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How Mobile Suit Gundam: Cucuruz Doan's Island Will Be Updated To Match The Series' Later Entries

Fall has brought the usual excitement over the promise of ghoulish costumes, and things hit with hints of pumpkin spice. But for "Gundam" fans, the entry point into autumn has also hit with many welcome additions to the franchise. "Gundam: The Witch From Mercury" recently started airing, already making anime history with its debut by introducing the first female protagonist in the "Mobile Suit Gundam" franchise. The series is another dive into a different alternate timeline, but Universal Century diehards were not left in the cold. "Mobile Suit Gundam: Cucuruz Doan's Island" finally premiered in the west, bringing fans another tale focused on the "One Year War."

"Cucuruz Doan's Island" initially started as a semi-lost episode from the original "Mobile Suit Gundam" anime before transforming into a full-fledged movie. With such strong ties to the original anime, "Cucuruz Doan's Island" feels like a return to the classic series and is full of many callbacks. Its nostalgic relations might seem like this could make the tone of "Cucuruz Doan's Island" more of an outlier compared to modern "Gundam" projects set in the UC, like "Mobile Suit Gundam: Thunderbolt," but surprisingly, there is one significant way that the plot of "Cucuruz Doan's Island" is updated enough to match the series' later entries.

The expanded plot gives a deeper look at Gundam's core theme

To the casual observer, "Gundam" probably looks like a neat series about giant robots. But the central theme of "Gundam" depicts the terrible ramifications of war. Of course, the original "Mobile Suit Gundam" anime rode with this theme at its heart, but its depictions, as heart-wrenching as some episodes could get, never felt as brutal as later entries. A significant part of this is simply due to production limitations. As "Mobile Suit Gundam" original animator Yoshikazu Yasuhiko noted in the NHK "Making Gundam" documentary (via YouTube), as ambitious as the storyboards were for "Mobile Suit Gundam," the staff had to cut back and only focus on key scenes. And in an interview with Forbes, Yasuhiko noted that the story elements in "Mobile Suit Gundam" were not at their absolute best.

Fortunately, the original anime episode "Cucuruz Doan's Island" has gotten the updated treatment just like its modern siblings. The movie expands the plot of the initial episode and digs deeper into the original anime's themes, much like current entries. Whether through scenes featuring the numerous war orphans or Amuro's heartbreaking flashback of his mother, we get the chance to witness just how terrible war within the "Mobile Suit Gundam" universe can be in this film. Yasuhiko may be the one to thank, as he's been expanding and amending the original plot of "Mobile Suit Gundam" since 2001 with his work on the "Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin" manga (via Forbes). Although it never gets as dark as a movie like "Mobile Suit Gundam: Hathaway," it's clear that "Cucuruz Doan's Island" received a level of maturity that feels more in line with the franchise's latest.

It didn't take long for Gundam to become so dark

Modern entries like "Mobile Suit Gundam: Thunderbolt" and "Mobile Suit Gundam: Hathaway" are pretty dark compared to the first anime series. And "Mobile Suit Gundam: Cucuruz Doan's Island" ends on such an uplifting note that we almost forget that "Gundam" is often grim. In terms of darkness, to fans, the "Gundam" franchise has been dreadfully marching in the shadows as far back as its second main series. On Reddit, while discussing the darkest "Gundam" project, many fans thought of "Mobile Suit Gundam: Zeta" as the darkest. The first anime never claimed to be a beacon of lightheartedness, but as one fan commented about its follow-up, "Zeta" is particularly tragic with the fate of its protagonist Kamille Bidan.

"Zeta is the darkest," u/Cat_in_a_suit posted. "It doesn't have the most gore or death, I don't think, that honor goes to 'Iron-Blooded Orphans,' but Zeta is amazing at showing the horrors of war and how it affects the mental state of a young kid."

Throughout "Zeta," teenage Kamille develops into a skilled soldier, but after seeing various deaths, he's left emotionally broken and wondering about the point of the war. Speaking of character deaths within "Gundam," fans had another contender for the darkest "Gundam" because of its terrible body count. "Mobile Suit Victory Gundam" is infamous among many fans for relentlessly killing off characters left and right. U/Uden10 put it best when they wrote "'Victory Gundam,' despite its uplifting theme song and borderline-child protagonist [is the darkest]. People get picked off like flies in there." For those that will have "Cucuruz Doan's Island" as their introduction to "Gundam," proceed with caution: there's a lot from the franchise that isn't for the faint of heart.