Review: Gundam Thunderbolt Episode 6

Gundam Thunderbolt

Gundam Thunderbolt episode 6 took me by surprise this morning. It was a pleasant change of pace to wake up to a new episode of one of the best war stories ever told. This episode dealt with one of my favorite characters of the One Year War, Io Fleming. This is a great series, so please stop if you haven’t caught up yet, spoilers ahead.

Action!

I had zero expectations going in as I haven’t read past what constitutes the first season of the manga. Gundam Thunderbolt however, always catches me by surprise.

From memory, I don’t remember the last Gundam series that had such an amazing water themed battle like the one shown here. Everything, from the way the more experienced aquatic Zeon forces utilized the terrain to how Gundam Atlas’ appeared, was captivating. Seeing the Feddies lose is always a treat, but this one-sided massacre had me feeling things.

It doesn’t help that the writer for this series makes the characters feel so human. They all have this special thing they are fond of. For Io, it’s jazz. For Daryl, it’s those old pop songs. A character introduced in this episode named Lieutenant Bull had a love for bobble heads and baseball. The way they are written just reminds you of someone you know. This could be your brother, your cousin, or your best friend. It makes the fight for what they believe in, that more real.

Another enjoyable aspect of the fight was that we got to see the pilots put in their suit’s energy towards different systems. We saw Bianca power up her beam sabers, her legs and later Io attempted something similar.

Gundam Atlas piercing the Grublo
Did the guy in the Grublo die from drowning or the pressure?

Flirting with Danger

Protagonist

Let’s take a minute to talk about how Io was this episode. The man has one of the best weapons of war in his hands in the form of a Gundam. What does he do? Take a bunch of unnecessary risks and damage that could be avoided. He’s an experienced Gundam pilot yet somehow still finds the time to be as reckless as possible. He lost all of his equipment within minutes, and also managed to drop his beam sabers at the end.

Now don’t get me wrong, that all plays into the charm of his character. A friend of mine described him as being like James Bond. I can completely agree with that statement. He is reckless, has infinite charisma, and never truly thinks his plans through, but also gets things done. Fleming is also highly imaginative, which he proves when his leg thrusters are broken and he moves all the power to his sabers to push him upward. It’s realistic that in the moment Io forgot the finer details of the suit such as its pressure limit or that sabers can overheat. His character would lose from being an overly calculating type so this all works out in the end for him.

It also helps that Io Fleming is a few letters from James Bond’s creator Ian Fleming‘s name.

Gundam Atlast and Io Fleming sinking
The moment Io realized he had no chance to survive alone.

Second star

Io Fleming is great? So is Bianca Carlyle. She is equally as interesting as he is, if not more, since she’s a new character. Ranging from her love of Jazz to the stories her tattoos tell of her military career, she’s a great person. I personally enjoy her frantic style of fighting where she does whatever is needed to live. It’s like seeing a cornered animal fight to live another day. When that Zeon Major pitied her for being a woman, she didn’t take that lying down; she crashed both of their suits. Bianca pulling an Io to go shoot the dude’s head on foot was amazing. She’s the quintessential warrior where sex, race, or age doesn’t matter. We were also treated to a great scene when Io finally found someone to treat as an equal in Bianca.

Bianca Carlyle aiming her gun at Major Kaufmann.
Bianca was about to shoot some dude surrounded by penguins in the back! Ice cold.

A Lesson

The last part of the episode is where we were reminded that war is terrible. Seeing both the Zeon and the Federation grieving for their lost ones was heartbreaking. That’s the reality of war we often forget, both sides think they are right and we’re all people at the end of the day.

Oh by the way how tight has the music been this season? If the first season’s jazz felt chaotic and loud, this season’s feeling melancholic and more controlled. That Japanese cover of Nina Simone’s Feeling Good was the cherry on top.

Gundam Thunderbolt is a realistic take on war using giant robots with deeply captivating characters. This episode has me hyped for the other 2 episodes and I cannot wait to see where Io and Daryl’s factions take them. Waiting a month for another episode feels absolutely fair as we are treated with amazing quality in animation, soundtrack, and story. If you’re looking for series to get into the Universal Century, I definitely recommend this one as it’s separated enough that you can watch it as a standalone, while also being connected to the bigger picture.

Jahmssen Ruiz Castaneda
Jahmssen Ruiz Castaneda
Jack of all trades, master of none. Did some college time, and ultimately got a degree that looks good on a shelf. I like anime, video games, and I love manga.

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