Re: [gundam] What next? pipedream sequels!


Chien Ting Chin (chinc@sten.sunnybrook.utoronto.ca)
Sat, 27 Feb 1999 03:29:30 -0500


Probe went away for a few days, and come back to open a few cans of
worms. Thanks, Probe! Here's the big can:

On Fri, 26 Feb 1999, Prabal Nandy wrote:
> "Sensitive" maybe? (Blaugh!)
> Heh, my ML persona is just one of many! Mhu ha ha ha ha!
 
Well, may I suggest you demonstrate more of them personas? makes for
more fun :)

> I don't think giving the same characters more gimmicks toys and
> hardware ...

Probe against gimmick toys and hardware? Have your mind been taken over
by aliens recently? :)

> > ... you can push the story onward with so many interesting
> > directions...
> Okay, I do agree with that assessment... but I also stipulate that
> gundam has _never_ changed directions. The sequels are more like

very sad indeed...

> > story arc with matured Bright, Mirai, Salya, Hayato, Kei, Char and Amuro,
> It seems to be a little too "Guiding Light"-ish...
> Not exactly a new kettle of fish!

Yes, good point, that would be very boring if there isn't a genuinely new
theme in the new story. That won't be much better than G Gundam. So
what's this new theme? hang on...

> > Evangelion aims at a very metaphysical target: "God vs. Man".
> Oh no... I totally disagree with that! Especially after the last three

Ok, I retract that "God" simplification. But don't you agree that Evangelion
is dealing with something more metaphysical, more remote from our daily
concerns? Gundam is about our future, our dilemmas.

> > It would be interesting to see if Tomino has an answer for what the
> > post-industrial world would look like...
> Interesting, I think I see what you mean, but the problem with it is
> that it's very "Naussica" and very "Akira"...
> It's just not a new idea at all to anime. It's been a Japanese
> cultural icon ever since "Godzilla".

Very true, and anime borrowed the anti-tech stuff from the humanist
movement from way back in late Industrial Revolution. But who would want
to read 19th Century philosophy tomes if a 1979/1999 anime show would tell
the same ideas with giant fighting mechas? :)

Now the problem with Naussica, Akira and Godzilla (and Evangelion) is
that, somehow, they can be dismissed as "possible but impropable". I
mean, how many anime fans are really afriad that there's a big lizard
buried somewhere soaking up our toxic wastes? But many of us on the
mailing list truly believe that a version of the Gundam Universe (with
smaller mechas perhaps) could well be in our grandchildren's (or even
our children's) future.

> Interesting. Explain what you mean by this statement. I'm not familiar
> with this term "Genki". Are you suggesting that Tomino believes that there
> is a different social order that will supercede our modern industrial one?

In an interview about Turn-A Gundam published in a magazine (which one?),
someone (Kota?) translated this line: "New series will focus on emotion,
and idea that will destroy the industrial society today."

Next, let me paraphase Jim Huang:

 From: "Jim Huang" <tyhuang@OCF.Berkeley.EDU>
 Date: Thu, 18 Feb 1999 00:16:14 -0500
 Subject: Re: [gundam] What next? (Was Re: Even more Tomino interview)
> Interviewer: "So far, by the end of most story, the hero abandon his
> robo. The message I get is that if people keep depend on robot/tools,
> they won't grow/evolute." ...
>
> Tomino: (approximately) people's life energy had become weak due to
> "modern industrial society". "The new work will be a story about how
> people regain that will to live (Genki), return them to the primal
> emotions, and get out linear way of thinking that comes with
> industrial society."

Isn't that exciting? I have had the belief that the capitalist world
order is self-destructive, my only problem is that I can't suggest a
better answer to capitalist/industrial world. I don't really think Tomino
has a real answer either, other than vaguely talking about genki.

> > Bright and Mirai should rise fast and high thru the ranks, given
> > time both should top out at mid-low level strategic staff; Salya,
> > Hayato and Kei should each get a Gundam...
>
> Yeah, but who cares?
> I mean, I don't see getting "Military Field Promotions" and "Rising
> through the ranks of the Federation" as being valid modes of character
> development,

No no, I am not suggesting to use their ranking or piloting development as
the point of the sequels. But I want to ask: based on 1yw alone, what
would be the natural progression of these characters? And what would
their stories be within that giant societal wheel grinding towards
destruction?

