Char Aznable was presumed dead after his defeat at Axis during the Second Neo Zeon war, in U.C. 0093. He and his opponent, the Federation ace pilot Amuro Ray, had disappeared during a wave of mysterious light, a psychoframe resonance called “Axis Shock”, after the asteroid Axis, which the light seemed to deflect. After the light faded, Amuro and Char could not be found.
Three years later, a man presenting himself as the inheritor of Char’s legacy took command of (or perhaps created) the “Sleeves” faction of Neo Zeon remnants. This leader of the Sleeves began a campaign to further Spacenoid independence from the Federation, and he was called Full Frontal.
The Sleeves forces were not of a unified ideology, but all chose to serve under Full Frontal. Early in the events of the Third Neo Zeon War, Lieutenant Angelo Sauper muses over the breakup of the Zeonic forces after the Second Neo Zeon War, Char’s disappearance, the desertion of many former Zeon soldiers, and the return of those soldiers after the appearance of the so-called “second coming of Char”.
After an intense battle, the Neo Zeon army retreated in defeat, and the commander-in-chief Char disappeared as well, but such a closure made it hard to actually decide the winner. Londo Bell, which was the frontline of the Federation, took a devastating blow, letting the Neo Zeon fleet . After spacing into the Shoal Space region, they had an idea of using the remaining forces to launch special attacks, but after having lost their spiritual leader in Char, the Neo Zeon army was basically divided. At least half of the survivors scattered, and the fleet that became an empty space stayed in an asteroid full of resources that was basically a wasteland to catch their breaths, waiting for their annihilation—until that man called “The Second Coming of Char” appeared again, prompting Neo Zeon to rise again for the third time.
It had been 2 years
after that. The “Rewloola” regained the life it had back then, and right now, the revived Neo Zeon army that was derogatory called “Sleeves” started to make use of its capabilities as a flagship. Including the Captain, most of the members were new, but there were still some deserters amongst the NCOs. Angelo felt there would not be an end to this if he was to pursue this, and he had no intent of doing so as well.
These activists included people who once escaped and yet came back after knowing that Neo Zeon was coming back, people of the Deikum sect and the Zabi sect who had been arguing against each other and started fighting over the basic ideologies as well. Angelo felt that they were all existences that could not be replaced.
What the revived Neo Zeon army needs were the passion of young people and young blood. Only the young who will not dwell in their past defeats and focus all their efforts on revolution could became the core of the organization. That man had admitted this as well. That man who had the innate nobility and talent to lead us from birth intend to fulfill the ideas of Zeon and the real independence of Spacenoids. The pain and loneliness of Mankind that’s bestowed to the world was ultimately not what the vast number of vulgar people could understand.
Volume 3, Chapter 2, Part 4 of the Baka-Tsuki translation of Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn available on The Internet Archive, with my own
deletionand edits marked.
Full Frontal served as a figurehead, mascot, and leader, uniting disparate factions of Zeon Remnant forces into the Sleeves. And all of that despite apparent differences in Zeonist doctrine between the factions.
How did he do it? He didn’t emphasize the mystic Earth-worship or Newtype Theory, instead focusing on realpolitik. When he first meets Banagher Links, pilot of the Unicorn Gundam, in the Sleeves’ offices in the asteroid Palau, Full Frontal describes the ornate decorations of his office in Palau thusly:
Despite looking antique, it had no semblance to past designs. Banagher was overwhelmed by this scene that could only be described as Zeonism as he remained stunned. The Vist family too had an antique feel, but it was different. If the Vist family’s scene could be described as being based on luxury, this would give goosebumps while looking like it was meant to intimidate others. It looked to be an expression of culture by the people sent from Earth to the furthest Side, made after they got over their self-defeat—as they lost the Republic, they could only live in the dusty-smelling depths of the caves, a sand habitat that was like a flash in the pan. Banagher did not feel fear or uneasy, just weird as he stared at the anomaly sitting right in front of him.
That man was wearing a red uniform, wearing a mask as he faced Banagher. Is he a human? This was the first impression Banagher had. He could not detect any sense of life from that man, not just from the mask covering his eyes, but also the vibe that he was artificially created. He stared at the masked man who sat on the mahogany-made office table, and seriously thought that it might really be part of the decorations in the room. However, that man said “I admit, this is not in good taste.”, shocking
“The superintendent of this Palau is a supporter of the old Zeon republic. Our army did not request anything from him when we regrouped, but he built this command post. It’s said that he replicated the interior decorations final base of the old republic army—A Baoa Qu.”
It was hard to tell if it was the mask talking in front of Banagher, as that was a slightly chilly voice. The masked man continued as he stared at the silent Banagher, “You have to accept other people’s kind intentions honestly.
“Although it doesn’t actually fit my tastes, I think it is also one of the required qualities of a leader.”
