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Gundam Silhouette Formula 91 Vol. 1

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Summary

On February 18, UC 0123, Anaheim Electronics pilot Tokio Randall conducts a mock battle in the Gundam RXF91 against Kevin Forrest’s Hardygun near the Moon’s Zebra Zone. Their test fight is interrupted by the appearance of a red Den’an Zon belonging to the Crossbone Vanguard. On the Anaheim ship Braywood, employees Iris Orlando and Karl Subit receive a distress call from Kevin stating that he and Tokio are under attack by a mysterious red mobile suit. Tokio says he’ll engage the enemy, and Subit responds that he’ll back them up shortly. Ship’s captain Aitor Horst objects and says their mission isn’t to fight, but Subit counters that if they lose the Gundam RXF91, their work was for nothing. The Den’an Zon chases after Kevin and damages his Hardygun, so Tokio slams into it and pulls out his beam rifle. The Den’an Zon retreats just as Subit arrives in his G-Cannon Magna, and he tells Tokio to not pursue. The suits return to the Braywood, and Kevin apologizes to engineer Albert Elzener for the trouble. Subit tells them it wasn’t their fault and that Horst wants to see them in the briefing room. Tokio asks Kevin why he became a civilian test pilot with his army training, and Kevin answers it’s for money and experience. They discuss their encounter with the Den’an Zon and note how it looked like a Zaku. Kevin mentions hearing rumors about the Zeon, but they’re both paged to report to the briefing room. Iris pulls up the Hardygun’s video recording of the Den’an Zon and notes that it resembles the Dessa suit used by Buch Aerodynamics, which Kevin notes is supposed be a civilian suit. Subit says he’s heard about Buch being engaged in suspicious activity, and Horst says the question is why that suit was out there. Elzener shows them a photo of the Hardygun’s lightly damaged armor, which resulted from being hit by a practice round. Tokio concludes that the other party is also testing their suit, and Elzener shows another damaged area, which Kevin explains came from a lance-like area. He then tells Tokio that crashing into the enemy was reckless, and Subit asks Tokio to file a report. Horst wonders if the suit belongs to a competitor, but Elzener points out that no matter who it was, they may have captured video of the Gundam RXF91. Horst decides to leave the area and contact the company. On the Crossbone Vanguard ship Zamouth Zena, pilot Morris O’Barry is berated by Shelf Sheffield for revealing the Den’an Zon to outsiders. Shelf says he can’t let them get away and will risk the reputation of the Dark Tiger Squadron because the world can’t know about the Crossbone Vanguard yet.

Four mobile suits launch from the Zamouth Zena, commanded by Shelf. On the Braywood, Horst and Subit wonder if the enemy is coming for them. They don’t know where an attack would come from because of the high density of Minovsky particles in the area. Subit wants to put up a fight, but Horst objects and says they aren’t soldiers. Iris asks Tokio why he’s in the hangar and tells him he should get some rest. Elzener agrees and also cautions Tokio not to be so reckless again with the Gundam RXF91 because it’s a test unit with few spare parts. He notes that Anaheim has been having problems because it entered the small scale mobile suit business too late, behind both Buch and the Strategic Naval Research Institute’s Formula series. Tokio asks about a rumor of a mole in SNRI, and Elzener explains that the military doesn’t want Anaheim’s project to fail. A Den’an Gei and and Morris’ Den’an Zon spot the Braywood and close in. With the enemy approaching, Tokio realizes he has no choice but to go out and prepares to launch. The Gundam RXF91 is then loaded onto the Braywood‘s catapult and launches.

