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Volume 2

 

Review by Chris Guanche

August 17, 2006

 

Summary

 

As Canard breaks into the hangar, Prayer activates the Dreadnought Gundam. Prayer threatens to remove Canard by force if he doesn't leave, but Canard fires his gun at the Dreadnought Gundam. Lowe tells Prayer not to worry about damaging the ship, so Prayer fires his vulcans at Canard. Canard dodges the vulcan fire and orders his men to overload the engines. As the engines begin to overload, George explains that they'll explode. Lowe says he won't fall for their scare tactics, so he tells Prayer to blast a hole in the hull with his beam rifle. Prayer fires the beam rifle, which blasts through the hull and hits the Ortygia. Prayer threatens to destroy the Ortygia if Canard doesn't stop overloading the Re.H.O.M.E.'s engines. Canard calls his men off, and the two ships part ways. With the engines back to normal and the virus deleted, the ship is mostly back to normal. Kisato is happy, but Lowe notes that the ship isn't repaired and most of their mobile suits are out of action. Kazahana says that in their condition, she knows Canard will pursue and attack again. With the Red Frame dismantled, Lowe decides to pilot the Dreadnought Gundam, but Prayer volunteers instead. Lowe advises Prayer to get some rest, but Prayer insists that he has to pilot the Dreadnought Gundam to unleash its full potential. Kazahana offers to go with Prayer and pilot the suit if something happens to him. Prayer says that's too dangerous, and Kazahana asks him if he knows why Gai has companions. She says that Gai really doesn't need anyone because he's so strong, but there's only so much he can do alone. Canard launches in the Hyperion Gundam to chase after the Re.H.O.M.E. and encounters Prayer and Kazahana in the Dreadnought Gundam. Canard immediately opens fire, and Prayer returns fire with the wire-guided "Pristis" beam reamers. Canard uses the beam knife in his machine gun to cut the wires, but the beam reamers continue to function and attack him from behind. Prayer says that this is the Dreadnought Gundam's special ability: the DRAGOON system.

 

Using the beam reamers, Prayer heavily damages the Hyperion Gundam and asks Canard to surrender. Canard declares that he'll never surrender, and Prayer answers that he'll be forced to continue the attack. Canard thinks about dying and wonders if chasing after Kira was an arrogant dream. The Hyperion Gundam reboots its systems, and Canard attacks again. Prayer attacks with his beam rifle and beam reamers, which blast off several of the Hyperion Gundam's limbs. Kazahana tells Prayer to finish off Canard, but Prayer is unconscious. Kazahana then takes over the controls to get Prayer back to the ship. Later, Canard wakes up in the Ortygia's infirmary and finds Meriol watching over him. Canard says he will go after the Junk Guild, but Meriol says he can't because of the condition of his body and the Hyperion Gundam. Canard says he can't lose to anyone before finding Kira, which is why he has to defeat Prayer. Meriol says she understands and asks Canard to calm down so they can come up with a plan to capture the N-Jammer Canceler. Elsewhere, Prayer has a dream of being a Moebius Zero pilot and fighting GINNs near the Moon. He wakes up on a Junk Guild supply station, surrounded by Liam and Kazahana. He asks what happened to Canard, but they don't know. Prayer comments that he saw black flames of sorrow radiating from Canard. Prayer asks about Lowe and the others, and they tell him they're fixing the Dreadnought Gundam and the Red Frame. Kazahana asks Prayer if he's ill, but he says he just didn't expect the DRAGOON system to be so draining. Kazahana is amazed by the DRAGOON system, and Liam explains that it's like the Alliance's Gunbarrels, except wireless. Elsewhere, Lowe pilots a shuttle and docks inside the Three Ships Alliance's Eternal to meet with Martin DaCosta. Back at the Junk Guild station, Canard suddenly attacks in a Moebius. He destroys the Works GINNs guarding the station, and Prayer launches in the Dreadnought Gundam. He tells Canard he doesn't want to fight and asks him to stop attacking. On the Eternal, Lowe asks DaCosta what he wants, and DaCosta tells him it was Andrew Waltfeld who requested the meeting. Andy thanks Lowe for coming, and Gai steps forward.

 

Prayer, having surrendered to Canard, is taken back to Artemis. Garcia tells his superior that they've captured a nuclear mobile suit, and the officer asks who told Garcia to do such a thing. The officer dissolves Garcia's special forces and says his status will be decided later. Garcia says that with nuclear technology they could defeat both ZAFT and the Atlantic Federation, but the officer says that the Atlantic Federation is their ally. He explains that they signed a technology-sharing agreement with the Atlantic Federation a few days ago, so now their Daggers and Strike Daggers will be equipped with beam saber technology. He says that the Hyperion series will cease production, and Canard will be sent back to the research facility. He also mentions that the Atlantic Federation acquired an N-Jammer Canceler long ago, leaving Garcia crushed. Furious, Garcia blames Canard and orders his men to arrest him. Canard asks Prayer why he surrendered, and Prayer says fighting only strengthens the flames of hatred. Because Canard countered with even more hatred, Prayer knew nothing would be resolved by fighting on. Canard tells Prayer that the battle will only end when one of them kills the other. Meriol interrupts and tells Canard that Garcia has ordered his arrest. On the Eternal, Gai explains that someone was concerned with the world's future. He says that after testing the N-Jammer Canceler on the Dreadnought Gundam, ZAFT was going to install it on its mobile suits. The man arranged for the Dreadnought Gundam parts to reach Malchio, and he wanted Gai to monitor the situation and proceed as he decided was best. Waltfeld explains that he has a dilemma: what to do with the full blueprints for the Dreadnought Gundam? He asks Gai for his opinion, and Gai says that giving them to Lowe wouldn't conflict with the wishes of his client, Siegel Clyne. Gai says that if the Dreadnought Gundam is completed, it will become more powerful, and Andy asks Lowe to make a decision. At Artemis, the Ortygia escapes before the hangar door can close, so Garcia orders Balsam Arendo to pursue in Hyperion Gundam Unit 2. Canard decides to launch in the Hyperion Gundam Unit 1, which still hasn't been repaired. Prayer tells Canard it's dangerous, but Canard pushes Prayer away and tells him he'll die too if he doesn't launch. Garcia tells Balsam to stop them, and Balsam assures Garcia he'll win. Balsam activates his Armure Lumiere and fires, but Canard dodges. Canard closes in at high speed, and Balsam says he's invisible with the Armure Lumiere. Canard concentrates his shield in one spot to form a beam spike that penetrates Unit 2's Armure Lumiere. He then stabs Unit 2's cockpit with a knife, killing Balsam. Canard grabs onto the immobilized Unit 2 and says he wants to fight because it's the only way he can live.

 

Later, Canard attacks the Alliance's lunar base with his fully-repaired Hyperion Gundam and destroys several Strike Daggers. Canard takes an elevator down into the base and destroys several more Strike Daggers along the way. On the Ortygia, Prayer asks Meriol how Canard can attack his own allies. Earlier, Canard decided to attack the lunar base and steal an N-Jammer Canceler to install on the Hyperion Gundam. Prayer told Canard to use the one on the Dreadnought Gundam, but Canard said he wanted the Dreadnought Gundam intact for their final battle. Meriol said that after examining the Dreadnought Gundam, they discovered that the Eurasian Federation wouldn't be able to replicate it, so they'd have to use what's already been produced by the Atlantic Federation. Prayer asked how they could attack an ally, and Meriol told him that the Atlantic Federation was never their ally and only used them. She said that many Eurasian soldiers were killed when the Atlantic Federation activated the Cyclops System in Alaska. She added that their special operatives were created to prevent the Atlantic Federation from winning against them in a war. Canard told Prayer that if he didn't like the situation, he could kill him in a fight. Lowe returns to the Re.H.O.M.E. and decides to build the final components for the Dreadnought Gundam. Kazahana asks about getting Prayer back, and Lowe tells her that although it's important to be considerate of others, it's also important to have faith in them. The Professor asks Lowe where he's going to build the parts, and 8 says they'd need a facility on the level of ZAFT's Maius Military Industries. With all the military factories closed to civilians, Lowe thinks of one place that might help them. At the lunar base, Canard installs the N-Jammer Canceler and returns to space, where he finds Gunbarrel Dagger pilot Morgan Chevalier and a squad of Daggers and Strike Daggers waiting for him. Morgan deploys his Gunbarrels and attacks, but Canard activates the Armure Lumiere to block the shots. Morgan realizes that the barrier is based on the Umbrella of Artemis, so the battle won't be as easy as he thought. As they fight, Prayer has a strange feeling. The other mobile suits attack Canard, but he destroys some of them. Morgan warns them to stay back and says that there isn't a weapon that doesn't have a weakness. He spots one of the barrier's emitters and focuses all his fire on it, but Canard dodges just in time. Canard fires his beam cannon, and Prayer mentally tells Morgan to detach the Gunbarrel Striker pack. Morgan detaches the Gunbarrel Striker just as the beam hits it and barely escapes death. Elsewhere, the Re.H.O.M.E. arrives at Orb's space station Ame-no-Mihashira and Lowe asks to speak with the factory supervisor.

 

Elsewhere, Canard goes on a killing spree when ZAFT mobile suits attack the Ortygia. Prayer launches in the Dreadnought Gundam and tells Canard he doesn't have to fight this way to protect his ship, and Canard again tells Prayer to kill him if he disagrees. Canard destroys a disabled GINN near Prayer and dares Prayer to attack him, but Prayer refuses. At Ame-no-Mihashira, Lowe and the others visit the mobile suit factory and are amazed to see so many mass produced M1 Astrays. Rondo Mina asks Lowe what he wants, and he tells her he wants to build stuff, but he won't give her the data on it. Rondo Mina calls him a simpleminded fool and says that the death of her brother Rondo Ghina is unforgivable. Lowe ignores the comment and says that the work environment in the factory is perfect. He says it's unlike any factory he's seen before, and he sees that Rondo Mina finally understood what he said because she's a good person. She asks what he means, and he says that a good work environment isn't possible without a good supervisor. Rondo Mina is informed that ZAFT forces are attacking, but she confidently says that Ame-no-Mihashira will never fall. She says she has to protect all the refugees because Ame-no-Mihashira is Orb's last stronghold. Lowe says he thinks a nation is a place where people can gather, regardless of location. As long as one person remains, they will work for their nation. Rondo Mina thinks on Lowe's comment and approves his request. On the Ortygia, Prayer has nightmares about fighting, and Canard asks him if he's ok. Prayer asks if Canard is worried about him, and Canard says he doesn't want Prayer to die before they fight. Gai approaches the Ortygia in the Blue Frame 2nd L and delivers message from Lowe to Prayer. Canard decides to let Prayer go so that the Dreadnought Gundam can be upgraded, but he tells him to come back so they can fight. Prayer meets with Lowe and tells him he doesn't want to have the DRAGOON pack installed since it will hurt people. Lowe tells Prayer that it's his decision whether to use it or not. Prayer looks at the completed Dreadnought Gundam and says he can't pilot it, but Lowe tells him the use of a tool is determined by the wielder. Prayer decides to pilot it, and Lowe nicknames it "X Astray." Lowe tells Prayer that he has to decide his own path, and Prayer vows to stop Canard.

