The Colonization of Space That Wasn’t: Gundam’s Universal Century as Editorialized by Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn 02

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One of the most remarkable moments in the second episode of Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn followed the meaningful conversation at a Sleeves officer’s dinner table. In that dinner conversation, Gundam does something cute: the naïveté of the protagonist Banagher Links is confronted by an even younger person’s, Tikva the eldest son of the Sleeves officer.

I’d put Tikva’s age to be 11 to Banagher’s 15; the equivalents of Alfredo Izuruha in War in the Pocket, and Amuro Ray or Kamille Bidan from Mobile Suit Gundam and Mobile Suit Z Gundam respectively. Banagher’s age allows him to loudly question everyone’s motives against his own (naïve) ideals, which is expectedly polarized against the (jaded and/or corrupt) adults’.

[ROC] Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn 02 [BD720,AC3].mkv_snapshot_50.23_[2010.11.05_08.25.10]
While adults are for the most part dismissive or defensive, Tikva gets to be confrontational, as certain and as ignorant as a kid idolizing his father could be. He starts by cheerfully prying into Banagher’s reasons for being with them. Eventually commenting,

Oh, then you’re lucky to be our prisoner! If you were a Federation prisoner, they wouldn’t give you anything to eat. You’d be tortured! [Banagher denies this] Yeah they do. My dad says so. He was a prisoner on Earth…

The two boys go back and forth, while the adults seem uncomfortable but do not interfere. When Tikva’s father does admonish him, it seems more to correct his manners for being rude to their guest than to agree or disagree with his arguments.

Banagher keeps talking, and when he mentions the colony drop, the father looks thoughtful. It’s obvious that he isn’t proud of the fact that Zeon did that.

But see here, Banagher wasn’t really interested in defending the Federation from criticism or in aligning himself politically with either Zeon or the Federation in light of his being born in and having lived in space. He was fully present to the fact that he killed the Sleeves mobile suit pilot Sergi. He’s beginning to feel the reality of being a killer. Obviously, being a murder is farthest from his self-identity.

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It is interesting to note that the Colony Drop that devastated Sydney, Australia was targeted to Jaburo in Brazil. Just as Banagher was shooting at the Sinanju, his stray beam ripped apart Sergi’s Geara Zulu, killing the pilot instantly.

Equally interesting, is how throughout that battle, Banagher was fighting mobile suits. He wasn’t fully present, if at all, to the fact that there were people in it. It reminds me of Amuro’s own realization, only after he’s shot down a number of Zaku IIs after several engagements, that there are people in these mobile suits the same way he’s inside the Gundam.

In his naïveté he willingly accepts the mandate to “protect everyone” not understanding that that meant using a very deadly weapon, and that meant he’d be responsible for taking lives.

Marida Cruz gets the situation, and cuts the awkwardness in the dining room by taking Banagher out. As I mentioned in my previous post on this episode, Marida is a revelation here. While her devotion to Mineva was to be expected, as well as her courage (enough to hold Full Frontal into account regarding Mineva being held hostage on the Nahel Argama) didn’t surprise me, there are two things that stand out:

  1. Her sensitivity to others and genuine care for them: see how she returned the sunglasses on her fellow soldier when Banagher attempted to evade them, then how she handled the daughter running around the dinner table.
  2. Her compassion for Banagher.

The latter is the component of this moment I just recounted and what follows the most remarkable moment that is the (supposed) subject of this post.

[ROC] Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn 02 [BD720,AC3].mkv_snapshot_52.02_[2010.11.05_09.01.58]
Mineva shows Banagher the Light of the Cross.

What you said is not wrong. There really is no justifiable war. However, justice does not always save lives.

This [chapel] was built when Palau was still in the asteroid belt. When you think about the earliest space pioneers they were mostly beggars or political criminals, without any other way to live.

I hear that when the Universal Century began, the Prime Minister stated in his speech that “we are bringing an end to the Era of God,” [Anno Domini] but the people living in the asteroid belt, where the sun is indistinguishable from any other stars, probably needed a light to guide them…

The story here is that the space pioneers are principally those who have no place on Earth. They are on the periphery of the Earth sphere. Earth is still the center. Colonization is a function of Empire, and the Earth Federation behaved like one. This is interesting because the colonization effort is less about the exploration of space and the seeding of the cosmos with the seeds of humanity. For that to be the case I’d imagine humanity would send at least some of the best examples of its species, so that the genetic future of the race will be best suited for the challenges of space.

