Operation Valkyrie: the Gihren Zabi Assasination Plan (He’s Hitler, Get it?); Why Do Bad Guys Seem So Damn Cool? This is an Authentic Guilty Pleasure orz

gundam gihren zabi & adolf hitler

Giren Zabi idolized Adolf Hitler, and patterned his Spacenoid (though he used the term Newtype) superiority ideology after Hitler’s own doctrine of Aryan racial superiority. The Principality of Zeon is depicted in romanticized WW2 German likenesses, most notably through their uniforms and dress. As the Gundam franchise continues to flesh out and add works to the narrative of the ‘One Year War,’ the portrayal of the Principality of Zeon becomes progressively more the Germany of Hitler’s Reich.

One of the more recent of these installments is the manga Mobile Suit Gundam: the Gihren Assassination Plot, serialized in Gundam Ace magazine from 2007-2010. In this manga, the Gundam narrative draws further from the Hitler history and mythology, particularly “Operation Valkyrie:” an actual plan developed within Hitler’s military to assassinate him. Interestingly, a feature film based on this was released starring Tom Cruise in 2008.

From Wikipedia:

Operation Valkyrie (German: Unternehmen Walküre) was an emergency continuity of government operations plan developed in Nazi Germany for the Territorial Reserve Army of Germany to execute and implement in case of a general breakdown in civil order of the nation. Failure of the government to maintain control of civil affairs could be caused by the Allied bombing of German cities, or a rising of millions of foreign forced laborers working in German factories.

German Army (Wehrmacht Heer) officers General Friedrich Olbricht, Major General Henning von Tresckow, and Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg, modified the plan with the intention of using it to take control of German cities, disarm the SS, and arrest the Nazi leadership once Hitler had been assassinated in the July 20 Plot. Hitler’s death (as opposed to his arrest) was required to free German soldiers from their oath of loyalty to him (Reichswehreid). After lengthy preparation, the plot was carried out in 1944, but failed.

Back to Gundam: After the One Year War, the Earth Federation Forces unearthed voluminous documents of the Principality/Side 3 in order to investigate how exactly the OYW wrapped up…

jgihren01_004

…and from these documents, the plan to assassinate Gihren Zabi was revealed.

Without going into the details of the narrative, let us look at what this premise – and its historical basis give us. Speaking for myself, it tells me that the Germans aren’t evil as a race, a nationality, or as a social group; and Zeon is the same. This narrows down the evil associated with the Second World War in our own history and the fictional OYW to a single source, or perhaps a few others.

This is personally significant to me because the romanticizing of Hitler’s Reich, the Wermacht and the SS, is actually quite attractive to me, and this extends to Zeon. This is to me, an authentic guilty pleasure. I feel guilty identifying with the bad guys; not that I actually relate to them, but I want to have their look, and their badass effect. This desire almost feels like an endorsement of their evil. This is where the guilt comes from.

I feel the same way with my affinity for Reinhard von Lohengramm and the Galactic Empire from Legend of the Galactic Heroes, that is also wholly evocative of Imperial Germany. The names themselves sound so awesome to me. It’s like it’s almost automatically GAR if your name is German. Gundam does a lot of the same for its Principality of Zeon:

jgihren01_018

As seen from the above image, the whole plan is wholly based on the historical “Operation Valkyrie.” The code names listed in the display are actual names of mythological Valkyries in Norse mythology (though perhaps Germanized). Why is this so attractive again? The ‘bad guys’ are often portrayed as machine-like though not really, often with amazing use of symbols and perhaps heraldry, disciplined and threatening. The ‘good guys’ in contrast are presented loose, collegial, scruffy, and sympathetic. It is the same with Legend of the Galactic Heroes as with Gundam.

legend of the galactic heroes characters reich vs free planets spread

See the Reich’s officers’ stately mien, compared to the Free Planets’ bunch of merry men. It’s not that the Free Planets’ characters are never cool, they’re just allowed to be goofy, making them sympathetic and relatable compared to the ‘Boring Germans in Space.’ However, I’m sure I’m not alone in this: I find the Reich to be wicked cool, and I watched the whole show rooting for them.

gundam EFF vs ZMF

As seen from the image, you have your gritty and grimy Earth Federation soldier having a smoke with his rations – and interestingly the EFF characters at the foreground are most often front line personnel; contrasting with the aristocratic Zeon officer inspecting a wine cellar with at least one fawning sympathizer/collaborator, as characters with speaking lines among the Zeon are often officers (unless they are mooks about to get killed).