> So you think the point of a new gundam series should be to give all the
> supporting characters shiny cool Gundam prototypes and send them on heroic
> samurai missions in space? ...

Well not really so simple. It's natural for the level-headed Bright and
Mirai to move into the strategic role. The pilots should naturally move
on, except Amuro and Kai, they doesn't fit well into military sturcture,
for different reasons. Salya is the wildcard, she could develop in so
many different ways, it would be a waste to shut her out.

> shutting Amuro out of the plot really 'advances' anything except a
> storyline which is pointless to advance beyond the 1YW.

Hey! I am an Amuro fan too, really. But don't you think Amuro would have
been snubbed by the Fed after 1yw? Remember what Char said in the sword
fight? "you are showing too much Newtype power" It's quite reasonable
(according to 1yw) to think that the Old Boys' Club in the Fed would be
scared by the mysterious power of Amuro (and even other White Base crews).
That's why the last ep. ends in a very subdue almost tradgic mood.

[BTW, isn't music amazing? My heart still breaks when I listen to the
song they played as Amuro drifts towards his White Base family on the
rescue craft. I understand not a word in the lyrics, but a lump came up to
my throat no less.]

> > Amuro did the opposite, he rebelled when he had nothing as asset, and when
> > later he gained a foothold in life, he did it by selling out to a system
> > that treated him as yet another expendable MS pilots.
>
> What, the Federation? You think the Egalatarianism of the Federation is
> _worse_ than the Elitist Zeons? Isn't that what Democracy (Fed) is all
> about, as opposed to the archaic samurai-warrior Fuedal system of Zeon?

Hey, I never said I care for Zeons for one iota. But bottomline is, a
democracy doesn't always make a caring government. Tomino took many
oppotunties to show many Fed agents (from lowly infantry soldiers to the
highest generals) had a contempt even loathing for mere individual
citizens. Besides, don't forget that Hitler, Emperor Hirohito, Stalin,
Chairman Mao and Degin Zabi all had the popular support (3 of them
actually won democractic-style elections) when they started. Sure a few
assassinations and other minor details were involved, but that's small
matters ;)

Another scene in 1yw that chilled my bones is Giren's final speech. The
millions of Zeon soldiers pledging total loyalty, just like the Kimakaze
of the WWII. Don't you think Tomino was trying to make a political
statement there?

> > With his immense power, he sought only survival of his own self and those
> Is there something really wrong with this? ... People seem to really
> come down on Amuro as fans because of his lack of will to lead a

It's nothing wrong with Amuro, it's lots wrong with the Feds. Why is our
hero so apprehensive about the war? Because A Bao A Qu was not a
victory of the human spirit, of true freedom. It's a victory for gentle
dictatorship, a victory for power structures and bearucracts.

> "Brave new Newtype Revolution", but I think part of Tomino's point is
> that "There is no point trying to FORCE people to be enlightened."

I don't think that's quite it. But I think we are both getting warmer.
the "Brave new Newtype Revolution" is bang on. Of course Amuro won't lead
it, it will be Char or someone like him. Amuro will resist it. But of
course Char will win. Char is a wolf who's cunning and determined, Amuro
is a lion who's naive and confused. But the Newtype Revolution is not a
real revolution, because it only bring in Newtypes to run the same old
spiritless industrial world. And these superior industrialists can do
nothing except speed up their own destruction. Perhaps about this time
Amuro and other wishy washy bleeding hearts will figure out a direction or
principle or something. And that will be what Tomino calls "Genki".

Perhaps that's your point about "forcing enlightenment", you can't force
wisdom into people. You just wait for their follies to run their course
and hope that you live long enough to shape the outcome.

CHIN, Chien Ting
Dept of Medical Biophysics, Sunnybrook Health Science Centre
... o O *
Man is a bubble

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