Anime Review: Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch from Mercury

Run away, and you’ll gain one…
Go forward, and you’ll gain two!

We have all seen the finale at this point. There are those who will say G-Witch is a masterpiece, the best Gundam ever, my OTP couple finally married each other, etc.
To some, unsurprisingly, “bad story with bad character”, WTF ending, WOKE, etc.
We understand why you all have those assumptions, conclusions, and even rants. The series definitely has ended at both the best and worst points to conclude a series. It was a fun ride, but it’s time we give you our review and thoughts about the latest entry of Gundam, G-Witch through this final episode.

First of all, the advantages that the G-Witch held.

The picture and sound quality of G-Witch definitely were top-notch. At some points it even reached cinema quality. From Lfrith’s fight scenes to the grand debut of Aerial Gundam, multiple Darilbalde vs. Aerial fights, the short-lived Pharact, wicked first sortie from Aerial Rebuild, Permet 6, Calibarn Gundam, and then the finale, as if those were proof that Sunrise can do mecha better than anyone else. The mix between 2D and 3D is quite well-done. So Sunrise proves that they can pull off very nice 3D mecha battles after abandoning it after Valvrave, Cross Ange and Buddy Complex for pure 2D hand-drawn in Gundam.

(That said, It did not escape the curse that is “Sunrise Zoom” when a character or mecha is drawn to describe them to be from a far distance than what was happening on screen. But at this point these tiny flaws is like a tradition that happens in every hand-drawn anime, so let’s ignore it.)

The designs for Mobile Suits felt so in-universe. Each faction had a different mecha designer, as such, answered perfectly the reasons why the designs for each faction were vastly different from each other, not only just for the identification but also for the world built for G-Witch. If we had a competition to point out what the G-Witch did right, mecha designs is definitely on top of the list. We get the new fresh air from JNTHED with the Aerial, the tried-and-true design from Takayuki Yanase for the Lfriths, the off-franchise veteran Wataru Inata for Peil designs, and Sunrise’s current rising star Ippei Gyoubu for Jeturk.

The music for G-Witch definitely has surpassed our expectations. Every key moment in G-Witch was emotional, but with music, the feelings were conveyed tenfold. Not only that, it also helped each moment that the music played along more memorable than ever. In Aerial’s first fight, who could not be hyped when Aerial chopped every limbs of Guel’s Dilanza off? Or the moment when Aerial Rebuild first fired its heavy beam cannon, Calibarn first sortie, and that “Unicorn reference” scene with four Gundam at that time joining hands to do the impossible, the tracks in each scene could not be described by anything but bangers. Truly one of the best OSTs that were made for a main Gundam series.

Furthermore, Gundam has done the unthinkable – an opening song by YOASOBI. The song “Shukufuku” has become one of the most popular songs in anime and Gundam. The cheerful lyrics yet foreboding lyrics are exactly YOASOBI’s style. Since then, YOASOBI has been performing more and more songs for animes. The second opening “Slash” from Yama is much more passionate in terms of lyrics and melody. In addition, the endings aren’t bad either, coupled with some very cryptic animation that left viewers speculating what they could mean, especially “Red:birthmark”.

Another strong point for this series would be the short episode count, only 24 episodes. It is a friendly number that would not intimidate any new fans that just got into the franchise. It had all of the perks that an AU Gundam title could offer: no previous timeline knowledge needed, short and contained story, just come in and watch.

On the one hand, as I have said, it is very friendly to newbies. No related to previous series or title, a complete stand-alone story. With some new elements like no male main characters only females, major corporations schemes, school life, and many many more, the series has gained a huge amount of newcomers, including more people turning into Gundam fans because of G-Witch.

On another hand, the series was influenced heavily by Shakespeare’s The Tempest, hell, we could even say that it is a loose adaptation of The Tempest, considering many similar terms, names, and how the events played out in both works. Not to mention, the series was heavily reliant on the weekly view, which means that for the best enjoyable experience, you have to watch this week-by-week. The fandom has never been so alive before, discussing the episodes fervently and what the future events will be, it was quite a sight to be witnessed.

The weekly theorizing and fan conspiracies were stirring the Gundam fandoms. And the shipping and characters were making into mainstream anime fans’ list of favorite characters. The entire anime scene for the first time has got a mecha show into the spotlight. Before, 86 has been favored by non-mecha fans, but for G-Witch, it caught the attention of both.

That though, came with a price. The light shines bright as deep the shadow it makes.

For a main entry Gundam series, G-Witch has an extremely short runtime and episode count. It is even shorter than G-Reco which many regarded as a pacing mess. Other Gundams have historically had 35+ episodes with some running 50. The pacing of the story would be one of the main reasons there are radically different opinions about the show.

Season 1, with 12 episodes, had a slow but fast kind of pacing. The episode might only revolve around one matter at a time, but the information delivery and the interaction between characters were more dense than anything we have seen before. You could say that this formula was the improvement of the “Monster of the weak” structure you normally see in old Tokusatsu shows, only in G-Witch, the way they end the episode sparks questions for the next episode to answer, and at the end, another question appears, and the process repeats.

Through this, every Sunday was one surprise after another, the hype for the next episode could only be described as a rocket flying through the sky. The anticipation was at a level that we had never seen before. Prospera also proved to be a fearsome schemer. Her demeanor is unlike any others we’ve seen before. She’s nonchalant about dropping critical secrets that change the course of events, seemingly has plans for everything, and an almost perfect control over Suletta. Sadly, they dropped the ball at the end, kinda nerfed her strategizing ability, and gave her the exact role of Prospero in the Tempest – just there to be converted by Suletta and Miorine.

Nevertheless, season 2 went haywire after episode 15. You went from 40 miles per hour in episode 15 to 80 in episode 19 and then full throttle after 20. This made anything that isn’t relevant to the two main female characters’ relationship, Miorine and Suletta, into a side-lined plot that never really got resolved. The build-up for the emotional climax was never there because so many things had to happen to end the story, as such, it completely lacked the impact at the end no matter how hard they tried to hype us with music, and visuals. 

The characterization of some characters was heavily affected in a bad way, such as the final fight between Guel – Lauda, which was completely unnecessary and it happened only because Bandai needed to sell the Schwarzette and had to end it quickly for the story to end at episode 24.
The fight between Guel and Shaddi felt completely emotionally underwhelmed, even though it was supposed to serve as the stand-off of two important side characters of the show – one that was set up all the way from season 1. Some of the characters could not flesh out their potential, like the PTSD side of Kenanji Avery, other students from other Houses, especially the Earth House. And that did not even include other characters from other factions, which leads to other problems.

The Mobile Suits, like Pharact, Michaelis, or Schwarzette, had so little screen time that even we could not believe that they were the same Gundam as Aerial, or even like the Darilbalde as the story progressed too fast that at some point they felt obsolete, especially of how Schwarzette was treated. The suit might not need a better pilot, but it definitely needs a better debut.

The world-building, obviously was resolved with, kid you not, magic. Everything the story built, touched, or even mentioned as if they could be the main stage for the show was shafted after episode 24, regardless if they had been dealt with or not, especially the conflict between the Earthian and Spacian. It was one of the main driving factors in G-Witch and it got the worst treatment of all time, left there and let the audience do the rest for them, as G-Witch only cared for the story of the Suletta – Miorine, and everything around them was needed only to build up for that. 
(We did not even include a fact that many details for the world-building were printed on either manuals, covers for the Gunplas, or the terminology in G-Witch which was never fully explained at least half of what they told us in the series itself)

As such, those that were into G-Witch because of the main character’s relationship were satisfied, and those that cared about everything else were left with the biggest dissatisfaction they have ever tasted after IBO. They don’t need the finale to be bloody or to have extravagant mecha battles, they want a satisfied ending regardless of whether happy or not, G-Witch, sadly could not deliver that. However, G-Witch did manage to tell a complete story for the main heroines: Suletta and Miorine. And their relationship is undoubtedly a shining point in the franchise, with extremely few Gundam characters who managed to “find happiness” like them.

All in all, G-Witch also has very high production quality. Visuals and Music are extremely on-point, and they managed to create an extremely fearsome Char clone and antagonist. Well they did drop the ball at the end for Prospera, but the process of her scheme is enough to have her up there as one of the best antagonists in the franchise. The series also successfully brought Gundam into the mainstream attention, for better or for worse. But seeing the franchise getting a new breath of life is a very nice change.

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