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Volume 1

 

Review by Chris Guanche

July 31, 2006

 

Summary

 

In late C.E. 71, Prayer Reverie meets with the blind Reverend Malchio on the Marshall Islands. Malchio tells Prayer that only he can accomplish the task that has been assigned to him, and Prayer says he is grateful to help. Malchio explains that what Prayer is bringing back will help many people suffering from the energy crisis. Prayer appears sick, but he tells Malchio that he wonders if he'll be able to accomplish anything. Malchio assures him that everything will be ok and tells him that the people in the Junk Guild are friendly. In space, Lowe Guele's Gundam Astray Red Frame, Liam Garfield's Works GINN and Kisato Yamabuki's custom BuCUE exit the space colony Mendel after completing an assignment. Holographic captain George Glenn informs Lowe that an unidentified mobile suit is approaching, and Lowe asks everyone to return to the Re.H.O.M.E. Lowe looks at the mobile suit and wonders where it's from since it doesn't look like anything from the Alliance, ZAFT or Orb. Canard Pars, the pilot of the Hyperion Gundam, asks Lowe if he knows Kira Yamato, the Coordinator who pilots a Gundam. Canard aims his beam machine gun at Lowe, and Lowe remembers that Kira is the pilot he rescued on Earth earlier. Lowe wonders why Canard is looking for Kira, and Canard says someone like Lowe probably wouldn't know Kira. Canard knows that the Three Ships Alliance came to Mendel for supplies, so he figured he'd find Kira there. Canard flies away and tells Lowe not to interfere. He then stops and says that Lowe has seen the Hyperion Gundam, so he quickly turns and opens fire. The beam blasts explode on impact, and Canard leaves. Luckily, Lowe blocked the blasts with his Gerbera Straight katana. Canard returns to the Eurasian Federation space fortress Artemis and reports to commander Gerard Garcia that he hasn't found Kira yet. Garcia yells at Canard for being useless and reminds him that his life depends on his work. Canard proclaims that he will shoot down Kira himself, and Garcia mentions that Kira has given him trouble in the past. Garcia pulls out a computer pad with the next mission, and Canard snatches it out of Garcia's hands, saying he will complete it his own way. Canard enters the Hyperion Gundam's cockpit and has memories of being on Mendel as a failed Ultimate Coordinator test subject. He remembers later tests with the Eurasians, where he was ridiculed as a useless failure. He also remembers meeting with Garcia and another officer, who stated that after the war with ZAFT, the Atlantic Federation would be their enemy. Thus, Eurasian mobile suit development was handed over to Garcia because of his experience with the Strike Gundam. Canard then launches and heads for his target. On the Re.H.O.M.E., Lowe regrets not asking Malchio about Kira, but the Professor tells him they'll soon be meeting with Malchio's representative. George informs them that the ship they're meeting is under attack. After launching in the Red Frame and Works GINN, Lowe and Liam discover the ship was disabled, but not heavily damaged. Inside, Lowe finds a half-completed mobile suit resembling ZAFT's new GuAIZ. Lowe finds Prayer on the floor, and Prayer asks him to get the Dreadnought Gundam's parts back. Lowe asks what happened, and Prayer tells him they were attacked by Gai Murakumo's Serpent Tail mercenary group.

 

The Re.H.O.M.E. heads to a Junk Guild supply station. Prayer tells Lowe it's urgent that they get the Dreadnought Gundam's parts back and deliver the completed mobile suit to Malchio. Kisato is surprised that Serpent Tail would resort to piracy, but Liam figures it was a contracted job. Lowe doesn't want to leave the job incomplete and decides to meet with Gai and ask him what's going on. The Professor tells Prayer that he can stay with them during the job. Lowe asks what parts will stolen, and Prayer tells him that when he sees the system, he'll understand why it's so important. Elsewhere, Gai and Elijah Kiel secure the cargo to their ship. Elijah asks if they're doing the right thing and wonders if the parts wouldn't be better off with Malchio, but Gai says this is what's best. Elijah doesn't buy it, and Reed Weller tells him that what may save some people can also cause the deaths of others. Loretta Adja chimes in that if it falls into the wrong hands it could be misused. Kazahana Adja wonders if Lowe will be shocked if he discovers what they did. Gai tells her that the client wants them to observe the situation and decide what to do with the parts. Loretta informs them of an incoming mobile suit, and Gai launches in the Gundam Astray Blue Frame 2nd G, followed by Elijah in his custom GINN. Gai pulls out his beam cannon and targets the incoming mobile suit. On the Re.H.O.M.E., Lowe examines the Dreadnought Gundam's operating system and is shocked to discover the suit has nuclear engine. Kisato asks why it would have one, and Liam explains that N-Jammers prevent nuclear reactions. Prayer mentions that the stolen parts are an N-Jammer Canceler, which negates N-Jammers. He adds that ZAFT was testing the system and installed it on the Dreadnought Gundam. Liam realizes that an N-Jammer Canceler could be used to end Earth's energy crisis, which explains Malchio's reason for wanting it. Prayer suddenly collapses and tells Lowe that he's run out of time. Gai senses something strange and tells Elijah that the enemy, Canard, isn't ordinary. Canard asks them if they know Kira, but when they don't answer he opens fire. Gai fires back with his beam cannon, but Canard blocks the shot with his "Armure Lumiere" lightwave shield. Canard closes in to attack, and Gai realizes he can't win with the equipment he has. Elijah moves in to help, but Canard blasts off his left arm. Canard then deploys the "Armure Lumiere" as a barrier that encases the Hyperion Gundam and blocks Gai and Elijah's attacks. Canard says he doesn't have time to waste and fires his "Forfanterie" beam cannons at Gai.

