The Gundam Wing Re-Watch Odyssey continues…
This wasn’t exactly how I envisioned my second Gundam Wing post to go… I actually had wanted to do a post about the shipping, except it basically ends up being, “HELLO, I SHIP EVERYTHING, PLEASE LOOK AT THESE CHARTS TO SEE WHY.”, and that sounds like more effort than I feel inclined to devote at the moment. If you doubt me, please see below for ships I am cool with (the first one listed per line is the preferred iteration of the ship):
If none of that made a damn bit of sense to you, you probably weren’t a teenage girl who was into anime between 2000 and 2005. My deepest sympathies. Let me quote from the Gundam Wiki to help you:
Many of the characters are named after numerals, particularly French numbers. Lady “Une” = One; “Duo” Maxwell = Two; “Trowa” Barton = Three (Trois); “Quatre” Raberba Winner = Four; “Wu” Fei = five (Chinese); “Zechs” Merquise = six (German); General “Septem” = Seven (Sept); Lucrezia “Noin” = nine (German) “Treize” Khushrenada = Thirteen; “Quinze” Quarant = Fifteen; “Milliardo” Peacecraft = Billion (Milliard)
Except forget about Lady Une being designated as ‘1’ because Heero is actually ‘1’ in the shipping scheme because of the other pilots. Lady Une is ‘U’. Relena and Sally Po also get designated by letter – ‘R’ and ‘S’ respectively. But, nooooo, this isn’t a shipping post! I don’t want to talk about all the ships tonight!
Ok, ok. So. Gundam Wing ladies. I have massive crushes on a lot of them. One of the things about this re-watch has been massive amounts of incredulity over how much American fandom has historically hated Relena. Sure, back in the day I found myself at odds with prevailing American opinion as regarded Relena, but re-watching it has made me even more disbelieving about the idiotic loathing of the girl. Relena’s fantastic! She comes from a very well-off home and has clearly lead a fairly sheltered life overall, but when push comes to shove and dear old Dad gets blown up, Relena really steps up and refuses to withdraw into her comfort zone. I’ve heard her accused of being a Mary-Sue before, but I disagree fairly heartily here, all the more so because we never hear this accusation lobbed at the likes of Heero or Trowa, and both fit the Gary Stu (or Marty Stu, if you like) bill more than Relena fits the Mary Sue role.
Another strike people tend to cast against her is the whole “Come back and kill me, Heero!” thing. On the other hand, she is fifteen, folks, and fifteen year olds tend to be kind of dopey and weird about romance like this (the whole dynamic between Heero and Relena is actually one of the few things that feels very realistic in the show, honestly). However, what strikes me most of all is that Heero to Relena at least initially stands in for a much larger thing – here’s this guy who suddenly drops into her world, doesn’t seem to care much what she thinks of him while everyone else around her just gushes at her and over her nonstop, and he’s this guy who is involved in something that goes way, way beyond the school grounds and is involved in something BIGGER. Of course Relena gets interested in him!
And then from there Dad gets blown up, her school gets attacked by mobile suits, she’s actually the daughter of a dead royal family, people get shot at, and, BAM!, BADASS. And she gets this lovely early 19th century-style French military uniform get-up:
And, kyaaa, kyaaaaaaaaaa, oh, Relena, why are you only fifteen?!
And since we have the lovely Noin up there in that picture, too, let’s get to her next. Noiiiiiinnnnnnnnnn. Noin has the hots for Zechs, which is kind of lame since Noin doesn’t have a weird fixation on helmets nor does she have an unwavering faith in their being the best form of disguise. But Noin spends a huge chunk of the show away from Zechs to be fully wonderful and admirable and all that jazz, fighting the bad guys (whoever they may be that week), and acting as a bit of a mentor to Relena. Noin is the one who intervenes on Relena’s behalf when Zechs is all, “Oh, nooo, I can’t let my imouto know about me because I’ve stained my hands and I’m impuuuuuuuure! Sadface, woe is me! Noin, won’t you help me out?”
(Actually, a big part of why I dislike Zechs and Treize so intensely is that they’re such lame-asses in comparison to the cool ladies who are in love with them; I don’t think either one measures up at all to how awesome Noin and Lady Une are. And I have a million reasons to loathe Wufei, but an additional piece is that he often gets paired with Sally Po in fandom and NO JUST NO NO NO NO NO.)
Anyway, Noin is cool.
But you know who is even cooler? Sally Po! Sally Po is my number one crush in the show and it bums me out we don’t get to see more of her. Sally Po starts off as Major Sally Po, a military doctor, before refusing to go along with the splitting of OZ from the United Earth Sphere Alliance. She becomes a guerrilla fighter, and, yeah, maybe it’s not totally realistic that a military doctor would be great with a rifle and with planting bombs, but, fuck, who cares? Watching her coolly take aim at a mobile suit with a rocket launcher is just flat-out, well, cool. That she’s so highly respected by her peers in the guerrilla movement adds a lot to it, too.
Honestly, I would be more than happy to watch a TV series that is entirely about Sally Po and Noin running around blowing things up and shooting stuff.
Ok, and, fine, maybe Sally Po’s hairstyle reminds me of Juri Arisugawa and I kind of had a crush on her when I was seventeen. I can live with admitting that.
