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Gundam is Ridiculous: A Post about Unicorns and Iron-blooded Orphans

Gundam is ridiculous. The first Mobile Suit Gundam (1979) is known for pioneering the Real Robot genre of mecha: SERIOUS BUSINESS anti-war stories that also happen to feature giant robots waving beam swords in space.

And also shirtless pretty boys

And also shirtless pretty boys. YEAAAAAAH BABY

Now, having stated the obvious, I’m not actually sure how I feel about this. I haven’t seen that many Gundam series (yet), but I’m getting the impression that this is a very hit-and-miss franchise.

You see, there’s a contradiction at the heart of Gundam.

Disclaimer: I can only comment on the Gundam shows I’ve actually seen, which is mostly just AU Gundam (Wing, Seed, 00. Don’t take this post as reflective of UC Gundam, or even Gundam as a whole.

Gundam is (and has always been) a glorified toy commercial, but that’s not necessarily the issue here. The thing is that it’s a war toy commercial. The main highlights of the series are the flashy battles where lots of people die. Gundam says war is hell, but the presence of mobile suits ensures we the viewers will always get a sanitised view of the fighting. The battles are choreographed to look cool, not to be practical, and there is little outright gore to be seen. Like most action stories, Gundam is appealing to the bloodthirsty part in all of us that enjoys acts of war but doesn’t want to live its consequences.

What makes Gundam a little different is that it’s aware of this contradiction. Gundam plots typically don’t just focus on the soldiers. They show equal attention to the politicians. No matter how bad the war gets, there are always people looking for a diplomatic solution. Gundam isn’t just a clip show of awesome mecha fights with a “WAR IS BAD, DON’T TRY THIS AT HOME” disclaimer – it tries to offer real solutions to real problems.

Not all writers have the chops to pull this off, which is why there’s considerable variation in the quality of Gundam series. In Gundam Seed, you have Kira Yamato deciding that both sides in the conflict are equally wrong, so he appoints himself sole arbiter of justice and stops all wars by virtue of having the largest dick strongest robot. Oh, and he’s totally a pacifist because he uses his overpowered robot to disarm his opponents instead of killing them. He’s definitely not a “holier than thou” prick.

Before Jesus Tatsuya, there was Jesus Yamato

Before Jesus Tatsuya, there was Jesus Yamato

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gundam 00 contained a lot of stupidity as well. Even though the writing was critical of Celestial Being’s mission of intervening in wars, philosophically it still came down to “Y’ALL SO MEAN. WHY CAN’T WE HOLD HANDS AND BE NICE TO EACH OTHER???”

Basically, the Gundam franchise contains a lot of what I find infuriating about simplistic anti-war messages: the appeal to a vague, common “humanity”. I am reminded of what Judith Butler wrote about the nature of humanism:

The question is not whether a given being is living or not, nor whether the being in question has the status of a “person”; it is, rather, whether the social conditions of persistence and flourishing are or are not possible.

– From Frames of War: When Is Life Grievable? (2009)

In other words, as individuals we can choose non-violence but we can’t choose pacifism. When there’s an imbalance of power, violence is a logical effect. Stating an ideology of “pacifism” in this context is merely another way of protecting the violent status quo.

This is why I love Gundam Unicorn. Even though Gundam Unicorn also features the the pacifist ace pilot trope, the writer Harutoshi Fukui doesn’t have such a naive view of pacifism that he sees all conflicts as equal or condemns the oppressed for wanting to fight. (The show does explicitly condemn terrorism, though.) When the princess of Zeon declares that she will do anything to prevent war from breaking out even if that means protecting a broken political system, Banagher asks her, “Why?” Sure, you’d do that if the only alternative was war, but wouldn’t you rather address the root of the problem? Mineva eventually comes around to this point of view.

Overall, I found Gundam Unicorn to be a very empathetic story. It also helps that it drew its solution from a truly extensive in-universe lore, so the resolution made complete sense in context. I think my favourite moment in the series was one of the incidental scenes. Marida, one of the soldiers, complains to Banagher about the hospital food. After trying it for himself and agreeing that it’s bad, he asks her what food she likes. When she asks why, he says this:

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I found this to be a perfect encapsulation of the show’s philosophy.

In conclusion, I suppose you could say that Unicorn is the best telling of a narrative I don’t necessarily like. When it comes to denouncing a really awesome-looking war, Unicorn manages to have its cake and eat it too.


