There is a pretty strong opinion on how Setsuna F. Seiei fails. Hard. At the time the post was written I was more than less in agreement with it. Having said that, I rather enjoyed Setsuna’s character in season one, particularly with how he wanted to be a Gundam himself, and not just a pilot of it. I found the sentiment …cute. I mean, awww kid wants to be a Gundam! I relate because while I don’t want to be the robot, I wouldn’t mind being a pilot. I found this sentiment amusing and entertaining.
Interesting too, if read as an escapist fantasy of an adolescent with the blood of his own parents on his hands.
Before I proceed, here’s Crusader’s rant: (10 December 2008 )
I make no secret of how much I dislike this traitor to the Kurds, and it has never been without reason. Frankly I have no idea why he was ever selected to pilot a Gundam, though granted I never understood how Shin Asuka was given one either. Suffice to say though Jihad-kun has made plenty of dick moves during the course of Gundam 00, perhaps he’s like some hopeless moron that can’t make sense of anything, but one thing is certain Jihad-kun has very poor judgment skills. First off despite his bitch, moans, and complaints to the contrary Jihad-kun’s first dick move came not long after he was squeezed out of his mother’s womb. Where any other child would have done something to thank his mother for her birthing pains with flowers or something, Jihad-kun repaid her by killing his dad, and then killing his mum too. […]
[…]Not limiting himself to killing his own parents Jihad-kun made another dick move by saving Nena…so much for peace and justice when the only person he did save in season one was a mass murderer. Not content on only saving mass murderers Jihad-kun went two steps further in saving that loser Saji so he could cry and drag down Gundam 00 with his woe is me attitude, worse still Mariana was freed to plague us with kiddie meat shield day care for the duration of the year. Out of all the people he could have save not one was a Kurd, sure Jihad-kun pretends to be a good guy, but judging by the people he has saved he might as well have saved Corner from heartbreak by Ribbons to cement his year of being an ass. […]
[…]On the piloting side of things, I can’t believe how this guy can claim to be Gundam when Gundam 00 seems to hate his guts and refused to Trans-Am against Bushido Bob. Really with the way Jihad-kun’s getting his ass kicked he better hope that O-Raizer will help him last five minutes against Prince Ali, otherwise come Sunday maybe his first kills will be team kills. Sucks to be you Jihad-kun now you’ll go down as the worst Gundam pilot ever, if he had to pilot a GN-XIII he’d be worse than Patrick.
Episode 14 speaks to Crusader’s questioning of why Setsuna was taken into Celestial Being to become a Gundam Meister. Ribbons was the pilot of 0 Gundam, and in their confrontation in said episode, he tells Setsuna this much, and that he’s claiming the 00 as rightfully his. Crusader doesn’t say much about this in his review of episode 14. Perhaps when the series is done he’ll have a definitive opinion on Setsuna.
I will get back to this.
There are two moments I will take note of, where Setsuna’s character speaks to me. The first moment is when he allows Saji to knock him down with a slap. Come on! This has got to be some kind of new low. Bright Noa himself never knocked down anyone with a slap, why should Setsuna let himself be subjected to this ignonimy?
I let my RAEG simmer down and look at the context. What happened in episode 12?
Saji weeps and moans at how Louise is on the side of the counter terrorists while he himself has joined with the terrorists who saved the murderer of Louise’s family. Jihad-kun being the ass that he is still asking the dumb question of why he shot his mother ad father, and tells Saji to fight to take back Louise, ignoring the fact that Louise is not in a kitchen and is piloting Smultron and kicking ass. Saji socks the shit out of Jihad-kun and floors the fucker, Prince Ali could only laugh as the washout got pwned by the biggest loser in Gundam history. Saji runs away to his room to brood, one step forward three steps back indeed. Saji then resolves to take the O-Raiser and try and beg Louise to take his sorry ass back.
Ok, Crusader really doesn’t like both of these characters. I don’t like Saji, but I’m working out my issues with Setsuna here. Kaioshin mentions in his comments on Crusader’s post on episode 14 that we should get off Saji’s case since he’s stopped being so self-righteous and settled into his role in the Ptolemaios, if only to cry bitterly in the scenes he’s in. Okay, I’ll ease up on him, even if I don’t ever learn to like him (as I’ve never cared for Katz and Hathaway).
