“… and also this…” (Courtesy of Youtube user PotKettleB1ack)
“… but I heard it’s a sequel of a long list of Universal Century titles…”
“… and I have no time to watch all 100+ shows and endure ‘old’ animation.”
That is quite a problem. The beauty of the Universal Century (UC) series comes from the long list of titles that comprised it. Watching Unicorn without any background of the previous shows will leave you completely lost since it assumes you already know. Searching the terms is a very troublesome task too, with chances of being spoiled when done carelessly.
I made a simple guide for those who face such a dilemma and, hopefully, shed a lot of light on Gundam Unicorn. I would first go through some common terms used in the whole UC timeline (which will help you watch ANY UC related show in the franchise). Then I will discuss some major events from the past titles that would be part of the whole Unicorn experience. Finally, a guide on understanding some concepts in episode 1 in a Question and Answer format.
WARNING: This post contains a lot of images and will need a stable connection to work properly.
Common terms in the Universal Century (UC) timeline:
- Minovsky particles
This is probably the most frequent term that everyone asks about. In simple terms, Minovsky particles are the main energy resources used in combat and communication.
- Mobile SUIT
In the UC franchise, Mobile SUIT (MS) is an acronym for Mobile Space Utility Instrumental Tactical.
In UC, updated technology is the key to victory and, unless you are protected by the plot, an outdated suit will have a really low chance of winning against improved suits.
- Ship and MS classes
What’s a clop class cruiser? What’s a Zeta class MS? This is a common classification system used even in actual military weaponry when they refer to the category of weapon that they are using.
Ah, the Funnel. These weapons bring in the cool of every battle. They are drones that are deployed by an MS that shoots lasers from different angles. They usually come in groups so the line of lasers will be everywhere, leaving its opponents destroyed. Unfortunately, these babies can only be controlled with Newtype powers since they lack computer control.
- Anaheim Electronics
A manufacturing company in the UC franchise that serves as an all-around provider of everyone’s needs. If they are famous for one thing, it would be that they are responsible for the production of weapons, specifically Mobile Suits and their armaments. This company is so rich that it can even fund projects for the creation of schools, large space ships, and space colonies. Infamous for being a “merchant of death”, they would gladly serve both sides given they receive the right pay.
- Psycommu and Psychoframe
Psycommu is a shortened acronym for psychic communicator. As the name implies, it lets you communicate with something using your brainwaves. It takes a great amount of brain waves to make use of this system so only those with Newtype powers are able to utilize them. Psychoframes are the nanomachines installed around the pilot’s cockpit that uses the psycommu system.
They give Newtype pilots better control with their MS so its movements follow their quick reflexes.
- The Earth Federation
Also known as the Earthlings or simply the Feddies, the Earth Federation is the united Federation of all the nations on Earth.
The Federation rules over all the nations in Earth and also the space colonies in outer space. They extended into space since Earth is always plagued with different natural disasters and space colonies provide a stable environment for the people.
- Londo Bell
Londo Bell is the special space force of the Earth Federation that took charge in protecting the Federation after the First Neo Zeon War. They are veterans in combat and led by Bright Noa, a commander during the One Year War.
- The Principality of Zeon (The Zabi Zeon)
Named after their former leader, Zeon Zum Deikun, the Principality of Zeon (Zeon) is the government established by the Spacenoids against the Federation.
Their objective was to be independent from the control of the Federation and would do whatever it takes to fulfill that objective.
In Unicorn, Zeon is no more as it has been replaced by the Neo Zeon movement (currently the Sleeves) but those who remain faithful to the Principality remain, although only few in number.
- Neo Zeon (literally translates to New Zeon)
After Zeon’s fall during the One Year War and the Zabi family out of the scenario, several armed organizations decided to take its place. The term Neo Zeon is used by three armed organizations that succeeded Zeon in the comingyears of the UC timeline. Arranged in their order of succession with their leaders are:
- Space Colony
Space colonies are artificial habitats for humans in outer space. They have all the necessities that Earth can provide: artificial gravity, artificial sunlight, and real resources. This was the answer found by Earth in providing the people a better living area since these colonies don’t suffer the natural calamities of famine and earthquakes found on Earth, although an attack on a colony is an immediate massacre.
