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Volume 4

 

Review by Chris Guanche

November 11, 2005

 

Summary

 

Kisato wonders if Lowe can complete his modifications to use the giant Gerbera Straight, and Liam says that Lowe comes up with good ideas when his mind is focused on something. Liam says they can do the next job without Lowe, and the Re.H.O.M.E. slows down as it approaches the ruins of Junius Seven. George says that it feels strange to be reunited with Junius Seven, and Kisato asks him what their job is. George explains that the Junk Guild has been contracted by the PLANTs to move Junius Seven out of Earth orbit so that it doesn't crash into other PLANTs. Liam says that it would be easier to dismantle Junius Seven, but he adds that its ruins have become a sort of memorial for all those who died. After rendezvousing with the other Junk Guild ships, the crew spends the next two days working on moving debris. A Junk Guild captain named Narumi Wind says that younger members, Kisato in particular, are much slower than his crews were back in the day. Narumi asks Liam how many supply routes they've completed, and he says that skill is measures by passing through these routes. He lists several of the routes, which include the destroyed Yggdrasil space station, the Mendel space colony and the Endymion lunar crater where the Cyclops System was used and Mu La Flaga became a legend. Narumi looks at the Red Frame and says that Lowe probably thinks of himself as a hotshot, but Kisato insists that he's a skilled pilot. Narumi says that Lowe was lucky to find the Red Frame, and Kisato says they all risked their lives to get the Red Frame out of Heliopolis. Narumi is amazed that Lowe is the man who got the top secret mobile suit, and he says Lowe is lucky he can be so lazy. Lowe spots a bottle of Narumi's dried fish, which he says is his favorite food. He makes a bet with Narumi that if he can finish the job with the Red Frame, Narumi has to take back his comments and hand over the fish. In space, Kisato tells Lowe that he's acting strangely, and he answers that he was probably cranky because he's been working without sleep. He tells her that he's finished his project, and he docks with the enormous Power Loader support suit. Just then, the Professor calls Lowe and tells him there's been an accident. She says there was a problem with the attaching of a booster rocket, making Junius Seven unstable. She says that if it breaks apart, the fragments could spin out of control and slam into the PLANTs. Lowe takes off with the Power Loader and uses the giant Gerbera Straight to slice the shaft and cut Junius Seven into two pieces. With the center of gravity changed, the two pieces regain their balance. Liam asks Lowe how he knew where to cut, and Lowe says it was instinct. Afterwards, Narumi apologizes and hands over the fish. Lowe snacks on the fish and joins the rest of the Junk Guild members for a party celebrating the end of the job.

Lowe uses the giant Gerbera Straight to cut apart an asteroid using new equipment designed by Coordinator Jean Carrey, a former mobile suit pilot nicknamed "Glimmering Cursed Star J." An Alliance Drake class ship hails the Re.H.O.M.E., and Captain Cornell demands that Jean hand himself over. Liam asks who Cornell is, and Jean explains that Cornell was his commander when he was in the Alliance. Jean says that he can't involve anyone else with his problems, but Liam points out that Lowe has already launched in the Red Frame. Jean tells Liam that fighting now will only bring more fighting later, and Lowe says he doesn't want Jean's talents to go to waste. Jean explains that when he was with the Alliance, he piloted a custom-colored white GINN that had been captured from ZAFT. He says he wanted to fight to end war, so he would disable his opponents without killing them, to the dismay of his superiors. After a battle where Jean was injured, Cornell told him that if he'd killed his opponent, he wouldn't have been injured. In a later battle, Jean confronted several ZAFT GINNs. Before he could attack, several tanks pulled up behind him and destroyed the GINNs. Afterwards, Cornell told him that his strategy was to completely annihilate all threats. When Jean objected, Cornell told him that Earth didn't need to have any Coordinators on it. Jean then says that after the Alliance created the Strike Dagger, he was drummed out of the military because he wasn't needed. Lowe attacks several Strike Daggers, and Cornell says he'll destroy all possible threats. The Professor sends out both of the Power Loader's sections, and Lowe docks with the unit. He ignores the Strike Daggers and tosses the giant Gerbera Straight like a spear, which slices Cornell's ship in half. Afterwards, Lowe tells Jean that he might fit in better with the Three Ships Alliance instead of the Junk Guild. Jean thanks Lowe for helping him, and as thanks, he says he'll give Lowe information about power cylinders he's developing that would allow Lowe to use the giant Gerbera Straight without the Power Loader.

