image
image
image
imageimage
image

image

 

 

Mobile Suit Gundam: Hunter of Black Clothes

 

Review by Chris Guanche

February 7, 2021

 

Summary

 

In late UC 0079, a black Zeon Zaku II piloted by Wolfgang targets three Earth Federation Forces GMs in orbit above Earth. One of the GM pilots talks about a black Zaku belonging to an ace known as the “Hunter of Black Clothes,” but the team leader dismisses the notion of a Zaku being able to take down a GM. The team leader is then destroyed by a bazooka round fired by Wolfgang, causing the other two pilots to panic. Wolfgang speeds toward them and yells at them to retreat if they want to live, but they fire their beam spray guns at him. Wolfgang easily dodges their attacks before destroying both suits. Later, Wolfgang returns to his home colony in Side 3 and is shocked to see his fiance Sakie wearing a military uniform. She tells him she was recruited and is now an operator, and he’s not happy about the news. As they drive through the colony, Sakie says that she’s not the type of girl who just sits at home waiting for her fiance. Wolfgang comments that there’s no need for her to die for the ambitions of the Zabis, but he can pull some strings to get her reassigned to rear line duty. Sakie asks if he’s saying that as her fiance or as the Hunter of Black Clothes, and he reminds her that’s he’s her superior officer and this is an order. One month later, Wolfgang’s Musai cruiser is resupplied, and Orlando tells him they’re only getting one Zaku, but also a new operator who requested this post: Sakie. Wolfgang is angry to see her on the front lines, and Sakie says that if he wants her gone, he should use his rank to kick her out. Their argument is interrupted by a report of two GMs triggering their beacons in the debris field. Wolfgang thinks a Salamis could be hiding nearby, so he decides to launch in his Zaku. One of the GM pilots, Brandon Lowe, thinks that the Hunter of Black Clothes relies on large pieces of debris to hide in and launch his surprise attacks, so he wants to lure him out. Brandon tells his subordinate to spread out when Wolfgang approaches them from the front, and Wolfgang recognizes that Brandon is a veteran pilot. Wolfgang asks Sakie if she’s found the Salamis, but she reports that only a small civilian ship is in the area. Wolfgang avoids one of the GM’s attacks by using atmospheric tension and Earth’s gravity to boost his mobility. Wolfgang maneuvers under the GM and destroys it, so Brandon opens fire and tries to take him down. Wolfgang spots a duck emblem on Brandon’s shield, and the civilian Hulke ship broadcasts that it is transporting civilian passengers to Side 6. Wolfgang acknowledges the message and tells the Hulke to leave the area immediately. Brandon flies over to the Hulke and uses the ship as a shield against Wolfgang. Wolfgang sees a young girl through one of the Hulke’s windows and tells Brandon he can leave. However, Brandon opens fire and damages the Zaku, injuring Wolfgang. Wolfgang reflexively pushes the trigger and fires his machine gun, which hits the Hulke and destroys it. Following an explosion, Brandon believes that he’s taken down the Hunter of Black Clothes.

 

Wolfgang wakes up in a hospital after having a nightmare about the young girl from the Hulke. He finds Sakie and Orlando at his bedside, and he discovers that he’s lost his right eye and right hand, which has been replaced by a cybernetic prosthetic. Sakie leaves to find a doctor, and Orlando explains that she saved Wolfgang’s life by personally launching in a Komusai and retrieving his Zaku before it was pulled into Earth’s atmosphere. Wolfgang is told that he’s at the lunar city Granada and that Zeon has lost the space fortress Solomon. Orlando asks Wolfgang what he’s going to do now that he’s lost an eye and hand and suggests relaxing at Side 3 until the war ends. The TV in the room then displays a speech from Brandon the “Ace Duck” where the laments the loss of the civilians, and he falsely states that the Hunter of Black Clothes used them as a human shield and killed them. Wolfgang punches the TV with his new hand and tells Orlando to prep their ship for departure. Wolfgang hates that the war has turned him into a murderer, but now he wants to hunt down other murderers and kill them. Sakie runs up to Wolfgang and asks why he won’t retire so that they can live together at Side 3. Wolfgang answers that among the other things he’s lost, pride is one of them, so he can’t retire with that stain on his name. He says that if the Zeon lose the war, the Earth Federation’s version of events will be recorded as history. He tells Sakie to forget about him and returns to his Musai. The Musai returns to Earth orbit, tasked with supporting Zeon forces that are retreating back to space from Earth. Sakie reports that a Salamis has been detected and will enter firing range in 10 minutes. Wolfgang decides to launch in his new Zudah, but Sakie warns that the suit has a bad reputation. He launches in his black colored Zudah and is impressed by its acceleration, but Sakie warns him that the engine explodes when it exceeds its limits. Wolfgang speeds toward the Salamis and dodges all of its attacks. Orlando explains to Sakie that Wolfgang uses the tension of the atmosphere like a stone skipping on the surface of water, and Sakie realizes that the slightest miscalculation could cause him to be pulled into the atmosphere and die. Wolfgang pulls up next to the bridge of the Salamis so they can see the wolf symbol on his shield before he fires his anti-ship rifle and destroys the ship. Sakie reports that several survivors in normal suits are calling for help, but Wolfgang decides to abandon them. Sakie pleads with him, but he says they’ll obstruct his mission and he won’t risk the lives of his men. At the former Solomon, now known as Confeito, Brandon is informed that the final transmission from the Salamis was identifying the Hunter of Black Clothes as their destroyer. Brandon is worried that the Hunter of Black Clothes could expose the truth of the incident with the Hulke.