Morris fires a signal flare to inform Shelf that they’ve found the enemy. Shelf spots the flare and thinks that Morris acted impulsively. Subit and Kevin prepare to launch and backup Tokio. Kevin doesn’t respond to Subit’s attack plan and admits that he’s scared and doesn’t want to go out because he’s not a soldier. Subit tells Kevin that they have no other choice, but he’s sure Kevin can do it. As the Hardygun and G-Cannon Magna launch, Subit tells Kevin to stay in formation and pretend like it’s practice. Tokio comes under fire from the two attacking units, and Iris asks why there are two enemy squads. Horst concludes that they probably had to split up for the search because of the Minovsky particle density. Tokio calls for help to come quickly, so Iris tells him that Subit and Kevin are on the way. Tokio’s words cause Iris to have a childhood flashback where she asked her father to come back quickly, after which he was killed in an explosion. Elzener then snaps Iris back into reality, and she tells Tokio to deactivate part of the control board, which will throw off the suit’s equilibrium, but also increase its capabilities. However, she’s not sure if Tokio’s body can handle the strain. Elzener tells him not to do it, but if he says doing nothing means dying, he’d rather give it a try. With the increased capability, Tokio is able to dodge the enemy fire. Horst asks what’s going on, and Iris explains a program is included for mass production. Elzener adds that the idea is to create mobile suits anyone can pilot, and Iris says to accomplish that, the Gundam RXF91 has movement limitations. Removing those limitations makes the Gundam RXF91 very difficult to pilot, but the right pilot can bring out its full potential. Tokio dodges the Den’an Gei and uses his beam rifle and VSBR to destroy it. Elsewhere, Kevin and Subit come under attack from Shelf’s squad. Kevin destroys a Den’an Zon, and Shelf tosses out a flash grenade to blind them. Kevin thinks Shelf is still in the area, but Subit tells him the incoming suit is Tokio.

In UC 0112, test pilot Orlando pilots the Jegan Fireball at an engine performance test in North America. The Jegan Fireball initially performs well, and Orlando thinks of his young daughter, Iris. However, the engine malfunctions and the Jegan Fireball explodes. In the present, Iris wakes up and wonders why she was dreaming about her father now. The Braywood then rocks from a starboard side explosion. Iris calls the bridge and asks if they’re being attacked, but is told there are no mobile suits in the area. She then heads to the bridge and asks what happened, and Elzener tells her the damage is bad. Horst says they can’t continue their voyage, but Elzener reports there’s an old colony nearby that was abandoned in UC 0091. Iris finds Tokio and Kevin acting suspiciously near the kitchen, but they quickly leave without answering her questions. Morris calls for a higher alert level when he’s informed the Braywood is heading for the colony, and Shelf asks what’s going on. Morris begins to report, but Shelf cuts him off and says he already knows and that the Braywood has fallen into their trap. Morris wants to attack immediately, but Shelf tells him they’re under orders to collect data first. Morris objects, so Shelf grabs him by the collar and tells him to stay in line. Shelf then tells Morris to remain on standby alert. Tokio scouts out the colony’s port in the Gundam RXF91 and signals the Braywood that it’s safe to enter. After Tokio returns, Kevin and Subit launch to explore the colony. Iris asks Tokio what he was up to earlier, but he tells her it’s none of her business. Kevin and Subit explore the colony and are surprised to find the lights on. They don’t notice an old Neo Zeon Geara Doga hiding behind a building on the ground. Subit catches a brief flash of light for a second, but shrugs it off. Elzener reports to Horst that the damage is worse than expected, and they’re working hard to contain it. Elzener suggests searching the colony for a factory, but he can’t leave, so Iris volunteers. Elzener reluctantly agrees and tells Iris she’s as stubborn as her father. Kevin returns to the ship and tells Iris to come to the observation room in an hour. She tells him she can’t, but he ignores that and says everyone is waiting. She goes to the room and finds that Kevin and several others have organized a surprise birthday. As they celebrate, Iris accidentally gets soaked by a bottle of wine. Elzener tells Tokio about Orlando’s death, which occurred on Iris’ birthday, and how she transferred to mobile suit development after finding a tape of the accident at Anaheim. They then head for the observation room and find that Iris ended the party early. The next day, Tokio and Iris explore the colony in a jeep with Kevin flying backup in his Hardygun. They briefly discuss the men’s watch Tokio gave her as a gift, but they stop in their tracks when a Geara Doga appears. Kevin knocks down the Geara Doga and orders the pilot to surrender. A young girl emerges from the cockpit.