 

The beam blast hits Gai, but the Blue Frame's head is only slightly damaged. Canard fires repeatedly, but Gai dodges and uses his combat knife to block the attack. Elijah tries to get within close range of the lightwave shield to attack, but he's knocked away. Gai detaches his backpack and fires at it with his beam pistol, setting off an explosion near Canard. Gai then closes in and used the anti-beam coated knife to stab through the lightwave shield. Gai and Elijah decide to retreat, and Canard runs out of power. Canard receives a message to cancel his mission and immediately return to the Ortygia for a new priority mission. Gai and Elijah return to their ship, and everyone is glad they returned safely. Gai says that their enemy is the Eurasian Federation, and he won't lose next time now that he knows what he's up against. At the Orb space station Ame-no-Mihashira, Rondo Mina Sahaku is informed by one of the Socius clones that the Eurasians are making a move. Rondo Mina thinks the war will be over soon because wars are won by people with the most land and resources. But she doesn't think the war will truly end, and she hopes both sides will weaken each other enough to allow a renewed Orb to take its place of power. A Serpent Tail shuttle docks at the Re.H.O.M.E., and Lowe gives Prayer some tips on how to negotiate with Gai. Everyone is surprised to see that the representative is Kazahana, not Gai. Prayer calls her a little girl, and she tells him he's not any older than she is. She tells everyone that they can't return the N-Jammer Canceler right now and that they'll have to wait a bit longer. On the Ortygia, Meriol Pistis shows Canard an encrypted message from Garcia. In the message, Garcia states that ZAFT has found a way to develop nuclear-powered mobile suits that negate the effect of N-Jammers. Canard's mission is to capture the ZAFT mobile suit so that the Eurasians can study it. Elsewhere, a ZAFT mobile suit force attacks the Re.H.O.M.E. and demands the return of the Dreadnought Gundam. Lowe defends the ship with the Red Frame, and Prayer decides to help by launching in the Dreadnought Gundam. Prayer arrives to help Lowe, followed by Liam's Works GINN. Prayer fires at a GINN, but he misses. The GINN is suddenly destroyed by Canard's Hyperion Gundam.

 