 

Supplies are delayed for a third time to Wolfgang’s Musai due to A Baoa Qu being given priority, and Orlando asks Sakie to give him the news. Sakie finds Wolfgang reading a book in the hangar, and he in’t surprised by the bad news. She comments on how he’s always reading that book about medieval warriors, and he explains that he envies the men of that era because they had pride and honor in battle. Sakie asks Wolfgang again to think about retiring so they can live together on Side 3, but he answers that the only place for a warrior to redeem a stain on his name is the battlefield. He can’t stand the idea of Brandon telling his lies and having them become the historical truth. He also can’t shake the image of the fear in that girl’s eyes just before she died. Wolfgang doesn’t know what to do after atoning and comments that he’s just an incompetent man who only knows how to fight. At Confeito, a young intelligence officer named Simon Hughes hands over audio recordings to Brandon that show he was lying. With this evidence in hand, Brandon knows that his superiors can’t investigate him now and thanks Simon. However, Simon thinks that Brandon is despicable, but he needs him for his secret operation. On Earth, two children named Al and Milly receive a video message from their big brother Simon, who states that he might not be able to come home soon. But he adds that if his upcoming operation is successful it will help end the war. Wolfgang’s ship receives orders from Granada to rendezvous with a damaged Chibe and tow it to Granada. Sakie explains that it was damaged during the Battle of Solomon and has only now broken free of EFF pursuit. The Musai heads to the rendezvous coordinates to meet with the Chibe, which is actually staffed by a secret EFF team including Simon, Capt. Yamaguchi, and Brandon. Their plan is to use the Chibe as a trojan horse to get inside Granada and blow up the base. Wolfgang’s Musai makes contact, and Simon tells Yamaguchi to talk audio only so it doesn’t give them away. Wolfgang feels suspicious and tells Sakie that he wants to investigate with his Zudah. Wolfgang launches with a Zaku as backup, and Yamaguchi panics that they’ve been discovered. Brandon wants to launch in his GM Early Type, but Simon notes that if their ruse had been discovered, they’d have already been fired upon. Simon spots Wolfgang’s emblem on the Zudah, which causes Brandon to panic. Wolfgang tells Zaku pilot Jonathan to keep his guard up until they determine there’s no danger, and Jonathan answers that he’s just a recruit and doesn’t see anything suspicious. Wolfgang points out that despite all the damage to the Chibe, its engines and weapons are almost untouched, and one of its cannons is pointed at their ship. Wolfgang calls Orlando and tells him to be ready to fight at a moment’s notice. Wolfgang calls the Chibe and announces that he’s going to blow their front hatch and have a look inside. Simon curses their luck at running into an opponent like Wolfgang, and Yamaguchi decides they have to fight now. Yamaguchi orders Brandon’s team to jump out of the hatch and destroy the enemy units. Wolfgang calls the Musai to send over an explosives team, but the Chibe then opens its front hatch. Wolfgang yells at Jonathan to move, but Brandon immediately jumps out and slices Jonathan’s Zaku in half with a beam saber. Yamaguchi and Orlando each give the order to open fire on the other ship.

 

The two ships trade fire at close quarters, and Sakie is knocked out of her chair by the blast. Orlando reports to Wolfgang that their weapons and engines are down and three blocks have been critically damaged. Wolfgang says that he’ll take on the three enemy GMs. Brandon tells his teammates that they’ll try to lure Wolfgang into close quarters combat from three directions. Wolfgang sees what they’re trying to do and laments that he has to fight with a machine gun instead of a rifle due to the delayed resupplying. Wolfgang opens fire on Brandon and recognizes the duck symbol on his shield. Wolfgang fires a sturm faust at close range, which destroys Brandon’s shield and left arm. The other GMs move in to attack, but Wolfgang tosses out a machine gun cartridge and then blasts it, which damages one GM in the explosion and rains bullets on the other one. Wolfgang then uses his heat hawk to take out one GM. Yamaguchi has the Chibe change direction so that its forward cannons can finish off the Musai. Sakie tells Orlando what’s going on, and he calls the engineer and tells him to put the ship on auto controls. The engineer says he needs five minutes to do that, but Orlando yells that he’s only got 30 seconds. The Chibe finishes its rotation, but the engineer launches in the Komusai and tells Orlando the switch to auto wouldn’t have happened in time. He then slams the Komusai into the Chibe’s cannons and destroys them. After the smoke clears on the bridge, Simon finds that Yamaguchi has been run through by a piece of a girder. As he dies, Yamaguchi reminds Simon of what they have on the ship and tells him to do what must be done. Sakie is shocked to see that Orlando is fatally wounded, and he tells her his regret that he couldn’t catch a bigger fish than Wolfgang on Earth. One of Brandon’s teammates exits his cockpit and finds Wolfgang pointing his machine gun at him. However, Wolfgang spares the pilot to give chase to Brandon, which confuses the young pilot. Brandon flies over to the Musai’s bridge and threatens to kill Sakie if Wolfgang doesn’t surrender.

