Mobile Suit Gundam – Season 1, Episode 24 – “The Battle of Odessa” – Any Cost to Win

The Battle of Odessa

“Battle of Odessa” is the episode that completes the M’Quve’s Mine Base arc as well as the first time that things will truly start to change after in not being desperate in regards to the crew of the Trojan Horse. It’s an episode with some of the best action that shows just how far some members of Zeon are willing to go to defeat the Federation.

The episode was directed by Shinya Sadamitsu and written by Yoshihisa Araki.

The story picks up where the last one left off with the Trojan Horse assaulting M’Quve’s main base from behind as the surviving Black Tri-Star members do a revenge attack against the Trojan Horse. Everything comes to a head as the Battle of Odessa rages around and Amuro discovers a Zeon mole in the Federation army.

Here is the assessment of the episode:

The Pros: The Black Tri-Stars – Out to avenge their comrade, these guys nearly beat Amuro and cause some pain for the Trojan Horse, they also fight with honor unlike M’Quve. Going to miss these two and wish they’d gotten backstory.

The Federation – We have a captain who is a mole, Revil finally aiding the Trojan Horse and the Federation fighting with honor. Got to say this showed the complexity of the faction we’re supposed to sympathize with which I really loved.

Sayla – Is once again good support and takes time to learn how to fly the new jet before her and Amuro discover the mole leaving M’Quve’s base and realize the reason Zeon has always known where they are. She does a lot of good during the fights.

Amuro – Discovers and chastises the mole before he is court martialed for revealing his plans to Amuro, manages to take out the Black Tri-Stars and has his most successful battle thus far that leads to General Revil personally congratulating him after the battle. He also stops a nuke.

The Trojan Horse – The crew all work together to win the day and not a crew member is wasted in the fight.

Con: M’Quve – Really don’t like this guy after the episode. He was willing to nuke Earth to defeat the Federation when the Treaty had made using nukes illegal. I’m surprised he wasn’t smart enough to realize how that would alienate the survivors to continuously resist Zeon rule afterword. Lost all respect for him for actually going through with the attempted Nuking of Federation forces. He escapes too and we learn that his mines have given Zeon enough resources to fight for 10 more years.

The Mole – We don’t get the Captain’s motivations for betraying and he isn’t smart in how he reveals his plans to Amuro.

This was a great episode that I hope more comes of it afterword, such as how the populace views Zeon after the attempt to use nukes. This episode is Amuro and the crew of the Trojan Horse at their best and a great action episode. So definitely gets a recommend.

Final Score: 9 / 10.

Mobile Suit Gundam – Season 1, Episode 23 – “Black Tri-Star” – Kycilia’s Elite

Black Tri-Star

“The Black Tri-Star” brings us back to Kycilia as well as the recovering of the Trojan Horse from M’Quve’s trap. It’s a good episode that gives us some character development and introduces some great foes.

The episode was directed by Osamu Sekita and Yoshiyuki Tomino and written by Masaru Yamamoto.

The story picks up with Kycilia wanting to protect the mines of M’Quve and keep the Trojan Horse from the front, so she sends her elite soldiers…the Black Tri-Stars. From here the story unfolds as Amuro gets to know Matilda before the assault by the Black Tri-Stars.

Here is the assessment of the episode:

The Pros: Kycilia – She sees the big picture and is willing to take risks to keep the Trojan Horse and Amuro’s Gundam away from the front and destroying Zeon’s supplies they need for the war effort. You definitely see in this episode why she is the Rear Admiral of Zeon.

The Black Tri-Stars – These guys are southern working class soldiers, the polar opposite of the officers which make things interesting as they love battle and care deeply for one another. You see why they are her elites. They manage to make a major kill too in the course of their assault on the Trojan Horse. They manage to take out Lt. Matilda and her ship showing just how dangerous they are.

Amuro – Amuro manages to take out one of the Black Tri-Stars but is unable to save Matilda. He also helps train Sayla more as she is his support during the battle. He has some great lines with Matilda before and you can see how much he respects her and the reason she fights.

Sayla – Feels guilt over being unable to save Matilda but does a pretty good job in the battle given she was using the prototype for the first time. I hope she can work through the guilt, I really like her character.

Matilda – Matilda went into supplies because she want to build things and so much of war is destruction. She is a creator and healer with supplies and also super professional and kind. Her death is felt, even if it doesn’t have the same affect as Ryu and Ramba’s death had.

