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Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch from Mercury

Entry updated 16 January 2023. Tagged: TV.

Japanese animated tv series (2022). Original title Kidō Senshi Gandamu: Suisei no Majo. Sunrise. Directed by Hiroshi Kobayashi and Ryō Andō. Written by Ichirō Ōkouchi. Voice cast includes Kana Ichinose, Lynn, Mamiko Noto and Naoya Uchida. Thirteen 23-minute episodes. Colour.

In the future large corporations dominate humanity, whilst Earth is the poor cousin of the space colonies (see Space Habitats). The giant powered suits (see Mecha) originally intended for working in space are also being used to suppress discontent on Earth. 21 years previously the Ochs Earth Corporation had been designing a new type of mobile suit, using GUND Technology: most of its staff were women, so were nicknamed Witches. Fears that this would strengthen Earth's hand led to the banning of Gundam suits by the council of companies working in mobile suit production, using concern over the mortal strain the GUND's interface imposed on its pilots as justification. The destruction of the GUND Asteroid laboratory was ordered by Delling Rembran (Uchida) as part of a power grab within that council. Only test pilot Elnora Samaya (Noto) and her daughter Ericht escape, in a Gundam suit whose interface problems have been resolved and has formed a connection with Ericht.

21 years later, Delling Rembran is president of the powerful Benerit Group, made up of mobile suit companies. He has founded the Asticassia School of Technology (see Education in SF), attended by the children of senior executives. New student Suletta (Ichinose), 17, from a low-ranking Mercury company, protests at Guel Jeturk's treatment of his fiancée Miorine (Lynn) (Rembran's daughter) – so he challenges her to a mobile suit duel (most school disputes are settled this way, and is how the betrothal occurred). In her mecha, Aerial, Suletta easily wins and is surprised to find this now makes her Miorine's groom. Shy, insecure but bolstered by the previously selfish Miorine's support, Suletta makes friends with a group of Earth students. It is eventually revealed that Aerial is a forbidden Gundam mobile suit, but Miorine uses her influence to create Gund-Arm Inc, a company to produce bioethical GUND technology. She investigates the early history of GUND, finding it was originally intended not for military purposes, but as medical (see Medicine) technology to help survival in space (apparently by creating Cyborgs), because "even with expensive vaccines and implant apps", fragile humanity can barely suppress the disorders resulting from radiation, weightlessness, vacuum and suchlike. Miorine wants this to be the direction the company takes.

Though there is school drama and mecha fights, plus the developing relationship between Suletta and Miorine, we also see the machinations of factions within the Benerit Group to increase their power, with their plots and double-crosses also involving their children at the school. One faction collaborates with Earth-based guerrillas to assassinate Delling Rembran by destroying the space habitat he's visiting (along with many of the main characters): the attack is seen off by Aerial. The final scene has a guerilla about to kill Miorine and her wounded father, when Aerial crushes him like a bug. When Suletta steps out of the Gundam covered in the guerilla's blood, Miorine is horrified by how unaffected she is by this casual killing.

Aside from this ending, other unresolved issues include whether Suletta is Ericht – her mother is Elnora Samaya, after all – an assumption hindered by her being too young; also, Elnora's (now called Lady Prospera Mercury) plans are unclear – and she appears to be exploiting her naive daughter. Though the mecha battle in the finale has its moments, the earlier duels are less interesting; whilst the tropes of evil conniving capitalists and a backwater innocent arriving at a school of privileged students are perhaps a little too familiar (see Clichés). However, the concoction is put together skilfully, the plot moves at a pace and there are many likable characters – particularly Suletta and Miorine – resulting in a sum greater than its parts. The Witch from Mercury is a successful addition to the Gundam franchise (see Mobile Suit Gundam) and also provides its first female lead (see Women in SF). [SP]


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