Across this vast world of different nations with different people, it is the clash of opinions which truly divides us. However, there is one universal truth which absolutely everyone can agree on: giant robots are frickin' awesome!
In the eleventh episode of season five, a pair of colossal mecha, the progenitors of their genre, collide in a battle of east and west. The hosts will pit a divine power against inherent evolution, a robot with the empathy and wisdom of a man against man and machine working in unison, for Optimus Prime and the RX-78-2 Gundam are the definers of their craft and with good reason, but only one can be permitted to survive when they meet in the field of a death battle.
Starting the episode is the biography of Optimus Prime, who has had many iterations and incarnations over the years, but for the purposes of this fight, will be studied exclusively as he was portrayed during the franchise's original continuity, and in particular, its animated adaptation. In this reality, Optimus was just one of many sapient robots on the distant planet Cybertron when it was besieged by a group of military-grade robots, the Decepticons. Under their leader Megatron, the Decepticons developed the ability to transform their bodies into flying machines, and used this power to overthrow Cybertron's rulers, the benevolent Autobots. Megatron's atrocities were kept secret from the public, including Orion Pax, a dock worker responsible for storing supplies of energon, the preferred source of fuel for all Transformers. Orion, whom idolized Megatron, would cross paths with him and his followers, showing the Decepticon leader around the warehouse where he worked, and it would be here that Megatron revealed his true nature, ordering the Decepticons to steal the energon stash and brutally maiming Orion as they left. Fortune would smile upon him, then, as the Aerialbots, a group of Autobots with the same flight capabilities as the Decepticons, would find Orion's form, barely clinging to life, and bring him to the ancient Cybertronian engineer Alpha Trion. At the Aerialbots' request, Trion subjected Orion to a process that could improve an Autobot's framework so they could fight the Decepticons on even footing; installing a relic of great power into Orion's frame in the process, the Autobot was reborn as Optimus Prime, the new leader of the Autobots and the centerpiece of their fight against the Decepticons.
From his rebirth onward, Optimus Prime has become a powerful hero and a beacon of hope to the Autobots. Every inhabitant of Cybertron is powered by a soul analogue known a spark, and a select few, as rare as one in a thousand, can receive a special variant. These point-one percenters, as they are colloquially known as, have an enhanced physiology, resulting in their inhabitant bearing improved strength, speed, and the like, yet Optimus Prime, who is a one-percenter himself, has even more to offer. The Decepticon ability to transform into flight-based machinery was reverse-engineered from the Autobots, who were only limited to terrestrial forms, and once again, Optimus Prime is no exception. By scanning nearby machines, an Autobot is then able to assume its form, and in the case of Optimus, his standard transformation is that of a Kenworth K-100 trailer truck; in addition, the truck bed also houses a stash of Autobot weaponry disguised as a trailer. The object Alpha Trion bestowed upon him, the matrix of leadership, is in fact crafted by the godlike being Primus, the first Transformer, and carries a miniscule fragment of his spark within it. With the matrix, Optimus gains the wisdom of its previous bearers and even amplify his strength to tremendous heights using it; it can also heal Optimus of even his most severe injuries. It may seem that, as impressive as these artifacts make Optimus, he has no need for weapons, but even the leader of the Autobots is not adverse to arming himself for a fight. His signature weapon is a large plasma cannon, the ion blaster, that fires rounds of pure energy with enough accuracy and speed as to his targets in low orbit while Optimus himself is on ground level. The Autobot champion is likewise adept in melee weapons, having a supply of energon that he can shift into various forms, most iconically a single-headed axe.
Time and again, Optimus Prime has proven that he is the original and best choice in fighting the Decepticons and their machinations. Even when the Transformers' war found its way to earth, Optimus continues to demonstrate his leadership skills and physicality that has made him the Autobots' champion; being able to not only uproot trees when punching the ground, he also has the strength to tip over ocean liners weighing several hundred tons. Optimus has even dented the chestplate of Sixshot, a Deception whose frame was built from the core of a collapsed star, half a trillion times denser than the toughest materials in the world. Strength, however, is not all that Optimus Prime has to offer; his speed is such that he can fly over 125000 mph. Though Optimus is indeed a formidable opponent, he is also one bound by honor, refusing to engage in underhanded trickery even to gain an edge in a fight, something that has cost him his life before, in this continuity and in countless others of the Transformers mythos. That said, while his code of conduct has served as his downfall several times, it also acts as part of his moral fiber that spurs the Autobots to continue their endless battle against the Decepticons, fighting for the freedom of their kind and all sentient beings across the galaxy.
