“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 – 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 Mass – 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.