Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin 04 Review
機動戦士ガンダム THE ORIGIN episode 04
After the attack on Federation forces, led by Garma Zabi, the Federation military representatives meet with the Zeon representatives, mostly from the Zabi family. Degwin arrives at the meeting, where Dozle is forced to take responsibility. However, Degwin demands a concession from the Federation. With Dozle out as the leader of the academy, Char is also forced out. However, Dozle understands the potential in Char and agrees to consider him for the secret, Mobile Suit project.
Char takes a construction job on Earth in the city of Manaus, driving a tracked, Mobile Worker construction unit. Char’s work crew heads to the casino one night where a high roller, Indian gambler comes with his servant and a young Indian girl, who appears to use clairvoyance to help her master win at Roulette. The casino changes dealers and the girl can no longer make her predictions and the man starts losing. The following day, Char finds the girl, named Lalah, and befriends her. Mobsters attack the rich Indian’s boat, destroying it. Char saves Lalah,taking her to the construction site.
That night, the rich Indian’s servant (Agha) turns on his boss, using a chakram to behead the man. Char takes a shovel to prevent Lalah from being taken. During the fight, he avoids being beheaded with flash of clairvoyance. After killing Agha, the mobsters surround the construction site. Char uses the Mobile Worker to rid them of the mobsters. With Lalah safely in the cockpit, Char asks Lalah about his flash of clairvoyance, thinking she may have been responsible for it. She denies it. Char decides to make sure Lalah gets someplace far away that is safe.
Admiral Gopp, the Chairman of the Federation Joint Chiefs of Staff, holds a briefing where Tem Ray attends. Admiral Gopp has a video, provided by Dr. Minovsky, who has been helping Zeon develop their Mobile Suits. The military leaders dismiss the footage of Zeon Mobile Suits as being a credible threat. Further, they feel that their RCX-76 Guncannon is superior. Tem rejects this notion, realizing that Dr. Minovsky has made a major breakthrough. After the briefing, Admiral Gopp has a private talk with Tem, announcing that Dr. Minovsky is defecting from Zeon to the Federation.
Since Tem used to be a pupil of Dr. Minovsky, Admiral Gopp is sending Tem to the moon, where Minovsky is going to defect. At the same time, Zeon has discovered the defection plan and send a team of Zaku, lead by Ramba Ral, to prevent it. Meanwhile, Tem visits Edmund Roch, the head of the company creating the RCX-76 Guncannons (Anaheim). He believes his Guncannons are superior to any Zeon Mobile Suit, and certainly look to put Tem’s RX-78 project out of business. Tem takes a closer look at a finished Guncannon and knows this isn’t based on Dr. Minovsky research.
Elsewhere, Federation agents attempt to get Dr. Minovsky to safety where their progress is remotely monitored by Federation military folks. The four Zaku Mobile Suits are detected, so the military commander dispatches the Iron Cavalry Squadron, which consists of Guncannon units. Tem gets permission to go to the projected battle site to witness the Guncannons first hand. A squadron of Federation fighters arrive, spotting a fifth, red Mobile Suit waiting. It is piloted by Char, who has no difficulty dispatching the Federation fighters. The Guncannons are deployed, but despite outnumbering the Zaku, the Zaku are far superior and the Iron Cavalry Squadron is destroyed. Dr. Minovsky is killed as well.
A disguised Kycilia Zabi meets with the mayor of Granada regarding putting Zeon troops there. However, the mayor knows about Zeon’s plans to launch attacks from Granada, thanks to her aide Major Bergmann. She has the major executed for blabbing, then arranges for the assassination of the mayor and his staff. The following day, Tem addresses the executives of Anaheim where the defeat of the Guncannon squadron is discussed. While attempts to pass blame are made, Tem manages to push forward his RX-78 project, code named Gundam.
As this happens, Tem’s son Amuro Ray has a premonition while at home. This leads him to his father’s office, which is unlocked. There, Amuro finds schematics and stuff about the RX-78 Gundam project. Intrigued, Amuro begins studying the technical documents and blueprints of Gundam. As Zeon declares independence from the Federation, war breaks out between the Principality of Zeon and the Federation. Amuro’s female friend Fraw (Frau) Bow comes by the messy, Ray apartment with lasagna. She’s let in by Amuro’s sphere robot Haro. However, Amuro won’t come down, so Fraw goes up to get him. She breaks down because the war has her scared. Amuro also admits to being afraid.
Wow. Just wow. Man am I glad that another two episodes of Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin have been given the green light, though we won’t see episode 5 until November 2017 and episode 6 in 2018 sometime.
When Retconning is Good
Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin 04 continues the retconning of the Mobile Suit Gundam story. Normally, retconning annoys me, but if Sunrise goes on to remake the Mobile Suit Gundam series, then this will be awesome. For example, I like that for the Federation, Guntanks, Guncannons, and Gundam are not equally brand new. The way these units were portrayed in Mobile Suit Gundam, Guntank and Guncannon were support units for Gundam. I generally saw them as additional toys for sale as well as providing something for a couple of supporting characters to have meaningful roles in the anime.
