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Episode 1: Howl at the Moon

 

Review by Chris Guanche

August 25, 2000

 

Summary

 

In Correct Century (CC) 2343, several FLAT mobile suits launch from the Moon and head for Earth. One of the shuttles carries three passengers: Loran Cehack, Keith Laijie and Fran Doll. They sing "Mary Had A Little Lamb" as their mobile suit enters the Earth's atmosphere. The FLAT transforms into mobile suit mode and lands in the Inglessa fiefdom of the North Ameria continent. After burying the FLAT and changing clothes, the three of them go their separate ways. As he walks through the plains, Loran is attacked by a coyote. He grabs a stick to defend himself, and the coyote runs away when a gun is fired. Loran looks up and sees that the shots came from an airship owned by a man named Guin Sard Rhineford. As the airship flies by, a girl on board tells Loran to be careful. Later, Loran reaches a river, where he gets naked and jumps in. He plays with a toy, and when it drifts away he goes after it. He gets pulled under by a current and is saved by two naked sisters, Kihel and Sochie Heim. Servants Jessica and Sam take Loran to the Heim home to recover. Jessica tells him they don't tolerate foreigners and are only helping him because he drowned. Loran speaks to Sochie and tells her that he was in the area to get a job at the Heim Mine in Vicinity. He says he doesn't need their charity because he has his own money. He sees Kihel with her father Diran and realizes he is at the Heim residence. As Kihel approaches him, he notes that she looks identical to Queen Dianna Soriel. Kihel tells Loran that she was taking a bath for the Coming of Age Ceremony, but he spoiled it by drowning. She gets into the family car to go to the ceremony, and Sochie asks Loran to come along. Kihel is dressed in primitive clothes and rides a statue up to a nearby mountain. An old man tries to block Loran and Sochie from going all the way up because they are only 15 and Loran is a foreigner. They escape him and watch Kihel and the others dance in front of the White Doll statue. A man sees them and chases them away.

 

Two years later, Miashei Kune flies in a Bull One airplane and watches her father Ladderum test his new Hip Heavy plane. At the mines, Loran is summoned to meet with Diran. When Loran returns home he sees Sochie and Kihel checking out Guin's new sports car. Inside, Diran and Guin talk about the continent of Galia invading. Guin says that he wants to use the opportunity to industrialize society. Diran tells Sochie that she can bring Loran along to her Coming of Age festival. He also tells Kihel that when she finishes college she will help Guin in ushering in the new industrial age. Guin asks Loran to drive his new car and invites Kihel to his party at Bostonia Castle. Loran drives the car and takes Guin and Sochie to the airfield. Kihel wonders why Guin keeps calling Loran by "Laura." At the airfield, Miashei grabs a ride with Col. Michael Gern to have a look at Guin's new planes. Michael scoffs at that and says he recommended the planes while Guin simply paid for them. Guin takes off in his airship, and Sochie introduces Loran to Miashei. Loran then drives Sochie and Kihel into the city of Nocis so that Kihel can pick out a dress for Guin's party. He spots Keith on the street and sees he is working at a bakery. Sochie asks who Keith is, and Loran tells her it is an old acquaintance from his hometown. Later, Loran meets with Keith and Fran while Sochie watches them. She figures it is a reunion of old friends and wonders what they are saying. They discuss how the news of the continent of Galia is really about the Moon. Fran and Keith are worried that the FLAT might be discovered, so they ask Loran to check if it is hidden since he's closest to it. That night, he drives out into field, and Sochie follows him. He digs up the FLAT and shouts out in joy how wonderful the Earth is and how everyone should come down from the Moon quickly.

 

Commentary

 

I'll say this much: I was wrong about this episode the first time around. I was watching it in the mindset of a hardcore Universal Century fan, and I wasn't appreciating the series on its own merits. Tomino's return to Gundam after five years is quite a departure from what he has produced before. While characters are always important in a Tomino series, here he decides to focus the story as a character drama rather than strictly defining it as a war drama. Instead of starting a war in the first episode, Tomino takes the time to introduce us to Loran and the rest of the ensemble cast. If not for the appearance of the FLAT at the beginning of the episode, it would be easy to mistake this for some period drama. Also, Kanno's music seems to perfectly convey the atmosphere of a world that has gone back to what early 20th century America looked like.

 

Overall Rating

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4 out of 5 stars
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