The Gundam Franchise is notable for its teenage pilots. This almost always means problems with the father. From the very first episode of Mobile Suit Gundam back in 1979, Amuro took issue with Tem Ray who clearly prioritized securing the mobile suits with the White Base than evacuating the civilians in the colony as the Zeon attacked. The Asunos present very fresh take on the father & son dynamics, especially since the story takes on extended narrative length that we can actually see these dynamics change over time.
But how do these fathers stack up against the other dads in Gundam. I’ve taken liberty in ranking these dads myself. Let’s see if you agree with how I’ve arranged them. Here’s the ranking (taking into account the events of this episode). Discuss.
Father Power Rankings in Gundam
1. Uzumi Nara Athha – for being “only” an adoptive father he is one of the believable heroes in Mobile Suit Gundam SEED. Stern but fair to his daughter Cagali, he is also one who values truthfulness in revealing the relationship between Cagali and Kira as siblings when the time was right. Plays the martyr as the leader of the United Emirates of Orb faces destruction. Also leaves behind ORB-01 Akatsuki as legacy for Cagali. It’s hard to find anyone better.
2. Flit Asuno – We’re grading fathers, not grandfathers. Even so, Flit is pretty amazing, raising Asem in a loving, supportive environment. His expectations for Asem were sky high, especially relative to his own accomplishments. This would’ve been a tremendous blemish to his parental record if not for how they deepened their relationship as they closed out the purge of Vagan collaborators in the Federation. His trust in Asem was complete – which justifies his anger at him at present.
3. Dozle Zabi – He didn’t perform the kind of parenting (that is, raising his child) as Uzumi and Flit did, but he saw the writing on the wall in the Battle of Solomon and made sure his wife and child (Mineva) were safe before he sortied in a glorious last run, defying the true Nightmare of Solomon armed with only a rifle – the RX-78-0 Gundam.
4. Cardeas Vist – I expect this to be a controversial ranking, given how he 1) subjected his own son to the Cyber Newtype process at a very, very young age, then subsequently withheld his identity from him, making Banagher grow up without a father. 2) Planned his son to take on a very dangerous Psycommu beast in the form of the RX-0-Gundam leaving very little choice in the matter. He’s up here because he did care and provide for Banagher, and gave him the choice re the Unicorn when the time came.
5. Bright Noa – Mostly an absentee father who tried to instill strength and good sense by being a good example to his son Hathaway (but this was a terrible failure). A telling behavior of the Eternal Captain is how he doesn’t have a photograph of his family in his office on the Ra Cailum, but instead hung an 8” x 11” framed photo of Amuro Ray on his wall instead.
6. Hayato Kobayashi – A tough, stern adoptive father of the three White Base orphans, Hayato spent a lot of time away from his family as he led the Karaba resistance movement. This may be the cause of his son’s utter failure of character. It’s harsh to pin the failures of Katz on Hayato, but I think he has to take responsibility for his son’s utter lack of good sense.
7. Degwin Zabi – Bad seeds, bad fruit. Degwin Zabi was one bad man who didn’t set a good example for his children. His underhanded way of securing power in the establishment of the Principality of Zeon pretty much gave license to how his son Gihren dispatched him when he became an inconvenient obstacle – that is, how Degwin attempted to sue for peace with the Federation, as Gihren deluded himself that Zeon wasn’t exhausted and could still win the One Year War.
8. Asem Asuno – As soon as his son Kio was born he went on a mission and never came back. What’s abominable about this is how he wasn’t really in mortal danger throughout the 14 years he was away, and yet he never attempted to contact his wife, his son, and his father. Now he’s playing the Father card to undertake the rescue mission for Kio. Still, he had the grace to ask Flit for permission.
9. Tem Ray – The good thing is, he never hit Amuro. On the other hand, he was this absentee father who can never take credit for the kind of adult Amuro became. Amuro met with him twice during the OYW: the first was when he displayed his prioritizing of the mobile suits over the civilians, the second was when he’s already addled… insisting Amuro install some strange part on the Gundam, with little left of his hold on reality.
10. Franklin Bidan – Among Gundam fathers, this guy is the king of all douchebags. He didn’t attend to his son Kamille, he cheated on his wife, and was an all around asshole who developed the Gundam Mk II for the Titans. He was taken in by the AEUG as a refugee and he repaid them by stealing a Rick Dias. Quattro Bajeena gave chase and that’s all she wrote. Also, he gave his son a woman’s name. Never wonder why Kamille is always so angry. Fuck this guy.
And you thought I’d never give Mobile Suit Gundam SEED any credit; but then again it also had Patrick Zala – who is an incredible cesspool of fail consistent with the shit that characterizes the sub-franchise. Maybe one could make a case for Capt. Grodek, but our experience of his being a father was his incredible, ruthless, and comprehensive vendetta. Another example would be Maharaja Karn, but he’s pretty obscure appearing only in the manga Char’s Deleted Affair. Also, I haven’t finished reading it so I don’t feel confident adding him even if he’s shown nothing but exemplary leadership and governance of the Zeon remnants on Axis. I don’t think Haman turning out being batshit insane has anything to do with him. That’s 1 part Char Aznable, and 3 parts Tomino himself (Fuck ZZ Gundam).
Obviously, the only characters with upside here are Flit and especially Asem – who would begin his rescue arc next episode. His interaction with Flit may elevate Flit’s standing here, though I really appreciate how hard he’s flipping out in this episode and his being a crusty old fart in general. One can argue for Bright, in consideration of the novel Hathaway’s Flash which chronologically happens after Gundam Unicorn, but I haven’t read that. All I know is that I want to watch more of this Asuno family drama. Happy Fathers’ Day!
Useless, fucking useless.