Mobile Suit Gundam, Episode 26: Char Returns

I have to admit, for an episode with a title that promising, this was kind of a letdown. It’s not a bad episode, per se–it’s just that it’s mostly setup without a whole lot of payoff.

We begin with the familiar “mid-air docking” footage (sans Ryu this time, for obvious reasons). Apparently Amuro is trying to break his record; the fastest he’s completed a docking is seventeen seconds. Bright thinks he can top it, despite the White Base engineers’ insistence that seventeen seconds is the bare minimum time the procedure takes. “Even if it’s impossible, Amuro can do it,” Bright says with a smile. It’s nice to see that after all they’ve gone through together, Bright and Amuro have arrived at a place of mutual respect.

It turns out that the ship is on its way to Northern Ireland to resupply at a Federation base. Seeing as this is the first time the crew will have been to a real military installation, it’ll also be the point at which the Side 7 survivors are all officially brought into the Federation ranks.

Unfortunately, as the White Base arrives and begins to dock, a young woman catches sight of it and sends out a message attached to a balloon… a balloon that floats out to sea and is recovered by a Zeon submarine. Say, remember a few episodes back when Kycilia mentioned Char was being assigned to the ‘Mad Angler’ Squadron? Kind of sounds like a water-based unit, doesn’t it?

That’s right: the spy’s message ends up in the hands of none other than the Red Comet himself.

He came here to laugh at you.

While Char learns of White Base’s arrival, the ship’s crew meets with General Revil. He expresses gratitude for all White Base has done and gives them orders to head to the Federation’s Jaburo Base in South America. But Fraw Bow has a question: what if the Side 7 folks don’t actually want to be part of the military anymore?

No worries–if that’s the case, they’ll just have to serve a year in prison.

Yeah, it turns out that when you serve on a ship that houses a superweapon and is privy to all kinds of military secrets, leaving the military isn’t really in the cards. Revil is at least willing to give them a light sentence, as opposed to the lifetime sentence that would normally be meted out. Still, a year in jail isn’t exactly appealing, so for the time being everyone seems content to stay on White Base.

With that conversation out of the way, Revil moves on to discussing Zeon’s current military strategy, which amounts to “throw every mobile suit at the wall and see what sticks.” They’re looking for a silver bullet–a single powerful mobile suit that can wipe out the Gundam, rather than an army of lower-caliber mobile suits. Revil also notes that they’re experimenting with something called ‘mobile armor,’ which we’ll learn more about within a few episodes.

After the meeting, we see the spy girl hanging out near the Federation base, trying to sell stuff to the soldiers; she even has a brief chat with Kai, slyly foreshadowing the relationship that will develop next episode. The main focus of the scene, however, is Amuro and Fraw Bow, who discuss the revelation that the Side 7 folks are basically stuck on the White Base. Fraw admits that she doesn’t actually want to leave the ship, but she knows that Katz, Letz, and Kikka won’t be able to stay and she worries about who will care for them if she leaves them behind.

Ah, but there’s been enough dialogue for one episode, right? After all, this is a show about big robots, and the Mad Angler’s Captain Boone is all too happy to remind us of that fact. The sub launches first two mobile suits, and then a cavalcade of missiles that cover the suits’ arrival on shore.

As Revil mentioned, Zeon is trying all kinds of new suit designs, and here we’re treated to one of the more bizarre ones: the Gogg.

Not your best work, Zeon.

Two of these amphibious mobile suits arrive and start wrecking stuff up, and wouldn’t you know it, most of the White Base’s mobile suits are in the middle of repairs. Only the Gundam is ready to launch; it does so and engages its foes as Sayla stands by in the G-Fighter. However, the Gundam’s beam rifle isn’t available, meaning Amuro will have his work cut out for him–the Gogg’s thick armor repels vulcan rounds with ease. Amuro tries to take a melee approach instead, utilizing the Gundam Hammer (remember that thing? It’s been a while!), but the Gogg manages to yank it from the Gundam’s grasp.

As the battle rages, Revil’s advisors try to shepherd the General into a bunker, but he won’t hear of it. “A commander who gives orders from the back of the fight can lose even a winning battle,” he says, and continues to give commands despite the fact that the base he’s in is under siege. It’s easy to see why the man is so respected within the Federation.

Around this time the Guntank’s repairs are finished and it rolls out, but I’ll be honest–it doesn’t really do anything in this fight. I mean, are we surprised? It is Hayato piloting it, after all…

Since Amuro has been disarmed, he retreats back to the White Base and hatches a scheme: he can use the powerful cannons on the G-Parts to make up for the fact that his beam rifle is out of commission. This is where things get a little complicated.

Alright, so we know that the G-Fighter is the name of the ship that can pop the Gundam out of its belly, right? So clearly, it can separate into two parts (with the Gundam being in the middle; I think when the Gundam is inside it, it’s called the G-Armor). The back half doesn’t appear to have any special qualities of its own; it can fly and it houses the Gundam’s B parts (the legs), but that’s it. The front half, however, houses the Gundam’s A parts (the torso) and can turn into a tank called the G-Bull. The G-Bull is basically a ground version of the G-Fighter. Amuro’s plan is to launch in the G-Bull while Sayla launches in the… G-Other-Half (does it have a name…?). Then Amuro will take out the enemies and the two of them will combine into the G-Armor, which will then split into the Gundam and the G-Fighter.

Why not just launch as the G-Armor and fight off the Goggs in that, you ask? No idea. Presumably, they wanted to sell some G-Bull toys.

At any rate, the plan works and Amuro takes out a Gogg (RIP Marshy). The other Gogg retreats into the water and Amuro–now back in the Gundam–gives chase. The problem is, the Gogg was designed for underwater use; the Gundam was not. Amuro is nearly destroyed by the Gogg until he takes out its main camera with his beam saber and–

Hold up. Why didn’t he use his beam saber earlier? Wouldn’t that have made things a lot easier?

Er… anyway… he takes out the other Gogg and there’s a highly ineffective fake-out where White Base and Revil think that maybe Amuro died too. He didn’t, of course, and he retunrs to the ship, victorious.

Back on the Mad Angler, Captain Boone reports the Goggs’ destruction to Char. The Zeon ace isn’t surprised; in fact, he seems almost glad that Boone’s men failed their mission. Now he’s got the chance to take on the Gundam himself.

“I can’t rest until I bring this guy down with my own two hands,” Char says, perfectly summing up the rivalry that defines the two men’s lives. “This is the mobile suit that injured my pride.”

It’s a rather chilling note to end on, but it does redeem the episode a bit: though he wasn’t the main threat this week, his final speech shows that Char truly has returned.

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