Reviewby Richard Winters, Jun 10th 2011
Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn Vol. 01
The year is U.C. 0096. Three years have passed since the end of the Second Neo Zeon War.
It is said that the Vist Foundation manipulates the Earth Federation and Anaheim Electronics from behind the scenes. Hoping to create a new world, the Foundation attempts to hand over a certain secret to the Neo Zeon remnants known as the Sleeves. This will mean the opening of Laplaces Box, which holds a great secret tied to the origins of the Universal Century.
The exchange between the Vist Foundation and the Sleeves is to take place at the manufacturing colony Industrial 7. This is the home of the student Banagher Links, who rescues a girl he sees falling through the colony's zero gravity area. The girl gives her name as Audrey Burne and says she wants to prevent a war, spurring Banagher to step into the conflict surrounding Laplaces Box, almost as if he is drawn in by his own bloodline.
Based on a story by author Harutoshi Fukui, the newest Gundam work dynamically unfolds against the backdrop of the Universal Century. It all begins with this first shocking episode.
It is the year 0096. The earth sphere has reached a state of relative peace with the defeat of Haman Khan and Char Azinable's Neo Zeon factions. The remnants of Zeon are in an uneasy cease fire with the EFSF. In Annerhiem Electronics' headquarters colony, an old man has a nightmare, recalling the destruction wrought at the beginning of the universal century. And thus he makes a fatal decision. It is time Laplace's box, an item of unknown of unimaginable power, held secret since the destruction of the Laplace colony in 0000 to enter the stage.
Within the bowls of the colony, a new mobile suit is undergoing testing under the auspices of the Visit foundation. Faster, more powerful, and outfitted with a system specifically designed to counteract new type advantages. Within the test team, a spy is leaking information to the EFSF. In the guts of the Neo Zeon ship streaking to retrieve the key to Laplace's box, the final hair of the Sarbi family hides, unconvinced that the box will bring the best for her people. And in a classroom sponsored by Annerhiem, a 16 year old teen with (for a Gundam series) a sensible name, friends, and a comfortable place in the universe studies the one year war, not knowing that his missing father's miscalculations are about to bring a resumption of the war.
Ladies and gentlemen, the stage is set. The battle-lines are drawn. All it will take is one stray shot. And the war to determine if “newtype” is the dawn of a new age in our evolution, or the destruction of humanity will begin.
Roll the intro.
Yeah that's right. This is only the first 10 minutes or so. If you're not already hooked, then there is no helping you I'm afraid.
Gundam Unicorn is the Universal Century OVA series created in honour of the series' 30th anniversary, and oh my goodness did Sunrise pull out all the stops for this one. Based on an original Gundam UC story, huge efforts are made to keep the feel and flavour of the universal century in this creation.
The animation is nothing short of incredible. Even in the ultra-compressed, meatballized version that I was given to review the animation is nice, and I can assure you that the official dvd release is pretty much pixel perfect. Characters express real emotion, and the mobile suits are not only executed crisply, but for once the transformation sequences of the variable types do not rely on parts being able to magically detach and re attach, or spin around through each other. Speaking of which, usually in a Mobile Suit Gundam show, we're expected to hurry up and wait for the good stuff. The first episode will introduce the Mk1 hero suit's most pathetic capabilities, add perhaps one rival, and have the mookiest of bad guys. Not so Unicorn. In one episode we get multiple new and upgraded suits, as well as the titular Unicorn.
First to be revealed are the Kashitrya and heavily upgraded stark Jegan. The Angry Capisicum, as it is affectionately known by fans is the final evolution of the Quibley mobile suit from Gundam Zeta. After the design aesthetic was missing from Char's counter attack, it is delightful to see it return. With 4 heavy shields containing funnels (compared to the one of the Quibley) The stark jegan is a direct upgrade from CCA. The final upgrade of the GM battle suit from the one year war, the JEGAN is rather a monster in CCA. The Stark version adds chobbim armour reinforcements, particularly over the veneers and the cockpit, and a pair of three shot X-Ray missile launchers - a technology refined from the infamous GP-02. Needless to say, the fight between the pair is suitably epic. Great attention to detail has been given to the weapon effects, both visually and audibly. The sphere cockpit introduced in the RX-178 Gundam MK 2 is used to great effect visually, and you get a stunning sense of being right in the thick of it as the Kashitrya demolishes the Jegan squad.
Next to show are the Gera Zulu, the ReZel, and the Loto. The sleeves candidate is the upgrade this time, in essence a massively improved version of the Gera Doga from CCA. In true neo zeonic fashion, it ramps the Prussian elements up to 11 with a spiegelhielm, intricate detailing, and of course a freaking huge machine gun. The ReZel is the star of this pairing; a newly designed mass productive transforming mobile suit based off the concept of a Zeta, whilst carefully leaving every part of the Zeta out of the game. The resulting suit is one of the most distinctly individual mobile suits to ever grace the Gundam line up.
The Loto is an insane little suit. And I mean little; the thing is approximately half the size of a normal mobile suit in its bipedal form and around knee high when transformed into its land combat tank mode. Lotos are multipurpose suits, and you see them with different shoulder weapons including gun-cannon-esque double duns, giant shoulder gatling guns, or little beam cannons.
Finally we get the ReZel commander, and our titular mech, the Unicorn. Unfortunately the ReZel command type spends most of its time rescuing civilians. What we do see of it suggests it's a machine to be reckoned with. And then there's the Unicorn. From its seeming invulnerability to funnels, to the insane physical strength that can toss a suit twice its size around like a toy, to the briefly seen NTD system, this thing is an utter monster. I fear it, and so should you.
If the plethora of great visuals and mad mobile suits wasn't enough, in a move certain to surprise the pants off of anyone used to dubbed Gundam, the English Voice cast really pulls out the stops and do a fantastic job. So for the very first time reviewing Gundam, I can in good faith say that it doesn't matter how you want watch it, it's worth watching.
And that's really it. While the review copy I've been provided lacks niceties such as menus and extra features (or even artwork beyond a line of black printing that says Gundam Unicorn), we know Madman is going to be good for them in the final copy. And really, even if they were asking for you to pay for what I received without watermarks, my recommendation would still be the same. Go off to your local store, let them know you want it, and devote an hour or so on June 15th to really enjoy what is, in my opinion, the first episode of the finest Gundam series in years.
©SOTSU • SUNRISE
Overall (dub) : A
Story : A+
Animation : A+
Art : A
Music : A
+ Crisp visuals, transformation sequences that don't violate physics, emotional characters, stunning backdrops, and explosions explosions explosions!
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