- Newtypes and Cyber Newtypes
Generally, Newtypes are advanced forms of humans that have evolved at a higher state from the common humans and present unexplored possibilities. They are referred as humans who have adapted in space conditions.
Cyber Newtypes are artificially created Newtypes. Since humans become Newtypes through evolution, some scientists just can’t wait for long and start producing their own Newtypes thanks to drugs and experiments. They have lots of reasons for doing so since Newtypes are aliens for them. In terms of ability, Newtypes and Cyber Newtypes don’t differ much aside from the Cybers being a bit crazy or unstable since they are experiments.
Events before Unicorn that will matter in the story (which this guide assumes you never watched):
- One Year War
The first, and possibly the biggest, conflict between the Federation and Zeon. It ended with the Federation winning and Zeon disbanding. This war showed the Spacenoids’ determination on self-rule.
- Operation Stardust
This was the only successful assault done by the Zeon forces against the Federation since Zeon lost only a handful of skilled soldiers, but the Federation not only lost a lot of supplies for war but also created a corrupt military organization to defend them. This operation revealed that the Federation was secretly planning for more armed aggression in case another Zeon arises.
- Gryps Conflict
In my opinion, this was the biggest battle in the UC series since it used three factions all going at each other: the Anti Earth Union Group (the protagonist’s side AKA the third party), the Titans (Earth), and Axis Zeon (Space). This conflict showed that both sides are learning how to use Newtypes and create Cyber Newtypes for combat. It also showed that any organization is thirsty for power, whichever side they belong to.
- First Neo Zeon War
The First Neo Zeon War was a living hell for normal pilots; almost every pilot has Newtype powers. It’s raining funnels from Axis Zeon and hyper cannons from the Earth Federation. The war revealed little of what Axis Zeon really wanted but it did show that excessive amounts of hatred can lead to one’s destruction.
- Second Neo Zeon War
A new Zeon arises, called Newborn Neo Zeon, and, having had enough of losing, decided to bomb Earth and cause a massive nuclear winter, causing a genocide so that the survivors will live in space. Amuro Ray, hero of the One Year War, once again faces his rival, Char Aznable, in a fierce duel that is just magnificent whichever side you root for. This war showed that one must have hope that humanity will change its dirty ways and forge a future of peace.
The Beginner’s Guide to Gundam Unicorn EP1:
- What is the Laplace Box?
Laplace Box is a secret document that seems so powerful that mere possession of it guarantees that the Earth Federation will pay all your bills and give you enough income that would let you live a luxurious life. Sounds really fishy for Spacenoids so they are in pursuit of it since they received info that the Box is capable of overthrowing the Federation itself. This is a big chance for Spacenoids since the score’s 1-4 in favor of the Feddies.
- What is the Garencieres?
A transport ship that belongs to the Sleeves. Its captain is Suberoa Zinnerman and houses the pilot of the Kshatriya, Marida Cruz.
- Who are these Sleeves?
The side of the bad guys, the Sleeves is a terrorist organization led by Full Frontal. After the fall of the Neo Zeon movement of Char Aznable during the Second Neo Zeon War, the remnants of that movement were banded together by Full Frontal and established the Sleeves. Their current objective is to find the Laplace Box and secure Audrey Burne.
- Where is Luna 2? How about Londenion?
Knowing where they are what they have is of little significance in the story. Cardeas just asks about his informants in those two areas since he is trying to see if the Londo Bell forces are tailing the Sleeves.
- What is this NT-D program that Cardeas speaks of?
- Laplace Program (La+)? A program of the Laplace Box?
The test that Cardeas Vist mentioned is the Laplace Program. This program is the key to finding Laplace Box and is stored inside the Unicorn Gundam. What it does and how it serves to find the Box will be revealed soon.
- What is this Snail/ Colony Builder and what does it do?
From the name itself, a colony builder is responsible for building the colony. Since colonies are artificial habitats that can house millions of people, it would need a big machine to help in its construction. Having Mobile SUIT’s buzzing around for construction seems too time-consuming.
- The Vist Foundation funds Bangher’s school, right? What’s so important about them?
The Vist Foundation is so important since they are the ones who possess Laplace Box. As I mentioned earlier, mere possession of the Box will give you so much power over the Federation that they’ll make life easy for you. Aside from possessing it, they don’t have much history in the UC series. Their reason for giving the key of Laplace Box (Unicorn Gundam) to the Sleeves will be uncovered in the succeeding episodes.
