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Mobile Suit Gundam: Awakening

 

Review by Chris Guanche

March 26, 2005

 

Summary

 

In the year UC 0079, the Earth Federation and the space-based Principality of Zeon wage a war locked in stalemate. Aboard the assault carrier Pegasus, Lt. Ralv lectures cadets Amuro Ray, Kai Shiden, Ryu Jose, Hayato Kobayashi and Sean Crane about the Core Fighter craft. He then leads them in a training exercise in space. Amuro drifts off course and is yelled at by Ralv. After performing a landing on the ship, Amuro is sent out again to repeat the exercise. Afterwards, Ralv lectures the cadets on the Gundam and Guncannon mobile suits. When Amuro's attention wanders elsewhere, Ralv tries to slap him. Amuro dodges, and Ralv has Ryu and Kai hold Amuro so he can slap him. Elsewhere, Char Aznable's Musai class ship approaches the single colony located at Side 7. Char speaks with his subordinate Dren about how they sighted the Pegasus earlier heading for Side 7. Char realizes that Side 7 must be to location of the Federation's secret Operation V mobile suit development project. He decides to send several Zakus to investigate the colony. Zaku pilots Denim and Gene fly into Side 7 to search for mobile suits. Although the colony is incomplete, Denim spots several Gundams and Guncannons. Although Char sent him on a scouting mission, Denim debates whether he should attack or not. On the other side of the colony, the Pegasus docks in the port. Captain Paolo Cassius is informed of an attack from within the colony and orders several Core Fighters to launch. Denim and Gene blast the Gundam and Guncannon parts and fight off the Federation resistance. Two Core Fighters from the Pegasus attack, but Denim destroys them. Amuro and the other cadets march into Side 7 to assist in the defense. Another Core Fighter is destroyed, and the shrapnel from it hits Sean and kills him. Amuro runs between the Zaku's legs and joins up with everyone near an ele-car. The Zaku blasts them, and Amuro is separated from the others. He spots a Gundam unit on a trailer and runs over to it. He gets into the cockpit and activates the suit, using the vulcan guns to shoot at the Zakus. With no beam rifle, Amuro uses a beam saber to slice Gene's Zaku in half. The attack pierces the Zaku's fusion reactor and sets off an explosion that blasts a hole in the colony wall.

 

Char worries about the situation inside Side 7 and is informed that Denim is returning alone. He orders missiles to be launched as covering fire and argues with Captain Haman Tramm about getting closer to Side 7. Char reviews Denim's video footage and decides to infiltrate Side 7 with normal suits. Amuro helps in transporting evacuees out of the colony. He receives a call from the Pegasus and is surprised that Ensign Bright Noa is in charge on the subbridge. An attack on the port damaged the bridge and injured Captain Cassius and the senior staff. Warrant Officer Mirai Yashima asks Amuro to transfer a functional Guncannon over to the Pegasus. While towing the Guncannon, Amuro spots his friend Fraw Bow in the crowd of refugees and calls out to her. He asks her where her family is, and she explains that they're dead. Bright calls Amuro and sends him over the Gundam's specs. He also orders Amuro to destroy the remaining mobile suit parts and sends Ryu to help him. At the Gundam test site, Sayla Mass (aka Artesia Som Deikun) thinks about her brother Casval Rem Deikun, who has infiltrated Zeon as Char. She thinks about the death of her father, the revolutionary Zeon Sum Deikun and how she and Casval were raised by Jimba Ral. Sayla destroys all files relating to the Gundam until she spots a man in a red normal suit taking pictures of the wrecked mobile suit. She grabs a gun from a dead soldier and orders Char to put his hands up. He knocks the gun out of her hand and realizes she is Artesia. Amuro approaches with the Gundam, and Char escapes. Amuro picks up Sayla and uses the beam rifle to destroy the remaining parts. Char and his men break out of the colony's port, and Bright has the Pegasus leave port. Char and Denim return to the Musai and sortie in their Zakus. To Amuro's surprise, Char's custom red Zaku moves very quickly and dodges his attacks. Denim reveals his location by transmitting his IFF signal, and Amuro destroys him with the beam rifle. As they fight, Amuro runs out of energy and Char runs out of ammo. Char retreats to the Musai and Amuro returns to the Pegasus as it heads for Luna II.

 

