Humanity alone possesses a God. The power to transcend the now... the inner God called "Possibility."
Will the unicorn be willing to serve thee, or abide by thy crib? Canst thou bind the unicorn with his band in the furrow? or will he harrow the valleys after thee? Wilt thou trust him, because his strength is great? or wilt thou leave thy labour to him? Wilt thou believe him, that he will bring home thy seed, and gather it into thy barn?
"The beast of possibility finds its master and soars through a shaken cosmos."
Universal Century 0001
The Earth's population is finally united under The Federation, migration into space colonies begins, and a celebration is underway at the Laplace space station. The space station is blown to tiny bits.
Looks like it's back to business as usual, then...This seven-episode OVA began syndication in 2010, features music by Hiroyuki Sawano, and is based on a novel series by Harutoshi Fukui, famous for his military novels about the Imperial Japanese Army and Kaiju Defense Force, and infamous for adding militaristic flavor and portraying the Japanese military as heroic, which makes Japan's neighbors go a bit... crazy.As of this reading the first six episodes have been released on Playstation Network and Blu-ray/ DVD. With each episode being released roughly six months apart from the sixth and seventh episodes, which will take a year each, the series will take about four years to fully air. The last time this occurred was with Mobile Suit Gundam: The 08th MS Teamnote In the case of the former, the original director actually died, thus causing delays. In Unicorn's case, the release timing is attributed to the time required to produce each episode., which took three-and-a-half years.The 7th episode is currently slated for a May 2014 release date.This may not be the Robot Unicorn Attack you're looking for.Note: This page contains spoilers for the completed novel series which the OVA has not reached yet. Highlight with caution.
Adaptation Distillation: The OVA simplifies many elements of the novels. Among other things, it includes the simplification of the Shamblo, turning it from a 4-man crewed machine to singly piloted, and the circumstances under which the Banshee changes pilots from Marida to Riddhe. Also includes Canon Immigrancy, and Canon Foreigners in terms of new machinery presented.
Adaptation Expansion: The Bande Dessinee manga, while following the OVA, puts a larger focus on scenes that were either off-screen or only shown in passing.
All There in the Manual: Condensing the novels down to an hour's material means a lot of stuff got cut out, including backstories, some dialogue (a lot of important characters appeared in episode 1 but didn't speak until episode 2), explanations on how certain mobile suits work, etc.
Anyone Can Die: The first episode kills in more civilians and Mauve Shirts than any Gundam series in recent history, at least in as rapid of a time as they did it. By the third episode, named players start dying.
Artifact of Doom: Symbolically speaking, Laplace's Box could allegedly bring about the demise of the Federation.
Played straight with the Unicorn Gundam - itself being the key to the Box, but still capable of destruction to either side.
Attack! Attack! Attack!: Loni's attitude when attacking Torrington, to the point where she gets all the rest of the Zeon Remnants killed due to her unwillingness to retreat.
The Unicorn's Beam Magnum can only fire five shots before it needs to be reloaded. It has 2 extra E-Pac sets at its back skirt armor, therefore it can only fire a total of 15 shots per sortie.
The NT-D, which only lasts for five minutes before the pilot is overwhelmed and needs to detect an enemy Newtype before it even activates. Still, that's often more than enough to get the job done, as poor Kshatriya learned the hard way. Thanks to the events of episodes 4 and 5, The NTD is more or less completely under Banagher's control, he can even activate when there's nobody there to fight. As a result of this, and the fact he used it to save the Garanciers and get her into space, it's become Awesome yet Practical.
Batman Gambit Full Frontal LET Banagher leave Palau, putting a type of tracer on the Unicorn so they could track its movements and intercept any data about the Box's location when NT-D is activated. Plus the bum who gave Banagher the note was the Federation's inside man, but he was sent by Frontal.
Backfires in Episode 4. Zinnerman tells Banagher during the Battle of Torrington that he's tempted to go down there and add to the casualties himself, possibly just to spur Banagher to leave their ship and put a stop to all the destruction. What he probably didn't expect was to get beaten up instead.
Perhaps a double subversion in that Banagher DOES leave the ship to put an end to the casualties, after he beats up Zinnerman.
Beam Spam: Marida Cruz is the franchise's reigning queen of beam spam, bested only by Descartes Shaman. Witness the beginning of the second episode, where Marida uses only the suit-mounted mega-particle cannons against the Unicorn.
Unicorns Beam Magnum. In appearance, it is very similar to the original RX-78's beam rifle, but the Magnum uses it's E-Paks to their full extent, giving each shot the equivalent power of a Mega Particle Cannon. As mentioned above, the Unicorn is equipped to shoot about 15 of these per sortie.
The ReZEL suits have access to a Mega Beam Launcher.
Angelo Sauper's and Gilboa Sant's Geara Zulus uses a Lange Bruno Cannon Kai and a Lange Bruno modified to fire beam shots as opposed to shells
Angelo's Geara Zulu later upgrades to a beam shotrifle.
The Sinanju's unusually long, lance-like beam rifle, which is faster-firing and harder-hitting than most weapons of its type due to drawing its power from the suit's reactor rather than E-Cap ammunition batteries. Fortunately Frontal almost never seems to hit anything with it, preferring to fight up close.