We’d seen Guntanks introduced in an earlier episode. To me, it makes sense that Guncannon would take the idea of a tracked precursor Guncannon. And it makes sense to me that Guncannon ends up being the inferior attempt by the Federation of creating true Mobile Suits, which Gundam is. So this retcon makes things flow better for me.
Not only that, but I like how Amuro found Gundam plans well prior to the covert Zeon mission to Side 7. I never liked how in Mobile Suit Gundam, Amuro found the plans during the attack and just managed to make Gundam work. Because he’s been studying the plans for a while, when Zeon makes its attack, it will actually make sense for Amuro to know how to operate Gundam.
There were other retcom moments such as Lalah’s backstory and Dr. Minovsky being killed on the moon. However, these things will also work better if Mobile Suit Gundam gets remade.
I really loved seeing Lalah getting introduced here. Considering how she was an early Newtype that Char protected, I liked seeing why Char would do this. It makes sense to me that she’d be used by her master in casinos as a way of getting rich. I believe in the original telling of her backstory, Lalah worked in a brothel when Char found her. That’s a more tragic backstory to be sure. However, if you’ve got a girl with a clairvoyance ability to see where the ball will fall in Roulette, you wouldn’t put her to work in a brothel. She’d make you a lot more money in the casino. I do wonder why the one Lalah couldn’t predict what the second dealer was going to throw.
As an aside, because the last Gundam series I watched was Mobile Suit Gundam-san, it took me a humorous little while to get used to the relationship between Lalah and Char. Because Gundam-san is a comedy show, Lalah was often having to punish Char for things. She runs that relationship. In The Origin, Char is the protective, kindly “oniichan” type, which is the true nature of their relationship at this point.
Much of Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin has been dedicated to the backstory of Casval Rem Deikun, who becomes Char. I found it very interesting that Char was forced to leave the Zeon military for a time and take a construction job running a Mobile Worker unit. The job he took makes a lot of sense. It is also a way for him to retain some skills when he is recalled back to the Zeon military by Dozle.
I know that Char set up a way to return to the military by planting the idea in Dozle’s head as Char is being drummed out. Char’s actions also cost Dozle his job running the military academy for Zeon. Char’s actions also allowed the ugly, older Dozle to marry the cute, young academy girl. But where Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin 04 fails a bit is by not showing us Char being recalled by Dozle. Char is working at the construction site, then after saving Lalah and having his first flash as a Newtype, we next see him in his red Zaku unit on the moon as part of Ramba Ral’s squad. I wish we had been allowed to see this.
Finally, I like Char’s relationship with Lalah. After rescuing her, Char takes time during a fierce battle with the Federation to call Lalah and see how she’s doing. Char is highly skilled, so I can buy him doing this.
While Char and Lalah come off looking very good, the same cannot be said for Amuro. We don’t have a great deal of time dedicated to him beyond seeing that he’s a slob who hides out in his room in a t-shirt and boxers. He’s still as annoying as I remember him being in Mobile Suit Gundam, so no retoconning her personality I guess. It is a shame because I would have enjoyed seeing a bit more about why Fraw Bow became attracted to Amuro and goes so out of her way to help him.
As has been the case throughout the series, Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin 04 continues to have great animation. This really comes through in the battle between the Zaku units and the Guncannon units. It also shows up really well during the fleet battle between Zeon and the Federation, though we don’t get to see a ton of that action.
There are just so many other places where the animation is so good, it really stands out and made me say, “Wow. That looks pretty good.” I’d love to see Mobile Suit Gundam remade this well.
Final Thoughts and Conclusion
I’m so far behind (as always), so let me wrap up my review of Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin 04.
- One of the failings of this episode is that a lot of little stuff is skipped to speed us to a conclusion. I get the feeling that another episode could have been told to really flesh out things such as Char getting back into the military, Dozle and Ral continuing their Mobile Suit project, Fraw’s relationship with Amuro, etc.
- I’d like to add to this the Zeon military fleet. I would have liked seeing how Zeon managed to be allowed to construct such a massive, military fleet that didn’t use Federation warships.
- Although I’m pretty sure that “Catherine” in this episode is actually Kycilia in disguise, I’m not 100% sure of that. I wish the episode had been clear about that and why Kycilia would feel the need to be part of a covert mission as she was.
- I didn’t understand why the Federation felt the need to back down to Zeon demands after Zeon attacked one of their bases. I wish that had been explored.
- I’m very glad that that two more episodes have been ordered to cover the war actions prior to the covert mission to Side 7. I’m REALLY looking forward to seeing Sunrise animate the colony drop action.
In the end, Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin 04 is a very good, well animated episode that continues to lay out the groundwork for Mobile Suit Gundam, howbeit in a somewhat retconned fashion. Outside of a few quibbles about a few things I wish I had seen in the episode, I’ve got no complaints.