After all that, how does the latest Gundam offering measure up? Judging from the first two episodes, Mobile Suit Gundam: Orphans Who Are in No Danger of Getting Anemia is following a very familiar formula, which means it’s walking the same tightrope as all the other series I’ve mentioned above. So far, the visual direction has been competent but it’s been kinda difficult keeping track of all the characters, other than to note the wtf aspects of their character designs.

Gundam Tekketsu no Orphans - 01 - Large 08

The success of this series hinges on how well it handles Kudelia, a character who looks as if she has been abducted from the Leiji-verse. She’s your typical naive, sheltered princess who wants to relate to the orphans as equals, and pins the blame for all conflicts entirely upon herself. Her dynamic with Mikazuki is interesting because they are worlds apart and yet it is as if he sees right through her, a fact which Kudelia is uncomfortably aware of.

It seems that the problems of reconciling class differences will be a main focus of the story. How far will Mobile Suit Gundam: Parentless Children whose Blood Includes the Chemical Element Fe tear apart Kudelia’s worldview? The first two episodes have already done a fine job of showing how the orphans, despite being victims of exploitation, have plenty of agency. But hopefully, we’ll get more character development since I can’t remember their names.

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Although they are all certainly well-developed in one department

So yes, Mobile Suit Gundam: Orphans with Plenty of Hemoglobin is a ridiculous show with serious pretensions, which means it’s every Gundam series ever (except for maybe Build Fighters). Don’t pin this one on Mari Okada. As for whether this series will be good… well, it depends on how thoughtfully it applies those classic Gundam tropes. Will its anti-war message be foolish and misguided or complex and nuanced? Time will tell.

What do you think of Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-blooded Orphans so far?

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Posted on October 21, 2015, in Anime Analysis and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 45 Comments.

  1. I’ll give all the credit to Mari Okada if I damn well please, Froggy!! Don’t tell me how to live my life!

  2. Yes, Gundam is a very hit-or-miss series. In fact, it miss more than hit, especially among AU series. Despite my problem with Tomino, he has a better understanding of war than most anime writers. Maybe because he actually lived through WW2(he’s only a few years old during the war, but he probably has many relatives affected by it) . He’s fully aware of the various contradiction in the show. He know that there’re no easy solution for the problem he raised, unlike seed and 00 writers. Or the Naruto mangaka.That’s why his shows are interesting.

    However, Tomino doesn’t seems to understand basic writing rules. All of his shows have pacing problem. Too much mood whiplash. The dialogues are often bad. The direction is bizarre. All of the flaws that can destroy a lesser show. And yet his anime are still good. He’s very a creative man. Tomino is like a very intelligent self-learn English speaker, who doesn’t have proper guidance.He can say very smart things, with complex sentence, but the grammars and spellings are complete mess.

    • “Tomino is like a very intelligent self-learn English speaker, who doesn’t have proper guidance. He can say very smart things, with complex sentence, but the grammars and spellings are complete mess.”

      Wow, this is perfect. And it’s even expressed in a very Tomino-like way. I like this!

    • “Or the Naruto mangaka.”

      Ugh, don’t even make me think about THAT.

  3. . It’s just, I can’t express how much I love this series. I used to play “Federation vs Zeon” when I was younger and it’s just……….. i forgot what I wanted to say. Well thank you froggy for another great blog. Go on, “and may the glory of victory be yours” (Char Aznable).

  4. If you think SEED is bad, don’t ever watch SEED Destiny…

  5. Iron-blooded Orphans has had a decent star, but I have been burned by Gundam series before so I am still very cautious of how good the show will end up being. It does look like the show is being received fairly well so far.

