The Mobile Suit Gundam series is an anime well known for its war commentary, explosive fights, and traumatic deaths.
My first exposure to the series was Iron Blooded Orphans, which I highly enjoyed and definitely met the criteria I just laid out.
Initially, this appeared to be the same for the latest Gundam series, The Witch From Mercury, with the prologue having plenty of war commentary in regards to corporations, quite a few well-animated Gundam fights, and a tragic death that the series is so well known for.
Imagine my surprise when the first few episodes of Cour One for The Witch From Mercury set this anime up as something more akin to Revolutionary Girl Utena than a Gundam series.
Directed by Hiroshi Kobayashi and written by Ichirō Ōkouchi The story follows Suletta Mercury (Kana Ichinose), a socially awkward girl sent to the Asticassia School of Technology, along with her Gundam, Aerial.
After defending the honour of fellow student Miorine Rembran (Lynn), the daughter of Delling Rembran (Naoya Uchida), the head of the powerful Benereit Group, in a duel, Suletta unwittingly finds herself engaged to her and must protect this engagement through dueling her other suitors.
Sounds very similar to Revolutionary Girl Utena, right?
Well, despite this, the anime is still very much a Gundam series, with plenty of dark moments scattered throughout the first cour.
As for the slice of life moments that dominate a lot of the episodes, they were very welcome, delivering a lot of great humor and also endearing the characters to the audience.
Suletta and Miorine are both fun and relatable characters with great romantic chemistry that is interesting to watch grow.
The other characters are just as fun, from the Earth House kids, like ChuChu (Miyu Tomita) and Nika (Yume Miyamoto), to those in power at the school, like the emotionless Elan (Natsuki Hanae), shady Shaddiq (Makoto Furukawa), and Miorine’s previous fiancee Gue (Yōhei Azakami).
Guel, in particular, was a surprise because he started off as such an unlikeable character and yet, by the end, he is one of the most sympathetic characters.
Speaking of the end, boy, does it get dark, showing that the next cour will probably be much more in line with the grim tone of other Gundam anime.
There are also many questions raised in this first half that I am interested to see answered, like just how the prologue relates to everything that is happening, what exactly is going on with Suletta, and how her incredibly suspicious mother, Lady Prospera (Mamiko Noto), ties into that.
This and the seemingly inevitable darker tone Cour Two will have has me very excited for it but also dreading it because it is all bound to be tragic.
The first cour of The Witch From Mercury does a fantastic job of setting up its story, getting us attached to the characters and mysteries, while also providing plenty of excellently animated Gundam fights.
Prepare for Cour Two where our hearts will inevitably be crushed under a Gundam’s hand.