Manga: Gundam Sentinel

Gundam Sentinel is a photonovel series, one of many Gundam side-stories taking place in the Universal Century timeline. Written by veteran Masaya Takahashi, it takes place during the final phase of Zeta Gundam and the early stages of Gundam ZZ in UC 0088. The story shows The Federation's efforts to stop an insurrection by elite Federation officers, former Titans calling themselves the New Desides. What's noteworthy about Sentinel is the debut of prolific mechanical designer Hajime Katoki, the artist behind other iconic Gundams in the franchise such as the V2 Assault Buster Gundam, Wing Gundam Zero Custom and the Gundam Unicorn. Sentinel is regarded as one of the most well known Gundam side-stories to have been published, and is usually noted by fans as being one of the most mature stories in the franchise.

Tropes associated with the Gundam Sentinel are:

  • Alice Allusion: ALICE is the AI installed on the S Gundam, and 'she' gradually gains self-awareness over the story.
  • BFG, Wave Motion Gun: FAZZ's hyper mega beam launcher, Z Plus and S Gundam's Beam Smartguns. The Z'od-iacok, a Mobile Armor over 200 meters in length, splits down the middle to reveal an absurdly huge beam cannon.
  • Civil War: The New Decides are Titans remnants & sympathisers, who're later joined by a Federation fleet that was supposed to help bring them to heel.
  • Combining Mecha: The S-Gundam has a core fighter system and two other flying components, much like the ZZ Gundam.
  • Decoy Protagonist: Ryo is The Hero, but ALICE gets much more Character Development...and is the one who actually saves the day.
  • The Federation: Actually being proactive for once!
  • Face-Heel Turn: The Federation sends a reinforcement fleet to Task Force Alpha. Said fleet commander, Admiral Brian Aeno, chooses to help the New Desides instead.
  • Fun with Acronyms: Extraordinary Superior (Ex-S) Gundam. But that can't compare to "Advance Logistic & Inconsequence Cognizing Equipment (ALICE).
  • Gundam Vs Series: The Ex-S Gundam was included as a first print-run DLC unit for Gundam Extreme Vs. Full Boost; it has no pilot for reasons which remain vague and unspecified, but presumably tie into the legal issues surrounding the two versions of the story.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: ALICE ejects the 3-person core fighter to save her pilots, then shoots down the New Desides shuttle and the remaining Z'oon with a single shot. Then S Gundam explodes in Earth's atmosphere.
  • Humongous Mecha: It's part of the Gundam series, so yeah.
  • Interquel: Although Gundam ZZ has already started by the time of this story.
  • Lightning Bruiser: The Gundam Mk-V is so fast that it nearly kills its ace pilot Brave Cod the first time he uses. That aside with it Brave becomes a One-Man Army and single-handily wipes out over a dozen mobile suits before Ryu and ALICE finally bring him down.
  • Mecha Expansion Pack: It's this story that really introduces the concept into the Gundam world. The S Gundam has a booster variant, the Ex-S Gundam is basically a stronger S, and the Deep Striker Gundam is the S with so many boosters, fuel tanks, guns, shield generators, and sensor packs added on, it's no longer humanoid, and barely recognizable. The FAZZ is this to the ZZ Gundam, and there's a Zeta Plus variant with heavy boosters attached.
    • In fact, the FAZZ has so much extra armor and weaponry that it can no longer transform/combine. Accounts differ on whether the core ZZ Gundam is still able to split up after jettisoning the armor or if it's custom-built as one piece for added stability.
    • On the opposite side, the Xeku Ein has at least 3 different mission configurations.
  • Punny Name: The villains of the story are a new group of anti-colony soldiers. In the Universal Century, colonies are grouped into clusters called "Sides" - hence, New Desides (De-Sides).
    • And then there's the Ex-S Gundam, which set the new gold standard in ridiculously overbuilt mecha designs.
  • Shout-Out: Members of New Desides are based on Shinsengumi. And Ryo Roots is based on Ryoma Sakamoto (='base', 'root').
  • Super Prototype: Played with - the FAZZ and Zeta Plus Mobile Suits are essentially production versions of the ZZ Gundam and Zeta Gundam.
    • The FAZZ was made as a testbed for the ZZ Gundam's Full Armor parts, before Judau got them in that series. In a subversion, the parts do work as planned, but because the MS itself was gutted for cost purposes (leaving out the FA parts' Anti-Beam Coating, for example), it's a worse unit overall. All three get destroyed on the moon.
    • The Zeta Plus, on the other hand, saw considerable service (mostly out of the spotlight) as a good, useful MS. The main S Gundam pilots even use them as trainer units, since they weren't given access to it at the time.
    • And then there's the S (Superior) Gundam and it's Mid-Season Upgrade, the Ex-S (Extraordinary Superior) Gundam, which both Katoki and Takahashi seemed to consider a Lightning Bruiser Game Breaker. Game depictions range from "very useful" to "better than the Nu Gundam".
  • Theme Naming: Most of the characters are named after historical figures from the Bakamatsu period of Japanese history. The naming tends to follow a specific pattern: the first name is translated directly into English while the surname is an English homophone of a portion of the original Japanese name(for example, Isami Kondo -> Brave Cod).
  • The Smurfette Principle: The only active female character is ALICE - and even she's S Gundam's AI without humanoid appearance.
  • Transforming Mecha: The EX-S transforms into a massive spacecraft.
    • As the model kits reveal, this is actually done by linking the two fighters formed by the S Gundam with all the excess boosters, similar to the G-Fortress mode of the Gundam Double Zeta.
  • Super Robot Wars: The S and Ex-S Gundams both appeared in Super Robot Wars 4 as cameo units. Incomplete sprites for all the major mecha can be found in Super Robot Wars Alpha 2 and 3's game data; Banpresto has never explained why it was cut, but for years fans blamed Mobile Suit Gundam SEED (which was confirmed to be a last-minute addition to Alpha 3).