In space, the Ra Cailum class cruiser Ajax approaches the Zebra Zone. Two days later, Subit asks the girl, Layla Lagiorr, if she’s willing to give up any information other than her name. Iris brings breakfast and asks if there’s been any progress, but Tokio says no. Layla asks them if they’re going to kill her like before. She says that the Earth Federation Forces came before and killed her parents. Later, Subit, Tokio and Kevin wonder what Layla was doing with an old Neo Zeon suit. Horst is informed that an EFF ship has picked up their signal. Layla tells Iris that her parents drifted from place to place after the Second Neo Zeon War and eventually found the abandoned colony. The EFF gave them supplies, but 6 years ago they came and massacred nearly everyone. Elzener tells Horst that repairs are nearly finished, and Horst tells him it’ll be five hours before the Ajax shows up. Horst addresses the entire crew and tells them that if the people on the colony are Neo Zeon survivors, they must be protected. Tokio and the others launch, with Layla sitting inside Kevin’s cockpit. She tells him she’s been piloting since the age of 12, and she’s saddened to see her damaged Geara Doga on the ground. Iris tells Horst there weren’t supposed to be other ships in the area, but Horst explains that military movements are classified. A woman named Dorfman comes over from the Ajax on a space launch and gives them orders from Anaheim. Iris is to come back with her and bring all data collected on the Gundam RXF91. Iris transfers over to the Ajax and is surprised to see two Neo Gundams in its hangar. She’s ordered to transfer the data from the Gundam RXF91 to the new Gundams.

Iris begins work and asks Dorfman what the hurry is, but Dorfman answers that all she knows is Buzz Galemson will be launching in Neo Gundam Unit 1. Elzener grumbles about not having work to do now that the Ajax is handling repairs, but Horst tells him it’s a good time to rest. Shelf and Morris approach the colony and spot EFF mobile suits. They rendezvous with Buzz, and Morris asks Shelf if they can trust him. Morris hands over a briefcase to Buzz, who mentions that the Anaheim ship ran into some trouble, so they’re going to help clean up the mess. As Morris is floating back to his Den’an Zon, Buzz opens fire on Shelf’s Berga-Barus. Inside the colony Layla, Tokio, Kevin and Subit walk through the rain. Kevin asks if she doesn’t trust them, but she answers that piloting a mobile suit would in that area would cause problems. She goes into a building, and Subit kicks in the door so that they can follow her underground. Although Shelf’s Berga-Barus is damaged, he uses his shot lancer to destroy Buzz’s G-BRD weapon. He then escapes, but Buzz decides it doesn’t matter because Shelf can’t make any moves for now.

Layla introduces Tokio and the others to the old man who leads the exile community. Subit says that there’s no reason for the exiles to live in hiding, but the old man says they don’t want to get involved in any conflict. He notes that their arrival has caused problems and that they shouldn’t have come to the colony. Tokio explains that their coming was the result of an accident, so the old man apologizes. He says he appreciates Subit’s words, but they don’t want to leave. The older people want to stay, but he recognizes that some of the younger ones don’t, so he asks Subit to help them. Later, Subit and the others wonder what they should do. He suggests that Tokio and Kevin return to the ship to report on the situation while he tries to talk to the exiles. Kevin thinks that something is strange about the colony and notes that the exiles aren’t in as dire a situation as they should be. Buzz returns to the Ajax in the damaged Unit 1, and when Iris asks what happened, he orders armed soldiers to keep her away. He tells her that her part is over, so he’ll be taking over now. Buzz tells Dorfman that they’ll take care of the Crossbones after destroying the Braywood. Dorfman asks about Iris, and Buzz says letting her go won’t have any consequences. Iris breaks out of her room and wanders through the ship until she runs into another Anaheim employee, Elizabeth. Elizabeth is basically under house arrest, and they’re interrupted when Dorfman shows up. With repairs completed, Horst tells the crew to prepare for departure. Elzener is worried that Iris hasn’t called since going to the Ajax, but Horst thinks he’s worrying too much. Kevin calls to report on the situation and chats briefly with Tokio outside. Kevin thinks Subit will be able to convince the exiles to leave, but Layla shows up and says it won’t work. Tokio notes that at least she’s coming with them.