BFS: The Sinanju's pair of huge, confusingly-named 'beam axes'note a subtle Continuity Nod, this is larger cousin to Sazabi's trademark weapon 'beam tomahawk', which are actually broad-bladed, beam-edged metal swords a la Gundam SEED's anti-ship blades. Whilst they're big enough on their own, they can also be attached to the suit's shield in order to create an absolutely enormous double-edged Blade Below the Shoulder.
There's also the time in Episode 3 when Banagher is chasing Full Frontal. An asteroid comes into Banagher's path as he's following Full Frontal's Sinanju, so the NT-D Unicorn's Beam Sabre extends and cuts right through the asteroid!
Berserk Button: Comrade killing. On all sides. But especially inadvisable when you are toting a machine designed to take down the most powerful of foes.
Big Bad Ensemble: Full Frontal with Neo Zeon, Martha Vist Carbine with the Federation/Vist Foundation.
Bigger Is Better: The Unicorn's NT-D Mode increases its height and bulk significantly as its armour slides apart to reveal the psyco-frame. Particularly obvious in the shot of it powering down near the end of Episode 5.
The NZ-999 (Neo Zeong). Quite possibly the third largest Mobile armor to appear in the Gundam universe. We'll get to see what see can do come Ep. 7.
Blade Below the Shoulder: The Unicorn and Sinanju both have beam sabers built into their forearms in addition to their handheld weaponry, allowing them to strike from a greater variety of angles in melee.
Bling of War: While the civilians live in abject poverty, the higher-ranking officers of "The Sleeves" live in a mansion, have the nice uniforms, and haverather decorative embellishments on their mobile suits, especially◊ the Sinanju◊. For bonus points, they've somehow convinced the civilians that the Federation is the reason they live below the poverty line.
Bottle Episode: Episode 6 takes place almost entirely on the Nahel Argama
Bottomless Magazines: This is averted when Banagher learns this the hard way. During his engagement against the Sinanju, he burns through the Beam Magnum's entire ammo supply by taking unwise shots. While he was only trying to stall for time, that became much more difficult once he couldn't use the magnum anymore.
Boy Meets Girl: Banagher's meeting with Audrey starts the whole story.
Break Out the Museum Piece: In accordance with their rather haphazard resources, the Zeon remnants have some very elderly mobile suits. Even the mighty Kshatriya is dated enough to belong in a museum.
This is all relative. Technology is at a point where it is advancing very quickly, as a result the Sinanju and Kshatriya while very advanced at the time of manufacture some three years ago, have become somewhat outdated by 0096. On the other hand, some of the suits used in attack on Torrington seemed to be the actual Zakus.
A bit of a subversion lets suits from even the One Year War give a good account of themselves. Beam weapons in the Universal Century are generally able to punch through almost any amount of armor mounted on a normal sized Mobile Suit. Even if outdated in other ways they still only need a solid hit to destroy modern machines.
As the Battle of Torrington shows, the Earth Federation forces also use what older equipment's available, ranging from the almost new Byarlant Kai, to Zeta-era Nemo III and Guntank II, to the One Year War-era Aqua GM..
Bring Him to Me: Barely a quarter of the way into episode two, Banagher finds himself overwhelmed in battle and captured. Less than ten minutes later, the viewer sees him taken to Full Frontal.
Call Back: In the first episode Banagher stops Audrey from falling by catching her in a mobile suit. In episode 5 Banagher stops Audrey from falling to Earth by catching her with the Unicorn.
In addition the series is a big love letter to the original Mobile Suit Gundam and contains many elements from it. In episode Four they even showed the colony drop on Sydney, re-animating the footage.
The three way conflict between the Earth Federation, Neo Zeon (The Sleeves) and The Vist Foundation (Martha Vist-Carbine) is reminiscent of Zeta Gundam.
Episode 6 showed Axis being pushed back by the Nu Gundam. Unlike the Colony Drop, the Unicorn producers just used a clip from Char's Counterattack.
The way the Full Armor Unicorn Gundam launches from the Nahel Aghama in episode 6 is reminiscent of how Char's Sazabi launches at the start of Char's Counterattack.
Call Forward: Sadly much less pronounced given that much of the plot takes place about three years after Char's Counterattack, but there are a few nods to Gundam F91 here and there. The transforming APC Mobile Suit Loto is a forerunner of the Guntank R-44 and the salvage company Banagher has a part time job at, the Buch Concern, is owned by the Ronah familynote Buch being their original name before they bought the name and aristocratic titles of the original Ronahs, a family of European nobles who'd fallen on hard times and later goes on to manufacture most of their mobile suits.
The ECOAS unit, aka. the Manhunters, may or may not be one. A Federation counter-insurgency group known as the Manhunters are the main antagonists of Tomino's Gaia Gear novels and radio play taking place in the early UC 0200s, but it was written before F91 and generally considered non-canon. Interestingly, the protagonist, Afransia Char, a clone of Char Aznable, is very similar to Full Frontal, in that both were created by anti-Federation scientists in an attempt to resurrect Char.
