Sympathy For The Traitor: Mobile Suit Gundam AGE 32

[sage]_Mobile_Suit_Gundam_AGE_-_31_[720p][10bit][B8D2246A].mkv_snapshot_12.36_[2012.05.20_20.43.02]

[Mobile Suit Gundam AGE 31]

War history has is rich with narratives of sympathizers and collaborators. Being a Filipino I am most familiar with the Makapili collaborators during the Japanese Occupation of WW2, who cooperated with the Japanese by identifying Filipino resistance members while wearing a wicker basket over their own heads so as not to be identified in turn and avoid retribution.

In the case of the Vagan invasion, the collaboration of the likes of Shanalua with the would be invaders was presumably providing them intelligence. The narrative went out of its way to make Shanalua as sympathetic as possible. In this post I’ll explore what the story did and ultimately why it doesn’t quite work.

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I think by making Shanalua a tactical foil to Flit’s mentoring was enough. There was no further need to instill a moral element to her. She was a stern but patient mentor to Kio in terms of piloting – giving Kio a defensive sensibility as opposed to Flit’s all offense all the time upbringing. She rounds out the X-Rounder, so to speak. Her turning out to be a Vagan spy would create (and does so) a tension in terms of military results, which ultimately becomes a moral question anyway: she is helping Kio cause Vagan casualties. Furthermore, this creates a layer of subtlety – a means to atone for her treachery.

This is plenty rich. This is enough.

However, the story gives her this family angle – which serves well the purpose of making the sheltered and inexperienced Kio to value family and relationships, but is overkill in using the sick younger sister. What really makes this terrible is that Shanalua’s primary justification for selling out Earth is that she didn’t have enough money for medical expenses and treatment for the sick sister. Money!

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It would be different I think, if it involved high tech medical science voodoo only the Vagans had, thought it would take more effort in storytelling to make this work. But no, it’s just money. While we can reasonably assume that Shanalua’s already overdrawn, mortgaged to the hilt, and having problems getting more loans due to her line of work, I can imagine a few more options in raising cash than selling out the goddamn Earth to hostile Alien Invaders.

It becomes such a shaky foundation for what is obviously meant as a touching scene, a harsh life-lesson for Kio the child soldier. But this is pretty weak. Send this shit back to Mobilie Suit Victory Gundam where it belongs.

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In the early parts of the Universal Century, females who turned traitor, did it because they were weak and damaged goods. Reccoa was rejected by Quattro/Char and went straight for the great space pimp Paptimus Scirocco. Quess Paraya also did it for the Char sex factor. Gundam is a rich tradition of misogyny, but I think Mobile Suit Gundam AGE actually makes it worse.

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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68 Responses to Sympathy For The Traitor: Mobile Suit Gundam AGE 32

  1. rollover says:

    On Katejina:

    Eh um… WHAT.

  2. Ironically, the whole thing with the money as the motive of treason was no more than a cheap judeo-christian analogy(cue the Jesus Yamato or now… Jesus Asuno jokes,XD), but like you mention here, the thing of ‘more advance techology’ would have been a better reason, heck even that would have been a nice ‘sub-plot’(that with the dead old sis, the veigan now will brainwash the Lil sis to use against Kio.. that would have been amazing,such a waste), but that already happen somehow.

    But now Kio have lost his first love (Sorry Wendy, you were second table dish ever more faster than your predecesor), and he is now angry, pretty angry, he will entre ‘RAGE MODE’ the next chapter, and that would be interesting for the climax of the battle, but the whole Shanalua dead will even help Flit side, that not make the veigan better but worse under Kio eyer, heck even he will hate the veigan worse that is grandfather.

    So far the chapter have several plot holes… but manage to be good anyway, waiting how Kio will be after the battle.

    • Tenryu says:

      i just had a problem with the money being gold coins… seriously what era are we in?

      • anon says:

        well… I think gold is more acceptable in Earth than Veigan Currency

      • senshi says:

        Gold had remain a precious material and the defacto trade mineral against all currency for thousands of years even today, what makes you think it would go away?

        Pro-tip: paper money and credits in the bank is not secure during war time

    • Hmmm, I don’t know if Kio will end up hating the Vagan more after this. After all, Shanalua counseled sympathy more than anything else, thinking of the Vagan as humans, as opposed to Flit who well, yeah.