The image evokes slices of life from the OYW, as inspired by the European theater (of war) during WW2. The allies were scruffy and seemed rag-tag while fighting through Northern Europe (as depicted by films like Saving Private Ryan, or television mini-series such as Band of Brothers), and the Germans had their way with the treasures of the countries they occupied and lived like aristocrats (as depicted by films like Schindler’s List).

I suppose it shouldn’t be surprising at all that the OYW should draw so much from WW2, as evil is so easily identifiable while the fashion of the ‘enemies’ are so impressive. I don’t think it’s in the creators’ (to permit myself some Doylian speculation) best interests to model evil after the Japanese part of WW2’s Axis of Evil. So yes, Germany for Zeon; Gihren Zabi for Adolf Hitler; Operation Valkyrie for the Gihren Assassination Plan. As I read more into the manga, I’ll find out if the use of Operation Valkyrie is a matter of direct inspiration by the plotters, and not simply a thematic consistency on the part of the narrative.

Bonus Images:

star wars imperial storm troopers darth vader rebel alliance command

Bad guys look cool and I find myself rooting for them sometimes (or often). How do I rid myself of this guilt? I don’t really; I don’t do a good job of rationalizing away the fact that I don’t necessarily endorse the views, behavior, and acts of the bad guys. Unfortunately for me this is such a big part of my viewing and reading experience, and part of my hobby in general. Sometimes, even if it doesn’t really work, I look at images like this one and try to be at peace:

gundam zeon soldier federation soldier sharing a smoke antarctic treaty 0079 D’awww

But no, it doesn’t really work. What can you do?

Further Reading

Nazi Chic in other anime: Strike Witches (2DT 06/26/2010)
War is Hell, but it may be just all a matter of historical correction [->]
Char Aznable is another guilty plearsure [->]
Perhaps an extreme source of guilt for liking Gundam villains (Kaioshin 09/12/2009)
The Guilty Pleasures series of posts here on We Remember Love [->]

About ghostlightning

I entered the anime blogging sphere as a lurker around Spring 2008. We Remember Love is my first anime blog. Click here if this is your first time to visit WRL.
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32 Responses to Operation Valkyrie: the Gihren Zabi Assasination Plan (He’s Hitler, Get it?); Why Do Bad Guys Seem So Damn Cool? This is an Authentic Guilty Pleasure orz

  1. Salinea says:

    When you were posting about liking Lelouch as a guilty pleasure; I would have disagreed : while I find Code Geass very flawed despite its addictiveness as a series, I’m very unabashed in my loving that character. Finding a character fascinating and reletable isn’t the same thing as condoning their actions after all.

    Liking Nazi-like characters though, that’s pretty guilt worthy XD I guess I’m immune to it as a Jew, though I love villainous and anti-heroic characters often enough.

    I haven’t yet finished watching Legend of the Galactic Heroes, and there are a couple of times when I didn’t feel very comfortable from the “Germanic autocratic people are awesome” narrative PoV, though LotGH has plenty of subtleties and complexities to make up for it. Though so far I mostly find plenty of characters appealing on both sides; without much of a feeling than either sides are all that good to pick to cheer up on. But there is a certain appeal to stories taking place in societies under autocratic or even totalitarian situations, with all the baroque melodrama and noir ambiguities that go with them, which I can love. Not so much for the glittering tinsel of neo-fascism (to quote from the Vorkosigan series)… there I fear that Black Lagoon remain my favourite anime series for its portrayal of Nazis.

