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A Letter to Lacus Clyne, My First “Waifu”

832402-lacus_clyne_1024x768_5Dear Lacus,

It’s hard to know where to begin with this letter. It’s the first time I’ve ever written a letter addressed to a fictional character. I know that you will never read it, so it’s really just for my sake.

You’ll never know this, but you were the first girl I ever thought of as my “waifu”. Because of you, I experienced a whole slew of unfamiliar emotions for the first time. In a sense, you were my first love.

You are a very special person to me. Through you, I’ve come to understand a lot of things about myself, about others, about this fascinating world of otaku. It’s because of you that I cannot bring myself to look down upon people who love fictional characters. I know that these feelings, however complicated they are, are real.

I can still remember the moment I first fell in love with you. It was in episode 36 when you confronted Athrun after switching to Kira’s side.

Gundam Seed – Mizu no Akashi

The song you sang when Athrun approached you was simply spellbinding. The scene itself was full of tension but somehow your singing put me at ease. It felt like you were controlling the mood somehow. That was the moment when you revealed yourself as a savvy politician with persuasive powers on par with your singing abilities.

In an instant, you became my ideal of a strong female leader. You were so committed to finding non-violent solutions to violent problems that I could not help but admire you deeply. And you knew how to work with people in order to achieve your goals. I was just a young, impressionable teenager when I first encountered you, but your principles have always stuck with me.

At the same time, I put you on a pedestal. I never really tried to understand your vulnerabilities or all the pressures you experienced. And, to be perfectly honest, the series portrayed you as someone just a little too perfect. You were more an ideal than a person.

In my mind, you became someone that no real person could ever match up to.

Sometimes I think about the so-called “otaku purity complex”, about the expectation that anime girls should be sexually pure. To be honest, I can understand it to a degree. This is something I don’t talk about nowadays, but when I was younger I was a devoted Catholic. I was brought up to believe in no sex before marriage. Although I called you my “waifu” because that’s what people in the anime community seemed to call the female characters they’re particularly enamoured with, I could never imagine myself in a relationship with you. Had you existed in real life, I would never have mustered the courage to approach you.

To me, you were untouchable. Even though you were engaged to Athrun and fell in love with Kira, your relationship with both characters was remarkably chaste. It only made you seem more aloof.

This might seem strange, but what made me change my attitude towards you was Meer Campbell, the “fake” Lacus Clyne.

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At first, I disliked her. I didn’t like her outfit, for a start. How was that skirt supposed to fit, anyway? But she grew on me after a while. I came to admire the way she owned her sexuality in a way that you, Lacus, never did. Unlike you, Meer showed her vulnerabilities as well.

Meer was a flawed human being who tried – and failed – to become the ideal. I empathised with her.

It took me some time, but eventually I realised that you were never perfect yourself, Lacus. On retrospect, I cannot say that I agree with your solution to end war. You created an alliance that was guaranteed to overpower all of your opponents, but instead of killing them, you simply wanted to strip them forcibly of their will to fight. Your strategy worked because that was the way the story was constructed.

But would it create peace in the real world? Maybe it would, because the logic is similar to that of nuclear deterrence, but it is grounded in deeply undemocratic principles. You call it pacifism, but it’s violent to the core.

And yet the things you say are so nice, so reasonable. They make me want to believe in you. I can tell that you truly want to make the world a better place.

I understand better now why I was drawn to you as a teenager. You encompassed all my ideals, not just as a “pure girl” but through the ideas you expressed. These days, I’ve grown to be critical of “pure girls” and of the writing in Gundam Seed in general, but I haven’t lost my respect for you. I still think that you make a charismatic leader. Even knowing that you cannot offer a long-term solution to the complex problems that face our world, I think I would follow you because you would seem like the best option.

I feel grateful to you as well. It’s because of you that I understand all too well the impulse behind loving a fictional character, of living an ideal. Maybe, on retrospect, the word “waifu” doesn’t honestly capture how I feel about you. It makes it sound like my feelings for you are just a fandom joke. But they’re not. I still think about you a lot, about how much I wish I could understand you better as a human being. Because I see a lot of myself in you.

Even today, I want to live by your stated principles. I despise violence, but I can’t bring myself to despise people. I want to connect with other people, the way you do through your music. I know that I’m not a perfect person, but I also know that I can be better.

Thank you, Lacus Clyne, for everything that you have taught me. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Love,

Frog-kun

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Posted on February 14, 2016, in Editorials and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 16 Comments.

  1. I was originally gonna leave a comment about how she’s just as bad as the rest of the show, but you’ve convinced me that Lacus Clyne is actually the Hillary Clinton of waifus.

    • oh god what have I done

    • I’ve remained blissfully ignorant of American politics (for the sake of my own sanity), so I’m unsure about the tone of this: good or bad?

      Gonna guess bad, since every US election article I’ve skimmed through had rabid comment sections that screams for Clinton’s blood, and calling for Sanders (or Trump) as the savior of all.

      • Clinton is actually fairly popular among older folks, i.e. not the people who comment on Youtube videos in all-caps, lol.

