"From under our feet comes an attack from space..."
—Cecily Fairchild, aka. Berah Ronah.
Mobile Suit Gundam F91 is a 1991 anime film, which was Gundam creator Yoshiyuki Tomino's attempt to launch a new Gundam saga, set thirty years after Char's Counterattack. He re-teamed with character designer Yoshikazu Yasuhiko and mecha designer Kunio Okawara for the occasion. The movie was first released in Japan on March 16, 1991.Originally planned as a full-length television series, Gundam F91 hit a production snag due to staff disputes, and the project was stopped after the screenplays for the first thirteen episodes were written. It was then decided that what was made of the show would be condensed into a theatrical feature film. Predictably, condensing a story originally intended to be told over the course of thirteen half-hour episodes into less than two hours of screen time required much of the original story to be cut, and the results are generally regarded with mixed feelings.Set in UC 0123, the story of Gundam F91 revolves around teenage space colonist Seabook Arno, his girlfriend Cecily Fairchild, and the efforts of the Crossbone Vanguard militia, led by Cecily's grandfather Meitzer Ronah, to establish an aristocracy known as "Cosmo Babylonia". In keeping with Gundam tradition, the civilian Seabook is forced by circumstance to pilot the F91 Gundam, coincidentally designed in part by his estranged mother, Dr. Monica Arno.The Gundam F91 story was fleshed out in much greater detail in Tomino's two-part novelization. Tomino's manga, Crossbone Gundam, is a direct sequel which takes place ten years after the events of the movie.Given how none of the characters from the previous UC series show up and the considerably long time jump, it's apparent that (had it been a series) this would have been to be a Gundam equivalent of sorts to Star Trek: The Next Generation, perhaps even more so than Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam. As it happens, Mobile Suit Victory Gundam ended up being that equivalent, as well as Tomino's last shot at doing a late UC series.This series contains examples of:
Badass - Carozzo/Iron Mask. When a sniper tries to assassinate him in the middle of a speech he doesn't even flinch, he just keeps talking and even makes an epic Badass Boast(seen here in all of its glory). He also shows some epic badassery when he jumps out of the Rafflesia and tears open Cecily's cockpit with his bare hands. In outer space. Without a space suit.
Badass Normal - Seabook is closer to Kou Uraki and Shiro Amada than Amuro Ray.
Bathe Her and Bring Her to Me - A non-sexual version, as the people who have taken Cecily/Berah are Her father and grandfather, head of the Crossbone Vanguard
Also, Cecily and Carozzo. And how, considering that...
Compressed Adaptation - Oh so very much, seeing as the 13 episodes they did have scripted then became the basis of the movie. Interestingly, while watching the movie, one can almost point to certain scenes and predict where an "episode" would have started or ended, were it to ever be stretched back out into a series. The movie begins to make much more sense, if one decompresses it in their mind to "actually taking place over a few days/weeks/whatever that we, the viewers, just don't get to see thanks to the crunch."
Days of Future Past: Cosmo Babylonia and the Crossbone Vanguard tend to have a particularly old-world aesthetic, reminiscent of the European monarchies they're (at least superficially) mimicking. Their mobile suits' beam flags and Shot Lancers (rocket-tipped lances with machine guns strapped around them) seemingly call to mind the knights of a bygone era. In a way, this foreshadows the Zanscare Empire from Victory.
Deflector Shield - In the form of Beam Shields, Gundam F91 and the Crossbone Vanguard mobile suits all have these, which actually seem to do their job (Considering UC century normal shields are about as protective as cardboard).
For once the technology here follows a logical pattern: originally shields were effective before beam weaponry became widely spread. After that though, shields were as destroyed as easily as mobile suits were, meaning usually in a single hit. By making the shields ALSO beam-based, they became effective again.
Doomed Hometown - Sidestepped. Seabook's home colony is CONQUERED rather than destroyed and ironically made the enemy's capital.
The Empire - Cosmo Babylonia is one that's created overnight.
Flash Step - The F91 appears to be able to do this, but all it's really doing is ablating thin layers of its armor to help vent off excess heat. Nevertheless, this lets Seabook take down Carozzo and the Rafflesia.
There's a good bit of Fan Wank over Carozzo's remark that the afterimages appear to have mass. The current explanation seems to be the same one that makes dummy balloons work: combat computers assign CGI models to ANYTHING that roughly matches a given mobile suit's shape, assuming that it's the real deal. This is done because Minovsky Physics messes with all forms of electronic detection, and is intended to help the pilot, but obviously (as with dummy balloons) led to people figuring out ways to exploit them.
Freudian Excuse - Carozzo wants to massacre all people on Earth because of a combination of the way he was raised and the fact that his wife left him for another man.
From Nobody to Nightmare - The Ronahs, while not exactly nobodies, were simply a business-oriented family in the earlier UC years, their salvage firm Buch Concern small-fry compared to Anaheim Electronics. They used their relative obscurity to their advantage however, expanding their businesses and social contacts until they were in a position to run their own army, mass-produce their own mobile suit lines and eventually forge Cosmo Babylonia.
Genre Savvy - Birgit tells Seabook that Gundam pilots tend to live tragic lives.
Taking what he says into account, this basically means that not only has Newtypes leading shitty lives being held as common knowledge, but historical FACT for many.
Idiot Hero - Seabook spends most of the movie looking deeply confused as to what the Hell is going on. Thus, he is much like the audience.
Important Haircut - Cecily chops off her long hair herself, when she re-takes her true identity of Berah Rona.
Jumping Off the Slippery Slope - F91 and its side materials mark the point where Anaheim Electronics goes from kind of scummynote :As in Zeta Gundam, selling MS to both sides, with the vague justification of "The Titans were onto us, we had to!" to very scummy, all because they lost their Federation contracts to SNRI. In the manga Silhouette Formula 91 Anaheim steals the F91's tech for their own Silhouette Gundamnote Whose model number is RXF-91. Subtle., and the Super Famicom game Gundam F90: Formula Wars 0122, where they help a group of Mars-based Zeon remnants invade Earth, apparently as a "screw you" to the Feddies. If you believe that Anaheim represents Gundam's old sponsors (see What Do You Mean, It's Not Symbolic? below), this would qualify as a Take That against them.
La Résistance - Pathetically, a bunch of civilians put up more fight than the entire Federation. Explained by Seabook theorizing over a news broadcast that the Federation leadership on Earth is only putting up a token fight, hoping to buy off the Crossbone Vanguard by giving them Frontier Side, and preventing an attack on Earth itself.
Pile Bunker: Shot Lancers, which look like giant lawn darts with machineguns strapped to them, were developed as a melee weapon and close-range rocket-launcher with zero chance of setting off a reactor explosionnote The idea is that it would damage but not destroy critical components, triggering the safety shut-off. These prove to be very effective, especially in and around space colonies.
Pintsized Powerhouse: The titular mobile suit, designed to be a more useful and manageable size than older Gundams without sacrificing their considerable firepower. It succeeds tremendously.
Most modern mobile suits apply, since in the early UC 0100s there was a general scaling-down. Compare the Crossbone Vanguard suits and the Federation's Heavygun and G-Cannon to the overhauled Jegans, both in size and performance, and see how it goes.
The big thing that allows this in-universe is refinements to power-plants and internals. Technological advances allow them to be smaller. and for the F-91 in particular, having the Variable Speed Beam Rifle (VSBR for short) for its main weapon system, allows it to have the effect of 2 different types of beam weapons in one system: Short fat beams for dealing with groups of enemies or long thin beams for sniping and piercing all kinds of defenses, even beam shields, which allows the F-91 to deal with multiple types of targets without needing to change or carry various beam weaponry compared to older suits.
The Remnant - The Mars-based "Oldsmobile" forces in the prequel manga and spin-off game, who are allied to what would become the Crossbone Vanguard. They're revealed to be the last organized Zeon faction, utilizing mobile suits resembling those from the One Year War.
Royally Screwed Up - Cecily/Berah is fine and Meitzer is a would-be Napoleon but otherwise quite sane. The rest of the family seems to be stark raving mad.
From what little we see of her, Cecily's mother seemed perfectly fine too.
Scenery Gorn - The opening battle sequence has some of the finest scenes of massive property damage and civilian casualties in all of Gundam, which is really saying something.
Shed Armor, Gain Speed - Inverted: F91's incredible speed causes it to heat up to the point that its outer layers of armor are burned off.
Spent Shells Shower - in one memorable scene a woman gets hit on the head by a spent casing from one of the defending Mobile suit units, killing her.
Super Prototype - Averted. The F91 Seabook pilots in the movie is simply the first one to roll out from SNRI's facilities. The mass-production models seen in Crossbone Gundam are very much the same.
War Is Hell - And how! The anime totally shows many people getting killed in the wake of the Crossbones attack. A woman dies when she gets hit by a mobile suit sized shell, and bunch of people are crushed by falling debris, and they were having party at that time! Plus the Feddies are more than willing to shoot at locations where the civilians are to attack the enemy.
What Could Have Been - It was supposed to be a full-length series, but production was snagged due to staff disputes and was ultimately canned. Then it was decided that what was already made would be made into a movie instead, so we get treated to the a highly condensed version of what was supposed to have been the first quarter of a fifty episode show. Made even more "what could" when looking at Crossbone Gundam.
a MSV released showed some planned upgrades among which was upgrades to the F-91 that gave it 4 VSBR rifles which is pretty overkill considering the effect it had with just 2 and another a take on the long line of "Heavy weapons systems" variants of gundam's which is shorthand for "put as much guns and missile launchers on it has the frame can handle without killing performance too badly".
What Happened to the Mouse? - For a group of people once considered the next step in human evolution, Newtypes are treated as though they're an endangered species. Although given what happened prior to F91, they could just be hiding in plain sight.
The Worf Effect : Londo Bell, the Earth Federation's elite paramilitary force, is briefly revealed to be still in action in UC 123. Unfortunately, they've become so bloated and weak that the Crossbone Vanguard wipes it out permanently.