Okay: Matilda’s funeral – We didn’t get to know her very well the way we did Ramba, Hamon or Ryu but it was still a decent honoring of her, given she was the one keeping White Base 7 alive so often when they ran low on supplies and suffered assaults from Zeon.

This episode is well worth a watch. Matilda and Kycilia get explored more and we see the Trojan Horse back in action while still recovering. It also continues the theme of loss during war and how easy it is to lose someone you care about in war and battle.

Final Score: 9.5 / 10

Mobile Suit Gundam – Season 1, Episode 22 – “Matilda’s Rescue” – No Longer Alone

Matilda's Rescue

“Matilda’s Rescue” directly follows from “The Trap of M’Quve” and has the crew beginning to find it’s bearings once more as aid is being sent from Federation forces.

The episode was directed by Ryoji Fujihara and written by Hiroyuki Hoshiyama.

The Trojan Horse is still broken and lacking supplies but the secret message to General Revil gets sent out leading to Lt. Matilda being sent with supplies and some more experimental Gundam material for the crew. From here the story unfolds as M’Quve attacks the supply caravan leading Amuro to mount a rescue.

Here is the assessment of the episode:

The Pros: General Revil – General Revil represents HQ’s desperation to win the war and the fact that he cares about the crew to a degree, even though they are his guinea pigs. He sends Matilda with supplies and upgrades for the Trojan Horse as he hopes for them to reach the Odessa Offensive to change the stalemate of the war. Interested in seeing more of this guy.

Mirai – Mirai rises up to be the leader Mr. Bright hoped her to be. We see her successfully save Lt. Matilda and the supplies and support the crew. She also connects with Sayla who is proud of her for rising to the challenge.

Lt. Matilda – Keeps calm in the attack and gets Amuro the new technology. She once again shows she’s a fascinating character and stays with the crew to make sure they re-stock and are prepared for the Odessa offensive.

Sayla – Supports Miria and helps during the battle. We see how she’s matured and is at the point of multi-tasking like most of the core crew so that whatever battle situation is at hand, she can take the most needed role.

Amuro – We see Amuro lead the attack to save her and some of his best work as a pilot and in the Gundam as he manages to save some of the ships and take out M’Quve’s Goufs. We also see his attraction to Matilda more too.

Okay: Kai – Isn’t helping with repairs until Mirai arrives but helps during the battle. This character still really annoys me though.

This was an episode that gave us a little bit of hope for the crew of the Trojan Horse as we get closer to the big battle and changing the outcome of the war. It was great seeing something good happen and the crew rise to the challenge once more.

Final Score: 9 / 10

Mobile Suit Gundam – Season 1, Episode 21 – “The Trap of M’Quve” – The Cost of Loss

The Trap of M'Quve

We continue our bleak journey of loss in “The Trap of M’Quve.” “The Trap of M’Quve” was directed by Shinya Sadamitsu and written by Yoshihasa Arika.

The story is the title, M’Quve is angry at how The Trojan Horse is continuing to destroy his bases so he sets a trap to get them destroyed with his Particle Cannon. Around this time Mr. Bright has fallen into a stupor from exhaustion and sadness over the death of Ryu leaving Mirai in charge of commanding the Trojan Horse. From here the story unfolds.

Here is the assessment of the episode:

The Pros: M’Quve – M’Quve is a great enemy, from leaving bombs all over the Trojan Horse that injure it and the engine, to attacking it with fighters to lure it in to the area of the particle cannon. He accomplishes everything and White Base 7 only wins by faking their own destruction with Smoke Bombs.

Amuro – Takes control this time on the battlefield and manages to destroy the particle cannon in the end. He is the one who realizes that their dwelling on Ryu is making them not find power in themselves or think things through. For once he’s one of the clearer thinkers in an episode.

Sayla – Besides Amuro Sayla is the one trying to make a difference and keeping her cool. It’s her advice to Mirai that usually got disregarded as Sayla saw the bigger picture. She was the one who should have commanded, not Mirai.

Con: Mirai – She makes a bunch of mistakes and doesn’t even think like the pilot she is. This is a shame as this was her chance to shine but instead she caves to the sadness over Mr. Bright’s illness and the death of Ryu. This is understandable, but not in the face of extermination.

The Crew – There was hardly any leadership displayed in this episode and that falls on the crew. M’Quve almost had things too easy because of the Trojan Horse’s incompetence.

