ORB-01 Akatsuki Gundam
The ORB-01 Akatsuki Gundam (aka Akatsuki, literally meaning "Dawn" or "Daybreak") is a Mobile Suit in the series Gundam SEED Destiny. It is initially piloted by Cagalli Yula Athha using the "Oowashi" Sky Pack, and later by Mu La Flaga using the "Shiranui" Space Pack.
Technology & Combat Characteristics
The Akatsuki Gundam was developed through the fusion of the knowledge that the Orb engineers had gained from studying the GAT-X105 Strike Gundam and its Striker Pack support system, with newer Orb-based prototype technologies. Its standard armaments includes: a twin beam saber, head-mounted CIWS, an arm-mounted shield, and a beam rifle. But perhaps its most remarkable feature is its gold colored armor, known as the Yata-no-Kagami. In reality, this armor is a gold coating made up of millions of tiny mirrors which are used to reflect beam attacks, making the mobile suit virtually impervious to beam attacks. Despite this, its vulnerability to melee and physical weapons remained equal to that of any other mobile suit, hence the presence of a shield as part of its armaments.
The Akatsuki can also equip two optional backpacks, which are derived from the Strike Gundam's Striker Packs, to improve its combat abilities. On Earth, it can be equipped with an aerial backpack known as "Oowashi" Sky Pack, granting it atmospheric flight capabilities. Armed with two beam cannons, the Sky Pack is capable of separating from the mobile suit and transforming into a separate fighter aircraft, similar to the ZGMF-X09A Justice Gundam's Fatum-00. With this pack on, the suit is known as Oowashi Akatsuki Gundam. Should it need to be used in space, the Akatsuki can be equipped with another backpack known as the "Shiranui" Space Pack, which not only increase the suit's mobility in space, but also equipped it with a remote weapon system similar to the DRAGOON system. The Space Pack is armed with seven remote control beam turret units, each mounted with a beam cannon and beam shield emitters that can provide full defense in a limited area of approximately 1-2 ships' size. With this pack on, the suit is known as Shiranui Akatsuki Gundam.
- M2M5D 12.5mm CIWS
- The Akatsuki is equipped with a pair of head-mounted 12.5mm CIWS (Close In Weapon System). The CIWS is a small-caliber shell firing weapon designed to intercept incoming missiles, projectiles, and lightly armored vehicles.
- Type 72D5 "Hyakurai" Beam Rifle
- The Akatsuki is equipped with a "Hyakurai" Beam Rifle as its primary ranged weapon, it has an excellent rate of fire and is stored on the right side armor when not in use. The rifle also has a slot below its barrel for equipping the Experimental Twin Beam Saber, turning it into a gun-sword.
- Type 73J2 Experimental Twin Beam Saber
- The Akatsuki is equipped with an Experimental Twin Beam Saber, a double-bladed separable beam saber, for close combat and it is stored on the left side armor when not in use. Similar in design to the "Lacerta" Beam Saber carried by the ZGMF-X10A Freedom Gundam and ZGMF-X09A Justice Gundam, the Twin Beam Saber can detach into two individual beam sabers. The twin beam sabers can also be mounted to the bottom of the "Hyakurai" Beam Rifle, turning the latter into a gun-sword.
- Type 71 Experimental Defensive Shield
- For added protection, the Akatsuki can mount an experimental shield on its left forearm or carry it in hand. It has the same anti-beam reflective coating as on the suit's body and is capable of deflecting or reflecting large beam blasts, including a round from a Positron Blaster Cannon. Unlike the armor on the suit's body, the shield is also strong enough to withstand physical attacks, such as missiles and other projectile weapons, and is mainly used for this purpose.
- Type 73F Kai High-Energy Beam Cannon
- Mounted at the bottom of the "Oowashi" Sky Pack, the pair of High-Energy Beam Cannons is the Oowashi Akatsuki Gundam's strongest ranged weaponry. They are positioned under the shoulders when in use, and can extend to reveal a handle each on the bottom side. However holding this handle is not required for firing the cannons.
- M531R Guided Mobile Beam Turret System
- The seven remote weapons mounted on the "Shiranui" Space Pack, they are similar to the DRAGOON System. Each unit mounts a single beam cannon, which can also function as a beam shield emitter when used together with the other two beam shield emitters at the side. Using these emitters, the Akatsuki can direct multiple remote control units in tandem to create a large portable beam shield field that can provide protection to about one to two battleships.
Special Equipment & Features
- "Oowashi" Sky Pack
- For atmospheric combat, the Akatsuki can equip the "Oowashi" Sky Pack, which give the mobile suit improved mobility and flight capabilities. Like the ZGMF-X09A Justice Gundam's Fatum-00, the Sky Pack is capable of detaching itself from the mobile suit and transform into an unmanned fighter aircraft to support Akatsuki in battle.
- "Shiranui" Space Pack
- For combat in space, the Akatsuki can equip the "Shiranui" Space Pack, giving the mobile suit increased mobility and a set of seven remote weapons. The Akatsuki can use the remote weapons for either increased offensive firepower or defensive protection, broadening the mobile suit's range of influence in space.
