New Mobile War Chronicle Gundam W: The Ravages of Technology

It occurred to me, while watching more of Gundam Wing (or New Mobile War Chronicle Gundam W, or whatever you want to call it) that there’s a certain theme pervading the series in a somewhat quiet fashion. They don’t make a huge deal out of it, but it’s there nonetheless.This is, of course, the issue of technology as applied to warfare. We can use more advanced technology, but at what price?

The first example that this occurred to me was when Zechs piloted the Tallgeese for the first time. The Tallgeese, if you recall from your hazy memories of the 1990s, was the original mobile suit that was never completed. It was, of course, completed, but the dangers of the prototype were very clear in the series: Zechs, Mr. Masked, Skilled Pilot himself, cannot even pilot it without suffering major injuries. It’s the most basic example of improved warfare technology having a drastic effect on human life–not only does the Tallgeese function as a fearsome weapon of destruction, but it takes a severe toll on the pilot himself. In other words, the weapon harms both the enemy and the ally, and it is impossible to use the weapon without causing harm to your own forces as well.

The second example comes from the mobile doll system. Again, here we have a new technology used to fight a war; in this case, it’s machines fighting the war in stead of actual people. This appears to be the wave of the future, as, hey! War without bloodshed! But, as the series is careful to point out, war without bloodshed and sacrifice isn’t war at all, but a game, and one that people could find themselves badly addicted to. In this sense, war without sacrifice simply means that there will never be an end to war. You can say what you will about the questionable philosophy of Wing–this one’s got it right. If humans are not being killed, and the only thing being lost is money, then there’s no real reason to ever end a war–war is, as has been proven time and again, a serious moneymaker for governments, and a way to distract the populace from pressing issues such as civil rights. Without sacrifice, resistance to war seems futile.

(And speaking of sacrifice, that reminds me of the question posited by Giant Robo: “Can happiness be acheived without sacrifice?” If we take “happiness” to mean “peace”, then Wing’s answer is a resounding “no”, as the case of Quatre clearly shows.)

The third example is similar to Tallgeese: it’s the Wing Zero itself. The system renders the pilot insane and charged with bloodlust, as demonstrated by the normally upbeat and pacifistic Quatre turning into a crazy psychopath. If the system can turn the pilot into an inhuman monster, what good does it do? Is it really a system someone should use? What good is new technology if it makes humans lose their humanity?

I don’t know if this issue is one frequently lambasted by the many detractors of Gundam Wing, but it’s an interesting thing to think about. I think it’s a legitimate point of the series as a whole, even if you consider the rest to be bunk. Even if there are no real answers, it’s something fun to chew on, and ruminate about, and write thesis papers on.

Or not.

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I cannot understand those that take anime seriously, but I can love them, and I do. Out of my love I warn them to keep clear of this blog.

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a ridiculously long and only partially organized list of subjects


March 2008

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