Volume 4, Chapter 1, Part 5 of the Baka-Tsuki translation of Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn available on The Internet Archive, with my own
deletionand edits marked.
Banagher’s first in-person meeting with Full Frontal, ace pilot and leader of what Banagher knows as the terrorist Sleeves faction, begins with this dread apparition saying, paraphrased, “Yeah, someone gave us all these fancy uniforms and ornate Zeonist architecture for free. I don’t like them, but it’s my job as leader of this group to graciously accept and use them, because that is what is expected of me.”
Full Frontal at this time does not really define himself; he allows others to define him and his role and his ideology. As he later puts it, he is an “empty vessel” into which Char was poured. In the same chapter, he says of the mask he wears, “This might be considered part of a fashion statement. I might say it can be considered a method of propaganda.” Char wore a mask, so Full Frontal does as well. His image is shaped by what is expected of him, and he crafts those expectations by shaping his image. It’s a brilliant public relations ploy, and it serves to hide the differences between Char Aznable and Full Frontal.
The conversation continues, with Full Frontal describing to a seated Banagher his view of the history of the Zeonist movement:
“This isn’t something that can be understood by memorizing a timeline. From the way you explain things, you should know that Spacenoids were once part of the civilian abandonment plan, right?”
“In the past, Zeon Deikun once said that only those people who came to space could head for innovation. This meant that humanity got used to its environment and evolved…Newtypes. To the bureaucrats who sending the leftover population to space and remained on Earth, this thinking itself basically toppled their standpoint. That’s why they suppressed Zeonism and Side 3 that was promoting it. This is an example of what you say can cause the world to topple.”
In the end, Zeon was assassinated, and the Zabi family rose up from it to build the Republic of Zeon. They chose to fight back the Federation government’s suppression with force. The ‘inventions’ of mobile suits and colony drop fighting was the result of the power given to Zeon Republic to match the Federation. Humanity lost half its population, but it could be seen as a deliberate reduction in population Gihren Zabi planned when he used racism to replace Zeonism.
Everyone knew right now that Zeon was killed by the Zabi family’s treachery. The Zeon Republic had such a crime, and after a year’s war, it fell defeated. However, this helped the Federation’s call, causing the Earth Central Administration to expand every day. The people who step into space would not be allowed back on Earth without the government’s permission. Despite each Side’s autonomous rule being recognized, the authority of the leaders were still held by the Central government. Spacenoids had basically no right to take part in politics when they could not elect the Senate Council. During this time, Earth continued to develop again under the name of recovering from the war, and 2 billion residents lived on space produce and food. In the end, the tens of billions of Spacenoids who were forced to migrate in order to let Earth recover naturally were still accomplices in destroying Earth.”
“Our Neo Zeon do have believers in the Zabi family’s customs. Some believed in Zeon Deikun’s ideals, and dreamed of building a real Republic of Zeon. However, their common goal is to change this twisted system. To break the shackle of the Federation, to fulfill self-autonomy for Spacenoids, we should—“
Volume 4, Chapter 1, Part 5 of the Baka-Tsuki translation of Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn available on The Internet Archive, with my own
deletionand edits marked.
Banagher interrupts with an objection to colony drops and terrorist attacks, on the grounds that killing people is wrong, but let’s summarize Full Frontal’s speech:
Therefore, Full Frontal claims that the time for Spacenoid independence has come again, and he shall be a proxy for the needs of those Spacenoids. As Banagher is escorted away, he asks Full Frontal whether Full Frontal is Char, who led the previous Neo Zeon movement.
Even Banagher himself was not sure why he asked such a thing. However, his thought of deciding things based on the response had not changed as he stared at Frontal who already had his mask on. Frontal focused his stare on the lone flower on the table,
“The me now stipulates myself as a vessel.”
“This vessel here is used to carry the thoughts of the people who were abandoned into space, and inherit the grand wish of those who inherit Zeonism. If they hope for it, I’ll become Char Aznable. This mask exists for that.”
Volume 4, Chapter 1, Part 5 of the Baka-Tsuki translation of Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn available on The Internet Archive, with my own
deletionand edits marked.
What does he mean by “vessel”? Shortly afterwards, Full Frontal has a conversation with that same “superintendent” of Palau, who indirectly inquires whether Full Frontal is in fact Char Aznable, Casval Rem Deikun, and whether Full Frontal ever plans to take off his mask. Full Frontal replies, “Char Aznable is a man who lost. And he’s a dead man. The reason why I put on this mask is because I know that death made Char’s name a legend. Thus, I'm just playing a role. I have no interest in whether he’s alive or not.”
The sponsor again inquires whether Full Frontal will take off the mask; Full Frontal replies, “I don’t feel there’s a need to do so.”
