UPDATE: Corrected some translations based on updates from the official English website.
Yesterday was the Gundam Next Future -Link The Universe- event where the intent was to link all four life-sized Gundam statues as part of the premiere of Mobile Suit Gundam the WITCH from MERCURY — PROLOGUE. After watching the episode, which I’ll get into shortly, the use of “link” here is revealed to be tied into the story of the WITCH from MERCURY.
I was able to watch the special yesterday, and thanks to the Gundam communities over at Twitter and Reddit, we have a better understanding of the events in PROLOGUE. They did announce international premieres of the special episode, the first being in SDCC next week, so we’ll probably have better translations by then. In any case, let’s dive in.
The episode opens with a pilot testing her connection to the mobile suit she’s in. This mobile suit is the Gundam Lfrith, a prototype Gundam-type mobile suit from the Ochs Earth company. Through exposition via news coverage, it’s revealed that this mobile suit, and the GUND Format technology it uses, was initially aimed at providing medical solutions to human physiological problems arising from living in space.
These solutions mainly involve cybernetics, which was then adapted by Ochs Earth for military use in, you guessed it, mobile suits. However, it wasn’t the easiest of technologies to translate, as this use case inadvertently caused enormous physical strains to the pilots.
This ultimately led to the rise of groups who are totally against the research and use of GUND Format technology, and in essence, Gundams.
The test pilot who’s having difficulties establishing a link to the Gundam Lfrith is Elnora Samaya, who is also revealed to be the mother of the adorable Ericht “Eri” Samaya — who is highly likely to be Suletta Mercury in the main series. Elnora is very much dedicated to this project as she owes her life to Cardo Nabo, the GUND Format research head over at Ochs Earth.
Ochs Earth has also developed these Gundam Lfrith Pre-Production Model units which utilize funnel-like wire-guided weapons called Bit Staves. The technology isn’t fully developed and using this puts much strain on the pilot. But with the decision to stop development of Gundam-type mobile suits, and the establishment of an organization to enact this directive, the team at Ochs Earth has no choice but to fight using this dangerous technology.
Before Cardo Nabo met her demise, she let Eri into the cockpit of Gundam Lftith and allowed her to link with the GUND Format system, to which she does with ease, and much to the horror of her mother when she found later on.
In the ensuing battle, the Gundam Lfrith was able to deploy its bits thanks to Eri but before the enemy mobile suit disrupts this with its weapons. In the end, Eri’s father charges in and gives them time to escape as he sings her Happy Birthday one last time.
The first thing I immediately noticed upon watching PROLOGUE is the heavier emphasis on science, cybernetics, and the ethics of its usage. For some reason, this kind of setting gives me the feeling of higher stakes than the mostly political setting of IRON-BLOODED ORPHANS or Gundam 00. But we definitely still have politics with the new enforcing organization taking over the mobile suit development council on Earth. It makes me look forward to how all of these, and the mega corporations that will be introduced in the main series, will impact the dynamics over GUND Format technology. And with Eri demonstrating her innate capability to easily link with GUND Format technology, we might have the very reason she will become the “witch” from Mercury years after.
As for the episode itself, it has great animation as expected from Sunrise, or Bandai Namco Filmworks if you want to be technical. But the other thing that really stood out to me are the soundtrack and sound design. With the former giving me that ethereal, high-science feel, while the latter being reminiscent of the same treatment given to Gundam Hathaway.
Ultimately, I’m quite excited about this series, something that I admit to having not felt with Gundam AGE and, to a much lesser extent, IRON-BLOODED ORPHANS. Mobile Suit Gundam the WITCH from MERCURY is set to premiere this October and will be simulcast internationally.