Most everything has its themes that the story revolves around. It’s essential to any interesting plot. Gundam UC is no exception to this. However, unlike many traditional stories, Unicorn has as many as 4 themes: The blessings and curses of blood, the power of possibility, “To my only desire,” and the words “Even so."
Banagher, Riddhe, and Mineva all have strong ties to their families, being lead through life by decisions made for them, that they either accept, deny, or fight against. The theme of parents is not foreign to Gundam or anime in general, but it’s very well intertwined into the key plot of Unicorn, making it a welcome use of the trope.
Banagher is given the Unicorn by his estranged father, Cardeas Vist, during the raid on Industrial 7, all to protect and eventually open Laplace’s Box, which was handed down to Cardeas by his grandfather, Syam Vist. Syam acquired the charter from the Laplace attack, to which the key target of the attack was Ricardo Marcenas, Riddhe’s great grandfather. Riddhe’s father, Ronan Marcenas, is in charge with Colony Relations, and thus, has heavy backing in the Federation higher-ups. However, due to the strain the Vist family has put on the Federation with the Box’s contents at stake, Ronan is set to keep the 100-year secret from slipping, even if it means joining the Vists, Martha and Alberto, to keep the box sealed; and its key - the Unicorn Gundam - destroyed. Something Riddhe also seeks, if it means avoiding more bloodshed in the future.
When circled around like this, it makes the rivalry between Banagher and Riddhe make more sense, given their two bloodlines have a soiled history. Mineva’s lineage as the sole Zabi heir make their relationship with her rather interesting, as despite being the princess of the former Principality, she wishes to break the cycle of war and loss by obtaining the box and keeping it away from those who would misuse it. Anyone who learns her name can’t immediately separate the connection to her uncle, Gihren Zabi, and the blood spilled by the war he strong-armed… Except for Banagher, who still sees her as “Audrey Burne,” the pseudonym she gave to hide her real identity, because he understands the weight her true name holds, and knows she’s trying to escape that life. “You’re not Mineva, to me you’re Audrey!” These words aren’t said in denial, but rather showing her he unquestionably acknowledges that she’s different from her family origins. Something, sadly, Riddhe only half-understood. As someone who can’t escape the ties of his family’s curse, he feels one should take responsibility to their blood and its sins.
“There’s no reason to hide it. We were all blessed when we were brought into this world.”
Riddhe’s realization that the truth doesn’t mean keeping the burden going was a great turning point for his character. It’s funny how much they wanted you to hate him throughout the fourth episode onward, and at the first third of episode seven, you think, ”This is it, he can’t possibly be redeemed, now…” And how wrong we are, even 10 minutes later. The effort put into his character's narrative to make him such a detestable rival into a likeable character is almost unheard of. Hell, by the end of Gundam UC, I found it difficult to truly hate anyone.
“Possibility” is the next major theme, which should be an obvious one, given the unicorn in mythology is a beast of possibility. Since the light shone by Amuro and the Nu Gundam in U.C.0093, the potential of humanity has been in question by those who witnessed it. And the Unicorn Gundam, for which is named after possibility itself, was made to show the world again it’s godlike potential. I’ve covered possibility a lot in the previous 2 articles, and it goes hand-in-hand with the final one, so rather than repeat everything I’ve put there, I will move on.
The Lady and the Unicorn tapestries all coordinate with the 5 senses of sight, hearing, taste, smell, and touch. However the sixth, largest tapestry highlights something else entirely: “À mon seul désir.” Or, “To my only desire.” Throughout the course of the series, everyone is questioned with what they truly want or wish for. And for many, they give vain, trivial answers that degrade more and more with each questioning until a much more meaningful, simple and truthful answer is realized.
Like Banagher, and his reason for fighting. First it was to protect Audrey and his friends, however this became more broad, and he was fighting for all people. Because he had the power to overcome the obstacles before him, he took the responsibility the best way he could. Mineva was fighting to stop a war from happening, however that goal changed to the desire to show the world the truth behind the box. Rddhe, and his wanting Mineva and to keep the box sealed, and switching to wanting to fight against the curse bound by blood and to reveal the truth hidden in the charter.
Even supporting characters have this theme going strong for them. Zinnerman wanted revenge for his family’s unjust murder at the hands of the Federation, but by the end, he was just content that Marida was safe, and wanted her to be happy. Marida, simply wanted to obey her Master, and by the end, it was more like she wanted to protect a father to her. Alberto simply was helping his aunt Martha to keep the box hidden, but he began going out of his way to try and reclaim Marida, who he actually felt for when she died. Captain Otto just another Londo Bell captain, who finally went renegade against the Federation to discover the box’s contents. Even Angelo, and his desire to protect Frontal and to be acknowledged by him, who he saw as both a father and the man that saved his life (if we‘re to believe his backstory from the novels is still canon to the OVAs).
I could go on and on, but the fact is that everyone has their one true desire. It’s only natural to be driven by one thing that means the most to you and your heart. And, in most cases, there will always be challenges in the way. Things that test your devotion and passion. And when those walls spring up and threaten to halt your reaching of your goal, you just have to tell yourself, “Even so!”
The final theme that goes hand-in-hand with the theme of possibility are those two words, used subtly throughout the course of the series, but exploding in use in the finale. “So re de mo!“ While it seems a bit cheesy when read aloud, the contexts for which it’s used can sometimes be absolutely suspenseful. It really brings to mind the ultra-positive dialogue of Gurren Lagann. “Do the impossible, break the unbreakable!” But in only two small words, Gundam UC has driven to point possibly the most uplifting message it can. Once again, a stark contrast to the dialogue otherwise used and themed throughout many other Gundam series.
There’s almost too many moments to account for all of them, but major ones, like when Banagher attempts to get through to Loni to stop her massacre at Torrington, his inner conversation with Marida after the NT-D laid the Kshatriya to waste, and most especially, when the Neo Zeong, using its Psycho-Shard to effectively destroy all of both Unicorns’ weapons, Banagher shouts his battle cry to Frontal, “EVEN SO!” The determination and sheer confidence behind this line, even someone as cold as Full Frontal - or even the ghost behind the mask - would likely hesitate at such a fierce drive. And the final time after Frontal tries to convince Banagher that no matter how hard humanity fights, absolute destruction is inevitable, making the struggle to survive in vain…
“Even so…” It’s a broken, incomplete thought, yet it still wields so much power behind it. As someone who, despite having a lot of good in my life, has a lot of rather unfortunate and trivial things happen almost daily, these two words are sometimes all the motivation I need to make it to the end. It’s something that can be relevant in almost any situation. The power to shout at the world, “You will not have your way.”
I would like to think this may have been the intent with Gundam UC, to tell a story about an era that for decades had been about war and turmoil, show it that the horrors from it can become a blessing, give the world the desire to rise again, show them their potential in the possibility that lies within, and yell, “Even so.”
That, I believe, is the Beast of Possibility’s true form.
I truly want to thank you all for reading this. I don't consider myself much of a writer, however, I found a topic I felt truly passionate about, and wanted to convey to the world that might find it trivial why this means so much to me. Even if you still don't quite understand, I appreciate you taking the time to hear out my banters and prattling.
I should return to my original agenda of reviews soon, don't worry!
Until next time, believe in the possibility!