This post contains extreme spoilers. You have been warned
I’m doing my recap of all the Gundam movies I watched on Youtube in order, which means we have to start with Part 1 of Gundam Thunderbolt
Gundam Thunderbolt: December Sky is quite beloved by fans. I can understand why. It’s beautifully animated, with some of the best looking mobile suit fights I’ve ever seen. It’s (mainly, but not exclusively) jazz-driven soundtrack is the kind of thing you can either genuinely appreciate, or at least pretend to appreciate in order to look smart.
Most importantly (in the sense that it’s key to understanding its popularity), December Sky wallows in the kind “#wellactually both sides were wrong” whataboutist BS that is increasingly (and disturbingly) common in modern Gundam stories. And it does so by being excessively dark and edgy in the name of highlighting the horrors of war (which, I imagine, is also part of the appeal).
So I understand why it is popular, but that doesn’t mean I think it’s good. Yes, the animation is good. Yes the music works (the chaos of improv jazz really does match the chaos of the Thunderbolt sector, a region place where the remnants of destroyed colonies crackle with lightning). But as a story, this one falls flat.