A manga web Series by Bandai in the Gundam Franchise, manga by Atsushi Soga and SOW
I used to get so aggravated with Bandai regarding their handling of the Gundam franchise outside of Japan. holding releases back, overly expensive premium DVD sets, and even refusing to let anyone license model kits. It was typical Japanese business isolationism at it’s peak. Something has changed in the past decade, and it has been amazing. Not only was I able to see the classic film, Char’s Counterattack, in the movie theater prior to Covid, but Netflix has the first-run rights to the newest one (Hathaway). There is a local import model store near my house, and Bandai even releases most of their anime for FREE on Youtube. It’s a great time to be a fan. Today’s review is in regards to one of those YouTube releases, as Bandai and Sunrise are preparing for a new film in the Gundam SEED franchise by doing a bot of cross-media production with Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Eclipse and a number of other projects under the Project Ignited banner.
Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Eclipse is a new manga series releasing as we speak. The series began monthly serialization in a magazine in Japan called Gundam Ace Last summer. Instead of an immediate print release, Gundam.Info began publishing the English translation as a motion-comic on their YouTube channel and website. Chapters of the motion-comic version are split into two acts released every other week.
“C.E.72, a unique era which would later be called the “two blank years.” Some also call it “the time of peace on thin ice”, and others call it “the break before the oncoming frenzy.” This is the story of an interval. A story that takes place between two large wars in which members of a hollow unit known as ODR risked their lives.”
I was kind of worried about this, because Gundam has the same issue that franchises such as Star Wars or Star Trek have – if there is a gap in the timeline, you better believe they will cram something in there, no matter how poorly it fits. Usually, this causes issues with continuity where far too advanced technology is shown before it should be, and is explained away by saying “oh, this is top secret!” or some such. We saw this with Thunderbolt and Unicorn to a degree, but both were decent on their own. I just found that suspending disbelief and pretending it’s not in the middle of other stuff helps. The good news about Eclipse, is that it’s in the middle of the two Gundam SEED shows, and isn’t too out of the ordinary for any other SEED property. Even from day one, SEED has a number of spinoff comics that showed different sides of the conflicts, and this is really no different.
We don’t get too much in the way of overall plot in this volume, which measures around 15 minutes total, split into two parts. It appears that a terrorist group captures a military science vehicle from The ORB Union with the express motivation of ransoming the staff and gaining access to a mysterious box that is said to be worth a lot, and be VERY important. As far as I can tell this happens in the area we know as Colombia in South America (a blurb says “autonomous political District of Colombia” which I guess would put it in Earth Alliance Territory). Peacekeepers from the ORB Disaster Relief Team come in and get permission from the Colombian Police and military leaders to basically “do whatever they want” which seems to foreshadow that this negotiator, named Miyabi, is probably in charge of the Gundam in some way.
We also see two other characters, Ken – a shadowy coordinator that has amazing psychical abilities, and Tatsumi – who despite his goofy attitude is presumably the real Gundam pilot if I were to put money on it. He is posing as a mere student that foolishly fell asleep on the back of the truck when they are captured. As the tense situation gets worse, a botched rescue operation results in an unwanted gun fight, then as the cards seem to be down, The Gundam finally shows up.
This was a cool thing to watch, hats off to whoever greenlit making this comic into a YouTube motion comic – great way to cut down on piracy and get fans from ALL parts of the world on the same page with new parts of the franchise. The video has music and sound effects, but no voiceovers which is fine. The speech bubbles are dynamic in how they appear on screen, and the designers convey motion well. I will definitely keep watching this as it gets released!
To watch episode one, click below: