REVIEW: Mobile Suit Gundam – The Witch From Mercury – Prologue (2022)

An Anime

Sunrise has done an interesting thing with upcoming release of the newest anime in the long-running Mobile Suit Gundam franchise – it has released a full-on prologue episode onto the internet ahead of the actual release in October 2002. Mobile Suit Gundam – The Witch From Mercury – Prologue is an entire 25 (or so) minute anime episode that fully immerses the viewer into the world of the A.S. (Ad Stella) Timeline, the newest Gundam alternate timeline. The series is directed by Hiroshi Kobayashi, with Ryo Ando serving as co-director. Kobayashi is a very busy member of the anime production industry with a LOT of work done in various shows including recent Gundam properties. This is only his second work as a full Director (overseeing the whole show) after the recent Spriggan adaptation that was produced for Netflix. Ryo Ando has had a similar career, usually working as an episode director for a number of popular properties. I can’t find anything about the character designer, “mogmo” on anything anime-related, so I assume this is their first foray into this medium.

“At Fólkvangr, a front constructed inside an asteroid, the Gundam Lfrith is undergoing operating tests in the Vanadis Institute’s laboratory. The Lfrith has not yet managed to meet the conditions imposed by the council, and test pilot Elnora Samaya is growing impatient. That same day, her daughter is celebrating her fourth birthday…”

This prologue takes place what I assume is about ten years before the actual show, and largely tells of the story of Elnora and Nadim Samaya, prominent pilots for a governmental body referred to as Ochs Earth. Their daughter, Eri, is celebrating her fourth birthday when, in typical Gundam fashion, everything goes to hell. This is a world where cybernetics and body augmentations seem to be commonplace, thus allowing people to be able to live in space. This technology, referred to as GUND technology, allows humans to directly connect their brains to machines to control them, revolutionizing prosthetics and other medical fields. Sadly, the military has also noticed that GUND is pretty cool, and have been striving to weaponize it. The main characters of this work on one such military research base, housing an experimental weapon called Gundam Lfrith.

We get a shred of what I assume will be the main conflict in this show in this prologue, but with the time-gap involved I could be incorrect. Seemingly at random, The Mobile Suit Development Council, the bureaucratic arm of Ochs Earth that controls mobile weapon production, decides to pull their support for the project and form a regulatory body called Cathedra to suppress Gundam development. Assuming the scientists and military personal would not go without a fight, they send black-ops soldiers and practically massacre everyone at the site with a few exceptions.

Not going to lie – not realizing that the actual show was set a decade after this, I somewhat assumed that the main character was Elnora, and when I saw Eri I was furious. I was like “don’t be introducing a four year old character that’s about to either die or have her entire family massacred right in front of her!” Thankfully, I was only partially correct, and now see that Eri becomes the chief protagonist of the show, so I don’t feel as bad. That isn’t to say what happens here is not tragic, but it’s nowhere near as dark as some Gundam introductions. Fingers crossed that Eri, later known as Suletta Mercury, can cope better with her life than other Gundam protagonists.

Each Gundam show is generally some sort of timely rebuke or commentary of a socio-political issue. Gundam SEED had some 9-11 themes, Gundam 00 dealt heavily with religious extremism and child soldiers, and even Iron-Blooded Orphans dealt with corporations becoming defacto governments and living with no ethics, as well as children trapped in cycles of violence due to warfare. We don’t see too much here that completely lays out the plot, but one can assume that questions of trans-humanism are likely going to come into play, as well as governments suppressing technological advances and exploiting them. Time will tell what this show has to offer, but this prologue shows that it has definite potential.

This special release was a cool idea from Sunrise, a company that somehow has become really awesome with how they handle the internet these past few years. I used to deride them and Bandai for trying to protect their IPs behind insane paywalls, such as releasing shows for $100 dollars an episode on formats nobody wants, but now they are VERY generous. Most Gundam material is on YouTube legitimately, making he need for piracy irrelevant nowadays. I hope they do more stuff like this, because this is perhaps one of the best times to be a Gundam fan. Gone are the days of fansubs or shady Chinese bootleg DVDs, and I absolutely love it! I can’t wait to see more of this in October, so stay tuned for an update – I will likely do what I’ve done for Gundam in the past and break reviews into chunks of episodes rather than one at a time.


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