Mobile Suit Gundam: Hathaway, the most recent entry in the beloved mecha franchise, isn’t actually a film that’s centered on its motion. It’s extra within the politics of its world than it’s the large robots which have made Gundam a merchandising powerhouse for many years. However when it does get aspherical to squaring off its titular Cellular Fits, it does so with a captivating new perspective.
Hathaway’s first main Cellular Go well with motion scene doesn’t happen till virtually midway via its runtime. The movie’s protagonist, Hathaway Noa, is also referred to as Mafty Navue Erin—head of an anti-Earth Federation terrorist group itself known as “Mafty.” He’s presently below the watchful eyes of each the Federation and native police forces in Davao Metropolis, the Philippines, following a failed terrorist assault on the ship transporting Hathaway and a number of other distinguished Federation ministers to Earth. As he sits in his resort room reflecting on his previous and his choice to wage a violent revolution towards the Federation his father nonetheless serves (and he himself briefly served as a youth in the course of the occasions of Char’s Counterattack), Mafty forces put together to stage a precision strike on the surviving Federation ministers from Hathaway’s flight, who additionally ended up being diverted to Davao forward of an vital convention.
As Mafty Cellular Fits soar into the sky and put together to start launching strikes on the resort the ministers are in, Federation fits from the town launch to counter them. It opens with an intense staring contest between the 2 sides; the Mafty fits fly down under the Federation’s, placing themselves between their foe and Davao Metropolis, believing that there’s no means the “good guys” would try to fireside down at them and danger collateral harm on the civilian inhabitants under. The Federation fits fireplace anyway, participating with the unstated calculus that civilian lives are value sacrificing to destroy even a handful of Mafty dissidents. In a single second, peace explodes into absolute chaos—fireplace and explosions engulf Davao. Within the air, Mafty fits attempt to stability hanging their goal with surviving towards the Federation fits. On the bottom, Hathaway and his new “pal,” the mysterious younger Gigi Andalucia (a fellow survivor to the terrorist’s tried ship-hijacking), desperately attempt to escape the devastation raining down round them.
However it’s not simply that our heroes are at risk that makes the scene tense. When the fight shifts from Davao’s airspace and into the town itself, Hathaway’s lens by no means strikes away from Hathaway and Gigi’s perspective on the bottom, as we’d anticipate. Mafty and the Federation’s mechs don’t change into our protagonists on this second of motion. These gigantic stage setters are each away from our focus, and but additionally the driving momentum of almost 10 minutes of sheer chaos. And whereas it’s certainly a slickly animated sequence on a technical stage, it doesn’t really feel “cool” to look at Mafty and the Federation duke it out. It’s horrifying, taking part in out like a scene from a catastrophe film and in contrast to the form of motion we usually get to see in Gundam.
All the pieces is framed from the angle of the terrified civilians (Hathaway and Gigi amongst them) somewhat than the Cellular Fits themselves, amplifying the dimensions and destruction of the fight. A beam discharged from a Mafty Messer’s rifle doesn’t simply punch a gap in a Federation Gustav Karl’s armor, it spews searing scorching, molten scraps of metallic and pure vitality down onto the crowds of fleeing folks under. Crowd pictures are framed by disorienting fireplace and noise, punctuated by booms that knock swaths of individuals clear over, a few of them by no means getting again as much as maintain working. We’re proven that it’s not simply blasts of missed pictures from beams and cannons which can be deadly to the folks on the bottom, however even the easy issues that years and years of Gundam motion has de-sensitized us to. The sheer warmth from a go well with’s vernier engines kicking up clouds of mud because it descends, blowing close by autos away. Cellular fits don’t delicately land on or round buildings however smash down and thru them, their agility within the air contrasted with a heaving sense of weight as they stomp via housing blocks and metropolis streets—an unflinching, uncaring response to the chaos of their wake.
Whereas it’s an extremely violent phase, it’s by no means gory. We’re not given the possibility to see the aftermaths of fireplace and rubble on the our bodies of individuals falling throughout Hathaway and Gigi, aside from to see them susceptible within the streets. We don’t have to with the intention to perceive the horror of the second, as we’re reminded of it continually by Gigi’s panicked cries and screams. We’re reminded even additional by the distinction between her demeanor—presumably by no means having seen a Cellular Go well with this close-up earlier than, or maybe ever exterior of stories broadcasts—and Hathaway’s strained, but in addition numbed, response to the horror round him after the trauma he developed combating in Char’s Counterattack as a teen. His desensitization to the nightmare unfolding additional speaks to his personal conflicted feelings earlier within the film, sparked by Gigi’s questioning if he and Mafty are in the best hanging towards the Federation the best way the have been. The best way they are, as flames engulf his world and the just about catatonic Gigi cradled in his arms.
The skirmish ends when two Federation fits nook a lone Mafty go well with in a park that Hathaway, Gigi, and the surviving residents had fled to for a short refuge. One blocking the one Mafty go well with’s escape, the opposite reaches to its waist, because it ignites one among Gundam’s most iconic mecha weapons: the fiery, purple-pink vitality blade of a beam saber. So usually in Gundam, a beam saber being unsheathed signifies the approaching killing blow of a battle, a exact stab to the chest of an enemy go well with that disables it and incinerates the helpless pilot inside in a single strike. In shocked silence, all Hathaway and Gigi can do is watch because the Federation go well with plunges its blade into the Mafty go well with’s again, its chest unit streaming sparks throughout like stunning, horrible rainfall.
Hathaway doesn’t know if his pal within the go well with, Gawman Nobile, survived the blow. Gigi, traumatized by the expertise she’s simply endured, can solely sob into Hathaway’s chest. And but, as Gawman’s go well with lifelessly slumps towards its attacker and to the bottom, the digicam lens attracts again to distinction its kind with Hathaway and Gigi’s, as they start caressing and exploring one another’s our bodies. It’s an act of tender intimacy—awkward sensuality, massaging consolation, the pent up vitality of a tense scenario having to go someplace, anyplace. The humanity of their tenderness and the inhumanity of the horrifying fight they simply watched unfold round them are positioned towards one another—these two totally different sorts of our bodies, mechanical and natural, dealing with their inflicted traumas.
Presenting Cellular Go well with fight in Gundam like this isn’t a brand new thought, and shouldn’t actually be anticipated to be in a franchise as outdated as it’s. Gundam has, many occasions earlier than Hathaway, juxtaposed the trauma it presents on the mechanized our bodies of its humanoid mecha with the very actual our bodies of the people that pilot them. Its message at all times that, as visually thrilling as its motion will be, the price of all of it is perpetually deeply traumatic—Hathaway isn’t any exception. By pulling its perspective away from the mechs themselves to the grounded lens offered by the civilians on the bottom round them, Hathaway additional amplifies the dehumanizing nature of its mechanical weapons of struggle, presenting them as one thing akin to monstrousness regardless of their humanoid kind. To have Hathaway largely eschew motion for thematic interrogation and use one among its uncommon sparks of battle to talk to this long-running theme within the franchise is an impressive second of spectacle in and of itself. One which looks like a pointed evolution of that theme, somewhat than only a continuation of it.
Cellular Go well with Gundam: Hathaway is now streaming on Netflix.
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