Although this post will be lost in the sea of other more important arguments in the internet, I still feel as if I have to say this.
Gundam Unicorn has been getting mixed reviews. And it makes sense.
I’ve stated before in my other posts that there are three types of Gundam fans:
The Universal Century fans
The Alternate Universe fans
and the I like every universe fans
Now why would this matter? Well because each universe tells a different story with a different theme. For example the Universal Century tells a war story that focuses on the human aspect. They prioritize character development and talks about philosophy to advance the plot. They use mobile suits in the same way that war stories uses guns. They are nothing more than tools. In some cases these mobile suits become a Deus Ex Machina but the main focus is still on the characters.
The Alternate Universe starting with G Gundam (A great series), was much more focused on the younger audiences. In order to pool more consumers into the franchise (and because Bandai is greedy) they removed its creator and chose to focus on younger audiences hoping to get more money out of it. They managed to be successful with this strategy by fleshing out different target audiences through different series. I like to call this the “Searching state” of Gundam. I may heavily criticize each series but some of them were actually quite good.
G Gundam took the aspects of Shounen anime and infused it into the series. No longer was the Gundam about war, philosophy and the destruction of war. The audience was now concerned with what type of Gundam is going to fight in the next episode. In essence G Gundam is a super robot anime. It’s target audience was elementary to middle school students. Where as the Universal Century was aimed at the young adult to adult audiences. Now G Gundam was an awesome series! Why? Because it was selling itself as a super robot fighting genre with a hint of drama; and it delivered in all those aspects.
The next in line is Wing Gundam. Wing was created to appeal to young women. The character design were more bishounen and the the Gundams had more of a human feel to them (more so than G Gundam, odd). Wing had a lackluster storyline that favored one sided fights. This is also considered as a Super Robot Genre due to how impossibly powerful the Gundams were. In other words Gundam wins, Grunt suits lose in every fight. There was no tension in any fights unless there is a Gundam in it. The story tried to show a Universal Century type storyline with dark and gritty themes but fails in doing so because it does not deliver the dark tones. Instead the main point of Wing are the fights rather than the story. Yet unfortunately this was what made Gundam popular in the West. So when these fans hear of Gundam they put Wing on a pedestal and believe that this is what makes a Gundam show a good Gundam show. It was inevitable because it was what we believed to be the first.
Gundam X came after Wing (and it was great!) Gundam X was the closest in recreating what made the Universal Century great, character development and using mobile suits as tools to further the characters ambition. It’s target audience was still younger audiences but after Wing the young women audiences despised X due to its shift in tone. There were no more bishounen type characters and everything relied on storytelling. The Gundams were strong but never overpowered. There was a feel of danger in every corner. Although it was cut short due to a reason that Sunrise and Bandai still won’t explain. It is still a great series that pays a homage to the Universal Century story telling.
Turn A Gundam. A masterpiece. With Tomino back in the helm, Turn A Gundam was truly the successor of the Gundam name. The tropes of character development and mobile suits as tools is definitely in the forefront. With small or almost no battles in every episode Turn A was able to tell the story that the Universal Century was trying to preach through dialogue. But due to its odd design many of the fans (whom at this time are the newer fans who came starting from G and Wing) disliked the series altogether. Poor sales and poor viewership did not stop it from ending all the way through though. Turn A has a sleek alien design purely because its design is not man made. It was back engineered from the Turn X. A mobile suit that was found drifting past the Jupiter colonies. It was an alien machine from the future. If Turn A truly ended the Gundam franchise I would have been happy with it. Because..
Continuing with the Searching themes of the Gundam era came SEED and DESTINY. A story that tried to tell a realistic war story with the tones of Universal Century, hoping to get the old fans back into the franchise and keeping the newer audiences amused. The character design had a feel of bishounen and the mobile suits had a sharper design on them that mirrored the mobile suits in the Universal Century. But in the end it fails. It says that it tells a realistic war story but the fights drag on and have a super robot theme into it more than a realistic feel. The character development goes absolutely nowhere and are not justified whatsoever. Some of the older fans never looked back at the AU’s after SEED while some enjoyed it. But the newer audiences definitely enjoyed it the most because SEED and DESTINY were closer to what Wing was than any other series in the franchise.
