Mobile Suit Gundam Hathaway’s Flash is weeks away from its long-awaited domestic theatrical release in Japan on May 21, 2021, after nearly a year of COVID-19 related delays.
First in a trilogy of anime films helmed by Shukou Murase, Mobile Suit Gundam Hathaway’s Flash, or Hathaway is the official sequel to the 1988 Mobile Suit Gundam Char’s Counterattack movie. The film project serves as the second entry in Sunrise’s U.C. NexT 0100 Project following Mobile Suit Gundam Narrative. The project was announced in November 2018 to celebrate the Gundam 40th anniversary, adapting the Yoshiyuki Tomino-penned novel series of the same name. The novels were originally released from 1989 to 1990, as a follow-up to Tomino’s Char’s Counterattack: Beltorchika’s Children novel, published by Kadokawa’s Kadokawa Sneaker Bunko imprint.
“Long considered impossible to adapt.” was included in the narration of one of the first teaser trailers for the upcoming feature, highlighting its elusive nature from animation production. Prior, the novel series would only receive attention in the form of video games such as the SD Gundam G Generation series and a small assortment of figures and model kits.
In a recent article by Mantan Web, the question was posed “Why hasn’t this masterpiece been adapted to film until now?”.
Gundam series producer Naohiro Ogata explained one of the primary reasons were the difficulties animating the novel’s lead mobile suits, Xi Gundam and Penelope, due to their complex designs.
“The designs of the Xi Gundam and Penelope are complicated, and 30 years ago there was no 3DCG, so it may have been difficult.”
In Hathaway’s Flash, the staff were able to resolve this issue by utilizing a blend of hand drawn animation with 3DCG for its titanic sized mechs, creating a different style of mobile suit battles than in previous Gundam entries.
Originally designed by mechanical designer Yasuhiro Moriki, the RX-104FF Penelope and RX-105 Xi Gundam were developed by Anaheim Electronics as sister mobile suits, both containing a Minovsky craft system giving them advanced independent flight capabilities. Penelope and Xi Gundam are piloted by Earth Federation lieutenant Lane Aime, and Mafty leader Hathaway Noa aka Mafty Navue Erin, respectively. The units were redesigned for the anime film adaptation by prolific Gundam mechanical designer, Hajime Katoki.
Producer Ogata continues and remarks another possible reason for the novel’s lack of animation was simply the timing was off between its publication and timing for a film adaptation.
Despite being written 32 years ago, Hathaway’s Flash is something of a modern story. Instead of a traditional war between major powers, its depictions of environmental and immigration issues, along with terrorism continue to have an increasing relevance today, making its long-neglected animated adaptation rather poetic.
The year is U.C. 0105. Twelve years have passed since the end of the second Neo Zeon War (Char’s Rebellion). Even after “the Axis Shock,” which seemed to indicate the future of humanity and the Universal Century, the world is still in a chaotic situation where intermittent military conflicts continue to break out. The Earth Federation government is more corrupt than ever, and its leadership has not only accelerated Earth’s pollution, but also implemented an inhuman “Man Hunting” policy in which civilians are forcibly exiled to outer space.
The anti-Federation government organization “Mafty,” led by someone called “Mafty Navue Erin,” has taken a stand against the corruption of the Earth Sphere. Mafty carries out fierce acts of terrorism, assassinating high officials of the Federation government one after another, but it gains a certain level of support from the populace who are growing more opposed to the Federation government.
The person who calls himself “Mafty” and leads this organization is Hathaway Noa, the son of Bright Noa, an officer of the Earth Federation Forces who once participated in the One Year War. Hathaway himself joined the forces trying to stop Char’s Rebellion. With firsthand knowledge of the ideals and ideologies of Amuro Ray and Char Aznable, he has become a warrior following in their footsteps, and plans to clear a path forward through armed resistance. His destiny, however, is drastically altered as he encounters the Federation Forces officer Kenneth Sleg and a mysterious young beauty named Gigi Andalucia.
- Kensho Ono as Hathaway Noa
- Junichi Suwabe as Kenneth Sleg
- Reina Ueda as Gigi Andalucia
- Soma Saito as Lane Aime
- Toru Furuya as Amuro Ray
- Kenjiro Tsuda as Gawman Nobile
- Yuki Ishikawa as Emeralda Zubin
- Fukushi Ochiai as Raymond Cain
- Shunsuke Takeuchi as Iram Masam
- Misato Matsuoka as Mihessia Hence
- Chiharu Sawashiro as Kenji Mitsuda
- Atsumi Tanezaki as Mace Flower
- Koichi Yamadera as Hundley Yeoksan
Ergo Proxy and Genocidal Organ’s Shukou Murase is directing the film project, with scripts by Yasuyuki Mutou. Pablo Uchida, Shigeki Kuhara, and Naoyuki Onda serve as the character designers for the films. Hiroyuki Sawano returns from Mobile Suit Gundam entries Unicorn and Narrative as music composer, with rock-band [Alexandros] performing its theme song “Senkou”. The films’ mechanical design team consists of Hajime Katoki, Kimitoshi Yamane, Nobuhiko Genba, and Seiichi Nakatani.
Following the 15 minute Mobile Suit Gundam Hathaway’s Flash preview on Gundam Channel, it was announced the Blu-ray for the film will be released simultaneously at all participating theaters in Japan. The upcoming Gundam film will have standard and limited edition versions priced at 5,000 yen and 12,000 yen respectively.