Mobile Suit Gundam AGE 37: Behind The Propaganda

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[Mobile Suit Gundam AGE 36]

Kio gets captured, ends up looking like Lord Ezelcant’s dead son Romy, and is treated like a guest in Vagan. Ezelcant lets Kio immerse himself in the Vagan context in the main colony (Second Moon), giving him the perspective Earthlings either lacked or ignored.

The episode is reminiscent of Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn when Banagher and the RX-0 were captured by the Sleeves and he was treated more like a guest and less like a prisoner in Palau. That second episode gave a very rich perspective of the Spacenoid context which the Vagan plays off from.

The key difference, to me, is that the Spacenoid context talked about a need to follow a light. In the absence of God, there was Zeon. As for the Vagan, the key question was “how can we live as human beings?”

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I find this very interesting.

The Vagan are a “forsaken” Mars Colony project. The entire population was bereft of Earth Federation support after a failed terraforming effort of Mars. The primary consequence on the population was exposure to “Mars Rays” which resulted in sickness and disease on a massive scale. Apparently there is no cure, and the disease claims anyone and everyone – as we find out both poor people like Lu, and rich/powerful people like Romy and Lord Ezelcant himself are victims of the disease.

Yes, there’s a revenge angle to the desire to return to Earth. There is a desire for punishment and retribution against the Earthlings who remain ignorant of the Vagan struggle. But beneath all of this, is really the redress of the feeling of being less than human. The Vagans feel they are no longer humans. How so?

Let us first consider the quality of life.

While I don’t deny the probability that they, and Ezelcant no less devoted every possible resource to obtain a cure for the Mars Rays diseases, the quality of life in general among the populace is quite destitute, while the quality of military technology is superlative. I’m less interested in probing the morality of military spending, than making a simple contrast of the result of what must be Vagan priorities.

The final solution to the Mars Rays diseases is to vacate the Mars sphere and occupy the Earth. It’s where humans belong.

It doesn’t do much for the likes of Lu who may die at any time. How she wishes to spend her last days is relevant to our discussion. She is not interested in mere survival. She wants to spend her time living the last days of her life. She wants to live, and not just survive. This question of the quality of life is, I believe, central to the idea of being human.

Ezelcant’s lectures to Kio specifically highlight this.

Have you learned what the Mars Sphere is like? People cherish their loved ones, and seek warmth from their families. But here, even such pure feelings are crushed. For fear of loss, the Vagan people have smothered the emotion called love…

…It’s true, everyone has human feelings when they’re young. But as they grow, they cease to love others. They cease to be attached to their family or lovers. They become afraid to love someone from their hearts. Can you hear them? The cries of those who’ve been robbed of human feelings?

To us, dying is not sadness. Sadness is being unable to live as a human being.

– Lord Ezelcant

Between Kio, Zeheart, and Asem, they will make the humans of the Earth and Mars Spheres remember love, Flit notwithstanding. But that’s for later.

Ezelcant presumes that humans have a certain dignity to life, that a quality of life allows humans to be – in philosophical terms, manifest their nature as humans. Love is a dignified, valued emotion here, frustrated by fear of loss. To love freely is what’s valued in being a human. That is, to love free from the fear of loss.

[sage]_Mobile_Suit_Gundam_AGE_-_37_[720p][10bit][3A51C6FD] .mkv_snapshot_22.25_[2012.06.25_07.43.47]

Freedom however, is a result of power. It is the product of wielding power. The Earth Federation exercised their power over the Mars Colony and “robbed them” of their humanity. They were free to do so. It is this power that will enable the Vagan to regain their humanity, and the EXA-DB is a source of that power. The Vagans are making their own Gundam.

Perhaps what is the most satisfying thing in this episode, is the explanation why the Vagans almost always stop short of victory (that is, by annihilation). Instead of looking merciful, they look incompetent. This has gone on since the beginning of the series. Now we know. Ezelcant made it so. It’s to raise the question of how much the Earth Sphere humans value their lives as human beings.

