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Volume 3

 

Review by Chris Guanche

December 13, 2020

 

Summary: Operation if

 

Ford wakes up from a dream about the Gundam 4th overloading after Luce fires the mega beam launcher. He calls Luce and asks how he’s doing, and Luce reminds him that as a pilot he should sleep whenever he can. Ford thinks about how they’ve been in constant battles since launching from Jaburo, and how the Gundam 4th’s mega beam launcher failed during its first firing. Ford thinks he understands Luce’s frustration with not being able to show how powerful he is. The Thoroughbred is placed on combat alert when a Zeon fleet is detected launching from Granada. Luce asks Kilstein for permission to fire the mega beam launcher. Miyu thinks it’s too risky, but Luce is willing to take the risk if it can help alter the course of the war. Kilstein approves, but only on the condition that Luce fires it at their direction. Luce tells Ford not to lose his cool, and Annie tells Luce to keep an eye on his energy levels on the external energy pack. Luce then launches in the Gundam 4th, followed by Ford in the Gundam 5th. Miyu tells Ford he’s too far away from Luce, but Ford responds that he’s being chased down by Mallet’s Act Zaku. Miyu tells Luce to target the Zeon Chibe flagship, and he fires twice to destroy the fleet. The external energy pack starts to overload, and Luce informs Miyu that he can’t escape because the hatch is broken. Ford dashes over and rips the external energy pack off the Gundam 4th and tosses it away just before it explodes. Luce tells Ford that hotshots die early in battle and he still doesn’t get it, but Ford tells him to also stop trying to be a hotshot. Ford asks if there’s value in sacrificing yourself, isn’t there more value in living? Luce agrees, and the Guncannon team reports no further Zeon movement. The Thoroughbred breaks out of lunar orbit and travels to the former Zeon space fortress Solomon, which the EFF recently captured during Operation Cembalo and renamed Confeito. In addition to being resupplied, the ship receives new equipment for both Gundams. Miyu comes down to the mobile suit hangar and informs Ford and Luce that the ship will be joining Operation Star One to attack Zeon’s last space fortress, A Baoa Qu.

 

At Gihren Zabi’s command, the Zeon fire the Solar Ray colony laser, which destroys a large part of the EFF fleet and its commander, Gen. Revil. Ford tells Luce that he feels a way he never has before, and Luce tells him it’s fear. Luce thinks knowing fear will help Ford become an ace pilot because fools rush to their deaths. The pilots assemble on the bridge for a briefing, where Kilstein informs them that Operation Star One will proceed despite their heavy losses. The Thoroughbred has been assigned to attack A Baoa Qu’s N-field and open a path to the Zeon homeland in Side 3. Ford and Luce are specifically tasked with leading the mobile suit forces and opening a route for infiltrating A Baoa Qu. In an elevator, Wesley gives Ford emergency rations and explains that he thinks Ford is irresponsible, but he risked his life to save a friend. The EFF initiates its attack on A Baoa Qu, and Gelgoog pilot Anavel Gato and Rick Dom II pilot Karius engage the enemy forces. Gato destroys a Salamis, and GM Command Space pilot Yuu Kajima destroys a Zaku. Luce’s Gundam 4th Bst and Ford’s Gundam 5th Bst launch and lead a unit of GMs and Balls. Ford is eager to break through the enemy lines, but Luce tells him not to rush because the GMs and Balls aren’t as mobile as them. Ford uses his Gatling to clear out multiple enemy units. A Zaku breaks past their defense line and targets the Thoroughbred, but it’s destroyed by Wesley’s Guncannon. Ace pilot Johnny Ridden’s Gelgoog High Mobility Type attacks and damages Wesley’s unit, but fire from his squad and the ship forces Johnny to fall back. Wesley sees that this battle is different from other ones and hopes that Ford and Luce are OK. Ford drops his Gatling and is scolded by Luce for wasting too much ammo. To GMs near them are suddenly destroyed by two Bigro mobile armors, one of them piloted by Glennis Escot. Ford dodges one of the Bigro’s massive claws, but loses his shield in the process.

