The Philippines is the location of the action in the next “Mobile Suit Gundam” animated film, a convergence that will be very welcome to the republic of “Gundam” fans in the country.
“Mobile Suit Gundam: Hathaway” will be released in Japan on July 23 by Bandai and animation studio Sunrise and is the latest installment in the canonical Universal Century continuity, where the Earth Federation Space Force (EFSF) is fighting a war against the spacenoids of the Republic of Zeon, or iterations thereof, with giant manned robots called Mobile Suits.
The first film will be set mostly in a future version of Davao—in the Gundam timeline of UC 105.
Directed by Shuko Murase, “Hathaway” is the first of a film trilogy based on “Mobile Suit Gundam: Hathaway’s Flash,” a line of light novels written by “Gundam” creator Yoshiyuki Tomino that ran in the Kadokawa Shoken manga from 1989 to 1990.
In the first part of “Hathaway’s Flash,” a shuttle carrying Federation officials is hijacked by alleged terrorist from the Mufti organization, but are repelled by passenger Hathaway Noa and Federation officer Kenneth Sleg.
The damaged plane has to land in the Federation base in Davao, Sleg’s destination as he is set to take over the mobile suit unit there.
Sleg doesn’t realize that the man his task force is tasked to hunt down—the mysterious Mufti Mabiyy Erin—is Hathaway. This is further complicated by the fact that Hathaway is the son of Bright Noa, one of the most noble characters in the original “Mobile Suit Gundam” from 1979.
This is the beginning of a series of heavy metal battles, covert operations and personal conflicts. The show will also feature very stylized mecha designs from “Hades Project Zeorymer’s” Moriki Yasuhiro.
Philippines on the main stage
In a recent fan event celebrating the franchise’s 40th anniversary, “Hathaway” producer Naohiro Ogata talked about scouting the location.
“The first episode is about Davao in the Philippines as the main stage, so I went to location hunting and took a lot of VTRs and photos with the directors. I sometimes found out when I went. Tomino said he did not go when he wrote, he said he did not go to Hong Kong (for 1985 series ‘Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam’), and based on a travel book I saw at the National Library for ‘Hathaway.’ Famous places come out, but the shore where I walked is far away, so I have to go to the locals to understand the geographical relationship,” he said in a streamed interview translated by Gigazine.net.
The teaser trailer for “Hathaway” has just dropped on YouTube.
This is not the only canonical “Gundam” setting in the Philippines. In the manga series “Mobile Suit Gundam: Thunderbolt,” by Yasuo Ohtagaki, set in the One Year War of UC 0079, EFSF forces chasing the militant Buddhist cult South Seas Alliance find out they have to stage a full-on attack on the Alliance’s fortified base—deep inside the Taal volcano base, where they are building the dangerous new Psycho Zaku.
Ohtagaki’s detailed art clearly reflects an accurate understanding of the location’s topography, though modified for story purposes.
“Thunderbolt” has been adapted by Bandai and Sunrise into a series of streamed anime episodes over two seasons from 2015 to 2017. The Taal scenes were in the manga’s volume 11 and theoretically would have been in season 3, but the manga is still ongoing (currently at volume 13) and as there is not enough story for another four-episode season, there has been no next season announced thus far.