Finished with Optimus Prime, the hosts move on to his competition, the RX-78-2 Gundam, the product of humanity's venture out into the cosmos in the year 2179. In the late 20th century, mankind suffered an overpopulation crisis, with wars over resources a constant presence as famines and plagues ravaged the land. To allow the world to recover, humanity united into a single front, the Earth Federation, and began colonizing the solar system around them. While most of humanity was relocated to space stations, there were those who felt the new colonies deserved independence from the Federation; a leader of one of these colonies, Degwin Sodo Zabi, founded the Principality of Zeon, waging war on the colonies still under control of the Earth Federation. The Principality spared no expense in carving a swathe of destruction across Federation territory; nerve gas, nuclear strikes, even weaponizing the space colonies, nothing was off limits as they wiped out half of humanity, but their most important breakthrough would be the formation of pilotable humanoid mecha, the mobile suits. The Earth Federation raced to replicate the mobile suit technology pioneered by their foes and, with their chief engineer Tem Ray spearheading the project, eventually perfected their design with the RX-78-2 model, otherwise known as the Gundam. The Gundam was assigned to protect the White Base carrier vessel in its journey to earth, but a surprise ambush by Zeon forces left only civilian survivors to maintain the RX-78-2, its pilot being Tem's son, Amuro. Having had access to the Gundam's blueprints, Amuro ventured into its cockpit and fought off their attackers, earning Amuro a key role in the Earth Federation's counterattack against Degwin and Zeon's workings.
Thanks to having the most in-depth knowledge of the Gundam's workings, Amuro is also the one best qualified to pilot it and its myriad workings. The RX-78-2 is comprised of gundarium, a titanium derivative that gifts it with a lighter frame than its Zeon contemporaries while also making it far more durable. The Gundam is equipped with a learning computer system that records information from past skirmishes and its pilot's capabilities, improving its mobility and ease of use, and although an impressive display of Federation technology, the true hallmark of the Gundam lies in its firepower. A wide combination of armaments allows the RX-78-2 to operate at any range, such as the dual 60 mm Vulcan machine guns mounted in the Gundam's head, best reserved for lightly armored foes; or its beam rifle with the same level of concentrated firepower as that on a battleship's main cannons. For close-range options, the Gundam comes equipped with a morning star with rockets for increased momentum on its swings, twin sabers made from the same energy particles consumed by the beam rifle, and a shield with greater defenses than even its gundarium frame. With as much as the Gundam has to offer, Amuro himself is a worthy pilot for another reason; during mankind's migration to the stars, several humans developed psychic powers of a sort. The specific abilities of these humans, known as Newtypes, vary from case to case, but regarding Amuro, who is himself a Newtype, his specific powers are best described as heightened spatial awareness and an innate empathy that can detect hostile intent.
Since first entering the cockpit of the RX-78-2, Amuro has proven himself to be just as the Gundam he pilots. Between his Newtype powers and the capabilities of his machine, the Gundam can reach speeds of up over Mach 20, four times as fast as the average Zeon mobile suit, and its durability is such that can survive a force field that generates thousands of degrees of heat and even explosions that shatter meteors. For as wide a selection of feats that the Gundam has to its name, it is quite easy to overlook its flaws; the gundarium chassis has its limits and, even with an additional magnetic coating to reduce friction, excessively high speeds can tear the Gundam apart. In addition, its most powerful weapons, the beam sabers and rifle, run on a limited supply of ammunition, potentially limiting their usefulness in combat. Still, Amuro has earned his prestige in the Gundam franchise several times over, having proved instrumental in the defeat of the Zeon forces and even his outings with future Gundams in the decades after, a sign of humanity's potential in the face of overwhelming odds.
- Amuro Ray: (charges towards several Zeon mobile suits and slices them apart) Die!
The two combatants have been studied and the battle lines have been drawn. One advertisement for the Blue Apron cooking service later and now, it's time for a death battle!
A space station floats in the middle of a thicket of asteroids, seemingly no life nearby until a blinding fuchsia light cuts through the wall. In a flash of light, the hero of the Earth Federation, the RX-78-2 Gundam, descends upon the station floor before sheathing its beam saber. A voice blares from within the cockpit, and the mobile suit's pilot, Amuro Ray, updates his mission control on his surroundings. Mission control warns Amuro to retreat, yet the Newtype ignores her warnings that backup is an impossibility with how far away he is; as if reacting to the Gundam's presence, a red trailer truck comes to life, its lights flashing in response. As it barrels through the halls of the shuttle, the truck finds the Gundam and at the last minute, shifts into a form befitting the leader of the Autobots, Optimus Prime. The rebuilt Orion Pax tackles the Gundam out the shuttle, leaving it floating through the void of space.
Amuro recovers and draws the beam rifle; much to his mission control's ire, the Newtype has mistaken the Autobot to be a Zeon mobile suit. Darting around the beams of energy, Optimus pulls out the ion blaster as the two mecha become engaged in a gunfight amidst the asteroids. Amuro dreads the speed and agility with which his foe maneuvers around the battlefield, and he pays for his actions as a blast from the Autobot cannon nicks the Gundam's shin. The fight grants Amuro a brief reprieve to tap into his Newtype powers, where he can sense the Transformer in waiting. With beam rifle in hand, the RX-78-2 fires a shot that catches Optimus by surprise, gradually drifting towards the hull of the ship. The Gundam gives chase, tackling Optimus with his signature shield, a move that the Autobot blocks against. The impact between the mecha continues as the pair skid to a stop, where Amuro takes the opportunity to disarm the Transformer of his ion blaster. However, this is only a minor setback to Optimus Prime. Forming his energon axe from apparent nothingness, the Transformer brings his blade against the RX-78-2's beam saber. Once again, the Transformer fails to be daunted by the Gundam's display of power; just as Amuro has assumed his foe to be of Zeon affiliation, Optimus mistakes the mobile suit as a lone Decepticon.
The clash of blades is broken by Optimus, forcing the Gundam back, and as a result, leaves it vulnerable for a dropkick from the Autobot that the mobile suit barely recovers from. Optimus, meanwhile, continues his assault, closing the distance between the mecha and, after rolling around an overhead hook, shifts into truck form and blindsides the Gundam. As the Autobot takes back his humanoid form, Amuro channels his precognition a second time, barely putting up his shield in the face of the energon axe closing in, but his defenses are easily penetrated, the shield being cleaved in half. Any concern Amuro may have, he masks well, using his free hand to grip another beam saber and confront the Transformer. With a wide swipe, the twin blades push Optimus back, giving the RX-78-2 enough space to hurl a saber straight towards the center of the Autobot's torso. Watching as Optimus drops to all fours, Amuro rushes in for the kill, but instead, falls for the Autobot's trap; reacting only too late as Optimus fires a round from a second ion blaster, the round hitting a fuel tank that sends the Gundam flying. The Autobot follows up with a wide fist that knocks Amuro and the Gundam back out into the void. Circumstances soon align themselves in Amuro's favor, then, when he finds himself drifting towards his beam rifle, albeit with just enough Minovsky particles to a single shot. Determined to make the most of his rifle, the mobile suit pilot fires, the round causing the space station to detonate all around Optimus. The Autobot leader attempts to shield himself, but the combined explosions prove to be too much, blasting him into the Gundam and both the mecha towards a vast desert on planet earth.