However, the space colonization effort is born entirely (or at least nearly entirely) out of a reaction to a Malthusian population explosion. Earth is great, but Earth is scarce. Some of us must leave, but the assumption and conceit in the Gundam story is that most people did not want to leave Earth permanently. Thus, those who remained on Earth, were those who had the political and economic capital to do so. Those who did not, were shipped off-planet.

UC 0062 The "Alien Seclusion Act" is passed
The Zeonic conflict was born out of the Space Colonies’ drawing the line on what had been generations of Earth Federation hegemonic abuses. The colonies had no say on EF affairs, but the EF had every say on colony politics and economy. The colonies were taxed, at times heavily; maintaining the wealth of the Terrans who were the wealthy ones to begin with. The Principality of Zeon became a political state behind which the disaffected colonies rallied behind.

While this back story is pretty much taken as assumptions in all Gundam shows in the UC continuity, it’s only now in Gundam Unicorn that we are made to feel how dire and hopeless the spacenoids felt, how desperate and disaffected they felt, and how ripe they were for the domination by a demagogic leader and/or state. Marida continues,

No one can live without light. But the people abandoned in space eventually found a light to replace God. A new light called Zeon. It was what they needed, so that they could resist despair and keep living in this cruel world. Something that made them think that there was room in this world for improvement. Some may say you can live without that, or that it’s stupid to cling to something so intangible. If they’re sure about that, then those people must be true optimists or completely detached from reality.

This part of Marida’s speech, while still indulging the idea of God via the focus of the animation on the light of the cross, actually reinforces how the Universal Century really did change things, that the move to space ended the “Era of God,” by showing how even those who needed God in the periphery replaced the concept with that of the ideal of Zeon.

An ideal for an ideal, both reactions to the enemy of life that is despair. It is one thing to subsist, but without possibility, without anything to look forward to, the human being is unable to ‘survive’ without any quality of life. God, as represented by the Christian Cross, represented salvation after death, at the very least. This hope was enough for people not to forsake kindness and compassion for others; this created community and the supportive relationships that implied.

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Zeon replaced this because it represented hope for a better existence within one’s lifetime. If not that, at least the hope of redressing the spacenoids’ accumulated slights in the hands of the Earth Federation.

Banagher quotes an unnamed source, that God was possibility itself, and this is a uniquely human thing to have. Marida cuts history lesson as well as the digression,

Ensign Sergi… don’t worry about the one you shot down. When anyone goes into battle in a mobile suit, they become a combat unit called a pilot. There’s no need for regrets.

But… keep in mind that you are already part of the situation.

Marida performs the absolution. It is not her place to forgive, and she’s taken God out of the equation as well, but she shares with Banagher a truth about soldiering, about fighting. Furthermore, the absolution is meant to free Banagher from guilt, but also hold him fast to the responsibility of piloting the Gundam. Banagher, you musn’t run away.

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This frames the human condition perfectly in the post-Zeon era of the Universal Century. Full Frontal uses Char as a propaganda engine, invoking the ideal of Zeon, but not perhaps as Zeon Zum Deikum was, but more like the Zabis were: a political stand against the Earth Federation. Full Frontal the way he is does not have the resources to stand up against the EF directly as the Zabis did, or as Char did in the previous conflict. But the Laplace Box supposedly has within it something that’ll bring down the EF. So, this is his light.

What is Marida’s light? What is Banagher’s? I think she goes by the name of Mineva, who interestingly does not seem to follow a light herself.

There are no more innocents, though citizens from neutral colonies like Industrial 7 may disagree. Spacenoids and Terrans have already done much against each other. For true colonization to succeed, elitism and hegemony must be re-evaluated, and war in that perpetuates that status quo (regardless of who comes out on top) is the most wasteful thing in the age of space.

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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52 Responses to The Colonization of Space That Wasn’t: Gundam’s Universal Century as Editorialized by Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn 02

  1. Emperor J says:

    Excellent post. In your section about space colonization, I think the types of people sent up would make a lot of sense. The best and brightest would first go up and prove that it was conceptually possible, then cheap labor would move in to establish a presence. I’m starting to regret holding off on watching this until it is finished.

