Image source: GundamInfo on YouTube
Even after both sides call it quits, not everybody is always on board. Some even welcome a never-ending conflict.
[Note: This article contains major spoilers for the first season of Mobile Suit Gundam Thunderbolt.]
Mobile Suit Gundam Thunderbolt is a spinoff series that shows a side story to the One Year War of the original Mobile Suit Gundam series. Taking place in a region of space known as the “Thunderbolt Sector” the first season—episodes one through four—was about a pivotal conflict as the Earth Federation attempted to take the Thunderbolt Sector to cut off one of the Zeon Army’s remaining supply routes to their final stronghold, A Baoa Qu. Defending the sector was Zeon’s Living Dead Division: a squadron of disabled amputee soldiers. Among them was ace sniper Daryl Lorenz. Against him was federation jazz-loving pilot Io Fleming—the pilot of the Full Armor Gundam. Season One ended with Daryl “winning” the conflict between him and Io—even as Zeon lost the war.
The first part of Season Two, Episode 5, starts with the aftermath of the One Year War. The Principality of Zeon has been reduced to the Zeon Republic, and the Earth Federation has obtained Zeon’s Psycommu technology: a next-generation pilot interface that allows machines to be controlled by a pilot’s brainwaves. Despite Zeon’s loss, many of its troops do not accept that the war is over, waging a guerrilla war against the Federation.
While the localized chaos continues, the Federation assault craft, Spartan, is headed to Earth on a special mission, under the command of Captain Monica Humphrey.
Taking place after the war has ostensibly “ended,” we see a world trying to heal from its scars and the characters from Season One living with theirs.
Daryl Lorenze is on Earth with a Zeon remnant battalion, conducting intelligence activity with aquatic mobile suits. Having sacrificed all of his limbs in Season One so that he could pilot a mobile suit outfitted with the experimental “Reuse P (Psycho) Device” system that links directly to the pilot’s nervous system, the post-war Daryl seems brighter and more at peace with himself. He looks to be enjoying the Earth’s environment, despite his continued participation in combat. He is revered as a hero who was willing to go beyond the call of duty for Zeon by the other soldiers. Daryl himself seems to accept this idolization with warmth.
Io, on the other hand, seems as gung-ho and trigger-happy as ever. After being taken prisoner by Zeon and subsequently escaping during the battle of A Baoa Qu, we see little has changed for him. He continues to pilot in his new mobiles suit, the Gundam Atlas, while listening to jazz music and fighting with an exhilarant gusto.
Episode 5 also introduces new characters. There’s Bianca Carlyle, a cheerful space-born federation pilot, and Billy Hickam, a Zeon pilot who was trained as a potential newtype. How these characters will factor into the story is yet to be seen.
Episode 5 marks the start of a new season for the series, so the episode is more about setup than plot development. Still, it is also a fairly unexplored chapter in the Universal Century Gundam timeline and what we are shown offers a lot of potential insight as to the state of a war-torn world where, even officially defeated, one side still continues to fight on.
Mobile Suit Gundam Thunderbolt Episode 5 can be viewed with English subtitles for a limited time at Gundam.Info. Episode 6 is scheduled for release on April 28, 2017.