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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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46 Responses to Mobile Suit Gundam AGE 37: Behind The Propaganda

  1. Inky says:

    I like the panel this week. Listen to Relena and Laura, Kio.

    I don’t think everything that Ezelcant said is entirely genuine, though, and I don’t know if the writers meant him to come off that way. He says he always pulls back from total annihilation, and we’ve seen that with some battles, but we’ve also seen him deliberately target civilians. Vagan destroyed both of Flit’s home colonies, which is a little understandable (not okay, but understandable) since that was part of their opening salvo and trying to negotiate with the government that erased them from history obviously wasn’t going to fly. But he was at it again seventy years later–there was a clear military target in Olivernotes, and Ezelcant still had Zeheart open fire on a square full of civilian men, women, and children. There’s also the peace overtures the Federation was said to have offered in the beginning of Gen 2, although I suppose that they didn’t include an offer to resettle Vagan’s people on Earth or in non-Mars colonies.

    But overall I liked this episode. People like Mary, Lu, Deen, and Dorene prove the humanity of Vagan in a way that warriors like Zeheart just can’t. They’re innocents whose only crime was to have ancestors that trusted the Federation to do right by them, and seeing them completely turns the impression of a cold, monolithic group of inhumane soldiers on its head, the way that Woolf’s encounter with the dying soldier did way back in episode 15. It’s a real dash of cold water, and I have to wonder what Flit would do if someone introduced him to Dorene or Lu.

    It also explains why so many Vagan characters have been unrepentant and/or bloodthirsty jerks. I could see Deen growing up to be one of their pilots.

    • One can doubt Ezelcant, for sure. But given the earnestness of the show, and given its primary audience, betrayal isn’t delivered in a sinister fashion.

      Ezelcant, while responsible for all violence given his authority, is juxtaposed with the likes of the fat bastard who criticizes him. That internal conflict is meant to contrast the “good Vagans” from the bad.

      • Inky says:

        I can believe that there’s a difference between the way jerks like Zanald and the Magicians 8 choose to interpret Ezelcant’s intentions and execute his orders, and what Ezelcant would actually do if he was the one in the flagship, but the Olivernotes assault was led by Zeheart. He’s not the type of person who enjoys terrorizing people for the sake of it, and he usually answers directly to Ezelcant.

        So for the most part yeah, the Good Vagans vs Bad/Jaded/Bitter Vagans works, but I think that particular incident is a big inconsistency in Ezelcant’s character if we’re supposed to accept that he’s sincere (and I do agree that he’s supposed to be).

  2. sadakups says:

    As expected, we see that other side of the Vagans aside from what we usually see, and I admit, it was rather interesting to see how the normal Vagans are dealing with such a hard life, and the only way for them to survive is to engage war with the Earthers and take back the Earth. At least that explains why they are such fanatics of Ezelcant since they consider him as their savior, however, that doesn’t change the fact that his military is composed of psychopaths. Unless their living conditions made them that way.

    Yes, I also got reminded of Unicorn during Kio’s stay, except that he did not meet a Marida, but some sickly girl who had sights for him the first time. I’d like to see how that encounter affects Kio’s mindset in this war, especially dealing with his Grandpa Flit who still wants the Vagans dead.

    Speaking of Gundam, I’m not surprised by this since the OP sequence had a Gundam alongside the Vagan forces, but how about taking the AGE-3 instead of making a derivative of it? Oh wait, Asem is gonna break-out his son next episode. So that’s why. And that I won’t be surprised if Ezelcant says that Kio escaping is part of his plans. 😛

  3. reidjou4342 says:

    Bombshells about in this episode. However, I don’t quite understand Ezelcant’s reasoning – did he think Kio really WAS somehow his long-lost kid or did he hope that by showing Kio all about how human the Vagan people are that our young hero would lend him the power of his Gundam/influence with Gramps to turn the tide of military power/broker some kind of peace deal between the Feds and the Vagan (animals lol). If I were Kio I’d be suspicious of Ezelcant, for sure.

