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Volume 1

 

Review by Chris Guanche

May 16, 2004

 

Summary

 

In C.E. 71, Junk Guild pilots Lowe Guele, Kisato Yamabuki and Liam Garfield use their Kimera mobile pods to approach the ruins of the space colony Heliopolis. Kisato is worried because the Earth Alliance and ZAFT were fighting there several hours ago, but Liam and Lowe assure her they're fine. Lowe calls his ship the HOME, and a woman known as the Professor tells him he should find a factory nearby. As they explore the ruins of the factory, Lowe spots something and brings the Kimeras over to dig. The result of his dig is a gold colored arm from a mobile suit. Lowe begins digging wildly and falls into another area where he makes an even bigger discovery: two Gundam Astray mobile suits, Red Frame and Blue Frame. Lowe uses his personal computer 8 to analyze the Blue Frame and finds that it's fully functional. The Professor calls to inform him that a Moebius piloted by a mercenary is approaching him. Kisato wants to escape, but Lowe decides to take the Blue Frame into combat. As he activates Blue Frame, he asks Kisato and Liam to haul away the Red Frame for him. On the HOME, the Professor is held hostage by Serpent Tail mercenary Elijah Kiel, and she tells him her crew already knows about the attacking mercenaries. Lowe fires his beam rifle at the Moebius, but it dodges and fires back at him. He ducks into another corridor and gets out of the Blue Frame to set a trap. When the Moebius approaches, Lowe has 8 fire the Blue Frame's beam rifle. The Moebius is hit, but pilot Gai Murakumo escapes and attacks Lowe. He pulls out a gun and tells Lowe that his mission is to destroy the Astrays and eliminate witnesses. Lowe struggles with him and says he won't give up the suits. Suddenly, Elijah calls Gai and tells him that their employers have betrayed them and are attacking. Gai seizes the Blue Frame and heads out into space to support Elijah. In space, Elijah's GINN is outnumbered by many Moebius units, but Gai arrives and destroys most of them. As he is about to destroy the HOME, Lowe appears with the Red Frame and destroys the last Moebius. He then pulls out his beam sabers and tells Gai he won't touch the HOME. Gai and Elijah come aboard, and Lowe tells Gai he should keep the Blue Frame for himself. Gai accepts and says they may meet once again as enemies.

 

After leaving Heliopolis, the HOME heads for the Alliance space fortress Artemis. Following the departure of the Archangel, pirates have begun to attack the crippled fortress. Liam explains that without the Umbrella shield, Artemis is completely defenseless. The Professor says that many of the pirates approaching Artemis have come under attack. Liam wonders how Artemis could retaliate, and Kisato doesn't want to find out. Lowe wants to investigate and simultaneously sell parts to the damaged pirate ships. Lowe launches in the Red Frame and examines the pirate ships. He notices that they were all taken out with a single shot to their engines. He detects something approaching and sees that it's Gai's Blue Frame, armed with a bazooka and heavy equipment. Lowe asks Gai what he's doing at Artemis, and Gai warns Lowe to leave immediately. Lowe realizes that Gai must be working for Artemis and is responsible for attacking the pirate ships. Lowe refuses and says he wants to sell parts to the pirates. Kisato tells Lowe he doesn't stand a chance because Gai is a mercenary and a Coordinator. Liam suspects that Gai is allowing the pirates to live so that they may spread the word that Artemis is still defended. Suddenly, a missile launches from Artemis and nearly hits Gai and Lowe before destroying a pirate ship. Gai calls Artemis and asks Admiral Gerard Garcia what's going on. Garcia says he is ensuring the survival of Artemis, and Gai tells him that their contract is voided if he isn't consulted for an attack. Garcia says that's fine and reveals that he is holding Elijah hostage. He wants to make up for letting the Strike Gundam escape, so he orders Gai to capture the Red Frame. Gai fires his bazooka at Lowe, and Lowe responds by firing back his beam rifle. Gai easily dodges all of Lowe's attacks and fires a missile that blinds him. Lowe loses his beam rifle and switches to his beam saber. Kisato wants to help Lowe, but the Professor tells her that Lowe is pretty lucky and could survive. Lowe asks 8 for advice, and 8 suggests using willpower. Lowe then reroutes all power, including life support, to the beam saber. He charges and attacks, but Gai dodges again. Gai captures the Red Frame and brings it to the window outside of the control room. Lowe then steals Gai's beam saber and rams it through the window. In the confusion, Elijah grabs a gun and takes Garcia hostage. Afterwards, Lowe feels good about himself for fighting a Coordinator like Gai.