    Anyway, it’s all good as long as you’re aware of it, ya know :)

    • Yes, I believe it’s “all good” when you’re aware of it, which is why I write these posts. It’s also my way of talking myself into acknowledging what’s okay, or how I can be okay with what I enjoy. I personally don’t subscribe to the idea of “mindless” enjoyment or “turning my brain off” simply because these are simply false concepts. They are impossible and to indulge them is an act of bad faith.

      Once aware, however, I can let it go and enjoy myself without second-guessing at every turn.

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  3. Not just in anime I think there’s a lot of common threads in regards to making the bad guys cool in fiction. There seem to me to be three main elements of this, sometimes a series only uses one, sometimes it uses a combination of them.

    Romantic notions of chivalrous aristocrats/knights vs indifference to or even disdain for standardized, modern armies.

    Legend of the Galactic Heroes is definitely a series that uses this in creating much of the appeal of the Reich (as well as Reinhard’s personal dynamism.) Despite wars being just as brutal in previous eras, there’s a lot of fondness for the supposedly gentlemanly way wars were fought when leadership was determined by high social standing. Since the officers (or in even older eras, knights) all came from the aristocratic class they brought their social habits with them to the battlefield and let things like honor and personal temperament get in the way of combat at times. Contrast that to the modern army where everyone wears the same uniform, carries the same weapons, and doesn’t have time for such uptight manners. It’s an issue of warriors vs soldiers, and warriors are much more romantic figures in fiction even if they’re nowhere near as effective in warfare. What did aces like Johnny Riden and Anavel Gato do for Zeon compared to a squadron of GM’s who worked together on the EFSF side? What did a few 100+ kill aces who stayed on the frontlines until they died accomplish for the Luftwaffe compared to squadrons of decent pilots trained by lower-kill count aces who were rotated back to be instructors for the USAAF? Not much. (Hope I’m not laying it on too thick there, but grounded as I am in military history it’s a favorite sport of mine to tear down the romanticism around the warrior myth.)

    Machine perfection.

    Going away from the previous element’s disdain for modernity, this one embraces it and polishes machine like standardization to an unrealistic but impressive level. Star Wars was big on this, making the Imperial Navy and Army chilling but impressive with just how perfect their standardization and coldness was. And when the army is machine like, it makes the one or two leaders like Darth Vader and the Emperor stand out even more as they command those forces.

    A superior, overwhelming enemy.

    This tend to cut both ways depending on a viewer’s preference, since it can make the bad guys seem impressive or make the good guys seem all the stronger for having to be such underdogs. All the series you mentioned in the post have this in them, and as it relates to making the bad guys cool it does so by making their accomplishments seem unstoppable or in some cases effortless. It inspires an admiration for just how capable the enemy is, for instance when Char would beat up on Amuro (though he had a small element of underdog to him since he didn’t have the vastly superior Gundam in 0079.)

    • I appreciate how you wrote a full blog post in the comments section. I really do. Thank you.

      1. The warrior myth is too delicious. While I fully agree with your analysis, I enjoy both stories that demystify combat (e.g. War in the Pocket), and romanticize it (e.g. Stardust Memory).

      2. Yes, THIS.

      3. I don’t remember Char ever beating up on Amuro. I always felt Amuro always had superiority both on an MS level (the fucking Gundam), on the Newtype power level, and the freakish piloting level (espicially by CCA where Amuro was a god of war). That said, I wholly get your point.

      • SpeedStriker says:

        But you can’t deny that during their first few encounters, Amuro would have died about seven times if it wasn’t for his monster of a MS called the Gundam. Char took one look at the MS that “took out a Zaku with a single shot” and what does he say? “It doesn’t matter how strong it is if it can hit you!” This right here, is a quote that only an ace who have both the confidence and the skills to back that up can say. Amuro’s reaction to Char’s advances doesn’t help his case either as it looked like he just pissed his pants in panick and started spamming beam rifle, all no avail as Char easily dodged every single shot.

      • Haha, it must be a testament to my wordiness that I thought of that comment as about half a post in size tops, but it does kind of look like an expanded outline for a post now that you mention it.

        SpeedStriker pretty much said everything I was going to respond with to point #3. Amuro would have died several times over if it weren’t for his mobile suit and/or outside interference. Late in the show, around the time of the raid on Jaburo he started coming close to achieving piloting parity via his Newtype abilities, but he still did it mostly on reckless intuition than on the suave, nearly effortless skill that Char exhibited.

  4. Vendredi says:

    To build on ExecutiveOtaku’s comment above, I think part of the fact that villains have such a great aesthetic sense is, I suspect, the fact that designers can choose to exercise a bit more creative freedom. Gundam is a great example of this – I’ve never liked the main Gundams because they need to have a blander look – they need to look heroic without being menacing. On the other hand, bad guys are under no such limitation.

    • Hehe I read Gundam Sousei and the RX-78-2 was intended to be pure white, which would’ve been great, but execs demanded the colorful appeal to young boys. Tomino supposedly let the execs think the Zaku was a bad guy of the week so they didn’t mind it looking that way. But NO, THE ZAKU DID GET MASS PRODUCED and the tradition of its look began much to my glee.

      It wouldn’t be until Gundam Unicorn that we get to see an all-white Gundam. I’m glad we finally did, and the mini-transformation thingy is an ingenious compromise.

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  6. SpeedStriker says:

    Reading your post, it seems obvious to me that you have been going about this “getting rid of guilt” business the wrong way. The real question isn’t really “how should I rationalize my endorsement of evil” but rather, “just what is evil or good about the two sides being portrayed”.

    Of the shows you’ve mentioned, none of them are completely “good” or “evil” and as such, if we only think of them on those terms, conflict and guilt emerges very naturally. For example, instead of using the backward logic of “this is what they are doing, therefore they are bad”, a better way of looking at the two sides would be “just what are the things that motivate them and can I sympathize wth them given their circumstances and history”. With this line of thought, it’s becomes very easy to see just why you may feel more resonance with the “bad guys” rather than the “good guys”. In the case of the Zeon faction, even if we don’t take pre-show history into account, it’s very easy to feel attached to them as despite their corrupt leadership, the many Zeon soldiers are just as noble, if not moreso than most EFSF soldiers. Enforcing this initial sense of familiarity is the fact that many of the soldiers are truly fighting for a cause they believe in, even this cause is seen as a mere excuse for expansion and conquest by their top brass. Compare this to the EFSF where most officers are greedy and corrupt and most soldiers seem like they don’t even want to do what they do, it’s doesn’t take much to feel more affection for the Zeons.

    I can’t say much for LoGH since I haven’t seen the show yet (don’t kill me!) but from what I’ve read and heard, the appeal of the Empire comes from the fact that it the Free Planets points out every single thing wrong with democracy as it currently exist while the Empire, under Rhinehard’s rule, quickly fixes itself and becomes a much better and efficient society than a Democracy can ever be. This is essentially the appeal and advantage of a dictatorship as so as long the government is good and the leader is righteous, the society will always be better than a democracy. There’s also the “fantasy factor” since the Reich is something that we don’t have in the real world whereas all the corruptions of the FPA can be found in nearly every democractic country. So in other words, whereas Rhinehard and gang are fighting for what we’re aspiring to and dream of, the FPA are simply maintaining their, and in a macro sense our, broken and corrupt system of government. Pretty much a no brainer which side you’d rather be on now, isn’t it?

    Just my two cents.

    • No I don’t mean to “rationalize my way out” of guilt — this is quite easy to do and before I started writing this, was exactly what I did. To reduce the question to “what is good or evil about the two sides being portrayed” is insufficient (for me personally), BUT it is an important component too.

