Mobile Suit Gundam: Hathaway Review

Well I didn’t expect to be able to review this already! Thanks to Netflix somehow obtaining the rights to stream the movie just weeks after it left Japanese theatres the latest addition to the animated Universal Century timeline is here in Gundam: Hathaway, the first of three movies adapting the three-books-long novel “Hathaway’s Flash” by original Gundam creator Yoshiyuki Tomino. I’ve been looking forward to this for countless years, since whenever I saw the Gundam Penelope on some random website and thought it looked “cool”. Let’s take a look!

Synopsis:

The year is U.C. 0105. Twelve years have passed since Char’s Rebellion. The Earth Federation government is more corrupt than ever, and its leadership has not only accelerated Earth’s pollution, but also implemented an inhuman “Man Hunting” policy in which civilians are forcibly exiled to outer space.

The anti-Federation government organization “Mafty,” led by someone called “Mafty Navue Erin,” has taken a stand against the corruption of the Earth Sphere. Mafty carries out fierce acts of terrorism, assassinating high officials of the Federation government one after another, but it gains a certain level of support from the populace who are growing more opposed to the Federation government. The identity of the leader of Mafty is none other than Hathaway Noa, the son of Federation hero Bright Noa, and his future is about to be changed…

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

The Good:

As innocents burn and get buried under rubble Hathaway is sad… that he stayed with the annoying woman.

The most interesting thing about the story has to be its titular protagonist in Hathaway Noa. That’s surprising if you’ve watched Char’s Counterattack because he was a bit of a knob in that, but he’s an extremely interesting character here. Under the false name of “Mafty Navue Erin” he has started what amounts to a terrorist group known as “Mafty” that has been killing Earth Federation higher-ups but also unavoidably killing many innocent civilians in the crossfire. Sure, we see that in the years following Char’s rebellion (and at least in the anime UC world the events of Unicorn Gundam and Narrative) the Earth Federation has become a straight up dystopian horror show complete with large soldier-like forces of people roughly checking people’s passes on the street to make sure they “deserve” to live on Earth, otherwise forcefully deporting them off to space. Hathaway is fighting against the “bad guys” certainly but his methods are far removed from floating around in a single battleship in space and gaining allies like the people he looks up to did in previous series.

He is still haunted by the ghosts of his past, not just the ideals of Amuro and specifically Char, as Hathaway also believes all Earthlings should unite in space and leave the Earth to recover from what we’ve done to it, but also Quess, the young and energetic girl he fell for only to see killed in battle in front of his eyes during Char’s Rebellion (in the original novel he killed Quess, but as this is in the anime timeline he saw Quess killed needlessly in front of his eyes and then killed friendly Earth officer Chan instead. Either way traumatic!) After stopping some fake Mafty terrorists on a plane full of Earth officials Hathaway meets both the “enemy” in Earth Federation Chief of Security Kenneth Sleg and a girl named Gigi Andalucia, who is very similar to Quess in a lot of ways and even figures out that Hathaway is in fact Mafty. Hathaway meets with some of his men and arranges an attack on a bunch of hotels, including the one he’s staying at, so he can escape Federation surveillance and given his life would be at risk, shake any idea of him being involved with Mafty. As the attack happens Hathaway finds himself unable to just leave Gigi behind so ends up escaping with her at the cost of his escape plan in the highlight sequence of the movie, with the full POV of what it would be like to try and run away from a large-scale mobile suit fight in the middle of the city. This is where we also meet Lane Aim, the pilot of the new Penelope Gundam. He’s still very wet behind the ears and isn’t treated too well by Kenneth, but I’m sure that’ll change as the movies go on…

The Xi Gundam makes its long-awaited anime debut!

The next day Hathaway makes his escape back to his Mafty base but knowing full well that Kenneth was on to him. His base is soon under attack but his latest plan still goes on ahead as he heads into orbit and collects the Xi Gundam, bringing it down to Earth and using it to fight off the Penelope. As the film ends Hathaway talks to his terrorist cell allies as they head to assist in a resistance effort elsewhere via a large boat. Like I said, I love Hathaway in this, he’s doing a good thing but in a very reckless and villain-like way, makes for very interesting viewing and frankly there are a lot of parallels to modern life in it, probably far more than when the book was released in 89/90…

The Bad:

The Penelope also makes its debut… I think *squints eyes*

The biggest and really only complaint would have to be the big showdown between the Xi Gundam and the Penelope Gundam. Now I know this is only one third of the story, there’s still more to come, but it was a bit of a downer. It all took place at night so you couldn’t really see either suit in their full glory, then they just exchange some blasts and missiles before Penelope gets hit hard and tanks into the ocean water. Talk about anti-climax! From what I know about the story, and that’s admittedly little beyond Hathaway and Lane’s rivalry as seen in games like Extreme VS and Super Robot Wars V, the two machines will obviously fight again as Lane presumably gets better and better, but that doesn’t take away from the rather flat ending to this movie…

Overall Thoughts:

Lane Aim takes some time to think about how stupid of a name he has, even for Gundam…

Mobile Suit Gundam: Hathaway was a fun hour and a half and features a genuinely interesting protagonist operating in some very questionable grey areas. While the big climactic fight between the two Gundams I’ve always loved from afar was a let down the film has set up the next two parts well, whenever they arrive…

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