12 Moments of 2010 #1: Grasping the Unicorn by its Horn

This post is part of the 12 Days series.

I was one of the many Gundam fans who were fully hyped for the Gundam Unicorn anime, since its announcement. As I hoped, the anime turned out to be a 6-episode OVA, which solves most of the misgivings I had.

Late February of 2010, I watched the first episode of Gundam Unicorn as it came out. It was a classic Gundam opener, where a boy’s peaceful civilian life is upheaved by the shadow of war, and becomes a pilot by circumstance.

And it happens again.

But what is different? The Gundam is not stolen or hijacked. Its proprietor, Cardeas Vist, entrusts it to Banagher Links, his own son. Falling into a Gundam cockpit is a staple in the real robot genre, but has been routinely abused by many–so much that it has become a banal, can’t-we-just-get-over-with-it event.

To hell with that, Gundam Unicorn says. Unlike many others before him, Banagher makes an explicit choice, desiring the Unicorn, in order to be desired by Audrey. And in the same event, he reconciles with his estranged father. Most fatherhoods in Gundam–this one included–are cheerless, but few are actually resolved in a good way. I suppose it’s a little thing that speaks volumes.

So was this scene banal? No.

Something we could skip to see the Gundam blow up stuff faster? Hell no.

And the payoff, with the music that accompanies, is magnificent.

Many criticize Gundam Unicorn for being a slave to well-worn genre tropes, but this just makes them blind to the little details. It may not be new, but it’s done well. Sometimes that’s what matters. And in response to that, this is my definitive moment of 2010.

It starts once more, where everything first began.

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12 Responses to 12 Moments of 2010 #1: Grasping the Unicorn by its Horn

  1. Chag says:

    Yeah, the slight spin on the gundamjack trope made the whole scene a lot less ridiculous. Furthermore, when I saw the scene in which a younger Banahager was hooked up to a training device, the idea of handing off this super-advanced weapon to a child starts to make sense. Perhaps he was designated to become the Unicorn’s pilot until his mother fell out with the chairman? With so much ambiguity surrounding the “key” and the “box”, I find myself very willing to give the whole scenario the benefit of the doubt. Not that I would be too bothered even if Unicorn did fall squarely into the gundamjack trope — it’s been a long time since the Gundam franchise went back to its hard sci-fi roots, and I would lap up every second of it, gundamjack and all.

    But man, to be practically chained to a top-secret military weapon… the things hormone-raging boys do to score chicks, hehehe.

    • ToastCrust says:

      I don’t blame him. At this point, Audrey is probably the coolest Gundam Princess of all time.

      • schneider says:

        Not that she has any really good competition, though.

        • Raymond, Butler to the De Sand family says:

          You have besmirched the honour of Miss Maria Louise, heir to the throne of the Democratic Presidency of Neo-France!

          George De Sand would settle this with you on the field of honour. Shall we say, Gundams at dawn? Beam sabres only, no Beam rifles please.

          I wouldn’t hold out much hope for victory though. Domon Kasshu will be acting as Master George’s second.

    • schneider says:

      The training flashback did catch me. However, what’s relevant for me was that Banagher was offered a choice, which is usually absent in previous cockpit accidents. The civilian would just get in the mech because he would die otherwise. He would never have the time to deliberate his choice (not that he does have the time to anyway) and I always thought that was rather lacking. Banagher accepting the role of the Unicorn pilot gave extra drama to the whole thing, which I really welcomed.

      I know I’m blowing this out of proportion, but innovation could come in little steps, too.

  2. sadakups says:

    January 2010? Didn’t the first OVA came out around March or April?

    That aside, it basically removes the “accidental teenage pilot” mecha trope. As you said, the build-up towards Banagher launching the Unicorn was done so well that as a Gundam fan myself, I couldn’t even care of those said tropes.

    And that accompanying music during the Unicorn’s launch, it adds up to the fan service right there.

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