In space, Rondo Miina tests the repaired Gold Frame Amatu when he detects an unidentified incoming object. The high-speed machine flies right by Rondo Mina and severs both of Gold Frame Amatu's legs. Elsewhere, the Re.H.O.M.E. sets course for an area in Lagrange point 4 to deliver vaccines for the deadly Type S2 Influenza that only affects Naturals. Liam explains to George that when the Type S2 appeared, Naturals believed that it was a genetically engineered biological weapon. Lowe wants to take the fastest course to the colony, which will bring them close to a ZAFT base. To ensure delivery of the vaccine, the crew is joined by two other Junk Guild captains: Honest Sakata and Speedy Joe. Kisato tells Lowe that she's worried about that job because sending three ships must mean it's dangerous. She says she doesn't want anything to happen to Lowe, but he tells her not to worry because he's the luckiest man in space. Elsewhere, Kenaf warns ZAFT Commander Cusco at the space station Erudou that Lowe is on his way. Remembering what happened at Heliopolis, Cusco tells his men not to let anyone through their territory. As the three Junk Guild ships approach Erudou, they come under fire. Lowe launches in the Red Frame with the Power Loader and takes one of the Re.H.O.M.E.'s shields to draw Erudou's fire. Joe's ship is hit, and several GINNs fire missiles and deploy a large steel net. Lowe pulls out the giant Gerbera Straight and slices through the net to create a path for the Re.H.O.M.E. A GINN fires a heavy cannon and hits Joe's Giga. Joe tells Lowe to deliver the vaccine because his parents were killed by the disease, but Lowe cuts the Giga's cockpit loose and tells Joe he doesn't get to be a martyr. After retrieving the cockpit, the three Junk Guild ships escape. Soon after, Ash Gray's giant Regenerate Gundam attacks Erudou and easily destroys the base. Kenaf is shocked by what he is seen and wonders how there can be a mobile suit he doesn't know about. Elsewhere, the Junk Guild ships reach the colony and deliver the vaccine in time.

Kenaf examines data on the Regenerate Gundam and tells Elisa he's figured out who Ash is. He says that Ash is a madman and the enemy of all mankind. Ash hears a report from a ZAFT officer that Lacus hasn't been found yet, but a Junk Guild ship is docked with the Eternal to deliver supplies. Ash orders him to attack both ships. The officer objects, and Ash says that even if they kill some civilians, Lacus will eventually show herself. The officer continues to protest, and Ash says that he's going to launch. On the Eternal, DaCosta wonders if the Re.H.O.M.E. giving them supplies will cause trouble for the Junk Guild. Suddenly, Ash flies by and opens fire on the Re.H.O.M.E. Lowe attempts to shoot at Ash with his beam rifle, but all his shots miss. He then docks with the Power Loader to slice Ash apart when he makes another pass. Ash comes in close and surprises Lowe by transforming the Regenerate Gundam from mobile armor to mobile suit mode. Ash states that Lacus is a traitor, so he will kill anyone who is associated with her. Lowe asks Ash if he thinks killing Lacus will end the war, and Ash answers that he wants to kill Lacus because it's his orders. He adds that he also wants to kill as many people as he can, and that he doesn't care about the war or ZAFT. He says that every person he kills gets added to his doll collection, and he wants Lowe to be the next victim. Lowe attacks Ash and slices off the Regenerate Gundam's right arm, but Ash laughs it off. A new arm bursts out of a capsule and docks with the Regenerate Gundam to replace the destroyed arm. Ash says that when parts are destroyed he can swap them out, and Lowe figures that the Regenerate Gundam's backpack must contain spare parts. Ash then fires his cannon and damages both the Red Frame and Power Loader.

Lowe asks Ash what the point is of killing them, and Ash answers that he enjoys killing. He says that if he kills all of Lacus' associates, he'll eventually find her. Lowe says that everyone he's met in his travels has believed in something bigger than themselves. He says that no one lives just to kill, but Ash says that's precisely what he does. He says that being part of ZAFT is just convenient because ZAFT develops advanced weapons that allows him to keep killing and killing. Lowe says that Ash is irredeemable, but Ash doesn't think that matters because he's going to kill Lowe. Lowe moves in to attack and receives more damage to the Power Loader. Ash then swoops in for the kill, but he's blocked by a beam rifle blast from Jean's M1 Astray. Ash sees Jean and figures that if he kills him and Lowe, more people will come whom he can kill. Ash attacks Jean and guesses by Jean's fighting ability that he's a Coordinator, and therefore a traitor. Jean says that he isn't with ZAFT or the Alliance and is just trying to end the war. Jean fires at Ash several times, but Ash blocks each shot and transforms to mobile armor mode to absorb the shock of a blast. Ash says that the Regenerate Gundam isn't weak and won't be destroyed by a single shot. A ZAFT officer calls Ash and tells him to return to base because they're under attack. After Ash retreats, Jean comes aboard the Re.H.O.M.E. and greets Lowe. He examines the damage on Red Frame and says that he's come to fulfill his promise from before. The ZAFT officer tells Ash that he never called him back, and Ash realizes that means someone knows about his secret base. Kenaf calls Lowe and tells him he needs his help to get rid of Ash. Lowe asks Kenaf who he is, and Kenaf says he's just an informant who's been following Lowe's progress. He says that Ash possesses something that could destroy anyone. Lowe asks Kenaf if he's really going to fight, but Kenaf says he's just an informant. He adds that he can get Lowe some help, so he calls Serpent Tail for assistance. Gai tells Lowe that Kenaf's offer is strange, but he's willing to take on Ash. Using Jean's technology, Lowe creates a new pair of arms for Red Frame and dubs it "Powered Red." Ash thinks to himself that he needs to figure out who discovered his secret base. He says to himself that he can't wait for the world to see the power of GENESIS Alpha.