  3. Rusty says:

    My impression is just that they are heavyhanded in making Kio as miserable about Shanalua’s death as possible. I don’t particularly mind the money as motivation part, but the sick little sister melodrama feels lazy.

    On another topic, when Kio admits that he knows nothing about maintenance work, I could not help but think about how the Asunos have fallen as inventors during the long war. Sure, they have the magnificent Gundam and the AGE system, but Flit is the last Asuno who creates something. Asem shows some aptitude but ultimately settles to be a pilot and Kio forgoes the engineering aspect altogether. Asunos don’t make new things anymore, they just destroy now.

    • senshi says:

      If the only thing the Asunos makes are weapons, then it is better that they don’t make them. In fact I wouldn’t rule out that the show would actually go into that direction, being that nearly all the new-age Gundams takes a very much pacifist leaning and all that.

    • Chris Tenney says:

      Unless certain fan rumors hold true and this series is a prequel to “∀ Gundam”. Meaning that maybe Kio goes even farther off the deep end than Flit has, builds the ∀ Gundam, and destroys all of human civilization completely.

      • Reid says:

        THAT IS AN AMAZAZING FAN RUMOR. In a sterling example of cosmic fanwankery, I came up with that same theory at the very start of this show.

      • Rusty says:

        That scenario sounds crazy. On the other hand, it’s well known from their franchises that the folks at Level 5 aren’t exactly sane so maybe the rumour is on to something.

    • Generational excellence is super rare. Asem had the inclination, but didn’t have the X-Rounder ability. It’s actually quite silly to expect generations to just keep getting better and better, or even just maintain the high level of/at everything that previous generations were good at.

  4. Inky says:

    This series does some big deaths well (Remi, Woolf) but others are really hamhanded (Yurin, Grodek, and now poor Shanalua). It’s really irritating, especially because Shanalua was such a good character and this show doesn’t have enough good female characters that they can kill them off like this. Even so, I would have thought this was done decently if it had come three or four episodes later, but it was… so damn obvious.

    And yeah, Vagan medical technology would have made ten thousand times more sense than just MONIES (also, really, a bag of gold? although I guess a computer screen of a bank transfer isn’t as dramatic). I mean, she could just steal Flit’s stuff and hawk it on the AGE equivalent of eBay; I’m sure there are military collectors out there who would pay top dollar for his goggles.

    Sad. I guess she and Yurin will have to keep each other company in their fridge; maybe they can play Go Fish.

    • Yeah, Flit’s Bask Om goggles would’ve been worth a lot. But why go that far? She can pilfer ordnance… a mobile suit even! This Gundam after all, jacking mobile suits is no great achievement.

  5. CVPhased says:

    And Gundam AGE continues their non-existent subtlety in their episode titles, LOL!

    Liked how you used the different angles the same scene in the previous episode for this one. I agree with the guy above that she’s a very interesting character and could have been given deeper intentions for her treachery in relation to how she treats Kio. But yeah, they can’t get more cliche with the execution — the sick sister and the bag of coins. I mean, bag of coins at a time where transforming and docking mobile suits are all over the place…

    Athrun Zala is a total d*ck.

  6. Cezar Uy says:

    I actually like Wendy the most compared to Yurin and Romary, actually she is the most useful secondary character among the three, and her independent nature makes her a much more respectable character than her predecessors, screw Emily and Romary one was useless and annoying, other was meh. as for shanalua, she already annoyed me on episode 30 enough to make her death meaningless to me, in fact I was very much into thinking that she should die in this episode, but the execution and story writing was just as what we expected from AGE: terrible. I was actually expecting more developed romance on the 3rd gen because the previous generations were simply “stupid” but seeing Kio crying in rage for the death of a rather “weak” and annoying character makes all my high hopes for the 3rd gen in a state of collapse. I was surprised that you’re also a Pinoy @ghostlightning :)

  7. Laziness says:

    All these long posts! I like Shanalua, I just wish that if you’re going to kill someone off like that at least do a good job of it :/ I liked how she was a voice of reason that could have given Kio another point of view on the war and killing.

