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Episode 1: Blue-Eyed Casval

 

Review by Chris Guanche

April 28, 2015

 

Summary

 

On Jan. 23, UC 0079, the Earth Federation Forces and Principality of Zeon wage a fierce battle outside the space colony cluster of Loum. The Federation's Tianem Fleet opens fire on Dozle Zabi's fleet and destroys multiple Musai ships. Dozle vows to avenge their death and orders his ships to spread out and come around. Ace pilot Char Aznable uses his custom Zaku II's anti-ship rifle to fire rounds through the bridges of Federation ships and destroy them. He hands the rifle over to wingman Denim and orders Slender to cover him. Char destroys ships and bounces off them to build up more speed, giving him a red streak. He destroys several Saberfish fighters, and nearby the elite Black Tri-Stars destroy Gen. Revil's flagship Ananke. Char sees he only has one bazooka round left and rushes toward the enemy. In UC 0068 on Side 3, a younger Char, then Casval Rem Deikun, tries to sleep and overhears his father, Zeon Zum Deikun, declare that he's finished his speech. Zeon's wife, Astraia Tor Deikun, tells him he'll wake the kids, and he suddenly decides that his speech is all wrong. Zeon wants to make a declaration of war against the Earth Sphere, but his speech just reads as a request for more autonomy. Astraia thinks Zeon should rest and get some sleep, which upsets him. He compares himself to Jesus by saying he's going to be dragged away to Golgotha. Zeon walks into the children's bedroom and wakes up his daughter, Artesia Som Deikun and her cat, Lucifer. The next day, Zeon prepares to give his speech before the Munzo assembly and suddenly dies of a heart attack. Casval, Artesia and Astraia are rushed to the hospital to see Zeon's body, which causes Artesia to scream. In the city, protesters blame the Federation and demand independence for Side 3. The Deikuns meet with Degwin Sodo Zabi, who offers to take care of them as he promised to Zeon before his death. The crowd turns violent when news breaks of of Zeon's death. Federation troops use water cannons on armored buses to push back the protesters, who are throwing Molotov cocktails at them. A Guntank Early Type rolls in and pushes the crowd back. Jimba Ral tells Astraia that she shouldn't trust the Zabis because he's sure they assassinated Zeon with poison. Astraia doesn't want the children to hear, but Jimba insists that they should. Jimba tells his son Ramba to escort the Deikuns to his house. The crowd breaks up as more Guntanks arrive. Ral leads a convoy to evacuate the Deikuns, but their path is blocked by fleeing protesters. Ramba fires his machine gun in the air to scare them off, but they only leave after Kycilia Zabi's security forces arrive on horseback. Kycilia allows the Deikuns to leave, and later her older brother Sasro punches her in the face for doing that. He'd been manipulating public opinion to make it seem that the Federation was responsible for Deikun's death. Now the Rals have the advantage, so Gihren Zabi suggests eliminating Jimba.

 

