Monday, June 8, 2009

Char's Counterattack

Mobile Suit Gundam: Char’s Counterattack has been reviewed many times over the last 20 years. That said it is still a masterpiece, and by far the best story to come out of the Universal Century timeline of the original Mobile Suit Gundam.

Char’s Counterattack represents the final evolution of Char Aznable’s character and philosophy. It is also the final battle between Amuro Ray and the Protagonists of the original Mobile Suit Gundam. The Conflict between Amuro and Char span the entire Gundam Saga. As characters they share many similarities, their stories are intertwined in the threads of fate, which are finally cut free in the final chapter of the story.

Throughout the Gundam saga Char always had three goals; to create a peaceful existence for those living in space, the continued ascension of human kind into space, and the preservation of Earth’s environment. What makes Char’s character interesting is though these goals remain the same the means of achieving these goals are always in flux. Throughout the saga he finds himself on varying sides of the conflict. Char’s Counterattack represents the final evolution of these beliefs. For much of the series Char worked to force all of humanity to move to space, because it was humanities destiny. He believed that Newtype evolution was humanities next great step. It is his belief that human souls are dragged down by the gravity of earth; this prevents them from reaching peace and balance with the universe. After the events of Z Gundam where as a member of AUEG Char’s greatest goal was to stop those living on Earth from polluting the planet; in Char’s Counterattack he realizes that in order for the universe to achieve peace humanity must ascend to space, the only way to force this to happen is to destroy Earth’s environment, by dropping an asteroid onto the planet. To set this in motion, he emerges from hiding, and again takes command of Neo-Zeon.

Amuro is now a member of Londo Bell, the Earth Federation’s Special Forces unit. Londo Bell is a quick reaction force designed to put down insurgencies in space. Londo Bell is commanded by Bright Noa, the commander of the White Base and The Argama in previous the previous episodes. Though their job is to seek out and put down threats like rise of Neo-Zeon, but they are greatly understaffed and underfunded.

Char had a secondary goal in creating the Second Neo-Zeon war. It was to line up again Amuro in one final battle to the death. As the Meteor begins its decent into Earth’s upper atmosphere Amuro and Char meet. The battle is grand. Both have new Mobile suits, each with a variation on the new “Psycho Frame” material which agility in Newtypes and give Newtype like agility to non Newtypes. The “Psycho Frame” was actually developed by Neo-Zeon and Char leaked to the federation where it found its way into Amuro’s new Gundam; this so that Char and Amuro could meet as equals. After a protracted battle Amuro ends up on top. Char wanted to die, but his suit automatically ejected his cockpit pod. Amuro Grabs the capsule and heads to the asteroid. Amuro believes he can push the asteroid out of Earth’s gravity well. He slams Char’s capsule into the rock and uses it as a pad to push against the rock. He turns his Thrusters on full and begins to push. The Earth Federation reinforcements finally arrive; hundreds of men in standard mobile suits join Amuro in pushing the giant rock, but to no avail. They begin to combust as the rock moves into the thicker atmosphere. As this happen Amuro begins to take on the energy from those who have fallen. A faint glow develops outside of his Gundam. The “Psycho Frame” is amplifying and concentrating Amuro and Char’s energies. As this glow grows the Gundam becomes more and more unstable. There is a Giant Flash; the Asteroid begins to break up. The deed has been done, but all that is left of Amuro and Char are a faint Blue and Red surrounding the earth.

Char’s counterattack is an excellent film, and showcases Yoshiyuki Tomino’s greatest effort in both writing and directing. The animation is of a very high quality, on par with Akira and other late 80’s hand drawn anime features. It’s also notable for being the first Gundam episode to make use of CGI graphics on a protracted external shot of a space colony. The music and voice acting is good as usual. I defiantly recommend Char’s Counterattack whether you are a fan of the Gundam series or not.