      Also, the grey area/complexity appeal is another easy out I used to rely on. If I consider how these bad guys are probably good to their families, their friends I make them more relatable and I shouldn’t feel so bad; and/or list down other “redemptive” acts, attributes, behaviors.

      No, I don’t want to keep doing just that. For now I acknowledge that there is guilt and there is NO way out, so I stop struggling with it and let go (and enjoy the show). Then I can, after reflection, make a blog post like this one.

      Is my method effective? For me, it is but I can’t really endorse it yet because I just don’t know if it’ll work at all for others — maybe they don’t even feel the same guilt as I do, for them they’re more concerned about feeling guilt for watching “bad” shows when they feel they should be watching Legend of the Galactic Heroes (not a kind of guilt I subscribe to). So, I’m committed to explore the subject further and maybe educate myself along the way.

      Which ultimately, is why I value your comments. Thank you very much.

  7. Will of the wisps says:

    There is little to add that was not said before, although I would love to hear more from Executive Otaku regarding deconstructing the honor(warrior)/soldier myth. As well, SpeedStrike’s comments about contextualizing antagonists and empathizing with their situation is fascinating as it points out anime can lead to a better world of understanding (communication by inference rather than communication by telepath/newtype [and the room for misunderstanding may actually perpetrate new views that leads to empathy], but I am going on a tangent here).

    I do want to note, though, that in the last picture, smoking/lighting a cigarette is seen as the “man’s” (or at least “soldier’s”) mean of displaying solidarity, a mean of communion of sort. However, I am curious what replaces that in the modern world where smoking is frowned upon rather than seen as “manly” (I know you will disagree with me 21st Century Boy). What does the more recent gundam series portray? Fighting appears to be Wing’s answer, and for Gundam X…. well I drew a blank there. How about even more recent ones? Destiny/00? Or are signs of communion a symbol of the halcyon days (e.g. eating lunch with friends back in school when the pilot was innocent) that will be shed once the show turns “dark”?

    • Mmmm, instead of sharing a cigarette they could re-blog each other’s tumblr posts, retweet, or like facebook status updates LOL.

      I think Crusader will be a good person to ask since he’s a soldier who gives me all kinds of shit about my smoking habit. I’ll let them know about your questions.

      • Will of the wisps says:

        Thanks.

      • Crusader says:

        Smoking is still common but chewing tobbacco is much more prevalent and in some ways much more disgusting.

        The universal show of solidarity these days though is drinking, that is pretty much universal accross the board with exception to Middle Eastern militaries where beer is forbidden. Every one that can drink ususally does drink on some level, and everyone has their favorite brand and cocktail.

    • Elaborating on the warrior/soldier dynamic and myth, history and legends put a lot of emphasis on the heroic deeds of an individual warrior. Cultures all over the world share this, so there isn’t even much difference between European and Asian cultures and their respective individualistic and group-oriented tendencies, and the same with African, Middle Eastern, American, and all other cultures. The brave and intelligent individual that travels and almost always fights terrible enemies captures the imagination because it’s both inspiring on a personal level to the reader and is easier to understand and take in than a complex story of how a royal court and an army and bureaucracy of thousands accomplished this or that deed. So I’d say that that’s the ancient and common base.

      A lot of these stories also had, especially when you start moving to medieval times, elements of stated or unstated codes of honor. Chinese wuxia, European chivalry, Arabic Koranic codes, all of these started entering stories and myths as feudal systems became dominant. So another layers was added, that of refined and honorable individuals that became tied to their civilization’s values even as they moved about as free actors within it. Warrior heroes were still strong, smart, and acted as individuals, but now they had defined codes and manner to which they ascribed. Complying with these rules made them more admirable, as it both showed their commitment but also humbled them before their values and/or god. Restraint was a part of it, as over centuries it became gentlemanly and refined to reign in one’s passions.

