This review of Gundam Unicorn will contain spoilers for this OVA and titles across UC Gundam. A general familiarity with the events of the Universal Century is recommended for full enjoyment. Among all the entries in the long running Mobile Suit Gundam franchise there are few that are more misunderstood than the 2010 OVA Mobile Suit Gundam: Unicorn. Lauded at its release for its exceptional visuals Unicorn enjoyed a brief time in the spotlight before fading from the conversation at large now existing only in passing remarks or with some casual derision directed towards that one flashy OVA. But after rewatching Unicorn for the first time since it was completed I feel that a grave injustice has been done to it. Not only is Unicorn a prime example of the kind of grand narratives that the Gundam franchise is capable of it is also a fantastic eulogy for the Universal Century. Unicorn shows a better understanding of Gundams themes than any previous story in the franchises history Id argue even more so than those written by the franchises creator Yoshiyuki Tomino. But Unicorn does not come to bury the Universal Century no it is here to lay it to rest. It takes into its breast the raging fires of hatred and vengeance burning across the Earth sphere and with a gentle voice it says even so I understand. Cycles or the Things That Have Come Before Us The story of the Universal Century is one of tragedy. Four times now has war raged across the Earth Sphere and four times the future has refused to change. The general atmosphere of the time is now fatigue. People are tired. Tired of endless bloodshed tired of being scared tired of losing loved ones. Though the cycle has repeated itself in the past the question of Laplaces box seems to point towards a final answer to the question of spacenoid independence. The Federation uneasy in its grip on power after so many brushes with destruction is eager to crush the box before it can be opened in order to cement the status quo forever and maintain their false peace. The remnants of Chars Neo Zeon forces now calling themselves the Sleeves under the command of the enigmatic Full Frontal see the box as a final hope for freedom one final chance to establish a nation where the spacenoids can live free from Earthling oppression. And so it appears that the wheel of history has once again begun to spin but are those cracks along the wheel? Indeed this time events will not play out as they had in the past. Though the roles may be the same the actors have changed and that will be the deciding factor in this play. Banagher Links the protagonist of our story is in many ways a ghost of his Gundam protagonist predecessor Amuro Ray. The key difference however lies in their goals. Amuro fought to protect his home and his family from harm a noble goal but one that ultimately had him play into the hands of those who would wish to continue the cycle of bloodshed. Banagher is different. His search for Laplaces Box sets him on a journey that will cross paths with people on both sides of the conflict meeting friend and foe alike on both sides. This is a perspective not granted to Gundam pilots past who only come to know the weight of their actions once it is too late to change anything. That empathy is key to the core of Gundam Unicorn as Banagher comes to understand that true peace will not come from victory from either side but instead by laying to rest the ghosts of the past. Gravity or the Things That Hold Us Back Gundam seems to have a fascination with the concept of gravity. The leaders of the many forms of the Principality of Zeon referred to those who dwelled on Earth as souls weighed down by gravity. Though it may have just been some pretty words for Zeon propaganda to me gravity has a deeper meaning. Gravity is all the things that keep us from moving ahead a set of invisible shackles tying us to the past. All across Unicorn characters are shackled by their own personal gravities. The Vist Foundation is bound by its ancient sin continually perpetrating the war machine to keep eyes off the great lie they have spun across the decades of the Universal Century. The Federation and Zeon alike are forced into the bondage of endless warfare by a selfperpetuating cycle of vengeance. Even the Gundam itself the symbol of the franchise is itself bound in chains. It is possessed by the bloody history of its namesake a symbol of righteous power perverted as a tool of oppression and violence. Everywhere you look across the span of Unicorn are people and things haunted by the ghosts of the past that should have long since moved on. Even these grudges themselves are held back by gravity as the people who host these spirits desperately cling to them to give their lives any form of purpose no matter how pitiable it may be. Full Frontal called by many as the ghost of Char is himself possessed by the specter of the Red Comet unable to let go of what he left behind even after his passing at the Axis Shock. Gravity is not inescapable however. Just as mankind learned to breach the atmosphere and kiss the stars so too must the people of the UC break their chains and face the new frontier. Possibility or the Chance for a Better Tomorrow As I said in the intro to this piece Unicorns primary concern is not valor or vengeance but empathy. Zeon Deikun saw the Newtypes as the next step in human evolution capable of communication without misunderstandings. UC Gundam as well as Tomino himself has a very pessimistic view of this notion that even if the age of the Newtypes came to pass humanity would be too concerned with its own selfdestruction to realize the miracle in its midst. Unicorn rejects that pessimism opting instead to believe in the good of the human spirit. After all the Unicorn is the beast of possibility. Possibility for a better future for humans to finally understand one another. Banagher is the perfect conduit for that possibility. His experiences have granted him empathy for humanity he sees through the violence to the wounds beneath old scars that still ache and urge those who bear them to lash out at the world. In the end the day is won not by a clenched fist holding a sword but by open arms offering comfort and healing. Even in the face of despair Banagher soldiers on. Even when Full Frontal faces him with the futility of his actions Banagher fights for a better tomorrow. Even so... he says head held high facing the future. Gundam Unicorn marks a final resting place for the Universal Century sending off decades of warfare with gentleness instead of bombast and that is the way it should be.
100 /100
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