The superintendent is disappointed; he had hoped that his monetary investment in the Sleeves would buy him access to Mineva Zabi and Char. He had worries about the return on his investment and his exposure to Federation retaliation upon the Sleeves. Full Frontal replies that the Sleeves had no intention of involving him in war; the Sleeves were leaving Palau. The sponsor is taken aback; he was not expecting that reply. For the Sleeves to leave Palau would be to leave their home and sponsor behind. Full Frontal doesn’t care; he is riding the wishes of “the people”, who want him to act.
And what do those people who were abandoned into space, who inherit Zeonism, wish their vessel to do?
The first action of the Sleeves that the reader/viewer sees is a mission in UC 0096 to retrieve the artifact known as Laplace’s Box, which would undermine the legitimacy of the Earth Federation government. They succeed in retrieving the Unicorn Gundam, with the Laplace Program, which will lead them to Laplace’s Box.
Why does Full Frontal want Laplace’s Box? I wrote earlier that he focuses on realpolitik, on pragmatism, on getting things done. He knows that Laplace’s Box will give him leverage over the Federation. How or why will it give him leverage over the Federation? That’s less certain.
A clue to Full Frontal’s conception of the Federation comes in this next passage, when Full Frontal watches Banagher Links fight Marida Cruz, a Newtype, outside Palau. Banagher Links is in the pilot seat of the Unicorn Gundam, but the Unicorn displays a capability of fighting that takes the other watchers by surprise. Not so Full Frontal.
“That lone-horned will detect the thought waves of the enemy, while the ‘Gundam’ would be in charge of destroying it. What we see is an interface that uses the Psycoframe to carry out cadence that far exceeds human limits, and also, a hunting machine that’s equipped with the ability to control enemy Psycommu weapons. This Program was created to exterminate the last, greatest fable Zeon left behind: Newtypes.”
“This is too ridiculous … it’s impossible for normal humans to pilot such a machine,”
“That’s right. The pilot has to be enhanced. This isn’t a machine a Newtype created by artificial means can pilot, but that a real enhanced being can do.”
The deliberate voice caused Zinnerman, who realized what was going on, to give a tense look on his face, “I see. So it’s a product of technology used to purge Newtypes. In that case….”
“It can bury the fable of Zeon completely.” Frontal followed up and continued, “They wanted to dissolve the Zeon Republic and the Newtype fable together with the 100 year anniversary, and use this to wipe off the nightmare called Zeon completely. As habit, they call this the UC plan.”
UC was an abbreviation of Unicorn, and also, it signified the Universal Century itself. The nightmare that caused the first 100 years to be stained in blood called Zeon shook the foundation of the Universal Century from its base, so they had to remove this nightmare before they welcomed the next hundred years. The theory of evolution human kind would have after entering space was just a fantasy, and the so-called Newtypes were just monsters with ridiculous amounts of fighting abilities. The sayings that Newtype perceptions were outstanding were just rhetorics, and they could overpower it through the power of science and technology. To prove this, a Gundam-type mobile suit would be most fitting. It was a symbolic existence of the Federation, and up till this point, the ‘Gundam’ was a machine that could not be separated from the Newtype fable. Mobile suits with ‘Gundam’ appearances were being mass-produced as part of the Federation army’s realignment, and the power of science alone would be enough to exterminate the monsters. There was no method that was more effective than this political propaganda if they wanted to erase the ‘Newtype’ theory. They would imitate their forefathers who single-handedly built the Federation organization, and this would be the time to take great strides and push for massive changes, all in the name of making sure that Earth would be at peace at the Universal Century’s 100 year anniversary-
Volume 4, Chapter 3, Part 15 of the Baka-Tsuki translation of Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn available on The Internet Archive, with my own non-punctuation
deletionand edits marked.
Full Frontal believes that the Earth Federation believes that Newtype Theory is inextricably linked with Zeon Zum Deikun’s other ideas. If the Earth Federation seeks to eliminate rebellion, they must eliminate not only the rebels and the separatist facets of Zeonism, but also the facets of Zeonism that make falsifiable statements about the evolution of humanity in space, because the truth of Newtype Theory lends credence to the other aspects of Zeonism. Thus, Full Frontal believes that the Earth Federation intends to eliminate Newtypes.
I can’t shake the thought from my head that Full Frontal only believes in the separatist aspects of Zeonism. He’ll use the Federations’ fear of Newtypes against them, but I’m not certain that he himself believes in it.
The Sleeves capture the Federation spaceship Nahel Argama.
During a period of heightened tensions between the crew and the Sleeves, the Argama’s captain asks Full Frontal what his goal is. At Princess Mineva Zabi’s insistence, Full Frontal explains to the captain and crew of the Nahel Argama his philosophy.
Full Frontal: What we Spacenoids desire, first and foremost, is the establishment of our right to self-rule. The Federation will never consent to this. They know that the instant they do, the roles of master and servant would be reversed. The reason is obvious.
