Mobile Suit Gundam : The Witch From Mercury (Part 2)
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After a first part broadcasted in late 2022, the second part of Mobile Suit Gundam : The Witch from Mercury came out on April 2023. The series continue directly after the end of the previous season, two weeks after the events that concluded it. It ran for 12 episodes and ended on July 2023, making the show 24 episode long.
This article will contain spoilers !
Two weeks after the Plant Quetta incident, the events got mostly covered and the schoolife at Asticassia appears to be back to normal. Defending her Holder title, Suletta fights and wins in successives duels until she learns that she’ll be have to participate to the open campus tournament because of her status. Meanwhile, the Benerit Group faces some uncertainity because of its chairman being unable to rule it. While the various top companies of the group are starting to compete for the new chairman chair, Shaddiq puts his plan in motion to help the Earth rebelion against the Spacian monopoly.
The first thing we can notice while watching the first episode of this second season is there is no really references to the season one final gruesome ending, which put some controversies. We can feel the unease of Suletta while she keeps fighting to preserve her Holder title as she promised to Miorine. Miorine which is absent from the school since the incident, meaning they never had the opportunity to discuss what happened at Plant Quetta.
However, the show took some gear-up and accelerate its story. The first season wasn’t that fast and kept a lot’s of shadow in the story and the setting. The second, absolutely not. Actually, that’s quite the opposite, the main goals are dropped and it’s actually a flood of big revelations at the beginning, then some calm down, and the last big ones were kept for the end of the story. Suletta’s mother, Prospera, took her move and accelerate her revenge plan by involving Miorine in it. Suletta’s unconditional faith into her mother is questioned and the the story use this to progress until its mid-season climax.
On the characters side, the show doesn’t bring especially new characters. It develops some background ones and integrate them in the story, while it added Earthian figures to give some faces and consistence to the Earth/Space conflict. I must admit I’ve found the development of Gruel Jeturk quite interesting, going from the popular playboy of the school to a disgraced man who had to face the reality of the usual Gundam tragedy from a fateful encounter during the previous season, now dealing with his demons, and progressively escalating again the ladder. And on the other side, his brother sudden antagonist behavior at the end of the show got thrown from nowhere, a screentime filling IMHO.
The story is nicely developed, but sadly it escalating very fast at some moment, while it also included some uninteresting end antagonist. As it seems the feel obligated to add a big mass destruction interplanetary super-weapon to oppose at the end of the show to connect the various previous Gundam series, Witch from Mercury used one of the antagonist Company faction to raise a last threat against the show crew. Honestly, I’ve considered this final boss completely useless with the idea to only display a Gundam Unicorn-like ending with the power of the magical technology blocking the Death Ray. That’s not the thing I like in Gundam, and this one does not make any exception to it. It’s a shame because despite having its plot being correctly unveiled and not keeping untold mysteries, the ending remains quite disappointing for some elements. For instance, if Prospera is, IMHO, a nice Gundam masked-Char-clone character with a very good role, seeing her fate in the epilogue is disappointing to me when we see all the deaths she provoked during her Earth passage in the mid-season. It seems like she didn’t got worried for her crimes by any kind of justice, that’s quite surprising. A fate similar to Katejina Loos from V Gundam would have been better integrated in the Gundam classic tragedy scheme with a counterbalance regarding Suletta’s condition in the ending.
Talking about her, Suletta’s development is pretty nice. In the first season, I didn’t liked the character. I’ve found her annoying, and in this second season the feeling was still here, but counterbalanced by a nice development regarding her origin and her relation this the Aerial and also the mid-season climax. During the whole series, Suletta counted a lot on Aerial’s incredible design and capabilities and despite her talent, most of the situation resolution were caused by Aerial’s will. However, when she switches to the Calibarn during the last episodes (which is, I think, the first time in a Gundam show the star Gundam unit became a final boss antagonist) we can feel her newly found will and her inner talent while she pilots a GUND-ARM based unit with all the risks it implies for her. Regarding Aerial’s secret, it was in fine quite predictable with some variations, and also a nice reference to another underrated Gundam show : After War : Gundam X. Actually, I’ve had some difficulties with the consistence of Aerial’s “mind”. During the whole series, Aerial tried to keep Suletta safe. In the Cradle Planet story that happens during Aerial’s construction and is told from her perspective, we see that she disagrees the usage Suletta as a revenge tool by her mother. But during the climax of the show, we don’t really feel the mixed feelings of Aerial regarding this revenge scheme. She clearly completely took Propera’s side and she violently reject Suletta to let her live her newfound life. Maybe it was just to keep her safe, but the attitude of Aerial’s mind was really ambiguous.
Regarding the behavior of Aerial and various other elements of the show, actually, Witch from Mercury reminisced me several times Gundam X. At the beginning of the second season, we encounter the Gunvolvas, a series of unmanned Mobile Suits remotely controlled by a pilot in a “master” unit using the Permet connection displayed in the show. That’s a nice reference to the Bit Mobile Suit displayed in After War : Gundam X in which the NewTypes used their abilities to remote control the simplified versions of their Gundam, using the Flash System. Also, the secret of the Aerial is very similar to the ending of Gundam X with DOME. Also also, the design of the Gundam Calibarn weapon reminded me the GX’s weapon.
On the mecha design part, the show is great with several different styles that nicely mix together. We have some Gundam veteran designers in the show such as Takayuki Yanase and Kanetake Ebikawa for the secondary models, and the main Gundam were designed by JNTHED, mostly known for their work on Metal Gear. I’ve really enjoyed the mecha design on the main units, the style is pretty different than the usual Gundam design while staying in the main lines. It reminded me G No Reconguista’s G-Self style which contrasted a lot with the regular Mobile Suit of the show. In usual Gundam design, the Gundam units usually have a more advanced design, but is also similar to the rest of the show since they’re often intended to be the prototype of mass-producted units. In this show, the Gundam are very unique units because of the technology they relies on and display a design that render a far more advanced appearance.
On the artistic direction side, the show is very cool and incredibly furiously animated. It’s so rare to has traditional animation for mecha shows, heavily infected by bad rendered CGI for the robots. Witch from Mercury kept a balanced usage of CGI with traditional animation as a main runner and CGI for more complicated or special scenes. I clearly like this, and I like a mecha show animated like this. Usually, CGI are bad in Japanese animation, they aging so fast and are always poorly integrated IMHO. Sometimes they’re too fluid compared to the traditional animation, sometimes that’s the opposite and they reduce the CGI framerate on purpose to match the 2D one, and it’s ugly. I can understand that mechas are more difficult to animate, but IMHO, the result is almost always terrible. Anyway, Witch from Mercury has been able to balance its usage of CGI and 2D animation for mechas, and I’ve really loved it. The scenes are accompanied by a very good soundtrack with some quite epic one for the big battle or dramatic instant.
So, what can I retain for Mobile Suit Gundam : The Witch from Mercury ? A show that at first worried me because of its schoolife style and annoying characters. But, eventually, the story revealed to be very good and the characters development quite consistent despite some minor disappointment to me. However, Witch from Mercury is a nice show, and a pleasure to have a Gundam series after seven years of scattered Gunpla-advertisement shows. Also, despite staying in some traditional garden, it took some off-road paths that could open some new possibilities for the Gundam franchise. I hope we will have more show like this in the futur.