Gundam Unicorn’s next two OVAs cover similar ground, to varying degrees of success, but for the most part it’s a great slice of Gundam. Also OVA 4 sees the debut of Bright Noa, making this feel like proper Universal Century Gundam! Let’s take a look!
The Earth Federation and ECOAS execute their assault on Palau, with the intention of rescuing Banagher and the Unicorn while taking out any member of Sleeves who happen to be in the way…
*spoilers appear from here on out!*
Cast of Characters:
“… Still, things can’t get much worse!” “Erm… I think you better drink this.”
Banagher Links (Koki Uchiyama / Steve Cannon) – Banagher has been captured by the enemy, but he soon begins to understand that there are two sides to every war, and neither side is the right one…
Audrey Burne / Mineva Zabi (Ayumi Fujimura / Stephanie Sheh) – Mineva is likewise captured by her opposing force in the Earth Federation, though she sees neither side as good, and instead just wants to bring an end to the war in general.
Full Frontal (Shuichi Ikeda / Keith Silverstein) – Full Frontal is concerned with only one thing: finding Laplace’s Box and shifting the balance of the world in favour of Neo Zeon…
Marida Cruz (Yuko Kaida / Tara Platt) – Marida is a Ple clone who now willingly and nearly lovingly follows the orders of Zinnerman. Sadly for her though, her past may soon come back to haunt her…
Riddhe Marcenas (Daisuke Namikawa / Yuri Lowenthal) – Riddhe is a member of the famous Marcenas family, his father being a top politician. Still, he wishes to be an ace pilot, but now he also wishes to help Audrey / Mineva, after falling for her…
Suberoa Zinnerman (Hideaki Tezuka / Michael Alston Bailey) – Zinnerman has a strong dislike for the Earth Federation after his wife and daughter were killed in a raid. He tries his best to hold on to his humanity and as engages in warfare and commits acts possibly similar to what drove him to war in the first place…
Bright Noa (Ken Narita / Christopher Corey Smith) – Bright has seen countless wars now, from the One Year War through to the multiple Neo Zeon wars, so it’s no surprise he’s the Commander of the Earth Federation’s elite Londo Bell unit, nor is it a surprise to him when he hears of a Gundam unit being expertly piloted by a young boy…
Loni Garvey (Mariya Ise / Karen Strassman) – Loni is a member of a Zeon group on Earth and is fiercely loyal to the cause after it took her parents away from her at a young age.
The Gundam and the Shamblo clash in very Dragon Ball-y fashion!
These two episodes certainly hammer home the “no side is right” side of the war, something Gundam does often. In Episode 3 “The Ghost of Laplace”, Banagher forms a friendship with Earth Federation hardass Daguza, who he originally hated until he peeled back some of his layers. The two end up in the Unicorn together, searching for the next clue to Laplace’s Box, but then get caught in a battle with the Sleeves, including Full Frontal. Daguza exits the Gundam and tries to assault Frontal with conventional weaponry and gets killed for it, sending Banagher into a fit of rage (which soon makes him pass out, activating the Unicorn’s “Destroy Mode”)
Banagher is then re-captured by the Sleeves, specifically Suberoa Zinnerman, in Episode 4 “At the Bottom of the Gravity Well”, which is awkward because during his Destroy Mode-educed blackout the machine killed one of Zinnerman’s men. Still, Suberoa puts up with it, and even takes Banagher for a trip across the desert they crashed into, where the two actually have a really good discussion about the hopelessness of mankind, and how even when they went into space they still ended up going to war with each other. There is a great scene where Banagher starts crying over the sad situation in general and acts ashamed, leading to Zinnerman to comment on how he respects someone who cries because they care, and doesn’t trust someone who doesn’t. Tie that in with Mr. Links finding out about Suberoa’s past and his lost family, and it drives home to him how sad it is that both sides are fighting with each other, despite being so similar. It’s great stuff, and certainly makes me like Banagher a lot more after such a plain start.
