Archive for March 18th, 2008

Mobile Suit Gundam 00: “Are you satisifed with this world?”

Felt-tan is weeping for Lockon Stratos. I would like to give her a hug. But I can’t, because she is made of pixels. :(

The difference in ideology between Lockon (standing in for the Meisters in general) and Ali Al-Sarchez (standing in for, uh…Ali Al-Sarchez) certainly reared its ugly head, here at the end of the road. Both Ali and Celestial Being are terrorists, of a sort–but it gives an insight into what terrorism really is. Ali is, of course, the way we want to view terrorists: insane, war-mongering, and bloodthirsty individuals. And, certainly, in our world, there are quite a few of them out there, although I personally have not met one and therefore cannot vouch for this fact. But the thing you have to remember about terrorists is, there’s also ones like Lockon out there, who aren’t fighting because they want to, but because they want to change the world somehow. It’s a shady gray area that Gundam 00 is touching upon here. Terrorists are like any other  human: they fight for what they feel is right, even if it means violence to get their way. We may not agree with their methodology (in the case of the real-world, I certainly don’t), but, at least in their minds, violence is the only path to change. The eradication of war is certainly a noble goal, but to what means Celestial Being will take to achieve this end is in doubt. How far is too much?

The difference is clear, however: the story is a conflict, as Gundam series always are, between those who wish for more chaos and war, and those who wish to stop it. We had this in Gundam X, we had this in Gundam Wing, we had this in the UC series, we had it in Turn A, and we had some bizarre, Imagawa-influenced version of it in G Gundam. Of course, in this case, rather than either side working for any one government or military, it’s instead paramilitary versus paramilitary. The actual military is left to unite against the threat.  It’s a complicated mess of a situation, like any war, and, on this, at least, Celestial Being and the military stand a chance at agreeing on things, except for that pesky methodology problem of intervening in conflicts.

We already saw the Trinity’s approach to eradicating war, namely, blow everything and anything up to prevent conflict from ever happening in the first place. Yet even this subsidiary branch of the great Schenberg plan may be in for some posthumous redemption in the form of Nena joining into possibly-tenuous alliance with Setsuna & Co. Or, at least, that’s what my Kugimiya-addled brain wants to happen, what may actually happen might differ from my ideal scenario.

And, finally, a eulogy for Lockon:

Lockon. Lockon. Lockon. Lockon. Lockon. Lockon. Lockon. Lockon. Lockon. Lockon. (etc.)

No, really, Lockon’s final words (see title for handy reminder) point out one critical thing: the world we live in, however advanced it might be, still isn’t the ideal world for humanity to live in. The real question posed by Lockon, then is: do humans really want the world to change? Or would they rather stay in the “comfort zone” of wars and turmoil, unwilling to change due to general acceptance of the way the world is?

Or is Lockon really a crazy bastard, and the suave cool guy demeanor was just a front? THE CHOICE IS YOURS.

Shigofumi: The Last Miracle Consented to Men

This was a good episode, and probably the most “uplifting” of all Shigofumi episodes to date. It’s uplifting in the Bokurano sense, though, in that watching it leaves this bittersweet feeling flooding through you, in the way that only stories about death can. We see, in this episode, the progression of Takehiko from graphic artist for a videogame, to depressed man dying of cancer, to even deeper depression as society and family treats him like dirt, to…well, we’ll get to it in a bit.

It’s a simple story of a dying man’s fleeting jaunt with a young girl (no, it’s not dirty, get that brain of yours out of the gutter)–a kind of dual perspective on the whole life thing. The bright-eyed, cheerful Fumika never seems to let anything get her down, whereas the simple act of watching Dragonman (which, by the way, sounds totally awesome and I request, nay, demand spinoff OVAs) brings Takehiko to the brink of depression, worsened by the police officer arresting him for kidnapping a child, despite the fact that this isn’t what he’s done, and despite Fumika’s protestations.

Takehito is, of course, dying, and as the day progresses he realizes more and more that what he felt as his goal in life–drawing to make people happy–has failed. He’s quit his job due to his terminal illness. He lashes out at his mother, who allegedly despises him for being an otaku, for little reason at all. Yet still Fumika seems to enjoy his presence, in her own oblivious way. Yet even still, as his life collapses around him, he thinks of ending it all.

And then Fumika pulls out the game she’s been playing all day. It just so happens to be the game Takehito was working on (coincidence? I think not) and, of course, the cheerful face of Fumika playing it finally, at the end of a practically harrowing day, finally finds a reason to live, and keep living.

And then dies. Such is Shigofumi.

Takehito was obviously searching for a deeper meaning in life (hence his quitting of his job, his somewhat odd statements to Fumika at the start of the episode) and yet, at the end of it all, found it was staring him in the face and smiling. With cat ears. It’s an incredibly simple episode, but it’s elegiac in nature and we all know how that makes me feel (deeply satisfied, that’s what). I think the simple, packaged, take-out moral here is that happiness doesn’t have to be something grand, a life’s masterpiece of epic proportions, but, rather, just simple pride that one person, however insignificant, has taken pleasure in something you’ve done.

It’s fitting, and somewhat sad, then, that Fumika switches off the Not-Game Boy Advance at the end of the episode. It could be read as a twisted way to end the story–she switches the game off, showing to the viewer that maybe the pleasure Takehito took in her obsession with it was merely fleeting–but I don’t quite think so. Rather than an acknowledgment that his final pleasure was meaningless, it’s more of a realization that he’d found what he was looking for: not pride in the game, but Fumika. After all, he gave his now-ruined life to save hers. It’s only fitting, then, that she should save his (well, metaphorically speaking), not only through the mechanism of playing the game, but also through her devotion to him throughout the entire episode. I think the drawing is indicative of his deep respect for her, which she may not quite fully grasp yet.

Maybe if she puts the cat ears on again, understanding will dawn…


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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March 2008