    • It may take looooong to finish, so we pray.

      I haven’t read a lot of space colonization/terraforming literature, but I think Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars Trilogy is excellent and it WILL put your ideas through its paces (the selection process of the best and brightest in the first book Red Mars alone is an amazing read) and then some.

      An interesting space colonization counterpoint to Gundam is that of Macross.

      In Macross two things solved the Malthusian population apocalypse: a WW3 equivalent that I imagined thinning out the population (back story), and then the Zentraedi annihilating pretty much all of the Earth’s surface and the biological population.

      The UN SPACY’s policy of space exploration (with an accompanying colonization fleet) is an acknowledgment of the fragility of human existence. Aliens can come to Earth and snuff it out easily, therefore humans must find other homes.

      In case you were wondering, the population generated for colonization is due to a mass-cloning effort. I believe that many of the citizens of Macross Frontier are descended from clones, but uninterestingly, none of the cast themselves.

  2. KrimzonStriker says:

    Excellent post once again ghost-lightening, though slight corrections in order to clarify a few things. First off is the assumption that Bangaher didn’t know people where in the mobile suits or it wasn’t quite real for him, I rather think that wasn’t the real issue he was having problems with, its simply that he didn’t go into combat with the intention of killing anyone, his duel with Full Frontal and their brief verbal exchange in my view seemed to indicate he simply wanted to scare/force Full Frontal to withdraw, after all his shot that killed the Zeon Ensign was a stray one where he didn’t even realize he had hit anything. Secondly, the wording Bangaher used was that Humanity possessed a God known as possibility within themselves which I’m under the belief came from his father, who seemed to share the same sentiment as Zeon Deikum’s role and his Newtype theory. Overall, I think you really captured just what Unicorn has managed to contribute in its own right to the Univeral Century, adding that backdrop of historical and cultural context that had only been previously glossed over until now. Though naivety aside, there is an honesty in Bangaher’s attitude, along with Riddhe and Mineva, that will prove critical in my view to try and end this debilitating cycle and perhaps recapture that original spirit of Zeon Deikum’s vision in the potential of humanity.

    • Thanks, you raise good points here:

      1. Both are true I think, we can quibble about the degrees of importance to Banagher but this isn’t much I believe.

      2. I rewatched the first ep and indeed it was Cardeas Vist who talked about God as possibility itself.

      Naivite and honesty aren’t opposing attributes; I think they go together. In Banagher’s case there is no calculation, no plotting, nothing but fully representing exactly how he’s being at that given time.

      Indeed, along with Mineva and Riddhe, perhaps Marida (and… Hathaway?) their generation puts in the work that sets the Earth Sphere on course to produce the milieu of…

      …Iron Mask, Gundam F91, and the Crossbone Vanguard (to say nothing of Mobile Suit Victory Gundam). If anything, this is what kills me about Gundam Unicorn… the events therein are pretty pointless.

      • KrimzonStriker says:

        Well, you have to admit at least within the context of the conflict between the Neo-Zeon colonist and the Federation will be likely be brought to a close in this saga. I’m not going to pretend Unicorn will able to solve all the problems in the Universal Century, but I do feel it will at least ‘right its course’ as it were and take a very big step for humanity. For the time being, I’m just going to pretend that any reference to future events are some figment of the developers imagination T_T

        • I don’t know how much Hathaway’s Flash is going to contribute, but if it’s a small side story (not really interested tbh) then Unicorn should bring some closure to Zeon, and I want some real closure and not something like CCA’s ending where it’s all implied (and ultimately open to something like Unicorn).

          • Myssa says:

            There IS some closure, at least to the Zeon-Federation conflict, since three (or was it four?) years after Unicorn the Republic of Zeon formally joins the Federation’s fold. This, of course, does not preclude the start of future conflicts (as evidenced by F91, Crossbones, and Victory), but these are by and large divorced from the wars related to the ideals of Zeon itself.

          • Good. Good. I like a clean end (not that I have much sympathy for F91, Crossbone, of V) and I don’t want to see a Full Frontal Counterattack… ever. Or worse, Judau Ashta side stories.

  3. Sekou says:

    Another great post Ghost.