So what does this long explanation to the audiences of Gundam have to do with the End of Unicorn?
Well its because different audiences have different conclusions to Unicorn.
To start, the old Universal Century fans immediately pieced everything together from the past series’s and understood just how important the charter truly was. They understood how it could potentially destroy the status quo and view of the whole universe. They understand the reasons as to why Banagher chooses not to kill but is willing to fight. Unicorn in general appeals heavily to die hard Universal Century fans who came for the story and character development and not mostly on the mobile suits and fights. It is true the Unicorn is a beast. But in that same way in order to make sure that the Unicorn doesn’t become a walking bomb destroying everything in sight, the pilot must have a kind heart. And a kind heart can truly use the charter to its full potential. That was who Banagher was. Now why would a piece of charter be so influential? Well the charter itself defines something from the start of the Universal Century, that was that Newtypes of any new breed of humans would be represented in government. The same exact thing that the Zeon was fighting for in the One Year War. Equality was the goal.
How would the charter even disappear? How come no one else made a copy of it? The answer was answered throughout the OVA. From the start the Vist Foundation worked with the higher-ups in the Federation in order to hide this fact. They silenced and removed every information regarding the last part of the charter. How? Through force in the beginning. With a group being called terrorists destroying the original charter in space, the Federation had a backup ready that did not include the last part. Again how did the people viewing the broadcast not see it, or aren’t there recordings of it somewhere? Yet the answer again leads to the Federation and the early Vist Foundation. Earth is technically in a police state with the Federation being able to do whatever they want. As the OVA explained they had everything planned out already from the start. The Federation silenced all who knew and saw the truth.
But even though the charter is revealed there is still war in F91 and Victory!
Yes there is. But its completely different from the type of war that is being fought over in the early Universal Century. In the early Universal Century the war was about being equal and being able to govern those in space by space people and not by the earth government. Because life in space was brutal and those in earth didn’t have a clue what it truly meant to live in space. Zeon was the name of this cause and equality was their main goal. In F91 the war is about having the strong rule over the poor. But why would they resort to start a war for this? Because the opposite must be in effect. Everyone must have been equal by the time of F91. In the beginning scenes of F91 the words Spacenoids are equal to those who came from Earth. The Federation has less power and Zeon is no more. Unicorn ended the fight of Zeon. It did not mean complete peace.
It is the same for Victory. The strong should rule over the weak and the Federation is such in bad state that they have to rely on using private militias to fend off anyone who wishes to disrupt the peace.
Now why would the Federation even go as far as to team up with a group who blackmails them? That sounds stupid!
Some would ask this question but when you think about it there is no other way for the Federation. The Federation has gone through vile acts to hide this and to keep themselves in power. The Vist Foundation was nothing more than a helping hand and when they did blackmail the Federation it was about money. Think of it this way, if the Box is found and it goes against the Federation then the Federation will lose the trust of the people. The Zeon and Spacenoids will have a just reason to fight and their actions are in fact good (apart from the colony drop). The tides would turn for the Federation for they were seen as good, but if the charter proves otherwise then it would show that they are the evil entity and would lose both power and money. They were not willing to lose that.
On to the what the AU fans. AU fans would say the mobile suits were awesome, the fights were cool and intriguing. But the characters suck. Episode 6 is bad because it didn’t have any fight scenes. Why doesn’t Banagher man up and just fight them, the Unicorn can easily destroy those grunts! These are the reactions that I got from my friends who grew up with Wing and G. They questioned the validity of the charter, not because it may have been fake but because it would not change anything in the current state of power. I’m not trying to say that they are wrong, but instead they are misinformed and do not have the common understandings of the Universal Century. AU fans will complain mostly about what they don’t understand and why the fights seem half assed (by Banagher). But these answers can only be understood by understanding what was the point of Gundam in Universal Century as a whole.
I myself am a bit of a fan of U.C and A.U (but only G, X and Turn A). So i understand why people would find Unicorn illogical and confusing and sometimes even incomplete. But as a fan of Gundam, this was inevitable because of what Bandai has done to the series by trying to appeal to different audiences then showing a die hard story set in an era where die hard fans would love it and normal fans would hate it.