This was a good episode on dealing with the loss of Ryu but not the best epsidoe for the crew as the Trojan Horse is now grounded and can only be saved by outside help. I like that this shows they aren’t unstoppable I just wish a bigger enemy like Char or one of the Zabi family had been the one to do the deed.

Final Score: 7.8 / 10

Stardust (2007): A Fairy Tale of Love

Stardust

Neil Gaiman is one of my favorite authors, Neverwhere, American Gods and Anansi Boys and the Sandman Series are some of my all time favorite fantasy works which makes me somewhat worried by their eventual screen adaptation in film or television form. This film gave me hope that it can be pulled off well though, and this film made me want to read the book that it is adapted from.

“Stardust” was directed by Matthew Vaughn who was also one of the producers and screenplay writers. The other producers were Neil Gaiman, Michael Dreyer and Lorenzo di Bonaventura. The other screenplay writer was Jane Goldman. The fact that Neil Gaiman had a producer credit on an adaptation of his work was a good sign going in to the film.

“Stardust” is the story of two worlds a village called Wall in our world and the magical kingdom of Stormhold that is separated from the wall. The story begins with Dunstan Thorn crossing the wall because he is curious and meeting an imprisoned beautiful woman he shared a night with. Later a child Dunstan names Tristan is left at the wall and the story follows from him  and his journey to learn how to love and in the process discover the heritage of the world he is a part of when he crosses the Wall to catch a falling star for Victoria, the woman he is infatuated with. Around this time the King of Stormhold has died and competition to catch the falling star is on as a Coven of Witches also joins the hunt since a Star’s heart can grant eternal youth and life.

Here is the assessment of the film:

The Pros: The Narrator – Ian McKellen narrates the beginning and end of the story giving it a fairy tale feel and his voice is super memorable and worked wonderfully. I also would have been down with Patrick Stewart being the narrator too, but it was McKellen and he is great!

Cinematography – The Cinematography is amazing and really captures the fantasy feel, the best examples I can think of is the darkness at the wall, Captain Shakespeare’s ship in flight, the falling of the Star and the final fight sequence. All of these made it feel epic and worthy of being on the big screen. Ben Davis did great.

The Music – The music has a “Pirates of the Caribbean” feel which worked in it’s favor, as Sky Pirates appear at one point and the witches and older society it takes place in in our world and Stormhold add ambiance and tension to the world. IIan Eshkeri was the right guy for this film.

The World – I’m largely going to talk about Stormhold here but even the world of England presented is fascinating, as an old man guards the Wall to keep people from getting into Stormhold. Stormhold is a rich world full of royal intrigue, dangerous witches, stars that are living human beings and Sky Pirates. There is so much to love here and I can’t wait to read the book that inspired it all!

The Characters

Dunstan Thorn – The story really starts with him as he crosses the wall and spends a night with the enslaved princess Una. They have a great experience together as she is the experienced person who knows her world and he is the wide eyed idealist. We see him care for his son after too as it was the one thing she wanted from him since he couldn’t rescue her. We also see him support his son Tristan to cross the wall and gives him a Babylon Candle to do so. I wish we’d gotten more of old and young Dunstan. This is where this as a mini-series might have worked better. Ben Barnes (young Dunstan) and Nathaniel Parker (old Dustan) are fantastic in what time they have though.

Princess Una – Uses what little power she has to resist and gives a gift that protects her son Tristan from the witches. I really wish she’d been the one chosen to rule as near the end she’s the one helping Tristan and Yvaine fight back against Lamia and her coven. She was a great but underutilized character. Kate Magowan did well with what she was given.

Prince Septimus – Is an antagonist for most of the film and Mark Strong does a really good job with it as we see him off some of his brothers and try to capture the fallen Star. He is brutal but has complexity too as he works with Tristan in the final fight against Lamia and her coven. His biggest problem is he never brings enough men and he lacks any sort of empathy which is when he is helping Tristan near the end and when he dies it is hard to fully sympathize with him in any way.

Lamia – Michelle Pfeiffer makes a great villain. Her witch is the final boss of the film and deserves the role as we see her be the one with the highest body count at the end and it takes multiple characters to finally defeat her. We see a bit of humanity (even if it was possibly false) when she mourns the death of her Coven Sisters and goes super sayan for the final battle.