Later, a state funeral is held for Zeon in a church, with both the Deikuns and Zabis in attendance. As the funeral procession travels through the street, Dozle tells Sasro that he went too far with Kycilia, but Sasro thinks he's too soft. An explosion rips through their car and kills Sasro while leaving Dozle heavily injured. Young Garma Zabi freaks out, but Kycilia tells him to act like a man. Jimba is enraged when the media casts suspicion on the Rals, and he thinks Degwin killed his own son to distract from Zeon's assassination. Ramba doesn't think Degwin would do that, and Astraia asks to speak with him. A large crowd gathers outside the mansion and accuses Jimba of killing Sasro. Ramba visits Astraia and sees that Artesia is crying because she's lonely without Lucifer, so he decides to get the cat. Ramba leaves with his men, and Artesia realizes she forgot to tell him that Lucifer scratches strangers. Violence flares up across the colony from pro-Zabi mobs, but Degwin tells Gihren that it'll take more to finish off the Rals. A heavily bandaged Dozle wants revenge for Sasro, but Degwin notes that Ramba is popular with many of the younger members of the Munzo Defense Force. Dozle respects Ramba's ability, if not his family, and Degwin wants to give them a way out because their time has passed. Disguised as a drunkard, Ramba makes his way through an alley to avoid the political mobs. He reaches the bar Club Eden and finds the entrance guarded by young Lt. Tachi. Ramba is greeted inside by bartender Clamp and asks if he's coming back to the military, but Clamp doesn't want to be a Federation lackey. Crowley Hamon calls Ramba over to the back and jokes about his disguise. She thinks the scratches on his face are from a woman, but they're from Lucifer. Ramba asks Hamon for help to smuggle someone to Earth, and she correctly guesses that it's Jimba. She asks if anyone else is coming, but he says he knows she's already worked out who else it is. Hamon agrees to help and call her friend at the Port Authority. Astraia watches the children sleep and regrets that they came into the world as Zeon's children. She hears a disturbance outside and spots Kycilia arguing at the gate with Ral guards. Kycilia demands to speak with Casval, and Jimba is enraged when his men let her in. Casval gets dressed and agrees to speak with her, vowing that he won't be intimidated by a Zabi. Casval meets with Kycilia privately, and she claims that Jimba murdered Sasro and that all of this started because the Deikuns took shelter with the Rals. However, Casval accuses the Zabis of assassinating Zeon, and Kycilia presumes that Jimba planted that idea in his head. Casval demands that she not speak to him like a child, so she requests that the Deikuns return to their home to prevent retaliation for Sasro. Casval agrees but says he'll never overlook the Zabis killing Zeon, so Kycilia grabs him and throws him on the couch. She's surprised that Casval hasn't cried for help and wonders if he isn't afraid of her. She slaps handcuffs on him and states she can jail him for anything. Casval says she can't do this to him because he's the son of Zeon and will make them all bow to him.

 

Later, Kycilia reports to Gihren that not only was Casval unafraid, but he actually threatened her. She tells Gihren he'll have to deal with Casval, which he says sounds like an order. Astraia, Casval and Artesia take a helicopter to an estate and receive a chilly reception from Zeon's first wife, Roselucia. Roselucia says it's too noisy outside and wants to speak with Astraia later. In her room, Roselucia declares that Astraia will have to live inside the estate's tower, which is where Zeon went for contemplation. Roselucia dismisses Astraia as a nightclub singer who bewitched Zeon and is only valuable for having given him children. Roselucia yells at Astraia that she doesn't know anything about Spacenoid desires for freedom, and in her extreme anger has a heart attack. Astraia asks if the children will be with her, but Roselucia says they can only stay with her this one night. Ramba returns home and finds his house a mess and gets a message from Hamon that the Deikuns are gone. She tells him that Astraia will be held under guard in the tower, so it won't be easy to extract her. Ramba asks if she can get the kids out, and she tells him she's got a plan. Ramba finds Jimba holed up in a room with lots of weapons and tells him he's being smuggled to Earth. Artesia runs around the tower and says she likes it better than the main house with scary old Roselucia. Astraia tells the children that they're being smuggled to Earth, but Artesia doesn't want to go without Astraia and starts crying. Astraia says that she'll come later when Artesia has become a good girl on Earth, but Artesia doesn't like that. Astraia tells Artesia to count the half and full moons on Earth, and she'll come down when that's happened 100 times. Astraia tells Artesia that Earth's forests are beautiful and filled with animals. When they go to bed, Artesia says that she doesn't want the morning to come because she'd rather have this night forever. The next morning, a Guntank rolls up to the estate, and a disguised Hamon demands that the children be turned over to the Federation. Casval asks if she's Hamon, and she sees their mother told them about the plan. Casval, Artesia and Lucifer get inside the Guntank and wave goodbye to Astraia.