Ok, so I actually don’t really have a crush on Lady Une but I do think she’s totally fucking awesome even if her character arc kind of sucks in some ways (although not all ways). That’s Lady Une shooting a guy after she’s dropped him out of a plane, and I feel like that says it all. The fact is, if the guys just left it up to Lady Une the wars would be over because she’s totally of the scorched earth approach. The show itself pretty clearly wants us to think some of what she does is totally ruthless and awful, but she makes a lot of very sharp decisions that folks like Treize won’t even condescend to because, unlike Treize and a few others, she isn’t hung up on this idea that war is some noble thing, or that there’s a “gentlemanly” way to go about it. You want to get the Gundam pilots to fuck off? Threaten the colonies! Other characters sniff about how unsporting this is afterward, but, seriously, if they just went along with what Lady Une thought was best the damn war would be done.
I suppose, then, that what I like about Lady Une is her military mind. If I wanted to pick someone from the show to be a tactician for me, she’d be it, quite frankly. She’s not always on the money, but she’s very decisive, and one of the lessons repeatedly hammered into my head over the course of my military education is that a leader must be decisive – its no good to be late to the battle because you were perfecting the plan, you’re better off getting there on time with the plan not totally ironed down (chances are it’ll all end up having to get changed on the fly, anyway). I don’t quite have the stomach, I think, for some of Lady Une’s actions, but there’s no denying that this is a woman who would win wars if given free reign.
And then there’s Catherine. I think Catherine gets left out of discussions of badass Gundam Wing women because she’s one of the only women in the show who isn’t a direct participant somehow in the war and politics game, but in some ways I think she’s the boldest and most confident out of all the women. That’s her punching Trowa in the face right before telling him off for trying to self-detonate. I’ll note that this is right after he’s attacked some OZ troops and they’ve returned fire – Catherine thinks nothing of going right across the firing zone and running up to give Trowa a piece of her mind for ever considering suicide.
Catherine is easily the lowest on the totem pole in terms of power and social standing out of all the characters in Gundam Wing, but she doesn’t waver from her convictions where virtually every other character does at some point. When Trowa is struck with amnesia later in the show and she finds him wandering in the rain, she immediately takes him in and chases both Duo and Quatre away when they come to try to bring him back to the fight. When he does return, she certainly isn’t thrilled, but she does support him in making his own decision.
(By the way, I most emphatically do not ship Catherine and Trowa – Catherine, after all, tells Trowa she’s his older sister when he makes his re-appearance, and, uh, no, that is NOT how anyone is going about trying to bed the guy… and, yeah, I know, anime, but the whole fucking-your-sibling-would-be-hot! thing wasn’t that much of a thing in anime in 1995 even if characters like Sasami were a harbinger of what was to come. You know how Nina totally didn’t tell Serge in Mai-Otome after he came out of his coma that he’d been raising her as his daughter? Yeah, THAT’S what you do, you don’t claim to them that you ARE related!) (And, yeah, I know, canonically Trowa does actually turn out to be her otouto, although it never comes up in the TV series of Endless Waltz.)
I don’t have a crush on Catherine, either, but she’s definitely one of my favorite characters in the show.
Well, and here’s the only guy for the crush list! And, um, you know, its not like I have a distressingly large amount of screencaps of Duo getting his ass kicked in some fashion…
…this is one of those moments where I actually feel kind of awful and creepy. I blame CLAMP – they gave me a taste for emotionally and physically damaged boys and men at a young age! It isn’t my fault, I swear!
Of course, the other bit is that Duo is, uh, fifteen, and while it was perfectly acceptable for me to have a taste for him when I watched this for the first time at age fifteen, I am not twenty-five, so it isn’t quite socially acceptable anymore! Or, well, personally acceptable, either, to be totally honest, but, well, yeah. At the very least, I suppose I could just take heart in the fact that my crushes in Gundam Wing have pretty much confirmed what I already knew to be true from years of experience – I prefer older women and younger men!
So Duo is one of those self-loathing but outwardly cheerful guys, which sounds a lot like a lot of the characters Akira Ishida has voiced, and, hey, I have the hots for a lot of them, too, so it all makes sense! I do find it hard to not like Duo – he’s got pretty hair, he’s way more down to earth than the other Gundam pilots except Quatre, and he’s got the whole shinigami thing going, complete with the scythe. My favorite character in Sailor Moon? Hotaru/Sailor Saturn, and she carted around a weapon that was derived from a scythe, so that makes sense, too! Perhaps I’m just permanently mired in some of the mindset of adolescence, though, who knows… we’re supposed to get over fixations on death as we get older, aren’t we? But they told me I’d get over loving angsty crap, too, and that hasn’t managed to happen yet… my favorite books are the ones that left me despairing – I can tell you exactly the moment where The Remains of the Day broke my heart, and my favorite book last year totally gutted me.
I like Quatre a lot, too, but recently explained my difference in sentiment toward the two thus:
With Quatre, I’m all, “Come over here, I wanna give you cookies.”, but with Duo its, “Come over here, I wanna pull your hair.
I weep for what this says about me since I know its nothing good…
Anyway, in closing, here’s Treize in a bath-tub: