Friday, February 19, 2016


Written & Illustrated by: Yoshikazu Yasuhiko
Original story by: Yoshiyuki Tomino & Hajime Yatate
Mechanical Design by: Kunio Okawara

Yoshikazu Yasuhiko’s tenth installment in the reimagined GUNDAM saga begins with a large amount of wholly original material, as well as an original character. As White Base moves to join the main Federation fleet in an assault on Zeon’s stronghold of Solomon, Amuro and Sayla are left behind due to recent events on Texas Colony: Sayla due to her probation until the matter of her familial loyalties can be determined, and Amuro to recover from his fight with Challa Bull while the Gundam undergoes repairs.

Supervising these repairs is an abnormally tall technician named Doctor Mosk Han, who takes the opportunity to upgrade the Gundam with new magnetic coating. I’m not sure what need Yasuhiko felt he was filling with the appearance of Doctor Han, who comes across as sort of a comic relief character in his few appearances. But his part is over soon enough, and Yasuhiko’s story rejoins the original series’ continuity when Amuro catches up with White Base at Solomon.

The battle then plays out more or less identically to the TV series/movies’ version: Left hanging by siblings Ghiren and Kycilia, who believe Solomon is not tactically important, Dozle Zabi defends the base alone, piloting the massive Big Zam mobile suit and wiping out the flagship of Federation Admiral Tianem before he’s finished off by Amuro and Sleggar Law — the latter sacrificing his own life in the fight as well.

In fact this is a very strong volume for Dozle, almost always presented as the most sympathetic of the Zabis. We see more of his wife and daughter as he spends some quality time with them before the fight, then sends them off to safety when he orders an evacuation. While Garma showed us that the “bad guys” in this war could be sympathetic to one another, it’s really Dozle who lets us see the many faces of the enemy. He’s a loving husband and devoted father, but also a fierce and ruthless warrior to the end, even resorting to small arms against the Gundam when Big Zam is crippled.

Dozle with wife Zenna and daughter Mineva (Who, several years later in
the timeline, would be the primary villainess of MOBILE SUIT ZETA GUNDAM).
Not limited to Dozle and his family, relationships are front and center everywhere in this volume. We get our first look at Hayato in a long while; he’s more of a nonentity here than in most any other version of the story, but we’re reminded that he and Amuro grew up together, and he has always seen himself as Amuro’s rival aboard White Base. We also see an apparent relationship brewing between Hayato and Fraw Bow. Though I don’t expect Yasuhiko to get to it in THE ORIGIN, the original GUNDAM’s sequel series showed Hayato and Fraw married, having adopted the three orphans, Katz, Letz, and Kikka.

Then there’s Sleggar and Mirai. We learned in the last volume that she had a bit of a crush on the older officer. Here she tries to express this when he returns to White Base for repairs during the siege of Solomon, but he tells her she's too good for him. They share a kiss before his departure on the sortie from which he will not return. I’ve always found this sort of a weird pairing, and I was almost hoping Yasuhiko would skip over it for his adaptation. Sleggar shared a flirtation with Sayla as well, and that duo seem to have more chemistry — but then, I suppose the point of Mirai’s affection is that it’s one sided; a crush. In that way I guess it works, even if it seems oddly shoehorned into the story.

The relationships continue beyond the battle too, as Amuro encounters Lalah again (wearing a formal Zeon uniform—something she lacked in the TV series but had in the movies). This time she’s piloting a mobile armor and Char is present as well, in his state-of-the-art Gelgoog suit. But rather than fighting, the trio have a conversation. Char fancies himself the Newtype, the heir to Zeon, and he wants Amuro to join his cause to overthrow the Zabis and usher into the world the “Age of the Newtype” (ironically something General Revil believes is coming as well).

Interestingly, the scene posits, from Amuro’s perspective, that Char is not a Newtype at all since Amuro doesn’t “sense” him the way he does Lalah. I don’t know if this was ever explored elsewhere, but to my recollection this is the first hint in any version of the story that Char might be, as this manga calls them, an “Oldtype”. We’re also reminded that Mirai and Sayla have Newtype abilities to some degree, and strangely, the story seems to hint that perhaps Revil is one as well, as he twice senses something ominious in the air — though I thought Newtypes had to be born in space and I’m pretty sure Revil is from Earth, so this could be building to something else.

Finally we have the Zabi family, at possibly their most dysfunctional ever. After Dozle is left to die by siblings Ghiren and Kycilia, patriarch Degwin finds himself down to one remaining son thanks to the war, and explains directly to Ghiren that his lust for victory through any despicable means possible makes him no better than Hitler. Degwin has a secret meeting with Kycilia, reminding her that she once pledged to aid him in any way she could. Sick of the war, Degwin wants to sue for peace with General Revil, and Kycilia reveals to him a path to do so. But, believing her father has become weak, as soon as he departs she reports his plans to Ghiren.

And that’s where the volume ends. Love, war, death, and betrayal, all set against the deceptively peaceful backdrop of deepest space. I’ve said before that this segment of the GUNDAM saga is generally my least favorite. It’s not because the stories are bad; this is probably the most dramatic the series ever gets. I’m just not into all the spiritual “Newtype” hyperbole which really begins to permeate the saga at this point.

Nonetheless, even with all that mumbo jumbo being tossed about, this has to be one of the strongest GUNDAM: THE ORIGIN installments due to the interpersonal conflicts. It’s really, really good stuff.

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  1. In so far I can recall,Char has always been a Newtype himself as well.
    In the TV series, the movies, in Zeta, in Char's Counterattack and in the Novelization.

    But the difference is that he was a bridge between old and newtype.
    He had just enough new type powers to be counted as one, but he paled in comparison to Amuro and Lalah and later on compared to Amuro and Quess.

    Also I have been sick, which is why I was gone for a while.

    1. I thought he was always a Newtype also. I've never seen all of ZETA or any of ZZ, though. Much as I love the Universal Century, my exposure is limited to the original series, the compilation movies, the ZETA movies from about ten years ago, and CHAR'S COUNTERATTACK. Someday I want to see all of it, but it just hasn't happened yet.

      Welcome back, by the way! Hope you're feeling better.

  2. Been reading and enjoying your reviews of Gundam: The Origin.

    The magnetic coating subplot for the Gundam actually is an invention of Tomino's from his novelization of the series. Like in The Origin, the magnetic coating in the novel grants the Gundam greater maneuverability by cancelling out friction.

    I was also initially stumped by Amuro stating that Char wasn't a Newtype, since his Newtype status has been well established by the original series, Tomino's novelization, and Zeta Gundam.

    The way I interpret Yasuhikio's take is that Char has essentially developed this over inflated view of himself and his abilities, while Amuro and Lalah actually surpass him in Newtype powers. If taken this way, then that would mean that Amuro can't understand Char because he's operating at a different level than him.

    It's like Snokatt said: Char has Newtype abilities that make him more formidable than Oldtypes, but no where near the level of Amuro and Lalah.

    1. Thanks, Anonymous! I appreciate your clarifications on a few things. As noted, while I have watched the original series and movie compilations, I've never read Tomino's novelizations.

      Yours and Snowkatt's takes on the "Is Char a Newtype?" question work for me.