  6. Not sure about Gundam since I’ve never seen a single series from the franchise in full (I remember liking the bits of the Italian dub of the original Mobile Suit I watched, but that was YEARS ago), but about this:

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    But there will always be *some* imbalance of power at this world, if only because of whatever occasion luck gives to someone and takes away from another. If we accept that violence is a logical effect of imbalance power, we have to recognize violence as a necessary component of human existence. Which… it probably kinda is, don’t get me wrong. But just saying “heh, well, can’t do anything about it!” isn’t the best way to keep it as contained as possible. I think these arguments tend to fly over the crux of the problem, that is quantitative, not qualitative: HOW MUCH power imbalance warrants the use of violence? After all violence is about bringing out change fast and hard, whereas pacific/non-violent methods are more slow, to the point where those who initiate them might never see the full fruits of their work. Humans live mainly in their own perspective – even if a course of action was the most effective and the one implying the least suffering for everyone, it’d be a tough call if it also meant having to accept that YOU personally are giving up your chance to see the final success in the name of letting your children enjoy it. On the other hand, however, violence is intrinsically about power, and therefore very likely to strengthen power imbalances, or generate brand new ones. Sometimes it’s a jolt that unlocks an otherwise stalemated situation, but when that happens it’s usually ALREADY someone’s failure that it ever got to that point (for example: the French Revolution was such a jolt, and it took decades of ‘settling down’ before France got back on track to being a normal country with a marginally more democratic government than before. But if the kings hadn’t been so stupid and blind about the social changes taking place all around them and had conceded something to avoid losing everything it would have never come to that in the first place).

    • Argh, HTML deleted my quote because I used angle brackets. I was quoting this bit:

      “In other words, as individuals we can choose non-violence but we can’t choose pacifism. When there’s an imbalance of power, violence is a logical effect. Stating an ideology of “pacifism” in this context is merely another way of protecting the violent status quo.”

    • HOW MUCH power imbalance warrants the use of violence?

      This is probably the most pragmatic way of looking at the issue.

      Power inequalities don’t always lead to violence (I assume you and your boss don’t have knives at each other’s throats, for instance) but they certainly do enable it. And when the inequalities are gross enough, violence becomes a fact of life. Therefore, to reduce violence, you address the major inequalities, try to improve standards of living, etc. Unfortunately, since violence tends to enforce inequalities like you said, breaking the cycle is much easier said than done. However, one thing is clear enough: violence is much bigger an individual choice.

      This line of argument is really just saying that you’re not a better person just because you live in circumstances where the pacifist option is easier to choose than the violent option. It’s not claiming to hold all the answers to solving violence either, since violence is a very complex problem. Not all people use violence for the same reasons, after all. And it’s probably impossible to eradicate all violence anyway.

      • This line of argument is really just saying that you’re not a better person just because you live in circumstances where the pacifist option is easier to choose than the violent option.

        Ah, yeah, that’s for sure. But feeling like a better person is just about self-satisfaction anyway. The point of pacifism and non-violence should be that you’re able to choose them even when they are *harder* to choose – because you are convinced they still are the better option. In other words, the one that enables the least total amount of suffering, despite coming at the personal cost of having to go against your immediate instincts, which are of grabbing what you want and avenging the injustices you feel like you’re being subjected to as soon as possible. Of course that doesn’t mean that those who choose violence are necessarily “BOO EVIL!”. For example, if one considers the Civil Rights movement, I can totally see why Malcolm X would be justified in thinking the way he did, but in the end it’s Martin Luther King who truly acted in an admirable way – not because he was more just, but because he was able to resist the urge to pursue that wish for justice in the most obvious way, and channelled into something that actually WORKED. It’s human to wish for violence in some cases, but it takes being able to transcend one’s selfishness to truly pursue non-violence.

  7. As Truffaut said, “it is impossible to make a true anti-war film, because the act of looking at violence is inherently exciting”. Stuff like Grave of The Fireflies and Barefoot Gen worked because they’re only focused on showing kids starving to death and almost nothing else, but once you’ve shown soldiers fighting (let alone with Giant Robots), you pretty much compromised your message to the audience to some extent. Tomino’s ruthlessness in his older stuff (esp. Victory, although that goddamn show sure is still problematic as hell) came close, but the only Fighting Mecha Animu I’ve seen that managed to successfully strip away any trace of excitement or glorification from its narrative is Mohiro Kitoh’s Bokurano, thanks to its extreme premise and willingness to push the narrative stakes & consequences way beyond the boundaries of what audience typically expect from their fictional media.

    I like the direction IBO seems to be heading so far, although it’s far too early to tell. Also looks like I need to check out Unicorn.

    • Agreed. Although to what extent that’s the audience or creator’s fault is hard to say. Probably both. I’d also add that novels tend to be the best medium for anti-war stories, simply because that visual element isn’t there. That’s not to say books can’t fetishise war (American Sniper, anyone?) but that it’s easier to convey an anti-war theme consistently when there are no images clashing with the theme regardless of your intent.