    Your analysis of Mineva’s conversation with Banagher was spot as was your concluding point about the war in general.

    I anticipate Banagher having a similar(if less philosophical) talk with someone on the Feddie side which will continue his development as a character. I can’t wait for Episode 3.

    • Thanks, but you mean Marida’s conversation with Banagher right?

      Mineva, as I mentioned in my previous post on the episode no longer has Banagher’s naivety — having lived her life in hiding for long, but instead made her risk averse (jaded too, to a degree). Her advice to Banagher was to run and hide and get rid of the key; which is sensible only if that ensured the conflict will end. However, based on Cardeas Vist’s statements before he died, the EF may be willing to settle everything against Zeon in this campaign.

      I suppose that could be considered an end to the conflict as well.

      • Sekou says:

        *facepalm

        Yeah, I meant Marida.

        I pray the conflict doesn’t come to an end but then again, no UC faction has come to close to matching Zeon’s popularity among the fans and within the universe itself so I know Zeon will live on even if Full Frontal bites the dust.

        • [SPOILER WARNING, DO NOT READ FURTHER IF AVERSE TO BROAD CONCLUSIONS IN THE UNIVERSAL CENTURY]

          Hate to spoil it for you… but check out the subsequent anime in the UC:

          Mobile Suit Gundam F91 (w/ Crossbone Gundam manga)
          Mobile Suit Victory Gundam

          …Decades or even hundreds of years after the OYW, the humans are still in the solar system. Many of the issues remain, but as for Zeon…

          • Sekou says:

            I’ve already watched F91 and plan to read Crossbone after I’m done with three other mangas. I haven’t seen Victory yet but I know by that time, Zeon was pretty much non-existent.

      • soloista says:

        Isn’t it that come the Second Universal Century, the masterminds of conflict come from Jupiter mostly and pulling strings on people in the colonies? (ie, Fonse Kagatie)

        • Truth be told, I don’t really care much for anything after the Zeon conflict in the UC. I don’t really think much of F91, and dropped Crossbone Gundam after a volume thereabouts. I am still have a dozen or so eps of V Gundam to watch, but have little motivation to do so.

          I just mention this to say that I’m not the best person to comment on post-Zeon UC.

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  5. Zim says:

    Thanks for making a post about Gundam Unicorn which isn’t just “Lol, the fights are so amazing, but the story’s just a fan-wank”. So far this OAV has done a really good job of showing both sides of the conflict and giving some interesting arguments for their morality.

    There’s also been some even smaller things I’ve really appreciated, like the mention that colonists aren’t allowed to vote for any kind of representatives. It’s something I always wondered about, but somehow in 30 years of Gundam it had never been brought up before now (at least in animation.)

    • Thank you.

      The Gundam fandom fascinates me to no end, but not because it’s a happy and pleasant place. It’s a trainwreck wherein stupidity, dismissiveness, posturing, hatefulness, bullying, elitism, and ignorance are normal. Intelligence, moderation, open-mindedness, ecumenicalism, and acceptance are outliers.

      I value the latter obviously, but I also somehow appreciate the former. It MUST be love.

      There’s a lot of supplemental material, and we can choose to accept any and all of those as canon, but I do privilege information that is validated in the anime.

  6. Jack says:

    Your post neatly brings to the forefront the subtlety at the heart of these particular scenes.

    I suppose certain viewers (myself included) were a bit distressed by Banagher making cliche “Gundam Naive Protaganist” remarks. So it came as a great to surprise to me when the episode decided to explore the rather bleak realities of being part of Zeon.

    Although, I’m sure this will have been ignored or missed by certain sections of the fandom because it didn’t involve things blowing up.

    Still, it is a good indication of the thought that has gone into creating this particular story. It even validates UC as a continuity whose rich depths have yet to be fully explored.

    • audrey… Audrey… AUDREY!!!

      No I don’t think it got to Allelujah x Marie levels (but then again, that’s got to be the worst ever:

      marie… Marie… MARIE… MARIE PARFACY!!!)

      I think what’s remarkable here is that Banagher, despite the mellowing out relative to other Gundam protagonists (consistent with the mellowed out performances for most of the cast).

      I’ve mentioned it in other posts, but I’m the last person to be bothered by retreading old themes or retelling old stories, or even flat out remaking old anime. This does NOT bother me in the slightest.