Engulfed in flames, the two mecha enter the atmosphere, the RX-78-2 touching down first in a hard skid against the ground. By the time Tem Ray's son comes to, he spots Optimus crashing into the sands, knocking up a dust cloud as he does; without any weapons on hand, Amuro uses his Newtype power to sense the Autobot's location. From out of the dust cloud emerges the former Orion Pax, opening fire with his ion blaster; shot after shot pummels the Gundam, but the RX-78-2 recovers quickly, unsheathing its spare beam saber and lunging towards Optimus. The ion blaster loses its barrel with the ensuing slash, but Optimus Prime responds by hammering the Gundam with a fist. After another series of punches, Amuro has had enough, attempting to bring the saber down on the Transformer, but for his trouble, Optimus blocks the attack, catching the RX-78-2 in a hold before repeatedly kneeing and tossing the Gundam away. The mobile soon attempts to stand back up, but the Autobot continues staying on the offensive, catching the mecha's cranium and dragging it across the ground, with a spinning kick to send it flying.
Although this gives Amuro the space to vault back further, it also exposes him to the Autobot, who barely misses the Gundam pilot with the swing of his energon axe. While Optimus recovers from his failed strike, the Gundam takes the beam saber into a reverse stance, driving the blade into the Transformer's wrist and punching him to the ground. As he takes the Autobot's form and holds him up, the bloody and bruised Amuro offers his final words to Optimus, but the Transformer refuses to accept defeat. With his free hand, he opens his chest, revealing the matrix of leadership within; that small fraction of Primus' power is enough to seal the match, a massive ray of energy punching clean through the torso of the Gundam. Amuro's cockpit becomes flooded with blaring sirens and light before a sphere of light engulfs the mobile suit. Hoisted into the air, the Gundam bursts into a massive explosion, leaving only its head flickering for a few brief moments.
Having established the Gundam's defeat, the hosts jump into explaining the points leading up to it. Amuro was a skilled pilot and the RX-78-2 a complex piece of machinery, but Optimus was his better in nearly every conceivable way. Optimus led the Autobots into battle against the Decepticons for millions of years, far overshadowing the fourteen Amuro served in the Earth Federation, and in particular, Optimus was no stranger to fighting foes who far outclassed him in scale. In addition, the feats analyzed for both combatants prove the Autobot was a far faster and stronger combatant than the Gundam; ten times as fast and over ten thousand times stronger, as a point of fact. Amuro, however, was not without his advantages; his Newtype precognition would help close the gap in speed and the beam rifle meant the vast difference in strength was less problematic. The problem returns, however, when considering the Gundam's beam rifle ran on limited ammunition, and how even a direct hit would do little to harm Optimus, who has survived a refinery blast that left a sizeable crater on the planet Cybertron. In comparison, Amuro accidentally caused an explosion that blew a hole in the hull of his home space station, but survived being in the epicenter of the blast, with a force of over 100 kilotons of TNT; impressive, but nowhere near the scale of durability Optimus Prime has demonstrated. Regarding their firepower, the Transformer's ion blaster could fire shots at over 3 million mph, a scale too wide for Amuro's Newtype precognition to compensate for. Lastly, the Matrix of Leadership, when used to its full potential, such as to destroy Primus' evil counterpart Unicron, has been clocked at wielding over 40 yottatons of force behind it. To summarize, as formidable a combatant the Gundam was, Optimus overshadowed it in strength, speed, toughness, and experience.
- Boomstick: I'd say Optimus was "Primed" for this fight.
Wiz: The winner is Optimus Prime!
Optimus Prime vs. Gundam contains examples of:
- Always Someone Better: Not only is Optimus stronger than the Gundam, he is a more experienced soldier than Amuro.
- Art Shift: Rather than a 3D model like with the Voltron Paladins or the Power Rangers, Amuro himself is hand-drawn when hes shown in the Gundams cockpit.
- Blade Lock: Between Optimus' energon-axe and the Gundam's beam saber.
- Continuity Nod: Much to the hosts' ire, gundarium is the latest in a long line of metals featured on the show that happens to be more impressive than any real life metal; such a list would include adamantium, gundanium, Nth metal, promethium, ceratanium, and vibranium.
- Curb-Stomp Battle: Continuing the proud tradition set in place by most of Season 5, the episode ends with another one-sided match-up. Whatever advantages Amuro and the Gundam had meant little compared to how Optimus was a far superior combatant by wide margins.
