorn props here for the art being pretty good, especially the animation. I would rate it a bit higher if it didn't start to rely on CG more and more as the series went on, with some fights even being mostly CG. I do give major props to Unicorn for the fight scenes in episode 4, they were extremely well done and had little CG from what I remember. As for mech designs, as I guess that can be included in this, I for the most part did not like them with a few exceptions, those being the Neo Zeong, Unicorn (when in attack mode, normal mode looks horrible), Banshee/Banshee Norn (ditto of Unicorn side note), Zeta Plus (got like 10 seconds of screen time in episode 7 but I still liked it), and the ReZel. Honestly the mech designs were pretty ugly or just look upgraded versions of older suits. I'll only cover the mains as mook suits are pointless to get into. The Sinanju, didn't quite like this one much as it looked weird and was just basically a buffed Sazabi, the Sazabi being infinitely cooler than it. The Kshatriya, just looked like a mega buffed Zaku; it was alright. Rozen Zulu, I just didn't like this one, dunno why.
Don't have much to say here. The soundtrack was alright and did it's job. No one song really stuck out to me and it just in general seemed kind of average. Sound design was alright, nothing to really comment on.
The characters almost tied with story for my least favorite thing, except I actually liked a very few amount of characters whereas with story I completely hated it. I'll go in order of most hated to most liked when I'm talking about them.
Angelo - Seriously? Someone thought he was a good character? I hated Angelo. There is absolutely nothing redeeming about him. Aside from being the most annoying character in the show, the amount of things he actually does is very low so he really has no reason to exist.
Banagher - Worst MC in UC. Aside from completely irrational decisions that are just really annoying in general, and I'm pretty sure his brain is 100% empty because of how incompetent he is until the plot needed him not to be, and then he became jesus in a giant mech. How incompetent he was at times was extremely enraging. Being able to never shut up about "Audrey" was annoying as hell too. It seemed like he was playing a game of "How many times can I switch allegiances in one show?". I really hate him all in all.
Riddhe - GOD. I hate him with all my heart. He was alright in the beginning and seemed like a cool dude but I slowly started hate him more and more as he became more and more off an ass as the series went on and how he was in the end was fucking awful.
Full Frontal - Yada yada Char rehash yada yada. At least come up with an original villain. It literally just took Char, made his 50x less badass and charismatic, gave him long hair, and made his logic 50x dumber than Char. I really felt nothing from him and Banagher's "rivalry" if it was even supposed to be one. The reason Char and Amuro worked is because they were both interesting and fleshed out characters, key word being INTERESTING. Neither Banagher nor Full Frontal were interesting to me and felt like Unicorn was just trying to do something that actually worked before.
Now onto some I liked or thought were tolerable, gonna switch and go most liked to least liked here. Don't have very much to say here though.
Zinnerman - He was a bro and a total badass. Easily my favorite character in this show. His relationship with Marida was handled alright so props to the writers for that.
Marida - I liked Marida. She was written decently. Don't much else to say to be honest.
Audrey, or should I say Mineva (which any person that had watched Zeta or ZZ could tell from a mile away so that build up made no sense) - She was alright and I found the one scene where she completely disassembled Cha- I mean Full Frontal's logic and idea hilarious.
This show was a chore for me to watch. Not only did the 1 hour episodes make it hard to sit around for, it overall just bored me. My memory of this is somewhat hazy of this despite having watched this in a little over a week, because I honestly just stop focusing at times due to how boring it was. I often had to rewind to read a line I missed because I wasn't focusing due to how bored I was. The only reason this gets a 2 instead of a 1 is some of the fights scenes were really entertaining and the soundtrack was nice despite sounding somewhat average. Not only did this show bore me to tears though, but also insulted my intelligence as a UC Gundam fan by the aforementioned attempt to justify Zeon and just overall a very poor and forced feeling entry that adds nothing to UC and fails to be an homage if that's what it was going for.
God this show was a chore and one of the worst Gundam series I've seen yet. This show was absolutely atrocious and I never want to watch it again. Aside from terrible characters and story the way the show is presented to the viewer is done very poorly as it is filled with exposition dumps from what I recall, which just confused the hell out of me; there's a fine line between complex and confusing and I don't think Unicorn understands that as it seems to confuse the two. This show's writing honestly feels fan fiction tier, which it practically is already. It shouldn't even be canon since it adds nothing at all to UC as a whole. Honestly if you are looking to get into UC Gundam skip this show when you get to it, the only reason you should watch it is cool fights and decent music. This show honestly could have worked if they changed a few things, changed the name of the series and tweaked the story a bit, but since it has the title of Mobile Suit Gundam on I can't cut it slack. If you're done here, thanks for reading my review and let me know what you thought of it, I'm just starting to do reviews so I would really appreciate constructive criticism. Below here are spoilers so unless you want to know them or have seen the show, beware.
Now for the spoilers I couldn't get into above. I'm not gonna categorize this so it might not have much flow, so apologies in advance. First off let me get to the worst part of this show as a whole, the ending. How did they perfectly pull off the barrier to block Gryps 2 without anyone doing it before and no one knowing anything about how it worked or what it did? Now some other questions. How exactly does one invoke the Unicorn Awakened? Why does Riddhe change back to the side of the Nahel Argama in a split second? He went from being totally edgy to new bestie in under a second? Dude what happened to hating newtypes, now you're helping one? That's another thing; Riddhe. him suddenly becoming edgy because muh waifu was really dumb and he just turned into an even worse character. That sudden snap back to being perfectly normal and nice because the plot needed him to was also just absolutely terrible. All these tie into the plot conveniences I was talking about earlier with a few things I'm probably forgetting because my brain is trying to erase this trash from my mind. Now, Laplace's Box. Did it really need to exist? It adds nothing to UC at all or even the show itself because you don't even see how the people react to it. Also what really sucks is the amount of character death in this show, which is astonishingly low, which is also unusual for a UC series. Also, can we all just take a moment to let how completely stupid and absurd ACTUALLY LITERAL UNIRONIC TIME TRAVEL is? How? Why? I thought this was UC, how the fuck does time travel even happen? How did that even work? Unironic time travel is where this show's fan fiction tier writing really shows itself. And my last point, Loni Garvey. Another place where the fan fiction tier writing shows. First her backstory about her parents just serves to demonize the EFF in a really bad attempt to make Zeon look good. Also Banagher not wanting to shoot a girl he met like a day or two beforehand who was literally mass murdering innocent civilians and was now trying to kill him was extremely infuriating. By the way, saying "We just wanted autonomy and for all spacenoids to be free!" doesn't justify starting a war that killed half the human race and multiple dropping of things on earth. Well, now that's out of the way, I have nothing left to say. I assume you read the second to last sentence in the paragraph above, so there's no need to repeat it. Thanks for reading!
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.