      Why?

      It’s a matter of execution. Especially in Gundam, and Macross, where the old shows (and newer) tend to have some VERY suspect writing and direction, to say nothing of dated animation, compromised budgets, and the like. Action anime, and particularly mecha action shows benefit the most from this kind of attention.

      I find it easy to become an apologist for older Gundam shows, even ’80s fare that isn’t ZZ Gundam (just no), but I do know that it is quite impossible to get some people to watch them (due to dated/flawed animation, direction, etc.).

      More than anything I love sharing anime, so updates and fresh approaches to core themes and the like are very valuable things to me. It’s remembering love, after all.

      Bonus: it turns out that the UC is indeed a rich continuity still worth mining.

  7. SquareSphere says:

    The problem I have is with all the “free military grade” technology that seems to be up grabs, why haven’t the spaceoids just left? With the level of technology in the UC, it doesn’t seem that hard for them to just leave and go setup colonies else where.

    It’s not like their dependent on the Earth for technology or resources. They seem to be able to build and hide vast armies of mobiles suits easily. And it’s not like they need faster than light communication to send message back to Earth if they’re going to leave.

    • Sekou says:

      Just because there’s advanced technology doesn’t mean a colony can decide to or even spacenoids as a whole can just pack up and move. It would take hundreds of years to build new colonies suitable for humans to live in and who knows if it’d even be possible when you factor in money and the political ramifications.

      Look at the times we’ve seen colony life up close and personal in UC. As difficult as some of their conditions were, did any of those people, or even those in management look they possessed the resources to create new colonies?

    • vendredi says:

      They could move all they want, sure, but the whole exercise is a moot point if the Federation simply decides to “bring outlying colonies under their wing” by dispatching an armed expeditionary force.
      It’s one thing to be self-sufficient and produce all you need for yourselves. Having the military might to ensure that it stays yours is something else – in the absence of military power, it’s all dependent on the good graces of your neighbour. The colonists don’t have a real choice – all that taxation is backed up by the fact that the Federation is the one holding all the guns.
      That’s exactly why Zeon was, and still is, in Unicorn, so influential – they’ve got the ability, will, the strength, and finances to actually take on the Earth Federation in a significant way. They pounded the EFSF pretty good in the One Year War, and Full Frontal proves here in Unicorn that even reduced as they are, they give the Federation a good run for their money.

    • As Revil did say in the OYW, “Zeon is exhausted”

      While theoretically they could’ve explored elsewhere, not everyone would’ve joined them. They had their support due to the opposition against the EF hegemony, and not a vision of colonizing the unexplored space. How much time would that take anyway, just to explore?

      Thus, they bet the farm on winning an occupation war, and lost terribly.

      • KrimzonStriker says:

        Wait, are we taking for granted that they’ve discovered faster-then light travel in the Universal Century that they could have theoretically left to go explore the rest of space i.e leave the solar system? Because beyond that I don’t really see the alternative besides still falling within the Federations sphere of influence since it would be just as easy for them to follow the spacenoids in turn.

        • Nah we aren’t, but I’m just speaking in broad terms. Your points only add to the implausibility of this policy for the colonies to adopt.

        • SquareSphere says:

          They wouldn’t need faster than light travel just to get to Mars or some other planet/moon. It’s not like they’d colonize the planet, just make a station in orbit like their used to. Also, it wouldn’t take all of the spaceoids to leave just some. A couple of hundred would easily fit a ship a fraction the size of a colony.

          An yes the earth could still chase them down, but now would be bogged down with VERY extended supply lines which would favor the “colonies”.

          From an outside the gundam story telling, I’m just saying a change of scenery can do wonders for a stale story environment.

          • The relevant example here is the manga Mobile Suit Crossbone Gundam, a lot of it happens in the Jupiter sphere. However, you find that the problem of the Jupiter colony is basically the problem of the pioneer colonies. Personally I did not enjoy the manga so much and have dropped it after a volume or two.

  8. vendredi says:

    There is a slight Spanish motif to Palau – from the name itself, to the ethnicity of it’s inhabitants, to the cooking (note the Spanish paella at the dinner table, incredible attention to detail!) to the Catholic trappings in the hollowed out cave church – the entirety of Side 6 draws deeply on reminders of 20th century colonialism in the Americas. It’s a heavy handed but impressively realized in it’s detail, a parallel between the Spacenoid struggle against injustice and the continuing difficulties of today’s post-colonial countries (many of which have been deeply marked by Spanish occupation – the Philippines and South America most immediately come to mind).

