Mobile Suit Gundam, Episode 38: Char and Sayla

“Char and Sayla” picks up right where “The Duel in Texas” left off: with Amuro’s Gundam standing in the wrecked Texas colony, the pilot confused by his sudden psychic connection with Lalah. Meanwhile, outside, the White Base is locked in a stalemate with the remnants of M’Quve’s fleet; neither side wants to move first and give away their position.

On board the White Base, things are tense. No one knows what happened to the Gundam after it entered the colony, and several characters–Fraw Bow in particular–are worried that the mobile suit was shot down. Mirai has words of encouragement, however: she states that somehow, she’s certain Amuro is still alive. The franchise as a whole doesn’t dwell on it too much, but this is more evidence that Mirai is certainly a Newtype (which was first implied much, much earlier, if you recall some of her conversations with Bright in the first half of the series).

Speaking of Newtypes, the phrase is getting thrown around quite a bit this episode. Char tries to ambush Amuro, but our hero dodges every one of the Red Comet’s shots. This leads Char to conclude that Amuro must be a Newtype… not that the show had done a good job of explaining what that even means yet.

At any rate, Amuro strikes back and the two have a pretty cool fight: the Gundam is armed with its beam sabers, while Char’s Gelgoog uses a naginata (and, of course, his signature move, CHAR KICK). Both pilots get in some good strikes, leaving their mobile suits heavily damaged. Char manages to escape, and the Gundam is too messed up to pursue. The Zeon ace detonates a dummy explosive to give them impression that his suit exploded, but Amuro isn’t buying it–he knows his nemesis is still out there somewhere.

Outside the colony, Zeon’s reinforcements begin to arrive… only to be interrupted by a Federation ship: a Magellan-class cruiser helmed by Commandant Wakkein! Wakkein opens fire, wiping out the enemy. With the battle underway, M’Quve’s fleet moves out to back up its backup, exposing themselves to the White Base’s guns. This fight is quick and brutal; the Federation quickly emerges victorious (thanks to canny strategy by Bright and excellent G-Fighter piloting from Sayla), but the speedy resolution makes everyone realize how easily the battle could have gone the other way.

With the immediate threat vanquished, the White Base moves to recover Amuro and the Gundam. Sayla and a few other minor crew members head into Texas Colony to search. On the bridge of the ship, Fraw is clearly distracted; Bright suggests that she go check on Hayato, which is a pretty diplomatic way of getting her out of his hair. Good captaining, Bright! This leaves Bright to man the comms.

As Sayla drives around Texas looking for Amuro, she’s surprised by the sudden appearance of Char. The two have a long conversation and, for the first time, the two’s backstory is actually laid out. It turns out that the two are the children of Zeon Zum Deikun, founder of Zeon (which I believe we already knew), who predicted the rise of a new kind of human: Newtypes. Again, what are Newtypes? Well, it’s not really elaborated on, but they are apparently the next evolution of humanity. While they don’t spell it out, it’s at least easy to infer based on what’s going on with Amuro and Lalah that Newtypes are psychic.

Anyway, Zeon Zum Deikun took ill and died. On his deathbed, he pointed to Degwin Zabi. Zabi claimed that Deikun was singling the Zabis out as his successors, using that to seize control of the Republic of Zeon. However, one of Deikun’s confidantes–Jimba Ral, father of Ramba Ral–suspected that Deikun was in fact pointing to Zabi as his assassin. Ral thought Deikun had been poisoned, and as a result, he took Deikun’s two children to Earth, where he raised them under assumed names. As an adult, Deikun’s son, Casval, joined the Zeon military under the name Char Aznable in order to get close to the Zabis and kill them to avenge his father, thus explaining what Char has been up to all along!

However, Char now says that killing the Zabis isn’t enough. Sure, it will satisfy his thirst for vengeance, but it will do nothing to further their father’s dream: building a society of Newtypes out in space. He tells Sayla he won’t rest until Zeon Zum Deikun’s goals are fulfilled, and urges her to leave the military, even offering to give her enough gold to escape to Earth and live peacefully.

Here’s the thing: throughout this entire conversation, Sayla has her helmet on. Her flight suit helmet. Which radios back to White Base, where Bright is currently monitoring communications. Meaning Bright just heard everything, though he doesn’t fully understand it.

At any rate, Char takes off and Sayla finds Amuro. The White Base heads into Texas Colony to pick up the damaged Gundam. While they’re inside, Char’s Zanzibar exits the colony and enters combat with Wakkein’s Magellan. White Base hurries to assist, but they’re too late; by the time they get back outside, their allied ship has been destroyed. Commandant Wakkein is no more.

The White Base recovers something odd from just outside the colony: a suitcase with a note pinned to it, stating that the contents are meant for Sayla. Bright confronts her about it and she admits that it is likely from Char and almost certainly contains gold. This bears out, and that’s where we leave things for now–with Sayla sobbing as she realizes that the brother she once knew is a different man altogether now.

It’s been a string of heavy episodes, and it’s not about to let up; check back next week as another tragedy befalls the White Base!

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