      • You know, mentioning “American Sniper” actually goes well with your above reply (“violence is much bigger an individual choice.”)

        And when the wheel has rolled, all become myopic.

        But that is one of Gundam’s few saving grace: ESP ability. If you think about it, Zeta’s Kamille Bidan is the perfect example: His nature made him retreated into his own little corner of the mind when faced with pain, hardship,… But his Newtype power grew with each battles, and when the climax came, he was forced with two choices: Turn his head around, or, face it.

        He got into vegetarian state in the end, which, I’m sure that a lot of us would be given the power.

  8. I’m reserving my judgement on Orphans for now. After all, it still has 22 more episodes to prove itself. PS. I don’t trust that Hitler looking guy. :P

    What other titles are you watching this season, Froggy? Noragami Aragoto’s on my top list, although I’m not such a fan of the OP and ED this time around. The director seems confident he can cover all of Bishamon’s story in 1-2 more episodes compared to last time.

    The other 2 are light-novel based properties. The Asterisk War’s got good production values and some sweet music (by DJ Rasmus Faber). Plus the ED’s classy as.
    The Chivalry of a Failed Knight’s a little cheaper-looking, but it has its fun moments, and Ali Project.

    • I’m only watching Noragami Aragoto this season, but it sure is great! I like the OP just as much as the first season’s OP. Gets me pumped~

      I heard the arc following Bishamonten’s is even better, so if the director is saving the episodes for that, we should be in for a treat.

  9. Those bodies must need a lot of maintenance… I’ll see myself out.

  10. Gundamm 00 is the only series from franchise which I have watch, I wonder if “you saw one, you saw all” is applicable there.
    00 at least got one thing nice, to bring peace between parties a common enemy can work well.

    • Gundam 00 is definitely not representative of the rest of the franchise. Every series offers something different, even if there are some similar tropes. But honestly, it seems that every mecha series these days uses the same tropes.

      The whole “bring peace by uniting everyone against a common enemy” is bullshit, in my opinion. Not just bullshit, it’s fascism. It might have a temporary effect of uniting people, but hatred is unproductive in the long run. Not that it stops bad politicians from trying to create a common enemy in order to distract the people from the government’s own shortcomings :P

  11. There are times like this I remember why I like reading animeblogs. I have no idea of the Gundam franchise. I don’t even know why I clicked on the post apart perhaps the fact it’s written by you. And then, I felt small again. Small in front of big ideas. And in love with anime as food for thought. I felt also kinda lazy, coz I don’t read as much as I should, and a person like me who takes pride in my soul-searching and worldviews, must never get complacent. There’s always something to learn. We are indeed works-in-progress, no matter how many parts of us may have stabilized.

    Thanks, Froggy-kun :)

  12. What kept you so long? (Take out Otacon’s glasses.)

    “In other words, as individuals we can choose non-violence but we can’t choose pacifism. When there’s an imbalance of power, violence is a logical effect. Stating an ideology of “pacifism” in this context is merely another way of protecting the violent status quo.”

    Nail the point!

    But then, if you think about it, in the case the power imbalance directly affects one’s rights, why that man still want to protect the system? And vice versa, if one’s rights isn’t directly affected by the imbalance, or even be protected by it, then why does he still address the problem – Hey, remember your “Nuclear Eradication” post?

    Either because we’re not hedonistic all the time, or, the extend of one’s rights and privileges extends far beyond what any law would say.

    Anyway, I take it as dialectic and historical materialism said: The world goes in a spiral road (The law of the negation of the negation,) – quite a good way to comfort yourself.

    (I expect not a further mention of communism.)

    • in the case the power imbalance directly affects one’s rights, why that man still want to protect the system?

      I can think of a few reasons. There’s no guarantee that changing the system will improve the rights of the downtrodden. In fact, it could make things worse.

      If the collapse of the system will lead to civil war or an invasion, people will likely choose to protect the system because it is seen as the lesser of two evils. This does not mean that the possibility for reform does not exist, but those in charge of the system are in a better position to continue rationalising their human rights abuses.

      Finally, if you’re used to inequality, it’s easy to see it as a fact of life. Conventional wisdom says you can’t change the world, so you should just focus on living your own life to the fullest.

