More than half a decade since the last main Gundam series aired, and another one from the famous mecha franchise is here! And once again, Sunrise presents a very different take on the story of war and giant robots.
Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch from Mercury’s title, for one, is a departure from the previous shows. And very much like Iron-Blooded Orphans, it is the story of a person instead of a concept or era(SEED, After War) or a titular Gundam(Wing, Turn A).
Enter Suletta Mercury, a shy and socially awkward student from, you guessed it, the planet Mercury. All throughout its long history, the Gundam franchise has featured mainly male protagonists, even though it always has a strong cast of female leads. But this is the first time in a long while that we are getting a female character as the main lead, setting it apart from previous shows.
Set in the year Ad Stella 122, the series initially has a familiar atmosphere for the franchise. Mankind has advanced enough to live in space, and mobile suits are prevalent. It even has the racial division the franchise is known for, with Earthians and Spacians at odds with each other, though never at the same intensity as SEED and the original UC timeline. In fact, the two can study at the same school together!
However, there are several things that sets Witch from Mercury(WfM) apart, and one of its core themes is the dangers of advanced technology as well as the effects of capitalism. We can see this firsthand in the prologue, where events unfolded that threw Suletta and her mother into their present situation.
In a lot of ways, WfM remains true to the essence of the Gundam franchise; that is, mirroring actual real world issues. In the series, we have companies controlling most aspects of human life, at least in space, and it feels different yet familiar in the way it presents this theme. But while previous installments have antagonistic corporations that fan the flames of war by developing Gundams, the main antagonist in this series actually hates… Gundams.
But perhaps the most hyped and intriguing new aspect to this series is the direct exploration of LGBTQA+ themes, which is a fresh new territory for the franchise. While others have involved subtextual exploration of the characters’ sexuality, WfM has directly integrated it into its plot, adding another flavor to the story.
Of course, sexuality in the mecha genre is nothing new. Cross Ange and Darling in the Franxx had explored such concepts before, and in the case of the former, it is blatant. But seeing it in a Gundam show definitely feels new, especially since this is also more like a slice of life story with the aspect of a harem.
A Gundam show is not a Gundam show without a massive cast, and Witch from Mercury is no different. We have about a dozen interesting characters right from the very first episode, not counting the characters in the prologue, each with their own unique quirks and personalities. And as we know, this is one of the franchise’s main strengths: creating characters that we can’t help but love or hate(or both).
But for now, let’s focus on the four “main” characters. First, obviously, we have Suletta Mercury. She’s a fun character to watch because of her awkwardness and timid personality. Her innocence is also cute and endearing, especially when it comes to romance. But don’t let that fool you; Suletta’s personality drastically changes when she’s inside Gundam Aerial, her personal mobile suit. She’s more confident and sure of herself—qualities that are always present in many Gundam protagonists. And to top it off, she actually piloted Aerial at the age of five, making her the youngest Gundam pilot in the franchise’s history!
And what is a Gundam protagonist without a love interest? Once again, in a major departure from previous series, our female main character is partnered with another female character: Miorine. An interesting secondary protagonist in her own way, Miorine may initially appear as the typical rich and rebellious girl with daddy issues. But despite that, she is a headstrong and determined individual who has the guts to stand up against her father, all thanks to her encounter and fun interactions with Suletta.
Of course, if there are protagonists, there are also antagonists. And there are also two of them… or are there?
A lot of the Gundam shows had featured what many have come to call the “Char Clone”, which means a masked villain set to oppose, often kill, the main character—a direct homage to Char Aznable, the original masked antagonist of the original series. And yet it seems that Witch from Mercury is dead set on breaking the traditional mold; the Char Clone is not just a woman too, but is in fact Suletta’s own mother, Elnora Samaya.
Elnora is a tragic character, and much of her backstory can be seen in the Prologue. Indeed, Suletta’s arrival in Asticassia School of Technology is planned out so that Elnora could exact revenge on Delling, the man behind her suffering. But the thing is, Elnora is not exactly acting like an antagonist, for now at least. And her choice of attire may simply be a ruse to make us think that she may become Suletta’s enemy, which is highly unlikely at this point.
Lastly, we have the actual antagonist: Delling Rembran. The twist here is that he is Miorine’s father, and as mentioned above, he is the culprit behind the Samayas’ tragic life.
As a character, Delling is someone we’re familiar with—a power-hungry man who values strength above everything, even going so far as to implement this principle into his business and especially his parenting methods. Obviously, this caused Miorine to hate him, which then shaped her personality into what it is now while being the catalyst for much of her actions we’ve seen so far.
For now, Delling is not a serious threat. But it is interesting how the family of the two main heroines are at odds with each other while they grow closer. If this is quite familiar, that’s because it is! Romeo and Juliet has a similar premise, though in that story, the two lovers are always being separated while in this series, Elnora wants Suletta to marry Miorine in a plan for revenge.
Complicated, isn’t it?
Obviously, this review can’t be complete without the “other main character”. Yup, you guessed it! It is none other than Gundam Aerial!
Suletta’s personal mobile suit is, just like the show itself, is really unique. While its design bears some similarities with Gundam Exia from Mobile Suit Gundam 00, its capabilities are closer to the Strike Freedom Gundam and Nu Gundam, with a tribute to Gundam Barbatos and similar mechas which can be connected to their pilots.
And this is one of the driving force behind the story, as Delling is a heavy critic of this system. After all, the GUND Format takes the lives of the pilots, as seen in the Prologue.
Which makes Suletta unique; she could use it without any adverse effects. But more than that, she could pilot Aerial to its fullest capabilities.
At this point, the only notable feats of Aerial are its agility and drone weapons, or the funnel system as it is known in the other series. This makes it both an offensive and defensive mobile suit, focusing on mid-range combat, something that fits Suletta’s personality.
Of course, the series is still in its first act, and as always, we should expect loads of upgrades for this beautiful Gundam, especially if they are going to show its most unique feature that’s heavily hinted in the tie-in prequel novel.
To be honest, Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch from Mercury is already part of my top 5 anime to watch this season. It has a good balance of lightheartedness seen in many shoujo anime, but with the seriousness and themes associated with a lot of mecha series. The characters, especially, are fun and interesting, and the plot is engaging enough to keep audiences engaged.
Overall score: 8.5/10