Throughout the Universal Century era, we’ve heard about how Newtypes, as proposed by Zeon Zum Deikun, are meant to be the next step in human evolution. Brought about through our transition to living in outer space, our senses would adapt to the void and perception and even precognition would open to us, allowing mankind to understand each other without misconceptions. However, all that had been seen of Newtypes since their first mention is the ability to see ahead in battle, allowing one to read moves and step accordingly. As Cardeas Vist put it, it made “Newtype” synonymous with “Ace Pilot.” Gundam UC not only lampshades this grim truth, but does a magnificent job at showing what Newtypes were supposed to have been, what Newtypes have been, and what Newtypes can be.
Marida was first shown to us as an obvious Cyber-Newtype, utilizing a mobile suit with tons of funnels, and showing tremendous marksmanship with them. Her hand-to-hand combat prowess also showed signs of definite enhancement. By the time you hear her designation as Ple-Twelve, you’re almost no longer surprised of her “natural” skills - despite her outright defeat during the battle that narrative is told over. Her reconditioning under Martha Vist Carbine still bared how flawed and broken the Cyber-Newtype concept is, even with one as near-stable as Marida.
Cyber-Newtypes are the impatience and arrogance of mankind, wanting to force ordinary people to develop into Newtypes through rigorous tests, experiments, and even drugs, for the sole use of combat. "The result of a delusion." If anything eschews the original concept of Newtype evolution, it’s this. Other potential cybers in Gundam UC are Loni Garvey and to a loose extent, Banagher, as I sorta covered in my last volume.
There’s also a chance that Full Frontal could be considered a Cyber-Newtype, as well, since it’s unlikely the shell person was a full Newtype prior to him hosting the spectre of the former Casval Rem Deikun, and thus however he was developed may have undergone some psychotherapy to better sync with him. But with Char, who can now see time objectively, gives this ability to Frontal, creating the cold, detached creature he is. I believe it's with this that he is able to resonate his thoughts with the psychoframes of both the Sinanju and the Unicorn to show Banagher the horrors of humanity's past and the inevitable nothingness of their future...
*This is hitting speculative territory, so until any official documents state otherwise (assuming they ever will say anything, at all), don’t take this as me saying this as “truth.” However this is to be how I believe it was.
We only see a couple of natural Newtypes used in this fashion, the major player of this being Riddhe Marcenas. During his first sortie in the Delta Plus, he shows very quick signs of Newtype development, from sensing enemy movements, allowing him to disable them quickly, or even feeling Banagher’s presence without the Unicorn’s NT-D activated. Unfortunately, his single-mindedness creates a obliviousness or even denial of his blossoming skills, effectively getting him into bad situations and falling short of doing the right thing. Though, this is really quite common with previous Newtypes, anyway.
Now assigned to pilot the Banshee Norn, he tries to activate the NT-D despite not believing himself to be a Newtype and instead relying on it’s status as a Newtype Destroyer. It’s not until Banagher flat out tells him that he, too, is a Newtype, that it sets in - Though very unpleasantly, and at one point, overwhelmingly. Once Marida’s apparition shows him the light and soothes his mind, he begins to accept the truth, and is finally able to use the Banshee to its fullest potential, even awakening it during the firing of the Gryps 2. His deep remorse for his actions and Banagher’s willingness to forgive him are a real major part to the theme of understanding without misconceptions. Something neither Amuro nor Char could never accomplish, when you think about it…
Other possible natural Newtypes that weren’t expounded upon include Yonem Kirks, since he distinctively had “bad feelings” about their battle - Something a leader in combat normally would ignore. And of course, Mineva Zabi, though this might have been due to being near very powerful Newtypes for parts of her life, be it Haman Karn, Char Aznable, and even Banagher or Riddhe. She had many moments of precognition, but normally was too stubborn to listen to her own heart to notice until her leap of faith from the Garuda.
As we all know, Char was a natural Newtype, through years of combat and even earlier development before the One-Year War (especially if going by his youthful trials covered in The Origin). He, Amuro, and Lalah, for her brief time, showed the more natural occurrence of Newtypes and their potential. However, this, too, was also only given in the light of battles they fought and died in. Though it can be said without Amuro, or Char, even, the true “power” of Newtypes may never have been seen.
The Axis-Shock, as called by U.C.0096, gave the world a glimpse at the light that Newtypes possess. Given the necessity of the Psychoframe that Char developed, it can be said that Char, twice, had been bested by his own invention… Or perhaps it was in plan to give other Newtypes the key to showing the better potential of humans and Newtypes? Once again, unlikely, since it’s stated that he gave the tech to the Nu Gundam development team so Amuro could fight him on “even” terms…
While the frame saw minor use afterwards, finding itself in only a few more machines used after the Second Neo Zeon War, Aneheim and the Vist Foundation admittedly jumped the shark with the development of the UC Project, namely the Unicorn Gundam series. Seeing what the Nu Gundam and Sazabi’s frames were capable of, just around the cockpit, the ambition of creating a full-bodied Psychoframe mobile suit sees a few yards outside dangerous. But, this is why the Unicorn is restricted-use, only activated by the one person assigned to it, and moreso why Cardeas gave it to Banagher, after witnessing Banagher’s true thoughts on war and humanity. The Banshee, on the other hand, had no restrictions, and still possessed the Newtype-Destroyer system. A horse with no trainer, this was meant to be the ultimate tool to rid the world of Newtypes.
Syam Vist mentions to Banagher that the Unicorn was made to find, incubate and nurture a “true” Newtype, one held to the belief and possibility of moving mankind into an era without bloodshed. The ultimate goal was to remove Newtypes from the era of hatred and misuse and back to the representation of mankind’s potential. A messiah, as it were. And combined with the blinding light of the colony laser, and the even brighter light of the two Unicorns, Banagher, together with the thoughts and wills of those close to him, both living and passed, created the catalyst to the final form a Newtype can achieve - one perhaps only Amuro may have succumbed to during Axis’ fall.
Banagher’s will merged with the Unicorn’s Psychoframe, creating a crystallized synthesis that might almost be considered its own “being.” While this may be steps beyond what one considered in the possibility of Newtypes, an overwhelming resonance with the calm-hearted son of Cardeas Vist was able to completely halt an ultra-powerful laser attack, and even cease a full squadron of mobile suits, through what can only be speculated as either an EMP-like wave or something that made direct contact with the pilots themselves. However, this power was short-lived, as the wills of those who cared for Banagher wished his return, snapped him from his Deus Ex Machina status, pulling the Unicorn back together with the last remaining bit alterative ability the two possessed.
I think, in a lot of regards, Banagher Links came the closest to becoming anything that can be considered a god, wielding the power to alter phenomena itself. And while I still find it safe to contest his own strength as a Newtype to the likes of veterans pilots like Judah Ashta, Kamille Bidan, Amuro Ray, Char Aznable, or Lalah Sune, he is still far closer to the true meaning of the term “Newtype” than any of them.
Given Gundam UC being the first series in over a decade to even touch the concept of Newtypes, especially with a lot of directors calling the topic "taboo" and "Tomino's territory," I feel Unicorn put the best, most positive cap on the topic, showing no longer what they’ve always been, but instead focusing on what they represent for the future.