The Re.H.O.M.E. and Serpent Tail shuttle approach GENESIS Alpha, and Ash is surprised that the enemy decided to come to him. Lowe tells everyone that he doesn't want to kill, but he says that Ash has a deadly super weapon and must be stopped at all costs. Ash attacks Jean and Elijah, and the two barely dodge his attacks. After dropping off Loretta and Reed, Gai returns to the Re.H.O.M.E. to swap out the Blue Frame's parts. Afterwards, Lowe launches in the Powered Red, followed by Gai in the Blue Frame 2nd L. Lowe tells Ash that he's going to defeat him with Powered Red, and Ash responds by de-activating the Mirage Colloid on GENESIS Alpha. He then says that if the Regenerate Gundam absorbs GENESIS Alpha's beam on its anterior side, the lightwave receptors will allow it to travel at very high speeds. Ash speeds up and attacks, but Lowe dodges and damages Ash with the giant Gerbera Straight. Ash says he can just swap out a spare part, but Gai reveals that he found all of the Regenerate Gundam's spare parts and destroyed them. Loretta and Reed report to Gai that they've taken control of GENESIS Alpha, and Jean and Elijah report that they've taken out the mobile suit squad. Ash attacks Lowe and says he isn't finished yet. He attempts to call ZAFT for reinforcements, but Kenaf blocks the signal and says that he wants to be the one who controls the transfer of information. Ash then detaches the backpack from the Regenerate Gundam and latches onto Powered Red. He says that if a mobile suit has external connectors, he can jack in and take control of the suit. Lowe struggles to escape, and Gai tells Lowe that he's going to fire his Gatling gun at him. Lowe asks 8 for help, and 8 works quickly to allow Lowe to break free from Ash. Loretta detonates the bombs she's planted around GENESIS Alpha and is shocked when nothing happens. Ash laughs and says that bombs won't do anything because GENESIS Alpha is protected with Phase Shift armor. Ash assembles some spare parts from what's been damaged and recombines. He says that Lowe and Gai are both in GENESIS Alpha's firing line, so they'll both be destroyed for sure. Lowe grabs onto Ash and says he's going to win not because he has superior equipment, but because he cares about his machine. He then punches the Regenerate Gundam's weak spot and says that if someone isn't familiar with their suit, they can't protect it. Without directional controls, Ash realizes that he'll drift uncontrollably through space. Afterwards, Gai says that Ash will drift into Alliance territory and will surely be captured. He asks Lowe what he plans to do next, and Lowe says he wants to use GENESIS Alpha to clean up some debris.

 

Commentary

 

Yasunari Toda's ASTRAY R series comes to an end, but it's a rather disappointing conclusion. The volume gets off to a good start with the Junk Guild job at Junius Seven, the Jean Carrey story and the vaccine delivery, but it goes downhill after Ash Gray is introduced. As a villain, Ash isn't very compelling at all because he's just a homicidal maniac. Even if he's a good pilot with a powerful Gundam, it gets old to hear him go on and on about how he just wants to kill, kill, kill. There have been several characters in Gundam who fight because they enjoy it, such as Zeta Gundam's Yazan Gable. However, even Yazan had more personality than the strangely tattooed Ash. In addition to having the powerful Regenerate Gundam, Ash possesses GENESIS Alpha, which makes another appearance in the DESTINY ASTRAY manga. Instead of just using GENESIS Alpha to zip around, it would've been interesting to see Ash threaten somebody with it. Also, the way that Gai and Lowe manage to defeat Ash was rather lacking. At least their fight with Rondo Ghina in ASTRAY was more interesting. Speaking of strange characters, what's with Kenaf? Each appearance of his is stranger than the last, and he alternates between seemingly wanting to kill Lowe and helping him. Does he do this as a big game just because he can, or is there another reason? One complaint worth noting here is Toda's artwork. Compared to Koichi Tokita's clean, simple style, Toda's artwork is very busy. This makes reading some of his action panels very difficult. It's been a bit of a problem throughout all four volumes, but it's definitely at its worst here. Pretty much every scene featuring the Regenerate Gundam is hard to look at because there's just way too much detail. Even though the end to this chapter of the ASTRAY saga is a disappointment, there's plenty more series to follow in this franchise.

 

Overall Rating

Full StarFull StarFull StarHalf StarNo Star

3 out of 5 stars
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