The end of OVA 4 is great too. Basically Zeon loyalists who have been on Earth since the One Year War days but couldn’t find a way to get back to space, are riled up by the Sleeves to provide a distraction as they send Banagher and the Unicorn to the next location the suit’s Laplace’s Box locator is pointing. That was a really fun concept since, as they point out, the climactic battle of every conflict has been in space, meaning these loyal soldiers and their descendants have been on the fringe for ages now, waiting for the tide to shift and allow them to return home. It also gave them an excuse to show us a bunch of older series suits being used, which is always good fun to see!
Amid this chaos is Loni Garvey, a child soldier piloting the massive Mobile Armour known as the “Shamblo”. Her mind is unstable, and when combined with the Shamblo’s Psycommu system malfunctioning, she starts mercilessly killing civilians in their hundreds, blasting her lasers through buildings for no reason. This leads to Banagher beating the crap out of Zinnerman for him just sitting back and watching while the same thing that took his wife and child happened beneath his feet, and heading out in the Gundam. He tries desperately to reach and reason with Loni, but in the end her mind is taken over, and Riddhe (who was on the battlefield for the Earth Federation) lands the killing blow with Banagher’s own rifle after he can’t bring himself to do it. It’s great stuff, brilliant animation, and ends with the fun cliffhanger of a black version of the Unicorn Gundam suddenly appearing in the sky above the two of them…
Although he doesn’t do much, it’s great to see Bright Noa back. He’s put in charge of a team set the task of retrieving or destroying Laplace’s Box and the Neo Zeon stealth ship that Zinnerman pilots. His main highlight has to be with Riddhe, who’s assigned to his ship. The young man asks not to be treated differently because of his status as a Marcenas and Noa rips him a new one, telling him, pretty much, to stop being an entitled twat and that he had no intention of treating him any differently than any other pilot.
Likewise, Full Frontal doesn’t do much, at least in OVA 4. In the third episode he does at least go into battle for a while, and fights the Unicorn as they plummet towards the Earth, which was exciting. There was also another great look at war and humanity’s history at the start of “At the Bottom of the Gravity Well”, where Mineva talks to a random bar owner who has spent his whole life on Earth, the two completely different people share common ground through their experiences. It’s really well written.
Finally there are some good call backs to the past of the UC timeline, with Laplace’s Box signal tracker-thing on the Unicorn taking them to the ruins of Laplace itself, with a recording of the first address of the doomed leader being played, and in OVA 4 it takes them to Torrington, where the infamously devastating colony drop happened at the start of the One Year War. There is also a scene where the captured Marida Cruz is shown an old Mass Produced Qubeley, reminding her of her past as a Ple clone. All very rewarding for long-time viewers!
“Okay, if one more person mentions how stupid the name Londo Bell is, they’ll get a slap”.
Riddhe, and to a lesser extent, Mineva are a bit stupid here. Riddhe falls for the Zeon princess and convinces her to leave for Earth with him as his father will help them…then when they get there he finds out that the unpleasant politician who always resented him for becoming a pilot rather than follow in his footsteps is an arse and is just as willing to use Mineva as a hostage and a bargaining chip as where they fled from. Mineva eventually finds her resolve via her conversation with the old bar owner mentioned above, but Riddhe? He gets transferred to Bright Noa’s crew and just acts angry about everything. Nice work, Riddhe! I mean, it’s an interesting character, being caught between his background and falling in love, and not getting any real punishment for it, but that doesn’t make him any less of an idiot.
Marida remembers the “good old days”.
While “The Ghost of Laplace” was good, and had a satisfying end, “At the bottom of the Gravity Well” is definitely a stand-out, both for having several really well written dialogue exchanges, and for some great action at the end… plus a great cliffhanger! Things certainly pick up from here…
OVA 3 – “The Ghost of Laplace”:
OVA 4 – “At the Bottomo of the Gravity Well”: