REVIEW: Mobile Suit Gundam Hathaway Isn’t Your Typical Gundam Show

How’s the audio aspect?

There’s a catchy and energizing song that plays as Mafty prepares to launch a mobile suit attack, but most of the soundtrack didn’t leave much of an impression. Considering composer Hiroyuki Sawano’s excellent work on Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn, I’m surprised by this. The mobile suit and weapon sound effects, however, are great.

As with Melvyn, coming off of Unicorn, I wasn’t sure what to expect in the sound department. I remember the music and songs used during the battle scenes, but the rest of the tracks are a bit of a blur, like the lounge music you hear at the dentist. It’s nice that they’re there, but they don’t really stay with you. 

On a another note, due to the current lack of a coherent motif among the Gundams featured in the show, I do feel that their specific themes and music aren’t as memorable as the ones used in Gundam Unicorn, which had clear symbolism incorporated into its theme music and design.

Is it a good standalone experience?

A consistent flaw among the Universal Century Gundam shows that came after the first one is continuity. Not in the sense that they don’t connect with each other; rather, they connect with each other a bit too well. With the Universal Century setting encompassing 40 years-worth of works, it can be intimidating to the more casual anime viewer to hop in midway, while those that try to start from the beginning may struggle with the arguably dated animation. 

Thankfully, Hathaway manages to stay rather well-contained, with the majority of its references to previous shows mainly being extra tidbits for fans who have followed the story up to this point. Yes, newcomers won’t know what exactly happened during Char’s Rebellion and won’t be aware that Hathaway’s father has appeared in multiple shows, including the original Mobile Suit Gundam, but they should be able to follow Hathaway’s story and context regardless.

However, I’d still recommend newcomers to at least watch the major Universal century entries (the original Mobile Suit Gundam, Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam, Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ, and Char’s Counterattack) before attempting to watch Hathaway if they wish to get a full understanding of the setting and the events leading to this movie.

I wouldn’t recommend Hathaway as a newcomer’s first Universal Century Gundam show, but I do think that Gundam first-timers won’t struggle with following its main plot beats, aside from a not very well-explained space-set retrieval sequence near the end. 

However, to better understand the setting and the events that directly connect to Hathaway, there’s no escaping the past. The good thing is that, instead of spending hours on the old shows, you can simply head over to the Gundam Wiki and read up on Char’s Counterattack, Beltorchika’s Children, the Earth Federation, Anaheim, NewTypes, the Universal Century setting, and the famous rivals Amuro Ray and Char Aznable. Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam and Unicorn’s pages, along with the Dublin incident in Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ, can be looked at too, to get a better sense of why the Federation isn’t a “good guy.”

I’d also recommend the TV Tropes page about the Hathaway’s Flash books that Hathaway and its planned sequels are based on, as it sheds more light on the Federation’s deportations.

Anything else?

I appreciate Hathaway continuing the tradition of weird names like Lane Aim and Quack Salver. They can’t beat Fraw Bow, though.

My man Revive Revival and Bring Stabity would like a word with you.

On another note, let’s bring up Unicorn for a bit. I remember the both of us saying that even though the events of Unicorn take place between Char’s Counterattack and this movie, it doesn’t feel like Hathaway takes place in the same universe. Unicorn ended with a major revelation with huge ramifications for the setting, but Hathaway only pays heed to Char’s Rebellion. 

The sense of disconnect makes sense since the books that Unicorn was based on came out 20 years after Hathaway’s own source material, but anime-wise, it can feel odd.

Hathaway just doesn’t feel like it takes place in a post-Unicorn world. Granted, a lot of animated works that take place after Unicorn suffer from this problem, but because they’re usually set decades in the future, it at least makes more sense in that regard. In Hathaway’s case, there does not seem to be anything that remotely hints at the impact of what would have happened less than a decade ago within the movie’s setting. 

Part of me feels like Hathway would have made more sense had it taken place before Unicorn, but to do so would ruin the setting’s pre-established canon.

There’s another thing that bothers me. If the Federation is deporting citizens to space, and Mafty wants all of mankind to emigrate to space, doesn’t that mean that the Federation’s actions benefit Mafty in a way? 

Well, it’s more about removing both the status and wealth disparity between Spacenoids and those who remain on Earth. If Mafty does nothing, the Federation will be able to more easily deport those who they find undesirable.

Closing thoughts

Hathaway feels like it’s mainly meant to set up Hathaway’s relationships with Gigi and Kenneth, which may be owed to the fact that it’s just the first part of a planned trilogy and is understandable in that sense. Given that the movie opens with a shuttle-hijacking and some bloody snippets of action, however, I was expecting the rest of the film to maintain a similar thriller feel and a sense of momentum to the proceedings. 

On paper, the sociopolitical elements make up for the slow pace, but as mentioned earlier, I didn’t find them sufficient to chew on. 

In the end, I felt a bit hollow when I finished the film, even though I liked Gigi’s presence and the high production values. 

It’s 5 AM in New Zealand, and I’m suffering from sleep deprivation as I write this, so I’ll just say that I actually really enjoyed the movie and look forward to the next two films.

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