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 piloted once by Cagalli Yula Athha using the "Oowashi" Sky Pack, and by Mu La Flaga using the "Shiranui" Space Pack.
Technology & Combat Characteristics
Inspired by the GAT-X105 Strike Gundam and its Striker Pack support system, both of which Orb engineers had copious time to study, the Akatsuki Gundam utilizes the combat-potential technologies of the Strike in conjunction with newer Orb-based prototype technologies. Its standard armaments includes: a Prototype Twin Beam Saber, the standard head-mounted 12.5mm CIWS, an arm-mounted defense shield, and a "Hyakurai" Beam Rifle. But perhaps its most remarkable feature is its gold frame, known as the Yata-no-Kagami. In reality, the gold plating of the mobile suit is actually made up of millions of mirrors with a special anti-beam reflective coating, 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.
Derived from the Strike's Striker Packs, the Akatsuki can also equip two armament backpacks to improve the mobile suit's combat abilities. On Earth, the Akatsuki can be equipped with an aerial backpack known as "Oowashi" Sky Pack, granting it improved atmospheric flight capabilities. Mounting two Modified High-Energy Beam Cannons, the Sky Pack is capable of separating from the mobile suit and transforming into a separate fighter aircraft, similar to the Justice's Fatum-00. Should it need to be brought into space, the Akatsuki can be equipped with a spacial backpack known as the "Shiranui" Space Pack, increasing the mobile suit's mobility in space. Equipped with a remote weapon system similar to the DRAGOON system, the Space Pack contains seven remote control beam turret units, each mounted with a beam cannon as well as two beam shield emitters that can provide full defense in a limited area of approximately 1-2 ships' size.
- MSM5D 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 (for a mobile suit) designed to intercept incoming missiles, projectiles, and lightly armored vehicles.
- Type-72D5 "Hyakurai" Beam Rifle
- The Akatsuki is equipped with "Hyakurai" Beam Rifle as primary ranged weapon. Comparable to other models of beam rifles, the "Hyakurai" beam rifle can destroy an enemy mobile suit in the single shot.
- Type-73J2 Prototype Twin Beam Saber
- The Akatsuki is equipped with a prototype Twin Beam Saber (or "Beam Naginata") - a double-bladed separable beam saber for close combat. 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 or recombine its beam sabers back into a Twin Beam Saber. When detached, one of the beam sabers can be mounted to the "Hyakurai" Beam Rifle as a bayonet for the beam rifle.
- Model-71 Defense Shield
- The Akatsuki is equipped with a large arm-mounted defense shield. Coated with the same anti-beam reflective coating on the mobile suit, the shield is capable of deflecting or reflecting large beam blasts, including a round from a Positron Blaster Cannon.
- "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 a remote combat fighter aircraft or sub-flight lifter.
- Type-73F Modified High-Energy Beam Cannon
- The "Oowashi" Sky Pack is equipped with a pair of modified High-Energy Beam Cannon", powerful enough to destroy an battleship and mobile suit.
- "Shiranui" Space Pack
- For extended combat in space, the Akatsuki can equip the "Shiranui" Space Pack, giving the mobile suit increased spacial mobility and a set of remote weapons. Using its own unique remote weapon system, the Space Pack allows the Akatsuki to manipulate its remote control beam turret units for either increased offensive firepower or defensive protection, broadening the mobile suit's range of influence in space.
- Guided Mobile Beam Turret System
- The "Shiranui" Space Pack features a unique remote weapon system known as the "Guided Mobile Beam Turret System". Similar to the DRAGOON System, this system allows the Akatsuki to control the Space Pack's remote control units for aided combat in space.
- M531R Remote Control Unit
- The "Shiranui" Space Pack is equipped with seven Remote Control Units, which are specially-designed beam turret units linked to the Space Pack's Guided Mobile Beam Turret System. Each unit mounts a single beam cannon and two beam shield emitters. Using the units' beam shield 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 or two battleships in size.
- Operating System
- The Akatsuki utilizes a customised 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 using a mobile suit, parring their against Coordinator pilots.