    To say I’m impressed is an understatement – Gundam Unicorn does rehash many of the same old Gundam themes and tropes, but that’s to be expected from a Gundam series. What’s so fascinating is how differently the messages come across to try and resonate with a 21st century audience – this is the first Gundam ever, I believe, that explicitly addresses religion in a thematic way. The asymmetric, covert scale of the conflict, and the fundamentalist, even fanatical, motivations of each side really speak to the nature of the wars we have seen in the new millennium, whereas the original Mobile Suit Gundam and many other side stories set during the One Year War attempt more to capture a similar feeling to the Second World War.

    • Shame I didn’t notice this myself! …though I did notice the paella, and the jamon serrano.

      I really should do a postcolonial reading of the Universal Century as a continuity (my undergrad thesis is a postcolonial reading of Tolkien’s The Silmarillion) even if only in bits and pieces… but I hesitate to do so because it indirectly makes heroes of the Zabi-led Principality of Zeon and its successors far more than I am willing to give them credit.

      The oppressed almost always get a free ride to nobility, but this is simply not the case.

      Perhaps it’s more meaningful to read the narratives of “neutral” colonies, but aside from War in the Pocket, I don’t know of much material I can actually work with. No I do not really want to delve into ZZ Gundam (though it DOES have qualified examples e.g. Moon-Moon and its Aztec space ninjas).

      I think this is important because Zeon is perhaps even more aggressively imperialist (I’m almost certain of this) than the Earth Federation who behaves more like a modern, pre-financial crisis USA kind of hegemony (substitute trade treaties, economic sanctions, etc for taxation).

      Also, this may interest you: a comment on how Zeon is not quite Nazi despite Gihren

      • KrimzonStriker says:

        It’s not as if we haven’t had bad examples of colonial struggle occur before in real life, Castro in Cuba comes into mind, the FARC in Columbia, and if we go beyond South America then North Korea and the Chinese Communist Party can also be used as examples of the often deadly reactionism that occurs against legitimate grievances/abuse. Going back to the WWII mythos the rise of Facisim in Europe can also be seen in a similar light as well. Having the right reasons doesn’t always make a person or a cause right, its simply a matter of what they do with it and as is often the case they can very well become just as bad or even worse.

        • Yes, and this is a good context to view the actions of the Zeon leadership outside of Zeon Zum Deikum himself. It’s not making it easier for me to come up with a postcolonial reading angle for the UC though.

  9. vendredi says:

    Also, this comment probably best belongs in your earlier post on Unicorn, but I laughed like a maniac when the RIO on the Argama shouted “The lead unit is approaching three times faster!”. The mechanical design is just a treat overall that seem to capture the essential design philosophy behind the factions and character analogues. Full Frontal’s Sinaju feels like a mix of Sazabi, Zaku, and Tallgeese all rolled into one. Marida’s Kshatriya brings together all the “exotic” design elements that makes it feel like a classic psycommu suit, and the Unicorn is a very smart update of the classic Gundam look. Same goes even for the grunt units – the Jegans, Lotos, and Geara Zulu’s – there’s a real sense of “heritage” behind each.

    • Hehe no problem. I noticed another thing in the fight between Kshatriya and the Gundam at the beginning of episode 02. It repeated a sequence entirely, but using different animation:

      The Kshatriya’s wing, was cut off TWICE, the same wing in that fight, under slightly different circumstances. [EDIT: I thought there had to be some kind of mistake, but I realize that the first cut was lower and the second cut severed what still was a substantial part of the wing left]

      Also, I don’t know if the Kshatriya carries a spare beam saber on the same left arm, but it pulled one in the latter part of the duel against the Gundam, whereas its “first” beam saber was crushed by the Gundam while they were still grappling in the colony.

      The first item is what disturbs me more no doubt. It sort of annoys me given how otherwise near-perfect the combat and combat-related details are in this episode. I also noted how few the Kshtariya’s funnels were left by the time Marida “rescued” Full Frontal (that three-way prototype brawl was TO DIE FOR).

