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Mobile Suit Gundam Narrative (NT) is a 2018 anime film in the Gundam franchise. It is based on the 11th Gundam Unicorn novel, Phoenix Hunting. The movie premiered on November 30, 2018 and was the first installment in Sunrise's "UC NexT 0100" project, which covers the events of the next 100 years in the Universal Century timeline after Mobile Suit Gundam: Char's Counterattack.

The story is set in UC 0097, one year after the events of Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn, when the conflict called the "Laplace Incident" led to the dissolution of the Neo Zeon remnant group "The Sleeves". Both the Banshee and Unicorn Gundam were locked away in secrecy while Laplace's Box revealed the original draft of the Universal Century Charter, making the existence of Newtypes public.

Except that things never changed. Having thought lost two years ago, the Unicorn Gundam 03 Phenex suddenly reappears.

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Mobile Suit Gundam Narrative provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Ace Pilot: Averted with Jona and, uncharacteristically for a Char Clone, Zoltan. Jona is a rather poor pilot and doesn't particularly improve over the course of Narrative. Zoltan is pretty average, a far cry from the usual fantastic piloting skills of most Char Clones.
  • Adaptation Expansion: The film is a very loose adaptation of Phoenix Hunting, the 11th volume of the original Gundam Unicorn novels. Here are a few key differences:
    • Phoenix Hunting takes place near the end of Unicorn, while Narrative is set an entire year after those events.
    • The character of Michele does not exist, nor is Luio & Co. involved in the story.
    • Because the Narrative Gundam was not conceived of, Jona pilots a Stark Jegan for the majority of the novel.
  • The Bus Came Back:
    • Luio & Co., the Hong Kong-based company that assisted the AEUG and Karaba in Zeta Gundam, returns as a major player in this story.
    • Several characters from Unicorn, such as Mineva, make their return. The full film shows us some of the crew of the Garancieres, particularly Zinnerman and Flaste Schole, as well as a significant cameo from Unicorn protagonist Banagher himself.
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  • Ambiguous Situation: Despite scattered scenes throughout the film suggesting Rita was subjected to multiple surgeries, operations and experiments as a Cyber-Newtype guinea pig, nothing really confirms what exactly happened for her "Newtype ghost" to inhabit the Phenex.
  • The Atoner: It is eventually revealed much of Michele's actions throughout the film isn't just driven by her nominal "search-for-immortality" quest for her adoptive father. It is also driven by her genuine belief that Rita, despite no longer having a physical body, is still living on metaphysically (at least as most Newtype ghosts are)—and wishes that Jona encountering her will finally move him to forgive her. It can even be read that her suicidal insistence to be part of the final battle (ending with her Heroic Sacrifice) falls under here too.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Zoltan and the II Neo Zeong are destroyed, but Prime Minister Monaghan Bakharov doesn't face any comeuppance for authorizing the operation despite Mineva having a good idea of his guilt. Meanwhile, the Phenex flies off again, taking Rita and Michele's souls with it and leaving Jona behind. However, all three find closure at the end, with Jona and Michele finally being able to let go of their guilt and resentments and Rita being able to briefly reunite with them. It is also hinted that Brick gets to go along with Michele in the Phenex as well, allowing him to still look after her even in death.
  • Call-Forward: The Narrative's status as a loan-out from Luio and Co. surprised the Phoenix Hunting pilots, incredulous that a trading company has access to such technology. It was later explained that Anaheim and Luio have struck up a deal. Taking into account Anaheim's near-monopoly on MS technology (at least since Stardust Memory and Zeta up to Unicorn), this most likely suggests the eventual bleed-out of personnel and technology from Anaheim, eventually leading to the rise of the SNRI in F91.
  • Canon Immigrant: The Phenex and the Sinanju Stein originally only appeared in side material. Their designs have been tweaked for this film (notably the Sinanju Stein slimming up to look more like Full Frontal's own Sinanju, and the Phenex's "wing" shields gaining phoenix peacock feather-like attachments).
  • Can't Catch Up: Zigzagged with the Narrative Gundam. On paper, it's actually considered outdated, but the equipment packs provided by Luio & Co. boost its performance significantly. In addition, although the mobile suit itself doesn't possess a psycho-frame like the Sinanju Stein and the Phenex, Jona's psycho-suit is functionally identical. Through these enhancements, the Narrative is able to keep pace with its technological successors in a rudimentary way.
  • Char Clone: In a more literal sense. Zoltan Akkanen is a Cyber-Newtype who was a candidate to become the second coming of Char Aznable, just like Full Frontal.
  • Chekhov's Gun: A Core Block unit is visible in the Narrative Gundam from the get-go. Unsurprisingly, it gets used in the end to get Jona to the Phenex. Much more surprisingly, it has a unique bird shape.
  • Childhood Friends: The main characters Jona, Rita, and Michele grew up together in Australia.
  • Classical Anti-Hero: Jona's storyline hits all the notes of this.
    • For the most part, he is plagued by massive self-doubt and his perceived powerlessness—especially considering Michele always has to bail him out and Rita always had to cheer him up. The events leading to their separation from each other just further drove to him how much of his fate is out of his hands.
    • Ultimately, even his most heroic moments aren't entirely driven by what he believes to be right, but more of trying to live up to Rita and Michele's hopes—and he even felt directionless after they (surviving as ghosts inside the Phenex) moved on. It's not until he has an encounter with Banagher that he finally begins to look up.
  • Clothes Make the Superman: While piloting the Narrative Gundam, Jona wears a special 'psycho-suit', a normal suit that surrounds the pilot's own body with psycho-frame material.
  • The Dark Side Will Make You Forget: Much of Jona's resentment against Michele is implied to come from his belief that whatever good intentions Michele had in separating the three of them was lost to time. After all, it looks like it, with Michele enjoying the good life as an adopted daughter of Luio and Co., while he was left to fend for himself and Rita left to waste away as a Cyber-Newtype guinea pig—with what's left of her ending up on the Phenex. It was later suggested that Michele never forgot and did her best to track Jona and Rita in the aftermath of the Gryps Conflict, but was always too late to find a trace of either of them, which caused her no shortage of grief as well.
  • Double Weapon: The Dijeh makes a return from Zeta Gundam wielding with its usual beam naginata as a melee weapon.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: Implied since there is a bottle of wine and glass in Jona's bedroom.
  • 11th-Hour Superpower: With the Narrative Gundam torn to shreds after several heroic-but-failed attempts to take down the II Neo Zeong, Jona finally gets to climb inside the Phenex himself, spurred on with the joint Newtype ghost powers of both Rita and Michele to put down Zoltan for good.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Both sides, including the Zeons, are extremely cautious of initiating combat within the college colony Metis, lest innocent civilians come to harm. It's too bad that Zoltan, their superior, doesn't give a damn.
  • Expy: Zoltan Akkanen is nominally a "failed" prototype of the man who would eventually become Full Frontal. Looking at his hairstyle, sense of entitlement, mental instability and even speech patterns, however, he actually shares a whole lot more with Frontal's understudy, Angelo Sauper—right down to his near-homicidal hatred/jealousy of anything/anyone that has to do with the Unicorn Gundam (and by extension, the Narrative).
  • Fanservice: In the beginning half of the movie, we get to see Jona and Michele in their underwear.
  • Happy Ending Override: Ultimately, the events of Narrative seem to put a notable damper on the highly-optimistic ending of Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn. This also helps in setting why the post-UC 0100 series like F91 and Victory exist in the level of technology they are on.
    • To wit: despite successfully preventing Zoltan's rampage, it drives home to everyone that the overwhelming power of psycoframe technology is something no faction (be it the Federation, Zeon or anyone) should ever have—ironically proving his criticism during his Villainous Breakdown Motive Rant. Mineva herself also points how, ironically, the power both her and Banagher helped unleash and demonstrate to the Federation is now something they will have to keep under wraps themselves.
  • Haunted Technology: Continuing from Unicorn, anything with psycoframe technology not only harnesses echoes of its pilots—it may even detect strong emotions (especially negative ones) and then possess/amplify it. This is most visible with the Phenex and the II Neo Zeong:
    • The Phenex, as established, is animated by the echoes of Rita Bernal's residual Newtype power. Whatever is embedded in the Phenex enables it to turn any encounter with any mobile suit into a Curb-Stomp Battle.
    • The II Neo Zeong, whose mere proximity to any sufficiently-enraged Newtype/Cyber-Newtype can lead to it summoning/assimilating them and using their powers to cause massive destruction. Jona, then under the unwitting control of the Narrative's NT-D system, was sufficiently helpless and infuriated enough to be tempted by the II Neo Zeong's powers, nearly unleashing its payload in a still-inhabited colony. Later, Zoltan, willingly using its power through his own spite and resentment, turns the Neo Zeong into a horrifically-effective weapon that takes control of other mobile suits.
  • Hidden in Plain Sight: The Republic of Zeon's mobile suits hide their affiliation by styling their armor in the manner of the now-defunct Sleeves. Somehow this works.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: The Narrative Gundam and Jona along with it gets captured by the Neo Zeong II early on due to the Narrative's NT-D System.
  • Human Popsicle: Luio Woomin, who was only briefly mentioned in Zeta Gundam, makes his physical debut in this movie, frozen in cold sleep.
  • Interquel: The film is a self-contained story in itself, but also serves as the prologue to a larger storyline concerning the fate of Newtypes in the decades before Mobile Suit Gundam F91.
  • Karma Houdini: It has been established throughout the story that the remaining Sleeves were operating under "plausible deniability" supported by Zeon's minister Monaghan Bakharov—which makes him ultimately responsible for all the bloodshed throughout the film. Yet he never gets any visible comeuppance, despite Mineva showing she has a good clue of his guilt, but with no solid evidence for it.
  • Mecha Expansion Pack: The Narrative Gundam can be outfitted with option packs to increase its effectiveness, Played With, since instead of being applied midway, we first see the Narrative fly into battle with an option pack already installed and don't see the "naked" version until after action.
    • The high mobility A-Packs comes with Large Beam Sabers, multi-missile packs, Hi-Mega Particle Cannon, and "Psycho-Capture" Equipment. Its legs also mount huge thrusters. Played With, since instead of being applied midway, we first see the Narrative fly into battle with an option pack already installed.
    • The wire-guided assault B-Packs is much more modestly armed, with a bit of extra armor, two specialized funnels, and dual shields with built-in missile launchers.
    • The "Psycho Package" C-Packs mounts an actual Psychoframe and unlike the aforementioned A-packs and B-packs, there are no plans for the Narrative to have this setup, resulting in minimal conversion that were hastily apply on the suit. Even its beam rifle is just a modified Jegan rifle. This made the suit look distorted, as if it was made from an unusual origin.
  • Mid-Season Upgrade: Jona begins the movie piloting a Dijeh, before switching to the titular Narrative Gundam. And then he gets to operate the Phenex by the end.
  • Pet the Dog: During the early parts of the film, it was rumored that Stephanie Luio, the current President of Luio and Co. and Luio Woomin's actual biological daughter, was planning on stripping Michele of any influence in the company. As shown later in the film, she always treated Michele with the utmost respect and courtesy, and even urged her to go home and abandon her suicidal pursuit of the Phenex. Despite claiming that she's only doing this to avoid bad press against Luio and Co., you can still see she does have some affection for Michele.
  • Powered by a Forsaken Child: It turns out that the pilot of the Phenex is Rita, Jona and Michele's childhood friend with Newtype powers. It is not entirely sure what exactly happened to her (apart from the vague implication that she was subject to multiple operations that either studied her brain/tore her body to pieces), but it's undeniable that her spirit/brainwave echoes reside in the Phenex—something akin to the Graze Ein (but without the Wetware CPU).