 

Later, Canard and Prayer meet outside an abandoned space colony at Lagrange point 4 for their final duel. Prayer says they don't have to fight, but Canard refuses to go along with that. Canard activates his Armure Lumiere, and Prayer deploys his beam reamers to attack. Canard fires back with his machine gun and beam cannons, and Prayer deploys the four DRAGOON pods. Canard tells Prayer that his life only has meaning if he wins the battles he fights, but Prayer tells him he doesn't have to fight and win. Prayer asks Canard if he's an Ultimate Coordinator, but Canard says he's just a failure. He also says that Prayer has no right to criticize him because he has special abilities. Prayer then reveals that he's a clone and has special abilities because the military cloned him from a person with those powers. He says he doesn't want to live as a weapon, and Canard says they both live to fight. Elsewhere, Kazahana launches in a shuttle to help Prayer. Prayer tells Canard that no one lives a predetermined life, and that it's up to each person to determine how they live. Canard counters that no one can escape their destiny. Prayer tells Canard that the peace and compassionate hearts he denies have helped him survive. He tells Canard that people feel compassion for him, and he uses his DRAGOONs to create a prism around the Hyperion Gundam. Canard tries to fire out, but his shots can't penetrate the energy prism. Canard tries to shake Prayer and smashes into the colony. He feels a warmth and strength and wonders if that's what compassion is, but he refuses to accept it. Canard wildly fires his beam cannons inside the barrier, which sets off an explosion and damages the Hyperion Gundam. He thinks that to be defeated by his own weapon is a fitting end for a failure, and he wonders if with compassion he could've been like Prayer. Canard warns Prayer not to approach him because the nuclear engine is about to explode, but Prayer pulls him out of the cockpit and takes him to safety before the Hyperion Gundam explodes. Prayer then falls out of the cockpit and tells Canard he knew this would happen because the techniques used to clone him were flawed. Canard asks Prayer why he saved him, and he says he has no right to live because he couldn't become perfect. Prayer asks Canard to take his hand, and he tells Canard that he isn't alone because everyone is connected by compassion. As he dies, Prayer says he's happy to have Canard by his side. Kazahana lands inside the colony and finds Canard carrying Prayer's body. Canard asks why Prayer had to die and wonders if the lives of clones are meaningless, and what it means for a failure like him. Canard has hurt so many people and reached his goal, but he wonders if he really achieved anything. Later, Kazahana returns to Serpent Tail and reports to Gai that Prayer died, but the N-Jammer Canceler was delivered to Earth. Several months later, Canard meets with Malchio on the Marshall Islands. Malchio tells Canard that regardless of what happened with Prayer's death, Canard has inherited his will. Canard walks along the beach and passes by Kira and Athrun Zala. He thinks about what Prayer told him and says he will find his own path.

 

Commentary

 

And there ends X ASTRAY, which ran during the off year between the broadcast of SEED and DESTINY. The rivalry between Prayer and Canard continues and reaches a conclusion, with Prayer apparently dying. Overall, this incarnation of ASTRAY wasn't as interesting as some of the other series. Gai and Lowe are sidelined as the focus switches to Canard and Prayer, who aren't really compelling characters. Canard is focused only on fighting to find meaning in life, and Prayer wants peace. Canard's redemption at the end is a foregone conclusion, so there's no surprise there. There is a revelation here about Prayer's past, mainly that he's a clone of someone with enhanced spatial awareness. This is evident from his Moebius Zero flashbacks and his ability to mentally warn MSV ace Morgan Chevalier. Given Prayer's appearance and those Moebius Zero memories, it's possible he's a clone of Mu La Flaga, the last and most well-known survivor of the Alliance's Moebius Zero Corps. Aside from Morgan's appearance, another plus here is the tension between the Atlantic and Eurasian Federations, especially heightened after the battle at Alaska. Overall, this isn't the best entry in the many versions of ASTRAY, but it's required reading nonetheless for those following the story.

 

Overall Rating

Full StarFull StarFull StarHalf StarNo Star

3 out of 5 stars
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