- Curb Stomp Cushion: Despite being horrifically outclassed by Optimus Prime in almost everything, Amuro and the Gundam put up a surprisingly good fight and even manage to get Optimus on the ropes at the end of the battle.
- David vs. Goliath: Optimus is David and the Gundam is Goliath. Just like the biblical story, David wins.
- Everyone Has Standards: First, Boomstick calls Megatron "a douchebag." And when he finds out that Principality of Zeon were basically space Nazis, he isn't surprised that they wage war with the Earth Federation... By gassing a colony and dropping on the planet. He calls it 'messed up'.
- Humongous Mecha: Two of the oldest examples and probably the most iconic come head to head this episode.
- Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Amuro stabs Optimus twice with his beam sabers, but thanks to the Healing Factor provided by the Matrix of Leadership, Optimus is able to keep fighting.
- Inverse Law of Sharpness and Accuracy: During the fight, the only thing Optimus manages to cut with his Energon Axe was the Gundam's shield. The rest of his attempts with it were either blocked or dodged at the last second. In contrast, his fists and legs manage to land several hits on the Gundam.
- Invoked Trope: The in-story reason for out-of-story Death Battle rules is cleverly applied here.
- No external help could be given because Amuro was too far from White Base to get any backup, while Optimus had the Autobot Ark destroyed mid-fight.
- Optimus had his restraint from using lethal force against a human removed by having him genuinely mistake the Gundam for a Decepticon.
- Man Versus Machine: On one corner, we have a sentient robot leader of the Autobots. On the other corner, we have a Humongous Mecha piloted by a Newtype human. Thanks to Optimus' combination of better physical stats, weaponry and experience, machine wins this round.
- Mythology Gag: Mostly to The Transformers: The Movie
- At separate points during the episode, Wiz and Boomstick make references to "The Touch".
- Amuro describes the Autobot Ark as "more than meets the eye".
- Optimus references the iconic "One shall stand, one shall fall" quote; first in his character analysis, and later when he is about to finish Amuro off.
- Amuro tries to defeat Optimus by grabbing his head. It doesn't work.
- A Nazi by Any Other Name: Lanpshaded by Wiz and Boomstick, who refer to Zeon as space Nazis throughout the episode.
- No Kill Like Overkill: Optimus kills Amuro by firing the Matrix's energy blast on him. Since said blast has enough power to vaporize a Saturn-sized Satan Expy, to say that this was overkill would be an understatement.
- Poor Communication Kills: The battle was a huge misunderstanding with both sides having a Mistaken Identity of each other. It could have ended peacefully there and then if Amuro revealed his intentions and Gundam's identity to Optimus after the Autobot calls it a Decepticon.
- Pyrrhic Victory: Optimus manages to destroy Amuro and the Gundam, but the entire Autobot Ark was destroyed by the RX-78's final beam rifle shot.
- Orion Pax's rebuilding into Optimus Prime is compared to The Six Million Dollar Man by overlaying Steve Austin's own reconstructive surgery on top of Orion's.
- The opening has behind the scenes footage from the battle of the Pelennor Fields from Return of the King. It also features a series of Skells running through New Los Angeles.
- Boomstick calls Alpha Trion a "robot Gandalf".
- While describing Amuro's nature as a Newtype, Boomstick mistakes the term as literally being a new type of Pokémon.
- Tempting Fate: Before the battle starts, Amuro is exploring the Ark while Sayla tells him to return to the White Base, as he is too far away to receive any support. A few moments later, Optimus attacks him and from there, it only gets worse for Amuro.
- Wave Motion Gun: Optimus's Matrix of Leadership can output a blast that can completely obliterate the Saturn-sized Unicron in one blast. It's calculated as having a force of 40 yottatons, more than enough to completely obliterate the Gundam when Optimus fires it as a Chest Blaster.
- Your Size May Vary: Although Optimus is barely a third the size of his foe, the fight portrays them as being near equals in height. Of course, it's not like the franchise proper is any better.