 

At the Actaeon Industries satellite, Gai meets with an executive who wants to buy the Blue Frame. Gai refuses and says they only way they'll get the Blue Frame is if they steal it. The executive answers that he wouldn't try such a thing, so he wants Gai's help to capture the Red Frame. Gai again refuses and warns him that Lowe is no typical Junk Guild scavenger. On the HOME, the Professor informs the crew that Actaeon wants to buy mobile suit and armor parts, along with inoperative suits. Lowe thinks something is suspicious, but he believes it could be a good opportunity to dump all the junk in they have in storage. The HOME arrives at the Actaeon satellite, and the crew begins unloading salvaged GINNs, Moebiuses, Mistrals and BuCUEs. After unloading everything in a domed room, 8 informs Lowe that N-Jammers have been activated, cutting off contact with the HOME. The door then closes, and the executive tells Lowe that he would like to buy the Red Frame. Lowe refuses, and the executive says he is serious and can wait days for an answer. Liam examines the walls and discovers they are heavily shielded because the room is used to test new weapons. At the moment, Lowe only brought his beam saber with him, which isn't powerful enough to cut through the walls. Lowe has an idea, and three hours later he begins to cut through the door with his beam saber. Defensive vehicles fire at the door, but Lowe uses a wrecked ZuOOT to shield himself. When the executive rushes in to see what happened, he discovers that they connected all the dome's power cables to an energy converter supplying the Red Frame with extra power. Lowe then gives the executive an invoice, and Kisato asks if he has any George Glenn memorabilia. On the HOME, the Professor explains to Lowe and the others that she was just about to attack the satellite to strip it down for parts.

 

Later, Gai and Elijah discuss what happened at Actaeon, and he has the feeling someone is plotting against them to seize the Astrays. In space, Lowe salvages a small ship and brings it back to the HOME. Kisato yells at him for drifting out of sensor range and tells him she was worried about him. The Professor then jumps in and tells them they're late for their next job, which involves the entire Junk Guild converting the space colony Litilia into spaceship. Because Litilia is in a strategically useless area of space, it is considered neutral and is ignored by both ZAFT and the Alliance. Inside the colony, Lowe and the others encounter ZAFT and Alliance officers who have come to escape the war. A ZAFT officer then introduces them to one of the heads of the project, Liam's brother Sinisto. Lowe and Kisato learn that the Garfields wanted to bridge the gap between Naturals and Coordinators, so they left Sinisto as a Natural and had Liam modified as a Coordinator. However, Sinisto ran away from home years ago and hadn't been seen since. Liam asks Sinisto why he ran away, but Sinisto doesn't want to talk about it. Sinisto's adopted son Hanon brings him a drawing of Evidence 01, and Sinisto explains that they want to move to Jupiter and establish a peaceful colony where George Glenn discovered the winged whale fossil. Liam thinks such an idea is ridiculous, and Sinisto asks him to come along. Elsewhere, Lowe shows off by using his Gerbera Straight katana to slice girders in half. Liam joins up with him and says he will be piloting a construction mobile suit because they don't have enough Coordinators to man them. In space, Liam pilots a Works GINN and is joined by Kisato in her Kimera and Lowe in the Red Frame. As they work to attach parts to the colony's exterior, they hear Lacus Clyne's famous song. On the HOME, the Professor realizes that Serpent Tail is in the area when she picks up Elijah's custom GINN on sensors. While working, Liam thinks about the offer that Sinisto and his Coordinator wife made. The Professor calls them to tell them that several Alliance ships are approaching. Lowe asks Liam to help with the final preparations for takeoff so that he can distract the Alliance. Liam returns to the colony to tell Sinisto that he won't be able to come along with him. The Alliance ships chase Lowe and follow him away from the colony, and Lowe grabs a linear gun for his Works GINN to head into battle.

 

Commentary

 

This first volume in the fragmented Astray side story was written by Tomohiro Chiba and drawn by Koichi Tokita. The style is much like Tokita's other side story manga, Gundam Wing Dual Story: G-UNIT. Both series feature a story with more comedic characters that follows along with their more serious TV counterparts. Here, we see several locations first visited by the crew from the SEED TV series. First up is Heliopolis, which was destroyed in episode 3 of the TV show. It is here that we are introduced to Gai and Lowe, along with the Astrays. Gai of course is a serious mercenary, whereas the freewheeling Lowe reminds me a lot of Gundam X's Garrod Ran and Gundam ZZ's Judau Ashta. Afterwards, we see the space fortress Artemis, which was attacked by ZAFT in episode 6. I was surprised to see Garcia was alive, because the TV episode made it seem as if he died. Nonetheless, he doesn't seem to have learned his lesson and is still hell-bent on getting a Gundam in his possession. Once again he loses, and somehow he manages to get away with his life again. Word must be spreading about the Astrays, because everyone wants to get them. The story ends with a cliffhanger and a question: how did the Alliance discover what Litilia was up to? As a bonus, the manga features several SD strips that populate all Tokita manga. There are some amusing strips, including one where Lowe wants to be on SEED and the Professor tries to convince everyone she is the busty naked girl in the show's first opening sequence. Overall, this side story seems more interesting than the TV show so far, and I'll be looking forward to more.

 

Overall Rating

Full StarFull StarFull StarHalf StarNo Star

3.5 out of 5 stars
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