- Operating System
- The Akatsuki utilizes a customized version of the General Unilateral Neuro-link Dispersive Autonomic Maneuver Operating System - the same operating system used on the "GAT-X" series - created by Kira Yamato. This system was devised to make Natural pilots combat-proficient in using a mobile suit, allowing them to be on par against Coordinator pilots.
- "Yata-no-Kagami" Anti-beam Defensive Reflection System
- While mostly similar to other mobile suits, the Akatsuki nevertheless features a unique piece of technology: the entire body of the suit (including its armaments and backpacks) is covered with a specialized mirror coating called "Yata-no-Kagami", which is capable of deflecting beam fire or reflecting shots back to their source. Due to this coating, the mobile suit is able to block beam weapons ranging from a beam rifle blast to a Positron Blaster Cannon blast. The coating also gives the Akatsuki the ability to penetrate specific beam shields or beam reflectors, such as the Requiem's Positron reflector. Despite this strength, however, the armor provides no protection against melee attacks such as direct strikes from beam sabers or beam boomerang.
Before his death, fearing that the Orb Union will face another war, Uzumi Nara Athha commissioned the creation of the ORB-01 Akatsuki Gundam. Its existence remained a secret as per Uzumi's orders, only to be used as the nation's last line of defense, or if Cagalli is in dire need of additional power (though according to his voice-recorded will, Uzumi hoped that the day that the mobile suit's hangar will be opened would never come).
Due to the development difficulties and high cost caused by the anti-beam reflection system, the Akatsuki had a protracted development which stopped after the basic mobile suit was completed. As a result, it was not ready during the First Battle of Orb. However, despite the freeze on its development, its weapon system continued to be developed in secret in anticipation of its possible use in the future.
Second Battle of Orb
The completed Akatsuki Gundam is first piloted by Cagalli Yula Athha. Using the Oowashi pack, she piloted this mobile suit to defend Orb against a ZAFT attack during the Second EA-PLANT War, after being informed of its existence by Ledonir Kisaka. Cagalli assumes command of the Orb military, and uses the Akatsuki Gundam to try and defend Orb against ZAFT's forces, but was soon confronted by ZAFT's top ace, ZGMF-X42S Destiny Gundam pilot Shinn Asuka. While Shinn's beam attacks only backfire, he easily outperforms her by using melee attacks, giving minor damage to the gold mobile suit. When the battle headed to space, the Akatsuki Gundam is repaired and with Cagalli's orders, she lent it to Mu La Flaga, while Cagalli remained behind in Orb to take charge of her country. While the mobile suit is in his possession, La Flaga used the Shiranui pack for the remaining moments of the war.
Intervention at Copernicus
While the Archangel is docked at the lunar city of Copernicus, Mu La Flaga uses the Akatsuki Gundam with "Oowashi" Sky Pack to intervene in the defense of several crew members while they are trying to rescue Meer Campbell. Despite Akatsuki Gundam's presence, Meer is hit by a bullet intended for Lacus Clyne and is killed.
The Final Battle
The Akatsuki Gundam (with "Shiranui" Space Pack) plays a major role in ending the Second EA-PLANT War by defending the Archangel and the Eternal, as well as aiding in the destruction of the Requiem superweapon.
Notes & Trivia
- The name Akatsuki means "dawn" in Japanese; it also bears the meaning of "beginning". Morgenroete, the company that built Akatsuki, means "dawn" in German. The kanji of "Akatsuki" is engraved on the right shoulder of ORB-01 Akatsuki Gundam as well. "ORB-01 ALBA" is also engraved on the left side of the Akatsuki's head. Alba means "dawn" in Italian, in reference to the unit's name.
- Oowashi roughly translates to "Sea Eagle", perhaps referring to the Oowashi pack's nature and purpose of flight capabilities for Earth use. the Sea aspect of the name may refer to the fact ORB is an Island nation, surrounded by the ocean. Shiranui translates to "Unknown Fire", involving an optical phenomenon in Japanese stories. This name likely refers to the reoccurring 'Fire' and 'Dawn' motifs that shroud Cagalli and ORB related things.
- "Yata no Kagami" is named for a legendary mirror that is one of the Three Sacred Treasures of Japan.
- Cagalli gave the Akatsuki Gundam to Mu La Flaga after using it for a single battle, making it the most quickly handed-down Gundam mobile suit ever.
- In contrast with most other Gundams of the Cosmic Era that use Phase Shift Armor, which protects from physical strikes but not beam weapons, the armor coating of the Akatsuki gives it near invulnerability to beam weapons, but no special protection from physical attacks.
- In the game Gundam Memories: Memories of Battle shows the two remote beam cannons on top of the Shiranui Backpack can be fired when the remote beam cannons still attached to the backpack. This feature only shown in the PSP game.
- The Akatsuki's arms appear in Gundam Breaker and can be built from scratch using the Strike's arms (no packs) in both HG and MG forms. This is odd considering that the Akatsuki in Master Grade form was never produced (by Bandai itself; there is a third-party Master Grade that has been made), though a 1/100 in No Grade form does exist.
- The full assembly appears in the sequel and its "MG" form can be purchased in the shop, using the boxart from the aforementioned 1/100 No Grade version.