      Then on to the transition to the modern world. As I had mentioned before, there was a return to the romanticism of past times when industrialization made war mass-produced, total, and efficient instead of (supposedly) noble, waged by a few heroes, and stylish. The soldier started replacing the warrior and the warrior-general as military technology became more advanced in Europe, though it took some time before this was realized, as evidenced by the casualties that resulted from outdated tactics in the Crimean War and US Civil War. Rifles rolled off of an assembly line replaced named swords, and the standardized metal helmet and dull grey fatigues replaced bright coats and shining armor. Better communication and mass conscription also made people more aware of how terrible war is, so it was easy to see why they’d turn back to stories of noble and personal warfare from centuries past instead of the dirty, long range battles of the present.

      So while it’s not realistic and never was really true, the idea of the warrior and how he is romanticized is still with us today. And it will probably always be so, since we always like inspiring and fantastic stories, and judging by how long they’ve been a part of every culture’s history, we always will.

      • Will of the wisps says:

        Thank you. I always wondered, though, whether ancient warfare during the “honorable” times were the same as today– armies change the tide of battle, not heroes. The common perception that heroes such as Gun Yu or aces (e.g. Red Baron) were instrumental in victories may be because the common people have not seen an ancient battle. Rather, all we know of them is from stories glorifying heroes.

        Drawing on what I know about Roman history, individuals rarely change history without military/mob/social class to back them. The mob is similar to an army, and social class basically means you have a mob if they are pissed off enough. All the great changes (e.g. taking over Gaul, reform to get rid of senate power-base, economic reform, and cumulating to the superpower status) we attribute to individual heroes (e.g. Ceasar, Octavian) occurred because the heroes have an army to fight for them. Rarely do we see Beowolf, a lone hero able to sail in, slay Grendel, walk away, slay Grendel’s mom, then go kill a dragon without a huge army (he still had a band of elite troops with him, but they took a lesser role to the warrior rather than being soldiers of equal import). Lone heroes might complete quests (e.g. retrieve the holy man from India in Monkey King), but they do not win battles. Rather, in hero stories with armies, hero act as moral support rather than ace killing most of the enemies while the army stands in the background (for instance, the story of Joan of Arc). Therefore, perhaps even in ancient times, war is still being fought by individual soldiers and their efficiency rather than the overpowering might of heroes.

        • vendredi says:

          You’ve nailed pretty much the sense of the “warrior hero” – keeping troops disciplined and holding their positions was often the most crucial factor in pre-modern conflicts. Do note that most of the periods of history that have highly celebrated feats of individual heroism also had much less in the way of social organization that would allow for highly trained and disciplined armies.

          Compare, for example, the Roman Empire versus the later European medieval period – Roman texts generally do not emphasize individual prowess at arms, because of the high degree of cohesion of the legions, while the lack of social organization in and around the 12th century AD allowed a highly skilled individual or small group of individuals to make a much more significant contribution.

          • And in Japan… it really came in late. The meta was really all about 1 vs 1 or 1 vs many. If the storm didn’t wreck the Mongol ships I think they’d have been REAALLY SCREWED.

  8. Kaioshin Sama says:

    You have seen MS Igloo right? It pretty much has to be mentioned because that’s pretty much the one that the whole further Nazification of Zeon started from. It was there that they adopted the LOGH style of giving everyone in Zeon Germanic names and of course it features a character named Herbert Von Kuspen who is decked out in SS gear right down to the black leather glove that he crinkles in order to intimidate his men.

    There’s even a scene where they literally bring in the Hitler Youth of Zeon who are all indoctrinated Aryan looking kids that represent the fresh out of the academy pilots you heard about during the battle of A Baoa Qu in the original series but never saw. It’s really something else.

    • You’re right. It’s an oversight on my part mostly due to my lack of affinity for the first Igloo OVA. Thanks for mentioning it here!

      • Kaioshin Sama says:

        When you have the time I definitely recommend checking it out. Same formula as the second MS Igloo, but you also get some insight into the mindset of Zeon as it struggles to make something out of a war that it knows is a lost cause by the halfway point of the series. Definitely food for the hardcore U.C fan.

