Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch From Mercury is back after an explosive(literally!) and shocking cliffhanger ending! And just as expected, things are no longer the same for Suletta Mercury and her friends, though the pilot episode begins in a very familiar situation.
The first eight or so minutes of the first episode spend a good amount of time getting audiences reoriented into the story and showing the effects that the events of the previous episode has on most of the characters, both in obvious and subtle ways.
As a parallel of the first episode of season 1, we are immediately smack-dabbed in the beginning of a duel! And this time, we see just how much Suletta and Aerial has improved over the course of the story. Fighting in five consecutive duels may seem like a tall order even for veteran duelists, but it is effortless for our red-haired protagonist. In fact, she barely spends a few seconds for each opponent, and a great factor for that stems from the upgrades that Aerial has received. Even Sabina has noted this, calling it as the most powerful mobile suit to date.
Of course, another factor is Suletta herself; though she remains mostly her same old self on the surface, her experience fighting two Gundams have clearly improved her skills, not to mention boosting her confidence in battle. We can see this in the way she acts throughout the episode; she’s more driven, sure of herself, and even less socially awkward.
But behind that lies a really disturbing thought, one that ties back to the previous episode’s cliffhanger. Suletta doesn’t seem the least affected from killing someone in a gruesome way. Sure, she certainly feels remorseful and even wondered if it could have turned out differently. But for this entire episode, she continues just the way she is. Worse, she believes it was the right thing to do simply because her mother tells her so.
And she’s not the only one who’s changed. First, we have the new Elan, who’s literally another person entirely—a fact noted by his peers. This Elan (for the sake of simplicity, let’s call him Elan 5) is a fun and interesting character to watch. He’s a schemer much like the original, but he’s more of a charmer and a seducer, which would certainly affect Suletta. And funny enough, he hangs out with Earth House like a good friend! Thankfully, though, Suletta seems to have gotten over her crush for him, mostly thanks to his own forwardness.
Then there’s the Earth House crew themselves who had been near the center of the attack on Plant Quetta. The episode spends a good amount of time showing how it had affected them, and though a few characters like Nuno and Aliya hasn’t shown any outward signs of distress, at least for now, the same couldn’t be said of the others. Lilique, and Martin to an extent, is clearly traumatized, evident by their reactions during Suletta’s duels. They flinch at the slightest hint of violence, and Lilique in particular doesn’t possess the same liveliness as before. Ojelo is pretty much the same, though he manages it by focusing on the company’s activities.
But arguably the most affected is Nika. Gone is the cheerful attitude we saw in season 1, though she does smile on rare occasions during this episode. Instead, Nika is almost a different person. She’s always spacing out, always deep in thought. And her relationship with Martin is obviously strained even though Martin is thankful to her for saving them despite the fact that Nika hasn’t revealed the truth yet.
The only one who doesn’t seem to change much is our beloved Chuchu. She’s really just the same loud, aggressive girl we know and love, albeit extremely pissed that the Benerit Group is keeping the incident a secret.
The terrorist attack on Plant Quetta has severely changed the status quo for the Benerit Group; Delling is now in coma after suffering a spinal injury, Vim Jeturk is dead and replaced by Lauda as acting CEO of Jeturk Heavy Machineries, and Sarius Zenelli has seemingly taken over as the de facto head of the mega conglomerate.
Of course, we know that Shaddiq is the mastermind of the attack, supported by Sarius and Vim. Naturally, the Zenellis has to keep up the pretense of being ignorant, and that is by ordering a terrorist hunt.
At this point, the real situation between Earthians and Spacians haven’t been fully revealed. We know there is enmity between the two factions, but we don’t know how deep it goes except through sparse glimpses here and there. However, we do know that the Benefit Group holds a big influence on Earth, to the point that they could send an entire fleet without risking a challenge so they could hunt down the terrorists.
It feels like the opening stages of a war, and frankly, it wouldn’t be a surprise. After all, this is Gundam; war is one of its core themes. However, it does present an important question: would the Dawn of Fold reveal Shaddiq’s involvement if the worst happens?
Obviously, Shaddiq has plans after plans, and he wouldn’t be caught off guard. This is just a ruse, after all. In fact, it seems that he’s already moving to prepare for the stage of his goal to break up the Benerit Group.
How? By “inviting” two Witches to his school, of course!
The New Transfers
Despite the harrowing events Earth House has experienced, life continues for the rest of Asticassia’s students who remain unaware of the terrorist attack. And as with any school-themed show, it wouldn’t be complete without a school festival! But as luck would have it, Asticassia is getting two new students.
Sophie Pulone and Norea Du Noc.
Their introduction is as much a shock as their presence in the very school that Suletta AND Nika study in. There is no hint, no buildup to their entrance despite the not-so-subtle hint during Shaddiq’s scene, which just makes their appearance so effective.
Of course, Nika is just as shock, but there’s not much she could do in this situation.
In any case, Sophie and Norea’s admission shakes up the status quo, even if many aren’t aware of it. They have a mission, and they will fulfill it efficiently. In fact, their first order of business is joining Earth House, getting them close to Aerial and Suletta.
But the thing is, they are not just spies and infiltrators; they are also kids, and kids tend to enjoy school life no matter how vicious they are in war time.
