Number of Episodes: 13
Genre: Science Fiction / Mecha
Date of Review: June 26, 2017
The One Year War has been over for a few years now, but Zeon remnants still present a threat. A powerful Zeon admiral invokes Operation Stardust, a daring plan that involves stealing a new nuclear missile-equipped Gundam. Federation test pilot Kou Uraki will have to risk everything he holds dear in order to stop a legendary enemy ace!
Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory was one of the first Universal Century OVAs that helped fill the gaps between the regular series. Our hero is Kou Uraki, a relatively rare example of a Gundam pilot with a positive attitude. He’s also not someone just thrown into a conflict by chance, as he’s already a military officer and test pilot. This was not a common occurrence back in 1991 when Stardust Memory was released, and it’s no less refreshing now. Kou and his pal Chuck Keith serving at Torrington Base and on the warship Albion really showcases the camaraderie among the Federation soldiers and pilots, even when transfers from other ships and bases amp up the rivalry.
Kou’s love interest Nina Purpleton is a scourge of the fandom, it seems. During my rewatch of Stardust Memory, I didn’t understand the hate for Nina…until the last few episodes. Yeah, she gets pretty annoying there, but look on the bright side: she’s definitely no Quess. Besides, Nina’s friend Mora Boscht easily makes up for it, as she’s one of the best female characters in the Gundam universe. You can’t help but cheer when she belts a lascivious flyboy right in the jaw.
On the other side, within our Zeon remnants, we’ve got Anavel Gato. The infamous “Nightmare of Solomon” is one of the Gundam saga’s greatest villains; he may not be the mastermind of wicked schemes, or a genocidal maniac, or any other kind of evil stereotype, but he’s just an arrogant expert pilot that makes him the perfect foil to Uraki. Naturally, Gato’s not the only bad egg hanging around; you’ve got his commanding officer, the disgraced Admiral Aiguille Delaz, as well as Cima Garahau, the conniving master of her own leftover fleet. Expect plenty of doubledealing and betrayals when all of these folks attempt to work together!
But what about the Federation’s Gundam Development Project? That’s where the wonderful mecha of Stardust Memory come in. Leading the pack are the experimental Gundams designated “Unit One” and “Unit Two;” that second one carries a nuke, and its subsequent theft by Gato sets off the whole story. (The suits’ full names are RX-78GP01 Gundam “Zephyranthes” and RX-78GP02A Gundam “Physalis.” Now you see why people just say “Unit [insert number here].”) The Gundam designs are simple yet striking, and the two primary units couldn’t be more different from one another. The many battles between the two quickly become the stuff on legend; furthermore, Unit One is later upgraded for space combat, and Kou also gets to pilot Unit Three towards the end. (Even more Gundams, the GP00 and GP04G, are mentioned in supplementary materials. The latter showed up in Gundam Evolve, and was later released as a model kit.) There’s plenty of grunt suits to go around, too, like upgraded GMs and such. These new designs fit the aesthetic of Stardust Memory as well as looking like a perfect naturally progression of machines from the One Year War.
As is par for the course for a Gundam OVA, Stardust Memory is a showcase of stellar animation. The mechanical designs look amazing in motion, and neither ground nor space battles are given any slight. Character animation is great, too, accurately portraying the intense emotion that comes part and parcel with a tale of war and betrayal. Finally, the music sounds a bit too synthesized and artificial at times, but it’s not much of a distraction. The compositions fit the show well.
The recent domestic Blu-ray release really makes Stardust Memory pop, plus it includes the compilation film Afterglow of Zeon, plus two Mayfly of Space animation shorts giving more background to Cima. Despite Stardust Memory‘s bittersweet yet ominous ending (as it helps set up the events of Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam), this OVA is a fine ddition to the Gundam saga, with thrilling animation and and a great story that’s worth enjoying.