Manga / Mobile Suit Gundam Thunderbolt

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The Universal Century began with mankind moving its burgeoning population into outer space. In U.C.0079, the colonies furthest from the Earth, Side 3, proclaims itself the Principality of Zeon and declared independence from the Earth Federation government. War was waged. Now, nearly a year had passed since that war broke out. In a debris cluster known as Thunderbolt Sector, the remains of many space colonies and battleships destroyed by the war, circle. Here, a violent struggle has played by the Zeon forces that seized control of the sector and the Federation forces whose mission is to regain it...

Mobile Suit Gundam Thunderbolt (or Kidou Senshi Gundam Thunderbolt) is a Seinen manga set in Universal Century of the Gundam universe, written and illustrated by Yasuo Ohtagaki. The manga takes place concurrently with Mobile Suit Gundam.

In 0079 during the One Year War, Moore Brotherhood, once citizens of thriving colonies in the past, fight to reclaim their homeland with their effort backed by the Earth Federation. As the main front moved closer to A Baoa Qu, Thunderbolt Sector became more important than ever for the Zeon forces protecting the supply lines to the headquarters. In the middle of it all, charismatic and talented Ensign Io Flemming of the Brotherhood and calculating sniper Chief Petty Officer Darryl Lorentz of Zeon's Living Dead division, two young hotshots with drastically different music genre of choice and personal drive, became embroiled in a war not entirely their own.

A 4-episode Original Net Animated Adaptation, produced by Sunrise, premiered on December 25, 2015 via pay to watch service in Japan, with early access from the Gundam Fan Club app service on December 11, 2015 and ended in April 8, 2016. The first episode was streamed outside Japan for a limited time from December 25, 2015 to January 7, 2016. A Compilation Movie was released on June 25, 2016. A second season of the ONA was also released on March 24, 2017.

Gundam Thunderbolt provides examples of:

