Overview (Spoilers Below)
The Dawn Rebellion sets off a series of events that leads to the cathartic One-Year War. It happened without warning, was carried out by third-year cadets, and orchestrated by a boy secretly living among his enemies. This is that story.
For months, Casval and Garma planned out the most pristine attack and recruited their fellow cadets at small intervals. Despite masterminding the majority of the mission, Casval—still posing as the deceased Char Aznable—puts the onus on Garma and forces him into the leadership role. Garma, with his family’s cutthroat reputation to uphold, agrees, but is nervous over making a move without the Zabi seal of approval and behind his uncle Dozle’s back.
Speaking of which, Dozle is caught off guard by a female cadet named Zenna Mia whose job it is to distract him. She does some good work but is soon detained, but not before catching the most oafish Zabi’s eye.
Right before Casval heads onto the front lines of battle, he is stopped by his former-roommate who greets him with shocking news. The cadet recognizes him as the legitimate heir of Zeon Zun and he’s sympathetic to the rebel cause. Casval accepts the cadet’s gift of tactical battle glasses but keeps him at a safe distance. And then, so there are no loose ends—because Casval is motivated and ruthless—the young Deikun has his soldiers murder his former-roommate during the battle.
After many explosions and many casualties, the cadets emerge victoriously. Many of the overconfident Federation officers are either blown away or captured, and the day is won the inexperienced, yet hungry. Dozle, humbled and even a little shamed, arrives on the scene far too late. But instead of being worried about losing his position or jeopardizing his family’s truce with the Federation, he’s instead only worried about his younger brother’s safety.
Post-rebellion, the cadets—now dubbed heroes—are treated to a ticker-tape parade. Degwin Zabi makes a personal appearance before the Federation leadership in the interest of lasting peace, so long as they agree to withdraw their troops from Zeon. And while he punishes Dozle for incompetence, he is proud of Garma and even shares a tender moment with him. At this moment, it becomes apparent that Garma will be the one to replace the fallen Sasro as heir to the Zabi dynasty.
Dozle, in an attempt to maintain his authority, sends Casval to Earth as a gesture to please the belittled Federation. When that’s over, he calls for Zenna Mia to whom he extends an indecent proposal.
Since I’m not familiar with the original manga or anime, it was refreshing to see the main series’ protagonist featured in the epilogue. While he’s only thirteen years old in this prequel series, and we may not see him again after this episode, the look into the unfinished “Side 7” was an effective teaser to get Gundam novices like me to want to check out this property’s previous installments.
Casval continues to be an intriguing yet frustrating character. Since he’s championed by likable characters such as Ramba Ral, Crowley Hamon, and little sister Artesia, the narrative gives us a reason to root for him. However, even as a small child, he was a brooding jerk who despite caring about his immediate family and allies never did anything to garner sympathy. It doesn’t automatically make him a good person just because his father was murdered.
On the other side, characters originally framed as antagonists—namely Dozle and Garma—are quite sympathetic and even relatable. True, Degwin is a monster, and Gihren isn’t much better, but why should anybody have to suffer for the sins of their father? Dozle’s Gundam program shows that unnecessary civilian casualties are something he wishes to avoid in the inevitable war. And the fact that he reached over the aisle to recruit noble soldiers like Ramba and Hamon shows he is serious in his endeavor. While Garma is a kid who has yet to experience the dark underbelly of society and can still feel the warmness in his father’s hands—outstanding metaphor, by the way.
Kycilia has been quiet lately. Here’s hoping she has the drive to cause some serious trouble in the coming episodes. A live wire can only stay dormant for so long, after all.
Lastly, let’s talk about Zenna Mia. This ambitious lady has already proven herself enough to be included in the ticker-tape parade’s leading car alongside Casval and Garma. But how deep does her desire for power run? If she wants to rule, she’ll accept Dozle’s request to “bare his children.” But she also has the potential to be a mysterious wild card. The answer is probably already out there, alas, it’s not available to somebody who hasn’t seen the original series.