Mobile Suit Crossbone Gundam

Type: Manga
Volume Count: 6
Genre: Science Fiction / Mecha
Vintage: 1994-1997
Date of Review: December 8, 2014

Exchange student Tobia Arronax is looking forward to continuing his studies on the way to Jupiter, when suddenly…space pirates attack! He finds that his ship was actually smuggling weapons, and is later saved by the pirates themselves. They’re the legendary Crossbone Vanguard, and now they’re fighting the forces of the evil Crux Dogatie and his Jupiter Empire. Now Tobia must join the battle to save Earth from invasion!

After so many Gundam anime series reviews, let’s detour into the manga realm for a bit. Mobile Suit Crossbone Gundam fulfills a very important role: it’s a proper sequel to Mobile Suit Gundam F91. That story finally has its world fleshed out more, and many of F91‘s characters are still around for Crossbone, which takes place ten years later. Berah Ronah returns as the leader of the Crossbone Vanguard, Zabine Chareux is one of her top pilots, and as for fellow ace Kincade Nau…well, it’s pretty obvious what his true identity is. Add in some great new characters like Tobia, Umon Samon, and Bernadette Briett, and you’ve got a memorable cast all around. Tobia makes for a great protagonist, trodding the well-worn path of average joe to mobile suit pilot and hero. (And he gets to operate a giant pirate robot. Who wouldn’t want that?)

Yuichi Hasegawa’s dynamic artwork is a perfect match for Gundam, as he’s equally talented when it comes to both character illustration and mechanical detail. The Crossbone Gundams are some of the coolest mobile suit designs in the entire franchise, while the Jupiter Empire’s mobile suits (as well as Dogatie himself) have a creepy cyberpunk vibe that reminds me of Masamune Shirow’s Ghost in the Shell and Appleseed. None of this feels out of left field, either, as you can clearly see the visual progression from F91. Our heroes (and villains) are also expertly rendered with a fluid, expressive style that manages to keep things appropriately serious or lighthearted as the situation demands; much like the first few Gundam anime series. Hasegawa’s style fits that classic look to a tee.

It may be “just” a manga rather than the usual Gundam anime, but Crossbone is a fantastic work in its own right. It’s a great sequel to F91, and it’s popular enough — and rightfully so — to have spawned sequels of its own. Even without its expansion into later stories, Crossbone is a solid tale that belongs on every Gundam fan’s reading list.

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