Thus, we are treated with two Witches living the school life normally, for the moment anyway.
Now as with most Gundam shows, character personalities are the forefront in the story, and Witch From Mercury is no different. Sophie and Norea feel just as real as the rest, with their own quirks and hobbies. Sophie is the laidback and fun-loving girl who collects stuff toys and genuinely enjoys school life, while Norea is the cold yet surprisingly artistic girl who hates how happy everyone is.
The two couldn’t be more opposites, but as we’ve seen before, they work really well together in combat. Moreover, their screen times show them in a way we’ve never seen them before, making them characters that we can’t really hate.
Now there is a bit of subtle details about Earth’s situation woven into these scenes, specifically during Norea’s appearance. In her sketch book, we can see drawings of a dying Earth and its environment, giving more credence to Earthians blaming Spacians for the environmental pollution.
It is no surprise, then, why some like Dawn of Fold would resort to terrorist, even if their methods might endanger innocents.
The Threat Revealed
Ever since the revelation that Nika is in cahoots with the Dawn of Fold, its always been assumed that she is a terrorist herself despite her rather peaceful demeanor. But as this episode has shown, perhaps that is not exactly the case.
For one, she’s clearly disturbed by what happened in Plant Quetta, even guilty and remorseful. For a terrorist, that is quite an unusual reaction. Of course, she has expressed her dissatisfaction over Shaddiq’s schemes ever since the first season, so we can say she’s honest about not wanting to have anything to do with Dawn of Fold.
There’s still a lot of mysteries surrounding Nika. However, what we do know is that she wants to be a bridge between Earth and space, though why she has to work with the Dawn of Fold is anyone’s guess. Still, Nika is a good person through and through, and we see it with how she constantly voices her opinion against Sophie and Norea during the course of this episode, to the point that she will reveal her identity and flush them out of the school just to protect her friends.
Of course, the two Witches wouldn’t have none of it, and poor Nika almost gets killed trying to stop them from hacking the Pharact. Thankfully, Suletta arrives in style to save her friend from meeting the same fate as the terrorist in Episode 12.
It’s Time To Duel!
Sophie and Norea’s arrival in Asticassia is just one part of Shaddiq’s next scheme, whatever it is this time. And as viewers, we expect them to stay in the shadows for another episode or two before starting to cause chaos and mayhem.
It is quite a surprise, then, when they attempt to kill Nika right near the end of the episode. Though to be fair, they’ve mostly ignored her until she started pestering them. Naturally, Norea wouldn’t just let her be.
The fact that Suletta has seen the two Witches harassing Nika and trying to hack into the Pharact also complicates matters. And in a rare moment, we see the MC in a situation where she might really die. It is interesting that Norea has no qualms killing Suletta, and gruesomely, to eliminate another witness.
If this was any other anime, both Suletta and Nika would have been saved by plot armor and deus ex machina. But Witch From Mercury constantly subverts the norm while still keeping in line with logic and the characters’ personalities themselves.
So when Suletta challenges Norea and Sophie to a duel, and Norea outright refuses because she doesn’t care about school rules, it feels natural yet unexpected that Sophie would intervene and convince her partner to accept.
At first, this may seem out of character for Norea; she’s already expressed her conviction to silence Suletta and Nika, and it’s not as if Sophie could stop an 18-meter killing machine. But upon reflection, it may have just get them closer to the real objective of their infiltration, which is a mystery at this point.
Of course, Suletta is none the wiser. But what makes this scene works even more isn’t just a rematch between Witches. The duel is essentially a clash of ideals. While Norea and Sophie want to prove that Gundams can only be used for violence and war, Suletta and Aerial will prove otherwise.
That Gundams can be used to save lives.
The Mother and The Bride
While Suletta is preparing for a duel that will most likely end in a very different way, Miorine is watching over a comatose Delling.
Her scene is very minimal for this episode, but a lot can be gleaned in her limited appearance. For one, she doesn’t seem to hate Suletta for killing the terrorist despite her strong reaction. And the way the story tackles this issue so far is interesting. The aftermath isn’t shown; in fact, there’s a two-week timeskip. However, Suletta doesn’t seem bothered, implying a relatively peaceful confrontation between her and her bride.
Still, Miorine is evidently disturbed, and she only has one person to blame: Prospera. Ever since their first interaction, Miorine has been shown to have doubts regarding Prospera’s action. She may not have been vocal about it, but Suletta’s horrific action to save her has clearly affected Miorine’s view of Prospera.
And rightly so. Even though Miorine is unaware, we audiences could see that Prospera is manipulative at her core. While she comforts Suletta and told her that killing the terrorist is a justified action to save her bride, Prospera twists her statement and tells Miorine that Suletta may have indeed gone too far during that moment.
Unfortunately, Prospera’s schemes are already moving. And her next plan? Recruit Miorine into the Quiet Zero Project, a program that could end all wars for good.
Returning after a three-month season break from a shocking cliffhanger, Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch From Mercury’s season 2 starts off in a familiar yet altogether different territory. A lot has changed, and nothing seems the same anymore. It is a balance of action and character development while progressing the story in an interesting way, keeping viewers’ attention from start to finish.
Episode score: 8/10