The Kshatriya Repaired is armed with funnel missiles, a technology which first appeared in the novel Hathaway's Flash, which was written in 1989 but takes place 9 years after Unicorn. This could also be considered an example of Canon Immigrant, since Hathaway's Flash doesn't happen in the Gundam anime continuity.
The Stark Jegannote The Stark Jegan was originally slightly different in the first episode, but, in episodes two and three began to use more or less the exact lineart of the original, officially calling it the "Prototype Stark Jegan." and the Geara Doga Heavy Weapons-Type, having originally been in the MSV files for Char's Counterattack.
Same applies for the equipment on Angelo Sauper's and Gilboa Sant's Geara Zulu, as their main weapon is a modified beam firing version of the Lange Bruno cannon that was from the Geara Doga Heavy Weapons-Type.
So many in the fourth episode it's not expedient to list them here.
The ECOAS "Manhunter" Unit originally appeared as the antagonists of Tomino's Gaia Gear novels. No word yet on what this means for the novels' shaky canonicity.
Cool Ship: The Nahel Argama and the Ra Cailum (for Londo Bell), and the Garencieres and Rewloola (for the Sleeves).
Continuity Nod: Kai Shiden and Beltorchika Irma make brief cameo appearances in episode 5.
When Banagher is trying to connect a tow cable to the Garencieres, he manages to unlock the Unicorn's true power, surrounding both the Garencieres and Nahel Argama in a green light and pulling both ships out of Earth's atmosphere, just like what Amuro did to Axis in Char's Counterattack.
Bright still keeps a portrait of Amuro Ray in his office.
For possibly the same reasons, there's an unused Re-GZ in Ra Cailum's hangar.
Syam Vist, who was a young adult at the beginning of the Universal Century, is voiced by the narrator of the original Mobile Suit Gundam.
Martha Vist Carbine is the wife of Melanie Hue Carbine, who appeared in Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam as the head of Anaheim Electronics.
The mobile suit museum in the first episode has a Zaku II in it with a gaping hole where its cockpit used to be, the implication being that it is in fact the one Amuro stabbed in the very first episode of the original series. In addition they are at Side 7, which is exactly where it happened.
The Delta Plus and Ankusha are successors to the Hyaku Shiki and Asshimar respectively, in the case of the Delta Plus, it uses the transformation mode the Hyaku Shiki was supposed to have but was dropped, Anaheim Electronics was only able to implement it now due to acquiring movable frame technology. And the Sinanju, and Kshatriya are based heavily on the Sazabi, and Quin Mantha respectively but scaled down, and the Sinanju lacks the funnels, beamshot rifle and torso-mounted mega particle guns its predecessor had.
The Rozen follows the concept of Cyber-Newtype Hamma Hamma mobile suit.
The battleship Rewloola from Char's Counterattack is still kicking about, being the flagship for the Sleeves.
Towards the end of the story Banagher and Full Frontal fight each other outside of their mobile suits not unlike Amuro and Char, the difference being that they're beating the crap out of each other with lead pipes.
The obligatory background events that reference other Universal Century series:
During the history lecture you can see names and dates of notable past events, including 0080 and Operation Stardust.
At the beginning of episode two, when Micott asks what a "Gundam" is, Takuya explains that it's the first mobile suit built by the Federation, called the "White Devil" by Zeon. This is a reference to Amuro's famous battle where he destroyed nine Rick Doms within five minutes.
The Sleeves' arsenal of mobile suits wouldn't look out of place in a museum, with everything from Dra-C's to Gaza-D's, Gallus K's, EWAC-zack's (admittedly a Federation suit but doesn't look out of place considering the design), Dowadages, Dreissens, Geara Dogas, and almost everything in-between.
In episode 3 Angelo's Geara Zulu is using a beam shotrifle that looks almost exactly like the one used by the Sazabi.
The Sinanju's model number (MSN-06S) is almost identical to the MS-06S Zaku II Commander Type that Char once piloted, which is a clear play on its pilot Full Frontal being "The Second Coming of Char". Another gag is that Sinanju is described as moving "at three times the speed of a normal mobile suit."
The mere fact that things had gotten to the way they are by this point underscores the failed promises of what the Universal Century was supposed to symbolize. What was meant usher a new utopian age for humanity had instead marked a new chapter of animosity that lead to bloodshed.
Ironically, for all the carnage wrought during the Universal Century at least some on Earth seem to consider the state of affairs in UC 0096 an improvement over the pre-Earth Federation days, given that they find the idea of countries fighting one another unthinkable.
Cycle of Revenge: One of the reasons that the war continues between Zeon and the Federation is because both sides keep performing atrocities as revenge for past atrocities.
Darker and Edgier: They dialed up the violence and destruction with this one. We're five episodes in, and Gundam Unicorn is almost rivaling Victory Gundam in utter bleakness. It belongs to the Universal Century timeline. What else can we expect?
Dying Moment of Awesome: In his final moments, Commander Daguza is able to distract the Sinanju with a series of charges and successfully hits it with a shoulder-fired bazooka. His last act before being incinerated by the Sinanju's beam tomahawk is giving Banagher a final, unflinching salute.
'80s Hair: Guilty as charged. Despite the show having started in 2010, everyone has an epic 'do. It might be so it matches the style of previous UC shows, most of which were actually made in The Eighties.
