Manga Review: Gundam Thunderbolt Vols. 1&2
Gundam Thunderbolt takes place during the One Year War of the Mobile Suit Gundam storyline. The manga series takes its name from the backdrop of the story, the Thunderbolt Sector, an area in space filled with the debris of destroyed colonies. The aptly named Thunderbolt Sector experiences regular electrical discharges that look much like thunderbolts.
The treacherous Thunderbolt Sector serves as a supply route for the Zeon space fortress A Baoa Qu. Those familiar with the One Year War will know the importance A Baoa Qu during the war. Because of the strategic location of the Thunderbolt Sector, the Principality of Zeon has entrusted the Living Dead Division with the task of securing the route. Amongst the Living Dead Division are several snipers, including ace sniper by the name of Daryl Lorenz, who are responsible for taking the lives of numerous Federation pilots.
In order to seize the Thunderbolt Sector from the Principality of Zeon, the Federation orders the Moore Brotherhood to take down the deadly snipers of the Living Dead Division. One of the Moore Brotherhood pilots, Io Fleming, quickly proves himself worthy of becoming the rival of Daryl Lorenz.
The tone of Gundam Thunderbolt is much darker than that of the Mobile Suite Gundam anime. From the first battle for the Thunderbolt Sector, this manga clearly demonstrates the carnage of war in a more intimate way than the Gundam anime series. In terms of atmosphere, Thunderbolt feels more akin to the Gundam novels, in which Tomino painted a more realistic picture of the One Year War than he was allowed to portray in the anime. The story of Thunderbolt also covers some pretty mature topics, such as substance abuse, the perversion of science for war, wartime love, suicide, body modifications and the loss of innocence. This, and more, is all in the first two volumes of the manga. That’s a lot more mature material than most Gundam series cover in their entire run!
The stories’ realistic and dark feel is further fleshed out by main characters that have legitimately interesting backstories. Characters that could have been nods to stereotypes of the Gundam universe, instead have legitimate reasons for doing what they do. For instance, IO Fleming isn’t your average boy that falls into the cockpit of Gundam. As a member of the Moore Brotherhood, Io Fleming was once a resident of Side 4: Moore, the remnants of which are part of the debris of the Thunderbolt Sector. So as the story unfolds,we learn that Io is tied to the Thunderbolt sector by his past.
The art style of Gundam Thunderbolt is different from other Gundam manga I have read. Ohtagaki illustrates in a rather realistic and detailed manner. The unique art and dark story work well to give this manga a distinct feel from other Gundam manga and anime that have come before it. Even the covers of the manga, made to look like covers of model kits, are pretty unique and well designed! Furthermore, each manga also features a handful of full-color pages printed on glossy paper.
Although the story and setting of Gundam Thunderbolt can feel distant from that of the One Year war at times, the mobile suits help anchor the story to the year 0079 of the Universal Century. The mecha featured in the first two volumes includes staples of the One Year War: Zakus, GMs, Rick Doms, Balls, etc. The manga also features upgraded version of the Gundam and Zaku, which are piloted by the protagonist and his rival, respectively.
All in all, the first two volumes of the Gundam Thunderbolt are a solid read. I was delightfully surprised by the tone of the manga, the complexity of the story and the thought that was put into the characters that fight for control of the Thunderbolt Sector.
Review samples were provided by VIZ Media.
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|Posted 14 March, 2017 - 18:50 by SentaiSeiya|