Mecha Monday: Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn Episode 6

It’s been tough following this series. While originally expected to end last fall, ever since Gundam Unicorn has not only been extended to 7 episodes but increased the wait between episodes, fans have been asked to be more and more patient. For many of the older Gundam (and specifically universal century) fans, this isn’t too hard a task to ask, since many of the older OVAs had release schedules similar to current Unicorn’s. For the newer fans, who may never have experienced the OVA waiting game, this is probably especially brutal for them. What’s most important in all this is the current quality of the OVA. Can Sunrise justify to all their fans that Gundam Unicorn is still worth the wait?

Gundam Unicorn Epiosde 6

While I don’t normally do this, with the increased production time, I think it’s very important to talk about the animation. Did it get better? There’s certainly a noticeable improvement over episode 5. For starters, there’s definitely a lot less jarring CGI used for the action, with one noticeable exception. Sunrise, why did you make a scene as important as the launching of the Full Armor Gundam Unicorn with CGI? Other than that instance, I was rather impressed with all the suits melting, that detail made “disable all the enemy suits!” look pretty convincing. In fact, they made disabling enemy suits look more convincing than Kira’s antics ever did in Gundam Seed Destiny, but I digress.

What’s rather worrying is that, for an episode that took a year to produce, we only got about eight minutes of action. I can understand why we only got that much action, as there was a decent amount of plot, politics, and character interaction they had to go through. What’s worrying is that, for only eight minutes of action, what we got wasn’t noticeably better than anything from episode three or four, for instance. Granted, it’s been a while since I’ve seen the earlier episodes, so I could be overstating the quality of some of the earlier episodes.

Still, it’s extremely worrying that episode 7 will come out around the same time next year (unless Sunrise plans so stretch “Spring 2014” to the limit), yet will need to animate a whole lot of battles and action, from what I’m anticipating. I’ve also heard rumors that episode 7 will be longer than 60 minutes (90 minutes? Movie size?), which makes matters even worse.

Notice here how Banagher channels his inner Newtype before he makes his speech.

Notice here how Banagher channels his inner Newtype before he makes his speech.

Still, there was a lot to like about this episode. I mentioned there was a lot of plot-related content to get through in this episode, which was thankfully pretty good. Now, if you’ve watched Gundam Unicorn up to this point (I’m assuming you have), you’ll know what sort of plot and narrative to expect. Episode 6 delivers some really important scenes, not only for the sake of Unicorn itself, but for the entire Universal Century, too.

Of special note is the scene where Mineva interrogates Full Frontal and we discover his goal, and what he plans to do with the box, if he ever obtained it. What follows is a rather interesting (and possibly even meta) discussion on the cyclicity of the setting.

I wasn’t a huge fan of the Marida/Zinnerman scene near the end, it was pretty cliche for a character as well-developed as Marida. In fact, I’m not sure it needed to be there at all, really. Marida and Zinnerman both had some pretty good development this episode by themselves, so it’s really strange when a shared scene comes out so awkwardly.

I suppose the episode balances that out with the awkward and tense situation between the ship’s crew and the Sleeves, which led to an attempted hijack and a mutiny. I took it as a personal jab against the “understanding” of 00’s setting, where everyone could cooperate with each other if they could just understand each other. Here, the two sides understood each other quite well, and still didn’t like each other. I’m most likely reading this scene pretty wrong, but at the very least it’s an interesting look at the differences in ideology between Universal Century and 00’s AD era.

Poor Angelo couldn't catch a break this episode.

Poor Angelo couldn’t catch a break this episode.

One major criticism of episode 4 was Banagher’s sudden wisdom, and how he thought he knew the way the world worked after seeing a few things, as expressed here and here. Unfortunately, it’s back, though not exactly in full force. On the bright side, Banagher’s view definitely reflects the setting a hell of a lot more in this episode.

In fact, it’s become apparent that Banagher’s world view even shares elements of Char’s world view now, which is very interesting considering the hints dropped this episode that Banagher may be a Cyber Newtype of some sort, and Full Frontal’s offhand remark at one point in this episode. I get the feeling it may be pretty important to pay attention to these tidbits, as they might reveal some of the most wanted answers in the entire setting.

Essentially, in addition to Unicorn’s usual politics and characterization, episode 6 was a perfectly great reminder of the philosophy and overall cynicism of the UC setting, as well as poking at some of the greatest mysteries of the setting, and maybe even the metaseries, too. It’s essentially the perfect setup for either a fantastic or a terrible finale. I’m rather worried for the finale, but here’s hoping Sunrise doesn’t botch it!

Good ol' Sunrise, making me wait a year to see an awesome-looking mobile suit in action.

Good ol’ Sunrise, making me wait a year to see an awesome-looking mobile suit in action.

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A mad scientist who's so cool!

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