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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.

Open Memo to All New Mobile War Chronicle Gundam W Haters: You Suck

MEMORANDUM

RE: New Mobile War Chronicle Gundam W

Dear kind sirs,

I would like to inform you that you, the eponymous Gundam W haters, are full of bullshit like nothing else.

I missed out on Gundam W back when it was cool to like it due to being an Obstinate Moronical Anime Disliker (although I did watch one episode of the series, and tried to watch Endless Waltz, which only left me more confused, and I can’t remember a thing about Endless Waltz, which is probably a good thing), and as I’ve said before, this gives me a different perspective than those who watched it in its heyday. According to my good friend SDS, a large part of the hate on W is because of the particular people who liked it. This means, of course, the people for whom this was the first Gundam series, and henceforth assumed that all Gundam series were exactly like W. This, of course, angers the UC fans, but they’re prone to apoplectic fits if anyone says that a Gundam series that wasn’t directed by Tomino is anywhere north of “utter tripe”. This also leads me to reactions like one of my friends, who, when I mentioned that I was watching After War Gundam X, immediately assumed that all Gundam series featured “whiny emo angstballs” as protagonists, largely due to his exposure to the two major Gundam series in America, W and SEED, and made fun of me for such.

So, the problem for W is that its own popularity bites it in the rear–it, for better or for worse, defined Gundam for an entire generation of fans, and those who liked it liked only it, and those who didn’t ridiculed it and Gundam in general (unless they were later made aware of the awesome of Gundam, and possibly became annoying fans of another kind).

So, here I am, just having watched episode 15 and slightly over a quarter of the way through the series, and I’ve gotten into it like I get into a normal Gundam series. It’s still not been really impressing me in the same length of time that, say, 00 has been, but it’s a Gundam series, they’re never really all that bad. There’s quite a few good Gundam moments in this series thus far (such as Heero self-destructing himself and the Wing at the drop of a hat) and the much-chided “philosophy” hasn’t really started bugging me too much. For what it’s worth, I’m a bit of an idealist, too, and since this kind of pacifism is absurdly idealistic from what I’ve heard, it can’t be too bad, although, on an unrelated note, Destiny, I think, pushed the pacifism concept in Gundam a wee bit too far.

And Relena needs to scratch that dog with her foot in the ED more often. I have no idea why, but that moment is awesome.

Mobile Suit Gundam Wing is pretty okay, I guess

I get to be in an ELITE vantage point here, having not seen Wing at any point in my life, save one random episode in the middle I caught while home sick one day. And, since it’s so far removed from its heyday during its Toonami broadcast, and everyone’s opinions are pretty much settled on it one way or the other, it’s an interesting time to be watching it for the first time. Now, Wing is the series that catches the most flak from Gundam fans, and from non-Gundam fans it’s the only one that they feel will ever be good. So, it’s kind of in this real weird balancing act between two camps with vehement opinions on the series.

So, that said, I think it’s a fairly decent series so far (I just watched episode 7) and it’s still in its Sunrise larval stage, so it’s not quite fair to judge the 49 episode whole on 1/7th of the entire series. It’s certainly not my favorite Gundam at the moment, and I’m not expecting it to be the greatest, but on the whole a lot of the flak it catches is (as is usually the case with Gundam fans) rather undeserved. It’s no better or worse than any Gundam series at this juncture (by which I mean at this episode), and the idea of having five independent Gundam pilots run amok on Earth without knowing that the other four exist is pretty nifty (although they’ve just made them all aware of each other). It’s actually had some really good moments thus far–the assassination of Relena’s father, and the episode I just watched, where Heero and the rest kill all the Alliance pacifists in a trap laid by the kind and gentle souls at OZ.

On comparisons to 00: I can see where they’re coming from, but they’re approaching the concept in a much different fashion. Wing has the five acting as almost terrorists, with no organization whatsoever, save the magical mission-giving fairies. In 00, the “private military organization” Celestial Being is organized and hierarchical. Wing also has a clear antagonist in the form of OZ; in 00, it’s Celestial Being versus the world. There’s also probably more subtle differences in tone and setting and themes that I’ll get a bigger dose of as I watch both series more, so I’ll talk more about that kind of thing later. Maybe. For now, it suffices to say that Wing is better than I feared, but a series would have to try really hard to be what I fear they will be.


NOTICE SHAMELESSLY STOLEN FROM G.K. CHESTERTON

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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