      • Every time someone makes an argument in the line of yours, I remember two quotes of Lu Xun:

        “… hope cannot be said to exist, nor can it be said not to exist. It is just like roads across the earth. For actually the earth had no roads to begin with, but when many men pass one way, a road is made.” (My Old Home)

        “… If the revolution only occur after there is a clear sign point to the exit, then the people doing it are worst than opportunists.” (Report on killing ChiCom – I can’t find this in English.)

        Anyway, I think a weak point of Gundam is that they see war in a subjective Idealism light – The One Year War (and by extend, every Colony vs. Earth wars, or, almost every anti-war movie) broke out not just because of discrimination, Ere-ism, Zeon Deikun or Herro Yui’s assassination, and thousands of relevant notions. Nor there it’s a will impeding us from sitting down and talk.

        Anime soldiers tend to be of two type: “I fight because I want to protect!” and “I fight because there is no way out of it!”

  13. You should give a chance to the true masterpiece of storytelling Gundam Seed Destiny. It’s so nuances shirtless bishonen shonen ai well hung teens.

  14. What a good post!

    If I may add, Unicorn was also a glorified toy commercial, and that is okay. The one Gundam that I felt was not about Sunrise telling me to buy gunpla was War in the Pocket, which is a 6-episode OAV and is the closest you can get to WAR IS HELL for Gundam.

    • Thank you!

      And yes, for the record, I really quite like the “toy commercial” part of the franchise. I think the straight-faced ridiculousness is part of what makes this franchise so distinctive and influential.

  15. I haven’t watched the new Gundam,(yet, I do intend to check it out) but I have some general thoughts on Gundam I can share. (which are from the Gundam DW games. Gundam 00, and Seed. I’ve watched 15 or so episodes of other Gundam shows, but the patterns between them all is so strong it seems pointless to watch more.)

    Gundam needs a Jesus. That is the way it is setup. In it’s core it requires someone altruistic and powerful enough to unify humanity into peace. In practice it’s not a peace for everyone. It’s a peace for the enlightened. The “bad” people need to go away. It needs someone to take the whole world on their shoulders and carry humanity forward in a positive direction.

    The idea is a simple one. Make people so sick of war that war goes away. The problem with the philosophy behind it is obvious to me. Everything is a matter of circumstance in the Gundam Universe. Think of Gundam as attempting to fix the circumstances that create war and people as machines that obey that circumstance 100% Even Gundam 00 which seemed to be pulling away from that mentality rubber bands by the end.

    Instead of trying to have it’s cake and eat it too, I think Gundam is a poor representation of real people. It might do a good job of sharing a specific mentality and there is probably some value in that, but it doesn’t represent humanity as a whole in any real meaningful way. I’ve met very few real people who are altruistic enough to make a Gundam verse universe peacetopia a reality.

    I will also say that I think it’s a complete mistake to consider any of the Gundam I’ve watched pro war in anyway. It might shoot itself in the foot, but the message is not pro war. It might be interesting to hear what Gundam collectors think of the show. I suspect there is far more of a disconnect between Gundam toys and fans of the anime than you might think. Most of the fans I know or have met online are either fans of the toys or fans of the anime and not both.

    • I will also say that I think it’s a complete mistake to consider any of the Gundam I’ve watched pro war in anyway. It might shoot itself in the foot, but the message is not pro war.

      There’s an interesting discussion to be had about the nature of being pro-war. Most people with pro-war positions aren’t jingoistic or bloodthirsty. They argue that it’s okay to fight a defensive war, or an interventionist war, if it’s for the sake of self-defence or the greater good. (i.e. The “Just War Theory”) In other words, they’re saying war is bad, but they would justify it in some situations. When you look at Gundam in that sense, it is actually pro-war because it grants its heroes the moral right to fight.

      At the same time, being anti-war is also not a straightforward “one size fits all” position. You can be pro-war in the sense that I outlined above, but you can object to specific wars and argue that the Just War doctrine is rationalising what is actually a very pointless war. For example, not everyone who protested against the Iraq War is a principled pacifist. This position is probably closest to what Gundam espouses (i.e. some wars can be justified, but not the majority of them).

      • I think it’s a mistake to consider any of the wars I’ve seen in Gundam as justified by Gundam. Characters feeling what they do is necessary and the show presenting that as justified are not necessarily the same position. Gundam tends to bitch slap it’s own characters for what they feel is justified in a everyone must feel terrible for the things they have done kind of way.

