While I do enjoy the recent incarnations of the Gundam franchise, I always find myself looking for that depth of story and character that the Universal Century series provided, and Gundam Unicorn is a throwback to that era.
Our dear friends from Sheng Tai Toys were kind enough to invite Ani-culture along for the screening of Episode 5: “The Black Unicorn” at Lido Theaters last Saturday, and it was definitely a fine way to enjoy the latest installment.
Although it certainly could not match the prestige of the Japanese premiere [Link], I appreciated the efforts the organizers took in terms of posters and providing the Japanese release booklets for the attendees- a lovely memento of the event. And if the turnout is any indication, there is no shortage of Gundam Unicorn fans in Singapore.
While I will not spoil the episode for those who have not watched it, I will give my thoughts about it in general. The previous episode “At the Bottom of the Gravity Well” was very much an exploration of the motivations of not just Mineva/Audrey and Banagher Links, but of Riddle Marcenas, Suberoa Zinnerman and Marida Cruz as well. Everyone is chained by either the past or their lineage. “Friend” and “Enemies” are matters of perspective. Playing on this, “The Black Unicorn” sets in motion the struggle for everyone to find their own path towards the future.
We all marvel at the fantastic mobile suit battles in Gundam Unicorn, but I enjoyed the fact it has always played out as a character driven story. Audrey and Bhagahar reunite once again, and one can sense their time apart has only strengthened their resolve, and perhaps even given them the direction they needed. With the “Unicorn” by her side, can the “Lady” carve a path through an uncertain future?
The relationship between Zinnerman and Marida finally reaches its climax, and it becomes clear their bond was borne out of mutual loss- a painful reminder that when someone dies as result of war, the sorrow is many fold.
People may see Riddle as becoming the antagonist (or the jerk) of the series, but I see him becoming the embodiment of the fears of the people who fear changing the status quo. All he wants is to protect what he has and what he hopes to have- something each and everyone of us can identify with. With their backs to the wall, the most unlikely of allies come together- everyone’s destiny is now inexplicably tied to the quest for the Laplace box.
On a lighter note, it was heartening to see Captain Otto and the crew of the Nahel Argama once again, after their absence in the previous installment. The appearance by characters from previous series, especially Captain Bright Noah, even if it was for a fleeting moment, was a nice touch as well. If you are a real hardcore fan, you might even notice another tribute to the original Gundam series, akin to “Char’s Kick”, between the Tri-Stars and the Unicorn.
Episode Five certainly brings the story full circle, and one can sense everything is building up to a climatic resolution for the final two installments. No one can really say how the OVA will differ from the Novel from here on out, I am sure it will be a fitting conclusion.
While the screening was certainly the highlight of the occasion, I did enjoy the experience of being surrounded by fellow Gundam enthusiasts, especially at the model merchandise exhibit in Isetan’s toy department. It was nostalgic to see eager fans snap up model kit after model kit, and I certainly felt the urge to add to my already overflowing collection.
As a closing note, Ani-Culture.net would like to once again thank Sheng Tai Toys for inviting us for a memorable occasion and kudos for a well-executed event.