Enemy Mine: In Episode Five, Londo Bell and the Sleeves team up to rescue Mineva, Banagher, and the Unicorn, on the grounds that 'if the Vist Foundation is going this far to cover up Laplace's Box, it's probably important'. The Federation planning to sacrifice the Nahel Argama probably helped.
And another one in Episode 6 between the Nahel Argama and Full Frontal, though that alliance doesn't last very long.
The Sleeves aren't terribly fond of civilian casualties, to the point where they're willing to sit back and watch whilst Banagher beats the crap out of their captain for refusing to intervene in a massacre.
Alberto is visibly uncomfortable about what the Vist Foundation is putting Marida through. It probably doesn't help that she saved his life.
The Geara Zulu is an Expy of the Zaku II (in-universe explanation states that this is deliberate in an attempt to raise troop morale).
The Sleeves repaint of the Dreissen◊ look similar to the original Dom.
The beam axe wielded by the Sinanju is reminiscent of the energy swords found in Halo, but is actually an Expy of the Sazabi's Axe.
The Sinanju itself is basically an upgraded funnel-less Sazabi.
The Sinanju also has a similar origin and look to Gerbera Tetra the Sinanju began its life as an Anaheim mobile suit known as the Sinanju Stein before being stolen by The Sleeves and being slightly modified to The Sinanju
The Kshatriya is (literally) a downsized, high-manoeuvrability version of the Quin Mantha.
The Unicorn Gundam, in Destroy Mode, resembles the original Gundam, especially with the backpack mounted Beam Sabers. Its beam magnum even fires with the same sound as the RX-78-2's beam rifle, a conscious decision by the producers.
There are some in the case of the characters as well:
Having been raised by her now deceased matriarch, HamanKarn, Mineva Lao Zabi (Audrey Burne) inherits her cold, dignified personality traits. Unique to Mineva/Audrey is her ability to be completely warm with Banagher one moment and then go completely cold on him the next (see Episode 2 and Episode 6)
Zinnerman holds some of Char's warmer personality traits, and Marida is like his personal Lalah Sune. They even met the same way, Zinnerman found Marida working as a prostitute and Char found Lalah doing likewise. In their case, though, the relationship is parental rather than romantic. Zinnerman names her Marida to evoke his dead daughter, who was named Marie. In addition, Marida is more mechanical than free-spirited, perhaps as a result of her birth.
Angelo Sauper could be seen as a successor to Mashymre Cello. Both share an intense devotion towards their superior officers (Full Frontal and Haman Karn) and Angelo's Rozen Zulu is even based upon Mashymre's experimental Hamma Hamma. By proxy, the former trait also mirrors Patrick Colasour's similar veneration of Kati Mannequin. The only difference is that Angelo is devoid of the comic relief role that Mashymre and Patrick played. Angelo and Frontal's bond also has some father-son undertones as Angelo's real father died and his step-father abused him as a child.
Loni Garvey is effectively Lalah Sune if Lalah Sune were consumed by vengeance.
The NT-D System itself is so astonishingly similar to the EXAM System in Mobile Suit Gundam Blue Destiny, right down to the operational time before the pilot completely loses it. Gundam Extreme Vs. Full Boost lampshades this with special crossover dialog if you partner the Unicorn or Banshee with either Blue Destiny 1 or the Efreet Kai.
Falling into the Cockpit: Bright Lampshades this trope by point out that literally every single Gundam pilot up to this point, including Banagher, ended up in a Gundam by sheer dumb luck. However, Bright also points out that what sets Gundam pilots apart from everybody else is that they chose to get into the cockpit when the situation presented itself.
Foreshadowing: Full Frontal's "conversation" with Banagher in episode 6. Full Frontal talks to Banagher about being a vessel, and that one has to empty themselves to achieve it. If one has read the novels, then they will know that Banagher will be consumed by the Unicorn at the very end, thus being a vessel for the Unicorn at its maximum potential.
Free-Fall Fight: A most awesome variation occurs in episode three: Banagher ends up fighting Full Frontal amidst atmospheric reentry. In this case, the danger isn't so much the ground at the bottom, but rather Banagher's Roaring Rampage of Revenge preventing either of them escaping back into space before they burn up.
For Want of a Nail: Just about everything that's happened in the Universal Century could be traced in some form or another to the Laplace incident in UC 0001.
Foregone Conclusion: While the series gives some closure to the issue of the Zeon rebellions, whatever peace won for the Earth Sphere by the heroes is fleeting at best. Please remember that Unicorn is set before F91 and Victory.
Forever War: At the beginning the series, the Federation and Zeon have been at war with each other for almost twenty years. It's gradually winding down, mostly due to sheer exhaustion, but the Zeon remnants are very persistent.
From Nobody to Nightmare: Downplayed but tied in to Call Forward. The Buch Concern, where Banagher works a part-time job, is part of a financial enterprise run by the Ronah family, who are at this point relatively obscure compared to Anaheim Electronics or even SNRI. By the events of F91, they've become powerful and influential enough to both make an empire (aka Cosmo Babylonia) almost overnight and manufacture their own mobile suits.
The Unicorn gets hold of a pair of twin beam gatling guns (originally meant for the Khsatriya) during Banagher's escape from Palau.