- “I feel that I came back to the past…”
The retro feel is kept in Unicorn since the UC series followed such trend during its airing. The original Gundam show aired in 1979 and Unicorn’s predecessor, Char’s Counterattack, aired in 1988 and its supposed successor, Gundam F91, aired in 1991. It would be surprising to see the characters in Unicorn look like the current Shounens from 2010’s when placed in perspective with the UC timeline. With such consistency, you get a time continuity in the series that helps fit it with everyone else, despite the huge difference in animation level.
- Who is Full Frontal? That’s a ridiculous name!
Leader of the bad guys. You’ll learn more about him on the course of the show. And yes, I agree that it is a ridiculous name, or codename.
- Why were the workers sleeping?
Maybe Marida drugged them or boxed them to sleep, or that famous neck chop that leaves them unconscious. She might be a ninja.
- What’s the significance of The Lady and the Unicorn? Is it just some sort of painting that parallels Banagher’s future as the Unicorn man?
The “The Lady and the Unicorn” is a real thing. It is a set of tapestries (some sort of art medium) that depicts a lady with a servant along with a unicorn and a lion. There are different interpretations regarding this piece of art so its significance to the story might be different depending on how one interprets it. In Unicorn, it calls the unicorn the beast of possibility, with Audrey possibly as the Lady.
- Who is Princess Audrey Burne and why does she seem so important?
As stated in Episode 1, Audrey seems to be such a big shot that she can prevent a war by herself. She’s important since she’s the main heroine. You’ll learn more as the show progress.
- Why is Banagher so persistent in helping?
Banagher states that he can sense war looming with Audrey so he’s a bit persistent in helping her stop such an event. I have three theories regarding this:
- As a normal person, he wants to stop a war. He shudders at the very mention of war so getting involved in one is surely not in his options.
- As a normal teenager, he wants to impress the lady. It’s obvious that he liked Audrey better than Micott.
- As a student who read through his history, he knows he’s got a shot of being a Gundam pilot. The minimum requirements for one is to be a teenager, a battle is bound to happen, and extreme luck to find an unmanned Gundam somewhere.
#2 Case in point:
- J’accuse? Qui?
A French term which translates to “I accuse.” This term is a reference to the open letter of a French writer against the injustice of his government. Cardeas correlates this to the Newtype theory in that, since Newtypes are space evolved humans and the Spacenoids have lost almost every encounter with the Earth Federation, the Newtypes are needed by the Spacenoids to stand up against the Federation.
- What does the phrase “… souls chained to Earth” mean?
A phrase commonly used by Spacenoids against the Federation. From the wording itself, the Spacenoids refer to it as a sign of stubborn tradition that has kept the Earth government from allowing Spacenoids the right to self-rule. As the Spacenoids refer it, they consider the Earthlings as insensitive to their needs and would always consider that the Earth should rule them since all humans came from Earth. They are not letting their souls be free from Earthly ties and would always consider the superiority of their Earth origins above the current need of space people for self-rule.
- What is the test of the La+ program that can overthrow the Federation or revive Zeon?
Cardeas enjoys playing with other people so he decides to have the La+ program as a test that will lead to the Box. He believes that the test will put the person in a better position to decide whether the Box will serve to overthrow the Federation’s control over the Spacenoids or give Zeon another chance to revive itself and start the conflicts all over again.
- The Kshatriya considered a beam saber heavy? But it’s so big and bulky
Each MS is given a set of weaponry fitted to its class/ combat capabilities/ preferences. The beam saber that the Kshatriya is issued with must be of lighter weight compared to the one it stole so there is the heaviness in it. If an MS is big, it doesn’t automatically mean that anything small that it lifts is light.
- Anna, Banagher’s mom
Not much is revealed and will be revealed about Banagher’s mom. She’s just responsible for taking care of him and when she died, Banagher felt depressed and will reflect on how he looks so timid in school.
AND THAT’S IT!
That basically covers much groundwork from all the other titles that you missed. Enjoy your journey with Banagher and his friends and how their world will respond to their future actions. The rest of the episodes will explain much of what you need for the complete experience.
See you soon!
P.S. A peek for my next work