REVIEW: Mobile Suit Gundam NT (Narrative) Vol. 1 (2018)

by Harutoshi Fukui and drawn by Kōzō Ōmori

Confession time – I have yet to see the film for Gundam NT despite being a huge Gundam fan. I’m usually on it, but I’ve been busy reading lately and have fallen behind on all sorts of movies and TV shows that continue to accumulate in my “shame pile”. I will try to rectify it soon as I do more Gundam reviews in the coming weeks. I have, however, read some of this manga that is based on the film, and touts some sort of alternate ending – it will be interesting to see how the two differ once I’ve consumed both.

Taking place in the Universal Century timeline, which is the main continuity for this 43 year old series, Gundam NT seems to be a continuation of another show called Gundam Unicorn as it directly follows it and deals with events from that show. If you have not seen Gundam Unicorn, this book may not make much sense at all. If you have, this is basically a continuation of that story, and I assume a set-up for an upcoming sequel that has yet to be announced.

“U.C. 0097, one year after the opening of “Laplace’s Box”. Despite the revelation of the Universal Century Charter that acknowledges the existence and rights of Newtypes, the framework of the world has not been greatly altered. The conflict later dubbed the “Laplace Incident” is thought to have ended with the downfall of the Neo Zeon remnants known as the Sleeves. In its final battle, two full psycho-frame mobile suits displayed power beyond human understanding. The white unicorn and the black lion were sealed away to remove this danger from people’s consciousness, and they should now be completely forgotten. However, the RX-0 Unicorn Gundam 03, which disappeared two years earlier, is now about to show itself in the Earth Sphere once more. A golden phoenix… named Phenex.”

Gundam NT is one of Bandai’s many attempts to “fill in” areas of unexplored territory in the Universal Century timeline that largely don’t need to be filled in. I always fear that these sorts of shows will go too far and create a jumbled continuity that makes no sense. Luckily, NT does not do this as of yet in volume one, but I’m not sure a new fan will be able to enjoy this too much. Truthfully, I’d be hard pressed to say that volume one stands on its own and almost seems like a bonus chapter of the Unicorn storyline. Having watched Gundam 0079, Gundam 0083, and Gundam Unicorn, means that I get all of the references that are made throughout the book, if I had not, this book would largely seem like a confusing mess. The four chapters presented here are basically just the above – references to older shows and flashbacks showing characters when they were children during those shows.

It is by-and-large a comic for fans of the show, and almost comes across as a way to sell model kits, which is not surprising seeing that this manga was serialized in a Gundam hobby magazine in Japan. Sure, the mecha are pretty cool looking, but it’s really nothing new. Most of the robots are just slightly reworked versions of other “mobile suits” which cynically makes me assume Bandai needs to try to break even on model kit production by releasing another color of the same thing, or one with slightly different features.

Volume one gets all of the introductory stuff out of the way, so here’s hoping more plot and action shows up in volume two. I have enjoyed what I have read of Gundam NT so far, but can see why the film may have had a lukewarm reception by fans. Stay tuned for reviews for volume two and three as well as the film whenever I get around to watching that as well.

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