Mobile Suit Gundam, Episode 43: Escape

This is it! The grand finale! The final episode of Mobile Suit Gundam. Wow. I’m… I’m honestly a little awestruck to be here, you know? I set out to go through the series episode by episode on this blog, and now I’ve actually reached the end. Wild!

I think it’s interesting that this episode, the last of series (and, as far as the production team knew, the franchise) is called “Escape.” It makes sense within the context of the show–the climax focuses on various characters escaping A Baoa Qu–but I can’t help but wonder if perhaps Tomino felt that ending the series was its own kind of escape.

We jump right into the action here, with the Gundam facing down the Zeong while White Base’s crew fights through A Baoa Qu. This is genuinely tense, riveting stuff–it’s the last episode, after all, so it really feels like anyone could die.

The Gundam and Zeong face off, but Amuro quickly figures out that if he gets close to the enemy suit, Char won’t be able to take advantage of the Psycommy system–he’d risk shooting himself. As the battle drags on, both Zeong and Gundam lose an arm apiece, and Amuro angrily asks Char, “Why did you involve Lalah? She was never meant to be a soldier!”

Char is forced to retreat and, harkening back to his last conversation with Lalah, dons his normal suit. It’s a good thing, too, because shortly thereafter the core of the Zeong is destroyed (though it takes off the Gundam’s head in the process). To Amuro’s surprise, though, it turns out that the Zeong’s cockpit is in the head–and, even more shocking, the head can actually move around on its own! Char jets away in his weird little antlered head capsule, but Amuro gives chase, now relying entirely on his Newtype powers since the Gundam’s cameras were housed in its now-obliterated head. This leads to one of the most iconic scenes in the franchise: the so-called Last Shooting.

It’s… it’s beautiful.

The heavily damaged Gundam fires upwards and lands a grazing shot on the Zeong head, which fires down at the same time. The Zeong head takes enough damage to finish it off, though Char escapes; meanwhile, the Gundam’s right side is all but destroyed. Amuro, undeterred, takes off after his rival.

While all of that’s happening, we cut around to various other parts of the battle. Both of White Base’s engines are destroyed, forcing it to land on A Baoa Qu; Hayato and Kai hold off enemy forces as long as they can, but eventually both the Guntank and Guncannon sustain critical damage and the two men have to get out and fight with rifles. Similarly, Sayla has to bring the G-Fighter in and ends up sensing Char with newly manifested Newtype abilities, so she heads off to look for him. On the Zeon side, Kycilia covertly readies her own escape while instructing her subordinates to surrender A Baoa Qu fifteen minutes after her departure. In her words, Zeon will continue as long as the Zabi name lives on.

Char and Amuro briefly clash in a hallway; Amuro reveals that he’s going after the Zabi family now, and continues to berate Char for his role in Lalah’s death. Char counters that the war awakened Lalah’s Newtype abilities, and by extension Amuro’s as well. He concludes that, the way things are now, Newtypes are destined to be used as weapons… and he can’t let a weapon as powerful as Amuro stand in his way.

By the time Sayla finds the two of them, they’re locked in a fencing duel. Char knows that Amuro is a more talented Newtype than him, and so he’s lured his foe into a more physical battle where psychic ability may not matter as much. It’s an alright theory, but it doesn’t bear out–when the two ultimately land blows on each other, Char’s blade pierces Amuro’s shoulder, while Amuro’s strikes Char right between the eyes. If it hadn’t been for Char’s trademark mask/helmet, he’d be dead.

As they strike each other, the two finally have the kind of psychic connection Amuro experienced with Lalah (in fact, visually, it’s insinuated that Lalah’s spirit is connecting the two). Also, Char’s fencing foil snaps off in Amuro’s arm, which… damn. No thanks!

Anyway, Char reiterates his feelings that Newtypes will only be used for war, but this time he asks Amuro to join him in stopping that. Of course, right about then there’s a big explosion (kind of a deus ex machina, but hey, this is an active warzone), which Sayla is nearly caught in. Char saves her and the siblings are separated from Amuro.

Char and Sayla share one last conversation. The former, now unmasked, admits that after everything he’s decided that it just wouldn’t feel right to let the last Zabi escape; he’s going to go finish off Kycilia. He urges Sayla to leave war behind her, and even seems to nudge her toward a relationship with Amuro, saying that the young pilot is “calling to her.” Much like the scene between Fraw and Hayato last episode, this seems like last-minute foreshadowing for Zeta Gundam, although it doesn’t actually pay off (I know, that doesn’t make a lot of sense; we’ll talk about it when we get to Zeta).

Char reaches Kycilia’s ship just as its taking off. He’s got a bazooka. With a cheeky salute and a brief mental note to Garma (“Consider this a farewell gift. I’m sure you’ll get along with your sister.”), Char fires and literally decapitates Kycilia with his shot. In the chaos, the entire ship crashes, setting off a chain reaction throughout A Baoa Qu. It’s absolutely wild to think Char could survive this, but then it’s also wild to think that he could hit a moving target in the head from a fair distance with a giant bazooka, and he managed that, so…

Amuro, for his part, makes it back to the Gundam’s wreckage and manages to extract the still-functional Core Fighter. He psychically guides Sayla and the White Base crew to safety as the base detonates all around them. Most heartbreaking of all, the White Base itself–heavily damaged from the fight–explodes shortly after the crew leave it behind. Oof. After surviving all the narrow scrapes throughout the show’s run, it’s hard to see the ship go. As the survivors drift away from A Baoa Qu on their escape craft, they realize that everyone made it out alive… except Amuro. They heard his voice guiding them to safety, but he hasn’t arrived.

And then Katz, Letz, and Kikka started talking, telling no one in particular to “go left, now straight, now left,” and so on until at last the Core Fighter comes into view. Our hero got out of A Baoa Qu after all, thanks to–of all things–those three annoying kids.

A tearful Amuro reunites with the crew and they all fly on to safety as the battle ends around them. The narrator explains that this has been the final fight; as the calendar ticks over to Universal Century 0080, peace talks are initiated. Our heroes have made it through.

I know that Zeta Gundam is coming up next, and overall I’m really excited to talk about it–it’s an excellent series. But for now… let’s just pretend that this is where Gundam stops. Let’s let these characters enjoy their peace. They’ve earned it.

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