At present, life in the Earth Sphere depends on the existence of the seven Sides and the Moon, including energy production, food production, economic activity itself. The fact is that on its own, the planet Earth is no longer even capable of feeding 2 billion Earthnoid mouths.
Spacenoids, on the other hand, could easily support themselves if they were to sever ties with Earth. Zeon Deikun should have used this fact as a weapon.
However, while he may have been a great philosopher, a politician he was not. Whether it’s the Zabi family twisting Zeon’s ideals and exploiting them in a war for independence or the two Neo Zeon wars, it all boils down to the same thing.
Until we abandon the goal of forcing them to formally acknowledge us, there will be no victory in our battle against the Federation. We will strengthen the ties between the Moon and seven Sides and create an economic zone that excludes the Earth at its center. That is to say, we found the Side Co-Prosperity Sphere. If all the Sides enter into an economic partnership and boycott Earth, it will wither away into a backwater with no economic value whatsoever. The Federation Government probably won’t be able to survive, either. The only entity capable of acting as mediator for this is the Republic of Zeon.
Although it may be a Federation puppet, a certain degree of autonomy has been granted to it. The problem is that it is set to relinquish its autonomy to the Federation in four short years. If the Republic reverts back to Side 3 and is no longer permitted to act as anything beyond a local government, we will never move toward the Side Co-Prosperity Sphere.
Princess Mineva Zabi: And it was at that crucial juncture that the proposal came from the Vist Foundation to turn over Laplace’s Box.
Full Frontal: Yes. Although I doubt that Cardeas Vist was aware of our plans, judging from the timing of the offer, I suspect that he hated the idea that the Federation order would become more entrenched when the Republic was dissolved.
It is common knowledge that, with the dissolution of the Republic, the Federation intends to eradicate Zeon. As is embodied by the Unicorn Gundam, a device designed to destroy the Newtype myth.
Mineva: So, what you hope to gain by obtaining the Box is time. By threatening the Federation and postponing the Republic's dissolution, you gain time to create this Side Co-Prosperity Sphere of yours.
Full Frontal: That sums it up admirably.
Mineva: Now that I hear it, it all seems so petty. You want to create this Side Co-Prosperity Sphere and leave out the Federation. Rather than demanding change from those who refuse it, you will imply ignore them. That is far removed from the ideals of Zeon Deikun, who dreamed of reforming humanity.
And worlds apart from the madness, the passion, of Char, who tried to render Earth uninhabitable and bring all humanity into space. Are you sure this is what you really want? If this Side Co-Prosperity Sphere of yours comes to pass, the Earthnoids will probably speed up the redevelopment of Earth. In order to support an economy of their own. It would be a return to the old A.D. calendar days.
The new generation that will grow up in poverty might even plot to retaliate against the Spacenoids. Just like when Zeon started the One Year War. There will be no harmony or reform, only the strong and weak endlessly trading places into the future.
Is that what a man who decided to reveal himself to the world again really wants?
Full Frontal: I can imagine how you must feel, Highness. It is not a matter of right or wrong. It is simply the way of the world. A vessel does not think. It simply acts in accordance with the collective will it has been filled with, in order to ensure humanity’s continued survival.
Banagher Links (Pilot of the Unicorn Gundam): You talk like it doesn’t affect you. Even though you’re talking about your own people’s future, what you’re saying sounds cold and detached, like it doesn’t involve you.
That light that enveloped the Unicorn Gundam… it was warm. Like it was the combined feelings of everyone I know. If that kind of possibility is inside humans, then….
Full Frontal: I’ve seen that same light before. A light that was even larger. A light that may have been the result of the subconscious of every human in the Earth Sphere being gathered via the psycho-frame and converted into kinetic energy. A psycho-field that deflected the asteroid Axis.
And yet, even when confronted with possibility of such magnitude, people did not change. To maintain the status quo, they will sweep even possibility under the rug. It is what humans do. All we can do is hope to find peace and stability within our reality. You should be aware that this “possibility” of yours has been known to be a poison that causes wars.
Mineva Zabi: The Char Aznable that I knew truly is dead, isn’t he?
— Full Frontal’s address aboard the Nahal Argama, Mobile Suit Unicorn Gundam RE:0096 episode 16, GundamInfo English subtitles, 12:55.
The Char Aznable that Mineva speaks of here is the Char Aznable of the Second Neo Zeon War, (Char’s Counterattack), where Char’s Neo Zeon tried to crash the nuclear-bomb-laden asteroid Axis into Earth. Char’s apparent goal was to destroy the power of the Earth Federation and subdue it, while pressuring people to emigrate from a shattered Earth for a new life in the offworld colonies.
A slightly different version of this speech is given in the novelization of Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn:
Full Frontal: The Space Migrant Independence Plan up till this point is determined by the Federation’s willingness to grant self-governance. Without looking at the example of the One Year War, we can be certain that the Federation will definitely not agree with this. Then, there’s no need to wait for their approval. It is my opinion that we ignore them.