        • No I mean I’ve actually seen Igloo 1, I just didn’t like it except for the 1st and final episodes. This is why I forgot about it more than anything. I should’ve mentioned it anyway.

  9. Robert Weizer says:

    One interesting thing to note about these sorts of things is that we have the ability to have sort of an outside view. We weren’t there when it happened, so we have the benefit of opinions that people living the situation didn’t get.

    Of course, this is a given in anime and history in general, so yeah.

  10. theCorpsCommander says:

    ahh, Gundam. best mecha ever. but, the one thing I really don’t understand is, that every Gundam series I’ve watch (G Gundam is an exception and to a lesser extent, Gundam X) is: its either People from Earth (Earth Fed) vs. Spacenoids? err…People from Space I guess. Anyway, the way conflict is held maybe the same like Lakers vs. Celtics again, but it really differs on the way the conflict is started. In Gundam Wing: Colonists vs. Earth Government, Gundam SEED: Naturals vs. Coordinators, in Gundam 00 what was the general conflict that started it all..uhh..religion? err..nevermind. Anyway, I guess that’s just it.

    PS: cool intro pic you got there! Heil Hitler! :D

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  12. Tepintzin Huehueocelotl says:

    I just surfed in, late to this party.
    Bad guys ARE cool, from Darth Vader to Alan Rickman’s Severus Snape. However I think it’s useful to separate out anime villains from those in English language popular culture. Beowulf reflects Viking cultural values, which tended to be egalitarian and independent-minded.
    Back on topic. I don’t think that Tomino ever intended to have the Zeon be as Nazi-esque as he intended. That came later and I must say I don’t like it. I didn’t get the impression that he ever intended MSG to be “World War II In Space” and indeed, the plotline does not follow those lines. I consider “Igloo” to be the worst offender and while I love the “historic photos” from the OYW, they’re just as guilty. In the interest of creating a world that represents World War II, they’re completely unrealistic and against Gundam canon. Why the heck would a Federation soldier be eating rations out of cans? Soldiers haven’t done that since 1981, earlier if they were Special Forces. This is supposed to be the future, not 1944. In pictures from the same series, there’s a 1940s attitude towards women which directly contradicts Tomino’s vision.
    The forced Third Reich imagery of non-Tomino Gundam series also betrays a real lack of historical awareness. To bring up “Galactic Heroes” (which I love), anyone who is dismayed because the word “Reich” makes them think of the Nazis needs to pick up a book on 19th century Europe. The word “Reich” means “Kingdom” or “Empire”. The uniforms have nothing to do with Nazis and everything to do with the pomp and circumstance of Prussia before World War I. If you really want to assuage your guilt, look at English uniforms of the time. Everybody was wearing fancy tunics with epaulets, it was the fashion. The Zeon seem to have looked back to that era for inspiration, but toned it down. This is not surprising. The Zeon are a colonial people, and my theory is that Giren was looking back to the great empires of the 19th century for a “look”. Check out photos of upper-class Mexican generals in the mid-19th century like Santa Anna, or post-colonial rulers like Haile Selaissie. Dressing like that was intended to say to the world, “Look! We’re Imperial and thus powerful!” by using the style of the European empires.
    Zeon does not need to look to the comparatively recent history of Germany for its military fashion. It looks back farther than that.

    • I’m with you regarding the Axis-ification (so to speak) of Gundam (and Zeon in particular), but man the thing is this Nazi imagery looks incredibly badass. It’s not even terribly consistent: Zeon would be Nazi AND Japan. The asteroids were named after islands in the Pacific theater (Palau, Solomon).

      I too, love the Reich as love remembered in LotGH, but I’ll be straight with you… while I agree that all this Axis-ification of Gundam is post-Tomino, I can’t say I really mind it so much. On the flat, superficial, and uh postmodern aspect of appreciation… I am okay with all this (guilty as I end up feeling at times).

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