Mobile Suit Gundam Thunderbolt Graphic Novel Volume 13 cover image
Rated “T+” for “Older Teen”
Mobile Suit Gundam Thunderbolt is a science fiction manga set in the classic anime universe of Mobile Suit Gundam. It apparently takes place simultaneously with the events depicted in the original “Mobile Suit Gundam” anime. Created by mangaka Yasuo Ohtagaki, this manga focuses on two rival mobile suit (MS) pilots, Io Fleming of the Earth Federation and Chief Petty Officer Daryl Lorenz of the Principality of Zeon, each bent on destroying the other.
As Mobile Suit Gundam Thunderbolt, Vol. 13 (Chapters 106 to 114) opens, the Federation launches full-scale operations against the Nanyang Alliance's base in the Taal volcano. The plan is to destroy the Psycho Zaku manufacturing facility. Io Fleming leads the “Trust Squadron” into the base, but if they have to, the Alliance will resist with all its might.
Meanwhile, Alliance leader, Sojo Levan Fu, “meets” with Federation leader, Director Monica Humphrey. Daryl Lorenz and his squadron mates lead a rearguard action while the rest of the Alliance forces evacuate. The fate of humanity hangs in the balance as two rival pilots, Fleming and Lorenz, head towards their latest confrontation.
THE LOWDOWN: The Mobile Suit Gundam Thunderbolt manga is a powerful mecha battle manga. I enjoy it although I have very little experience with the Mobile Suit Gundam franchise, but I don't need to in order to fully enjoy this fantastic science fiction war comic book.
Mobile Suit Gundam Thunderbolt Graphic Novel Volume 13 opens with a surprise announcement, a “dear reader” note from writer-artist Yasuo Ohtagaki. [Japanese readers saw this note in 2019, when Vol. 13 was released there]. He informs readers that beginning with Chapter 109, the fourth chapter in Vol. 13, his art style changes. Apparently, Ohtagaki's drawing hand (his left hand) has tenosynovitis, an inflammation of the sheath that surrounds a tendon. This makes it difficult for him to draw the way he normally does, which is in a fairly, highly detailed style. Ohtagaki says that the combination of the ailment and his age, as he was born in 1967, means that he has to make a change in order to continue to produce manga.
For the most part, the change in Ohtagaki's style is most evident in crowd scenes involving people and also Gundams and mecha. When he has to draw multiple people or machines, Ohtagaki draws them in a manner than is similar to sketching, both impressionistic and representational. Otherwise, there is a little change. Mobile Suit Gundam Thunderbolt remains a slam-bang read.
I READS YOU RECOMMENDS: Readers looking for classic mecha manga will want the “VIZ Signature” title, Mobile Suit Gundam Thunderbolt.