Overview (Spoilers Below)
Back in Texas Colony, Artesia has arrived to comfort her ailing father figure. The town doctor assures the young lady that the old man is in stable condition, and it looks like he’s going to be just fine. Obviously, he’s not going to be, but he looks fine at the moment which pleases our young heroine.
Mr. and Mrs. Aznable, after professing their adoration and appreciation for Artesia, informs her that they’re pulling up stakes and moving to Zeon. While neutral in the interplanetary struggle between Zeon and the Federation, the aging farmers have a strong desire to see their son again. Now known as Zeon’s warrior hero, Char hasn’t written them a single letter since leaving for military school. It’s almost as if he’s an entirely different person than the one who left many years before.
Artesia wishes them farewell, and while she also despises both sides in the war—and views them as near-identical entities like the Jeudean People’s Front and the People’s Front of Jeudea—she can never seem to escape the conflict’s bloody effects. And even though it’s been years since the Aznable farm was raided, the young lady finds herself taking up arms to once again protect the property she once called home.
With the farm workers and their families holed up in the mansion for protection, Artesia is given a Winchester rifle with a limited number of bullets. Luckily, she’s basically Riza Hawkeye from Fullmetal Alchemist and is able to pick off the looters one by one. The rest are scared off by a heavy-duty Gatling gun the servants had access to, which makes Artesia’s sharpshooting prowess a little anticlimactic.
The raid spills out into space and is led, in part, by Casval who helms his red mobile suit. The plan of attack involves destroying the region’s docking station, and the resulting explosion kills the Aznables and thousands of other people. While Casval doesn’t know that he killed his fake parents, he does reveal a bit of his true soul when he shows concern over his sister’s safety.
In the greater Loum region of space, the battle rages on, with Dozle commanding the flagship. Garma, back on Zeon, is freaking out; worried about his brother and the man he believes to be Char Aznable. His father, the mighty Zabi sovereign, is dismayed by his son’s common behavior and explains to him that some men are meant to die while others are meant to lead.
Artesia is back in her role as a primary protagonist after weeks of being absent from the series entirely. While characters like Lalah, Amuro, Kycilia, and Amuro’s toy ball who were handed the spotlight for a few weeks are now nowhere to be seen. So, even though this was a well-put-together episode, the overall disorganization of the series remains a pressing concern.
Casval remains in a state of arrested development ever since he saved Lalah from that mysterious gambler. In that episode, we got a unique look inside Casval’s psyche. We learned that even though he is a ruthless fighter, hell-bent on avenging his father, he still has the semblance of a soul and is willing to help a damsel in distress. Sure, he may exploit her special powers in the future, but for the time being, he seems to legitimately care about her.
In this episode, he had a smaller, ever so subtle moment where he showed concern for Artesia—at least in the abstract. While potentially poignant, it was similar to his secondary concern for Lalah. Because we all know Casval’s primary concerns include: blowing stuff up, having and maintaining the best mecha suit ever, and developing his very shoddy revenge plan. What happens when he helps the Zabis defeat the Earth Federation? How will he seize power without an army?
American studios—despite some recent internal problems—have gotten quite good at dubbing English voices over original Japanese animation. If you adamantly stare at the characters’ mouths while they speak, you might see an occasional misstep, but the work is otherwise flawless. HOWEVER, such solid dubbing efforts don’t translate as well when characters are singing.
Which brings us to the most hilarious part of the episode—Hamon’s song. What was supposed to be a tender and touching moment of shared hopelessness turned into a throwback to old, black and white samurai movies? Crowley’s dulcet tones couldn’t have been more disconnected from the animation if it had been choreographed by Bob friggin’ Fosse. Ramba and Hamon are supposed to be sympathetic characters and we’re meant to relate to their plight. I get that. But since they only appear briefly in each episode, we have to feel their anguish. That will never work with such comically bad dubbing. Sorry.