  • Ambiguously Brown: Graham, who looks like he's supposed to be Native American, or possibly some kind of Pacific Islander. Also, while Darryl himself is relatively pale, he has some features, most notably his hair, which suggest he may have some mixed ancestry. Oddly, he's the only member of his family who looks that way.
  • An Arm and a Leg: The Living Dead unit of Zeon is composed of amputees. See Artificial Limbs below for more details.
  • Artifact Title: The manga (and the second season of the ONA) retain the title Mobile Suit Gundam Thunderbolt despite no longer being set in the Thunderbolt sector.
  • Artificial Limbs: Zeon's Living Dead unit is entirely composed of soldiers with cybernetic limbs. Its ace pilot, Darryl Lorentz, got cybernetic legs. In order to pilot the Psycho Zaku, he also had his arms replaced.
  • Asteroid Thicket: The first story arc takes place in the titular Thunderbolt Sector, which is littered with shattered remains of several colonies.
  • BFG: The Big Gun is a humongous beam sniper rifle operated by a Zaku II or Rick Dom.
  • Big, Screwed-Up Family: The Flemming family is certainly this in spades, and the Flemming siblings all despise each other for various reasons. One would say it is no wonder that Io isn't the most sane person around. This can possibly be attributed to their father's suicide.
  • Break the Cutie: Happens to all of them at some point, most notably Karla, whose brain is mostly scar tissue by the end of the first arc.
  • Call-Forward: Bishop Raven Fuu's control of South Sea Alliance through Newtype Power act as an in-universe prediction to Zanscare Empire being run by a Newtype named Queen Maria, albeit under manipulation of Fonse Kagatie, in Mobile Suit Victory Gundam.
  • Child Soldiers: The Federation later supplied Moore Brotherhood with a platoon of child pilots. A large amount of them never made it out of Thunderbolt Sector.
  • Church Militant: South Sea Alliance is under the control of religious fanatics that resembled Buddhism.
  • Compilation Movie: The December Sky movie, which compresses episodes 1-4 into one movie while adding new footage.
  • Crapsack World: As is the norm for the Universal Century, the world is not a very nice place. First, the Moore Brotherhood consists of the former inhabitants of Side 4, seeking to reclaim their home from Zeon, even if it's nothing but a useless wreck. As such, the Federation treats the Brotherhood as expendable troops, and aren't particularly concerned for their well being as long as they can achieve their objective. Meanwhile, the Living Dead unit is a group of Zeon soldiers forced to use cybernetic prosthetics in order to maintain pilot numbers, and are nothing more than guinea pigs for Zeon's cybernetic experiments.
  • Cybernetics Eat Your Soul: During their last meeting Io claims that Darryl sacrificed his humanity to be able to defeat the Gundam but though the Zeon sniper still comes off as more human than his rival, the ending montage shows that the final amputation eliminated much of the remaining piloting ability he took for granted when he still had one natural limb.
  • Darker and Edgier: Than the original Mobile Suit Gundam anime, big time.
  • Dress-Coded for Your Convenience: The South Seas Alliance Mobile Suits that both the Spartan crew and the Zeon Remnants face in Season 2 resemble the enemies of either party. For the Spartan crew, they're pretty much refitted Goufs, while the Mobile Suits that engage Darryl's team resemble GMs somewhat.
  • Doomed Hometown: Side 4 for the entire Moore Brotherhood. Io seems to be aware of this and doesn't care much though. However, Side 4 does actually get a bit better.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: The giant rifle used by the Living Dead unit Zakus is simply named as the Big Gun.
  • The Farmer and the Viper: Claudia goes back to save Graham, the guy who spends his entire career berating and insulting her. For her trouble, he shoots her and tries to trap her on an exploding ship.
  • Flying Car: A rarity in the Gundam series, we finally get to see some in the hands of the Moore police force. They appear to be related to the Bloodhound hovertrucks introduced in Mobile Suit Gundam: The 08th MS Team.
  • Friendly Sniper: The Living Dead unit is a tight-knit group of Zaku pilots who snipe Federation forces with their Zaku's while listening to some pop music.
  • Full-Frontal Assault: At the very end of Thunderbolt arc Io's cell where he's been stripped and tortured is opened due to an enemy attack. He then proceeds to kill the rest of the Zeon guards and free the other captives, and never bothers getting dressed.
  • Grey and Gray Morality: Both Moore Brotherhood (Earth Federation) and Living Dead unit (Zeon) have sympathetic and villainous moments. However, Moore Brotherhood's We Have Reserves mentality and their Jerk Ass pilot tend to put the Living Dead on A Lighter Shade of Grey.
  • Handicapped Badass: Several members of the Living Dead. Interestingly, Daryl later has his good arm voluntary amputated, but ends up becoming better in his Psycho-Frame equipped Zaku because of it.
  • Hannibal Lecture: Io gives a scathing one to Daryl after being captured, imprisoned, and tortured, making Daryl question what he's done for the sake of the war.
  • Human Shield: Io grabs one of Daryl's squadmates and uses him as a shield, keeping Daryl from sniping him. Then Io attaches a rocket to the squaddie's suit and uses him as an Action Bomb.
  • Humongous Mecha: Per the Gundam series standard.
  • Impoverished Patrician: The Flemmings were a prominent family who lost virtually everything in the One Week Battle. To a lesser extent, the entire Moore Brotherhood qualifies. Side 4 was one of the wealthier colony clusters, having access to much more futuristic tech like flying police cars than is typically seen in the hands of civilian organizations in the early UC timeline.
  • It's All About Me: J.J.Sexton big time. This man will do everything just to keep his research safe.