Tristan Thorn – He’s the generic hero but he does a good job at the generic hero. He realizes that he just like Victoria because she was attractive but didn’t know her as a person and that his time spent with Yvaine showed him what love actually is. He also goes through a great training montage with Captain Shakespeare and his crew. Charlie Cox is good in the role even if he isn’t great.

Yvaine – At times she needs to be saved, other times she does the saving. Her character is the fish out of water as she was cast out of the kingdom by the King before he died and so many factions are trying to get her it would have been easy to make her a plot device. Thankfully that didn’t happen. She also gets the final kill on Lamia when she goes Nova at the end as she and Tristan are sharing their love. Claire Danes was good.

Captain Shakespeare – This is one of the best roles I’ve seen Robert De Niro in. He plays a gay Sky Pirate and is fantastic! His character is written with respect as he shows the life he can’t show his crew to Tristan and Yvainne when he trains them how to capture lightning and to be self sufficient. He gives them cover stories and idealizes England as he’s heard stories about it. At one point he is revealed when he is cross dressing and Prince Septimus attacks, but it doesn’t matter as his crew always cared about him for who he is of which his sexuality is part of. He is my favorite character in the film and I’d watch or read a story just about his adventures.

The Message – Love – The message of love is great in that it is learning to love others and be open, honest and risk for those you care about…and to see beyond appearances. As Victoria was all about appearances and not connection, and Captain Shakespeare learned the appearance he put on didn’t matter as his crew loved him anyway for the man he was. It also expressed love knows no gender or sex and is greater than that. It’s caring for others and yourself and being a part of something greater.

The Cons: The Ghost Peanut Gallery – Every time a prince dies or someone who could become king they appear how they died and do commentary on the events going on. This got really annoying really fast and took away the drama that should have occurred when one of them died.

The Random Princes – There are a few princes who die or royalty who die who aren’t worth mentioning. They were there for comedic relief and failed at that, which hurt the drama of the chase for the crown and the drama with the witches.

The Side Characters – From the other two witches, to Lamia’s slaves and countless others…they don’t feel all that deep or interesting. They are pretty much background which would have served the story better if they were.

“Stardust” is a great movie and one I’d highly recommend. My hope is that future book adaptions of Gaiman’s work can be just as good if not better since the worlds he creates inspire the writing in my own. This movie had a great cast, great directing, music and cinematography and is well worth watching if you are a fan of fantasy.

Final Score: 9 / 10. Solidly great.

Mobile Suit Gundam – Season 1, Episode 20 – “Sorrow and Hatred” – The Character of Ryu

Sorrow and Hatred

“Mobile Suit Gundam” doesn’t pull any punches (both literally and figuratively). This episode follows right after the powerful loss of Ramba Ral and ups it and the stakes as we move forward.

“The Sorrow and the Hatred” was written by Yoshihisa Araki and directed by Sussumu Gyoda and Yoshiyuki Tomino, the directors who did the last episode. Putting them in charge was the right move since this episode deals directly with the consequences from the last one.

The episode begins with an injured Ryu being treated for his injury during the last battle, but moving about trying to put things in motion for people to heal. He wants the crew to work together, since they are all they have. While this is going on Crowly Hamon is planning a suicide mission with her last men to avenge Garma and her lover Ramba Ral. From here the story unfolds.

Here is the assessment of the episode:

The Pros: The Consequences from Ramba’s Assault – The crew is low on ammo, repairing the 2nd bridge, injured and tired and suffering from the loss of those killed in the last battle. From the beginning of the episode stakes are high.

Mr. Bright – We see the dilemma he faces with Amuro as Amuro continually circumvents his orders and doesn’t know if Amuro gets that he’s part of a crew yet. We again see him use everyone when they’re put into action and him fully feel the loss of an important crewmember.

Amuro – Continues with learning from last episode and listens to Mr. Bright unless the orders put the crew at risk. He talks to Hamon briefly too as they both have a respect for each other at the end as he admired her and she respects him as a person and soldier.

 

HamonCrowley Hamon – Another interesting and wonderful Zeon character is killed. This time by Ryu though. We see how loyal she is to the cause in this and her love for Zeon and Ramba when she does the suicide mission to take out the Trojan Horse. She nearly succeeds too and would have if Ryu hadn’t gone suicidal on her with the Core Jet, given that she was defeating Amuro in his Gundam.

