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Mobile Suit Gundam I

 

Review by Chris Guanche

Original Review: April 1, 2000
New Review: May 24, 2000

 

Summary

 

In Universal Century 0079, the Earth Federation and the Principality of Zeon are engaged in the ferocious One Year War. Earlier that year, the Zeon attacked a space colony as part of their Operation British. The inhabitants were gassed, and the colony was set on a collision course with the Federation headquarters in Jaburo, South America. The colony was knocked off course and instead crashed into Australia, resulting in the destruction of Sydney. The Antarctic Treaty was signed between the two powers, which prohibited the use of colonies and nuclear weapons. Several months of stalemate followed. Now, several Zeon Zaku II mobile suits penetrate the Side 7 colony and begin observing it for signs of the Federation's Project V. In another part of the colony, techno geek Amuro Ray is informed by his friend Fraw Bow that they must evacuate the city. She scolds his neighbor Hayato Kobayashi for not telling him about the evacuation. The new Federation battleship White Base arrives and docks at Side 7 to pick up the prototype Guntank, Guncannon and Gundam mobile suits. The ship has barely reached the colony ahead of the Musai battleship that was chasing it.

 

Against Denim's orders, Zaku pilot Gene begins to fire at the mobile suit transport trucks to destroy them. He thinks the way to make his name is in battle, like Char Aznable did. He also attacks civilians and kills many who are attempting to flee. Amuro leaves the shelter and stumbles upon the Gundam's instruction manual when some soldiers are killed. Fraw's parents are killed, and Amuro tells her to escape before they kill her too. He finds his father Tem Ray, a Federation engineer, trying to load the Gundam onto the White Base. The Zakus continue to attack, and Amuro decides to fight back with the the Gundam. He slices Gene's Zaku in half with a beam saber, and the resulting explosion creates a hole in the colony wall and sucks out Tem into space. Amuro destroys Denim's Zaku by ramming his beam saber into the cockpit, preventing another explosion. Slender, the last of the team, escapes and reports to his superior officer, the ace pilot Char, known as the Red Comet. Char decides to investigate this new suit and heads for Side 7 with several soldiers. He has his Musai attack the colony as a diversion. Paolo Cassius, the captain of White Base, is injured in the attack, and Ensign Bright Noa is forced to take command of the ship. He has all the citizens evacuated onto the ship and orders Amuro to destroy the remaining mobile suit parts. As Char examines a wrecked Guncannon mobile suit, he encounters a female medical student named Sayla Mass who looks identical to his sister, Artesia. The Gundam shows up, and Char retreats to his ship. The White Base leaves Side 7, with Amuro providing cover fire.

 

Char heads for space and has the Musai launch his red Zaku, which proves to be quite a match for Amuro. The White Base manages to escape from Char and heads for the Federation asteroid base Luna II. At Luna II, Bright and the crew are told that they must immediately take the White Base and the Gundam to the Federation's Earth-based headquarters at Jaburo. The ship heads for Earth to enter the atmosphere, but they find Char is in close pursuit. Amuro launches and is warned to return to the ship or else he'll burn up in the atmosphere. During the battle, Amuro manages to hold off Char and discovers that the Gundam has an atmospheric reentry system. The White Base escapes, but Char has achieved his objective. By attacking them, he has misaligned their re-entry angle, and they're now on course for Zeon-controlled North America instead of Federation-controlled South America. As Char follows them, he contacts the North American commander, Garma Zabi, and explains the situation. Garma launches in a Gaw carrier to pick up Char and chase the White Base. They attack the White Base, and pilots Hayato and Ryu Jose launch in the Guntank while Kai Shiden launches in the Guncannon. Amuro refuses to fight, and the battle quickly turns against the White Base.

 

Bright slaps Amuro and expresses his disappointment in him. Fraw offers to pilot the Gundam, and Amuro decides to fight. Garma leads a Dopp squad in battle, and Char launches in his Zaku to help Garma. Amuro fights Char, but the battle is indecisive as Garma is forced to retreat. The White Base encounters a Medea supply ship commanded by the beautiful Lt. Matilda Ajan, who advises Bright to head west. In New Yark City, Char attends a party held by Garma. Garma is engaged to Icelina Eschonbach, the daughter of the former mayor, and the mayor doesn't like it one bit. Garma and Char leave the party when they learn that White Base is passing through the city. Garma launches in his Gaw carrier while Char patrols the ruined city in his Zaku. He finds the White Base hidden in a sports dome. The ship is currently behind Garma, but he tells Garma the ship is in front of him. The White Base then attacks Garma and cripples his Gaw, forcing him to perform a suicide run. Before he dies, Garma is told by Char that he was unlucky to be born into the Zabi family. Icelina is told of Garma's death by her father and runs off to cry alone.

 

The White Base escapes from New Yark and heads north. Meanwhile, at Side 3, Sovereign Degwin Sodo Zabi assembles his children Kycilia, Gihren and Dozle to mourn the loss of Garma. While Degwin wants a quiet funeral, Gihren insists on a full state funeral. On Earth, the White Base arrives in Canada for brief shore leave. Amuro leaves the ship to visit his mother, who lives in a nearby town. When he returns home, he finds a bunch of drunken Federation soldiers having a party. He eventually finds his mother working as an assistant at a refugee camp. Amuro hides his Core Fighter because the Zeon patrol the town daily. Amuro is discovered and kills a Zeon soldier, which frightens his mother. Dopp fighters spot White Base, and Ryu is sent out to attack in a Core Fighter. Amuro attacks the Zeon airfield and is told to stay away by Matilda, who has come to resupply the ship. Matilda speaks with Bright and informs him he has been promoted to Lieutenant. She also tells him that the Zeon are researching something called a "Newtype," which was part of the philosophy of Zeon Zum Deikun. Supposedly, a Newtype is the next evolution of humanity, and people who are Newtypes have incredible intuitive abilities.

 

The White Base heads for the ocean. Nearby, a Zeon fleet led by Ramba Ral's Zanzibar is entering the atmosphere and spots the White Base. Ramba has brought along his lover Crowley Hamon for the mission, which is to get revenge for Garma. Ramba attacks the ship during a storm and launches his mobile suits. The White Base lands on a small island and launches its mobile suits. Ramba decides to fight the Gundam and launches in his new Gouf. Amuro is tossed into battle despite his fatigue, and his performance reflects his condition. Ramba proves to be better than Amuro, but he's forced to retreat when Amuro chases him. Elsewhere, Char enjoys a drink in a bar after having been discharged from the military for negligence in protecting Garma. He's approached by Kycilia Zabi's Royal Guards, who make him an offer to join her forces. At Side 3, Gihren gives a speech that rallies the citizens of Zeon against the Federation to avenge Garma's death. They all shout out patriotic cries of "Sieg Zeon!" As the crew of the White Base watch, Bright says that Gihren just wants to create a Zabi dictatorship in the Earth Sphere.

 

Commentary

 

Well, that was one lengthy movie. Each of the movies in this trilogy weigh in at over two hours. Many people consider this to be a slow movie, which it is to some degree. However, this movie had a tall task to accomplish by establishing the complex back story for the series as well as an ensemble cast of characters. Of course, there's also the fact that this isn't a regular movie, but a compilation of episodes from the TV series. There are obviously many cuts to get roughly 13 episodes of material into the movie, but it's still a cohesive story. You still see enough to know pretty quickly that Amuro is far from perfect as a protagonist, or that Char isn't a cartoon villain. Although much of the story focuses on the two of them, there's enough screen time for the rest of the cast, given the time constraints of this first movie. Don't miss this film.

 

Overall Rating

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4 out of 5 stars
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