- "Yata-no-Kagami" Anti-Beam 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 round. The coating also gives the Akatsuki the ability to penetrate specific beam shields or beam deflectors, such as the Requiem's Positron Deflector. 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).
Second Battle of Orb
The 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 in CE 74, 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 Bloody Valentine War by defending the Archangel and the Eternal, as well as aiding in the destruction of the Requiem superweapon.
- 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.
- "Yata no Kagami" is named for a legendary mirror that is one of the Three Sacred Treasures of Japan.
- Cagalli's insert song for Phases 24 of Mobile Suit Gundam SEED was Akatsuki no Kuruma, or Wheels of Dawn.
- Cagalli's insert song for Phase 40 of Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny was Honoo no Tobira, or Doors of Flames, possibly in reference to Cagalli's name of kagaribi, a watch fire or a bon fire.
- The beam naginata does not actually function like a true Japanese  weapon; the name only refers to the shape of the weapon and it is a reference to a similar weapon used by the MS-14 Gelgoog in Mobile Suit Gundam.
- It is speculated by some fans that the Akatsuki Gundam is equipped with a Neutron Jammer Cancellor, as the Shiranui Pack uses what can be considered a full fledged DRAGOON System. The power requirements of the system would mean that a nucluear power source was needed to keep the suit and the pods from running out of energy quickly during combat.
- The Akatsuki Gundam is reminiscent of the MSN-00100 Hyaku Shiki from Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam, which also had a reflective gold coloration related to beam-resistant armor. The Akatsuki Gundam (with the Shiranui backpack system) is also reminiscent of the RX-93 Nu Gundam from Mobile Suit Gundam: Char's Counterattack, which had fin funnels which could be used as a beam shield. The armaments of the two are also similar. The Hyaku Shiki also however, sported vertically oriented wing binders, the shape of which is echoed in the DRAGOONs of the Shiranui Akatsuki Gundam.
- Cagalli gave the Akatsuki Gundam to Mu La Flaga after using it for a single battle, making it the fastest handed-down Gundam mobile suit ever. In Super Robot Wars K and Super Robot Wars L, Cagalli even directly hand it over to Mu La Flaga in the same scenario in which she rode it for the first time.
- In Super Robot Wars K and Super Robot Wars L, Akatsuki Gundam will automatically wear its designated striker packs depends on the terrain of the current scenario. In atmosphere based scenario, it will use the Oowashi pack; while in space based scenario, it will use the Shiranui pack.
- The Akatsuki is a playable unit in Gundam Vs Gundam NEXT. Despite its one of a kind status in the show and its overall potential, it is only a 2000 unit. It can switch between its Oowashi and Shiranui packs at will but both have their advantages and disadvantages: the Oowashi pack has greater speed and an effective charge shot but limited weaponry with the CIWS being its only subweapon. The Shiranui pack is slower and lacks the use of a beam saber but can use its beam barrier to block any projectile attack. Furthermore, it can't charge its DRAGOONs when not in use.
- Akatsuki later appears in Gundam Extreme Vs as a non-playable unit with its Shiranui pack installed.
- The armor coating of the Akatsuki is rather ironic compared to most other Gundams of the Cosmic Era that are armored in Phase Shift Armor. Phase shift armor makes a mobile suit resistant to physical attacks, but the Akatsuki's "Yata no Kagami" mirror coating makes it virtually immune to beam weapons.
- The Akatsuki's susceptibility to melee-oriented beam weaponry (e.g. beam sabers, beam boomerangs) are not entirely clarified. When the Akatsuki had its left forearm cut off by a beam boomerang thrown by the Destiny gundam in Phase 42 of Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny, the boomerang seemed to have struck the elbow joint that appears unprotected by the Akatsuki's "Yata no Kagami." Apart from this instant, there is no other point in the series where the mirror coating of the Akatsuki was directly struck by a beam saber or beam boomerang. Although when the Akatsuki was about to be struck by the Destiny Gundam's beam boomerangs before being saved by the Strike Freedom, Cagalli and Athrun express considerable alarm as the boomerangs closed in on the Akatsuki, indicating that close-quarters beam weapons may indeed be able to damage the mobile suit despite its mirror coating.