Mobile Suit Gundam, Episode 6 – Garma Strikes

Welcome back! It’s time to jump into yet another episode of Mobile Suit Gundam. This week’s episode picks up right where “Re-entry to Earth” left off–with White Base facing down Zeon forces led by Garma Zabi!

Let’s talk about Garma for a second. Garma is the youngest child of the Zabi family, who are the leaders of Zeon. He’s about Char’s age, and it’s clear immediately that he is eager to prove himself; he thanks Char for granting him the opportunity to capture White Base and thereby impress his older sister (and commander), Kycilia Zabi. He’s also a bit arrogant, as he feels quite certain that he’ll be able to capture the Federation vessel despite the trouble it’s given Char.

We also learn that Garma and Char are “old friends.” See, I use quotes because while they both describe each other as “old friends,” it’s not hard to infer that they were a bit more than “old friends.” They seem fairly close, fondly speaking of their days together in the military academy; that, admittedly, isn’t much to go on in terms of their relationship, but there’s just… something there. Something in the way they interact just screams “former lovers” to me.

Plus, later in the episode, Garma is casually hanging out in Char’s room while Char is taking a shower. So… make of that what you will.

Anyway, White Base is surrounded by Zeonic forces and Garma is about to strike (naturally). The Gundam and Core Fighter are being repaired and restocked with ammunition after last episode’s fight. Seeing Garma’s Gaw Attack Carrier heading their way, Lt. Reed is insistent that the Gundam launch. Really, dude? Last week, you were threatening to court martial Bright for sending it out; now it’s in the middle of repairs and you want to launch it right away? I hate this guy.

Bright isn’t too fond of him either, and tells him straight out that Lieutenant or no, he is not calling the shots on White Base. Man, I love Bright! Luna II seems to have been a catalyzing event for him; he’s been in full-on Captain Mode ever since. He knows White Base and its crew better than Reed, and he’s not going to listen to Reed’s bad calls, regardless of the guy’s rank.

Rather than send out the Gundam, the bridge crew puts together a plan to send out the Guntank. Its cannons are ideal for taking out the Dopp jets that are closing in on the White Base, and the fact that it’s a two-pilot system means Amuro doesn’t have to bear the burden of combat alone–overall, it’s a solid strategy. Sadly, I have to admit that this plan was proposed by Hayato. I suppose the little twerp is occasionally useful.

Unfortunately, it soon becomes apparent that the Federation forces have more than just Dopps to worry about: Magella tanks are arriving now, too, meaning White Base has to deal with both ground and air forces. It doesn’t take long for the Guntank to get overwhelmed, forcing Amuro to return to the ship and hop in the Gundam after all. It’s about this time that we start seeing how much of a toll all of this is taking on Amuro. He is short with Hayato several times as they work the Guntank together (not that I blame him) and becomes agitated and impatient while waiting for the Gundam to launch. He’s clearly growing bitter about his role on the ship.

One of the things irritating him is the lack of instruction he’s received for the upcoming fight. Bright, for all his increased confidence, is still bad at combat and hasn’t given any direction as to how the mobile suits should handle this situation. Amuro might be smart, but he’s still just a kid with no military training, and isn’t sure how to proceed. In a weird, sexist moment, he considers asking Sayla for strategic advice before telling himself no, he could never ask a woman how to fight! What makes this line particularly strange is that only a few minutes before, when he’d had to leave the Guntank, he had recommended that Sayla take his place as its secondary pilot, so clearly he has faith in her combat skills.

At this point, we cut over to Zeon, where we learn that Garma is going to deploy a few Zakus in an effort to completely overwhelm and capture White Base. Char is dismayed to learn that Garma won’t be piloting a mobile suit himself; as it turns out, this whole thing was a setup by Char–he actually wants his “old friend” to fail. He was hoping that Garma would either die in the assault or that Char could swoop in and rescue him, earning more glory. The latter makes sense for Char’s current situation; his failure to capture White Base or the Gundam thus far has surely damaged his reputation, but saving a Zabi could quickly restore it. Musing about leaving his buddy to die, though? That’s a big hint that Char isn’t quite what he says he is. Char’s mysterious vendetta against Garma (and, we’ll later learn, the entire Zabi family) is a key part of his character that we’re just now learning about.

It’s lucky for Garma that he chose not to deploy himself, as Amuro makes quick work of the Magella tanks and Zakus. In fact, Amuro sort of loses it here. He pulls out a beam saber and goes into straight-up berserker mode–he’s running around the battlefield screaming and hacking enemy suits to bits. By the time the fighting is done, he’s just standing there repeatedly stabbing wreckage. It’s deeply uncomfortable and a bit frightening. It’s almost as if, just maybe, being forced to pilot an enormous steel death machine during your young, formative years is… bad for you? No… no, that can’t be right…

And so, White Base is saved, and all it took was the mental breakdown of an innocent teen. Yay! Everyone returns to the ship and Amuro heads to his room to be alone. Meanwhile, Garma chastises a showering Char for not properly warning him about the Gundam’s power (it’s deeply erotic). That’s about it for the episode! Not a whole lot happened here, but we did get two pretty important developments: the introduction of Garma, who will be a major player for some time, and the first major indication that piloting the Gundam is having a negative effect on Amuro. We also got a little piece of the Char puzzle that we’ll spend a good chunk of the series solving. We’ll see what all of these things mean for the White Base next time, when we watch “The Core Fighter’s Escape.”

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