A group of bandits, the Sand Rats, flee from a Walker Machine on Hovergy crafts. They fly back and are able to topple the Walker Machine after firing at its legs. Lying on the ground nearby is a young man, Jiron Amos, who comments on the noise and stares up at the sun, realizing he is still alive. One of the Sand Rats, a blue haired girl named Rag Uralo, falls off her craft and avoids fire while her colleague, a young boy named Blume continues the attack. Jiron jumps on Rag’s Hovergy and uses it to help scare away the Walker Machine’s pilots. When the Hovergy returns unmanned, Blume finds Jiron unconscious on the ground nearby. Jiron tells Rag he helped because his father taught him to protect girls, upsetting her and causing Blume to laugh. Jiron asks for water, which they provide. Meanwhile the other two Sand Rats, Dyke and Chill, go through the Walker Machine wreckage to find anything useful. Jiron claims he’s going to the bazaar to get a Walker Machine, but the Sand Rats think it is too dangerous. Jiron doesn’t care and continues on by himself. The Sand Rats decide to fly after Jiron and bring him on their crafts so he doesn’t have to walk the rest of the way. Blume flies his craft up and down in order to further hurt Jiron’s bruised arm. Rag wants to find a doctor for Jiron first. At the bazaar they are confronted by Geraba Geraba, a breaker who works under local trader Carrying Cargo. Rag tosses him a coin so he’ll let them through. A group of people rush out of a tavern to settle a fight via Walker Machines. The outlaw Timp Sharon walks around outside the tavern. Rag brings Jiron to the local doctor, Medic Helt. Carrying asks his breaker subordinate Kid Horla about the Walker Machine Xabungle. Horla doesn’t care for it, wanting to stick to his Promeus instead. Cargo order Horla to stop the nearby fight. Medic gives Jiron an outfit and he leaves along with the Sand Rats. Medic soon discovers he wasn’t paid. A patient standing outside stops him from running after them. Rag laughs about how she won’t be punished if three days go by. She and Jiron see the nearby Walker Machine fight and the transforming blue Walker Machine Xabungle appears.
The Xabungle rushes in to stop the fight. Jiron is amazed at how it moves like a human. Horla, who was piloting the Xabungle, yells at the fighters. Jiron is interested in the Xabungle, while Blume gets frustrated at Rag’s interest in Jiron. Dyke and Chill offer to help out Jiron. Blume thinks they can take advantage of Carrying’s daughter, Elchi, who orders around Horla and flies by on a craft with attendant Fatman Big. Stage director Plopopieff and his wife Lovely Rose watch some dancers in a tent when Elchi comes in, saying she wants to plant a beautiful flower of culture on this planet. She provides them some money. Rag and the Sand Rats rush in trying to take Elchi at gunpoint, saying they want the Xabungle. Elchi throws knives at them and runs out of the tent. She says to come and get it, and that it’s next to the landship Iron Gear. Lovely Rose tells them Elchi, their sponsor, doesn’t get along with her father. Rag is angry at Elchi and now wants to steal the Xabungle to spite her. Jiron and the Sand Rats sneak around that night as Walker Machines patrol the area. Jiron sneaks towards the Iron Gear and climbs inside, with Rag right behind him. They find the docked parts of the Xabungle. Elchi eats dinner with her father and Horla when an alarm goes off about intruders. Elchi comments on how rude Horla is. Jiron along with the Sand Rats pilot the Xabungle out of the Iron Gear and are quickly fired upon. Walker Machines, as well as Horla pursue while Jiron awkwardly pilots the Xabungle. Jiron thinks of his parents being killed by a Walker Machine and transforms the Xabungle into its humanoid form. The Xabungle quickly knocks an arm off the Crab-type Walker Machine attacking it. Jiron fights off several Walker Machines, being able to toss away one that grabs a hold of him. Suddenly a second Xabungle appears right in front of him. It is piloted by Fatman and Elchi who quickly climbs aboard and puts handcuffs on Jiron, causing him to realize it’s a trap. Fatman kicks him, knocking him out. The Sand Rats watch from nearby and Rag says he’s been captured by a pampered princess.
Xabungle kicks us off with something I’m not really used to in a Tomino show: a completely understandable and fun first episode. I am so used to the frantic and confusing beginnings of his shows that it’s nice to get something more low key. We do meet a ton of characters though, including protagonist Jiron, the Sand Rats, Elchi and a lot of supporting ones as well. Rag has shown a quick fondness for Jiron but also tries to hide it with her tough exterior. It becomes apparent pretty quickly that this will be one of Tomino’s more lighthearted shows, as the episode includes several sight gags, such as a large lizard climbing over Jiron while he’s hiding in the dark. I found it interesting that the Xabungle is quickly revealed to not be a unique mecha as Elchi comes out with a second one at the episode’s end to capture Jiron. The real robot era kickstarted by Gundam appears to have firmly arrived as we’ll see this also be the case in Tomino’s later Dunbine and Zeta Gundam. The episode provides some bread crumbs to matters that will surely become more important as the story moves along, including the death of Jiron’s parents, the appearance of the villainous Timp Sharon and Rag’s reference to not being punished for her theft after three days. I’m excited to kick off this show and see where things go from here.