Besides me, Defense Minister Monaghan Baharov of the Republic too has the same idea. Why will the Federation not agree to the independence of Spacenoids? It’s because Spacenoids are people who are abandoned in space. They feel that those are the descendents of those people who aren’t needed to Earth, people who are inferior to them. The people inferior to them are calling for their independence, wanting to be of equal standing to them, and selfishly insist that staying on Earth is a crime. The Federation government comprised of Earthnoids will naturally not agree to such insistences because they knew that once they accept it, Spacenoids would not simply be of equal standing, but may even lose the initiative.
The reason is simple. The current Earth Celestial Sphere can’t be established without Spacenoids. Energy, food, all economic activity is established by the 7 Sides and the Moon. In fact, the self-reliance can’t support the 2 billion Earthnoids. In contrast, Spacenoids are self-sufficient even if they break away from Earth.
The Federation will limit the authority the Spacenoids have and establish their authorities over the Side leaders, probably because they’re afraid of this truth. If all the Sides unite with each other, Earth will become a countryside that is without economic value. It will become a city with the shell of the Central Government, one without any sense of trustworthiness, a king going about naked. Zeon Deikun probably used this fact as a weapon. Once all the Sides unite together, establish an economic agreement, and exclude Earth, the Federation government will have no standing. He however was an outstanding thinker, and not a politician. The Zabi family is the same, twisting Zeonism and started a war of independence because of this. They never thought of the premise that the Federation had to recognize their independence, and can only use force to challenge.
It’s the same for the two Neo Zeon Wars. As long as we don’t give up on making others recognize our existence, there will be no day of victory in our battle against the Federation. The Spacenoids has a huge weapon in that it supports the Earth Celestial Sphere’s economy. The reason why the Federation deliberately lets us “Sleeves” escape is because they need us to keep the gear called the military requirement running, and this is proof that the Earth economy alone is insufficient.
We’ll strengthen the relationship of the Moon and the 7 Sides, and fully exclude the center, forming a donut-shaped economic ring, a co-prosperity ring built around the Sides. As long as we don’t ask for self-independence, the Federation will not pay too much attention to the interactions between the Spacenoids. With the lead of the enterprises, each Side will continue to build clauses and agreements that don’t seem to have any problems on first glance. After that, we’ll build a united ring with common diplomacy and security measures…
Of course, this isn’t something that can be accomplished in a day. Even if we aim to ally together, we need the existence of a leader.
Mineva: And this is where the Zeon Republic comes in…Monaghan Baharov, right?
Full Frontal: I don’t know if Minister Monaghan has any leadership qualities, but it was his proposal to have a Side co-prosperity ring, and only the Zeon Republic can form the basis of this. Perhaps quite a few people will feel repulsed by the name of Zeon, but Minister Baharov and I don’t care about it. The important thing is to create a united body that allows the Spacenoids to fight against the Federation. The entrepreneurs and investors who are unhappy about Earth’s squeezing system will most probably volunteer to assist once there is an opportunity.
The problem is that the Republic’s self-autonomy will have to be returned very soon. If it becomes the original Side 3 and is not allowed to have self-governance beyond its boundaries of author, the fad to create a co-prosperity ring amongst the Sides will not happen. Now, our problem here will be how to extend the deadline to this dissociation. At this moment, we received an invitation from the Vist Foundation, who wanted to hand the “Laplace Box” over to us…
I don’t think that Cardeas Vist knew of our plan. He probably proposed to hand over the “Box” at this time because he hated having the Federation system remain like this while the Republic dissolves. It is common knowledge that the Federation hopes to end Zeonism before that happens.
To us, it can be considered a blessing. This “Laplace Box” is said to be able to topple the Federation government…and if we can get it, we can ensure that the Federation will allow the Republic to coexist. If we ask for the revival of Zeon, the Federation may have no choice but to launch a full-scale war, but they may accept a request if we ask for a delay in the dissolving of the Republic. I thought it was worth a try, and wanted Zinnerman to head to the trading place, “Industrial 7”.
Mineva: I see. So that’s how it is. What you wanted to get from the "Box" is time, Captain. You want to buy time to delay the dissolution of the Republic and develop the Side co-prosperity ring.
Full Frontal: What you said is correct.
Mineva: Zinnerman, do you know of these?
Zinnerman: No, I know that the sponsor of the “Sleeves” is Monaghan Baharov of the Republic however.
Full Frontal: As I had explained, this is different from the old movements to revive Zeon. I was worried that a soldier like Lieutenant Zinnerman, who had been serving the Republic army wholeheartedly, would definitely refuse, so I withheld the important before that moment. I do apologize for that.