      The Kshatriya is based on the Quin Mantha piloted by (interestingly) Puru Two in ZZ Gundam (which in turn is based on the Qubeley, and surprisingly the Gundam Mk II.

      All the mobile suits look great man, but I think I appreciate the look of the Geara Zulus the most, it’s like the perfection of the Zaku aesthetic.

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  11. You definitely pointed out something that often fades into the recesses of my mind when I start watching a Gundam series, especially a UC one. When a UC conflict is waged, generally there are no traditional good guys. During the One Year War, Zeon waged war under the pretense of justice and freedom for spacenoids while actually give power to a dictatorship. The Federation claimed to be protecting everyone from “terrorists” when honestly they were the status quo that birthed this whole conflict. As a Federation soldier you were fighting to keep one slave master over another. It didn’t really become apparent to me until I watched more UC era series. So for that reason I side with Banagher in that naive argument. To realize that there is nothing noble about this conflict is the wise thing, at least if you stand back and take a look at this fictional universe and its history.

    War has quite literally brought humanity nothing in this era. It’s just served to keep power firmly in the hands of those who had it first. It’s terribly sad that despite the entertainment value, nothing in this universe seems to get done or even attempted without mobile suits/military power. It makes me wonder a bit if Tomino had global affairs like the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in mind when he wrote the original (unlikely) or if has just morphed into a reflection on how history continues to repeat itself.

    • I can’t say what Tomino was thinking about, though it might be instructive to think about what was going on in the world in the late 1970s. I think it’s still fair to say that WW2 is much on anyone’s mind and it persists until today given it is the last great war.

      You might be interested in what this guy has to say about allegory in Gundam.

  12. Universal Bunny says:

    I frequently wonder about the “naivete” of various protagonists including this one. There seems to be a tendency among the anime writers to make war overly complicated. The moral ambiguity and the question of “who is right” is often posed and discusses without considering the more fundamental part of who fights the war. Consider a bus – the one you take to work. If like here, people can only get on through the front door, I’m sure you’ve had been frustrated by being unable to get on half empty bus because people stand near the entrance and don’t move. This has nothing to do with morality or complex human relationship and this situation has much impact on wars.

    Imagine if almost every Zeon soldier said “Screw Zabi family, I’m not going to this war.” The whole conflict falls apart. The leaders of both the Zeon and the Federation can waive fists all they like, but without soldiers they cannot start a war. However, just like on the bus, no one moves despite being aware of empty space and people trying to get on, the vast number of people prefer to go to war and either slaughter or get killed.

    Normally, the above thinking is dismissed as naive and unappreciative of complex reality, but the problem of the bus as well as my age make me think otherwise. I wonder why very few animated pieces, or works in any other artistic medium for that matter, never distance themselves from morality. I wonder why the works about war focus on morality. Is because moral dilemmas facilitate drama?

    • War is overly complicated?

      When was it ever so simple?

      And by simple, I mean bad guys want to beat up good guys and therefore good guys have to fight the power, etc.

      It is very, very difficult to wage war without ideology. The soldiers are, by design, trained and conditioned to follow orders. But a standing army is almost never enough to wage a large conflict. The state has to recruit, and to recruit it must provide compelling reasons to fight.

      Moral reasons are compelling, therefore the enemy is an enemy because it is wrong, it is evil.

      The US doesn’t fight Afghans, Muslims, Iraqis, etc. It tells everyone its war is against terrorists and terrorism. The enemy is evil itself, and an enemy target is one who has chosen to be evil, and is therefore immoral.

      • Universal Bunny says:

        My apologies, I probably wasn’t very clear, but my point was exactly why does anime always focus on who is right and who is wrong, but rarely (I can only recall Gilgamesh and Raxhephon) tosses the above question into garbage bin and simply says “the distinction for evil and good is purely one of convenience and has little to do with truth however defined; now what do we do from here?”

        Of course, anime always introduces the object to protect to justify the continuation of conflict once the protagonist starts questioning his motivation to fight. However, here again, the writers never force their lead to say “I may claim that I value all lives, but for me, the life of this girl is more important than yours. Since the easiest way to preserve her life is by killing you that is what I will do. The people who care for you and who will grieve for you are of no interest to me.” There is hardly ever a anime that has characters of the level of Nakiami from Xamdou. A fighter type who doesn’t kill anyone by going out of her way to achieve this.

