Mar 14, 2019
GarlandReese (All reviews)
The more things change, the more they stay the same. Or so the saying goes. It certainly holds true with "Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn", the next installment of the main timeline of the Gundam franchise, taking place a couple years after the events of "Char's Counterattack", this OVA attempts to bring new life into a tried and tested, yet repetitive, franchise. In that, it succeeds in some areas while falling into the traps of the past.

U.C. 0096, things have settled down for the most part in space after the defeat of Char's Neo Zeon. But, naturally there are still forces waiting for the opportunity to settle scores and they've got a lot of scores to settle. We're introduced to our protagonist, Banagher Links, a teenage student who rescues a mysterious young woman calling herself "Audrey Byrne". And young Banagher quickly finds himself caught up in events that will lead to the next great conflict between the Earth Federation and the remnants of Zeon. Naturally, he ends up piloting the latest Gundam: the RX-O Unicorn, a wonderful piece of hardware capable of transforming into a second form when sh*t gets real, and a nice addition to the lineage of Gundams before it.

The intrigue surrounds a plot device known as "Laplace's Box", a mysterious thing that holds untold potential to perhaps overthrow the Federation government or save humanity. It is built up so much that it really doesn't matter what it turns out to be, and we do find out, it's going to be a let down. But it does add an element to the plot not used by the franchise before; a race. The remnants of Zeon, led by "Full Frontal" who has the much deserved nickname, "The Ghost of Char Aznable", are after it, as is the Earth Federation who's motives are entirely different, yet equally sinister. Along the way, Banagher meets many interesting characters and battles many impressive looking mechs, but even for 7 one hour plus episodes, it seemed to get repetitive very quickly.

Banagher Links is not an unlikable character, cast more in the mold of Kamille Bidan than Amuro Ray, his constant shift between handlers is matched only by his constant cries of the horrors of war and killing and hope for humanity, etc. His arguments have been made by someone in every installment of this franchise and are no less as repetitive then as they are now. He nonetheless however succeeds as coming off as a person, albeit an unoriginal one. The best characters in this show are the supporting ones. Marida Cruz, who starts off a simple antagonist, evolves into so much more as her backstory and character arc unfold. Ensign Riddhe, a well-meaning capable Federation pilot, has his whole life and being torn up and tested by the events of the series, goes through so many phases that you genuinely feel sorry for this guy more than maybe anyone else. I could name many others, even the Char Aznable wannabe gets overshadowed by the cool, conniving, and positively wicked Martha Vist Carbine, who seems more like a character from "House of Cards" than Gundam, yet induced my overwhelming hatred like no one since Jerid Messa from "Zeta" and for different reasons. This series deserved (and eventually got) a full series treatment and well it did for the depth of a cast it has.

For all it's shortcomings in terms of main characters, it's so-so plot, it does bring an A-game when it comes to it's effects budget. The battle scenes are nothing different, but absolutely beautiful, with a vast number of different mechs going at it, the number of Zeon mobile suits on display that range from modern to looking like recycled scrap from the original series, are enough to make you pause the show and just enjoy the amount of work that went into creating these things. I felt like a kid in a toy store again. The star of the battlefield is, of course, the Unicorn Gundam who dazzles with effects as it transforms, and constantly reveals new and impressive attacks. It is a wonderful looking show, hands down, accompanied by an excellent score from Hiroyuki Sawano. Add to this a wonderfully capable cast, headlined by the legendary Shuuichi Ikeda, the original voice of Char Aznable, who now lends his talents as Full Frontal- adding to the "ghost" factor of the character, and is the main reason I would recommend the Sub over the Dub. It is good to see him continue going strong after all these years.

The show succeeds in bringing something different, but still familiar, to the franchise. I did enjoy this and it did tug on my heart strings at times, the criteria which I judge all Anime by, but it was nothing as bold and different as "Iron-Blooded Orphans", but didn't feel as tiresome as "Double Zeta". I highly recommend this to any Gundam fan as it does feed nostalgia and the appetite for some sweet, sweet, 'splosion porn, but those who only dabble in Gundam I advise to skip it. "The God of Possibility" is something often mention in this show, but not put into practice by it. It could have been better. But perhaps that will come another day. Final score, 6.5/10. Gundam fans, check it out. Cheers!