Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch From Mercury Interrupts A Heartfelt Reunion With The Witches From Earth

Well, that didn't take long. Just last week, Suletta was convinced that Miorine had left her behind as she became increasingly enmeshed in the workings of GUND-ARM, Inc. This week, after ten minutes of increasingly painful misunderstandings, Miorine confronts a spiraling Suletta and assures her that no matter what happens, she will always care about her. "Stay at my side forever," she says, embracing Suletta. It's not quite "I love you," but it's the closest she's come to a genuine confession of intimacy in this whole series. Certainly, it was enough to fuel another round of fan art online from excited fans rooting for the two of them to get together.

At the same time, I can't help but be nervous about what might happen next to Suletta and Miorine. "Witch From Mercury," after all, is a blunt instrument. It captured an audience eagerly following every twist and turn by telegraphing every twist and turn well in advance. If the previous episode built anxiety by separating Miorine and Suletta, and this episode eased those concerns by bringing the two of them together, I can imagine the next might engender fear by tearing the two apart once more. After all, Miorine turns away from Suletta at the end of the opening credits. It's obvious manipulation, but effective.

Suletta's worries

We see Suletta at her most fearful in this episode. When she slips while moving boxes, she overhears her friends from Earth House say, "Useless!" Later, she hesitates over whether to choose a chicken lunch, only for all the lunches to be taken before she can pick one for herself. In both these cases, "Witch From Mercury" is careful to establish that nobody in Earth House means any harm towards Suletta. Nuno means that his app is useless, while Aliya gives Suletta's lunch to Nuno by accident, not knowing that Nuno had already picked for himself. Had Suletta intervened in either case, the situation could have been resolved without any problems. But she's already so anxious that Miorine might be cutting ties with her that every small social interaction confirms her worst fears.

Misunderstandings are an effective but cheap means of engineering drama. Why trot out this old dog of a cliche when you could shoot it behind the woodshed and save everyone the trouble? "Witch From Mercury" earns itself some credit because I believe Suletta would make this mistake. She's come a long way from the girl she was at the very beginning of the series, a socially awkward child from Mercury with no other friends her age. But her sense of self-worth still rests on being able to pilot the Aerial for somebody else. The moment that Miorine seemingly abandons her, the foundation she's spent so long building crumbles to the ground.

Miorine leaps

This leads to a wonderful zero-gravity chase sequence as Miorine pursues Suletta through Plant Quetta. Recent episodes of "Witch From Mercury" have skimped on character animation so that the requisite giant robot duels receive the care they need. This is an exception. The movements of Miorine and Suletta are hilarious as they tumble along. The camera emphasizes the confusion of the moment as they struggle to return to equilibrium. It's a reminder that the Gundam is not just about giant robots moving through space, but people connecting with each other across that same expanse. From the climax of the very first "Mobile Suit Gundam," where Amuro tearfully reunites with his friends at White Base, defying gravity for love has been a part of the franchise's DNA.

"Witch From Mercury" needed this moment to work so that the audience might fear for Suletta and Miorine's future separation. It also needed this moment to work because this cathartic sequence hinges on a contrivance. Miorine just happens to overhear Suletta crying to her mom on the toilet, because Nika gave her the push she needed at the right moment. It's a dramatic shortcut that saves the audience from worrying about Suletta's mental health, but it's a shortcut nevertheless. Of course, now that it has been confirmed that "Witch From Mercury" is only 24 episodes long, we know that the series only has so much time to spare. In this case, the characters, animation and efficient plotting work in concert to keep this speeding Gundam train on the tracks for another episode.

Earth witches

Meanwhile, opposing forces converge at Plant Quetta. Vim Jeturk offers to crush Grassley with Delling's help, but really wants Delling's head on a platter. Shaddiq borrows Jeturk's resources to threaten Delling with the Dawn of Fold mercenary group; he also puts Vim in danger and even risks Miorine's life. Guel remains a prisoner of Dawn of Fold, although his observation that the group is using genuine Jeturk robots for their operation may have put a target on his back. Meanwhile, Lady Prospera (who seemingly identifies herself in this episode as "Elnora Samaya") chats with Delling about his mysterious Quiet Zero project.

The next episode promises a confrontation with "the Witches of Earth," Sophie and Norea. The two of them are piloting genuine Gundams, named "Lfrith Ur" and "Lfrith Thorn" respectively. It's worth noting that Elnora once piloted the XGF-02 Gundam Lfrith, which appeared in the prologue. That would explain the similarity of the Ur and Thorn faceplates to the Aerial, although I have to wonder whether these machines take a similar toll on their pilots as other GUND technology. I'm not yet sure what to make of Sophie and Norea, although we've only known them for a short time. I like that Norea continues her sketching habit in space, and Sophie's energy and adoration of Suletta makes her fun to watch. But as representatives of Earth, they and their boss shoulder a heavy burden. Whether they are positioned as people with real wants and needs, or stereotypical psychopathic anime terrorists, may determine how this crucial hinge point of "Witch From Mercury" plays out.

This week's addendum

Suletta's List: Suletta finally shares her cellphone straps with Miorine this week. Miorine isn't a fan, but takes it because "it just looks like a gift from you." Wow.

The Suletta and Miorine Power Hour: This ship is sailing!!!!!

The Robot Watch: The Lfrith Ur and Lfrith Thorn have giant detachable cannons powerful enough to cause serious damage to Plant Quetta. I'm curious to see how they stack up against the fast, manuverable Aerial. At the same time, it looks like the Aerial received an upgrade this week, just in time for the finale.

Earth House Watch: Nika continues to help out Suletta from behind the scenes, even though the audience knows that she's a double (triple?) agent for Shaddiq and Dawn of Fold. Miorine offers Nika a promotion this episode; does she know what kind of person she's working with?

The Danger Zone: According to rumors on Twitter, recent Covid outbreaks in China have led to a lack of labor available for anime outsourcing. It's very possible that a series like "Witch From Mercury," which has struggled in recent episodes, could be affected by this. Perhaps one day anime production committees might take scheduling into account when making ambitious giant robot series, rather than setting animation staff up for failure?

It's a Gundam Christmas: Looks like they celebrate in space, too.