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Gundam: Ecole du Ciel Vol. 1

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Summary

In UC 0085, 15-year-old Asuna Elmarit practices in a mobile suit simulator at the Ecole du Ciel in Canada. In the simulation, Asuna is in a GM parachuting down to the ground. However, she miscalculates and crashes, making her easy prey for her opponent, Erisia Nocton. In another part of the school, instructors Yahagi Franziback and Forma Gardner discuss a proposal. After exiting the simulator, Asuna is criticized by her friend Emilu Voigtlander for losing so quickly to Erisia. Asuna congratulates Erisia for winning, and Erisia tells Asuna that it looks like she has no idea what she’s doing. Asuna says that she can’t get into piloting mobile suits, but it doesn’t bother her because she wants to work in logistical support. For that comment, she’s punished with no breaks and 10 hours of additional simulation training. As they walk together, Emilu tells Asuna that she’s weird. Asuna thinks that she’s weird in a cute way, even though she doesn’t have big breasts. The two sit down for ice cream and are joined by Erisia. Erisia says she heard people from space are good with mobile suits, but obviously not Asuna. Emilu mentions that Asuna used to be in accelerated classes, and Erisia mentions the Principality of Zeon, to which Asuna answers that she’s not with Zeon anymore. Asuna says that she doesn’t feel like she fits into the Ecole, so she’s not sure what she should be doing. From nearby, Shinn Barnack tells her that if she’s looking at birds while piloting mobile suits, she should probably quit. Asuna says she was just working on a drawing at the time. Erisia asks Asuna why she even enrolled, and Emilu says it’s because of her father. Asuna then yells at Emilu to never mention her father again. A GM Canard suddenly walks by, and Erisia explains that it’s used for live instruction. Emilu says that she seems to know a lot about it, and Erisia tells her that her father’s company manufactures the suit. Later, Yahagi addresses the students in the dojo and tells them that they will now begin training with real mobile suits. However, those who haven’t mastered the basics won’t move forward, and the only person who hasn’t is Asuna. Yahagi bans Asuna from the simulation room and tells her that she’ll have to start from the very beginning. Asuna later sits on a park bench and thinks that leaving might be a good idea. Shinn sits next to Asuna and tells her not to worry about Yahagi. He says that he was slow as a kid, so he tried harder. He says that even swans have to paddle under the water like other birds, so she should give it her best. Later, Asuna conducts gravity training. In another part of the school, a secret council meets. Officer Hank Ryan isn’t pleased that the students’ results haven’t improved, and a woman named Michal Akarette says that they’ve trained some excellent pilots. Ryan says that the whole point of Ecole is to find and train Newtypes for the next war. A man named Alpa Rau says that the project has the budget of a small country, so failure isn’t an option. Forma says that he doesn’t think using simulators is the best way, because the fury of combat in the One Year War awakened people’s abilities. Ryan wants to use drugs on the students, but Forma thinks it’s problematic and doesn’t replace real combat. Rau says that won’t matter once the war starts.

In the middle of the night, Yahagi has a nightmare about the One Year War. He takes a shower an looks out his window to watch Asuna, who is running laps around the school. At the cafeteria, Forma mentions to Yahagi that Asuna and Emilu have been working hard for the last two weeks. Forma mentions Asuna’s father, Professor Elmarit from the Zeon National Defense Academy. He mentions that the man is close to 60 and is on the run, and Yahagi says he went to the same academy and that Elmarit’s wife is the same age as him. Yahagi says that there were rumors about Elmarit, and Forma asks if he was having sex with his students. Yahagi says that at that time, Zeon was on a road to war, so he doesn’t have any good memories of the academy. Yahagi asks Forma what he’s going to do about the administration council meeting, and Forma says he’s been in contact with some of the members and has a meeting with Glasses (Rau). A TV news report states that anti-Earth Federation protesters in space are becoming restless, and Forma asks Yahagi if anything looks familiar about that. After training, Emilu tells Asuna that she’s changed over the last two weeks and seems to have direction now. She says that Asuna’s waist is slimmer, hips tighter and legs slimmer, but her breasts are still small. She thinks Asuna wants to show off her body to someone, but Asuna says it isn’t like that. As they tease each other, Shinn approaches them and said he suspected something was wrong when they ‘collapsed’ after training. He says that he has no prejudices and that love is love. He also says that Asuna’s training program isn’t very effective, so he’ll make a new one for her. Later, Asuna and Shinn both find themselves on cleaning duty in the mobile suit hangar. Shinn says that you can find out a lot about mobile suits during cleaning, which is why it’s part of basic training. He says that since a mobile suit is designed to move like a human body, you have to master your own movements before mastering a mobile suit. Asuna realizes that’s why they probably have to learn judo. Shinn asks Asuna what she learned in Zeon, and she tells him it was hand-eye coordination practice. He asks her why she’s so slow, and she tells him it’s because her father demanded so much from her. She says that he was cruel to her, and mother did nothing. Beyond that, he’s not even her biological father. Shinn tells Asuna that Erisia didn’t meet her father until she was 12, and her mother also did nothing. Emilu lost both her parents in the war, and her siblings are all separated. He says everyone has a tough life, so there’s no need for Asuna to stress out by herself. Elsewhere, Forma reads a file and finds something about genetic engineering. Later, Yahagi decides to see the results of Asuna’s training and decides to have her fight Shinn.

Asuna decides to pilot a Zaku II in the simulation, while Shinn chooses a GM Type C. As the battle begins, Erisia wonders if Asuna locking on to her earlier was just a fluke. Elsewhere, Forma has lunch and meets with Rau. Forma asks Rau why he even has to bother working with the military, and Rau points out that the fancy building behind them still belongs to his father. Forma tells Rau that a student at school has caught his attention. As Asuna dodges Shinn’s attacks, Erisia wonders how she can be so agile in such a clunky suit. Shinn corners Asuna, but she says she doesn’t want to be the class loser. As Shinn opens fire, Asuna jumps and dodges his attack. Forma and Rau drive through the woods, and Forma tells Rau that the student he mentioned was Asuna. He tells Rau that Professor Elmarit had high expectations for Asuna before she was born, and Rau tells him not to be too curious. He says that Forma is supposed to watch candidates that Rau chooses, and Asuna is on that list. Forma is curious, so Rau offers to give him the Flanagan files from the 0060s, before the Flanagan Institute was even formed. Forma is surprised that Rau would have that and wonders if it’s all Newtype data. Rau tells Forma there is one condition: he wants Forma to give him Asuna’s data before handing it to the rest of the council. Forma asks why, and Rau tells him he has his reasons. Asuna knocks Shinn back and charges at him, but he jumps in the air and pulls out his beam saber. Shinn comes at Asuna, but she grabs him and flips him into a wall. The simulation time runs out, and Asuna is declared the winner. Everyone is amazed that Asuna won, and Emilu congratulates her on her victory. Erisia thinks to herself that Asuna is finally catching on. Asuna is amazed that her movements came so naturally, and she realizes it’s because she remembered all the mobile suit simulator training her father made her do.

In UC 0079, Professor Elmarit forced Asuna to practice in a mobile suit simulator. During one exercise, he was unsatisfied with her results and burst into the simulator room, telling her that she should target with her instincts rather than her eyes. He said she was capable of it and had to do it. In the present, Asuna returns to her senses while daydreaming. Now, she’s in a live mobile suit training exercise in a two-seater GM Cannes with Yahagi. With a Guntank approaching, Yahagi tells Asuna to move before they get shot. Several hours earlier, the students prepare for the live exercise. Asuna tells Emilu that she’s better in the simulator now, but she’s not used to the panoramic monitor in the GM Cannes. An instructor announces the training mission: students and their instructors will use two-seater GM Cannes in the forest and fight several unmanned Guntanks using paint balls as ammunition. Emilu says she’ll find another partner and pushes Asuna toward Shinn. Asuna asks Shinn if he would mind having her on his team, and Yahagi yells at her that she should be focusing on the mission, not flirting. He tells her that she’s still behind, so he assigns her to another team with Erisia and Kerry Signet. At a council meeting, Michal says that they’ve studied the data on the students and plan to use some of the ones on the list during a space exercise later in the semester. Ryan complains and says that the wants Newtypes, not test scores. Michal tells him that he needs to leave things in the hands of the instructors. Ryan says they can’t wait until the war begins, and Rau suggests they not impede progress and allow the experts to do their job. In the training exercise, Erisia is teamed with Forma, Kerry with Linny, and Asuna with Yahagi. Yahagi tells Asuna to relax and concentrate on moving forward. Yahagi absently says that she’s different from her mother, and when Asuna asks him what he means, he says it’s nothing. Erisia tells Asuna that any mistakes she makes will hurt all three of them, and Forma tells Asuna she’s cute. Forma says he knows that Erisia requested to have Asuna on her team and asks if she’s curious. Erisia asks him the same thing, and he tells her he likes young girls. Suddenly, Erisia’s GM Cannes is hit by fire from a Guntank, but it’s real ammunition instead of paint balls Forma tells her that there’s many surprises on the battlefield. Elsewhere, Rau meets with Ryan, who says he knows Rau met with Forma. Ryan says that Newtypes aren’t what he thinks they are and that he can’t use them for his personal advantage. Rau asks Ryan why he’s involved with the council, and Ryan answers that the enemy is doing the same thing. Rau says they don’t have enough proof, but Ryan thinks Yahagi is proof enough because everyone knows his history.

Yahagi tells Asuna to move before they get hit again. The Guntank fires at them, but this time with paint balls Another Guntank approaches and attacks. Erisia realizes that the missiles are paint balls, but the artillery rounds are live. She rushes in to attack a Guntank, but too late she realizes that the Guntank had live missile rounds mixed in. Her GM Cannes is damaged again, and the instructors attempt to abort the mission. Yahagi tells Asuna to turn off her auto balancer because manual controls are more versatile. Forma asks Yahagi what he’s doing, and Yahagi says that since the Guntanks are training machines, if they hit the sensors, they’ll stop. Asuna dodges the gunfire and hits one of the Guntank’s sensors, but it has no effect. With the Guntanks flanking them, Yahagi jumps into the air and attacks one of the Guntanks directly. He then pulls out his beam saber and stabs the Guntank. With the danger over, Yahagi asks Asuna if she’s ok. Later, Yahagi accuses Forma of slipping in live rounds and asks if the council told him to do it. Forma says that Yahagi must be joking since he was in a dangerous situation himself too. He then says it would be funny if all Newtypes were as short-tempered as Yahagi. Forma says that the council is desperate to get Newtypes, so there’s no telling what they’ll do. Yahagi says that the students aren’t guinea pigs and that he’ll protect them. Forma ridicules him, so Yahagi grabs him by the collar and tells him not to act like he’s a big shot. In a bathroom, Erisia is angry over her mistakes in the exercises and punches the mirror. Shinn runs in and notices she’s bleeding, but she tells him to leave her alone. He say that she shouldn’t blame herself for what happened, and she tells him he’s always nice to everyone. Later, Erisia takes a shower and thinks to herself that she doesn’t need sympathy. Emilu tells Asuna that Yahagi was amazing during the exercise, and that there’s a rumor he’s a Newtype. Later, Asuna lies in bed and thinks to herself that she’s scared. In a space colony at Side 3, Haruka Elmarit looks at a picture of her daughter, Asuna.

Commentary

Haruhiko Mikimoto is best known as a character designer for series like Macross and Gundam 0080, but he’s no stranger to manga, having previously authored titles like Macross 7 Trash. This time, he’s stepping into Gundam for a Zeta Gundam prequel with a decidedly shoujo feel. Asuna Elmarit is pretty different from other Gundam protagonists. Although she’s in a mobile suit training school, she’s not very adept at piloting and isn’t interested in mobile suits. However, there’s more to her than meets the eye with her past. As the daughter of a Zeon scientist, a childhood spent in mobile suit simulators is certainly not normal. She comes to realize that her apparent bad piloting comes from painful memories associated with her father, whom she reveals isn’t even her biological father. As a Zeta prequel, this story is set in UC 0085, so we’re pretty close to the infamous Colony 30 incident, in which the Titans gassed a space colony where anti-Earth Federation protests were held. As we see here, the political situation in space is already at that breaking point. Moreover, a secret council within the Ecole is looking for Newtypes to use in the “next war” as if they want one to come. As we see, a Titan officer is on that council, so this is probably along the lines of the research the Titans conducted on Newtypes, be they natural or Cyber Newtypes. Things get to a slow start in here, but the political tension and intrigue is bound to increase as the events leading up the Gryps War begin to unfold.

Overall Rating
3.5/5
Ecole du Ciel Info


Writer:

Haruhiko Mikimoto

Artist:
Haruhiko Mikimoto

Mechanical Designer(s):
Yoshinori Sayama
Takayuki Yanase

Manga Release:
Japan 12.18.2001 – 02.26.2011
U.S. 09.13.2005 – 03.30.2010

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