The White Base finally makes it to Earth! But, as you could probably tell from the first that this is the sixth episode of a 43 episode series, that’s not where our heroes’s story ends! Standing in their way between them and the headquarters of the Earth Federation is Zeon’s occupation forces lead by a new foe: Garma!
Join me as I explore my Five Thoughts on Mobile Suit Gundam‘s “Garma Strikes!”
1. Enter Garma
So far, all we’ve really seen of the Principality of Zeon has been defined by Char’s forces. They’ve codified who Zeon is to the audience the same way that Amuro and the White Base crew has codified the Earth Federation. In this episode, we meet Garma who commands Zeon’s occupation forces of North America.
As I noted last episode, Garma is another face of the Zeon forces, like Char, who’s young and fairly pretty. Now, I could probably just chalk this up to it being the late ’70s and the show falling into the trap of having effeminate bad guys, but I’m interested in that choice. I’m interested in Zeon being lead by commanders who appear so young compared to those we’ve seen of the Federation. It makes the Principality of Zeon feel more like a rash, teenage rebellion than some noble fight against the tyranny of the Federation.
2. The Preparations Of Battle
One of the things I wasn’t expecting of Mobile Suit Gundam was sequential it’s been so far. Every episode feeds directly into the next, charting the White Base’s course from Side 7 to Earth, and the battles of the previous episode inform the state in which we find the White Base in this episode. The Gundam is being refuelled and rearmed and Amuro commands a level of respect despite his inexperience because he has repeatedly put his life on the line for the safety of white base.
Even the inexperienced kids we saw panic in battle during the last episode are now practicing in simulators for the next battle. We see a genuine sense of progression in the characters as they journey from Side 7 to Earth and it has me really curious to see what this show will cover over more than forty episodes.
3. Guntank Rising
This is, I think, the first time we’ve seen a new configuration for the Gundam. What interests me most about this is how it reformats the kind of battle being fought. I’ll explore this more later in the thoughts, but this show so far his primarily focused on space battles where the Mobile Suits are most manoeuvrable. With the Guntank, we see a more conventional and grounded anti-aircraft battle in defence of the White Base before Amuro returns to the Gundam in order to take on the Zeon’s tanks.
It’s also the first time we’ve seen Amuro work with a co-pilot in a Mobile Suit which is cool to me only because it reminded me of Gurren Lagann and how much I want to re-watch that.
4. The Escalation Of War
Just as each episode feeds into the next and the battles of prior episodes inform the situation in the next, so too does each battle grow in scale. We’ve gone from one-on-one Mobile Suit combat on Side 7 to an entire fleet of Zeon ships attacking the White Base with Amuro as their only defender and now we see the White Base come up against the occupation forces of Zeon on Earth.
We’re seeing larger scale conflicts with each episode, but it’s really only the Zeon forces that are growing. Each episode, Amuro is going up against a larger and more advanced threat and, as we’ll see in the next thought, it’s taking his toll on him. As the Zeon forces grow with each encounter, Amuro is still only one person and Gundam is still only one Mobile Suit. It’ll be interesting to see what gives first, especially with the repeated mentions of Amuro’s lack of sleep and mounting frustration.
5. Amuro Vs. Gravity
We get an interesting moment during the main battle of this episode as Amuro switches back from the Guntank to the Gundam. Amuro is clearly used to operating the Gundam in space and it’s manoeuvrability there than when faced with gravity, he can barely pilot the Mobile Suit. This leads to Amuro getting overwhelmed by Zeon’s ground forces who are clearly more used to operating in gravity. It’s an interesting continuation of the series’s use of environmental factors in its battle scenes, but also showcases something else.Continued below
We get our first look at a new side of Amuro as his shell shock begins to take hold. He goes berserk, absolutely massacaring the Zeon tanks with Gundam’s beam saber. It’s almost animalistic as he just loses it in the midst of the battle, giving into his frustrations and sleep deprivation. This is a big moment in Amuro’s development, clearly, and I’m fascinated to see the follow up.