Gilboa's Geara Zulu also carries one to supplement its cannon, and the Greifer has two projectile-based gatling guns.
Giant Robot Hands Save Lives: In Episode 5, Mineva escapes the Vist Foundation's Garuda by jumping out in mid-air and requesting that Banagher catch her (she'd lost her parachute moments beforehand). Happily, he has the presence of mind to match speeds before grabbing her in order to ensure that she doesn't go squish.
Gone Horribly Right: As Riddhe reveals in Episode 5, the conspiracy that occurred at the Laplace Station, that's since screwed up all of Universal Century's history: Syam Vist and Federation conspirators intended to use the bombing at the station to enact hard line policies on colony control and gain power. They got what they wanted, but with the accidental concealment of Laplace's Box, it also brought unexpected rise of mutual Earth and Colonist prejudice that finally exploded into the One Year War. The Federation conspiracy, that had hoped for "more control", now oppresses its colonies, while the resentful colonies lash out in various Zeon rebellions, leading to almost 30 years of continued conflict with no apparent end, and lots and lots of dead people.
Gone Horribly Wrong: The Vist Foundation's deal with the Sleeves, thanks to a traitor inside the Foundation and a nervous lookout with an itchy trigger finger.
Good Old Fisticuffs: Banagher and Zinnerman's "disagreement" over tactics and ideology on the Garencieres bridge in the fourth episode. The rest of the bridge crew decided not to involve themselves. What's interesting is that despite the size difference Banagher won.
Although Banagher's victory is not so surprising considering that, in the first episode, he managed to beat back two grown men (one at least as big as Zinnerman) and Marida.
Gory Discretion Shot: The Unicorn's hatch closes just before Cardeas's body is engulfed in an explosion, despite being averted many times in the preceding colony raid.
Groin Attack: Delivered by Banagher during the aforementioned disagreement.
Haunted Technology: The series reveals that the psycoframe technology introduced in Char's Counterattack has some rather unusual side-effects - namely, it stores echoes of a suit's past pilots. This becomes quite a significant plot point. It's how they made Full Frontal, and the cause of Loni going berserk during the attack on Torrington.
Heel-Face Turn: To nobody's great surprise, the Garencieres team pull one off in Episode 6, choosing to help Audrey, Banagher, and the Nahel Argama discover what Laplace's Box actually is before they decide whether handing it over to Full Frontal is really the best possible use for it.
Heroic Sacrifice: Dr. Bancroft, a history teacher at Anaheim Electronics Technical School, willingly closes a bunker door from the outside to prevent those inside from being fried by a nuclear blast. It's one of the few truly heroic actions in the whole series so far.
He Who Fights Monsters: The Sleeves, who've spent so long trying to pay the Federation back for its misdeeds that they have no understanding of any other way to live.
The Federation, in both its efforts to keep the peace and maintain the Ancient Conspiracy regarding Laplace's Box, isn't much better off in UC 0096 than Zeon was in UC 0079.
History Repeats: Related to Cycle of Revenge. Even after unifying Earth under the Federation, the progress made in space colonization and all the talk of Newtypes, humanity at large still finds itself repeating the same mistakes over and over again. Lampshaded by Mineva Zabi wondering whether there's even an answer to that age old conundrum.
In Episode 6, Mineva Zabi calls Full Frontal out on this should he find Laplace's Box. His vision for Spacenoid supremacy would basically amount to the colonies becoming the oppressors and Earth taking the role of the victim. It would also signify a return to the Anno Domini calendar as Earthnoids become increasingly resentful and collapse into infighting that may destroy the Federation and bring about a bitter and vengeful generation bent on taking their anger on the colonies. In other words, it would be the One Year War all over again, with the roles reversed.
Hostage Situation: Inverted in episode two, when Daguza Mackle holds Mineva Zabi hostage in an attempt to prevent Full Frontal from destroying the Nahel Argama. This then turns into...
Hostage for MacGuffin: When Full Frontal denies these terms and holds the Nahel Argama hostage in exchange for the Unicorn Gundam.
Ironic Echo: A recording of Ricardo Marcenas' Dawn of an Era speech is triggered from the Unicorn itself in the Laplace ruins. Unlike in UC 0001 however, its words come across as hollow and dissonant if not ignored amid a battle against the Sleeves.
Lampshade Hanging: At one point in episode three, Banagher calls the search for Laplace's Box a "crazy treasure hunt".
Garencieres' mechanic lampshading the Anacheim Electronics' pouring the fuel into the EF-(Neo)Zeon's wars' fire.
The Sinanju prompts this response from one of the Londo Bell officers:
Bridge officer: The lead machine is approaching at... three times the speed of the others!
The Shamblo is a red mobile armour that single handedly lays waste to Dakar and the forces at Torrington Base.
Lightning Bruiser: The Kshatriya is remarkably fast given its bulk and firepower, but even it pales in comparison to the Sinanju, Unicorn, and Banshee.
The Byalant Custom in episode four comes out of freaking nowhere and, despite its incredibly wide shoulders and ungainly claw arms, completely owns a squad of invaders.
Light is Good: The completely white Unicorn Gundam, whose name is based on a beast of light and possibilities, mostly because it's piloted by the good-hearted kid serving as our protagonist. However...
