Suletta accepts an invitation to join the Incubation Party; a gathering for members of the Benerit Group to propose new projects and compete for funding amongst the group’s wealthy members. When she’s invited on stage to acknowledge her status as the current Holder alongside the ‘real’ Elan, the board of Peil Technologies changes the script, admitting their Pharact mobile suit is a Gundam, but also revealing that Aerial is one as well. To save Aerial from being scrapped, Miorine hastily proposes a new company to utilize it for developing new technologies. Despite being stonewalled by the investors, her resolve wins the begrudging approval of her father, and eventually enough funding to begin her work… if the crew can figure out what that is.
I’ve been a bit of a Witch from Mercury apologist among this group up until now, but I have to say that episode 7 really torpedoed my enjoyment of the show. Gundam shows always demand some suspension of disbelief, but they usually wrap things up in a package that’s internally consistent, whether it’s the brutality of war (08th MS Team) or burning love, anger, and sorrow (G Gundam). This episode broke my suspension of disbelief over its knee, and I doubt it’s going to recover.
Things start straightforward enough, with our protagonist couple joining the Incubation Party and Suletta being in deep over her head. There’s a tense moment where her mother points out Miorine’s hypocrisy for raling against her father while still benefiting from his wealth and influence. It’s a good scene, and while I appreciate Miorine as a character, it’s good to see her taken aback when called out. Unfortunately, things go downhill from there, and it’s a slide that has everything to do with presentation rather than content.
When Suletta takes the stand alongside the original Elan, the four creepy ladies running Peil Technologies interrupt her speech to reveal that Aerial is actually one of the banned Gundams. By admitting their own fault with the Pharact and exposing Aerial, they hope to save face and consolidate their power, even with the loss of their prototype. That’s all well and good, but it all takes place as each character stands on tiny platforms that rise out of the stage so that the only way one could stay on was by knowing exactly where to be when the thing started to move. It’s clear Suletta never had any briefing on all of this, and the whole thing is so obviously done for dramatic effect that it looks ridiculous.
A lot of folks have reasonably compared The Witch from Mercury to Revolutionary Girl Utena for its parallels in school settings, betrothals enforced by duels, and elements of the main characters’ relationship. Utena occupies a world where the lines between reality and illusion is deliberately blurred, and the entire production is stylized in a way where you can accept ridiculous staging like this and barely question it. Gundam, both as a franchise and within this series, has set itself up as more grounded, despite the presence of giant robots.
I can buy the silly dueling rules because this is a school for the kids of corporate overlords jockeying for position who will use any excuse to advance their families and show off their fancy toys. Yet somehow, when that stupid stage lifted up and the lighting went red in the middle of what’s effectively an arms merchant pitch meeting, my investment began to crack. Miorine hastily writing out a business proposal to save Suletta and Aerial AND GETTING FUNDED was the straw that broke it. We’ve gone from “murder an abused human experiment” to “gotta raise money to save the
rec center giant robot” in less than 20 minutes of viewing time, and it feels wrong.
While the way in which it’s handled is awkward and jarring, I can appreciate what they’re trying to set up with this scene. For all of Suletta’s battlefield success, the fate of mobile suits, Gundams, and potentially the entire power structure of the world is decided in corporate boardrooms and fundraisers. This is the world Miorine understands, for all that she claims to despise it, and this gives her an opportunity to contribute more to the plot than as a runaway or a prize to be won. Had it been handled in a more believable way, I might’ve been more on board with the idea, but the execution simply didn’t click for me whatsoever.
There’s more that goes on in this episode, but I really can’t think of much that has a significant impact. I don’t like suddenly being so down on this show, but I have to be honest with my feelings from that moment. Maybe the back half of this season will pull itself together, but at this point it feels like its a poor vehicle for the story the creators want to tell. I hope we’ll at least get some more cool mech fights, but beyond that there’s not a lot for me to look forward to at this stage. Let’s all hope that changes sooner than later.