What I Would Have Been Doing at the Time: Adjusting to life in South Florida while not being anti-social for once.
First Watched: May 2002
Commentary: The 13 parts of this OVA can be broken down into effectively 4 sections. The first consisting of the theft of the second Gundam unit could be considered well ahead of its time.
With the Federation unable to completely kill off Zeon, splinter/hardcore factions which remain alive prepare to take revenge against an enemy which has little political will and little regards for security or the legality of what they are doing. They end up stealing a nuclear warhead, banned by a treaty, and the Gundam that was developed to use it, with very little resistance.
There are some things which can be drawn out of these early episodes that can be seen in real life. The violation of international treaties as a way of flaunting power has been common place in the war on terror. The theft of a nuclear weapon and its use by an enemy is a common idea used for the justification of a missile shield over Europe, and the timing of the series coinciding with the fall of the Soviet Union works as well.
The second part is largely character development. Our protagonist, Kou Uraki, ends up destroying his Gundam Unit 1 in his very first space battle. In a crisis of confidence, he comes across a former Zeon pilot who lost his left arm in the One Year War, but still has a mobile armor he was working on. Typically, he becomes a sort of man’s man in this arc after a little montage of repairing the mobile armor.
Uraki ends up having to defeat him, but he still struggles to do anything other than pilot a mobile suit. That fact causes him loads of problems in his relationship with Anaheim Electronics’ engineer Nina Purpleton, the romantic interest in the series. He can’t summon the courage to ask her on a date on their last day on Luna, and she scolds him for it.
In the meantime, Lt. South Burning (how cool is that name?) has to deal with his personal demons. Time is catching up to him, and his marriage has completely fallen apart. His death signals the end of the second section.
This character driven arc was done pretty well in my opinion, there are some topics well worth analyzing here. Could Nina Purpleton be considered tsundere in her relationship to Kou? Anaheim playing both sides as a contractor has rather predictable results. Is Luna home to anything other than debauchery and top weapon development?
The third arc is action driven around the naval review at the asteroid formerly known as Solomon, and later the desperate attempt to prevent a colony drop. Basically the nuke gets used at Solomon, Kou and Anavel Gato; the idealogically driven antagonist of the series, destroying each of their Gundams, a colony is eventually diverted toward Earth, and an epic set piece battle is waged unsuccessfully stop it from dropping.
This third section is more typical of an action series. The mobile suit battles look great. The betrayal within the Zeon ranks comes to a predictable conclusion. The Federation placing politics and appearance above reality proves to be an excellent way to tie the series together with later UC series. It’s basically solid and holds together well.
The final section of the series is where this falls apart. By contriving a love triangle between Gato, Nina and Kou, a big plothole is created. Would the Federation really allow an engineer with a past relationship with an infamous Zeon pilot really be allowed to take part in such an important program? Why the hell is Kou so eager to forgive her for betraying him during the colony’s final descent? It baffles me that they tried to force this in to the series at all.
Whimsy: Without the mistakes of the end I probably would have put this along side Zeta and Victory Gundams in my personal top 3 series in the franchise. It still sits fourth mind, but it’s frustrating more than anything…Two colonies collide to propel one towards Luna, but no one seems to care where the other one is off to…Keith and Mora hook up at one point, and the relationship is never revisited in any way…
Next Time in Part 5: A look at a boy with a special power, a bunch of women who want him, an onsen episode, battles in space and mostly comedy.