Mobile Suit Gundam Thunderbolt – 01

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Sunrise had a Christmas present of a kind ready for me today: another Gundam series that looks and feels like it could take place in the same universe and timeline as IBO, even exist in the same debris field that show’s cast is currently engaged in. In fact, IBO takes place in “P.D.” (Post Disaster) 323, while Thunderbolt takes place in U.C. 0079, the same year as the original Gundam, making it a direct spin-off.

Unlike Recon in G, but like the new Star Wars movie, it’s easy to settle into this world, which comes down to the juicy details. A melange of the ordinary (smoking, romances, jazz drumming on consoles, waiting on standby) and the extraordinary (the tremendous speed of battle, how quickly tides can turn, the blood-and-guts brutality of the battles) create a rich world in a scant fifteen minutes and change.

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The show also makes clear there’s no good or bad guy here, only two different warring sides who each have their reasons to fight. The Federation ace Io Fleming loves the freedom of space combat. Zeon’s Daryl Lorenz, who like many of his comrades has prosthetic legs, seems more serious, duty- and honor-bound. Many of their comrades die beside them in this episode, causing a great deal of grief for everyone who knew them but they keep on ticking.

Above all Thunderbolt portrays this futuristic life as a hard one, no matter which side you’re on, and no matter what you’re fighting for. It’s scuffed and gritty and bleak, so one living in such a world would tend to retreat into the embrace of the opposite sex, or porn, or carve out a little hollow of peace, be it girls or plants or music. Notably, Io prefers free jazz, while Daryl’s tastes hew more towards more structured pop music.

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After his own suit is destroyed, Io manages to EVA over to the Zeon snipers, take one out, and steal his suit to return to his ship. His captain (with whom he seems to be on close terms with) assigns him to a new prototype, Gundam, because everyone who outranked him is dead.

Whether it’s mobile suits, trained pilots, or simply flesh-and-blood limbs, everything is in short supply here in Thunderbolt, on the bleeding edge. And while Io embraces the increased  power of his iconic new suit, Daryl plans revenge against him for the death of his comrade.

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P.S. If the music reminded you of Cowboy Bebop, that’s because it was composed by Kikuchi Naruyoshi, saxophonist for The Seatbelts.

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Last Exile: Ginyoku no Fam – 10

Vincent Alzey arrives to forge an alliance between Anatoray and Turan, bringing Alvis Hamilton along with him. The post-alliance festivities are crashed by a Federation fleet under Luscinia’s command. He has Lilliana with him, and she declares that Turan has made peace with Ades. She takes Millia’s fleet from her, and when Millia and the Sylvius refuse to surrender, she attack them with it. Meanwhile, Kartoffel is attacked by another fleet. Guild members board the ship and disable the engines. Dio holds one at bay while Fam and Gisey escape with Millia, and they head to the Glacies border, pursued by federation vanships.

This week things turn sour right quick, and Millia shows what’s she’s truly made of by refusing to submit to her sister. This is the first we’ve seen of Lilliana since an Exile fell on Turan’s capital. Fam believes Lilly could be being controlled by Luscinia somehow, but Millia doesn’t think that’s the case: Lilly is acting of her own accord, doing what she feels is best for Turan and the world. But Millia won’t kowtow to the Federation. She’d rather fight, and we can’t blame her; Ades proved in the first episode that they can’t be trusted.

This won’t be easy. The Sylvius is crippled from within and dead in the water, the Urbanus has fled, and the sky pirates have been ambushed. Worst of all, the fleet Fam and Gisey worked so hard to capture for Millia is now under Lilly’s command. Seeing the Turanian soldiers shift their allegience to Lilly so easily and witnessing that fleet turn on Millia is heartbreaking to watch. It looks like Fam, Gisey, and Millia have little choice but to go over to Glacies and hope they’re not in a shooty mood.


Rating: 4

Last Exile: Ginyoku no Fam – 06

Having captured half of the fifteen battleships Captain Wisla ordered her to, Fam’s next target is at the pleasure city of Elidarada. She challenges the pilot of Federation aristocrat Dabar to a vanship race. If Fam wins, she gets Dabar’s battleship, the Naheed. If Dabar wins, she gets Millia. Dabar’s pilot is a Grand Race finalist, but with some out-of-the-box tactics, Fam and Gisey score another win. Meanwhile, news of Millia’s government-in-exile leads Lucinia to purge Federation allies who let their ships get stolen.

Setting aside the question of who is crewing her growing fleet of huge battleships, Fam and Gisey have clearly been on a roll. We’re surprised the series skipped seven ship capers, but it makes up for it with a race episode, which really had us thinking back to the original series. Last Exile does vanship races well, and this one was run on an awesome subterranean curcuit in near-darkness. Fam and Gisey are the underdogs all the way, but Fam is on it, making use of the harpoon and purging her fuel in order to speed to victory.

During the race, Millia is the guest of Baroness Dabar, one of many women who used to lead people as Millia, but sold out their honor and their peoples in exchange for cushy lives. We like how Dabar recognizes Millia. It would seem she’ll regret not taking her into custody considering Luscinia’s actions throughout the episode. The Federation sought to strike fear into its enemies by utterly wiping out Turan, and Luscinia is not happy the job’s not done.


Rating: 3.5