  4. squaresphere says:

    Great write up as usual. When I heard Ezelcant give is little speech about losing loved ones, I could only smile. While Ezelcant thought was he was teaching a grand lesson to the “humans of earth”, he created his people’s worst nightmare in Flit. The irony being that Flit was from a colony and how at the time of AGE1 the “Earth” really didn’t want to help him or the other colonies.

    So in the grand tradition of Gundam, some external power makes some “colonist spacenoids” suffer and creates a nightmare that lust after revenge. To bad for the Vegans Flit’s rage burns like 10,000 suns about to go super nova then implode into a galaxy ending black hole. (yes Flit’s rage at the Vegan is such that it breaks the laws of physics, exploding AND imploding)

    If you think about it, Flit is the ONLY spacenoid to take over the Earth successfully, (AGE2 via military infiltration/insurrection, that’s right suck it Zeeks). But.. then succession plan fell through.

    At this point I’m hoping Kio doesn’t gets some magic pixie dust Gundam that magically cures the Vegan AND transports them to Earth via Laser light show and Rap battle debate. But who am I kidding, the Vegans’ new gundam will be the White Doll and Kio’s genius Asuno gene will kick in allow him to reprogram the nano machines :p

    • angelslayer says:

      Last part souns like: TRANS-AM! BIO-SENSOR AKA ZETA GUNDAM! FLIT GETS TO SEE YURIN! THE GN PARTICLES CAN HEAL MARS CANCER!
      If they srsly do this, they really fucked this anime up.

      The only thing is: Now that ~80 years have passed, the stupid earth feddies who covered up the thruth were killed, died or got arrested (Flit ftw!). So the only “real enemy” is Exelcant. Im not even sure if the whole earth sphere knows the truth about Vagan. So I think Exelcant even plans to die some heroic death to make peace talks between Vagans and Earth possible. I lol if he becomes such a great troll like Treize Khushrenada.

      • They could go the end where Kio becomes very skilled in piloting and that gives the AGE System tons of data, after EXA-DB is plugged into the AGE-System, a new wear that allows AGE-3 or whatever gundam Kio is using to become Unico- I mean, AGE-God mode where he moves the Vagan colonies and disable every single mobile suit by jamming the heck out of them.

    • Thank you.

      And yes on all your points. Oh God magic cures.

  5. rollover says:

    Yech.

    Ezelcant still strikes me as a Zala who decided, “Misery for the Earthers before the onslaught”.

  6. Shining_Bard says:

    I get the feeling Flit is going to destroy the Vagan homeworld at some point.

  7. CVPhased says:

    Totally agreeing on that Gundam Unicorn parallel that Gundam AGE did in this episode… and the following repercussions that Kio’s Vagan exposure will have, especially to Flit who’s frantically one-sided in this whole deal.

    After speaking regarding the EXA-DB a couple of times this episode… I’m really hoping that they do a story set in those colony-national wars… even eventually release Gunpla of them >:D

  8. I find it weird that they used the technology from the EXA-DB to build giant robots so that they can take over the Earth when they can use the technology to improve the life support of the colony, then get the colonies out of the Mars Sphere.

    • zetatrain says:

      Maybe because the technology they have isn’t applicable in those ways. Just because they can build mobile suits it doesn’t mean they can care the “mars ray” cancer or improve their colonies.

      • They could build powerful engines on the colonies and get the hell out of Mars, why stay there if you get ill from staying there.

        • Zetatrain says:

          Considering that the Vagen colony is the size of a small moon (I’m assuming this since they referred to i as such ) I don’t think they have that technology, Since we haven’t seen a ship or any other construct the size of the mars colony with engines on it I think its size to assume they don’t have that kind of tech.

          Also even if they could move the colony that could create another problem. Without a larger body to orbit or a Lagrangian point the colony would just continuously drift through space.