An EFF officer named Wolf Lisle meets with an Anaheim employee at Anaheim’s lunar headquarters. He says that the Silhouette Formula is late in their return and that Buzz’s group is already beginning the cleanup. The Anaheim employee says it’s a pity to waste good people and that they have to do better next time. Wolf says that if the Braywood situation became public it would cause a lot of trouble, and the Anaheim employee adds that the Buch Corporation doesn’t want aid to attract any suspicions. Tokio, Kevin and Layla take off and pick up mobile suits, but they turn out to be Jegans from the Ajax. One of the Jegan pilots demands to know what they’re doing there, and Tokio answers that they’re protecting civilian refugees. The Jegan pilot says he doesn’t know anything about that and says that Tokio has been ordered to report to the Ajax. After the Jegans leave, Tokio tells Kevin to return to the ship and be cautious with people from the Ajax. An EFF soldier locks Iris into an airlock chamber without a helmet and threatens to eject her into space if she doesn’t shut up. Tokio heads into space and recalls when he served under Buzz three years ago and was locked up for not following orders. Those orders were to hunt down Zeon remnants, but Tokio knows Buzz just uses that as cover to get his thrills from battle. He knows that Buzz isn’t here to help them now. The community leader shows Subit around a hospital where the exiles lived after their arrival. He is told that EFF mobile suits are in the colony and asks Subit what’s going on. Kevin and Layla return to the Braywood, and Horst orders him to go outside the harbor entrance. Kevin reports about the Jegans, and Horst wonders what’s going on. Subit wonders if the EFF mobile suits are actually the mysterious suits from before, but the old man tells him it isn’t because they’ve been in contact with the Crossbone Vanguard. Tokio boards the Ajax and meets with Buzz, who tells Tokio that he’s being reassigned to his former team. Tokio asks Buzz what he’s planning, and Buzz says he hopes Tokio can continue to test pilot new Gundams. Buzz then shows Tokio a video of the Braywood leaving harbor, and when there’s an explosion, Buzz attributes that to the engine not really being fixed. Tokio then pulls a gun on Buzz and asks if he’s here to murder again. Buzz asks if someone who says such naïve things has the guts to pull the trigger.

Iris begins to panic when a soldier enters the airlock chamber. Buzz tells Tokio that it was a mistake to make him a test pilot because having no superior has made him arrogant. Tokio answers that Buzz is the one who’s arrogant by murdering people and thinking he’s special. Subit takes off and calls the Braywood, and he’s surprised to hear that the engine broke again and the harbor gates are locked. Horst says that whatever is happening, the Ajax isn’t on their side. Subit reports that he couldn’t convince the exiles to leave, and suddenly a hole is blown into the colony wall. Subit decides to fly back and talk to the exiles again because the hole will suck out all the air in an hour. Horst asks Elzener if they can move with just one of the engines. Buzz tells Tokio that his goal is to clean out the Zeon trash from 30 years ago. He mentions the Crossbones and says that a peaceful world won’t let humanity improve, but Tokio thinks that’s only a justification for evil actions. Buzz then pulls out a gun and shoots Tokio in the arm, but Tokio manages to escape. Buzz gives his men orders to kill Tokio on sight. Tokio runs into Iris in a corridor, so she attacks her captors and breaks free with Tokio’s help. Iris sees that Tokio is wounded and asks what’s going on, so Tokio explains that the Ajax is going to destroy the Braywood. He says their encounter with the Crossbone Vanguard was planned just to acquire battle data. Horst has the Braywood deploy its hidden mega particle cannon so they can blast their way into the colony. Elzener thinks that’s reckless, but Horst says staying where they are will get them killed. Tokio and Iris rescue Elizabeth and the other Anaheim techs and head for the hangar. While the techs escape in a launch shuttle, Iris joins Tokio against his wishes inside the Neo Gundam Unit 2. Tokio tries to use the G-BRD to blast out of the ship, but Iris tells him the firing mechanism is unstable. Just then, Kevin blasts into the hangar to help them escape.

