So, on Wednesday 17th August 2022, I watched the first episode of Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn. Then, on Thursday, I watched that first episode again because HOLY HELL UNICORN IS AN S TIER OVA FOR SURE, right up there with 0080 and Thunderbolt Season 1 IMO. I’ve also seen the second and third episodes for good measure (all are fantastic). But I don’t want to gush about Unicorn the OVA. I want to gush about Unicorn the Mobile Suit.
The RX-0 Unicorn Gundam is one of the most powerful, iconic MSs in the entire franchise, Mainline or Build spin-off. And I think the reason why is because it does the concept of a “godlike hyperpowered MS” the right way. In Unicorn mode, the Unicorn looks nothing like a traditional Gundam-type, with the actual face plate covered by a unique mask, the eyes being bright enough to form a visor between the bottom of the face and the top, and a Unicorn horn rather than a traditional V-fin, hence the name. It’s only when its dreaded NT-D system comes into play when the Gundam within comes out: The Newtype-Destroyer, shortened as NT-D, is the main thing that makes the Unicorn such a beast to be feared. When it’s activated with the willpower of the pilot, the Unicorn becomes larger, gains access to a pair of beam sabres built into the backpack, reveals its violent red Psychoframe, also reveals its true face, becomes hyper fast, and is mainly controlled through the pilots brainwaves a la Neon Genesis Evangelion. The result is a massive migraine at best for its enemies.
In Unicorn mode, its already a beast, with an armament of I-field equipped shield, Beam Magnum (a handheld weapon that uses an entire beam clip to fire a powerful blast), Hyper Bazooka, and even the ability to convert any weapon it gets on field into one it can use, evidenced by how it makes use of a Beam Gatling Gun when it and Banagher escape from Palau in episode 3. In Destroy mode, it becomes downright demonic and fierce, able to dispatch regular mooks with ease and give elites a hard time. And that’s before you get to how it can use its wrist mounted beam sabre holsters as beam tonfas in Destroy mode. Yeah. Kshatriya demolished, Marida wounded, Banagher awakened.
It sounds overpowered, but it isn’t. There ARE drawbacks to the Unicorn that give it proper hinderances: That NT-D system? It was made mainly for the main purpose you’d expect: Killing Newtypes. If there is a Newtype in the vicinity, Actual, Cyber or completely Artificial a la Marida, it’s gonna flip, whether the pilot likes it or not. The NT-D system can also only be activated for five minutes on default, meaning the pilot must make good use of his limited time. The NT-D also causes the pilot to faint into a brief coma in a select time after it activates if the pilot isn’t wearing protection, like Banagher does in his second sortie and for the rest of the OVA. Also, the Sleeves, our main Neo Zeon antagonists, fit it with a secret monitoring system so they can track it to Laplace’s Box.
With drawbacks and benefits, it all evens out and results in quite possibly my favourite lead MS that isn’t the Full Armor from Thunderbolt Season 1. They somehow managed to pull the concept of an OP MS off, and they did it with flying colours. It’s no wonder that Unicorn is popular and got a TV recut in 2016: It’s the only Gundam show to do something like this. [EDIT: Well, this AND Turn A Gundam back in 1999…]