        I have no idea what Garlock thinks of her, though. I’m guessing he’s referring to the fact that Clinton says a lot of nice-sounding things but is actually rather hawkish when it comes to foreign policy.

  2. Funny enough, as a teenager, I violently hate Lacus but I actually like her now. As a person living in South Vietnam, I have seen and heard the horror of false peace and idealism first hand. Many foreign media have talk about the terror of Vietnam War, but very few give a shit about the aftermath. Millions of Vietnamese risked their lives running to the US for decades until Doi Moi. Idealistic plan of fairness and equality backfired, leading to economic disasters and corruption. I realized very soon in life the horrible cost of idealism without basis in reality and peace can be worse than war. It ruined most war anime for me. Only a few, like Tezuka manga, Miyazaki and Tomino anime actually portray war with any intelligence. The rest is mind-bogglingly stupid.

    I cooled off a lot in recent years though. I accept those fiction as entertainment. Lacus is endearing in how hard the author tried to envision a perfect character. Yest, Gundam Seed is offensively dumb, but I understand that you can seperate your real-life political belief from your media enjoyment, or you won’t be able to enjoy many things. A dream is a dream. You will have to wake up soon, but it’s nice when it lasts.

    • I know now that Gundam Seed is really dumb about war, but by the time I realised that, I had already become invested in the characters, which left me in a difficult spot. Knowing that Lacus actually supports a horribly draconian political vision doesn’t make me hate her, because the impulse behind it is so understandable. And the realisation that I would support her if I were in that situation despite knowing that she’s wrong is actually kind of horrifying in a way. The dangers of a charismatic leader who tells you what you want to hear.

      • “The dangers of a charismatic leader who tells you what you want to hear”

        This is the problem of most human history. We want an easy solution. We want something we can believe in. A great leader satisfy that need. Even in Democratic nations, most media still try to create lead characters who don’t play by the rule, who go against the establishment, even a democratic one. By the way, I recommend Fall anime Concrete Revolutio, it offer a fascinasting look into this problem. It’s also have a lot of references to Japan history.

  3. What passion! What courage you have to put your thoughts on (virtual) paper and show them to us! Having a waifu may sound really silly, but whether you treat it like a joke or not, it still molds our thoughts. Many people make fun of the concept, I sure did, but what’s really wrong about it? Miyazaki himself had a waifu, and he sure didn’t turn into a madman. Well, he’s only a little eccentric.

    P.S. You got great taste in anime hair.

  4. Bravo Froggy. Bravo. That was really nice.

  5. I’m impressed, honestly.
    To be frank, I have yet to finish SEED- still debating whether to wait for Gundaminfo to bring it back to Youtube or to just get it another way. But you know what? The sheer sincerity in this thing moved me anyways.
    It made me think of Marina Ismail, to be honest, but considering how little she was able to get done in 00 until the movie I’m not sure that’s the best comparison. Maybe Kudelia’s a better comparison here? But I digress.
    Happy Valentine’s Day anyways, my amphibious ally.

    • Kudelia’s a good comparison. I got a lot of Lacus vibes from her, especially in the recent episodes. The line about her becoming a symbol that her physical self could never live up to really struck me a lot for some reason. I’m hoping that she’ll become a very interesting character down the line.

      I’m glad you liked the post. It’s definitely the most personal thing I’ve ever written here. I was nervous when I posted it. I’m happy that it touched you in some way.

  6. I’m commenting on a waifu post, omg!
    Your first waifu is bit of a Mary Sue, Frogkun =P
    (As you’ve noted, she’s unattainably perfect. She did go through TWO SEASONS of moral dilemmas and didn’t change at all…)

    That being said, I do love this character. She’s one of the few ‘unattainable role model’ characters that’s a female — composed, steady, decisive, makes the hard choices rather than expect others to do so, and staying strong no matter the cost (Lacus did show that one vulnerable moment when she heard about her father’s death). She’s basically the ‘wise old man’ role pushed into what was initially came off as a moeblob, and Kira’s power levels climb faster when he’s with her than ten years of training in the mountains!

    However, I do wish you picked one of her spellbinding speeches/conversations instead of her… singing. Sure, they’re idealistic (Gundam IS a kids’ show after all!), but she has so many great deliveries that truly challenge people to *think* for themselves. In the end, Lacus enforces pacifism — she welcomes you to disagree, just in a form that doesn’t involve killing.

    “it is grounded in deeply undemocratic principles”

    I do have a special reply to this line:

    Eight hundred years ago, Christendom saw all those who reject the teachings of Christ as vile heathens.
    Four hundred years ago, the White Man saw it as his destiny to lead the inferior races of the world.
    Today, the West exports democracy and liberal ideas as though they are the only acceptable means of government and society.
    Are we truly moving forward?

    Democracy is just another form of government, with its pros and cons, like any other. After going through years of terrible US elections where emotions trump logic (as Voltaire said: Democracy “propagates the idiocy of the masses”), I’d rather have a Technocratic Oligarchy myself; I may not agree with the leaders and think them tyrants, but at least they can keep the country running properly.

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