 

Wolfgang tosses his machine gun aside, and Sakie yells at him that he needs to forget about them all and fight. Brandon moves in to make the killing blow, but Wolfgang then deploys the close combat picks on his shield and stabs the GM. Brandon then tries to escape on foot and declares that he surrenders and has to be treated as a prisoner of war. Brandon notes that Wolfgang spared the other GM, and Wolfgang answers that he only did that so he could save the ammo to shoot Brandon. Wolfgang then fires directly at the cockpit to destroy the GM and kill Brandon. On Earth, Al and Milly see a shooting star that is actually debris from the battle in orbit. Wolfgang tells Sakie that he doesn’t want to become a murderer, so living together with her doesn’t sound bad. Simon calls Wolfgang from the Chibe, and Wolfgang wonders why Simon hasn’t escaped yet. Simon explains that the Chibe is already beginning atmospheric reentry and that it’s going to crash on a town in Northern Ireland. Wolfgang responds that they’ll just warn the town to evacuate, but Simon explains that the ship was filled with explosives to blow up Granada, so all of that will devastate the town. Sakie yells at Wolfgang to stop listening, and Wolfgang presumes that Simon wants to detonate the explosives before the ship is in the atmosphere. Simon explains that the Chibe’s systems are all dead, so he can’t do anything. Simon says that his younger siblings live in that town, so he begs Wolfgang to destroy the Chibe. Sakie chimes in that they don’t have any ammo left to destroy the Chibe, but Wolfgang knows what to do. Wolfgang explains that if he pushes the Zudah’s engines past their limits and crashes into the Chibe at the right time, it’ll set off a big explosion. Sakie is shocked and asks Wolfgang why he’d do that, and he answers that he’s that kind of man. Simon sends Wolfgang the data on the best spot to crash into the Chibe. Wolfgang tells Simon there’s no reason for him to also die, but Simon responds that all the shuttles are gone. Sakie pleads with Wolfgang to put the Zudah on autopilot and asks why he’s doing this when he finally said he’d be with her. Wolfgang tells Sakie that he feels like the little girl is smiling in approval. Wolfgang begins his approach on the Chibe and asks Simon to witness that he wants to marry Sakie. Wolfgang asks Sakie if she’ll take him as her husband, and she cries heavily and answers that she will. Wolfgang crashes into the Chibe just as his engines overload, destroying both his suit and the ship. On Earth, Al and Milly watch the debris rain down from space and comment that it looks like fireworks. One year after the war ends, Sakie publishes a book that exposes Brandon’s lies. Pro-Federation media lambasted her, but years later various documents and testimonies proved her right.

 

Commentary

 

This one-shot manga by Daichi Banjo turns its focus to Earth's orbit, which has been featured in multiple One Year War anime, but usually only briefly. Here, we see that Zeon pilot Wolfgang has become a feared ace by using Earth's orbit and its gravity to his advantage. He's patriotic in the sense that he has a code of honor and fights for his homeland, but he holds no love for the Zabis. He spends most of this volume being haunted by a young civilian girl being killed in a shuttle explosion, and that definitely reminded me of Kira Yamato's similar situation in Gundam SEED. Despite having suffered serious injuries, Wolfgang is desperate to clear his name and expose Brandon's lies. But even with this kind of motivation, he's a rather bland character. On the other side of the conflict, Brandon is one-dimensional and irredeemably evil. The most interesting character is probably Simon, who is forced by manpower shortages to rely on a man he despises for their secret operation. It is, of course, entirely too coincidental that the crippled Chibe just happens to end up on a crash course for the town that Simon's siblings live in, but that's Gundam dramatics. Wolfgan's sacrifice does save the town, and after the war Sakie tries to clear his name. Given the plethora of stories set in the One Year War, the concept of recording history is an interesting one - in this case, will history remember Brandon or Wolfgang as the murderer of innocent civilians?

 

Overall Rating

Full StarFull StarFull StarHalf StarNo Star

3 out of 5 stars
Spacer

image

image

image

image

image

imageimage

image
image
image
imageimage