Light Is Not Good: Marida stated that Zeon replaced the light of God for the spacenoids, even using the phrase "a new light called Zeon". Moreover, the Unicorn itself has a nasty habit of going all Superpowered Evil Side when there are other Newtypes around, which is a bit of a problem if the pilot doesn't want to reduce them to a bloody smear across the cosmos.
Linked List Clue Methodology: The Unicorn Gundam and its La+ OS can only be activated at certain times and places to unlock the next clue, eventually unlocking what's contained in Laplace's Box.
Love Triangle: In the novels, there is Micott/Banagher/Audrey, and later, Banagher/Audrey/Riddhe. Both of them have been carried over intact into the anime.
Luke, I Am Your Father: Cardeas Vist to Banagher Links, though subverted as it turns out Banagher knew it all along and just didn't remember very well.
Of course, thus far the anime has also raised the possibility that his parents wiped his memories.
Malicious Slander: Possible example. When Banagher is eating with Gilboa's family after being captured, one of the kids claims that anyone held prisoner by the E.F.S.F will be denied food, his defense being "his dad told him so." This definitely isn't official Federation policy, but given the setting, it's still not implausible that Gilboa himself was starved during his previous run-ins with their military.
The Neo Zeon remnants are called "the Sleeves" due to the decorative patterns on the forearms of their mobile suits, on the other end the ECOAS are referred to as the "Manhunter unit" due to their stated mission of hunting down the Neo Zeon remnants.
Full Frontal, which stands for full frontal assault, is a shout out to the missing-in-action Char Aznable's combat style.
Extends to the mobile suits too:
The Unicorn is named after the mythical creature who's name means The Beast of Possibilities (something that Banagher does comment on).
The Kshatriya is named for the military and ruling order of one of the four social classes of Hinduism.
The Sinanju is named for a fictional style of martial arts (which is supposed to be the original base of all martial arts, with all other forms of martial arts being watered-down imitations) from a paperback book series known as The Destroyer.
The Sinanju Stein with Stein meaning "stone" in German and Norwegian. The Sinanju Stein is also referred to as "The stone from which Full Frontal's Sinanju was hewn.
The Banshee is named after a female spirit in Irish mythology, usually seen as an omen of death and a messenger from the Otherworld.
The Klimt, a Vist Foundation ship used under the guise of transporting works of art to and from the colonies, is named after Gustav Klimt.
Mecha Expansion Pack: The Stark Jegan and the Unicorn's Full Armor configuration grant the mobile suits in question an increased array of weapons.
The Unicorn artbook shows a Full Armor configuration for the Jesta, which turns from a high speed low drag spec ops mecha into a Guncannon expy.
Mecha-Mooks: This is subverted when the Londo Bell forces and ECOAS special operations units actually put up a decent fight against the Kshatriya.
Mega Corp.: Anaheim Electronics, though it no longer has a monopoly with the introduction of SNRI, who made the D50C Loto. It's also revealed however (at least in the novel) that the man who came to be known as Syam Vist was responsible for backing Anaheim, which was originally a run off the mill electrics company in North America to the point that by 0096, the corporation is effectively a front for the Vist Foundation.
Riddhe Marcenas gets two of these, upgrading from his ReZEL to the Delta Plus, and then upgrades that to the Unicorn Unit 02 "Banshee" after they reclaim it from the Sleeves. What makes this interesting is that it happens to one of the supporting cast rather than the main character.
Angelo Sauper gets one in the form of the Rozen Zulu.
Banagher gets one, from Unicorn to Full Armor Unicorn
Milking the Giant Cow: The Unicorn made quite the hand gesture when it took control of Kshatriya's funnels.
Of course the Unicorn was crushing it, as opposed to milking it.
Mind Hug: Banagher tries a near-literal version on Loni in order to persuade her to stop her murderous rampage. Unfortunately, her malfunctioning psycommu got in the way.
Mini Mecha: The Tolro-800 "Torohachi" petite mobile suit.
Though not at "wearable Powered Armor" level, the Loto personnel carrier is so small that the HG model kit comes with two of them in a box usually sized for one kit.
Morality Pet: Marida Cruz for the cast as a whole, and especially her fellow Sleeves. If you want a quick shorthand as to a character's moral alignment, check out how they interact with her.
When moving at maximum thrust, the Sinanju is three times faster than any of its wing-men.
At the beginning of episode two, upon seeing the Unicorn transform into Destroy Mode, one of the crew members of the Nahel Argama shouts, "It's a Gundam!" almost identically to how Mooks of the franchise have in the past, prior to their deaths.
On the Sleeves-sympathetic colony there are English store signs that read "Red Comet" and "Black Three Star". The reference for the first one is obvious, the second one references the Black Tri-Stars, who captured General Revil at the Battle of Loum and who were defeated by Amuro.
Even on the first episode, the date displayed on the binoculars that Takuya lent to Micottnote The same one she used when she spotted Banagher and Audrey on the Colony Builder is 7 April 0096. The original first aired in 1979 on the very same date.
Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: In order to allow the Unicorn to unlock the next stage in the La+ program, the Zeon Remnants stage a full scale attack on the Federation base at Torrington. However, all this accomplishes is gathering all of the remaining Zeon resistance on Earth in one place to get annihilated.
On the Federation's side, meanwhile, Riddhe's deranged ranting turns out to be exactly the little nudge Marida needs to break her Vist Foundation brainwashing.
As of June 2011 Madman have released the first episode... but only on DVD. No word regarding a possible Blu-Ray release.
Of course, the Blu-Rays are region free anyway, which is probably for the best for Western fans given that Amazon US stopped offering them after the first episode and Amazon in other regions never offered them in the first place.
No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: The Zeon Remnants might possibly have won the Battle of Torrington if they'd been a little less squeamish about civilian casualties.
Marida saves Alberto from being sucked into space after the Nahel Argama suffers a breach in its hull. She is later taken by Alberto to Augusta, where she is mentally tortured by his aunt, Martha to essentially turn her into a slave soldier. Later afterwards, she dies protecting the Nahel Argama. Karma really worked with her.
Off Screen Villain Dark Matter: While the Sleeves have some crappy and outdated stuff, it still would take a lot of money to have all of what they do.
They're funded by sympathisers, like the Governor of Palau. Also, they get free suits from Anaheim Electronics, whose want to keep the Federation and Zeon fighting to stay in the black. In this respect its possible that the Sleeves not so much stole the Sinanju but it was given to them by Anaheim, this is perhaps further supported by the fact that the thing looks like a more refined version of Sazabi.
Offhand Backhand: During episode three, the Unicorn Gundam is fighting against two Geara Zulus. After using its shield to block a beam rifle attack it uses the beam saber on its right arm to slice off the flanking Geara Zulu's weapon arm, stabs through the left side of its cockpit, and tosses it aside. All within the span of about two seconds.
Full Frontal later does this while soloing the General Revil's mobile suits.
Oh Crap: Pretty much everybody's reaction upon first seeing Unicorn Gundam in NT-D mode.
Angelo in Episode 6 when Otto verbally slams him right before ECOAS retakes the Nahel Argama from Full Frontal's forces.
Praetorian Guard: Full Frontal's bodyguards, at least two of which were killed, pretty easily, by Banagher, making them something of a Red Shirt Army.
Psychic Powers: Welcome back to Universal Century; there will be Newtypes. So far we have Banagher, Audrey/Mineva, Full Frontal, Marida, Riddhe and Loni.
Punch Clock Villain: When Banagher is taken to Palau, he finds that the rank and file Sleeves members are Not So Different, and even befriends or at least earns the respect of a few of them.
Putting on the Reich: The Sleeves have their equipment stylized after WWII German firearms and accessories, examples being the standard STG-44-lookalike beam rifle, the stahlhelm-like heads of the Geara Doga and Geara Zulu, and even their uniforms. Being The Remnants of the Neo-Zeon movement, this isn't too surprising.
Put on a Bus: The crew of the Nahel Argama don't show up at all in episode 4 since they're being quarantined by the Federation for their role in trying to find Laplace's Box.
Recursive Ammo: The General Revil fires submunition-carrying missiles at the Sinanju, to little effect.
The show is essentially The Da Vinci Code with Humongous Mecha. Replace "Priory of Sion" with "Vist Foundation", the cryptex with the Unicorn Gundam, and the Grail with Laplace's Box and you have the overall plot of Gundam Unicorn.
Extremely good analogy; in The Da Vinci Code, the reveal of the Grail would prove Jesus was human, which would simultaneously cripple religious fanatics and ruin the Church's humanitarian efforts. The reveal of Laplace's Box would show that the Earth not only granted the initial colonists the right to self-rule, but predicted the birth of Newtypes, which Zeon could spin into a philosophical right to rule not only the Colonies, but all humanity.
Since what we saw of Laplace's Box looked like the monolith, 2001 with Gundams.
Especially apt since Tomino was clearly influenced by the film in making the original series. Look at the RB-79 Ball, very similar to a pod Dave used in an attempt to save one of his crewmembers.
Gundam Unicorn is also The Lion and the Unicorn in Space, with the Unicorn obviously being the unicorn and the Unicorn "Banshee" being the lion and Audrey being The Lady.
Retirony: Gilboa promises to return to his family when he has to leave for another assignment. Guess what happens on his very next mission?
The Unicorn Gundam and Unicorn Banshee are shout outs to The Lion and the Unicorn
Sins of Our Fathers: One of the recurring themes of the series is how children are cursed to carry on the grudges borne by their parents. In poor Loni's case, it's literal.
Spanner in the Works: The Sleeves' plan to take Torrington Base might have actually worked if Loni's psycommu hadn't malfunctioned, causing her to start massacring civilians and forcing them to deploy Banagher to take out their own superweapon.
Spit Take: After reading an emergency communiqué in episode five, Captain Midas sprays tea on the bridge officers in surprise.
Stuff Blowing Up: There's a reason why you should try to aim away from a mobile suit's Minovsky reactor... especially inside colonies.
Super Robot Wars: Making its debut in Super Robot Wars Z3: Jigoku-hen. Notably, its debut was announced before the airing of the final episode. As such, it can be concluded that Unicorn's story won't be completed until Z3's second half is released.