Zinnerman: There’s no need to apologize. Once I heard everything, I felt that it’s all a stupid plan.
Mineva: Am I wrong? A co-prosperity ring of the Sides that excludes the Federation…instead of wanting to change the people who do not want to change, you want to ignore them. This is too distant from the dream of human renewal Zeon Deikun had. It’s too realistic and not cute at all.
It so different from the madness Char had when he wanted to turn Earth into an inhabitable planet and pull humanity up into space…even the passion levels are so different. Is this really good for the man who calls himself the Second Coming of Char?
Once the Side co-prosperity ring happens, Earth will be isolated. The economic gap in space will increase, and like what it implies, the roles of ownership will reverse. In this case, Earth will have a replay of Anno Domini again. Earthnoids will quickly develop Earth again to support their economy. In this new era, those who grow up under poverty will try to plan revenge on Spacenoids; just like how Zeon started the One Year War.
There’s no reconciliation, no innovation, just a future that lets the strong fight the weak…do you really think this is good? Do you, a man who decided to stand in front of others again, feel that this—
Full Frontal: It’s not a question of good or bad any more, but that this is the world of humanity at work.
I said before that I limit myself as simply a vessel. A vessel won’t think, but will only act based on the consciousness humanity implants in it.
Mineva: … Is that so. So the Char Aznable I know of is truly dead.
Volume 8, Chapter 3, Parts 8-11 of the Baka-Tsuki translation of Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn available on The Internet Archive
I’ve only copied the content of Full Frontal’s speech above, because it’s interspersed among reactions from Federation, Garencieres, ECOAS, and Sleeves pepole. Listeners describe Full Frontal’s delivery as “magical”, “just like the real Char”, “nonchalant”, “overly calm”, “did not sound like a human”, “the voice of someone who would kill his subordinates without hesitation”, “cold”, “robotic and unrestrained”, “scarier than the prosperity of the Side Co-Prosperity Ring”. They use increasingly not-positive terms as Mineva untangles Full Frontal’s propaganda web. She, and many listeners, thought Full Frontal’s defense of Spacenoid independence was principled. Instead, he’s just going for what the world seems to want: independence by whatever means works.
He says as much to Captain Zinnerman, a few minutes later:
“I do apologize sincerely for hiding the Side co-prosperity ring from you.”
Frontal was seated at the sofa in front of Zinnerman, sounding as if he had realized what Zinnerman was thinking. The latter lifted his tired eyes.
“But I never thought of betraying the agreement to have Her Highness Mineva be the leader. I said that I don’t care about the name of Zeon, but the Zeon Republic is the only one that can be the leading country in the Side co-prosperity ring. Once we pave the path, we can make Her Highness be the leader. This is a huge position neither Minister Monaghan and I can take up.”
It was a fact that they agreed as a condition to view Mineva as the princess when Zinnerman affiliated himself with the “Sleeves”, but at this situation, he started to feel that it did not matter at all. Mineva was need to gathered the efforts of all the people related to the Principality, but she had no other value. It was the same whether she was involved in the Sid co-prosperity ring, but there was a role she could take up if there was a need. Zinnerman had no strength in hating Frontal for this implication and looked away from the masked face. “You’re not interested, right?” These words came in at this moment,
“That’s fine too. It’s because you’re like this that I let the Garencieres team act freely, Captain.”
“…What do you mean?”
“Since you were entrusted with the child, you naturally wanted to protect Her Highness, and you have the sense of responsibility to your own subordinates. But those are mere responsibilities; you never had any particular interest in reviving Zeon at all. You hated the Federation with a vengeance, but you know that this isn’t a grudge that can be cleared completely just by taking revenge.”
The eyes covered by the anti-glare filter did not seem to be reflecting light, and Frontal let his body rest on the sofa’s back.
“And thus, even if it was for a moment, you were on a Federation ship. But as time passed…no, from the moment you stepped aboard this ship, you felt that you couldn’t erase your hatred, and you did what you had to do.”
The hand reaching for the coffee was trembling. Frontal did not let Zinnerman’s eyes escape as the latter drank the cold coffee, and continued with a smile on his face,
“Activists succumb easily as they’re used to justifying themselves. However, for people like you, captain, who don’t harbor much hope in humanity and the world, it’s hardler for you to succumb because you aren’t fixed. Once you understand the innermost self within you, you’ll be the most reliable partner.”
The hands in white gloves closed up at the knees, and Frontal finished his words with an unchanging cold tone. There was no room to interject, and upon hearing this self-analysis even he could not explain, Zinnerman first showed a smile. But he did not have the courage to laugh it off; he looked into his barren inner heart while pretending that it had nothing to do with him, “You seem to be saying…that you’re the same type as well.” He answered with a hollow voice. Frontal still had a thin smile on his face, but did not answer back.
