Image source: ガンダム Twilight AXIS‏ on Twitter

Gundam: Twilight Axis is a dive into previously unexplored territory of the UC Gundam timeline: the aftermath of Char’s Counterattack. It’s short, to the point, and manages to do in a little over 20 minutes what other series take hours and hours to do: Be a Gundam story.

[Note: This article contains spoilers for Mobile Suit Gundam: Twilight Axis.]

The plot of Twilight Axis follows two former Zeon separatists, the weapons developer Arlette Almage and the test pilot Danton Hyleg. The two are hired to investigate the remains of the asteroid base, Axis. Once there, they are set upon by a mysterious Gundam, the RX-78AN-01 Tristan.

Overall, Twilight Axis works much better when viewed in one go as opposed to in segmented episodes. I originally viewed the first episode and found the location and time jumps to be confusing, and lack of information to be borderline obtuse. However, seeing the compilation film, Mobile Suit Gundam: Twilight Axis Red Trace, where everything was back to back, things flowed much more smoothly and made more sense.

Let’s Break Down the First Episode of Gundam: Twilight Axis

That said, as a whole, Twilight Axis is almost fascinatingly minimalist. So much information is left out of the basic narrative: what the organization that hires Arlette and Danton is; who they’re fighting against; the details of the Gundam Tristan… None of this is ever addressed; it’s left to the viewer to look up on their own outside of the anime itself. The backdrop of the story itself requires the viewer to have already seen the original Gundam and Char’s Counterattack at the very least. Other plot events that would be standard in a Gundam series are also missing. We are never shown what happens to the Sazabi after its discovery, or to Axis itself. Everything except the core story of Arlette and Danton—and their character arcs of facing the ghosts of their past—has been cut away.

And yet, even with so much missing, Twilight Axis is still a Gundam story. It is the story of two individuals with baggage from their past going on a mission that they hope will let them find peace. During the mission, they are set upon by a mysterious enemy and through the conflict they grow as people and come to realize what they were looking for was right in front of them the whole time.

Oh, and there are mobile suits and newtypes.

Image source: ガンダム Twilight AXIS‏ on Twitter

While watching Twilight Axis, I was constantly wondering who the enemy was, who they were working for, the details of the Gundam Tristan. But, when I got to the end, I came to realize that that information wasn’t what was important. What was important were the stories of Arlette and Danton—and that’s what I got.

All in all, Twilight Axis was an interesting and experimental character story that still managed to be a Gundam story. In fact, I could even see how an entire series could be built around it. I wouldn’t say that “at its core” it was a Gundam story, because it literally is nothing but the bare bones core. But at the same time, that’s what makes it a fascinating experience.

Mobile Suit Gundam: Twilight Axis can be viewed on the Gundam Fan Club in Japan. The first episode can be viewed with English subtitles on the Gundaminfo YouTube channel. Mobile Suit Gundam: Twilight Axis Red Trace is scheduled to be released in Japanese theaters on November 18, 2017. There is currently no word on an international release.

Image source: ガンダム Twilight AXIS‏ on Twitter

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