In novel, Unicorn has mass production model call Jesta which lacks psychoframe and NT-D, but still far more powerful than old Jegan.
Surprisingly Good English: The Unicorn's AI spoke fluent English in the Japanese version, when Cardeas Vist and an Anaheim employee were testing it.
Also in the first episode, the Earth Federation's Prime Minister speaks in Japanese, with an English voice translating what he says shortly after (presumably an interpreter).
The opening conversation of episode 5 is done completely in English. Both speak perfect English, though Torrington Control lacks any obvious accent while the Vist Foundation speaker has a heavy Asian accent.
Tender Tears: During a conversation with Zinnerman, Banagher breaks down in tears over the pointlessness of the Federation/Zeon conflict. He apologizes to Zinnerman because men shouldn't cry, but Zinnerman points out that crying means he cares. He also remarks that he would never trust a man that doesn't cry.
Terrorists Without a Cause: The Sleeves are a rather tragic example. They're theoretically fighting for the restoration of Zeon, but the truth is that they've been at it so long that it's all they know how to do.
Thwarted Escape: Subverted. Micott interfered with Riddhe and Audrey's escape to Earth. After hearing them out, she reluctantly lets them go.
Transformation Is a Free Action: Justified: During the Unicorn's first activation of its NT-D, Marida has Kshatriya activate all 24 of its funnels so she can blast this new Gundam to all hell before it can finish doing whatever it's doing. They line up, fire... and the beams bend around the Unicorn as it deploys an I-field specifically designed to prevent the Unicorn from being shot down during its transformation.
Transforming Mecha: The ReZEL, Delta Plus, Ankusha, Shamblo, Loto (the only difference being the first two change into a spacecraft while the latter changes into a tank) and of course the Unicorn and Banshee.
Übermensch: Banagher arguably qualifies as he spends the story examining Federation and Zeon belief systems, and ultimately finds both to be flawed while his Unicorn represents the last hope to bring far reaching positive change for everyone. Riddhe and Full Frontal, in turn, represent ideological Last Men, as they believe the system is unchangeable and the only thing that matters now is ensuring their side "wins", regardless of the long term consequences.
Villainous Rescue: Episode 5 contains two in a row. The first one (which overlaps with Big Damn Heroes, considering who it involves) has the Garencieres crew rescue Mineva, Banagher, the Unicorn, and (as an added bonus) Marida from the Vist Foundation, whilst the Nahel Argama provides support. The second one has Frontal and Angelo rescue everyone when the General Revil arrives to silence them.
War for Fun and Profit: One cannot stop thinking that Anacheim Electronics have stirred most of the Earth Sphere wars since OYW to sell mobile suits to both sides. Actually lampshaded by Tomura, the Garencieres' mechanic, while discussing with Banagher why the EF and Zeon's hardware is compatible.
In the first episode alone we're treated to such things as a mobile suit pilot getting the lower half of his body incinerated by a beam saber, fleeing civilians being vaporized by stray shots from beam cannons, a nuclear blast from an exploding Minovsky reactor ripping a hole in the colony, civilians being crushed by falling mobile suit limbs, and other rather messy deaths.
As bad as the Industrial 7 battle is, it pales in comparison to the Dakar and Torrington massacre by the massive AMA-X7 Shamblo mobile armor.
The Unicorn has a specialized beam rifle called a "Beam Magnum", which fires shots equal in power to a battleship-grade mega particle cannon (a shot in normal mode being powerful enough to rip through an asteroid without slowing down and another shot destroying a Geara Zulu by just passing near it). Unfortunately, to achieve such a yield it drains an entire E-pac in one shot, requiring it to use a specialized setup consisting of five normal E-pacs stacked together.
The Nahel Argama's Hyper Mega Particle Cannon packs enough power to push away a colonized asteroid while blasting a giant hole in it.
Banagher delivers this several timesnote In fact, Marida speculates that this willingness to question himself and others is what makes him a truly worthy pilot for the Unicorn, all to rather dangerous people to be calling out:
To Cardeas Vist when Industrial 7 is attacked.
To Audrey when she attempts to get Banagher to escape with her from the Nahel Argama.
To Audrey again when she tries to persuade Daguza to shoot her when her identity as Mineva Lao Zabi is revealed
to Daguza (see below) for involving Audrey in the conflict (who in turn delivers his own Hannibal Lecture)
To Full Frontal for continuing his attack.
To Zinnerman for sitting back and doing nothing as Zeon Remnants begin slaughtering civilians, even after he acknowledged that the hatred against Zeon was partially justified.
Full Frontal muses that Cardeas Vist may have deliberately designed the La+ program to remind and call out Zeon on their past crimes when the next set of coordinates leads them to the impact site of Zeon's first Colony Drop.
Audrey calls out Full Frontal for being so cold and uncaring about people, and denounces him as not being the real Char Aznable. While in the novels he clearly wasn't Char, the OVA made the whole issue thus far very ambiguous
Whip Beam Rifle: The Banshee's Armed Armor BS, otherwise known as a Beam Smart Gun. Where other beam weapons travel in a straight line, the beams from the BS have a characteristic "instability" where it flails about wildly, meaning it can catch pilots who merely dodge to the side.