REVIEW: Zeta Gundam – Sayla Mass —Farewell to Yesterday – Prologue – White Night (1985)

A Short story in the Gundam Universe; Published in “Zeta Gundam Perfect Guide 211”, included with the November 1985 issue of Animedia magazine.

Thanks to a post from Gunbuster Novels, (check their blog out!) I happened to come across an English translation of an old Gundam short story (another version HERE) that ran in an anime magazine in 1985. There appears to be a thriving translation community online, including the author of that very blog, The Ideon. They post updates frequently, so I will have to definitely follow as this is right up my alley. I love Gundam ephemera, and am glad material I once thought would be impossible to experience is now just clicks away. I have no idea why this short story has 17 nested subtitles (I kid, I kid), I can assume this is just a part of a larger story or perhaps it’s an exercise in the bizarre world of overdone Japanese titling that we often see on videogame covers, but either way I am treating this as a stand alone.

“Sayla, Once the Beautiful Soldier of the One Year War. It is Year 0087 of the Universal Century — Where Could She Be Now, and What Could She Be Doing? In the Light of Northern Europe’s Nocturnal Sun, a Look of Unhappiness Crosses Her Face…”

Before Sayla Mass was thrust into the events of Mobile suit Gundam, she was a medical student in Side 7, one of the many space colonies in this universe. We see her here, post-graduate school and well within a residency in a small hospital in the northern countryside. On one hand, it’s great that she got back into her studies, on the other the young girl eager to help people is not the same person standing in the cottage now. In her eight or so years past the events in Mobile Suit Gundam in 0079, she has become slightly embittered due to how the post-war had been going and the rise of The Titans. As far as she knows, her brother Kasval (Char Aznable) was dead and most of the White Base crew were absent from her life.

Suddenly, a young man ends up collapsing on the hospital doorstep with a gunshot wound. Being a member of Karaba (the Earth-based anti-fascist group), Sayla knows somebody is after him. No sooner than she realizes the boy almost looks like a blond version of Amuro, there’s a knock at the door. When a over-zealous federation member tries to barge in and search for the wayward youth, Sayla pulls rank on him and diffuses the situation. How low the Federation has fallen…She patches the boy up and sees one glimmer of hope on TV, as her dead brother is delivering a speech. A very powerful speech:

It’s hard to reconcile this story into the show now, and especially ZZ Gundam, but there are now many versions of what Sayla was doing post 0079. Originally they hint that she vanishes and ends up being her own woman, here we have her laying low in a rural hospital, Gundam: The Origin alternatively has her under house arrest, and I’m sure there is more possibilities. Honestly, this one fits better and could be seen as a prequel, seeing that the actual screenwriter for the Dakar speech episode wrote it, however it’s not technically official. No matter what it’s a cool look at what could have been happening just prior to Char outing himself on live TV.

I enjoyed this a lot, and appreciate the work that was put into this by the translator and the web designer. I will gladly look some more of this work up, as it is top quality. The story itself is pretty short and doesn’t offer too much in terms of plot for any of the characters, however “what happened to Sayla” is one of those questions Bandai/Sunrise really should answer at some point. I knew she was basically written out of the show due to an issue with her voice actress in Japan, but with all of this “fill-in” books and films an official version would be cool. The best part of this story are easily the illustrations it contains, which are full color and resemble those found in a children’s book.

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