At Zeon's Earth orbital base California, Garma Zabi receives a message from his friend Char. The message states that Char is trying to send the Pegasus towards California. Garma decides to take the initiative and personally attack with three Gaw carriers. Sayla helps Fraw attend to the wounded and then heads to the bridge to ask Bright how she can help. He assigns her to the communications post, and Ryu calls and asks for instructions. The Musai closes in on them, and Char launches in his Zaku. Amuro immediately launches in the Gundam, followed by Ryu and Kai in their Guncannons. To Char's surprise, Amuro performs better in battle, but he still has trouble hitting Char. Char pulls back when he realizes he is outgunned by Amuro, Ryu and Kai. On the Musai, Dren argues with Tramm about contacting California without Admiral Dozle Zabi's permission. After the battle, Bright holds a meeting with the crew to determine their next move. One option is to turn around and take on the Musai, and the other is to try and avoid California and slingshot around the Earth to reach Luna II. The crew overwhelmingly decides to attack the Musai. As battle preparations begin, a retired ship commander named Jarma Amov offers his help to Bright. Bright places him in charge of guns and tells the gun operators to let Jarma think he is in command. Dren informs Char that Garma is sending three Gaw carriers, and Char comments that Garma is inexperienced. He decides to sortie in his Zaku to help Garma. Char approaches the Pegasus and locks onto the bridge, but Amuro ruins his shot and attacks. Dopp fighters launch from the Gaws and attack the Pegasus. As Amuro and Char fight, the Pegasus destroys two of the Gaws with its mega particle cannons. Garma's damaged carrier begins a suicide run and is destroyed. Char is pleased because it helps his quest for revenge against the Zabis. With the Gaws destroyed, Char retreats and realizes that Dozle won't be happy.

 

At Luna II, Amuro meets supply captain Matilda Ajan. After talking with Hayato about the Gundam's armor, Amuro calls Fraw to see how she is doing. She tells him about how her family is dead, and Amuro recalls how he was close to her mother Fam. He thought of her as a surrogate mother because his own mother Kamaria had refused to come up to live on Side 7. Amuro tells Fraw that she has to keep it together, but he is suddenly called away to a briefing. At the briefing, the crew is introduced to base commander Wakkein and General Revil. Revil congratulates everyone on their performance at Side 7 against Char. He explains that the Federation has begun rolling out its first mass production mobile suit, the GM. Because the GM is available in limited numbers, Revil says that the Pegasus will play an important role in operations. He gives everyone promotions and explains the concept of Newtypes that he first heard about when held prisoner by the Zeon. According to Zeon Deikun's theory, people's consciousness expands in space and the Newtype is the next evolution of humanity. He says the Zeon probably have their own Newtype Corps under development, and he wants to try the same thing based on the Pegasus' battle record. Later, Sayla thinks about Char and his obsession to kill the Zabis which was driven into him by Jimba. Amuro visits Fraw, and she tells him that she's going to work on Luna II and take care of the orphan children Kikka, Katz and Letz. Amuro tells her that she shouldn't stay on Luna II and should instead continue to study fashion design. Fraw asks Amuro if she can count on him, and she then holds on to his hand and tells him that she loves him.

 

Sovereign Degwin Sodo Zabi thinks about a video that Garma sent him just three days before his death. His daughter Kycilia comes to escort him to Garma's state funeral. In a large chamber, more than 200,000 people gather for Garma's funeral. Dozle asks Kycilia why she is recruiting Char, because he kicked Char out of the military for not protecting Garma. Gihren tells Dozle not to worry about it, and Dozle laments that Garma will never be an admiral. Gihren thinks about a rumor that Degwin is secretly meeting with Prime Minister Darcia Bakharov. He wishes that the funeral were for Degwin and not Garma. As the crowd cheers, Gihren gives a speech about Garma's sacrifice and the need to preserve and protect the Earth. Char meets with a member of Kycilia's Royal Guards, who tell Char that Kycilia is interested in his contact with the Flanagan Institute. He promises Char promotion to the rank of Commander and the use of the new spaceship Zanzibar. Char accepts the assignment and heads for the Balda Bay colony at Side 6. Char has a look at the new mobile armor Elmeth, which uses a new psycommu system. After arriving at Balda Bay, Char meets with Dr. Flanagan Rom and asks him about the progress of Newtype test subject Lalah Sune. He antagonizes Flanagan with his observations and meets with Lalah. Flanagan says that Lalah is a perfect candidate, and tests begin with Lalah and the psycommu system, which picks up brain waves and turns them into commands. Char has Lalah practice by grabbing mosquitoes. Afterwards, Char speaks with Lalah alone. He takes off his mask, revealing a large scar running across his forehead. He tells Lalah that it happened in a fencing match with Garma, but the truth is that it was self-inflicted so that he'd have an excuse to wear a mask. He says to Lalah that he isn't very romantic, but he's happy to see her.

 

Amuro and Bright watch a news report on Gihren's speech. Bright announces that the Pegasus will soon be leaving Luna II to form the 13th Autonomous Corps and participate in Operation Star One. Several new officers join the crew, including Lt. Sleggar Law of the Gunnery Corps. With his loud behavior, he immediately clashes with Bright and can't believe he's the ship's captain. The Pegasus launches from Luna II and is joined by several Magellan, Salamis and Public class ships. Bright explains to the crew that the purpose of Operation Star One is to conquer Zeon's Moon base Granada. As such, the 13th Autonomous Corps will draw the Granada fleet out to the Texas Zone while Revil's fleet attacks Granada and the space fortress Solomon. Amuro, Ryu and Kai engage in mock battles with the GM pilots from the other ships of the fleet. Lt. Cmdr. Randolph Ramski runs the exercises and offers everyone critiques on their performance. Elsewhere, Captain M'Quve complains about Kycilia recruiting Char and allowing him to work with the Flanagan Institute. He feels that a man who couldn't protect Garma shouldn't be trusted with anything. On the Zanzibar, Char heads to the Texas zone to test Lalah's abilities with the Elmeth. On the Pegasus, Amuro grabs some food in the mess hall and asks Sayla if he can join her. After some awkward chit-chat, Sayla asks Amuro if he believes in Newtypes. Amuro says he'd like to believe in Newtypes if they have the ability to bring mankind together. The Pegasus' sensors pick up M'Quve's Chibe, and Bright orders Amuro, Ryu and Kai to launch. Eleven Zakus attack, and throughout the course of the battle Amuro destroys five of them. When he returns to the ship, Sayla informs him that Ryu was killed in battle. Amuro receives a commendation from Wakkein for his kill score, but he is soon sent back into battle on a mission to destroy M'Quve's forces.

 

M'Quve is annoyed over the loss of so many Zakus and wonders how many mobile suits the Pegasus has. Kai speak with Hayato and says he thinks Amuro might be a Newtype. Amuro launches and searches for M'Quve's forces. He destroys several Zakus and a Musai class ship. M'Quve is angered over the sudden loss of a ship and focuses his fire on the Pegasus. On the Pegasus, Hayato launches in the Guncannon without orders and heads out on his own. He destroys M'Quve's Chibe and chases after a Musai ship. Amuro enters the abandoned Texas colony, which was modeled after the American Midwest. Amuro searches the area and discovers a control room where Lalah is. She mentally communicates with him and asks him who he is. She tells him that he's arrived too late because she's already fallen in love with Char. Amuro doesn't understand and tells Lalah he didn't know she existed. Amuro senses a dark presence and is attacked by a Zaku. He uses his beam saber to destroy it. Lalah tells Amuro that she was looking for a kindred spirit and realizes that it was supposed to be Amuro instead of Char. Amuro tells her he thinks a true Newtype wouldn't make such a mistake. Lalah asks him to stop her from piloting the Elmeth, and he asks her what he can do since they're supposed to be enemies. Char enters the room and takes Lalah away. With little energy left, Amuro picks up the bazooka from the Zaku and searches the colony. Char and Lalah return to the Zanzibar.

 

Bright has the Pegasus enter Texas to search for Amuro. Sayla searches for signs of the Gundam, but the Minovsky particle interference is too high. Sayla asks to be relieved, and Mirai has the ship take off. On the suspicion that an enemy ship might be at the colony's other port, Bright fires several missiles and hits the Zanzibar. The Zanzibar's captain, Burman, launches four Zakus to attack the Pegasus. Sayla puts on a normal suit and drives out of the Pegasus in a buggy to search for Char. Lalah asks Flanagan to stop the trailer so that she can use the Elmeth to defend the Zanzibar. Amuro hides in the forest and watches the four Zakus fly by. He jumps in the air and fires his beam rifle when he spots Char on the ground. Although he destroys Char's right leg, Char continues the attack. The Zanzibar fires its guns at the Pegasus, and Kai fights off the Zakus. Once the Zakus are destroyed, Bright fires at the Zanzibar and cripples the ship. Lalah is attacked by Public class ships and deploys the bits to defend herself. Amuro destroys the head of Char's Zaku, and Char damages the Gundam's head despite the severe damage to his Zaku. As the Pegasus and Zanzibar approach each other, Hayato destroys the last of the Zanzibar's cannons. The Zanzibar the activates its engines, the force of which causes the Pegasus to crash on the ground while the Zanzibar crashes into a mountain. Sayla comes across Char's ruined Zaku and confronts her brother. She asks him to give up his plan for revenge, and he tells her it's not just about that anymore. He asks her to quit the Federation Forces and leaves. Elsewhere, Amuro puts a heavy strain on the Gundam as he fights off Lalah's bits. Amuro accidentally stabs the Elmeth's cockpit with his beam saber, and in that instant Amuro connects with Lalah's minds and sees images her and many other things. Bright and the rest of the crew abandon the Pegasus and escape with Sayla's help. The Elmeth explodes, blasting the Gundam out of a hole in the colony wall. The emergency escape system activates, and the torso and legs are jettisoned from the Core Fighter. Amuro drifts away into space. As the year UC 0080 begins, the war continues.

 

Commentary

 

As the summary implies, the story of the Gundam novels is almost entirely different from the anime TV series or movie trilogy. For starters, Amuro, Hayato and Kai are already Federation soldiers at the start of the story. The Earth arc is eliminated entirely, and the resulting story is very different. Garma still appears and dies in the same manner, but his role is drastically reduced and a bit less sympathetic. The characters are mostly the same, but there are quite a few people here who don't appear in the anime. The Newtype concept, which was explored very briefly in the anime, is explained in much more detail here. Tomino's narrative style can be a bit awkward at first because he will suddenly switch from character exposition to several paragraphs focusing on UC background details. Granted, this is necessary because there's so much backstory that needs to be explained. The story presented here is well-told and is a fascinating, more mature look at the Gundam story. It is a must read for fans of the original series.

 

Overall Rating

Full StarFull StarFull StarHalf StarNo Star

4 out of 5 stars
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