 

Ford notes how fast the Bigros are and recalls that they were previously encountered by the White Base. Luce comments that they don’t have time to mess around with mobile armors since their mission is to land on A Baoa Qu. Ford dodges an attack from Glennis’ Bigro and is then targeted by missiles from the other. He evades the missiles and chases the Bigro, blasting it through the cockpit with his beam rifle. Ford and Luce fire their beam rifles at Glennis, but he dodges and responds by firing a mega particle cannon. Glennis then grabs the Gundam 5th Bst by the legs, and Ford gets free by breaking off one of his own legs. Glennis boasts that the Gundam doesn’t have enough thrust to stop the Bigro, and Ford answers that he doesn’t have to stop it, just slow it down. Luce fires his beam rifle from above, and Ford moves in for the killing blow with his beam saber. However, Glennis grabs him with one of the claws and prepares to fire the mega particle cannon at point blank range. Glennis declares that if he has to die, he’s taking the Gundam down with him. The Bigro explodes just as he fires, leaving the Gundam 5th Bst damaged, but intact. Luce thinks Ford should head back to the ship for repairs, but Ford insists that he can fight and asks to use Luce’s spare rifle. Luce jokes that Ford is overdoing it again, and Ford answers that this is their way of fighting. The mobile suit unit reaches A Baoa Qu, and Ford wonders if everyone on the ship is safe. A Musai attempts to ram into the Thoroughbred, but the ship is able to dodge in time and only sustain some damage on its port side. Kilstein asks for a report on their suits, and Miyu informs him that they broke through and are engaging enemy forces. After Gihren is killed by his sister Kycilia, the tide of the battle turns in favor of the EFF. Multiple Gwazine ships launch and escape from A Baoa Qu, and Ford destroys a Rick Dom. Miyu cautions Ford not to overdo things, but he vows to survive and return to the ship. A Zanzibar is destroyed while attempting to flee, and Escape Launches evacuate the White Base just before it explodes. A damaged Gelgoog on the surface of A Baoa Qu targets Ford from behind, but the pilot stops and lets him go. With the battle over, the One Year War ends on January 1, UC 0080.

 

Summary: Nightmare of Solomon

 

In December UC 0079, the EFF initiates Operation Cembalo and attacks the Zeon space fortress Solomon. Zeon ace pilot Anavel Gato launches from the supercarrier Dolowa in his Rick Dom and destroys multiple GMs and Balls. He then targets a Salamis with his beam bazooka and single handedly destroys it. After suffering damage, Gato returns to the Dolowa and hears the shocking news that they are retreating due to the death of Dozle Zabi. Karius vows that they’ll get their revenge at A Baoa Qu, and Gato notes that Gihren is preparing new weapons. Karius adds that A Baoa Qu is deploying the new model Gelgoogs, so they’ll surely be able to avenge Dozle there. As the Dolowa departs, Gato vows that he will someday return to Solomon.

 

Commentary

 

As previously mentioned in the review of the last volume, the main story of Space Beyond the Blaze ended in that volume. This third volume features an alternate story where Luce didn't die, plus a short bonus story about Gundam 0083 antagonist Anavel Gato. The three chapters that make up the bulk of this novel have the word "if" attached to them, and it's not uncommon to see the word "if" in the names of things in Japanese media to denote alternate scenarios. For instance, the original Japanese title of the Nintendo 3DS game Fire Emblem Fates was Fire Emblem if. For this manga, the point of divergence from the main story is that Ford is able to reach Luce in time to rip off the external energy pack and save his life. From there, the story is entirely different, as it doesn't involve them returning to Granada. Instead, the Thoroughbred is assigned to Operation Star One and participates in the massive battle to capture A Baoa Qu. Multiple cameos abound throughout these chapters, including Gato and Karius from Gundam 0083, Yuu Kajima from The Blue Destiny and MSV ace Johnny Ridden. Additionally, the White Base from the original series can be spotted just before its destruction as the crew escapes. In this alternate scenario, Ford learns how to work as a team and not be quite so reckless, which is obviously a departure from the "original" story. The bonus story briefly focuses on Gato smashing enemies and vowing to return to Solomon, and it's so short that it honestly feels like page filler since this volume featured three chapters instead of four. Overall, this alternate scenario wasn't necessary and didn't tell us anything new about the characters, but at least it tells a wholly different story instead of just being a minor variation on the main one.

 

Overall Rating

Full StarFull StarFull StarHalf StarNo Star

3.5 out of 5 stars
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