 

Hamon gives them a change of clothes and tells the pilots to speed up, but they believe she's hiding something from them about the kids and want double the money. One of them says she can pay with her body, so she kicks him in the crotch and elbows him in the face. The other pilot pulls out his pistol, but she warns him against shooting in a confined space. The Federation hears about the rogue Guntank rampaging through the city, so an officer gives orders to stop it. Kycilia is awoken with the news that the Federation has taken Casval and Artesia. Ramba is informed that Hamon succeeded with her part of the plan, so it's his turn now. On a highway, his men create a distraction by blocking the path for Federation Type 61 tanks. The Guntank stops when the path ahead is blocked by four Guntanks. Hamon takes over the controls to open fire on the tanks, and Casval tells Artesia those are their enemies. He activates the controls from the gunner's position and opens fire before Hamon does, destroying a Guntank. The other three Guntanks regroup and prepare to open fire, but Casval uses the confusion to destroy a second one. Hamon realizes that Casval is the one firing, and he charges forward toward the enemy units. The other Guntanks open fire, but he manages to get a third kill before his unit takes damage. Artesia begs him to stop after he destroys the fourth unit and cries over the dead pilots. The Federation sets up a blockade with more Guntanks and Type 61s, and Dozle arrives to tell them that the Deikun children are on the Guntank. The Federation doesn't care about them, and in his anger Dozle causes his stitches to break and starts bleeding everywhere. Gihren calls Dozle and tells him not to do anything because he doesn't care either about the Deikun children. With the Guntank damaged and set on autopilot, Hamon and the children escape. The rogue Guntank continues to travel down the street and is destroyed by the other tanks. Ramba's armored truck picks up Hamon and the kids to take them to the port's cargo terminal, where Tachi helps smuggle them in. Jimba, Casval, Artesia and Lucifer are hidden inside a cargo container, and Tachi covers for them to prevent a scan. When Lucifer meows, Tachi starts looking for a cat to distract the workers, thus allowing the container to be moved to an Ocean Cargo ship. Kycilia confronts Ramba and notes that she could stop all outbound cargo, so he turns himself over. As the ship takes off, Casval exits the container and floats over to a porthole, where he shows Artesia the stars. Artesia is surprised to see Munzo from the outside and looks at Earth, their destination.

 

Commentary

 

The anime adaptation of Yoshikazu Yasuhiko's Gundam The Origin hasn't been without some controversy among Western fans. When the anime version was first announced, many expected a full adaptation of the entire series, including the the present storyline of Amuro Ray and pals on the White Base. Instead, this first of four episodes goes back to UC 0068, which was the start of Yas' multi-volume flashbacks about the events leading up to the One Year War. What follows is pretty much a straight adaptation of a good chunk of volume 5. The only new material is the opening at Loum with adult Char, plus the opening 0068 scene with Zeon and his family. The Loum framing I suspect was added to squeeze in some mobile suit combat, since otherwise all we get is the Guntank. If the styling of the battle in CG looks familiar, it's because director Takashi Imanishi previously helmed MS IGLOO. This episode brings to life some characters who never existed in the anime, mainly Astraia and Sasro. Others like Zeon and Jimba were mentioned, but never seen. I'd always envisioned Zeon to be a man of peace working for Spacenoid freedom, but The Origin portrays him as almost being a sort of religious fanatic with a cult of personality who wants war with Earth. If this is what Casval grew up around, it's no surprise what he later turns into as Char. It's also nice to see Characters like Ramba Ral fleshed out, particularly when he's so much younger and in a nice place. Showing his future crew like Clamp was was also a nice touch. I felt the tone of the episode was inconsistent and could at times be a little goofy. There's nothing wrong with goofy, but it feels a bit misplaced here. Also, I feel like this episode lacks context since it's pulled out of the middle of the manga. By this point, you'd have read four volumes and already know who most of these characters are. However, the OVA version doesn't go through any particular effort to explain the background situation or the significance of many of the characters. As such, it's really best consumed by pre-existing Gundam fans and shouldn't be used as a prequel for newcomers. I had expected this episode would cover more of volume 5, but it ends with the departure for Earth. There's nothing wrong with stopping there, but I hope the remaining three episodes have enough time to properly explore the flashback arc leading all the way full circle back to Loum. As the final word, despite some issues, the episode is a solid adaptation and does a good job of bringing Yas' iconic character designs to life.

 

Overall Rating

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3.5 out of 5 stars
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