Mobile Suit Gundam, Episode 32: Breakthrough

This episode picks up almost immediately after the last one: the White Base is just coming out of its most recent clash with Char. We can tell not much time has passed because Kai is still taking the shower that all the pilots went to at the end of episode 31.

Unfortunately for our heroes, their fight isn’t actually over yet: a new mobile armor has launched from Char’s ship! It’s none of than the Zakrello:

I usually make a joke in these captions, but look as this thing. It IS the joke.

What’s funny is that, when we cut over to Char, we find out that he didn’t send out the Zakrello and in fact has no idea what it is. It seems that Tokwan–the Bigro pilot that died last episode–was quite popular with his men, so a guy named Dimitri launched without permission in the Zakrello to avenge him. As for the mobile armor itself, it was a prototype that was scrapped shortly into testing.

So, to recap, the big threat here is a rogue pilot in a piece of tech that the villains thought was worthless. The fight goes about as well you’d expect; Amuro and Hayato launch, the Zakrello gets a couple hits in on the Gundam, and then Amuro takes it out. It’s over insanely fast, in part because Amuro’s Newtype abilities are continuing to grow–he’s able to effectively predict the Zakrello’s moves and outmaneuver it.

Oh, also? Hayato doesn’t do a damn thing. Why do they even send this guy out?

There are basically no repercussions to this fight. It’s over in a flash, and the Gundam sustains minor damage; it doesn’t even affect Zeon, really–as Char points out, he didn’t even know the Zakrello existed, so he’s certainly not upset about losing it. The fact that a pilot also died doesn’t even register as a concern with the Red Comet. He’s certainly gotten a lot colder since the early episodes, when he seemed to genuinely mourn Crown’s death.

With that odd excursion out of the way, we move on to the actual plot of the episode. Char contacts Dren. You remember Dren, right? He was the guy whose ship Char was on at the very start of the series.

Yeah, that guy. You know, Dren! Dren. Our old friend.

Dren is in the area, so Char calls him in to help take out the White Base. Dren provides three Musai ships and six Rick Dom mobile suits for the assault, attempting to cut off the White Base’s advance while Char pursues the Federation ship from behind.

In the brief interim between combats, we get a snapshot of what’s going on with our heroes. Most prominently, Sayla is having a bit of a breakdown about having to face off against her brother. Char’s relentless assault in the previous episode seems to have shaken her faith in the man, and in herself; she asks Amuro for piloting tips so that she can survive her next fight.

Sayla and Sleggar end up launching in the G-Bull and G-Fighter, respectively, while Hayato and Kai head out in the Guntank and Guncannon. Amuro is stuck waiting for repairs to the Gundam (okay, so I guess the Zakrello fight did have one minor consequence). Around this time, we also learn that the White Base’s decoy operation was a success, and the Tianem Fleet is headed safely toward Luna II.

As they sortie with the enemy forces, Kai, Sayla, Hayato, and Sleggar make fairly quick work of three Rick Doms. it’s mostly Kai and Sayla doing the work here–Sleggar is trying to show off and doesn’t accomplish much, and Hayato is, well… he’s Hayato. After wiping out half the enemy mobile suits, they fall back to the White Base, which the remaining Rick Doms are assaulting. The Federation forces sustain the attack and even manage to critically damage an enemy Musai before Amuro is finally able to deploy.

Once the Gundam is on the field, the fight is basically over. It’s actually kind of terrifying: we see the battle from Dren’s point of view, and the Gundam just tears through the Zeon forces like tissue paper. Amuro takes out the remaining Doms and ships in no time flat (including Dren’s). It’s brutal, and it perfectly demonstrates why some Gundam media refers to him as the Federation’s White Devil.

Though the fight resolved fairly quickly, the White Base sustained quite a bit of damage over the course of the last two episodes. As a result, it needs to stop for repairs… and the closest available venue to do so is Side 6, the neutral colony. Hmmm, didn’t someone just mention Side 6 recently? Isn’t that where a certain would-be groom in a certain arranged marriage fled to at the start of the war? Man, what are the odds?

And that’s about it for this episode. Frankly, for being mostly action scenes, this episode was kind of boring. The Zakrello was a throwaway fight; it felt like Sunrise told Tomino “You have to work in this weird mobile armor so we can sell toys of it” and he did so in the most insulting, minimalist way possible. The bigger battle against Dren’s forces wasn’t much better, existing mostly to showcase Amuro’s increasing skill on the battlefield. The whole thing felt like filler. Ultimately, these events do advance the narrative by forcing White Base to Side 6, but it seems to me the events of last episode could’ve justified that anyway. Maybe the writers just really wanted to kill off Dren?

Regardless, that’s all for now. Tune in next week to see what awaits our heroes on Side 6!

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