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?”
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.
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.