  • Predecessor Villain: The Titans, who were the antagonists of Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam, are responsible for the main trio's sufferings during their childhood and teen years. They're long gone by the present-day storyline, having been defeated by the AEUG in the Gryps Conflict, 10 years prior.
  • Prisoner's Dilemma: The Titans, unable to determine who was the true "Miracle Child," cook up a plan to tell them that the true miracle child would be living a life of luxury with Luio & Co. and the other two would remain. And if they can't determine who is the true one, they all will be tortured. The opposite is the truth, with a fake foisted upon Luio & Co. and the true child being vivisected.
  • Psychic Powers: To the greatest degree yet in the Gundam multiverse. Not only is it revealed that the Unicorn developed Time Master powers (which explains its Curb-Stomp Battle of the Federation fleet in OVA 7), the Phenex doesn't even fly using thrusters, instead being moved through pure Newtype power. And the only weapon it used in its first skirmish with Jona was just throwing Newtype energy at his Gundam.
  • Psychopathic Manchild: Zoltan, who evokes the classic image of a mentally unstable Cyber-Newtype. A staff interview directly compared him to Rosamia Badam from Zeta Gundam.
  • Reactionless Drive: Implied to be used by the Phenex, as one of the capture team notes that the blue light propelling the Phenex's insane maneuvers isn't coming from its thrusters. Given it's been flying around for years, this is necessary.
  • Recycled INSPACE: Basically AnoHana with Mobile Suits.
  • Recycled Soundtrack: The Neo Zeon theme from Unicorn plays during Mineva and Monaghan Bakharov's video conversation. Other leitmotifs from Unicorn also reoccur throughout the OST.
  • The Remnant: Subverted. The Sleeves seem to still be operating despite their apparent dissolution at the end of Gundam Unicorn. Turns out that technically they're not The Remnant so much as actually sponsored by the legitimate Republic of Zeon, just parading as Neo-Zeon remnants.
  • The Resenter: Jona and Michele's dynamics imply that whatever improved position in life they have was due to Michele capitalizing on Rita's prediction of the Sydney Colony Drop—such that even if both Jona and Michele were not "really" Newtypes and Rita is the only one who actually is, they were treated and protected by the Federation as if all of them were. Jona, for his part, feels he's living a lie, while Michele feels she doesn't get any form of gratitude from the other two. This slowly begins to lose its weight when it is revealed just what form of selfishness/self-preservation animated Michele into doing what she did, even if she hates herself for it.
  • The Rival: Zoltan Akkanen, a captain in the Republic of Zeon military who pilots the Sinanju Stein, clashing with Jona to capture the Phenex.
  • Rule of Symbolism: Per Word of God, the way the Narrative Gundam gradually sheds its equipment over the course of the film is meant to parallel Jona letting go of his regrets, grudges, and impatience. This thematically reaches a climax when, finally losing the Narrative and getting to use the full power of the Unicorn Phenex, he gets a sort of catharsis for his lifelong hangups with his mutual tragedies with Michele and Rita—setting him up to a new life under Banagher's guidance.
  • Sequel Hook: All three Unicorn Gundams are still intact; the official story of Units 1 and 2 being dismantled was a cover-up. The Phenex departs from the Earth Sphere once more, being driven by Rita and Michele's souls to journey to the center of the galaxy. Mineva and Banagher, in possession of Unicorn Unit 1, make it their lifelong duty to keep it sealed away, but it is heavily implied that psycho-frame technology still has a role to play in history.
  • Serial Escalation: The film takes several things to a higher scale than anything previously seen in the Universal Century timeline:
    • The potential of the Unicorn Gundams to manipulate time itself makes them some of the most powerful mobile suits ever created.
    • While immediate precognition is an ability that many Newtypes possess, Rita was able to predict the massive catastrophe that was the Sydney colony drop. Later on, she reveals that she also foresaw the events of the film's final battle, meaning that she was able to see years into the future.
    • In the climax, the threat posed by the II Neo Zeong dropping several giant storage tanks of gas on Earth is explicitly said to be greater than any and all previous colony drops.
  • Shout-Out: Both by the intention of head writer Fukui, and both to previous Sunrise mecha anime:
    • The Phenex hitting high-speed flight has the same sound as the V-MAX from Blue Comet SPT Layzner.
    • The II Neo Zeong shares several sound effects with the Ideon from Space Runaway Ideon, which happened to be directed by Gundam creator Yoshiyuki Tomino.
    • The near-supernatural powers of the II Neo Zeong (especially the way it harnesses negative emotions to empower its destructive capabilities) is very very similar to how Metal Gear Sahelanthropus was operated.
  • Spent Shells Shower: Large bullet casings from a Jegan firing its rifle fall onto Martha Carbine's prison transport, causing it to lose control and crash.
  • Stock Footage: The broadcast of the Gundam Mk-II fighting the Psyco Gundam is actually not new animation, but taken directly from the second Zeta Gundam: A New Translation film.
  • Super Prototype: Zigzagged with the Narrative Gundam. On it's own, it is very much the Flawed Prototype to the Nu Gundam. It normally lacks sufficient armor and weapons, but can be armed with a variety of equipment sets to suit the situation and fight on par with current generation mobile suits.
  • Takes One to Kill One: It takes a Gundam to kill a Gundam, as the Shezarr team points out after the Narrative Gundam becomes their reinforcement.
  • Thanatos Gambit: It turns out Michele and Brick's suicidal intervention in the battle between Jona and Zoltan isn't just a case of Death Seeker. They, out of all people, know that the psyco-frame they are carrying can channel their spirits/brainwave echoes should they die—and such channeled Newtype power can be used by the Narrative to give it an edge over the II Neo Zeong.
  • These Are Things Man Was Not Meant to Know: Evidently shocked by what Banagher and the Unicorn were capable of, the Earth Federation government made a deal with Mineva Zabi to seal both the Unicorn and the Banshee away, as well as all data on the psycho-frame.
  • Time Master: Turns out the Unicorn Gundams are actually able to selectively reverse time. The scene in Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn when Barnagher stops all the Federations Jegans and ReZELs wasn't just powering the machines down, but actually rewinding the clock on their internal systems to a point before their generators were even built. Michele wants the Phenex Gundam for precisely this reason. The Phenex is capable of weaponizing this power, basically "throwing" a psycho-field that can rapidly dismantle anything it hits.
  • Too Good for This Sinful Earth: It's very difficult to see Rita as anything but this, taking into account all the horrible stuff she suffered. Despite seemingly knowing how Michele abandoned her, she spent her last moments conscious/alive comforting Jona and assuring him everything will be alright. Not even losing her physical body stops her, as she continues to animate the Phenex towards stopping the conflict Zoltan and the Sleeves are trying to accomplish. Even Unicorn protagonist Banagher, easily The Paragon amongst most UC protagonists himself, is heavily impressed by her.
  • Undying Loyalty: Honestly, it might be easier to list the main characters without this trait. Many of whom definitely live up to the "undying" part thanks to the Psychoframe:
    • Jona will help Rita. He doesn't care what he has to do and if he has to die, but he will help her.
    • Contrary to her harsh exterior and past betrayal, everything Michele does even after death is for Rita and Jona.
    • Completing the trinity, Rita despite being quite dead is still loyal to her friends, even after they seemed to sell her out. She never lost an ounce of faith in them.
    • Despite not being attracted to women, Brick's is unflinchingly loyal to Michele.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Martha Vist Carbine was established as a person of interest—hence why she was abducted by Michele's crew before they deployed to join Operation Phoenix Hunting. She hasn't been seen after that—although Michele did promise she would be given a new identity in exchange in cooperation.

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