Ryu – This show, like  re-imagined “Battlestar Galactica” has a high body count, which I think lends to the stakes and why ending the war is so important. Ryu, Hamon and Ramba are just a few of the people who’ve died so far and for Ryu the crew weeps. He is the character who in the end shows who sensitive he can be and builds everyone up around him before risking his life to save the Trojan Horse and Amuro. His death means something.

Con: How the Crew experiences Ryu’s Death – Every character is crying, this is one thing I would have changed as different people experience loss differently and it isn’t always as open, sometimes it’s quite or simply internal. I wish that had been shown rather than the crews reaction being universal, regardless of character.

This was a powerful episode that sums up what Amuro hopes to do, he wants to end the war so no more people can die. It’s a powerful statement and at this time a far dream as the Zabi family is showing no sign of letting up the fight. I highly recommend this episode though, it is solidly great. R.I.P. Hamon and Ryu.

Final Score: 9 / 10

 

Mobile Suit Gundam – Season 1, Episode 19 – “Hand-to-Hand Combat” – Amuro Learns and the Honor of Ramba Ral

Hand-to-Hand Combat

“Hand-to-Hand Combat” is a great episode. It gives us a greater exploration of Ramba Ral and it looks like Amuro is finally learning! I’ll get into more details in the assessment.

“Hand-to-Hand Combat” was written by Masaru Yamamoto and directed by Ryoji Fujihara and Yoshiyuki Tomino. It is the 19th episode of the first season in the English dub.

The story of the episode involves the crew fracturing as Hayato, Kai and another run away as they are jealous of Mr. Bright’s attention to Amuro, along this time Ryu confronts Amuro only for Amuro to mock him. He later runs after Kai and the group to bring them back as Ramba Ral attacks on a boarding mission to capture the Trojan Horse as M’Quve has left him with no resources in order to hide what he’s doing at his main secret base. From here the story unfolds.

Here is the assessment of the episode:

The Pros: Hayato – It’s nice seeing this kid have some personality finally. He’s jealous and feels forgotten, even as he’s been following orders the whole time. He does come back once Ramba attacks though and brings the rest of the group with him.

Ryu – Ryu is shown to be a leader in this one as he calls Amuro out on his selfishness and also the ones who ran away. He punches Amuro and Kai in this one, which honestly at this point most folks who are watching have been wanting to do, and is called out on it by Hyato…cause in the end his anger doesn’t solve anything. The action of circumstances and reason do, which I think he finally gets.

Mr. Bright – Mr. Bright uses and risks all assets to fight off Ramba’s attack, including destroying the Second Bridge. We see how deeply he cares for the crew and his own insecurities as leader and how Mirai is his base. We see him use every person well in the crisis.

Ramba Ral

Ramba Ral – Finds out something important in his boarding of the Trojan Horse, the Princess Artesia is alive and she is Sayla Maas. It is a powerful scene as he and his family cared for her when she was younger. They don’t have time to connect since Ryu attacks and the attack costs Ramba his life. He does go out with honor though saluting the crew and respecting the fact that soldiers half his age beat him. R.I.P. Ramba Ral, you will be missed and were one of my favorite characters.

Clamp – When he first boards he has one of the younger children get away from the explosion. He is surprised about the children in White Base, his surprise leads to him getting shot and killed though. It was nice seeing kindness during duty though before the end. He was an underutilized character.

Crowley Hamon – Swears revenge and manages to escape the fight. We see the tenderness she feels for Ramba and also her leadership abilities on the main ship as she manages to save the bridge crew from a direct assault by Amuro’s Gundam.

Sayla Maas – Is a princess and connected to Ramba Ral! The scene they have together is one of the best in the series and I can’t wait to learn more about her past and her connection to Char. She does a good job in the Gundam too when Amuro gives her advice. She manages to destroy one of the Zeon Mobile Suits in the fight before Zeon forces board White Base.

Amuro – Finally gets that he is part of a crew. When Bright orders him to guns, he goes to guns and fights and he does all he can to protect others. It looks like he finally understands why he was thrown in the brig and will work to be a part of the group. It is powerful too seeing him morn Ramba Ral’s death.

This is another episode showing the human cost of war and one I highly recommend. It shows us the good people fighting on both sides. Ramba Ral is one of the best characters in “Mobile Suit Gundam” and cares about his men and not harming innocents or anyone on the crew if he can. His love for Crowley is pretty deep too. This was his episode and he gets a good death as it fully captures how great a character he is and his relationship to Sayla which reveals to us potential plot arcs for the future.

The Final Score is: 10 / 10. The perfect episode.