  8. Shining_Bard says:

    Something tells me AGE-3′s next wear will make the Physalis nukes feel like getting smacke byy a pilow.

  9. Gamer2002 says:

    You raised good points, personally I would like Shanalua to be a Vagan and her sister to be sick from Mars Rays. It also didn’t explain why Shanalua pointed out that Vagans also have families, aside form that she lost her own so she could feel some sympathy towards people in her situation.

    But there were other elements that saved this episode for me.

    - Kio, taking in account he is just a child, was acting reasonable. He wanted to learn the truth and asked directly why she was a spy. Naive, but understandable from his position and without taking his messiah personality too far.
    - Kio couldn’t do anything. There was no way he could prevent Shanalua from being executed just because “she wasn’t that bad”. He is just a kid.
    - Even dying Shanalua showed how life is fragile. She didn’t die in some over the top way, no beam, no explosion, not even bullets. Only internal injures from blunt trauma after being punched in the cockpit, you can die that easy.

    AGE is a kids shows, it isn’t perfect but its main purpose is to teach kids important lessons. It is good at it, and for that I can overlook other mistakes.

    I am only surprised you didn’t mention Miharu Ratokie, they even paid Shanalua with gold.

  10. hail_GS_ERA says:

    more what else is on come on yea no wonder way it going it always JUMP THE SHARKS with that hurray i’m not watching PG-gundam yawn fest.

    call me when either GS era return or we lead main lead woman gundam pilot yea we want more women active in gundam series.

  11. Shinmarizu says:

    This kind of discussion makes me wonder what a Gundam series would be like if the main protagonist was a girl instead of a boy. I can imagine the exposition of the morality plays that Gundam often uses would be a lot tougher to write / direct, not to mention any romantic subplots would be difficult to execute without the prerequisite shoujo sparkles.
    If a decent enough bunch from Sunrise were to produce such a Gundam series without the normal pitfalls of female fanservice, I would be pleasantly surprised.

  12. ces06 says:

    Well, this episode was pretty much predictable…

    Yeah, the doing it for money is pretty weak. And it makes her look pretty stupid, considering how vital the information she provided to the Vagan seems. She could’ve bargained and walked away with so much more.

    I was kind of hoping they would have kept her alive. It’d be much more interesting if that happened. How many traitors in Gundam earned redemption/stayed with the crew till the end so far? Nada, as far as I know.

    LOL Z’GOKS

    That aside, I’m really looking forward to the next episode. Looks like stuff’s about to get real, and man, if would be interesting to see what would happen if the Zeon forces really won the battle of Jaburo.

  13. Metaphysicist says:

    Let’s pause for a moment of non-denominational pryer, for Kio Asuno, my his life be filled with less tribulation than the last Gundam pilot of such a tender age.

    Gundam AGE is largely devoted to Remembering The Love Of Gundam Series past.

    AGE-1 is RX-78-2 Gundam,AGE-2 is MSZ-006 Zeta Gundam,AGE-3 MSZ-010 ΖΖ Gundam.
    The most interesting bit of Remembrance is Gundam’s first honest to Atheismo Armuro(with elements of Uso Ewin)Clone. Reddish-brown hair, blue eyes,inordinate psychic power and godly piloting ability;the only thing missing is an aptitude for engineering. I’m willing to bet that if we see an older version of Kio Asuno he will have cut his hair. And if the war extends into Kio’s older years he or perhaps his child will pilot AGE-4NewAge RX-93 ν Gundam.

    People have noticed that Flit is far better grandfather than he was as father. and i think i know why. Flit was to preocupided with being the Commander of earth forces to focus on his family.
    And despite the fact that Flit told Asem that he wasn’t disappointed that he wasn’t an X-Rounder; he was. Flit is so good to Kio, because Kio is everything that he wanted in son and heir. A Vagen hating powerful X-Rounder trained from a young age to carry out genocide.

    Lastly Is there anybody besides me that hopes that Woobit Gunhale is going turn out to be Kio’s half brother thus Asem’s bastard son.

  14. sadakups says:

    I actually agree with what was written in this article, and I was really disappointed even before this episode when it hinted Shanalua being a spy. I like her character from the start being the mentor for Kio and it was rather quick for her end, especially when we find out that the reason for becoming a traitor was rather weak, considering that she practically marked her own death once she turned around, hence it was funny that she tells Kio prior to dying that she needs to be alive for her sister.