Volume 8, Chapter 3, Part 14 of the Baka-Tsuki translation of Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn available on The Internet Archive, with non-speech text removed
If we interpret this exchange as Zinnerman does, with Full Frontal revealing that he sees much of himself in Zinnerman, then we are led to believe that Full Frontal is motivated by a personal grudge against the Federation, not by Zeonist ideals. He will do what he does to take revenge against them, not because he believes in a better future.
This passage explains why Mineva remarks that the Char Aznable she once knew is truly dead: because Full Frontal lacks Char’s idealism. Char believed in something, and allowed that belief to inform his goals. Full Frontal does not believe. His pursuit of his goals is determined by rejection of the Federation, not by belief in the future that Zeon Zum Deikun preached.
The uneasy ceasefire between the crew of the Nahel Argama and the Sleeves lapses when a Federation patrol ship chances upon the Nahel Argama and the Zeonic ships escorting her.
In the anime’s telling of events, Captain Otto orders the Sleeves thrown off his ship. The ensuing conflict and confusion traps Banagher at gunpoint in Full Frontal’s arms. Full Frontal states that “only Zeon has the ability to use the Box to grant the abandoned Spacenoid people their long-cherished dream.” (Ep. 17, English dub). What would Banagher do with it, Full Frontal asks?
Banagher: There’s one thing I do know. I would use it for everyone, not just the Federation, not just for Zeon, space or Earth. I’d use Laplace’s Box for everyone!
Full Frontal: And what exactly do you mean by ‘everyone’? One man cannot be the voice for the wishes of the entire human race.
— Mobile Suit Unicorn Gundam RE:0096 episode 16, GundamInfo English dub, 13:45.
This is slightly ironic, as Full Frontal claims to be the voice for the wishes of the entire Spacenoid race.
Later, Full Frontal asks Banagher who he would give the Box to, if not Neo Zeon. Banagher says he’d use the Box for everyone, for all humanity.
Full Frontal: One man cannot be the voice for the wishes of all humanity. Not unless he becomes a vessel. But the only ones who can become vessels are those who have emptied themselves and passed through madness to emerge on the other side. That is no simple matter.
Still, you have talent. If you would truly become a vessel, come with me. You, who have been entrusted with your father’s dreams and been forced to undergo training, are a Cyber-Newtype of sorts. Now that you have exhibited the power of one, you can never go back to being part of that “everyone”. One day, you will run headlong into the same despair that I did.
— Mobile Suit Unicorn Gundam RE:0096 episode 17, GundamInfo English subtitles, 14:32.
This despair is the despair that Full Frontal claims Char’s spirit felt at seeing the defeat of Char’s plan to drop the asteroid Axis on Earth in Char’s Counterattack. Char’s plan, described previously in this history, was to eliminate Earth’s ability to wage war on Spacenoids, to make Earth almost uninhabitable, to drive huumanity into space. It was Char’s last plan, after many attempts to use less-drastic methods to change Earth’s government, after working from inside and outside of the Earth Federation.
The novel tells a slightly different version of the story: the Nahel Argama’s crew were held hostage in a hanger bay before breaking free, and Full Frontal is in his mobile suit when he confronts Banagher.
“…For the sake, of everyone.” Banagher unwittingly said it out, and looked straight at the masked face through the “Sinanju”. “I’ll use the “Box” for everyone, not between Federation and Zeon, and not between space and Earth. I’ll use the “Laplace Box” for everyone—
The beam saber closed in, pressing a wall of heat on Banagher, vaporizing the following words. (What do you mean by ‘everyone’?) This question passed through Banagher’s heart, and he sensed that this question was scorching his skin more than the heat.
(A single human will never become a spokesperson for all the wills, unless you become a vessel.) The masked expression looking through the monoeye was pressing on the body leaning on the “Unicorn” armor. Banagher tried his best not to look away. (This isn’t something that can be done easily. If you want to be a vessel, you need to empty yourself. Only when you’re devoured by the abyss of space, passed through the stage of madness, and entered the next realm, can you reach this state.)
The voice seeping out from the red armor was dripping through the pores. Banagher sensed that the ‘vessel’ Frontal was talking about was a reference to ‘God’, and gulped.
(You do have talent, but you are too young. If you really want to become a vessel, follow me.)
The “Sinanju” lowered its beam saber, and its advising look was flickering on the monoeye. The heat waves scattered away, and Banagher felt a chilly wind surround his body.
(The beliefs and possibilities you trust in now will be betrayed one day. A Newtype leeched by despair will only self-destruct or shut himself in. I’ve seen so many examples of this. You can still make it now, however, so follow me. You should be able to understand that you can’t return to the ‘everyone’ you speak of.)
Volume 8, Chapter 3, Part 17 of the Baka-Tsuki translation of Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn available on The Internet Archive, with non-speech text removed. The parentheses are a translation convention for speech that comes through an electronic speaker.
