Synopsis: It's the year 0079 of the Universal Century era and a unit of the Earth Federation engages an amputee unit of the Principality Zeon in the remains of space colony section Side 4. The backdrop is a dangerous debris field that gives off electric discharges as if in a lightning storm. Devil-may-care ace Fed pilot Io Flemming is more than happy to throw away his life in combat, finding himself a new enemy in the enemy sniper Daryl Lorenz.
So, in their infinite creativity, Sunrise has decided to make another Universal Century. Whoda thunk, huh? It's been a whole half hour since that ground was tread, right? Gundam Unicorn, Gundam The Origin, now this? Bandai, are you so bereft of ideas you just have to churn out these uber expensive nostalgia wankfests every quarter to keep your gunpla sales up? Was that Build Fighters show not enough for you, you greedy, unoriginal bastards? I---
Oh, wait. Gundam Unicorn and The Origin are really awesome. And so is this. Aside from the insanely inflated prices for these new products, I welcome this. They even have an AU series or sensible quality airing on TV now, so the people tired of sparkly space psychics and O'Neil cylinders can always raise their flags for Iron-Blooded Orphans. Maybe once again returning to Feddies versus Zeeks isn't the freshest idea, but there are new angles to be mined, or even new approaches to the old ones. There are some really intriguing ones just in this first, 18 minute long episode.
First off, the backdrop and mood are exceptional. A trashed colony, an enormous debris field, electric discharges lighting things up, snipers firing, "ground" being gained ever so little-by-little by desperate, fallible soldiers who seem exhausted by the One Year War. A sense of knowing dread even in the quieter, more peaceful moments (what few there are). People being pushed to their limits already, barely able to hold together, dying ugly, ignoble deaths and thrown out like garbage into oblivion. Yes. Yes yes yes. Yes, I want this in Gundam. I want this in UC Gundam. I want this 80s/early 90s OVA sensibility, the "fuck you, this shit isn't glorious, the people who think that way are crazy" attitude that curb stomps you with the cold hard truth of warfare. Well, it also has neato giant robots.
We have our central characters on both sides of the conflict. One side has the thrill-seeking near-sociopath Io Flemming who loves the battlefield and relishes the chance to be in mobile suit combat to the point that he's practically overjoyed to be sent out, as his captain/lover puts it, "to die". Is he death seeking as well or just addicting to the fight? Either way, his love for jazz music, his interaction with Cornelius, his self-possessed endless confidence, he's just the kind of asshole I enjoy. The Zeon have Daryl Lorenz, an introverted, somewhat sullen sniper in a unit of specialists fitted with prosthetics (probably injured in previous battles), something I'm surprised we don't get more of in the metaseries. I'm anticipating seeing these two clash (though now that Io has a Gundam, I don't see Lorenz having much of a chance).
To top it off, this feature looks and handles like a dream. It's unbelievably gorgeous. Every detail, from character design, to mechanical design, to movement, to composition, to backgrounds, to items, to effects, to music, to voice acting, are just boundlessly topnotch. It helps that the mobile suits aren't just mostly 3DCG and awkward looking like in The Origin. CG is used, mind you, but it not to its detriment, only to its enhancement. Everything about the production values of this is inspired.
Interesting, good looking, good sounding, what else could you want? Well, maybe if it were a little longer per episode. Whatever. I'm sure it's also very pricey when it comes out on physical release. Still, this is, as the young folks say, my jam.
Where can I get the soundtrack? I'd buy that, if nothing else.
My Completely Pointless Grading Scale Grade:
4.5 out of 5
(Read the actual review, though, you lazy bastard.)