When I was watching “Cycle of Sin,” I recalled some of the earlier episodes of Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch from Mercury from last October, when everything felt simpler: mobile suit duels and school rivalries, students stressing out over exams and making friends, and the like. But one particular scene from Episode 3 flashed loudly in my mind. As Suletta is getting ready for class, she talks with her mother, Prospera, who encourages her to keep moving forward and assures her, “your mom will vouch for you.” It’s a loving exchange between an insecure young girl and her caring parent. Prospera has her mask off, and her voice is warm, supportive, and considerate… Oh, how much I miss that Prospera. I really, REALLY do.
“Cycle of Sin” has a lot of moving parts and addresses a number of plot points and characters, but more than anything, it focuses on Prospera’s two-decade-long journey of vengeance, with the character’s hardened, bitter, and even delusional side coming into focus. Additionally, Miorine finally makes her return and rekindles her relationship with Suletta, revealing some friction while also hinting that something is truly amiss about Miorine’s bridegroom. By the end credits, “Cycle of Sin” has affirmed, in the famous words of Gundam creator Yoshiyuki Tomino, that adults are the enemy, and their sins will be passed on through their children unless something drastically changes. It’s another packed, weighty G-Witch episode, and masterfully executed from start to finish.
Considering how much has already happened in this second season, the episode has a lot to sort through, and the first half does a really good job of it overall. “Cycle of Sin” initially catches us up through a montage of news reports on the chaos within the Benerit Group and the escalating conflicts between Earthian terrorists and Spacian security forces. With Delling on life support, and Sarius and Vim out of the picture, the Group’s only option is to elect a new president, and Shaddiq is ready to announce his candidacy. These scenes, and the news montage in particular, are a clever way to efficiently show, without eating up too much episode time, that the events of this season have had far-reaching consequences. It also confirms that Shaddiq’s plan to upend the Benerit Group is still in motion, even if it’s humming in the background for now.
Back at Asticassia, we also get a good scene dealing with the fallout of Dawn of Fold’s attack on the school. Activities and classes have been suspended, and emotions are running high as the students try to process the fact that their school became a war zone, with deadly results. The situation reaches a boiling point when a group of Spacian students vandalize the Earth House and attack Suletta and the other members, blaming them for the violence. While Miorine keeps the situation from escalating this time around, it’s obvious the mutual resentment won’t be going away overnight. In keeping with the episode’s title, this scene affirms that the next generation is potentially going to continue the Spacian/Earthian wars of the adult world, and history is on the verge of repeating itself.
The weightiest parts of “Cycle of Sin” are reserved for the second half, though, which shifts the episode’s tone from tense and unsettled to outright disturbing. First, Elan attempts to steal the Aerial Gundam, only to have Eri invade his mind and kick him out, leaving him mentally traumatized and convulsing. It’s a horrific moment, but imaginatively staged, with a dozen Eri clones floating around Elan inside his consciousness and violently blocking him from interfacing with the Aerial. Still, the implications of this moment might be even more horrific, since it suggests Eri is far more powerful and dangerous than we previously thought, and that Aerial’s intelligence and networking capabilities may even be growing.
Meanwhile, Suletta and Miorine’s scene together in the garden is especially significant, as the two finally have a candid conversation after the Quetta attack in Season 1. The initially quiet small talk builds to a meaningful confrontation when Miorine asks how Suletta can be so comfortable with killing, even in self defense. Finally, Miorine gets to the point: why does Suletta let her mother dictate her life so easily, never stopping to question anything Prospera tells her? Suletta fidgets, evades, and eventually concedes that yes, she would do as her mother asks, no matter what it is—even killing people. Her cheery smile as she tells Miorine she would commit murder “if Mom told me to” is utterly spine-tingling.
This is a powerful scene on multiple levels. For starters, it reveals just how complete Prospera’s influence over her daughter really is, as well as how immature Suletta still remains. As it stands, Suletta is a child who depends on her mother to make decisions for her—maybe almost all of them. The scene also subtly but brilliantly conveys the maturity gap between Suletta and Miorine with a striking visual: as they converse, Miorine’s reflection appears in a ripe, red tomato, signifying her greater development, while Suletta is reflected in an unripe green tomato, symbolizing her comparative immaturity. Additionally, this scene really drives home how much Miorine has grown as an individual over the course of the series. From standing up to her father, to founding a company, to experiencing war firsthand, she’s clearly not the same character she was at the start of things. Disturbingly, though, in many ways Suletta more or less still is.
Aside from Suletta and Miorine, Prospera’s presence looms larger than anyone else’s throughout “Cycle of Sin”—her two main scenes actually bookend the episode—and this installment does a fantastic job developing her character and showcasing her manipulative side. In the pre-credits teaser, she’s already in full mad scientist mode as she tells Belmeria how she plans to use Quiet Zero to resurrect Eri. The episode’s final scene is even more chilling, as she tells Miorine about the attack on Vanadis two decades earlier that killed her husband and colleagues, and she reveals her plan to enact her revenge on Delling, who ordered the attack.
One of the most unnerving aspects of both these scenes is how effectively Prospera gaslights Belmeria and Miorine into believing they are just as corrupt as she is. Miorine is ultimately unconvinced, but still terrified, while Belmeria is broken when Prospera brings up her unsavory past work with artificially enhanced humans. As for Prospera herself, her motives and instability are now far clearer, and the episode does a fantastic job of allowing us to understand why she is this way, even as we feel repulsed at her actions. A great deal of praise also has to go to Mamiko Noto, Prospera’s voice actor, for delivering a convincing performance that makes the character’s madness believable and even a bit sympathetic.
“Cycle of Sin” may be a complex outing with a lot going on, but the episode’s title perfectly encapsulates its main theme. The evil seeds of the past are reaping a bitter harvest in the present, and as the younger characters at Asticassia come of age, many of them seem inclined to inherit and pass the violent world of their parents on into the future. Prospera herself seems convinced it’s already happening, telling Miorine she’s “inside the circle of murderers,” as if being Delling’s daughter has already consigned her to a blood-stained fate. Miorine, defiant as ever, rejects this legacy, telling Prospera, “if you want revenge, why don’t you adults kill each other?” At this rate, it’s likely the adults will continue living (and dying) the only way they know how. The big question going forward, though, is whether or not their children will finally break the horrific cycle their parents insist on preserving.