After the discussion with Zinnerman, Full Frontal’s “vessel” comments are recontextualized. He was “leeched by despair”, and rather than self-destruct or become a shut-in, he was “devoured by the abyss of space”, went mad, and came back. Now he’s filled with someone else’s purpose, having no purpose himself.
Towards the climax of the events depicted in Gundam Unicorn, Banagher Links and Mineva Zabi go to Syam Vist, the holder of Laplace’s Box. They discuss Vist’s plans for the Box. Mineva worries that opening the Box would start a new One Year War. But eventually Mineva and Banagher come around to the idea of opening the Box, telling the world of the original Charter of the Universal Century, and the place it reserved in government for Newtypes. Full Frontal interrupts.
Vist: As I have spent these many years as the Box’s guardian, staying too long in this body, I have had but one desire. If Newtypes truly existed, I wanted to entrust the Box to their care. I believed that they would be able to put the Box to better use and reclaim the future that was meant to be. If technology was being perfected that could touch the human psyche, the soul, I wished to find out if they truly did exist. But that is my desire.
There are as many “my only desires” as there are human beings. You could leave the Box unopened, or you could destroy it if you wished. And if that alone would not satisfy you, you are even welcome to strike this old fool dead. What do you desire? What do you wish for in your heart?
Banagher: If Newtypes are a new form of humanity, I don’t believe that current humans would be able to identify them. So I don’t know if she and I have the gifts you’re looking for. I don’t know what’s best for everyone, either. But, [flashback to all the things he’s seen since becoming the pilot of the Unicorn Gundam] Even so… As just one human being… I want to believe in what lies ahead. In people. In the possibility that humanity possesses.
Vist: All is ready. You are able to broadcast to the entire Earth Sphere via every communications and broadcast system. Even with the power of the Foundation, this was no small feat. There is little time. The Federation will do everything in its power to stop you. Now, hurry —
[Power cuts off]
Full Frontal: I wouldn’t do that if I were you. This is actually an act of locking possibility away. You should keep the contents of the Box secret and use it as leverage to bargain with the Federation. That is what will lead Spacenoids to true prosperity.
Mineva: Leave us, Full Frontal. You’re nothing but a man who was made in Char’s image who is trying to fulfill his role. Are you certain that this Side Co-Prosperity Sphere you speak of isn’t just part of your programming? A man who never believed in humanity’s future has no right to —
Full Frontal: That may have been the case at first. But I am no longer empty. It is not I who wished to come here and see the true nature of the Box with his own eyes. In truth, I do not know, either. Whose thoughts are these that have been poured into this artificial vessel?
Syam Vist, patriarch of the Vist family. As leader of Neo Zeon, as one who speaks for all Spacenoids, I would like you to place Laplace’s Box in my care. This is not a negotiation conducted between proxies. I ask that you do not interfere as you did during the handover of the Key.
Vist: There is truth in what you say. It may be that the Box should remain unopened, so that humanity may go on living in the reality it has always known.
Full Frontal: Then why —
Vist: That’s exactly why. The Box does not belong in the hands of someone who only views its opening as a bargaining chip. The hands of men like you and me. Hear me, Ghost of Char. The Universal Century will reach the hundred-year mark soon. This is no longer our time. Is it so unthinkable that the time has come for us to turn over the reins to the children?
Full Frontal: You believe that they are true Newtypes, then?
Vist: That is of no consequence. They followed the path that led to the Box, and they have made their decision. I intend to abide by that decision
Full Frontal: Very well. It is not my wish to engage in further acts of war. However, if you cannot accept my request, I will take the Charter of the Universal Century by force.
— Mobile Suit Unicorn Gundam RE:0096 episode 20, GundamInfo English subtitles, 9:00.
Laplace’s Box contains the true charter of the Universal Century, which would incorporate Newtypes into the Earth Federation government should Newtypes exist and should they be identified. Since the Earth Federation government does not incorporate Spacenoids, let alone Newtypes, the Federation government cannot be legitimate under the Charter. Revealing the Charter — opening the Box — would delegitimize the Earth Federation government.
In that scene, Full Frontal says he would not destabilize the Earth Federation government.
Full Frontal’s Zeonism appears to be a pragmatist response to the failures of Char Aznable’s revolutionary tactics. Rather than fight Earth, he seeks a tool. He would wield the Earth Federation’s recognition of the legitimacy of the Republic of Zeon in order to forge the Side Co-Prosperity Sphere between the Moon and the space-colony Sides: A government which would allow Spacenoids to ignore Earth politically and economically. But it is only achievable if Earth legitimizes his political effort.
Unlike Char, who viewed the Earth Federation government as an obstacle to peace, Full Frontal views the Earth Federation goverment as a stepping-stone for a peace that would later obviate it. Full Frontal’s Side Co-Prosperity Sphere abandons those who live on Earth.