    • While there are parallels between Military Tech and Medical Tech, it’s more likely to develop some biological weapon than a cure. MARS RAYS CANNON, or something like that.

    • ToastCrust says:

      EXA-DB is a compendium of military tech knowledge from a high point of wars between colonies. I think it’s relevant that they’d instead get military robots out of it than a cure for a martian disease.

  9. I’m far behind on this series right now, but I couldn’t help but chime in. This development is just another of many interesting and thought out turns this series has made. If I’m lucky I’ll be able to catch up to you guys soon and bask in the glory that is AGE.

  10. Raidenwarrior says:

    A Gundam of their own the Vagan people are making — using Flit’s terms, they are making a savior of their own, much to the irony against the vengeful Flit himself.

  11. r042 says:

    I’m hesitant to say this was a great episode simply because I felt like I was drowning in cliché. Almost as if now with only a short time left they’re laying it on super thick to humanise the enemy double fast. I’m not opposed to the idea per se but just feel it’s a bit sudden.

    • Gamer2002 says:

      Nah.
      Vagans started as a Unknown Enemy, faceless monsters killing everybody.
      During first gen it turned out that they were humans all along, and have reason to hate Federation.
      During second gen it turned out that it is possible to make pace between men from Mars and Earth.
      Now we are seeing more details about their reason to hate.
      It isn’t something sudden, it is ongoing process.

      And it is after 35+ episodes about a Flit, who is just like them. This is the point of episode – Flit is fighting against army of himself.

      • r042 says:

        I see where you’re coming from, I just thought even for a heightened and exaggerated show like this is, the latest episode felt like it was trying too hard to hit every “sympathy flag” it could in one go.

        • Turambar says:

          I don’t think the show is as a whole doing a poor job of progressing the humanization of Vagans. This episode specifically though laid it on real thick and ham fisted. The whole thing with Lu was quite facepalm worthy. Then again, if I really got hung up on poor writing I wouldn’t have made it this far into the show.

    • Nothing in this episode surprised me in the least.

      If there’s anything that may approach annoying me, is the use of the thief vs. the new kid in the city. I hate this shit.

      • r042 says:

        In retrospect I am now feeling less surprised about the plot development and more just annoyed at the fact the episode was just a slap in the face with cliches (terminally-ill villain who lost his son, dying cute child, thief as you say).

        I was chatting with someone else about the ep and they said it sounded like an Akibaranger skit it was so heavy-handed in its use of obvious plot flags.

  12. KLAC_OF_PERSONALITY says:

    yea soon later of reveal flit “YOU ARE WHAT YOU HATE”.

  13. Metaphysicist says:

    The whole Vagan war is case of revenge before reason, much like Ivan Vanko’s situation
    from Iron Man 2. The Vagan’s have a one hundred percent legitimate grudge(Unlike Zeon) and are wright in declaring war on the Earth Federation. However there Terrorist style tactics and deliberate targeting of the Civilian population. Completely undermine any more high ground that they could have had. If the Vagan’s were smart about the getting justice they would have aimed
    a giant transmitter at the earth sphere. Broad cast the crimes of the federation to the entire earth sphere. Then they should have invade with express purpose of destroying the hopeless corrupt federal system that would abandon tens of thousands of people to a slow and horrible death on the Martian Wastes.

    • This is consistent with the “War is Hell” theme throughout the franchise. Anyone can have a legit beef with anyone else, but the moment war becomes the recourse, things just get fucked up.

    • ToastCrust says:

      I think the fact that their tactics weren’t purely rational and are instead poisoned by desires of revenge and hate only make the parallels with the living “homeland” issue we have in the Israel just stronger.

      You can say that it doesn’t make sense for them to prosecute their war this way, but humans have proven time and time again to go exactly this route, even when their cause is perhaps just.

  14. Dono says:

    this is gundam unicorn episode 2, next episode gundam unicorn episode 3

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