        Ok, the above is an incoherent rumbling, so please feel free to ignore it. I’ll try to organise my thoughts better on another occasion.

        • Anime does this a lot, but protagonists are not often this wise… and with good reason. Often their stories are one of growth and discovery, similar to the ages of their respective primary audiences… or in the case of something like Gundam Unicorn, the age of the audience when they fell in love with Gundam or similar shows.

          Protagonists are often wrong, have to be punished not only by some other characters, but also by tragic plot turns. These are the triggers for learning and perhaps wisdom. At this point, the show has just begun and so have Banagher’s trials.

          He just ended up killing someone — which is in direct conflict with his self-image. This is the biggest thing in his life, as would be anyone who hasn’t killed anyone yet. It’s happening to him at such a young age.

          When I was a teenager, I acted like I knew everything. I was quick to challenge adults, to challenge anyone. The more I studied, and the more I experienced life, the more I realize how little I know for certain. The ambiguity of the narrative universe does not necessarily exist as wisdom in the mind of a teenage protagonist. It is unrealistic, for someone so inexperienced to have such perspective.

          Nakiami, as I understand, is already hardened by life experience.

          • KrimzonStriker says:

            On the upside there’s much to be gained from listening to the point of view of the innocent and naive, as we all were at one point, often in the face of that the rather ambiguous and circumventive reasoning often seems like an excuse we hide behind from what we know to be true deep down inside, like the whole hostage situation with Audrey was.

          • If we let it, this kind of portrayal and characterization can function like the child in “The Emperor’s New Clothes” — precisely because he cuts to the simple things. Now it seems like I’m making a contradiction here, but let me explain:

            1. I enjoy layered conflict, and complexity (why?)
            1.1. It lets me think through things, reducing the complex to simpler ideas that can be worked on
            2. Banagher-type character simplifies things for me
            2.1 I could resent this because I want to do my own thinking, or if I feel I’m being condescended to (or if I were at Banagher’s age or close to it)
            2.2 I could appreciate it because it becomes the catalyst for further thinking, because the problems of the Universal Century aren’t mine to solve, but rather that the dynamics between adolescents and adults — especially strangers, are worth looking into here (none of the officers were acting in the best interests of the kids on the Nahel Argama; no I don’t think that girl who brought them the normalsuits is a ranking officer). I could also contrast this with how Bangher was treated by the Sleeves (with both gallantry and condescension from FF, then compassion from Marida).

            None of these things make Banagher Links interesting by himself, as I found that many viewers do not think much of him as a character. I think he’s fine, but my expectations for him is not to dominate the story. I’d be fine if he was unremarkable anyway.

          • KrimzonStriker says:

            On the upside there’s also a lot of room for him to grow as well, while still retaining the general essence of what he thinks at the moment. At the very least I like that he manages to respond and make his own points right back, without being pushed around. He’s got a spine, which is all to the good, even against the object of his affection Audrey.

        • MarigoldRan says:

          Ahahaha. Thread necromancy. Not my fault though! Cynthia started it first.

          In a war, the other team is always evil. Because they’re trying to kill me! What could be more evil than that? And that’s why I believe our side should always try to kill the other and evil team first!

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  14. Cynthia says:

    I know that you’ve said previously that you disliked Gundam Wing’s first few episodes, but the concept you were so fond of this Mineva explaining, through your quoting of her, is basically the essence of Wing. I hope this adds a bit of motivation to your determination to eventually watch it. 🙂

  15. Lance says:

    One of the reasons I can’t throw away uc gundam series and still, I can’t stand anyone who will label it as a children’s show. By the way, I liked the way you view the idealisms and philosophies incorporated in this show.

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  18. Kakariinsan says:

    Speaking of Sydney, one of the things that I forgot while watching Gundam was its separation from reality. In real world physics, a colony (approx. 21 km in length) would be more than sufficient to kick up enough dust into the atmosphere to cause a nuclear winter upon impact – Char really didn’t have to go as far as Luna II. Also, the energy required to move a colony out of orbit to drop on Earth would exceed the amount of energy released upon impact in the first place, making the whole ceremony…highly unnecessary.

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