  • Ironic Echo: "I want to laugh from my heart." The person who said this ends up unable to do anything but laughs.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Io. To his enemies, he's a complete jerkass and Politically Incorrectvillain. Having survived a near-fatal sniper shot to his GM and putting a bullet through a Zeon pilot's head as he went with his Dom-jacking, he proceeded to gleefully taunt the dead pilot's comrades in the video feed (including Daryl) on their disabilities and taste in music, who were forced to watch the whole scene take place. Darryl, needless to say, did not take his comments on his prosthetic legs lightly. He's also rude and impolite to his superiors and several other Federal soldiers. On the other hand, to those he cares about he's much more reasonable, cares about his mother, and is rather friendly towards some of his comrades. His attitude toward Zeon is unsurprising, given that they were the ones who destroyed Side 4 and show their customary self-righteous attitude and breathtaking lack of self-awareness about their hypocrisy, while fighting among the mass graves of their victims no less!
  • Kill 'em All: Subverted. The climax of the series has many main characters dead, and is set to (almost coincidentally) kill the rest in one fell swoop. However, Cornelius talks Karla out of setting off the bomb that would have killed the remaining named characters. Even Io and Daryl manage to both survive their final duel.
  • La Résistance: Technically, Moore Brotherhood could be considered this, as they're trying to liberate their homeland of Side 4 (or what's left of it...) from occupying Zeon forces.
    • When the conflict moves back to Earth, the Zeon Remnants become this as they wage a guerilla war against the Federation.
  • Laughing Mad: Karla after the horror of watching her comrades get vaporized by a beam saber burns out most of her brain.
  • Million-to-One Chance: Seems to happen more often than those odds would predict in the Thunderbolt Sector:
    • In their second encounter, Daryl manages to get the drop on Io and lines up a perfect shot with his big gun that would have likely destroyed the Full Armor Gundam, but a bolt of lightning strikes at just the right moment to deflect the beam.
    • It goes the other way in the final battle of the Thunderbolt Sector arc. As Io is coming in for the finishing blow on Daryl's damaged Psycho Zaku, a bolt of lightning reactivates the Zaku's main camera, allowing Daryl just enough time to react and lessen the damage done.
    • Karla's capture relied on a GM from outside the ship managing to pinpoint where she and the rest of her comrades were based on an internal camera, and incinerating them with a beam saber. They even lampshade how it was a longshot, but it worked.
  • Mook Horror Show: The last few minutes of the first OVA episode have a rather graphic one-on-one fight between a Zaku and the Full-Armor Gundam - from the Zaku's perspective.
  • More Dakka: Moore Brotherhood and the Living Dead lacked technology compared to their respective main armies, so they have to make do with copious amount of spare parts and weaponry. Psycho Zaku is a great example of this, having three spare MS Bazooka, several machine guns and lots of external boosters.
  • Multi-Armed and Dangerous: Part of the design aesthetic for the Thunderbolt versions of the suits is the presence of extra manipulator arms. The Gundam and GM primarily use theirs to hold up shields to deflect debris in the Shoals, while Daryl uses the one on his Psycho Zaku to rapidly switch between weapons. One Zaku is also seen using a manipulator arm to push a car out of its way while firing out of the husk of Side 4.
  • Mutual Kill: In the end, The Full-Armor Gundam and the Psycho Zaku take each other out at the same time. Daryl is considered the "winner," but pretty much only because his reinforcements arrived.
  • Mythology Gag: In the English dub, when the Living Dead Division first sees footage of the Gundam, one of their pilots exclaims "It's a Gundam!" in the same memetic tone as the Gundam Wing dub.
  • Never a Self-Made Woman:
    • According to her XO, Claudia is only in commander because of her family. Given the fact the XO is a complete Jerkass, this may or may not be true.
    • Downplayed with Karla. She became a cyberneticist because of her father, but in order to help him after he lost his arm in a bombing. He was a history professor and political activist rather than a scientist himself.
  • Oh, Crap!: Zeon forces stationed at the Thunderbolt Sector have this reaction and then some when they realize that the Mobile Suit that's been killing off their comrades is a Gundam.
  • Outfit Decoy: In the manga, Io, piloting the Full Armor Gundam, manages to flank Daryl by distracting him with detaching and launching his Gundam's backpack towards Daryl.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: During the final battle for the Thunderbolt Sector, the timely arrival of the Siren Fleet ensures a Zeon victory, with the the Brotherhood fleet wiped out, the Gundam destroyed, and the survivors captured. However, in return, the entire Living Dead unit is essentially wiped out as well and their Super Prototype Zaku is destroyed and are forced to leave the sector to the Federation.
  • Shout-Out: Blonde ace pilot hero with a girlfriend named Claudia and a best friend with blue hair and glasses? The shoutout to Super Dimension Fortress Macross could only be more apparent if Io had been named Roy.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: Always fairly common to Gundam, the OVA may take it to new lengths. Io blasts jazz as he slaughters soldiers, while the Living Dead unit listen to cheery J-pop as they snipe enemies.
  • Super Prototype: The FA-78 Full Armor Gundam, Psycho Zaku, and RX-78AL Atlas Gundam.
  • Surprisingly Elite Cannon Fodder: Vice Captain Graham and his ilk repeatedly send Io Fleming into dangerous mission in hopes that he will die and be a martyr for the rest of Moore Brotherhood, nevermind Claudia's consent. Partly because they blame the 'incompetent elites' for the occupation of Site 4 by Zeon forces. Io Fleming didn't die as they expect. In the end, it's the other way around...
  • Taking You with Me: Claudia is murdered by her XO who considered her an awful leader and wanted to just kill her before he died. Subverted in that she survives.
  • Used Future: Debris are everywhere in Thunderbolt Sector, and everything is worndown.
  • War Is Hell: One of the more brutal entries in Universal Century settings. Comes with being a seinen Gundam manga.
  • Warfare Regression: On top of Minovsky Particles, Thunderbolt Sector itself is full of electrical discharges that interrupts communications inside it.


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