Re: [gundam] What next? (Was Re: Even more Tomino interview)

-Z- (
Sun, 21 Feb 1999 15:11:12 -0800

At 21:07 2/20/99 -0700, you wrote:
> I get the feeling from the first Gundam that this was the point of Amuro
>and Char, two very different people who reacted to similar situations in
>completely different ways. Amuro the wayward, humble, sad child who
>eventually realizes the importance of the people around him, while Char,
>the charasmatic manipulator gradually destroys everyone around him and
>ends up alone and tormented. It's an almost classic Tragedy thinly veiled
>as a giant-robot smashup.

I think that both you and Mark are onto something here. Mark had
previously noted that Gundam was really the story of a bunch of orphans
coming together to form a family. You note here that Amuro and Char, both
effectively fatherless and motherless, go different ways: Amuro learns to
connect with those around him but Char doesn't -- and comes to blames Amuro
for his inability to do so.

I think the key concept here is "family" -- a very important concept in
Japan, where you have the family into which you're born and the family-like
community to which you pledge yourself at adulthood. Tomino shows us a
group of people who are torn from the former by forces beyond anyone's
control and given little or no choice about the latter, yet who somehow
forge their own "family" made up entirely of partners in adversity, whose
only common bond is their shared hardship and experience in their struggle
to survive.

He seems to be suggesting that the formalized family/community
relationships in Japan have missed the point, that what makes a family
isn't blood relationships or personal connections, but something deeper and
inherently spiritual. He also taps into a truth about war that is often
overlooked: "foxhole buddies" share a bond even stronger than that of
family and marriage, because they've put their lives on the line for each

This theme repeats throughout most of Tomino's works. Those annoying kids
are there for a reason, as they become the children of the newly-formed
family, to be protected and nurtured by the youngsters forced to assume
parental roles. The foster parents learn from these children what they
didn't learn from their own parents and become true parents (and thus full
adults) in the process.

Amuro grew up. Char didn't. That's the point of the first Gundam. The
sequels are thus inherently flawed because they require Amuro to regress to
somewhat less than he was at the end of the first Gundam simply to make the
sequel possible. That's bad whenever you twist the character to fit the story.

>> Essay question: What other anime stereotypes are left to topple? Or,
>> put another way: What's holding the genre back? I'd say fan service, for
>> starters, and that's a sacred cow even Evangelion was cautious in
> Yes, fan service, "Child Bride" underage female characters and love
>interest (which has always disgusted me), the "Western Woman = Forward
>and Evil" / "Eastern Woman = Subservient and good" stereotype, the
>excessive machismoism and needless violence, the absolute lack of
>characters that seem able to communicate with each other on a personal
>level, the leering, treacherous badguys, the hyperhonorable robotic
>badguys, the always-corrupt, always older-white-male administrators of the
>good guys, the complete lack of meaningful social commentary, the utter
>unwillingness to challenge any ingrained social convention or condition,
>the casual brutality to the non-warrior elite, the subtle and not so
>subtle racism, the willingness to write off the 'faceless minions', the
>love of high-tech killing weapons, big explosions before character
>development, the old-wise-warrior/teacher stereotype, the
>hotshot/pigheaded American yahoo stereotype, the socially accepted ogling
>of the always hypershapely 'female pilots' stereotype, the
>philosophy-as-saber duel soliloquies, etc etc etc.

How about all the effiminate boys and tough girls (sissies and tomboys, if
you will)?

You know, one of the things I really liked about Gundam 0080 was that Chris
was really a girl-next-door type, a perfectly ordinary (if somewhat
audacious and short-tempered) person who just happened to pilot a Gundam
and did so simply as a job, albeit a job she obviously enjoyed or at least
thought herself suited.

Instead of having the hero overwhelmed and appalled at every turn, I'd like
to see someone who really takes to it and shows an extreme love and ability
for it -- and have the people who put him there be overwhelmed and appalled
and think they've created a monster they can't control, when all the time
it's just this young guy or gal who's having the time of his or her life.

"And, can you believe it, they actually _pay_ me to do this....!"


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