In a shorter batch of episodes (as it was so well contained as a stand alone story arc, I couldn’t resist) but a significant one. We not only get to see Amuro Ray return to piloting suits, but we also get our first mentally unstable Cyber-Newtype, a trope that will appear endlessly throughout all future Gundam shows… Let’s take a look!
Kamille Bidan and the former Char Aznable are trapped on Earth, having to rely on the planet’s anti-Titan group Karaba, whose ranks now include the One Year War hero Amuro Ray…
*spoilers appear from here on out!*
Cast of Characters:
Awww… Young Love… The fact they’ll soon be trying to kill each other doesn’t ruin the mood… much.
Kamille Bidan (Nobuo Tobita / Jonathan Lachlan-Stewart) – Kamille still isn’t used to the ways of the solider, but he already finds himself in enemy territory, surrounded mostly by strangers and being told to fight for his very life… but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have time to be a horny teen though!
Quattro Bajeena / Char Aznable (Shuichi Ikeda / Tom Edwards) – Quattro is unhappy to find himself stranded on Earth, but is happy to see his old rival Amuro Ray has finally found his way…
Amuro Ray (Toru Furuya / Matthew Erickson) – Amuro has been trapped in depression and bound to his house… until now. Along with his old White Base ally’s adopted son Katz (who himself was on the white base as a child), Amuro joins the fight against the Titans…
Hayato Kobayashi (Kiyonobu Suzuki / C. Adam Leigh) – Hayato was once among the ranks of the White Base during the One Year War. He was constantly at odds with his own lack of ability, but the past 8 years have been good to him, and he now proudly leads his own crew of Karaba rebels…
Katz Kobayashi (Keiichi Nanba / Sean Broadhurst) – Katz was one of the three orphan children on board the White Base during the One Year War. After the war they were adopted by Hayato and Fraw and have grown up to admire their father’s military ideals, especially Katz. He now hopes he and Amuro can join Karaba together…
Four Murasame (Saeko Shimazu / Carol-Anne Day) – Four doesn’t know her real name, or her parents… or indeed anything from before her days as the fourth test subject in the Titans’ attempts to create a Newtype artificially. Her mind is fragile, but one this she does know is that if she fights, she might be granted her old memories back…
Plus many more!
The classic showdown, and via a blu-ray screenshot no less!
As far as smaller story arcs in Gundam shows go, this is an extremely memorable one. Not only does it include the already mentioned return of Amuro and the debut of the Cyber-Newtypes, but it also features the large mobile armour known as the Psyco-Gundam, an often revisited image (and often the copies are piloted by similarly unstable lab experiments!).
First things first though: Amuro Ray. It’s great to see him back, and to see him now as a mature adult soldier, making logical decisions, after a brief bit of rehab. When he and Char meet back up (first via the old “Newtypes sensing each other during battle” scene!) it’s great because there isn’t any real hate there. It’s like they’ve both had long enough to realise that what happened between them was irrelevant right now, and so they were soon talking like old war buddies. Still a bit confrontational now and then, but it was fun to see, especially hearing Char’s praise for the person that eight years ago he would have done anything to kill.
As it’s not fair to criticise Four and her Cyber-Newtype mental issues for being unoriginal, as it was the first in the franchise to do it, I’ll say that it does lead to some good story telling, and eventually some growth for Kamille, even if it did feel unoriginal due to seeing it so many times over the years. Kamille and Four fall for each other, making their showdowns all the more dramatic, and Four seemingly self-sacrificial act all the more heartbreaking for our admittedly still unlikable lead character. The Psyco-Gundam is a great and simple design, it slowly descending into Hong Kong and ending up in a battle with Gundam Mk.II that starts destroying buildings like a Godzilla movie is still a great sequence, especially with Amuro on the ground, finding time to criticise Kamille’s skills while running away…
We also see Mirai and her and Bright’s two children, which is good to see. Her understanding of her husband’s need to fight the good fight was actually pleasant, and surprisingly understandable give he literally left his wife and two children behind to do it. Episode 18, where Mirai and her children are captured, is a good one, featuring Amuro coming to their rescue, then Kamille joining the fray.
I actually completely forgot we saw Rosamia Badam, at this point a more stable-minded Cyber-Newtype, this early in the series. Her role is small and she soon vanishes, but it was interesting to see given her storyline later in the series.
A screenshot of Katz being a knob… in a Gundam.
It’s funny… wait actually it’s not, but it’s funny that they added Katz to the cast, a character who ends up being possibly more obnoxious and stupidly impulsive than Kamille! It’s like instead of changing Kamille’s personality they added someone who has it worse to make Kamille look better! Episode 15 “Katz’s Sortie” sees him try and take off in the Gundam to fight Rosamia and ends up nearly dead at the bottom of a lake. Great stuff! Twat.
… and yeah, Kamille is still pretty bad at this point. There’s a conversation with Amuro in a hall way that ends up with Kamille suddenly throwing a “you just don’t understand!” tantrum and running away that made me laugh, just because of the bemused expression left of Amuro’s face. “Wow, I thought I was bad when I was in his shoes…”
Beltorchika Irma appears during this story arc. She eventually settles down with Amuro after this series, and I believe reappears later, but boy oh boy is she unpleasant here. Jealous and… well, quite frankly insane with her ideas of being a woman and what it means. Very old fashioned and at odds with all the female soldiers we’ve seen in this series so far!
Amuro looking nonplussed about parachuting out of an exploding plane.
This mini-arc has some good emotional beats, great call backs to the previous series, and plenty of great action. It introduces a whole new type of character and mobile suit style that has to be applauded, despite its later over-use (which I think has unfortunately impacted my enjoyment a tad). A really good chunk of episodes.