By Dustin Cabeal
War is hell. There are no two ways about that and Mobile Suit Gundam: Thunderbolt shows that constantly. After the second volume, I was looking forward to the showdown between the Zeon and Gundam. How mistaken I was, how much I wish that didn’t happen after it was all said and done.
There are too many great story moments in this volume, but with each of them comes a lot of sadness because… war is hell. Our Zeon soldier comes to the terrible realization that his success means the amputation of other soldiers so that they too can pilot as he does, but in the end, he doesn’t care because he doesn’t think he’ll survive the moment that he’s in, face to face with the Gundam. While our Gundam pilot’s true heart shows in that he has no home to return to and lives with the guilt of his father’s decisions.
All of this overshadowed by the Federation fleet running out of oxygen and being forced to board and take over the Zeon ship. The Zeon’s have a plan though, they’re going to blow them all to hell. That is unless someone can get through to them.
While it was unclear to me how the story would continue after this volume, it’s perfectly clear by the end of the volume. Sadly, I almost didn’t want it to continue because this volume weighs on the heart… a lot. There’s no happy endings and even the clever ways the story continues just goes to show that the war is eternal and that the human cost is always overlooked.
The artwork is gorgeous. There is so much emotion to the story that comes straight from the artwork. There are numerous scenes of characters being overwhelmed with emotions which is great and striking, but it’s the moment in which you see all of the Zeon’s ready to die that is most haunting. To see so many people just ready to die to defeat their enemy was chilling and yet telling of this series overall.
It’s impossible not to talk about the mech battles. They are a key part of the story and universe. Yasuo Ohtagaki’s artwork finds some way past detailed. There isn’t a word to describe how damn good the artwork is, but I can see why people would be willing to wait for more from this series. What will always be great is the lightning that runs throughout the story. It adds this dramatic effect and controls the tone of the entire story. Simply put, this is Ohtagaki’s career best work.
If you like mecha and more importantly, if you like Gundam, then you should check out Mobile Suit Gundam: Thunderbolt. It’ll never replace Gundam Wing in my heart, but my god is it a close second. And if you don’t like mecha, manga or Gundam then I wonder why you read this review and where your parents went wrong with you to not like at least one of those three things.
Mobile Suit Gundam: Thunderbolt vol. 3
Story and Art: Yasuo Ohtagaki
Publisher: Viz/Viz Signature