        I can understand saying that justification comes when we are told that everything a character does is necessary, but the message I get from Gundam isn’t “this is all necessary”, it’s “this asshole thinks these things are necessary and maybe he saved the world, but hes still an asshole for how he does it.” Insert something about taking responsibility for being terrible at the end.(a very Japanese sentiment that tends to go over heads I think, but not genuine justification in and of itself. It can be used that way, but it’s not inherent in the meaning and not how I’ve seen Gundam use it.)

        In every case I’ve seen Gundam always has at least one holier than thou character who is completely against conflict and presented as absolutely correct. If that character betrays their own position it’s presented as a bad thing. Reasons are given sure, but reasons and justification are not the same.

        Explanation and understanding is not justification in and of itself. At the end of the day those explanations are usually thrown under the bus. It’s the difference between a character shooting someone and calling it self defense and shooting someone and calling it murder. If you have a character “murdering” people for world peace the implication is that it isn’t justified and they are doing it anyway. That is the feel I always take away from Gundam if not what Gundam itself explicitly states.

        For the record I’m not a pacifist. I don’t really believe in any form of inherent justice so it’s hard to take a stance either way. I think I can understand both sides of the argument and feel like neither pro or anti war sentiments will ever apply to what everyone wants. I can understand why people pick sides and why those sides continue to conflict, but I don’t have one I belong to.

        Personally I think of justice as a necessary last resort when better, less practical solutions can’t be afforded. My interest is primary in understanding how it all works. I wish I could say I have some grander goal behind my desire to understand these things, but no, it’s curiosity.

        Ultimately, asking if Gundam is pro or anti war might be missing the point. It might more accurately be portrayed as saying: War fucking sucks, here are lots of examples now stop it, please. The message is pro peace, and that war isn’t justified even when necessary. In my mind that is the core of what Gundam is all about. It’s easy for me to say it’s not pro war, but it’s much hard to make an anti war argument. Probably because it’s not really anti war.

        I think the answer is simple: Gundam is neither pro nor anti war. It’s pro peace even if It has to MURDER some motherfuckers. It’s the nuance of murder that is important I think. The only justified position I see portrayed by Gundam is pro peace.

        Maybe all that helps explain why I think Gundam isn’t trying to have it’s cake and eat it too? Gundam makes enough sense to me that I can’t condemn it for being inconsistent. I do think it’s worth pointing out that it’s highly impractical. To put it into perspective I think I have a higher chance of meeting a beautiful rich woman who wants nothing more than to marry me and fulfill all my fantasies while support me playing games and doing whatever the fuck I want for the rest of my life than it is for most of the situations in Gundam to play out the way they do in any kind of real world setting. Impossible? Technically no, but it won’t happen.

  16. I BET YOU WEREN’T EXPECTING TO SEE ME, GARLOCK, COMMENTING ON THIS ARTICLE NOW WERE YOU?

    *ahem*

    As much as I’d like to regale you with stories and thoughts and moments-when-I-cried when it comes to Gundam Unicorn, you’d be better off just reading what I write elsewhere on that (assuming I ever finish writing them for you to read ahahahahasobs).

    But no, I actually want to ask you on your thoughts on something. You mentioned how in a lot of ways, Unicorn (and Gundam as a whole) has it’s cake and eats it too – that is, it both pushes an anti-war (or at least anti-bloodshed) message, while popularizing and fetishizing war machines. I feel that a lot of people feel that way; as an engineering student, things like railguns fascinate me and get my nerdy lizard brain going, but at the same time, I realize that most modern applications are as weapons of war. Without necessarily casting judgement, do you think there’s a certain moral conflict here that we humans just tend to accept or leave alone? Do you think that it’s “right”? I hope that came across clear.

    Also, as a little side note, my cursory research suggests Full Frontal’s “Side Co-Prosperity Sphere” is a reference to the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere concept pushed by imperial Japan before/during WW2. Gundam isn’t a particularly an international series, but it does often feel Western oriented in its style to me, so Japanese historical references like these are surprisingly interesting.

    • Without necessarily casting judgement, do you think there’s a certain moral conflict here that we humans just tend to accept or leave alone? Do you think that it’s “right”?