  15. Shining_Bard says:

    Since AGE-3′s next wear is space based I’m guessing the next episode will reveal some big thing for the Vagan side. Maybe some giant mothership or something.

  16. hail_GS_ERA says:

    yea she only last 3eps or less come on total more why PG-age gundam is no good lack of characters develop showings.

    give hype a characters then last few eps & that it really more total (bleep)-crap to watch.

    we want next gundam get woman to lead or we roit.

  17. Reid says:

    Zeheart is acting kinda…funny…in this third main arc of the show. He seems almost disaffected, like he’s just going through the motions. I hope there’s some light shed on what caused the change in his personality. However, it was cool (to me alone, it appears) that he got to drive a red Zgok thing in this episode.

    I would say something about how weak it was that Shanalua gave up the location of the Federation’s HQ, but I think a better question would be this one: why did she have to make such a dirty deal with the Vagans in the first place? Nobody can tell me that a one-world government is not going to have public healthcare. If freakin’ Sweden can do it, then surely the Earth Federation can too.

    • Chris Tenney says:

      To be fair, Sweden is rather small when compared to the entire Earth, and that’s WITHOUT adding the colonies to that mix. Even WITH money, the bureaucracy would have to be murder, and Shanalua said her sister needed constant care, so I would imagine there’s something of a deadline to worry about.

      • Reid says:

        All true, but Shanalua is a military officer! If anybody is going to be taken care of it’s them and their families. However, if you’re right it lends some credence to the usual UC axiom: neither the Earth side or the Colonies side is really all that great to its people. If that is indeed the case, maybe Flit has the right idea all along by building his one-off Super Robots for the purpose of revenge. At least he’s fighting for something that means something to him directly.

        • Inky says:

          Actually, a lot of real-life militaries are extremely crappy to their soldiers and veterans, so that part is pretty plausible. Shanalua’s insurance probably covers up to a certain point and forces her to make up the rest by herself, because a sick kid is not a priority for the EFF when they’ve got all these Vagans around.

    • Zeheart needs Asem. Right now he doesn’t have an enemy to fixate on, and as a character there’s no rivalry to keep him interested/interesting.

  18. BenDTU says:

    I figured they were trying to push how Shanalualamalama-sama or whatever the hell her name was didn’t care about the war and all that. Plus the Vagan were probably helping with her sister’s condition more than the Feds were. That sort of almost kind of makes sense.

    But now she’s dead so her sister will grow up being lonely provided she lives at all, so whatevs.

  19. CM_KLAC says:

    yea show really kick things like really screw everyone yet this PG-gundam no wonder it’s keep worse & no good to watch anymore.

    hey i pity this series so much really when years later people mention it would be a hmm not to watch.

    yea overall way it’s going all we more JUMP THE SHARKS, scrappy, blah, lack of characters develop, we hardly knew ye, etc indeed WORST SHOW EVER in this era.

    • Blacknoah says:

      Dude, seriously, stop typing. Really, STOP IT. You’re ruining a fun blog site with your stupid fanboyism.

  20. free-KLAC-zing says:

    well give lately gundam series been no good to women besides really way PG-age treat the woman oh come besides i like so wanting next gundam series be main lead gundam pilot be a WOMAN to lead.

  21. anon says:

    about money motivation..

    I think she get it before she joined Federation and furthermore, she get into Federation Army by Veigan link inside.

    Knowing her background as poor war orphan, I don’t think she want to join any side that doing the war on the first place.
    When her sister get serious sickness, a Veigan person come to her offering money to get her sister treatment with information of Fed Army as the payback. Maybe that person know that Shanalua have great ability as pilot? Or pseudo X-Rounder maybe…
    She get into with internal link afterward, doing her career while continuously sending data to Veigan…

    I think it’ll give more ‘believable’ background for her..

  22. Pingback: Mobile Suit Gundam AGE 33 – Capitulo/Episodio 33 [AVI HD-MP4 HD-Subs Español/MKV HD-Subs Ingles/English][Download][Para Descargar y Ver en Linea ONLINE Español/Ingles-English][JDownloader-Mipony] « Berusaiyu No Bara

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