Now I love just about everything Gundam related so when I saw a new Gundam series it was only a matter of time before I got to watch it. In this series, the Gundams use what is called the Gund-Arm a program that gives the machine incredible power but at the cost of severe damage to the pilot. As such Gundams were banned and all Gundam pilots were referred to as witches. Several years after the ban the protagonist Suletta Mercury, guess where she’s from, enrolls in an academy where you learn how to pilot mobile suits and duels are the word of law. If you win a duel you get the right to claim a prize of your choice from the loser. In an attempt to defend a woman who was forced into an engagement via a duel Suletta enters a duel and wins but this causes an incredible cascade of events. Now Suletta is engaged to the woman and her machine the Aerial bears a striking resemblance to a Gundam causing an incredible investigation.
Now I know this is a bit more context for the plot than I normally give but this series starts off with a huge info dump and a lot of actions which really dictate where the plot goes so it is difficult to explain the show in even a vague amount of detail without really diving into the first big moments of the series. Suletta is a very innocent woman who is simply trying to enjoy life, protect others, and pilot the Aerial. Now oddly enough the Aerial resembles a Gundam to the other characters but Suletta is never harmed piloting it so it leads to a lot of questioning as to whether or not it’s a Gundam. Now we the viewers can clearly look at it and see it’s a Gundam it literally has all of the key features you normally see in the main character’s Gundam in a series. So the question for us was never whether or not it was a Gundam but rather what about this machine makes that unclear to the rest of the cast and this mystery is really interesting and I found myself really invested in finding out more about this so any part of the plot that appeared to move the story in some direction that would enable me to find out more about this had a firm grasp of my attention.
Beyond the investigation, everything appears to actually be very light-hearted as Suletta just runs through stuff you would typically see in your standard school-setting anime. Bullies, cliches, tough classes really, and checks all of the boxes you would expect from this setting. I remember thinking how interesting it was that the show took a more jovial approach since Gundam is more often than not a series with very dark undertones. Even when conflict is introduced in the show nothing ever feels like something you should take too seriously and this is where this show traps you in its deception. For an overwhelming amount of the season, the show maintains this tone and I frankly fell for it and wound up with a false sense of security then the show takes a sudden huge shift in tone that’s so fast you feel like you get emotional whiplash from the transition. I absolutely loved this as I was not prepared for any of the darker moments that happen and it was one of the few times that I verbally reacted to a sudden twist in an anime.
The only real weak area I find in this series is Suletta herself. Suletta is not a bad character by any means but she’s also not a particularly good character. She is incredibly innocent to the point of almost being incapable of being independent outside of a Gundam battle and it’s hard to get invested in a character that can do so little. It makes the supporting cast, which is full of amazing characters, stand out more but I would have liked to see Suletta feel like a character with at least some degree of independence. Now I will admit her demeanor is what really helped sell the shock of the tonal shift; however, I wish I got to see her contribute more to the supporting cast beyond being the really good Gundam pilot. I do like how her innocent demeanor is moving to the rest of the case and motivates them to act in a positive way but while it works well for her character it’s an overused mechanic that is rather predictable. Don’t get me wrong I actually really enjoy Suletta as a character, but they lean so hard into the naive innocent part of her personality that it makes it hard for her to really add to the story outside of combat and these parts make up an overwhelming majority of the season. I feel like a better balance could have been done here.
Overall this show really captivates you with a seemingly innocent charm and a standard school life setting then smacks you across the face with a tonal shift that leaves you baffled by the sheer emotional weight of what you just saw. It’s a great series that has a fun unique take on the Gundam, but it needs to make the main character Suleeta a character that adds value beyond the Gundam battles. A lot of this show is outside of combat and I don’t like how the protagonist is essentially on the sidelines or being led around for almost all of it. At least make her capable of one or two things that could add some value in these areas which I feel like could have been done while maintaining the same tone.