Buzz is furious to hear that the techs escaped and that Tokio stole Unit 2. Dorfman reports that Shelf’s squad is on the way, and Buzz orders all mobile suits to launch. Shelf approaches the colony in a Vigna-Zirah with two Den’an Geis as backup. Layla leaves the Hardygun’s cockpit and jumps into the Gundam RXF91. She spots Buzz in the Ajax‘s armory and recognizes him from 6 years go. She punches the bridge, and both Tokio and Kevin pull her away. Iris asks what’s going on, and Tokio realizes that Buzz was responsible for the massacre six years ago. Subit tells the exiles to evacuate while the Braywood blasts its way into the colony to pick them up. Buzz calls Dorfman and tells her he broke his hand, but he doesn’t need hands to pilot Unit 1. He order her to handle the Crossbones while he takes on Tokio and the others. The old man tells Subit that Shelf told him they were all being set up. Layla pulls out her beam saber and goes after Buzz when Unit 1 launches, but he blocks her attack. Shelf spots the battle and attacks Buzz, giving Tokio, Iris and Layla the chance to escape into the colony. Layla is saddened to see the damage to her home, and Iris tells Tokio that the Ajax is outside the colony. The Ajax prepares to open fire on the colony, so Tokio fires the G-BRD and destroys the ship. Shelf can’t keep up with Buzz’s movements, and Buzz escapes into the colony and shoots Subit’s G-Cannon Magna. Buzz tells Tokio that there’s no need for a court-martial now because he’ll punish Tokio personally. Layla gets in the way, and Iris tells Tokio to grab Buzz and stop his high speed maneuvers. Tokio does so and stops both suits from moving, and Iris ejects the Core Fighter. Layla then slashes at Buzz’s cockpit while Tokio also opens fire, destroying Unit 1. Afterwards, the entire incident is covered up as an accident. Wolf is disappointed about not getting the data, but the Anaheim employee notes there’s no evidence leading to them. The Braywood didn’t return until after the Crossbones attacked Frontier IV, so the crew returned to their normal lives. Tokio leaves the military, and Iris leaves Anaheim’s mobile suit development department.

Commentary

This manga is set a short time before Gundam F91 and shows that the Crossbone Vanguard is already positioned to execute its plan to create Cosmo Babylonia. We see here that Anaheim hasn’t been doing so well in the last few years and missed the boat on mobile suit miniaturization. They’ve come up with a mobile suit that can compete with SNRI’s Formula series, but unfortunately their test team gets caught up in back room politicking and maneuvering. Tokio makes for a pretty interesting lead as a military pilot who has turned to civilian test piloting. His past comes back to haunt him when Buzz shows up to finish up his cleanup job on the Neo Zeon exiles. This manga shows that some elements of the EFF were aware of the Crossbone Vanguard and seem to be spoiling for a fight after decades of peace. Having the Braywood all by itself in the middle of nowhere also makes for an interesting story, although Buzz is perhaps just a bit too transparently evil. Regardless, Silhouette Formula 91 is an enjoyable side story and an obvious read for anyone who’s interested in the little-explored F91 era of UC history.

Overall Rating
4/5
Silhouette Formula 91 Info


Writer:
Hiroshi Yasuda (manga)

Artist:
Hiroshi Yasuda (manga)

Manga Release:
Japan 08.05.1992 – 11.15.1993

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