Turn-A Gundam ends, as it always does (especially when you’re Tomino), in a psychedelic freakout that might even rival that (in)famous ending to Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, albeit with less Thus Sprach Zarathrusta and with more Kagiri Naki Tabiji. (more on music later, it’s an interesting aspect of Turn-A I keep forgetting to address properly)
It also, notably, almost ends in a samurai sword showdown. Not a beam saber showdown. A samurai sword showdown.
As Gym Ghingham unearths the Turn-X, both of the Turn units start to react to one another and begin using the ultimate weapon of doom, the Moonlight Butterfly. Almost as a side effect of the resonance between the two units, the loosely allied factions crumble into even more disparate factions than I can keep track of. I’m pretty sure, by the end, it was Dianna Counter plus Loran, Sochie, Kihel, Miashei and Harry versus nearly everyone else. I’m not entirely sure how Dianna Counter went from “Dianna sucks let’s have a coup d’etat” to “We love you Dianna please come back” in the space of 13 episodes (I suspect the death of Agrippa Maintainer as much as I do Tomino ex Machina), but there you go.
More importantly, perhaps, is the nature of the Black History: namely, the Universal Century. Of course, that’s not all–the three AU Gundam series made prior to Turn-A‘s release (G, W, and X) are referenced. I admit I’m not that good enough to remember/catch the W and X references myself (I think someone had the Harmonica Cannon from X, and I think I saw Wing Zero at one point, but I’ve no idea what Wing Zero looks like so…). The basic, implicit premise is that, in Correct Century, war has been repeated over and over again, hence the repeated insistence that various characters not repeat the mistakes of the past. Of course, then again, the Black History itself was sealed off and known only to a few. And then there’s that old saw about those who do not learn from history being doomed to repeat it.
Of course, by broadcasting the Black History to everyone, Dianna ensures that all know of and understand the Black History’s repeated sequence of war after war after war, and can now hopefully learn from it and not repeat it. There’s probably a meta-joke here, about how Dianna starts the healing process towards peace by essentially forcing everyone to watch Mobile Suit Gundam, but I won’t make it, even if I just did.
And building on the “Miltonian conflict” between the Turn-A and the Turn-X discussed earlier [->], I still say that the Turn-A (at least in Loran’s hands) represents the force of peace, and the Turn-X represesnts the force of chaos (or war, or what have you), but even if they stand for each other’s moral opposites, they both, essentially have the same effect: the Turn-A can easily be used in a peaceful way, but it can just as easily–and almost by its very programming–be used for war. Worse, the Turn-A left the Turn-X with a battle scar the last time they dueled, and, as Gundam teaches us, if you get a scar, you have to seek vengeance on who gave it to you, no matter what. The essential effect is that, even if Turn-A is fighting for peace–even if its pilot wants to end war forever, without resorting to the Moonlight Butterfly–it still brings about war and destruction. Hence the Moonlight Butterfly: the ultimate peace enforcer, it just wipes everything out and says “TRY AGAIN [Y/N].”
What does happen in the end, though–whether metaphysically influenced by Loran’s use of the Turn-A throughout the whole series, or simply the nature of its default programming following a close encounter with the Turn-X–is the two unit’s Moonlight Butterfly effects literally reforming a cocoon around the two units (and, incidentally, sucking Gym Ghingnham up with them) and creating a virtual Pandora’s Egg for the twin warriors of war and peace. This description, of course, might seem to imply that Gym Ghingnham is the personification of Hope, but note that Loran seemed to evade the tendrils of the formation. Rather than a “creation”, then, perhaps it’s a “re-sealing” of Pandora’s Box, leaving Hope on the outside, wearing a stylish white pilot suit and clutching a broken sword.
Even though Turn-A Gundam was made in 1999, long before SEED and 00 were even contemplated, Turn-A is probably best seen as the conclusion to the whole Gundam cantos (can you tell I’ve been reading Dan Simmons [->] lately?), the moment where the endless wars of Gundam fame are finally laid to rest, and people get on with more important things, like “roleplaying Henry David Thoreau and/or Ralph Waldo Emerson” and “building buildings” and “not marrying Sochie” [->] (oops how did that last one slip in there?). A capstone, if you will–certainly fitting for Tomino’s last entry into the Gundam franchise (unless he’s persuaded otherwise).
A NOTE ON THE MUSIC
I think, perhaps, my favorite part about the soundtrack–probably my favorite of Yoko Kanno’s, not that I’m a SUPER-EXPERT on Yoko Kanno’s prolific output–is the constand weaving of folk/ethnic/native musical themes into the soundtrack (I am going to call it “folk’ even if it isn’t, so TAKE THAT musical snartypants) . The first opening sequence [->] starts with throat singing of the words “Turn A” (and you don’t get more folkcore than throat singing, let me tell you), and many of the background pieces have a decidedly folk bent, especially the ones surrounding the Moon Hippies who have an extremely shamanic chant motif. The many versions of the second ending theme (“Tsuki no Mayu”/”Moon’s Cocoon”), too, are impressively folkish, with its rhythmic, entrancing drumbeats.
The nature of Turn-A lends itself well to the running folk themes, with its tale of death and rebirth, and the cyclical nature of everything sounding very much like animistic/spiritual teachings of various aboriginal cultures (you know, the ones who were going along just fine until some white devils showed up ….sound a bit familiar, perhaps?). Even Vicinity (and maybe Nocis City) had elaborate shamanistic rituals for the “coming of age” that centered around the White Doll/Turn-A.
In short: my rewatch of Turn-A Gundam was quite fruitful indeed. I think I have a deeper understanding of why I find it among the best Gundam series, something I think I felt innately when I first watched it, but, perhaps, not truly understood until later.
Or maybe I just really like pseudo-religio-spiritio-mythological mumbo-jumbo. This no doubt makes me a Nut Job, I am sure.