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Many works of fiction have an object of great power that drives the plot. The characters, both heroes and villains, seek this object. Some wish to destroy it, while others plan to use it for their own purposes–be those good or evil. In Star Wars, it is the Death Star plans. In Lord of the Rings, it is the One Ring. In Gundam Unicorn, it is Laplace’s Box.

But unlike the other examples above, even the nature of Laplace’s Box is a mystery; all that’s known about it for sure is that it has the power destabilize the government and throw Earth and its surrounding space colonies into chaos.

[NOTE: This article contains major spoilers for Gundam Unicorn/Gundam Unicorn re:0096.]

As the characters battle across space and Earth, using the map built into the titular Gundam, the box’s notoriety only grows. Hundreds die in pursuit of the box while many more suffer. Learning the secret of the box even turns one hero into a villain.

That’s a lot of build-up for a single object to have. Surprisingly, it lives up to the hype–though not in the way you’d probably expect. Far from a superweapon (the usual nature of such things in Gundam), the “box” is actually just a document. Okay, not just any old document, but rather the original version of the Earth Federation Charter.

Carved into stone, this version of the charter is distinctly different from the one found in textbooks across the world of Gundam. It includes an entire additional article, part of which is as follows:

“In the future, should the emergence of a new space-adapted human race be confirmed, the Earth Federation shall give priority to involving them in the administration of the government.”

The reason this sentence is so dangerous is that much of the Gundam franchise deals with the concept of “a new space-adapted human race,” a.k.a. Newtypes. When some of those born and/or raised in space begin exhibiting special talents–like superhuman spacial awareness and limited telepathy–the disenfranchised citizens of space colonies use the existence of such people as proof that those in space are superior to the ruling class on Earth. This, in turn becomes patriotic fervor as many of the space colonies declare their independence as the Principality of Zeon–electing to self-rule rather than be exploited by the Earth Federation government.

The resulting war is covered extensively in the original Gundam and several of its spinoffs. In fact, the war, the idea of Newtypes, and Zeon itself cause decades of conflict–up to and including Gundam Unicorn. However, the charter found in Laplace’s Box all but says that Zeon was right to rebel. If Newtypes do exist (which we viewers clearly know they do), then many living in space should have been given representation in the government.

A Gundam Newbie’s Guide to Gundam Unicorn

To put it another way, imagine if the Constitution of the United states had had an amendment that said “should the United States eventually expand beyond the Mississippi River and natives are found in those new lands, the United States shall give priority to involving them in the administration of the government.” Then imagine that this was omitted from subsequent re-printings–only to come to light in the midst of the American Indian Wars. Depending on how such information was used, American history as we know it might have turned out much differently.

That is the power of Laplace’s Box. Used one way, it could be used to start a full-on war between Earth and space. Used another way, it could be used as blackmail against the Federation, allowing space the time it needs to economically stand on its own. There is even the chance of it becoming a rallying cry for peace and acceptance for the future–as the Federation’s founding fathers originally intended.

This versatility in how it could be used, as well as the ramifications for each, make Laplace’s Box far more interesting than a superweapon poised to destroy the earth. At the start, we were promised that it could throw humanity into chaos, and if nothing else, Laplace’s Box sure lives up to the hype.

Gundam Unicorn Re:0096 can be viewed for free and with English subtitles in the US on Daisuki, Crunchyroll, and Gundam.info.

Comments (1)
  1. It’s a definite echo of Isaac Asimov’s classic SF novel, “The Stars, Like Dust–“, set early on within his larger Foundation universe, in which the various characters search the galaxy for an ancient artifact that can purportedly help to overthrow an oppressive regime, which is ultimately revealed to be a copy of the U.S. Constitution.

    This eventually helps to set the stage for the events of his much-later Foundation novels, in which the Galactic Empire will subsequently rise and fall.

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