Canard tells Lowe that he never expected to run into him because he was only after ZAFT. Lowe warns Prayer to stay back because Canard isn't an ordinary pilot. GINN High Maneuver Type pilot Mikhail Coast says he didn't expect to run into an Alliance mobile suit, and he tells Canard that he can never beat his squad. He rushes in to attack, and Canard is surprised by his speed. The Ortygia launches a squad of Moebius mobile armors, and Canard activates the lightwave barrier. As Canard begins to move, Lowe tells Liam and Prayer to fall back behind the Re.H.O.M.E.'s shields. Canard fires in multiple directions, hitting several of the GINNs. Although the GINNs aren't destroyed, the Moebiuses arrive for a cleanup operation and finish them off. Mikhail escapes and vows to get revenge on Canard. The Ortygia fires its beam cannons and docks with the Re.H.O.M.E. after closing in. Canard holds everyone at gunpoint and asks if they have the nuclear-powered suit. An officer reports to Canard that they dismantled the Red Frame, but it isn't what they're looking for. They attempted to search the computer files, but they're protected. Lowe says they won't tell Canard anything, and Canard orders his men to use the virus that infects quantum computers, which reminds Lowe of the Gel Finieto. Lowe asks Canard what he's going to do once he finds Kira, and Canard asks if he knows him. Lowe says that Kira has a machine that wants to protect him, and he asks Canard if he has that kind of bond with his suit. Canard takes that to mean that Kira is perfect and he isn't. Liam says they'll file a complaint with the Alliance if this doesn't stop, but Canard shoots him in the arm. The crew is locked away, and Lowe leaves everything to George. George manipulates the ship's doors to close, and he makes a hologram of Garcia appear in front of Canard. In the mobile suit hangar, Lowe calls his quantum computer 8 to begin moving the partially dismantled Red Frame. Lowe uses the distraction to knock out two guards, but a third points a gun at him. Prayer offers to tell the guard everything, but just then Gai smashes into the hangar with the Blue Frame 2nd L. Lowe wonders why he's here, but Kazahana explains she called him. Gai tells Prayer he's come to return something: the Dreadnought Gundam's remaining parts. Lowe asks why he's giving it back now, and Gai explains that the situation has changed because the technology was leaked to the Alliance. Gai says it's time to leave, but Kazahana wants to stay. With Canard's men closing in, Lowe decides to fix the Dreadnought Gundam. When Canard finally breaks through, he's shocked to see a Gundam.

 

Years earlier, Canard roams an empty village as a child while looking for food and water. An electronic band on his wrist begins to beep, and he tries to short circuit it with water. Since that doesn't work, he decides to cut his hand off. A mysterious man with sunglasses enters the room and tells Canard that his way of thinking is frightening. Canard rushes the man and tries to kick him, but the mystery man dodges. Canard asks the mystery man if he's a pursuer, but the mystery man says he's just a normal person walking by. The mystery man is impressed with Canard's skills and says he must be a Coordinator, and not an average one. The mystery man figures Canard must've escaped from the nearby lab, and he doesn't think Canard can make it far, given his condition. The mystery man wonders why kind of reward he could get for returning Canard, but Canard says he'd rather die than go back. Canard says he's a failed version, so it's a mistake to let him live. The mystery man then asks Canard if he's an Ultimate Coordinator. Canard asks how he knows, and the mystery man answers that he guessed, but he also has connections with Mendel. The mystery man asks Canard what he would do if he were free. Canard says at first he wanted to destroy the world, but he doesn't think that will accomplish anything. The mystery man tells Canard that people will help him succeed, and he suggests that Canard become the "real version." The mystery man tells Canard that if he defeats the completed version, he'll become the real version. He tells Canard that he should let himself be chained so that he becomes fiercer. As helicopters close in, the mystery man prepares to leave. As he leaves, he tells Canard that Kira Yamato is the Ultimate Coordinator he'll have to beat. Soldiers rush in to secure Canard, and he repeats Kira's name over and over.

 

Commentary

 

The continuity of the early ASTRAY series can certainly be confusing. This series picks up after the original ASTRAY and takes place during a two month gap near the end of the SEED TV series. Here, the war is still raging because it's end is chronicled in ASTRAY R. We're introduced to several new characters here, including Canard Pars, a Eurasian pilot, and Prayer Reverie, a young boy working for Reverend Malchio. The focus of this new storyline is the prototype Dreadnought Gundam, which contains the same N-Jammer Canceler used by the Freedom and Justice Gundams in SEED. Of course, Lowe, Gai and all the ASTRAY regulars get mixed up in this business, but it just happens to coincide with Muruta Azrael gaining the NJC data from Rau Le Creuset. Also, Lowe and friends take a bit of a backseat as the focus moves to Canard and Prayer. Prayer seems ok, but Canard comes across pretty abrasively with his single-minded desire to keep fighting until he can finally defeat Kira and become the Ultimate Coordinator. By the way, some sources indicate that the mystery man from Canard's backstory is Gilbert Durandal, the future leader of ZAFT from DESTINY. This would certainly make sense- as a geneticist who worked at Mendel, Durandal knew about Ulen Hibiki's experiments, such as the Ultimate Coordinator project and the cloning of Al Da Flaga. He would know that Kira is the Ultimate Coordinator, which is a tightly-held secret. Also, the suggestion to "become the real version" is just the like the simple-sounding logic that Durandal uses. With Canard's past explains, it makes his motivations clearer, but he certainly doesn't have a winning personality.

 

Overall Rating

Full StarFull StarFull StarHalf StarNo Star

3 out of 5 stars
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