      This is a tough question. Probably too tough, which is why I don’t tend to think about it much. The first thing I think of is nuclear energy, which is incredibly useful and also quite safe when the facilities are built properly and all the safety checks are done. But the main association people have with nuclear energy is the A-bomb. Now, I am dead-set against nuclear weapons but I do support peaceful nuclear energy (with caveats), and it is possible for professionals to distinguish weapons-grade nuclear material from the sort used for powering electricity. That is to say, I do think it’s possible to separate the technology from the weapon. The other thing to keep in mind is that pretty much anything can be used as a weapon.

      But then we do get to things like guns and war machines, which are designed solely for killing. I admit: these unnerve me greatly. It’s actually quite easy for me to say that my repulsion towards these weapons outweighs my appreciation of them. However, this may easily have something to do with the fact that I’ve never studied their designs in detail so I don’t really understand their supposed “elegance”.

      But perhaps it’s also a question of whether such weapons are in popular use today. For example, I hate handguns with a vengeance but I think fencing swords and bows are cool. The fact that these weapons have been turned into recreational sports further blurs the issue here. Why valorise weapons we no longer use, considering their history and what they were initially intended for? There’s no good answer for this.

      In the end, all I can say is that it’s easier to appreciate weapons when you don’t have to use them. This is why we can enjoy violent films but never hurt a fly in real life. As soon as you get close to actual violence, actual killing, weapons lose a lot of their appeal.

      Gundam isn’t a particularly an international series

      Are you kidding? It’s one of the most international anime franchises out there. Just off the top of my head, we have an Irish guy in Lockon Stratos, a Chinese guy in Chang Wufei and a Middle Eastern princess in the form of Marina Ismail. Also, wasn’t there a black guy in Unicorn?

      And finally,

      As much as I’d like to regale you with stories and thoughts and moments-when-I-cried when it comes to Gundam Unicorn, you’d be better off just reading what I write elsewhere on that (assuming I ever finish writing them for you to read ahahahahasobs).

      DO YOUR HOMEWORK, GARLOCK

  17. Gundam can be pretty random.

    Some good, some bad, some start good but then become SUPER bad (yep, I’m talking about Gundam 00. Started great, with great characters, good humor, lots of polictics… Then it became a anime about aliens and robots with super powers… Really, WTF was that shit).

    I would recommend you Mobile Suit Gundam: The 08th MS, which is the most realistic Gundam I’ve ever seen. You can feel the war is real and that the characters are just regular soldiers and not super heroes.

    Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory is also not bad, since it’s also more realistic, the characters are all adults and professionals, and the animation is ultra-high quality.

    I wish they would make more Gundams like, with characters who are professinal soldiers and not fuckin’ kids.

    • Yeah, I’ve got Mobile Suit Gundam: The 08th MS on my To Watch list and plan to get to it soon! I’ve heard some really good things about it and can’t wait.

      Also, I can’t see Gundam going back on its “child soldier” trope anytime soon. I mean, the very first Gundam series had it. But less emo angsting from those child soldiers would be nice. (I guess this is one of the reasons why Iron-Blooded Orphans is refreshing?)

      • Seeing the main character killing people like an adult was refreshing (I hate when anime do the “oh no, we can’t kill people” – World Trigger is doing just that with that little sniper they have).

    • For me both 08th and 83 are good, but they have serious flaws. 08th started out as a Vietnam War-like conflict, and turn into Romeo and Juliet with robot. They don’t push the dark part far enough. I still wish for a Gundam series go full Oliver Stone’s Platoon.

      0083’s action is excellent, but the plot went to shit in the second half. This seems happen a alot in Gundam series. There’re plenty of Gundam manga about professional soldiers. Hell, Gundam 00’s characters are young adult, and yet they act like idiot. I also recommend Votoms series.

      • Yeah, in terms of plot, they both have their silly dramas.

        Since you recommend Votoms, as far as realitic mecha anime goes, I would also recommend FLAG, Gasaraki and Gunparade March (and maybe Zegapain… But Zegapain is more like The Matrix lol).

  18. What are your thoughts about conditional/pragmatic pacifism? There appears to be a great deal of similarities between non violence and conditional pacifism.

  19. You didn’t even talk about Gundam Wing!!!!!

    For Pete’s sake – that’s the best series!!!

  1. Pingback: Catching Up On Metal Gear Solid | Standing On My Neck

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