a.k.a. Kidou Senshi Gundam III: Encounters in Space
As the White Base returns to space, the final battle is nearly at hand. Universal Century 0079 is drawing to a close, and the Federation forces are ready to butt heads with Zeon to see who will decide the fate of the Earth Sphere. Meanwhile, Amuro Ray must face his adversary, Char Aznable. Who will survive?
summary by Ender
Highs: Mostly new footage; explosive finale
Lows: Some odd moments
It’s the end of a saga, and the beginning of a franchise; that’s how I look at this movie. Tomino Yoshiyuki did not think that way, though. Still a bit unsure about the future of Gundam, he tried to end things with as big of a bang as possible. How big was this bang? I’d say pretty big.
If you have been keeping track of the past two installments of the Gundam movie trilogy, then you will know that this one picks up right after Soldiers of Sorrow and sums up episodes 31 to 43. However, this movie is made up of 70% new animation, and like that of the other movies, works much better at tying things together. Of course, a lot of the new animation was used for the action sequences and really bring out the epic nature that is Gundam. Tomino also took an interesting turn and brought in new characters, the most infamous being Lalah Sune. Normally, this would detract from the story, but instead it manages to add and bring out sides to the rest of the cast that we have not seen before.
By this point, the stakes have been clearly set, and the White Basecrew has made a metamorphosis from scared civilians into war veterans. Losses mount up, and the space opera rolls forward, taking no prisoners. The Newtype phenomenon is also brought further into the light here. However, after three movies, we don’t get an exact definition of Newtypes, and scenes involving Amuro and Lalah cannot be described without using the words “psychedelic” or “trippy.”
When all is said and done, this is a fine ending to a nice (if not bumpy) movie trilogy. I couldn’t help but somehow be reminded of Star Wars by the large scale and ambitious nature of both trilogies. Surely, with these movies, Gundam has earned its place in the grand scope of all things science fiction.
Highs: Epic final movie; animation receives a massive overhaul
Lows: Some lingering transition problems; ending is still rather abrupt
Encounters in Space is the final theatrical feature in this trilogy, and without a doubt, it’s the best.
In the One Year War, the battles of Solomon and A Baoa Qu are paramount events in history, and they’re shown here without any cuts. However, these battles are overshadowed in Encounters in Space by the characters. In particular, the introduction of Lalah Sune and the metamorphosis of the personal rivalry between Amuro Ray and Char Aznable are at the forefront of this movie. Even the continuing trials and tragedies of the White Base‘s crew are given their share of the spotlight. Most of this was newly animated thanks to the popularity of the first two movies. With about 70% new animation, much of this movie is brought to life with the most amount of realistic motion and the minimum amount of stills.
Carrying over somewhat from Soldiers of Sorrow, there are a few transitions between scenes that wreak some havoc with the story flow. They aren’t as blatantly noticeable as they were in the second movie, but when General Revil steps off his flagship and suddenly appears in a briefing room, such transitions are obvious nevertheless. And as I found fault with Mobile Suit Gundam, the finale is still rather abrupt. I was hoping that Tomino would have fixed this part, but nothing came of changing the sudden ending or its Disneyesque quality.
I don’t know what the Japanese public was thinking more than 20 years ago when this hit the theaters, but I believe that Encounters in Space was the key ingredient in propelling Tomino Yoshiyuki and the Gundam franchise into history. See for yourself if you don’t believe me.
Mobile Suit Gundam I, II, and III can be downloaded legally in the United States as one single collection HERE.