Setsuna doesn’t get it here, Saji doesn’t want to fight! He’s just consumed by his own guilt over his parents that he lets himself suffer this way. Falling down to a Saji slap isn’t redemptive in any way, though Setsuna must really think so. This scene is a highlight of the roles they play in each other’s narrative representations – not so much through direct interaction but how their character traits and backgrounds contrast. Here’s OGT’s take (read the full post here):
“Are you okay with being the only one at peace?” highlights, or at least made me think far too hard, one of the great problems that seems to be part of human conflict and the lack thereof: how absolutely and interminably difficult it is to acheive peace without sacrificing other people’s peace (temporarily or permanently) in the process. Indeed, it may be impossible to actually acheive an ideal peace where everyone is at ease and peaceful, since someone’s idea of peace can differ wildly from other people’s.
It’s a horrendously complicated issue evidenced through the fact that it’s almost impossible for me to even start addressing the issue, but the message carried from Setsuna to Saji is quite clear: if peace is to be acheived, then sacrifice must be made. Saji’s perspective seems selfish and naive by comparison, in the sense that his own personal peace was disrupted (and continues to be disrupted) for the sake of Celestial Being’s greater mission, even if it was a certain charmingly crazy member of Team Trinity who started the whole problem, and not Setsuna.
By the same token, however, one could argue that Setsuna’s postion–that in order to acheive peace, peace must be sacrificed–seems, well, foolish and naive at best, for how can it be “peace” when there’s people who are resentful of the manner by which peace was acheived? Still, however, if there is a way to peace, it is only by the sacrifice of personal peace, on some level, be it restricted to a small group of people dedicated to preseving said peace, or be it a global removal of personal peace in favor of interpersonal peace.
You have Setsuna trying to achieve collective peace, and Saji trying to preserve personal peace. In the confrontation, Setsuna insisted on taking on the guilt of Nena Trinity – who acted not as part of Celestial Being, but also on pure whim, when she opened fire on the wedding party that killed Louise’s parents and maimed her arm. Louise being a strong-willed character, chose to become a fighter and settle with the Gundams like a soldier. Saji hates this, very much! (reminiscent of how Emiya Shirou of Fate/stay Night insists that Saber belongs in skirts and in the kitchen and not wielding a sword in a battlefield). He lashes out to Setsuna and slapped the man who saved his life, and gives him opportunities to make a difference still.
I do not like this at all, even after considering all that. Guilt, is one of the most useless and destructive emotions I’ve ever known. Feeling guilty addresses nothing, nothing. You just get to feel like a good guy and assuage your own conscience. It’s selfish and narcissistic. There is nothing resolved, and you’re still an asshole. A guilty asshole, but an asshole nonetheless. It’s quite an inauthentic way of being, if you ask me. If Setsuna thinks that I’m going to sympathize with him for acting like Jesus and getting Saji-slapped for Nena’s sins, he’s mistaken.
I want to distinguish feeling guilty from acting responsibly. Taking responsibility for Nena’s actions would be more like speaking to Saji with power, LIKE A GUNDAM. Setsuna can promise redress, or at least request Saji what conditions will satisfy him – WITH DIGNITY. Getting slapped and knocked down is so lame.
But in episode 14 he is confronted by Ribbons. Ribbons outright shatters Setsuna’s idealization of Gundam, the Gundam he wanted to be – by claiming that he, Ribbons was the pilot of the 0 Gundam, and that he purposedly spared Soran Ibrahim then, so he can be the Gundam Meister Setsuna F. Seiei. Given how much Setsuna invested his entire identity in becoming Gundam, we can imagine how awful the revelation must have been.
And then Setsuna started showing a bit of character. When Ribbons casually and disdainfully told Setsuna that the 00 Gundam was rightfully his, Setsuna did not fall apart. Instead he got hot-blooded and bested Ali al-Sarchez in his modified Throne Zwei Gundam. This time, there’s no nonsense about holding back the Trans-Am ability of the Gundam. He used every bit of what Gundam 00 that was available to him and defeated his life’s nemesis.
What more could I have asked from him at this point? He acted with my favorite Roman virtues: dignitas and auctoritas (not exactly in fulfillment of the Mos Maiorum, but rather as a Gundam Meister). In this moment it is irrelevant to me whether the premise of his armed activity is questionable, or whether his judgments have been consistently sound or unsound. In this moment, I know he could have well been reduced to an emotional puddle, but no. He did not forget, that he was piloting a Gundam – and that meant ownage.
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