Anime Review: Gundam NT

When I heard about the upcoming release of Gundam NT (or Gundam Narrative) the thought I had coming in was that the film was going to be the kickoff point for the next chapter of the saga of the Universal Century. That, after the conclusion of Gundam Unicorn set up something of a new status quo, this would start a series of films that would basically lay the groundwork for eventually reaching F91, Crossbone Gundam, and Victory Gundam.

Instead, Gundam NT serves as an epilogue, a conclusion that lays out some of the repercussions for how the world stands after the events of Gundam Unicorn, and can certainly give an idea on how the world can evolve after the end of Unicorn. It does this by introducing a third major mobile suit in the same series as the Gundam Lion and Gundam Unicorn mobile suits – the Gundam Fenix (or Phoenix).

The Phoenix is a pretty blatant retcon, considering that the two mobile suits were modeled on the two beasts from the medieval tapestry in the house of Cardeas Vist, and there was no phoenix called out on that tapestry, but they explain this as having it be a product not of the Vist Foundation, but the Titans during the events of Gundam Zeta – as part of a project to amplify the powers of a Newtype by giving them Cyber-Newtype augmentations. The child chosen was Rita Bernal, who along with two friends – Jona Basta and Michele Luio – predicted the Zeon colony drop and managed to save several communities.

During an incident during the testing of the Phoenix, the mobile suit and Rita were lost, and now Michele and Jona trying to work to them using the resources at their disposal – Michele using the resources of the newly introduced Luio Trading company, and Jona using his contacts within the Earth Federation government. Meanwhile, forces within the Earth Federation government have buried the technology contained within the Unicorn and the Lion, and are seeking to find and bury the Fenix as well.

What this ultimately means is that while the main focus on the plot is on a slew of new characters – we get a whole bunch of cameo appearances of characters from Gundam UC (along with some archive footage from Char’s Counterattack, Zeta, and Double Zeta to illustrate some points of exposition about Newtypes) as well, including one of the two leads from Gundam UC making a timely save at the end of the story.

That said, the film ends after the credits with a teaser for the first of three planned Hatheway’s Flash films – and considering that the Gundam UC features a repeat of Axis Shock, and Gundam NT makes clear (without getting into spoilers) that what happened in UC wasn’t a fluke. I can’t help but feel like unless Hatheway’s Flash doesn’t make adjustments to the plot of the story to reflect the characters and events of NT and UC, it’s going to be something of a letdown. This film and the series that came before made some real changes in how the world could work in the Universal Century – Newtypes are in the open, and there are people out there who, combined with psychoframe technology, can show powers that make what Amuro could do look like nothing.

Now, I liked the movie – it’s extremely well animated, and the film’s villain, while two dimensional, works for a two-hour movie. There are enough big concepts here that anything too involved would require taking enough time from the other big plot points. It just feels like this movie is the two hour equivalent of the post-credits stinger from Iron Man. It’s the bit at the end that makes clear that the Universal Century universe as we knew it can’t exist anymore – it’s a big enough thing that if I were Sunrise, I’d be thinking about re-booting F91 to tweak it to fit the ways we’ve upended the Gundam universe.

I’m glad I saw this in theaters – but I can’t help but feel like it leaves the Universal Century in a form where whatever form Hatheway’s Flash was as a novel, they’ll have to make some significant changes now, and whatever the end result is, it may be barely recognizable from the original form.