Mobile Suit Gundam F91 is a theatrical anime film, which is set 30 years after the Mobile Suit Gundam: Char’s Counterattack film.
Mobile Suit Gundam F91
Directed by: Yoshiyuki Tomino
Written by: Tsunehisa Ito and Yoshiyuki Tomino
Starring: Kouji Tsujitani, Masaki Maeda, Yumi Touma, Chie Koujiro, Kiyoyuki Yanada, Mari Yoko, Sayuri Ikemoto, Takeshi Kusao, Teppei Takasugi, Mikio Terashima, Miyoko Shoji, Takeshi Watabe, Tamio Oki, Yoku Shioya, Takehito Koyasu, and Taiki Matsuno
Run Time: 115 minutes
The film opens on Earth Federation colony Frontier IV, where student mechanic Seabrook Arno and his friends are having a celebration. This includes a contest that Seabrook’s friend, Cecily, was nominated for and doesn’t want to participate in. As Cecily is announced as the winner, the colony comes under attack by the Crossbone Vanguard, the military arm of Cosmo Babylonia. Chaos ensues, and Seabrook, Cecily, along with some of their friends, lead some refugees to the lower levels of the colony, where they meet up with Seabrook’s father. With his help, they are able to escape from Frontier IV.
But before the group makes its escape, Cecily runs off and encounters her adoptive father. It turns out that Cecily is really Berah Ronah, part of the Ronah family who are the leaders behind Cosmo Babylonia. Her real family has come to take her back home, and she reluctantly agrees to go after Seabrook is shot trying to save her. Cecily’s real father and grandfather dream of overthrowing the Earth Federation and replacing it with a more just aristocracy. Cecily is reluctant to join them, but ends up doing so, thinking she has no choice. Since she left with her brother, she has no idea that Seabrook survived and that he and their mutual friends are safe. Cecily receives mobile suit training, and it quickly becomes apparent that she’s a natural at piloting it.
Seabrook and his friends, meanwhile, come across a Federation training ship called the Space Ark, which is run by a barely experienced skeleton crew. This ship is also carrying the inoperative Gundam F91. Seabrook and his friends join up with this crew, and Seabrook helps to repair the Gundam F91. In the process, he learns that it was developed by his mother, who left home to focus on her work when he and his sister were young. Seabrook ends up piloting the Gundam F91, because it’s thought that since his mother developed it that he might have the ability to pilot it. It turns out that he seems to pick up on piloting the Gundam F91, although not quite as quickly as Cecily did in her mobile suit training.
Cecily encounters Seabrook during a battle, which allows her to discover that her friends are still alive. With this knowledge, she defects from Cosmo Babylonia and joins up with the crew of the Space Ark. The film climaxes with a battle between Cecily’s father’s new weapon, the “Bugs,” and the mobile suits from the Space Ark.
I have to be honest and say that it wasn’t made clear in the film itself just how much time had passed since the events of the Mobile Suit Gundam: Char’s Counterattack anime film, and I only know it’s 30 years because I did some research online. It’s also never addressed in the film itself as to what happened with the previous enemy, Zeon. Because of that, Cosmo Babylonia just feels like it appears out of nowhere. For viewers coming into Mobile Suit Gundam F91 without seeing the earlier entries in the franchise, this isn’t going to be a concern. But for a viewer like myself coming into this film with that knowledge, I had a hard time figuring out where exactly this fit into the timeline and how the series got to this point. The Blu-ray release I watched this film on has a bonus feature that provides a Universal Century Timeline, and it has the missing information included in it. It’s too bad that there wasn’t a way to provide this information, even in a brief recap, in the film itself. I know that the intention with Mobile Suit Gundam F91 was to reboot the franchise, but it would have been helpful to viewers already familiar with the franchise to provide some of this information in some way, shape, or form.
When it comes to the actual story, it’s a well told story that keeps the audience interested in what’s going on. Even though the film only has a two hour runtime, Tomino and Ito were able to develop the two main characters, Seabrook and Cecily, just enough for the audience to come to care about them and their story. Unfortunately, this means that many of the other characters (especially Seabrook’s fellow refugees and the crew of the Space Ark) aren’t able to really get any development. For me, at least, I’ve forgotten most of these characters’ names after watching this film.
If you go into this film already familiar with Mobile Suit Gundam, you can pick up on the elements and tone that Tomino had employed in previous entries in the Mobile Suit Gundam franchise. That’s not to say that the film or the franchise is formulaic, though. It’s just that Tomino has a certain way that he writes for the Mobile Suit Gundam franchise, and that a viewer can pick up on those touches if they watch enough of the franchise.
It’s interesting to note that at the end of the film, there’s text on the screen that this is only the beginning (or something along those lines). According to what I’ve read, there were plans for a sequel to Mobile Suit Gundam F91, but that a project for a continuation never materialized. Perhaps if a sequel had ever happened, maybe some of the characters who weren’t developed in this film could have received some development in it. Oh well, it’s neither here nor there, since a sequel never happened.
Even with its faults, Mobile Suit Gundam F91 was a decent film and should be watched at least once by viewers who have an interest in the Mobile Suit Gundam franchise.
Additional posts about Mobile Suit Gundam: